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LT  Francis P. SMITH

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P

 Francis P. Smith - 351st Pilot. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

SERIAL #: O-747348 STATUS: POW
MACR: 02019 CR: 02019

Comments1: 30 DEC 43 LUDWIGSHAFEN (EAC - A/C FIRE)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2ND LT FRANCIS P. SMITH, JR               P POW      30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN
2ND LT JAMES P. LAW                      CP EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN  E&E #2029 (EVENTUAL CAPTURE & POW)  
2ND LT SAUL HERSHKOWITZ            NAV EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #2415
2ND LT CLYDE S. MANION                BOM EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #577
S/SGT JOHN L. "SWEDE" SWENSON     ROG EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #726
S/SGT JOHN T. AMERY                   TTE EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #469
   SGT ALVIN C. LITTLE                  BTG EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #250
   SGT JOHN W. RUNCEL                    WG EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #567
   SGT CONRAD P. STUMPFIG, JR.          WG EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #568
   SGT WILLIAM WERTZ                      TG EVADEE 30 DEC 1943 LUDWIGSHAFEN   E&E #576

351st Sqdn.  Crew, as above, joined the 100th Group 28 Nov 1943
Crew was flying their 5th mission when shot down;  They were flying "42-5997 "Heaven Can Wait" 9 of this crew became evaders with only Lt Law being captured while trying to cross into Spain.   E&E 2029. Lt James Law. 351 BS. Arrested in Sedan on way to Pyrenees.  It has been reported that the evadees moved about in Paris almost like tourists..

List of Missions for Lt Francis P. Smith Crew:
1  13/12/43 KIEL
2. 16/12/43 BREMEN
3. 20/12/43 BREMEN
4. 22/12/43 MUNSTER
5. 30/12/43  LUDWIGSHAVEN-SHOT DOWN

Squadron Diary: Lt Smith in A/C #997 was hit by enemy fighters and side-slipped out of formation at 1345 hours. Fire was observed behind the pilots seat and in the radio compartment. One chute was seen before it disappeared into the undercast near 4906 N - 0432 E. Crashed Les Rosiers near Bouziers when the crew was forced to abandon due to flight deck fires and oxygen bottle explosions caused by enemy fighter attacks.  

20mm fire damaged radio room & bomb bay area and fire started (proably from oxygen). Crew bailed out near the small village of Voux Les Moron in northeastern France. The BTG (Alvin C. Little) broke an ankle on landing. German report of Salvage of the aircraft pin-points scene of crash as " One (1) kilometer north of Les Rosiers and three (3) kilometers southeast of Monthois.

1st Mission Memory from S/Sgt "Swede" Swenson
KIEL: "A lot of Flak, no fighters. We hit the docks and harbor facilities with 200 planes. When the flak started coming up, you couldn't believe it. The sky around us was so black from the 88's. We were getting hit by pieces of flak. When we returned to base, we counted more than a dozen holes in the plane." 

5th Mission: "We went to Ludwigshaven, flying "Heaven Can Wait"  and over the target we hit a lot of flak, no fighters. We passed over Luxembourg and came over the Ardennes and were hit by 3 FW190's coming out of the sun at 11 O'Clock High! We were flying Tail End Charlie in the low element of 3 elements. We were hit with 20mm and machine gun fire.  They hit the #4 engine, set the bombay on fire, and a raging inferno ensued.  The next thing we heard was "We are hit, Bail out" from Lt Smith."….Sgt Swenson

After the War, I visted the the pilot , Freank Smith who told me the planes controls were shot out.  He couldn't fly it on automoatid pilot because it kept falling off on its right wing.  We bailed out and came down through two layers of cloud cover… Sgt "Swede" Swenson

"The planes controls had been shot out, I couldn't fly it on automatic pilot because she kept falling off on the right wing."-Lt Smith


Link this crew page with http://www.100thbg.com/mainpages/history/history5/varian/varian08.htm


                                                           40 In a 30-Zone
                                                   by John L. (Swede) Swenson

Swede was shot down early in his career as a Radio Operator in the 351st BS. At one the annual, informal gathering of the 100th Groupers in New England, Swede’s verbal account ‘of his fifth mission was taped. While some of the flavor is lost in the transcribing it, we are certain you will enjoy it. Except when otherwise indicated, the speaker is Swede…..Horace l. Varian

“My last mission was Ludwigshaven. We hit the target and lost one ship over the target. It peeled off and headed to Switzerland or Sweden. We were about an hour and a half off the target. At that particular time we were flying over the Ardennes. Northeastern France. I believe, and we were quite happy. We were singing an old song and we had picked up in the States and – no fighters. We had an escort of Mustangs.”
Voice: What was the words to the song? Do you remember them?

“It was a dark and stormy night when my Nellie went away, and I never will forget it to my dying day.” (Laughter) “This was a song the crew had used on all our mission. Whenever we came back we would sing that song. It’s about 20 minutes to 2 – we had just lost our ‘51’s and a 10 minutes to 2 we were supposed to pick up Spitfires off the coast. All of a sudden, out of the sun, 11 o’clock high, came three Fockewulfs. We were flying tail-end Charlie in the low group -- low element – we were the first hit by their 8-mm machine gun fire, followed by 20-mm cannon fire.”
Voice: Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat.
“Oh , no. we didn’t hear that. All you hear is the hail-like sound hitting the sides of the ship. We didn’t know what it was until the cannon fire started going through the ship and, by the way, our ball-turret was out and the gunner’s suit went out, so the pilot ordered him out of the turret. He was sitting by me and I was sitting on the edge of my radio table looking our the hatch when the cannon fire started hilting the ship. Then fire started coming through the bombays and the pilot said, ‘We’re  hit! Bail out!’ Everyone got out – they dropped their flak suits and ran like hell to the rear of the ship, and we couldn’t get out fast enough. And out we went, bang, at 21,000 feet, over Northern France.”
Voice: Did you remember what to do – or did you – could you?

“I delayed, yeh, for the first second! I did make a freefall, but it wasn’t very long. I got our of the turbulence of the aircraft and was falling free and I opened my chute and here I was, 21.000 feet above france, not knowing where I was.”
Voice: You had plenty of time to think about it, thought.
“I never said so many Hail Mary’s, Our Fathers and Acts of Contrition as it did then
Voice: And he’s not even Catholic! (Laughter)
“I think it took us 15 or 20 minutes to come down. I looked up, after opening my chute, and saw that little chest pack and I said ‘Dear Christ 
isn’t that small!’ Below me was cloud cover. There were two cloud covers that day, one at maybe 15 and another at five thousand feet, so as I came down the sun was glorious, the sky was beautiful. I passed through clouds, shhwhoo. I said, ’I must be going 40 miles and hour.
Voice: ---and in a 30 mile zone! (Laughter)
“Now, I’m approaching the second layer of clouds and all of sudden, at about 10 o’clock from my position, I see a ’17 heading towards me. On each side is Fockewulf. They’re not shooting at it, just following it down. Now, it might have been my ship for all I know, because when were hit we were falling off on our right wing. All I did was wave at the German pilots and shout, Keep on going, fellas!’ Just keep on following that ship.

Voice: Your weren’t going to be debriefed.
“I didn’t know what they were gonna do. And then I came to the second cloud cover and went through that, shhwhoo. I was going 60 miles and hour now. I was picking up momentum. And there was the ground below me. It was fantastic. I could see everywhere. In the distance I could see little villages with church steeples. I could hear children’s voices on the ground. I couldn’t see them, but evidently they heard the cannon fire and what was going on upstairs. Coming down, there was forest all around me, with open patches. There are fields, and all of a sudden the ground starts to come close. Now I got the relationship of spend and movement, see, a movement, and Oh God, here we go. What am I supposed to do?”
“They tell you, relax and role. (Laughter). Here’s the forest coming up this way, like I am driving down a highway. I’m going over the tree tops and moving this way, and all of a sudden, in front of me – I pull on my shroud line to see if I could change my direction or do something. I was afraid to pull too much. I though I might spill the air out. But you couldn’t spill the air out if you had 20 guys pulling on my lines! But I came down. There is a clearing in the forest and where do you think I head? Right for the clearing. As I got near the ground, the goes our of my sails completely and I come flying back like a swing, ass over teakettle, bingerly, bin, bang, bang, boom. I get up and I’m shaking. I’m scared and I said, ‘The whole German Army must have seen me come down and they must be waitin’ for me.’ Now I am suppose to roll up my chute and bury it, and I said. ’The hell with that noise.’ Bing, Bing, I take off my chute and start running like hell. Now off to my right I seen another chute coming down over the tree tops. I started running in that direction, boomety, boom – heavy gear you know – and I come to the area where I think he might be and I don’t see a soul. I went over a slight rise and who do I see in the distance? My navigator, Herkowitz, ‘Herky,’ I said, where are we?”

Voice: He asks a navigator! (Laughter)
“So a hundred yards away is this French farmer. He had an ox and mule and he was plowing the fields. We ran to him and Herky said, “Where are we?’ The guy said, ‘Nix Boche.’ What is he saying, “Nix Boche?’ That’s all he was saying, ‘No Germans.’ So I said, ‘Lets get the hell outa here.’ We started to leave and all of a sudden we hear. ‘Butaboom, butaboom, butaboom.’ Wait for me! It’s that guy I saw coming down. When he heard me pounding through the woods he went diving into a hole and covered himself with leaves. He thought it was the Germans. So now there’s three of us. As we start to move off I see two guys coming up yelling something. They were a couple of Frenchmen and they’re talking a mile a minute, and they say, ‘Come with us.’ We understood this, and they led us our into the foothills.”

(The remainder of the story concerns Swede’s two attempts to escape from occupied France with the help of the French Underground, into Spain. This ultimately involved crossing the Pryreness, in deep snow. Arriving in Spain four months later, he was at first imprisoned, then interned; five and half months after first being shot down, he was returned to Allied Control and England.)
No corrections of spelling, grammar or punctuation have been made in this work……Paul West (HISTOIRAN EMERITUS)

For his Heroics in helping his wounded comrades over the Pyrenees Mountains, S/Sgt Swenson was awarded the Soldiers Medal and also the Purple Heart. John had size 14 feet!

*************************************************************************************************************

Hi Jan, Mike:

It was so fine to meet you both in person and to get a taste of the passion 
with which you do what you do! I am so happy we all got there and had such a 
great time. It was a fine reunion.

I will be pretty overwhelmed the next few months but I will try to work on 
things I have promised.

For now, you have Sarah's great pictures from Palm Springs. I will have 
others soon, and so will Len.

I also want to be sure I do a couple of things:

- The correct citation for the book in which John Swenson's story appears 
[copied in the notebook I
        showed you] is:

"HANGAR TALK: Interviews with Fliers 1920's-1990's" by Irv Broughton,
        Cheney, Washington: Eastern Washington University Press, 1998.

        Library of Congress ISBN 0-910055-40-8 (paperback)

Other interviews in the book include the Memphis Belle story with Bob 
Hanson.

{Broughton is a writer, 6 other books mentioned.}

=============================================================

Also, in the earlier "THE BLOODY HUNDREDTH: Missions and Memories of a WWII 
Bomb Group",self-published in 1979 by the then "100th Bomb Group Committee", 
Edited by Horace Varian, another version of John Swenson's story also 
appears, as you may know: "40 In A 30-Mile Zone", pp85-88.

In that book on Page 86 is the photo I mentioned of John [on the right] 
pretending to be a Frenchman with two others who helped him escape. I still 
have that original somewhere and will send you a scanned version at some 
point. Horace acknowledged my efforts on the book in his Foreword on p vii.

=============================================================
Yes, Mike, we do have the map of France on which John's parachute landing 
and escape routes have been marked. I will look for the date on it and let 
you know.
=============================================================

Hope we can keep in touch, whether or not any of us get to Nashville. I have 
put you both into my hotmail account. I'll try to acknowledge eeven if I 
can't manage a full reply.

To be continued,

Best, Norma


Norma Swenson MPH
Original Co-Author
OUR BODIES, OURSELVES
[Co-Founder,
Boston Women's Health Book Collective]
Phone/Fax: 617-969-8444
Lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Ludwigshafen DATE: 1943-12-30  
AIRCRAFT: "Heaven Can Wait" (42-5997) CAUSE: EAC-Fire  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Francis P. Smith Crew (left to right)
Standing: Conrad Stumpfig, Clyde Manion, James Law, Francis Smith, Saul Hershkowitz, Swede Swenson
Kneeling: Bill Wertz, Al Little, John Runcel, Jack Amery
100th Bomb Group Photo Archives

Francis P. Smith Crew (left to right)
Standing: Conrad Stumpfig, Clyde Manion, Saul Hershkowitz, Francis Smith, James Law, Swede Swenson
Kneeling: Bill Wertz, Al Little, John Runcel, Jack Amery
Photo courtesy of Michael Moores LeBlanc (3/22/2006)

Francis P. Smith Crew (left to right)
Clyde S. Manion, Francis P. Smith, the pilot, James P. Law, and Saul Hershkowitz.
100th Bomb Group Photo Archives

Article on Frank A. Smith

 351st Officers at Thorpe Abbotts, part of two crews, Norman Chapman and Francis P. Smith crews: Front row from left: Glenn G. Lindbom, Rex M. Ellis, Clyde Manion and Francis P. Smith: Rear Row from left: Norman Chapman, Saul Hershkowitz, James P. Law and Wilson Clark. Smith Crew - Detailed Information Chapman Crew - Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 4831