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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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21.02.1944 92nd B/Grp, 407th Bomb Squadron, B17G 42-31860 PY-L, 2nd Lt. Skoubo

Operation: Lippstad

Date: 21st February 1944 (Monday)

Unit: 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Bomb Squadron 

Type: B17G Flying Fortress

Serial: 42-31860

Code: PY-L 

Base: RAF Podington (USAAF 109), Northamptonshire

Location: Mariakerke-Oostende Belgium 

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Ralph Kenneth Skoubo 0-802155 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

2nd Pilot: 1st Lt. William B. Campbell 0-660722 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Nav: 2nd Lt. Richard M. Baker 0-807965 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang 

Air/Bmr: 2nd Lt. Billy R. Corretti 0-741139 USAAF PoW  Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

RO/Gnr: T/Sgt. Russell F. Kennedy 11085433 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

T/T/Gnr: T/Sgt. John R. Hewitt 33296308 USAAF Killed

B/T/Gnr: S/Sgt. Hal E. Poe 14166282 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

R/W/Gnr: S/Sgt. Charles F. Thornburn 14166278 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

L/W/Gnr: S/Sgt. James Dively 33396572 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

T/Gnr: Sgt. John F. Sherrets 37115743 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

REASON FOR LOSS:

Aircraft hit by flak off the coast of Belgium at approximately 14.40 hrs. (Position recorded as 52.00 Degrees N - 08.10 E)

Top: Lt. Avery, Lt. Skoubo, Lt. Coretti, Sgt. Renner, Sgt. Diveley (courtesy Michel Beckers via David Renner)

S/Sgt. Poe wounded in ankle by flak, 2nd Lt. Billy Corrette suffered a broken ankle. T/Sgt. Hewitt was seen in the sea about 150 yards from the beach it appeared that he had been unable to spill air out of his chute dragging him under water. During the crews descent they were fired at with machine guns. All the other crew landed on or near the beach. All were captured within an hour of landing.

Above left; Sgt. John F. Sherrets with unknown and right Sgt. Sherrets  (courtesy Michel Beckers via Betty Zumbach)

B17G - 42-31860 PY-L on beach after the crash landing. (courtesy Michel Beckers)

The pilot and 2nd pilot remained in the aircraft - all the remainder ordered to bale out when flying at around 1,800 ft. 2nd Lt. Skoubo with 1st Lt. Campbell landed the aircraft between the sea wall and the sea on the beach. Both pilots uninjured during the landing.

All were captured within an hour of landing and taken to the same jail on February 24th 1944. Travelling together to Brussels, then on to Frankfurt - finally dispersed to the various PoW camps as described above.

Burial Details:

T/Sgt. John R. Hewitt. Ardennes War cemetery. Plot D Row 6 Grave 31 - Understood to be from Pennsylvania, USA - next of kin details unavailable - can you assist?

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - December 2014. With thanks to Fold 3 for additional information.

Right: Grave of T/Sgt. Hewitt at Ardennes War Cemetery  (courtesy Michel Beckers via Dominique Potier)

Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 09 December 2014, 23:20