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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.

We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via Helpdesk
9th Air Force
08.07.1944 411th Fighter Squadron P-47D Thunderbolt, 42-25686 2nd Lt. Francis N. O’Hara

Operation: Dive bombing mission at Chartres, France

Date: 8th July 1944 (Saturday)

Unit No: 411th Fighter Squadron, 373rd Fighter Group, 9th Air Force

Type: P-47D Thunderbolt

Serial: 42-25686

Code: U9:?

Base: Woodchurch airfield (Station #419), Kent, England

Location: 6½ km (4 mls) NW of Elbeuf (Seine-Maritime), France

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Francis Norman O’Hara O-689814 AAF Age 25. KiA

Above: 2nd Lt. Francis Norman O’Hara and right aboard a Razorback Thunderbolt variant (Courtesy of Ruth Garibotto)

REASON FOR LOSS:

2nd Lt. O’Hara took off as #4 of a flight of four P-47s from Woodchurch airfield on the morning of the 8th July 1944 on a mission to dive bomb targets at Chartres in France.

The after mission statement by the flight leader, Capt. Harry L. Downing Jr., O-437990, reported that:

“At approximately 14:45 near Elbeuf, France, SW of Rouen my flight of four ships was subject to anti-aircraft fire while letting down through an overcast. At about 4,000 feet I glanced to the rear and observed a parachute just below #4 aircraft. The plane rolled over on its back and went into the ground. Lt. Francis N. O’Hara was flying that aircraft. Although I did not see the gun fire hit his plane I assume that was the reason for his bailing out. We couldn’t stay to observe him land.”

The entry for the aircraft in the “Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces - Volume 4: by Stan Bishop” reported that while letting down through the overcast the aircraft was shot down by flak, at 14:58 hrs, 6½ km (4 mls) NW of Elbeuf (Seine), France. The pilot baled out and landed in the woods of La Londe, at Saint Nicolas.

He suffered a gunshot wound in the thigh from a rifle shot fired by an unknown SS soldier, who was from a unit quartered in the Château Callouel at Le Bosc-Roger-en-Roumois. The circumstances leading up to him being shot are unknown. However, a report to Dulag Luft, Wetzlar recorded that the pilot of an aircraft shot near Elbeuf (Seine) was a fugitive. How much can be inferred from this report is debatable.

He was then taken by a horse-drawn car to Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf, over 9½ km (6 mls), without medical care. He died from his wound but the Germans dressed his wound before burial.

The circumstance of his death were suspicious but no evidence of a trial has been found so any negligence contributing to his death or potential murder was not proven.

Burial Details:

Above: 2nd Lt. Francis Norman O’Hara (Courtesy of Ruth Garibotto). Grave marker courtesy of Frogman - FindAGrave.

1st Lt. Francis Norman O’Hara. Air Medal (Three Oak Leaf Clusters). Buried in the community Cemetery at Elbeuf and in July 1946 he was reinterred at the US Military Cemetery at St. André near Evreux, Plot H, Row 10, Grave 196. Finally reinterred at the Normandy American Cemetery, Plot I, Row 27, Grave 23. Born on the 7th October 1918 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Son of Martin John and Elizabeth Colette (née Woods) O’Hara of Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this Pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the VitzArchive’. Thanks to Ruth Garibotto, who is a niece of Francis O’Hara, for the correct photographs of him. (Feb 2024).

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 02.02.2024 - Correction to photograph

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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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Last Modified: 05 February 2024, 07:22

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