B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 Nazi Admiral Yields French Hospital to American Patient
by Homer Bigart



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BN 20, 42-43297 piloted by 1st Lt. James H. Hipple was lost due to flak over target at 0735 hours on combat mission 13 August 1944 at a point 2-3 miles east of Signes, France. While on the bomb run this aircraft sustained a direct hit in the right wing just outboard of the right engine. The wing caught fire and the aircraft fell out of formation. Tree chutes came from the waist window. The aircraft continued on course for 15/20 seconds, dropping bombs, after which two more chutes came from the plane. Then the wing fell off; aircraft went into a spin; crashed and exploded at 43°17'N,5°55'E.

The pilot, 1st Lt. James H. Hipple was killed. The remainder survived. Radio Gunner, T/Sgt. Jesse Willard (Will) Largent was taken as a POW with the remaining crew members having evaded capture.






Will Largent as he appeared in his flight suit while serving as a radio operator/gunner and Technical Sergeant in the 320th Bomb Group during missions in Martin Marauder (B-26) bombers over North Africa and Europe in World War II.

Reprinted below is an article by correspondent Homer Bigart from an August 1944 edition of the New York Herald-Tribune describing the surrender of the German admiral Karl Eyerich to Technical Sergeant Willard Largent. For his service Will was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

Nazi Admiral Yields French Hospital to American Patient Sends Him Out in Auto to Get U.S. Troops Before Partisans Can Arrive

By Homer Bigart
By Wireless to the Herald Tribune
Copyright 1944, New York Tribune, Inc.


Aix-en-Provence, France. Aug. 23 (delayed) --


Rear Admiral Karl Eyerich entered a private room of the surgical pavilion at a German marine hospital near here at 3 p.m. Sunday and gravely laid his sword on a cot where a captured radio operator-gunner of an American bomber crew lay recovering from a broken leg.

Although the Americans had not yet captured Aix, Admiral Eyerich said he feared French Partisans would break into the hospital and harm 300 German patients and his staff of seven doctors and twenty-eight nurses.

"I yield my command," the admiral said, "but on one condition. You must go out and find Americans and bring them here quickly."

The sergeant, a tall, slight youth from Cleveland, nodded weakly. With his right leg broken at the knee from a rough parachute landing in the mountains behind Toulon on Aug. 13, he had undergone that morning another operation for abscess. The admiral placed his limousine and chauffeur at the sergeant's disposal. Germans carried him to the car and gave him a white flag.

It was nearly dusk when they left the hospital, a bleak cluster of buildings on an isolated moor six miles west of Aix. The sergeant sat in the front seat beside the chauffeur. A German captain sat in the rear.

"We drove toward Aix," the sergeant said, "figuring that Americans had taken the town, since we had heard a lot of shooting in that direction all day. But when we passed Les Milles and were within three miles of Aix I saw a lot of panzer troops preparing an ambush. I figured if I could get to Aix I could tell the Americans and give these guys the screw.

"But the captain ordered the chauffeur to turn back. He threw the white sheet over my head so I couldn't see any more. They put me back to bed, and then got me up at 5 a.m. The same thing happened again -- there were a lot Germans around Les Milles."

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