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LT  John P. KEYS

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P
SERIAL #: O-810894 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 08073 CR: 08073

Comments1: 8 AUG 44 ST.SYLVIAN (NORMANDY) (FLAK)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

1ST LT JOHN P. KEYS             P  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
F/O ELVIN W. SAMUELSON        CP  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
2ND LT PATRICK H. LOLLIS   NAV  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
2ND LT ELTON DICKENS       BOM  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
T/SGT FRANK O. THOMAS    ROG  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
T/SGT HARRY D. PARK         TTE  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
S/SGT PETER P. MARTIN      BTG  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
S/SGT GILBERT A. "GIB" BORBA     WG  POW 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN
SGT JOSEPH A. COSTANZA   WG  NOC
S/SGT DONALD V. RIEGER      TG  KIA 8 AUG 44 ST SYLVIAN

349th Sqdn..  Crew, as above, joined the 100th 3 May 1944. Was on their 26th mission.

EYEWITNESS: "one and one half minutes before Bombs Away, A/C #865 was hit by flak in the #2 engine. near the waist escape hatch, and a burst that knocked off the tail assembly.  The aircraft nosed down out of the formation. Nothing further is known concerning this aircraft."

NOTATION IN MACR: "Lt Dickens bailed out serioulsy injured in the left leg. Talked sensibly about three hours before slowly becoming delirious. Words became impossible to understand. We bailed out at 1130 hours and Lt Dickens died at approximately 1800 hours.  
I think,  from loss of blood." (It is impossible to identify the above from the MACR, but it must have been Gilbert A. Bordba.....pw)

A/C # 43-37865   MACR # 8073, Micro-fiche # 2964


30 MISSIONS FLOWN from Sgt J.A.Costanza Diary (mpf)

May   11, 1944  Liege  Marshalling Yard
May   13, 1944  Osnabruck Air Field
May   19, 1944  Berlin  
May   23, 1944  Troyes  Did not bomb, too much cloud cover, brought bombs back
May   24, 1944  Berlin  
May   27, 1944  Strousbourg JU88 Plant
May   29, 1944  Leipzig  JU88 Plant
June  04, 1944  Boulogne Coastal Guns
June  06, 1944  D-Day
June  07, 1944  Nantes  Bridge
June  25, 1944  France  No-Ball 
June  29, 1944  Bohlen/Liepzig Oil Refineries
July   11, 1944  Munich  Buzz Bomb Factory
July   12, 1944  Munich  Buzz Bomb Factory
July   14, 1944  France  No-Ball
July   17, 1944  Auxerre  Bridge
July   19, 1944  Schweinfurt ME 109 factory
July   20, 1944  Mersburg Oil Refinery
July   21, 1944  Ludwigshaven Chemical Firm
July   25, 1944  St. Lo  Front Lines (Only one waist gunner per mission, will alternate with Sgt. Borba)
July   28, 1944  Mersburg Oil Refinery (Costanza did not fly)
Aug   04, 1944  Hamburg Tank Factory (Costanza did not fly)
Aug   06, 1944  Berlin  (Costanza did not fly, waiting for Toggilier school)
Aug   07, 1944  North France brought back bombs (Costanza did not fly)
Aug   08, 1944  St Silvain No-Ball  The whole crew was KIA on this mission except Sgt Borba.


Subj: 2nd Lt. Patrick Lollis  
Date: 9/11/2003 9:20:21 AM Pacific Daylight Time 
From: rlucas@awginc.com 
To: basse.normandie.1914.1918.yann@libertysurf.fr 
CC: janr@cei.net, MPFaley@aol.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 


Thomas Yan.......I am very pleased to let you know today that I have located
and contacted the widow and only son of 2nd Lt. Patrick Lollis.  I told
them about your project and they were extremely pleased and excited.  They
had no reservations about my giving their personal information to you and
your organization so here it is:

widow - Mrs. Laura L. Lilley,  1324 W. Johns Blvd., Raymore, MO    64083
(MO is abbreviation for Missouri) Telephone -  816-331-8459

son- Michael Lollis,   2417 Addison Lane,  Alpharetta, GA   30005   (GA is
abbreviation for Georgia) Telephone - 678-624-1436            e-mail: cmlollis@comcast.net

Both would be thrilled to hear directly from you but if you need me to help
in any way, feel free to let me know either at this e-mail address or my
primary one:   sassy_lassy_100th@hotmail.com

A few pieces of information that may be of interest to you:  Mrs. Lilley is
in her 80's but very alert and articulate and really fun to visit with.  In
the early 1950's she remarried ....... a doctor who had been a bomber pilot
in WWII but has since died.
She has a number of personal effects and pictures from Lt. Lollis.  I will
be visiting with her in person later to look them over and possibly scan
them for your organization and the 100th.   She mentioned that Lt. Lollis
was the subject of either a newspaper or radio feature in the United States
concerning a four-leaf clover his mother had given him.   Apparently he
credited it with providing the luck to bring the crew and plane back
despite severe damage on several missions.

On at least one mission, with two engines out, the pilot instructed the
crew to throw out anything they absolutely didn't need in order to lighten
the plane.  Lt. Lollis, at 6 foot 4 inches tall, apparently was one of the
larger, heavier, items looked at by other crew members (jokeingly I'm sure)
to be removed from the aircraft, at least as he reported it when he wrote
home.

As an item of curiousity,  have the other families been located?  If I can
be of any help there please let me know.

Congratulations and best of luck on your project.
Ron Lucas


                              WWII widow will be there in spirit
                                   By DONALD BRADLEY The Kansas City Star


The image, born in the mind of a young bride, still comes to Laura Lilley 60 years later.

She's standing in Kansas City's Union Station, wearing her prettiest dress and holding a baby. She smiles as the high school sweetheart she married comes through the door leading from the trains. Tall, strapping and beaming, he wears an Army uniform and totes a bag over his shoulder.
The war is over. Finally, it is their time.
“Here is your baby boy,” she tells him.
Never happened.
Patrick Lollis, a 1939 graduate of Westport High School, was killed two months before his son was born. His B-17 was blown out of the sky by German anti-aircraft fire on Aug. 8, 1944, over a small town in France.

Townspeople collected and tidied the bodies of the dead crewmen. A farmer buried them on his land, decorating the graves with stones and markers. But first, he removed Lollis' wedding ring, wrapped it in a white handkerchief and put it in a drawer. He later sent it on a journey that took years but eventually led back to Missouri and the navigator's young bride.

On Sunday, the town of Perigny will honor the crew and thank their families by unveiling a marble tablet engraved with the airmen's names. The tablet will be mounted in front of the town hall. An invitation to the ceremony surprised Lilley, who later remarried and now lives in Raymore. It was she who had wanted to thank Perigny for taking care of her fallen husband.

“He was just a boy, and they were so good to him and the others,” Lilley said this week.The couple knew their baby would be a son, Lilley said. They had decided on the name, Michael.  Now 59, Michael Lollis lives in Las Vegas. He thinks Perigny's gesture says much about relations between France and the United States.

“The governments of our countries have not been on the best of terms recently, but I think this shows it is good people that give our countries their true character,” Lollis said.  But neither he nor his mother will make the trip to France. He doesn't want to go without her, and health problems will keep Lilley home at the Raymore retirement community where she lives.

She's eager, however, to talk about her first boyfriend.

The two grew up in the same Kansas City neighborhood; she lived on Locust Street, he on Gillham Road. He went to her 13th birthday party. They and friends often played at Gillham Park, sometimes staying too late and having to run home. They dated off and on throughout high school at Westport.
“We'd get in a fight and go with somebody else for a while, but we always knew we were supposed to come back to each other,” Lilley said.
After graduation, she stayed close to home to attend community college while Lollis went off to the University of Missouri.
They married in 1942 after Lollis quit college and joined the Army Air Corps. She was 19; he was 20. She followed him to training stops in Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee. She last saw him at an airbase near Kearney, Neb.

“Then he flew off into the night,” she said.

Lollis was the navigator on the “Varga Venus,” a B-17 that was part of the 100th Bomb Group — known as the “Bloody 100th” because of high casualties. Thousands of B-17s were lost. Others often limped home from missions. Newspapers at the time wrote about one such trip. With one engine out, Lollis' crew was ordered to ditch what they could to lighten the load. Guns and ammo went into the English Channel. One man reportedly stripped and even threw out his underwear.

“What else can we throw out?” he asked.
“How 'bout the navigator — he weighs the most!” another yelled.
“Don't throw me out, I've got leave coming up,” the 6-foot, 4-inch, 200-pound Lollis said.

He wrote his wife nearly every day.

The crew had flown 25 missions — well above average when they took off on Aug. 8, 1944. Gilbert Borba, the only survivor, later said that shortly before arriving at its target, German flak hit one of the plane's engines and its “waist.” The tail assembly broke away and the plane nosedived. Nine of 10 crewmen died. Borba was taken prisoner.

Yann Thomas, a Normandy resident who organized Sunday's ceremony, told the families that he spent two years researching the crash.
He said the farmer who removed Lollis' ring that day made a promise to the big airman that the ring would make it back home to America. After the war, he took the ring from the drawer and gave it to a British military officer. In 1948, the ring, engraved with the couple's initials, was delivered by mail to Lilley's home. The information was part of the overall story told to all the families of how a small French town treated the fallen airmen. American bombers went down all over Europe, but because of Perigny's tiny size, townspeople seemingly treated the crew like family.

“The memory is still present in this town,” Thomas wrote in a letter to Lilley. After the war, the bodies were returned to the United States for burial. She remarried in 1952 to Roy E. Lilley, a World War I veteran who also flew for the Army Air Corps in World War II. He died four years ago at age 101. Their marriage lasted nearly half a century. But memories of Patrick Lollis last, too.

“He was a great big lovely Irishman,” she said. “In his letters home, he would always tell me to pat the baby for him.

“I looked so forward to that homecoming at Union Station. I imagined all that summer what that would be like.”

Sometimes, she still does.

It is a joyous image, locked timelessly in the mind of a young bride.

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: St. Sylvian DATE: 1944-08-08  
AIRCRAFT: (43-37865) CAUSE: FLAK & Explosion  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 The John P. Keys crew: (Left to Right) John P. Keys, Patrick H. Lollis, Elton Dickens Elvin W. Samuelson, Harry D. Park, Joseph A. Costanza, Gilbert A. Borba, Frank O. Thomas, Peter P. Martin and Donald V. Rieger. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

Lt John P. Keys Crew with 2107230: Yehudi
The John P. Keys crew: (Left to Right) John P. Keys, Patrick H. Lollis, Elton Dickens, Elvin W. Samuelson, Peter P. Martin, Harry D. Park, Gilbert A. Borba, Donald V. Rieger Frank O. Thomas, Joseph A. Costanza,

 (L-R) S/Sgt Gilbert A. "Gib" Borba-WG, S/Sgt Donald Rieger-TG, Peter Martin-BTG, all from the John P. Keys crew with unknown ground crewman. S/Sgt Rieger and S/Sgt Martin were KIA on the 8 Aug 44 mission to St. Sylvian flying in A/C 42-37865. S/Sgt Borba was the only survivor. (Photo courtesy of Mark Provost, nephew of Gilbert Borba) Keys crew information 

from Yann Thomas "I cannot conclude this day of 5 June 2015 without having a thought for the crew of John P. Keys of the 100 th Bomb Group (100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum) which will carry out on 6 June 1944 a mission of bombing on ouistreham (Calvados, Normandy), But also my gratitude goes to the whole American Veterans and their families who will always be welcome in Normandy. I think about my friend Michael Faley in the United States that perpetuates the memory of the guy from the 100th bomb group."

Gravestone for Lt John P. Keys Crew at Arlington Cemetery. 

Map showing where John P. Keys B-17G 337865 crashed on Aug 8, 1944.  

Gilbert Borba letter to Family of Lt John P. Keys. 

Crash scene report by a British Wing Commander after hostilities locating the crash site of 337835 XR-P  At the time, this site had never been listed with authorities.  It describes finding the wedding ring of Lt Patrick Lollis.    

Ring belonging to one of the Crew of Lt John P. Keys. Found at Crashsite. 

The battle damaged tail of a B-17G Flying Fortress (XR-R) nicknamed "Sparky" of the 349th Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group. Official caption on image: "(GAD-38-1-100)(20-5-44)(A/C 1723-349-B17G)." Handwritten caption on reverse: '19/5/44. "Sparky". 2/Lt. John P. Keys, 20mm. Also No. 2 engine.'

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 2781