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Black Thursday B-17 'FIGHTIN' BITIN' shot down 14th Oct. 1943 on 2nd Schweinfurt Raid

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this thread is about the B-17F-15-BO # 42-30727 'FIGHTIN' BITIN' and its crew - they belonged to the 367th "Clay Piegeons" Bomb Squadron of 306th Bomb Group.





They were shot down on the 2nd Schweinfurt-Raid on 14th Ocotber 1943,  from Feldwebel Emil SchmelzingerBf109G-6 from "9. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 1 "

The bombers of the 306th Bomb Group took off from Thurleigh airfield and got attacked by 300 german fighters over Germany.


In the Frankfurt area 'FIGHTIN' BITIN' - the pilot was 1st Lt. William C Bisson -   got heavy attacked by german fighters with 20mm shells and rockets - the bombers speed slowed and they had to get out of the formation -  at around 2.00 PM the 1st engine started to burn and they got several 20mm-hits in the bow of the bomber. 


The bombardier 1st Lt. Joseph W. Lukens  got  badly injured. The instruments didnd´t react anymore on the 1st and the 2nd engine - the 2nd engine was damaged and sounded like a washing machine.  Both engines were knocked out. The rudder didnt react anymore, it has been hit by a rocket. About 2.15PM the pilot give the order to bail out.


The bow-door already missed at this time. The tail was heavily riddled and seconds later the bomber broke in half.

The back crashed int a field and the front part in a small wood around the small village Höhefeld (15 miles west of Würzburg)  , the wood started to burn.


Five crewmembers could bail out and become POW:


Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Chas Stafford (with broken leg)

Radio Operator: T/Sgt. John McLellan

Ball turret gunner: S/Sgt.  Dick Vader

Waist gunner: S/Sgt. Peter Giovanni

Waist gunner:  S/Sgt.Constantine Lamb


The men get captured by german soldiers and brought to the Fliegerhorst Wertheim, where they get provided and treated. After tha,t they came to the interrogation-camp in Oberursel and later to Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang in Prussia , a POW Campf for Air Force members. After liberation of the camp they came to the "Lucky Strike Camp" in Le Havre ,where they get  collected and asked about comrades, before shipping home.


The other crew members were killed in action,

they couldnt bail out, except 2nd Lt.Young , he bailed out, but died of wounds at Kembach, a village near Höhefeld


Pilot: 1st Lt. Bill Bisson

Navigator: 2nd Lt. George Young

Bombardier: 1st Lt. Joe Lukens (he had already survived two crash-landings before)

Flight engineer/top turret gunner: T/Sgt.  Ed Osep

Tail gunner: S/Sgt. Thompson Wilson


2nd Lt. Young was first buried in Kembach - the other for men were buried in Höhefeld.

Later the graves of 1st. Lt. Bisson, 1st Lt. Lukens and S/Sgt. Thompson  were relocated to the Lorraine American Cemetery Saint Avold / France .

The graves of 2nd Lt. Young and T/Sgt. Osep were relocated in the USA.


The wreckage was scraped, some weeks after the crash.


I was at the crashplace of 'FIGHTIN' BITIN' and could find some relics, nothing special, most of the wreckage was scraped in wartime -

but theyre parts of history and they witnessed the events of October 14th, 1943.

Please excuse my english, im not used to it.







More information about bomber and crew:


Missing Air Crew Report 817.

Source pic of the 'FIGHTIN' BITIN'



Edited by Mainfranken
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