1943 — Notrh Africa
During WWII, Groups and squdrons were formed as fast as was possible, while pilots were being trained, other men were at Technical Training Schools learning everything they needed to survive and become a team. Francis was assigned to the 321st Bomb Group, the 447th Bomb Squadron at Columbia AAB SC to 'join-up' and become a working team. He was assigned to Lt Albert Duke and they flew training Missions for bombing, gunnery and other activities.
The last stage of training was at DeRidder AAB, Louisianna and soon Lt Duke flew in with a brand-NEW B-25 (Painted "desert-pink", but referred to as Pink Elephants ;) as they would be going to North Africa. Lt Duke named his new B-25 TRIGGER after his wife (her nick name) and in fact, Lt Duke's CREW also attended his wedding before they left forthe WAR.
Sgt Francis Noble was in the [now famous] General Bob Knapp's Flight over the Atlantic, a Combat Unit of B-25's to fly over the Atlantic, the Southern Route, en mass with out loss. Leaving Morrison Field, Florida. He flew in the TRIGGER #41-13171 with Lt Al Duke (pilot), .... Lt Dan. McDuff (Pilot in CP position), .... Lt Doug Orr (Nav.), .... S/Sgt Harold Govini (Eng), .... S/Sgt Edward Ennis (RADAR/Radio/Gunner), .... S/Sgt Francis L NOBLE (Gunner), and .... Officer Lt. Robt. Manley (HQ) as passenger.
Saturday, 20 March 1943
447th BS War Diary: Our squadron participated in two missions today. The first was a sea sweep. A convoy was sighted and attacked. During the attack two of our planes were seriously crippled by flak, the one flown by Lt. Albert Duke and the one flown by Lt. J.P. Burns. Then fighters attacked and Lt. Duke was shot down at sea. With him were his CP, Lt. Ackley; Bombardier, Lt. Douglas Orr; and gunners, S/Sgts. Govoni, Noble and Drogosch. Five enemy fighters attacked Lt. Burns’ ship. He was alone and his turret gunner, S/Sgt Woody had been killed. Shortly afterwards his tail gun was shot out leaving only his two waist guns to fight off the attackers. S/Sgt Woody had managed to shoot down one of the fighters before they got him. The other gunners chased the rest of the fighters away. Lt. Burns made a crash landing at Bone. There were over two hundred bullet holes in his plane but he called in tonight and reported that all the crew were safe except S/Sgt. Woody. With Lt. Burns were his CP, Lt. Cohagen; Bombardier, Lt. Lingrel; and gunners, S/Sgts Woody, Perpich and Byerly. No word was received from Lt. Duke’s crew today and they are assumed lost. Thus the squadron suffered its first casualties of the war today.
A/C No. 41-13171 (?) “Trigger” shot down Duke, Albert, 2Lt Ackley, James H., 2Lt None Orr, Douglas C., 2Lt Govoni, Harold F., S/Sgt Drogosch, Robert C., S/Sgt Noble, Francis L., S/Sgt
Lt. R. Richardson arrived at Ain M’Lila today. He was left behind at Borinquen Field Feb 16 for an engine change. S/Sgts. Perpich, Noble, Drogosch credited with one E/A each shot down during sea sweep.
Drogosch, Robert C., S/Sgt, radio-gunner Noble, Francis L., S/Sgt, gunner
Perpich, Joseph G, S/Sgt, engineer-gunner Richardson, Robert W. "Rich", 2Lt, pilot
BEFORE being shot-down, Sgt Noble credited with one enemy aircraft shot-down/killed.
FAMOUS Knapp Flight Over ATLANTIC; B-25 Crew and Ship Roster for the 321st Bomb Group, ALL Squads...
http://57thbombwing.com/321stHistory/321_BG_1943-02.pdf (KNAPP CREWS, 12 Feb. 1943)
Francis was transferred to 321st BG HQ 22 Oct. 1943 and stayed in war-service until 1945..
Lt Duke and his CREW were shot-down 20 March, 1943 ... in a British Hospital 25 March, 1943 and returned to us 27 March, 1943.
Barbi Ennis Connolly, 321st Bomb Group Historian http://57thbombwing.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=1372 Official 57th Bomb Wing web--site........