VINCENT X. WALSH CREW - 427th BS
(crew assigned 427BS: ???)
1Lt Vincent X. Walsh (P)(POW),
2Lt John V. Franklin (CP)(KIA),
2Lt Edward A. Zieminski (N)(KIA),
2Lt John B. Walker (B)(KIA),
T/Sgt David E. Lee, Jr. (E)(POW)
T/Sgt Emery L. Knotts (R)(KIA),
S/Sgt Anthony J. Peklinsky (WG)(POW),
S/Sgt J. McMahon (WG)(KIA),
S/Sgt James H. Carithers (BT)(KIA),
S/Sgt Leroy H. Moyer (TG)(KIA)
(POW/KIA) 1 May 1943 B-17F #41-24610 Joe Btfsplk II (427BS) GN-T to Saint
Nazaire, France. Crippled by ant-aircraft fire. Dropped bombs on target.
Downed by German fighters. B-17 ditched in Ocean near St. Nazaire.
(Crew Notes) Seven of the crewmen were on their first combat mission.
Walsh (P), Franklin (CP), Zieminski (N), Lee (E) - Assigned 427BS 13 April
1943 on 1st mission. Carithers (BT), McMahon (LWG), Moyer (TG) - Assigned
427BS 8 April 1943 on 1st mission.
Walker (B) - Assigned 427BS 13 April 1943 on 2nd mission (#30 & 32). Knotts
(R) - Assigned 427BS 9 February 1943 on 3rd mission (#21, 29 & 32). Peklinsky
(RWG) - Assigned 427BS 13 March 1943 on 7th credited mission
(#24,26,27,28.29,31 & 32). Flew as a Utility Waist Gunner with five different
Events of the crash of 427BS Joe Btfsplk II - Vincent X. Walsh Crew
[photos and Carithers crash story courtesy of Carl Moyer]
Related by David E. Lee, Jr to the mother of James H. Carithers in August 1945:
We had made our target and released the bombs, but were badly crippled by anti-aircraft fire–both motors shot out under one wing, the communication system out, the plane otherwise damaged and ‘Pek' [Peklinsky] was badly shot up in one leg between the thigh and knee.
We were limping behind formation and badly crippled, but we were going home. Walsh had very expertly dived from 18,000 feet to 4,000 feet to take cover from the clouds. We were really going home–had passed out the cigarettes and relaxed when the clouds parted. In getting from one cloud to another, two German fighter planes stationed on Belle Isle to get stragglers saw us and got us. The plane and guns were in such condition that we were practically helpless. We couldn't get altitude or speed and most of the guns were out of commission. The pilot told me to tell the boys to leave their guns and brace for the crash because we were going to crash in the ocean. We did not have time to get braced for the crash and to release more than one rubber raft. I was knocked unconscious and remained so for two hours. Walsh badly wrenched his ankle climbing out through a window, but he got the raft and saved me (unconscious) and Pek (crippled).
When I regained consciousness, we were on Belle Isle. The plane evidently broke in two when it hit the water, for I don't know how else I could have gotten out. After the crash, I never saw any of the boys but Walsh and Pek. The other seven were very likely knocked unconscious in the crash and went down with the plane. They were a wonderful bunch of boys and we all loved each other like brothers. The two years we were prisoners, we prayed every day for the other seven.
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]