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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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louis meyer
14.01.1943 71st Squadron P-38 Lt. Meyer

Operation: B-17 Bomber Escort to Sfax, Tunisia

Date: 14th January 1943 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 71st Fighter Squadron - 1st Fighter Group 

Type: P38

Serial: ?

Coded: LM-?

Location: Mezzouna, Tunisia

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Louis Felix Meyer Purple Heart USAAF Age 22. Missing


Took off from Beskra Oasis base at 10.45hrs to escort 24 x B-17s who were to bomb Sfax.


                          2nd Lt. Louis Felix Meyer on far left

Taken from First Fighter Group log:

"12 P-38s - Major Rudell, Captain Harris, Lts, Newman, Muldoon, Salts, Sgroi, Wiseman, Mathis, Schoenfeldt, Meyer, Sears and Morhous left the base at 10.45hrs to escort 24 X B-17s to Sfax. Lts. Moutier and Melbraaten did not take off due to mechanical trouble. Lt. Sgroi returned to the base at 13.30 hrs due to supercharger trouble, Lt. Newman returned at 11.45 hrs due to a faulty cross feed, Lt. Morhous returned at 11.20 hrs due to low fuel pressure, Lt Muldoon returned at 12.10 hrs due to left engine being rough and Lt Schoenfeldt returned at 13.15 hrs due to left inner cooler being out.

So, 6 P-38s were over target at 12.45 hrs when they received heavy and accurate flak at 22.500 feet - the P-38s were at 25.000 feet. Grey smoke could be observed from the dock areas. 2 Freighters, about 2.000 tons each were observed heading due east near the target. 2 x Me 109s observed about 10 minutes after leaving the target area due west. 3 Fw 190s observed about 100 miles due west of the target area. Lt Wiseman observed 1 Me 109 making head on attack on first flight of bombers at a height of 25,000 feet. He attacked the Me 109, firing one burst - results unobserved. Lt. Meyer flying an Lt Mathis's wing in rear position of formation, was attacked by 1 x Me 109 and was observed by Lt Mathis to go into a tight spin to the left and crash into the ground. Major Rudell attacked the same Me 109 and fired one burst and claimed it as destroyed. Lt Salts left the formation near the target and failed to return to base. (He had only been with the unit for a week) The remaining 4 P-38s landed back at the base at 14.00 hrs. No other enemy air, naval or ground forces were observed."


                          Major "Rudy" Rudell commanding officer of 71 Squadron

His friend and fellow pilot, Lt. Peyton Mathus wrote this:

"We were returning from enemy territory with our squadron thinking that there were no German planes around. I happened to look up into the sun when suddenly, I saw an enemy fighter coming down in an attack from the sun at Louis and myself.  I hollered over the radio a warning, but no one except Louis and myself saw the fighter.

Louis must have seen it a moment before I did, because he turned his plane over on its back, kicked it into a spin and headed for the ground. The fighter had fired at us both just before we broke off from the main formation of our squadron. When I saw Louis go into a spin, I turned sharply to try to get on the tail of the German plane that was following him down to the ground, but I could not quite get to it. I was following both planes down and yelling to Louis over the radio that the German was following him. Louis’ plane kept on spinning down and all the time I thought he was doing it to get rid of the enemy fighter. But Louis’ plane just kept on spinning, hit the ground and blew up. I got sick and mad and felt like crying….

I never saw Louis bail out but the more I thought about it later on the more I knew that he could have bailed out without my seeing it. I know of several cases where pilots bailed out and nobody saw them. Recently two of our boys who were given up for sure as being lost long before Louis’ plane crashed were discovered to be prisoners of the Germans. I have every hope that Louis is still alive, because as I have said, he was a superior pilot and would have taken advantage of every opportunity that his high altitude offered him at the time…."


                          1st Fighter group P-38s over the Atlas mountains


Captain Harris who also served with Meyer (Shown here with the "Life" magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White) On right: 2nd Lt. Louis Felix Meyer during training

2nd Lt. Louis Felix Meyer had served previously in the RCAF and the RAF prior to the USA joining the war. After his training was over he took up ferrying aircraft to the UK. He was classed as an above average pilot and had previously his fair share of scrapes. The first being on the 29th August 1941 when flying a Wellington and overshot the runway in Gibraltar - he was seriously injured in that accident. 

He also flew on several bombing operations with the RAF in Wellingtons and also Blenheims. Then on 25th June 1942 whilst serving with 53 OTU Group No. 81, Fighter Command he was flying a Spitfire and the following is an official report of the crash:

Summary of Pilot’s Report: Pilot Flying No.2 Fl/Sgt. Louis F. Meyer in Spitfire Serial No: X4427 position in formation for about five minutes when number 7 approached from the port of number 1 to join the formation. Number 4 Sgt. Pincus flying Spitfire Serial No: X4996 went over the top of number 1 and into the tail of No. 2 pilot’s aircraft.  Pilot lost control and bailed out.  Report by appropriate specialist officer; Wreckage inspected. Tail unit was torn from fuselage and settled 2 miles away. Aircraft wrecked and burnt out on impact with ground after pilot abandoned aircraft. Tail section was recovered as serviceable and could be reattached if one needed to do so.

Remarks by Unit Commander:  Accident occurred in daylight in good visibility. Pilot was flying in formation as Number 2 Spitfire flown by Sgt. Pincus approached from left and attempted to join up as No.3 Leader was turning gently to the left at the time. Sgt Pincus passed above and beyond leader and cut the tail of Sgt. Meyer’s aircraft forward of the fin. Pilot abandoned aircraft and landed unhurt.  Incorrect flying procedure on part of Sgt. Pincus Serial 295.  Fact that formation was turning tended to make joining-up rather more difficult.  No blame whatever attached to Sgt. Meyer who behaved with great coolness throughout.

Station Commander agreed with remarks in the investigation. X4996 was also struck off charge after landing. his brother, Francis who joined the RCAF in August 1941, did his training and then joined the USAAC in April 1942, was killed in a crash in a two seater test aircraft together with his gunner at Ajo, Arizona on July 26th 1942.

It also has been discovered that on the 5th January Lt. Myers came back from another raid on Sfax with a blown supercharger which lost his left engine - he had to manually operate the hydraulic to get the landing gear down. Also, on the 13th January 1943 the day prior to Louis loss he was also on patrol escorting B-17s when one B-17 had two engines shot out and half of the crew had been killed - Louis remained with that aircraft until he was just about out of fuel and only just making it back to Beskra base. When ground crew examined the aircraft they found there was not enough fuel left to even restart the engines!

Several newspapers reported his short career and you can download them.

Burial Details:

2nd Lt. Louis Felix Meyer (Purple Heart) Son of, Frank G. Meyer and Victoria A. Meyer. 712 East 2nd Street Mitchell, South Dakota, USA. Missing,

Aircrew Remembered would like to thank his nephew, Jim Meyer and his wife Amy who has been helping us compile the information whilst Jim is away and his Uncle Mark for supplying us with these reports. Some photographs were also supplied by them and some from our own archives. Further information on American War deaths. 

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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