B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

  Escape and Evasion
by James L. McCrory, 444th Bomb Squadron

 

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Hit by flak

 

 

 

Major McCrory standing in the doorway leading to the hole where he slept for three months as he waited in Rome for the Allies to move through. On June 5, 1944, he was freed.

Our mission was to knock out a railroad bridge near the little town of Orte, Italy, about eighty miles north of Rome, on January 16, 1944.

As the Lead Aircraft we had eight crew members aboard: I was Flight Commander; pilot was 1st Lt. Joseph A. Green; co-pilot, 1st Lt. John B. Stewart; navigator, 2nd Lt. L.W. McDaniel, Jr.; bombardier, 1st Lt. James Banaiki; flight engineer, S/Sgt. H.W. DeLisle; radio operator, S/Sgt. William J. Gardner; and, gunner, S/Sgt. William A. Harrison.

We were at 9,000 feet, had the target in sight, and were level on the bomb run when we were hit by a burst of flak. The right engine was knocked out, a fuel tank ruptured, and we caught fire. No question If we should jump, the problem was how quickly could we all get out!

I bailed out the hatch and as I came down I counted only six other parachutes before the aircraft exploded in mid-air. I assumed that the pilot Lt. Green didn't get out.

When I landed I hid for a while, trying to compose myself and get it all together. I realized that I had to have help so I approached an old man that I'd spotted beating the bushes looking for us. To my surprise he spoke perfect English and seemed to be friendly. As I talked with him, Sgt. Gardner and Sgt. DeLisle walked up and joined us.

The old man hid us and after dark guided us to a cave up in the mountains. We were to live in that cave for about two months. The Italians brought us food and drink. They were careful not to spend much time with us because if they were caught the Germans would probably kill them. They were wonderful people and took many chances to help us. (Continued)


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