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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
8th Air Force
21.02.1944 407th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-17G 42-31860, 2nd Lt. Ralph K. Skoubo

Operation: Hopsten airfield (Mission #228), Germany

Date: 21st February 1944 (Monday)

Unit No: 92nd Bombardment Group (H), 407th Bombardment Squadron (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-17G

Serial No: 42-31860

Code: PL:Y

Location: 5 km NW of Ostende in Belgium

Base: Podington (Station #109), Bedfordshire, England

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Ralph Kenneth Skoubo O-802155 AAF Age 21. PoW *

Co Pilot: 1st Lt. William Bruce Campbell O-660722 AAF Age 23. PoW *

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Richard Mark Baker O-807965 AAF Age 20. PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Billy R. Corretti O-741139 AAF Age 20. PoW *

Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Russell Francis Kennedy 11085433 AAF Age 27. PoW **

Engineer: T/Sgt. John Richard Hewitt 33296308 AAF Age 23. KiA

Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Hal Eugene Poe 14166282 AAF Age 21. PoW **

Right Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Charles Felts Thorburn 14166278 AAF Age 26. PoW **

Left Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. James Dively 33396572 AAF Age 22. PoW **

Tail Gunner: Sgt. John Frederickson Sherrets 37115743 AAF Age 29. PoW **

* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

** Stalag Luft 4 Groß-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug on 28th May 1944. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).

Top: Lt. Avery, 2nd Lt. Skoubo, 2nd Lt. Coretti, Sgt. Renner, S/Sgt. Diveley (courtesy Michel Beckers via David Renner)


The 407th Bombardment Sqn took off from Podington, Bedfordshire on a mission to bomb the Hopsten airfield in Germany.

Hopsten airfield was 36km WNW of Osnabrück and 5¾ km SW of the village of Hopsten.

B-17G 42-31860 left the formation over the target and was last seen at 14:40 hrs at the Lat/Long of 52 00N, 08 10E which is some 24 km due west of Bielefeld.

Near Ostende in Belgium all the crew, save for the pilot and co-pilot, baled out. S/Sgt. Poe was wounded in the ankle by a piece of flak and 2nd Lt. Corretti suffered a broken Ankle.

T/Sgt. Hewitt was not injured when he baled out. T/Sgt. Kennedy saw him land in the sea about 100 metres off-shore but he appeared to be unconscious and made no effort to save himself.

2nd Lt. Skoubo and 1st Lt. Campbell remained with the aircraft and crash-landed the aircraft on the beach between the sea wall and the sea about 5 km NW of Ostende in Belgium.

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

B-17G 42-31860 on beach after the crash landing. (courtesy Michel Beckers)

Burial Details:

T/Sgt. Hewitt was initially buried in the New Cemetery at Ostende in Belgium.

Above: Grave marker for T/Sgt. Hewitt (courtesy Dominique Potier)

T/Sgt. John Richard Hewitt. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Recovered and interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot D, Row 6, Grave 31. Born on the 8th December 1920 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Son of John Clyde and Evelyn E. (née Sippola) Hewitt of Erie, Pennsylvania, USA.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2014). Review and updated by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2022).

RS 31.10.2022 - Editorial amendments

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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: 31 October 2022, 15:22

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