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.
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
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.
Admiral Yields French Hospital to American Patient Sends
Him Out in Auto to Get U.S. Troops Before Partisans
By Homer Bigart
By Wireless to the Herald Tribune
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
"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
"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." (Continued)
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Reunion Association. All rights reserved.