Shady Lady II
Martin B-26B-20-MA Marauder
Squadron Code: FW-N
Crew Chief: T/Sgt. Odies Gover
Asst. Crew Chief: Cpl. Earl Hoffman *
Jolly Roger was one
of the original cadre of B-26s that formed the 556th Bomb. Squadron. The
crew to which the aircraft was originally assigned and that flew the aircraft
from the United States to England was:
|Stephen S. Adams
Weldon J. Allen
Richard C. Moffet
Richard F. Palmer
Wilbur T. Beck
(Flight Chief T/Sgt. John W. Gorski also accompanied the aircraft on the trip to England.)
Jolly Roger, later
renamed Shady Lady, made a total of 40 sorties. On February
15, 1944 the aircraft was taking part in a mission against the La Glacerie
V-1 site in France when it was shot down over the target by enemy Flak.
The crew, originally listed as missing in action, was:
|Thomas L. Alford
Winston W. Hunt
Michael G. Koury
Robert M. Arthur
Clyde M. Lawrence
Clarence E. Dalrymple
The aircraft came down near the village of Le Theil, France. It was observed to be on fire as it came down, and to bank, apparently to avoid a farm, before crashing into a line of trees. Only Sgts. Arthur and Dalrymple were able to bail out. Lt. Hunt was badly wounded and died of his injuries a few days later. The other three crew members died in the crash and are buried in the Cherbourg cemetery. Sgt. Arthur was captured; Sgt. Dalymple evaded capture for a time but was eventally caught in Paris.
The crash site is marked by a four-foot high granite obelisk with a bronze plaque listing the names of the crew.
Shootin' In (Nov. 2002), pp. 11-13.
V. The Case of Mistaken Crash Sites
Soon after Reunion notices began to appear in the various Military and Aviation Publications a phone call was received from Bruce Anderson of East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania. It seems that Bruce's much admired older brother had died in the crash of a B-17 in Normandy on April 20, 1944. He had served as a Radio Operator of an air crew attached to the 390th Bomb Group, based at Franklingham, England. It was Bruce's hope to not only visit his brother's grave in the cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, but possibly locate the actual crash site.
Bruce had seen our group designation in the Reunion Notice and called to request the names of the crew members who had died in the crash of a 556th Marauder near the village LeThiel. The aircraft Mission Record lists their names as follows: Pilot - 1st. Lt. Thomas Alford, Co-Pilot - 2nd. Lt. Winston W. Hunt, Bomb/Nav - 1st. Lt. Michael Koury, Rad/Gun - T/Sgt. Robert M. Arthur, Eng/Gun S/Sgt Clyde M. Lawrence, Arm/Gun S/Sgt. Clarence E. Dalrymple.
The Aircraft Mission Record lists the serial number as 41-31682, call letters FW-N and the name as "Jolly Roger: changed to "Shady Lady"; Crew Chief Odies Gover.
In response to the Editor's request that Bruce put his interesting story in a narative form for inclusion in "Shootin' In", Bruce has provided the following:
"I visited the former base at Framlingham, then ferried from Southampton to Cherbourg. My plan was to drive to Omaha Beach where Bernie is buried. On the way, but with little to go on and half a century having passed, I felt I might, if not locate the actual crash site, at least see the countryside where his B-17 went down.
That part of Normandy, known as the "Bocage" because of its unique hedgerow fences, is a patchwork of farms where families have lived for generations. Unlike the people of Paris they are friendly and uncomplicated. With my attention drawn more to the landscape than the road ahead of me, I got lost. I randomly stopped at a house set back off a country road. The woman who answered the door welcomed me in when I told her about my search. I judged these hospitable new acquaintances, Yvonne and Francois, to be in their early fifties, much too young to have experienced the war that raged in their neighborhood and overhead nearly sixty years ago. Thy became enthusiastic and insisted on joining me in my mission.
Crisscrossing the Bocage all afternoon, the search narrowed to the hamlet of LeTheil, a village with an ancient church, a bakery, a bistro and a grocery store. We chose the bakery and there met a woman who arranged for us to meet Charles, a man who as a youngster witnessed the crash of an American bomber. It was a poignant moment because this gentle person presented to me a piece of plexiglas from the aircraft. He then led me to where the plane had come to rest in a peaceful meadow framed by hedgerow and wild, yellow primrose.
I concluded that was indeed the crash site. There wasn't a doubt in my mind. It certainly gave me a satisfying sense of finality. It was time now to continue on to Omaha Beach. With beaucoups mercis I bid my new-found friends, Yvonne and Francois, and Charles, au revoir. After a sentimental moment with Bernie at the military cemetery at St. Laurent, I returned to the States.
I wrote to Charles and asked if he would draw a map so my children might someday visit the meadow where their Uncle Bernie gave his life for freedom. A year passed without hearing from Charles. That was okay because there would always be the friendly boulangerie, the little bakery, at LeTheil, to guide them.
Then after another six months had passed, I received incredible news from Charles. On the map he had enclosed, an X was marked where the good folks of LeTheil were erecting a monument. Would I send a list of the crew? When could I return to dedicate it? Half a century and two generations later these thoughtful and generous Normans were expressing an inspiring reservoir of gratitude for the sacrifice of our airmen, the brave men of the Mighty Eighth.
I returned to LeTheil this past September and helped dedicate a four-foot high granite obelisk with a bronze plaque listing the 568th crew. Thirty or so mostly farmers nearby gathered around the monument. I felt obliged to say something and was pleased to recall these words from Scripture: "Greater love hath no man than this that he would give his life for his friends." I said these words were appropriate for the valor of Bernie and the crew but also for the French men and women, heroes of the Resistance who died at the hands of the brutal Gestapo for risking aid to our downed airmen.
Afterward we celebrated at the handsome home of Charles, the stalwart behind the creation of the monument. Our heady consumption of wine would have impressed even our comrads of the 390th. My brother, Bernie, up there might have wondered where I learned to perform an Apache war dance because I led my little tribe of Normans twice around that sumptuous banquet table, all of us grunting and doing the chop.
That would have ended a perfect day, except for an innocent remark by Charles that sent me into a spin. He mentioned how bitterly cold that winter morning was. The mission was on a spring day with bombs away at 1855. We had the wrong crash site! We now faced agonizing questions. Where did Bernie's plane go down? Who crashed here at LeTheil? And what do we do about the monument?Shootin' In (Nov. 2003), pp. 11-12.
Like the chance meeting of Yvonne and Francois, and Charles, fate delt me another fortuitous encounter in young Mickael, a tall, broad-shouldered surf rider who also happens to be a history buff of World War II. With his computer skills he promised to sort it all out. In short order he returned with more data than I had accumulated in all by visits to the U.S. National Archives including details on crew names, aircraft numbers, targets, even names of civilian casualties on the ground. It was now unequivocal. Bernie's plane had come down near the village of Brix ten kilometers south of LeTheil.
The stricken B-17 in its final descent had exploded over a farm violently shaking the home of a brother and sister, eleven and twelve at the time. Mickael had arranged for me to interview them. We met at the farm. They recalled for me how they ran from the house to check the stable and stumbled upon Bernie's body in their apple orchard. The brother described his body as peacefully intact, as if he were merely napping.
As I stood in that orchard in the comforting companionship of my "Apache tribe" who had tagged along on that sunny day in the Bocage, I felt that this was the moment of finality. I have to borrow words from that great Russian novelist, Dostoevsky, who expresses more eloquently just how I feel after this experience in Normandy. He wrote: "It is the great mystery of life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy".
As I write, the mayors of LeTheil and Brix are negotiating the placing of a second monument at Brix. The plaque with the names of the 568th airmen will be reattached to the new stone at Brix. Mickael and I are continuing our difficult search for next-of-kin, both for Bernie's crew and a B-26 crew from the 556th, 387th Bomb Group, which crashed at LeTheil on February 15, 1944."
In an accompanying letter Bruce expressed his hope that any next of kin of the "Shady Lady" crew be advised that a monument has been erected in their memory near the site of the crash by our French friends. Any information about the location of the next of kin would be appreciated by your Editor as well as Bruce Anderson.
V. The Case of Mistaken Crash Site
Included in the November 2003 issue of "Shootin' In" was a letter from Bruce Anderson, whose older brother was killed in the crashof a B-17 in France in April 1944. In his letter Bruce describes his experiences in criss-crossing the Bocage section of Normandy to pin point the location of the crash site. With the aid of a young Frenchman, named Charles, he was able to find the exact site of a crash near the village of LeTheil.
It was only after the good citizens of LeTheil dedicated a monument inscribed with the names of the deceased members of the crew that Bruce realized that the date of the crash near LeTheil did not correspond with the date of the B-17 crash. Additional research by another young Frenchman, who was a computer literate, WWII history buff, Mickael Simon, soon resolved the discrepancy. The B-17 had crashed near the nearby village of Brix and it was a B-26 Marauder assigned to the 556th Bomb Squadron, which had crashed near LeTheil. The mayors of LeTheil and Brix had agreed to move the plaque bearing the names of those crew members of "Shady Lady" who had died in the crash was to be dedicated in LeThiel. The following letter from Mickal explains the progress of this exchange.
Mickaël Simon SIMON.Mick@wanadoo.fr
8 hameau le Chuquay
50340 St Germain le Gaillard
October 20, 2003
Mr. Paul R Priday
420 Eaton St
Dear Mr. Priday,
Thank you very much for your letter that I received last months. I must apologize for not having answering sooner but I was waiting for further information regarding the memorial project.
Maybe you will be surprised to read that the memorial is still a project and I must explain you what has been done exactly. The memorial stone has been erected since two years now but the memorial plaque where the names of your comrades who died in this tragedy will be engraved is not build at the moment. It should be done in the following month and then this plaque will be seal to the memorial stone. The date is not definite, but the official unveiling should take place before the D-Day anniversary of June 2004. You can be sure that I will contact you as soon as I will know the date of the unveiling. Maybe would it be possible for some of your members to take part in this ceremony if we have the time to plan it, which would be marvellous!
Our investigations came to the conclusion that this plane was a B-26 of the 556th Bomber Squadron/387th Bomber Group that crashed on 15 February 1944. This B-26 was hit by flak ans was on fire before it hit the ground, the pilot apparently tried to avoid a farm before crashing in a line of trees.
It was B-26 # 41-31682 and the crew was:
Pilot 1st Lt Thomas L Alford Co-pilot 2nd Lt Winston W Hunt Nav-Bomb 1st Lt Michael G Koury Radio Gunner T/Sgt Robert M Arthur Engineer Gunner S/Sgt Clyde M Lawrence Tail Gunner S/Sgt Clarence R Dalrymple
Only Robert M Arthur and Clarence R Dalrymple managed to bail out successfully and Winston W Hunt was badly wounded, he died of his injuries a few days after. The three other airmen were killed in the crash and they were buried in the Cherbourg cemetery. I have also learnt from the University of Akron who is maintaining a huge collection of information concerning the B-26 Marauder that B-26 # 41-31682 had the following nickname: "Jolly Roger to Shady Lady" and that its code letters were FW-N.
I have succeeded in contacting Mr. Dalrymple family. His son told me that Mr. Dalrymple died in September 1998. He told me that his father evaded capture for a certain time before being captured by the Germans in Paris. Mr. Dalrymple's son address is:
Clarence R Dalrymple
318 Main St.
I have also managed to contact the nephew of lieutenant Alford, whose name is also Thomas L Alford but I only know his e-mail address which is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org I have however lost contact with him since last year.
If your association could find out the relatives of the other crewmembers that would be marvellous to inform them about the memorial and maybe some of them could come at Le Theil for the unveiling. A lot of people would be happy to receive them and to show them that we do not forget the sacrifice made by your comrades, believe me.
We were wondering if you have more information concerning this story. Maybe some veterans remember this crew and would like to talk about them.
Moreover, Mr. Robert M Arthur, who was captured, is maybe one of your members and could tell us his experience?
Do you also know if some photographs picturing the crew or the plane exist too?
All kind of information would be greatly appreciated.
You can be sure that I will keep you informed. Please forward my thanks to the members of the 556th Bomb Squadron Association.
[s] M Simon