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427th Davis Crew
Robert W. Davis, Pilot
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ROBERT W. DAVIS CREW - 427th BS
(Assigned 427BS: 15 July 1944 - Photo: May 1944, Alexandria, LA)

Back (L-R) Sgt Roy D. Hughes (E)(Texas)(KIA), Sgt Eugene R. Gorman (R)(Missouri)(WIA),
Sgt Charles H. Johnson (TG)(West Virginia)(KIA), Sgt Nick Smirnes, Jr. (WG)(Michigan)(KIA),
Sgt Lester L. Pope (BTG)(Indiana)(KIA), Sgt William J. Foley (WG)(New York)(WIA)

(Front L-R) 1Lt Robert W. Davis (P)(SLC, Utah)(KIA), 2Lt Dorwin D. Sayre (CP)West Virginia)(KIA),
2Lt Walter E. Martin, Jr. (N)(Texas)(KIA), F/O Fred W. Bryan (B)(Florida)(KIA)

Thirty one missions of the Lt Davis Crew:
213 (28 July 1944), 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 220, 221, 226, 227, 228, 229, 233, 235, 237, 241, 245, 246, 248, 249, 250, 254, 255, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 270 (9 Nov 1944) - see the missions list

Crew Notes (Original Crew):

  • 1Lt Robert W. Davis (P)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Flew his first mission (213) as a CoPilot with a combat orientation Pilot. Other missions as crew Pilot.
  • 2Lt Dorwin D. Sayre (CP)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Did not fly on one Lt Davis crew mission (213). Other missions as crew CoPilot.
  • 2Lt Walter E. Martin, Jr. (N)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Promoted from F/O to 2Lt for mission 268 (6 Nov 44). Did not fly on three Lt Davis crew missions (223, 229, 267). Substitute Navigators used. Flew on two missions (256, 259) with the 1Lt Auston O. Caplinger Crew.
  • F/O Fred W. Bryan (B)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Did not fly on one Lt Davis crew mission (225). A substitute Bombardier used. Flew on one mission (269) with the 1Lt Caplinger crew.
  • Sgt Roy D. Hughes (E) (KIA - 15 Aug 44) - Flew on the first thirteen Lt Davis crew missions. Was instantly killed on mission #229, to Wiesbaden, Germany by a 20 mm German fighter shell while flying as a crew waist gunner.
  • S/Sgt Eugene B. Gorman (R)(WIA 15 Aug 44) - Flew on six missions with the Lt Davis crew (213, 214, 223, 226, 227 & 228). Sustained a right ankle wound on mission #229 to Wiesbaden, Germany. Was hospitalized in the 303rd Station Hospital and removed from combat duty.
  • Sgt William J. Foley (TG)(WIA - 15 Aug 44) - Flew on the first twelve Lt Davis crew missions. Sustained a leg and foot wound on mission #229 to Wiesbaden, Germany. Was hospitalized in the 303rd Station Hospital and removed from combat duty.
  • Sgt Lester L. Pope (BTG)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Was original Lt Davis Crew Ball Turret Gunner, but flew no missions in this capacity. Did not fly on the Lt Davis crew first thirteen missions. Flew on the Lt Davis crew last eighteen missions as Radio Operator replacing wounded S/Sgt Gorman.
  • Sgt E. "Nick" Smirnes (WG)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Flew on all thirty-one Lt Davis crew missions as Waist Gunner.
  • Sgt Charles H. Johnson (WG)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Did not fly on five Lt Davis crew missions (217, 218, 220, 221 & 223). Other 26 missions flown as the Lt Davis crew Waist Gunner.
Crew Notes (Replacement Crewmen):
  • Sgt Okey L. Hiibner (E)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Flew on fourteen missions with the Lt Davis crew replacing Sgt Hughes (233, 235, 245, 248 and last 13 missions) Flew on nine missions with seven different Pilots as a Togglier (7 missions), Waist Gunner (2 missions) and Engineer (1 mission) (298, 209, 211, 217, 221, 224, 226, 238, 240 & 242)
  • Sgt Donivan D. Henry (TG)(KIA - 9 Nov 44) - Flew on twelve missions with the Lt Davis Crew replacing wounded Tail Gunner, Sgt Foley. (245, 246 and last ten missions). Flew on nine missions with seven different Pilots (209, 210, 212, 213, 231, 233, 234, 236, 247)

Last Mission of the Lt Davis Crew:
Mission #270, 09 Nov 1944, to the Metz, Germany area to bomb concrete emplacements in support of the American ground troops. Weather was poor in England and over the target. Bombing was assisted by Gee-H radar equipment. Two 427th BS B-17s had a mid-air collision shortly after takeoff and crashed near Wenlock, Shropshire, England.

  • B-17G #43-38057 (No name) (427BS (GN-L) - 2Lt Stanley E. Pursel Pilot.
  • B-17G #43-37666 Full House (427BS) (GN-T) -1Lt Robert W. Davis Pilot.
Other Lt Davis crew hectic mission:
Mission #229, 15 August 1944, to Wiesbaden, Germany in B-17G #42-37875 Flying Bison (427BS) GN-A flying in the Low Group formation. Enemy fighters attacked out of the sun and downed nine of the thirteen low group B-17s. The Lt Davis B-17 sustained numerous hits by the attacking fighters. Engineer, St. Hughes was killed and Sgt Gorman and Sgt Foley were wounded. Lt Lange (N) and F/O Bryan (B) were sent to the waist to administer first aid. Aircraft damage was very severe. The amplifiers and turbos were shout out, rudder controls were useless, the fuselage looked like a sieve and the #4 engine was malfunctioning. The #4 engine ran away and was feathered.. Friendly fighters provided escort. After reaching Molesworth, Lt Davis notified the tower of the injured crewmen and the tower had Lt Davis make two runway passes. With no rudders he made a perfect landing. When the wheels touched the ground it was noticed that the left wheel tire was flat. Damage was so severe that no attempt was made at repairs. It was salvaged for parts in the boneyard.

[Photo courtesy of Joe Fudge, nephew of Lester Pope - Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]