The Last Flight of "Da Joker"

The Last Flight of "Da Joker"

World War II · US Army · Second Lieutenant

Memorial to 2nd Lt. Quentin L. Davidson, South Dakota

World War II (1939 - 1945)
Served For

United States of America

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Conflict Period

World War II

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Army Air Forces

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Second Lieutenant

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Gold Star


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Stories about The Last Flight of "Da Joker"

The Last Flight of "Da Joker"

    When 2nd Lieutenant Quentin Lyle Davidson (Serial no: O-763516) climbed into “Da Joker” for his 15th combat mission on 30 November 1944, he had been married for only three and a half months. The 24-year old left his South Dakota home – and his new bride – in early September 1944 and headed to the war in Europe. Quentin was assigned to the Army Air Corps, 390th Bomb Group (H); he flew B-17s – Flying Fortresses – over Europe from the airfield at Framlingham, Suffolk, England.

    Born on 15 November 1920 in Bristol, Day County, South Dakota, Quentin was the youngest child of Nelly Palmer, who was originally from Sweden, and Didrek Johan (“DJ”) Davidson, who had been born in Norway. Quentin was baptized nine months later at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Webster, South Dakota. He had two brothers – Maurice and Vincent – and one sister Dolores. He graduated from Bristol High School in 1938 and briefly attended the University of South Dakota.

    In 1941, Quentin moved to Seattle, Washington, to work at Boeing Aircraft Co., Plant No. 2. While in Seattle, on 16 February 1942, he registered for the draft; he was soon called into service and assigned to the Army Air Corps.

    On 16 August 1944, while on furlough, Quentin married 21-year old Rachel Mary Smith, who had been born in Bancroft, Nebraska. The wedding took place in Big Stone, Minnesota. A few weeks later, Quentin left for England – and the war in Europe.

    On 30 November 1944, “Da Joker” (B-17 #4337519) was on a combat mission to destroy the oil fields of Merseburg, Germany, as well as other targets. Near Merseburg, the plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed. Since the plane was still carrying its full load of bombs, when it crashed, it exploded on impact. Quentin, the co-pilot, was killed, as were three other crew members – Lt. Edwin C. Booth (pilot); Sergeant Joseph Jackson (ball turret gunner); and Staff Sergeant John Edward Walsh (top turret gunner).

    Four other crew members – 2nd Lt. Herbert Gates (bombardier), Staff Sergeant William Long (radio operator), Sergeant Anthony Morreale (waist gunner), and Sergeant Bruce Greeno (tail gunner) – parachuted out, but they were captured and held as prisoners of war. One crew member – flight officer and navigator Abraham Elhai –was initially believed to have survived, but sadly, his family received a Finding of Death notification.

    In early December 1944, Quentin’s body, along with those of some of the other deceased crew members, was interred in the cemetery at Zwickau, Saxony, Germany (main section IV/XI, Grave 18). In 1949, at Didrek Davidson’s request, Quentin’s body was returned to the United States where it was re-interred in Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, South Dakota (Grave location: Row A, Plot 7, Lot 10).

    This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold 3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smart that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen’s name and read his/her story.

    ++SOURCES++ Baptismal Record; WWII Draft Registration Card; 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census; Marriage Information for Quentin L. Davidson and Rachel M. Smith; Application for Headstone; Photo of Quentin L. Davidson; Roster of WWII Dead; Obituary of Rachel Mary (Smith) (Davidson) Anderson; Obituary of Quentin L. Davidson (Note: This memorial/obituary, written by a high school student, contains many personal details about 2nd Lt. Davidson and his family; it originally appeared on the website Fallen Son & Daughters Profiles – Grave Marker; Grave Location: Row A, Plot 7, Lot 10; Memorial to Quentin Davidson

    · “U Has Largest Band in History,” Argus-Leader. Sioux Falls, SD, 30 September 1938

    · “List of Dead & Injured, Day County,” Argus-Leader. 27 June 1946

    · “43 War Dead Are Returned,” Argus Leader. 19 November 1948

    · “Request for Information,” Rapid City Journal. Rapid City, SD, 15 September 2001.


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    19 Jun 2020
    22 Dec 2020
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