Crash of B-17 42-97185  MACR 12333

Crash of B-17 42-97185 MACR 12333


Mission to Dresden, Germany

  • Hrídelec, Czech Republic

The 306th Bomb Group, 369th Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 111, Thurleigh, England.  Thurleigh was located five miles north of Bedford and originally built for the Royal Air Force Bomber Command.  During 1942-43, the runways were extended and extra hardstands added to accommodate the heavy American bomber groups. The 306th Bomb Group commenced operation in October 1942 and continued until April 1945, flying over 342 missions.  This was the longest tenure by any American combat unit at a RAF base and one of the most famous.  Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth) visited Thurleigh to commemorate the naming of the B-17 Rose of York.  The base had four hangers and sixteen living and communal sites around the airfield.  The emblem at right was insignia for the 369th Bomb Squadron.

Captain Boylston B. Lewis was the pilot of another 369th Bomb Squadron crew who participated in the bombing of the railroad yards at Dresden, Germany and did not return on 14 February 1945.  At 13:32 hours, Capt. Lewis’ plane, B-17 42-97185 was hit by flak which was described as meager, accurate and tracking.  The aircraft was approximately five minutes southwest of the target.  Having already dropped their bombs, the damage to the plane required the pilot to break from the formation.  Just as they fell away, three German Focke Wulf Fw 190’s attacked from 5 or 6 o’clock.  When the B-17 crew returned fire, the enemy aircraft broke formation with one flying higher than the others.  The high fighter was reported to have hit Capt. Lewis’ ship. It was reported that Lewis made a 180° turn after the attack and was seen heading east.  The attack severed the control cables, set the number 4 engine on fire and started a blaze in the waist of the plane.  Lewis gave the order to bail out.  Three crewmen had been hit including ball turret gunner Sgt. Alfred Lubojacky. Lubojacky had suffered a severe head wound. Two other crewmen helped the 21-year-old out of the ball turret and strapped his parachute on him and gently hurled him into the sky. Lubojacky’s body was never found.  The pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier and engineer went to the nose hatch and bailed out together.  It had now been some 30 minutes after the aircraft was hit by flak.  The burning plane crashed near the village of Hrídelec, 60 miles northeast of Prague, Czechoslovakia. Standlee and co-pilot 2nd Lt. Robert S. Whitelaw met several hours after bailing out and were free for more than twenty-four hours before being captured.

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