Crash site of the American B17G bomber.
This bomber with the number 42-107225 and the nickname 'Johnny Reb' had taken off with other bombers of the 452 Bomber Group from Deopham Green airfield in Norfolk, England for a bombing raid on Nuremberg. Over Oerle the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and the entire crew left the aircraft by parachute. The aircraft continued to fly unmanned until it crashed at this location.
Pilot 2Lt H.F. Bradshaw
2nd Pilot 2Lt T.I. Ahern
Navigator 2Lt W.P. Farris
Bombardier 2Lt G.A. Blanford
Radio Operator S/Sgt M. Billey
Gunner Sgt F. Doucette
Gunner S/Sgt A.P. Jablonski
Gunner S/Sgt W.1. Kirk
Gunner S/Sgt R.O. Martin
The crew were soon captured by the Germans, except for pilot Bradshaw, gunner Doucette and gunner Martin.
Roy Martin was taken in by the resistance in Wintelre and transferred via Vessem, Eersel, Bergeijk to the White Brigade in Belgium in Lommel and eventually found his way to England by means of the Cometline in Brussels in mid-September 1944.
Horace Bradshaw and Frank Doucette, injured in his foot, have been taken care of in Oerle. Through shelter in Eindhoven and Nuenen and the care of Frank's foot from various doctors, they ended up in camp Dennenlust together in Lierop. When they heard about the Market Garden offensive there, they decided to take an active part in the battle again. Frank Doucette still lost his life on September 19, 1944.
Horace Bradshaw then returned to England via Brussels on September 24. The remaining crew was released after the war.
A monument and street name can be found in Lierop for Frank Doucette. https://www.tracesofwar.nl/sights/233/Monument-Frank-Doucette.htm. The monument has been placed on the military training ground Oirschotse Heide, but can be visited freely in compliance with the rules.
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- Text: Geert-Jan van Glabbeek
- Photos: Geert-Jan van Glabbeek