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LT  Wade D. PRATT

UNIT: 418th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P
SERIAL #: STATUS: REC
MACR: CR: 99950

Comments1: 12 MAY 45 NITE TRANSITION (CRASHED AT DISS)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2ND LT WADE D. PRATT             P IIC 12 MAY 45  CRASHED DISS - ATTLEBORO RD.
2ND LT HAROLD L. RINTOUL      CP IIC 12 MAY 45  CRASHED DISS - ATTLEBORO RD.
2ND LT JOHN CROTTY          NAV FEH
2ND LT WILLIAM G. WOODRUFF BOM FEH
   CPL ERNEST T. DAMATO       ROG FEH
   CPL ANTHONY SZOTT           TTE IIC 12 MAY 45  CRASHED DISS - ATTLEBORO RD.
   CPL ROBERT G. GUIDI            BTG IIC 12 MAY 45  CRASHED DISS - ATTLEBORO RD.
   CPL HANSEL H. ADKINS           TG FEH
   CPL WILLIAM M. LUCAS          WG FEH

418th Sqdn.. Crew joined 100th on 21 Jan 1945
Crew flew A/C 43-38821 LD-O "Girdle Girty" call sign "Rubber Oboe"  and also "Lay or Bust" 

On 12 may 45 Pratt, Rintoul, Szott, Guidi, S/Sgt VINCENT FERRANICE and 2nd Lt James T. Brand (from Lt Griffith Crew) took off from Thorpe Abbotts in A/C #44-6790 on a night transition flight in the local area. Weather worsened, while the tower tried for 1 hour and twenty minutes before contacting the crew. When contact was established Pratt was advised to attempt a landing, the aircraft struck a tree and crashed about five miles W/NW of the base on the Diss - Attleboro Road.

Brand was KIC and all the others IIC.  The aircraft was destroyed.
--Records from Norton AFB 17 May 85….James R. Brown, Historian to pw (June 1991)

Missions of 2nd Lt Wade D. Pratt (mpf)

 1. 17/02/45 Frankfurt
 2. 19/02/45 Munster 
 3. 20/02/45 Nurnburg(crash landed Lay or Bust in Belgium due to flak damage)
 4. 23/02/45 Treuchtlingen
 5. 24/02/45 Bremen
 6. 28/02/45 Kassel
 7. 02/03/45 Dresden
 8. 03/03/45 Brunswick
 9. 07/03/45 Seigen
10. 08/03/45 Giessen
11. 09/03/45 Frankfurt
12. 14/03/45 Hanover
13. 17/03/45 Ruhland
14. 18/03/45 BERLIN (attacked by ME 262)
15. 19/03/45 Jena
16. 22/03/45 Alhorn
17. 23/03/45 Ziegenhain AF
18. 28/03/45 Hanover
19. 30/03/45 Hamburg
20. 31/03/45 Zeitz
21. 03/04/45 Kiel
22. 04/04/45 Kiel
23. 05/04/45 Nurnburg
24. 07/04/45 Buchen
25. 14/04/45 Royan 
26. 15/04/45 Royan
27. 17/04/45 Aussig
28. 18/04/45 Straubing


      MISSION Details for W.D.PRATT (from John O'leary)
3/31/45  ZEITZ            C-SQDN  PRATT  821 O hardstand #  R/W 04,
4/3/45    KIEL              D-SQDN  PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04,
4/4/45    KIEL,             B-SQDN, PRATT  821 O                   R/W 04, 
4/7/45    BUCHEN,        D-SQDN, PRATT 821 O                    R/W 04, 
4/14/45  ROYAN          B-SQDN, PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04
4/15/45  ROYAN          A-SQDN, PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04, 
4/18/45  STRAUBING,   C-SQDN  PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04, 

CHOWHOUND MISSIONS
MAY 3,1945  C-SQDN PRATT  821 0 HARDSTAND  39,
MAY 4,1945  D-SQDN.PRATT  821  0, HARDSTAND  39, (mission scrubbed because of weather)
MAY 5,1945  D-SQDN, PRATT  821  0 HARDSTAND  39
MAY 7,1945  A-SQDN, PRATT  821  0 HARDSTAND  39………(NOTE--Hardstand move (R/W 04) from  RUNWAY 04  (between hardstands 31 &  32)  to hardstand # 39 sometime after combat missions..)


Subj: research about the b17 number 297230 code "o-ld"  
Date: 2/4/2002 12:12:19 PM Pacific Standard Time 
From: mariclau@swing.be 
To: MPFaley@aol.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 
Dear mister,
I have also 3 not so good photos of the b17 "O-LD" number 297230, take by a old lady, friend from my mother, take in the small village PETIGNY near the town COUVIN in south of BELGIUM just near the border with FRANCE,
This village is at 5 kilometer from my native village : NISMES,
A school-master of Petigny made research about this plane in your site and in the museum of thorpe abbotts but without good results about the crew.
This man know that the nose-art name of the plane is "LAY OR BUST" the tail number 297230,the code on the waist "O-LD" so probably of the 418 bomber squadron of the 100st bomber group but whe don't know the name of the crew-peoples,and nothing about them; whe only know that just after the crash-landing the 20 february 1945 at +/- 17h00 in belgium, the members of the crew are save and take by US soldiers stayed in COUVIN (at this time belgium was libered)
Is it possible to you to give me somes informations about this ? We are very happy if it's possible,
A man of this village have somes pieces of the plane in "relics"; the 3 photos are know by a professional photograph to made copy as good as possible and it's of course possible to me to send it to you, but I repeat they are not very good: at one you can see the plane in the back-ground and the two others are portraits of two young ladies (in 1945 - one of them is still in live) just near the plane but without details of marquings ,
Sorry for my bad english, I have also ask to the TSGT patrick WEIR the sames questions about the "LAY or BUST", and I hope somes informations,both of you.
Sincerely from belgium and be sure that whe never forget the US AirForce and US army and the veterans ( My familly have big problems during the 2 W.W. with germens and my father and the father of my friend Huberland are POW.) 
Whe hope sincerely to have a contact with a crew member and to know what's happened wiyh them,
 
Claude ROULIN  


Subj: Lay or Bust  
Date: 5/30/2002 12:44:51 PM Pacific Daylight Time 
From: mpratt@heidelberg.edu 
To: mariclau@swing.be 
CC: MPFaley@aol.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 


Claude:

I am sending you a picture of my father, Lt. Wade D Pratt, and two pictures taken in Belgium following the crash of "Lay or Bust, 230-O.  Due to size, they will come as separate messages.  I hope the following information is useful to you and the people of Petigny.

2nd Lt. Pratt flew "Lay or Bust" on his first three combat missions:
February 17:  bombed railroad yards at Frankfurt.  (Airplane hit twice by Flak)

February 19: sent to  Munster, but were diverted to bomb the Osnabruk railroad yards (four hits by Flak)

February 20: sent to bomb the railroad yards and station at Nuremburg.  After completing the bomb run, the crew lost contact with their formation and became lost in thick clouds.  The navigator could not discover their position.  The pilots flew west until their fuel was nearly exhausted and then flew down through a hole in the clouds to find an emergency landing site.   They found only one field, which they felt was too short for a landing.  After circling the area several times, the engines began to quit, so they crash landed in the field near Petigny.   No one was injured, but they did not know whether they had landed in German or Allied territory.  My father told me that the Belgian people first appeared as silhouettes on  the edge of a hill and the crew did not know if they were friendly or  the enemy.   My father knew some French words and learned that they were in Belgium and that one man was a physician who wanted to help them.

Through the Belgian people, contact was made with a US Signal Corps unit.  The crew then  went to a town (Couvin) and later were taken to Charleroi (and perhaps Brussels).  The two crew photographs were taken at one of these towns. (perhaps you can tell by the background where this is).

The Co-pilot and the Togaleer (bombardier) remained behind to guard the aircraft.  They are not in the pictures.

Here are the names, positions, and home towns of the crew.

           2nd Lt. Wade D. Pratt. - Pilot                             (Middletown, Ohio)
            2nd Lt. Harold L. Rintoul - Co-pilot                      (Fargo, North Dakota)
            2nd Lt. John E. Crotty - Navigator                      (Bloomfield Connecticut)
            2nd Lt. William G. Woodruff - Bombardier*          (Pulaski, New York)
            Cpl. Anthony Szott- Flight Engineer/TT. Gunner   ( Passaic New Jersey)
            Cpl. Ernest T. Damato.- Radio Operator              (Long Island City, New Jersey)
            Cpl. William Lucas-Armorer/Waist Gunner            (Earlanger, Kentucky)
            Cpl. Robert G. Guidi  - BT.Gunner                      (Great Barrington Massachusetts).
            Cpl. Hansel H. Adkins -  Tail Gunner.                   (Branchland, West Virginia)

* Woodruff was not on this flight. He was replaced by a Togaleer named Sgt. Paul J. Amon. For this flight.

After this crash, Pratt's crew returned to Thorpe Abbots and flew their fourth mission on February 23 to the Treuchtlingen railroad yard, not far from Nuremburg.  After several more missions, Pratt's crew began regularly flying  B-17  338821 (also marked LD-O.)  Towards the end of the war, they named this aircraft "Girdle Gerty" and painted a duck carrying a bomb in its girdle on the aircraft's nose.

Pratt's crew flew a total of 28 combat missions and 4 "chow haul" or food drop missions before the end of the war.  As you know, Pratt and part of his crew crashed a  B-17,  446790 LD-V, on a training flight during the night of May 11-12.  A replacement navigator, Jim Brandt, was killed in the accident, Pratt, Rintoul and several others were hospitalized but recovered.

All of Pratt's original crew survived the war.  Wade Pratt worked in his family grocery store and then became a real estate salesman. 
He married my mother in 1948 and they had three sons.
Michael- born 1950 and now an archaeologist and professor at Heidelberg College, in Ohio.
Bruce- born 1952 and now vice-president of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus
Timothy- born 1960 and now a heating/air conditioning repairman.
In 1962 Wade Pratt contracted cancer.  After four years and two surgeries, he died in October 1966.

I can send you information on the other crewmen if you wish.  For now, enjoy these pictures.  I would like to hear the stories that the people of Petigny have regarding this crash.

Your new friend,
Michael Pratt


Subj: Re: Lay or Bust  
Date: 6/2/2002 7:03:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time 
From: mariclau@swing.be 
To: mpratt@heidelberg.edu 
CC: EcolePetigny@caramail.com, gocart92@earthlink.net, MPFaley@aol.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 
Dear Mike,
Thanks for the informations and the photos of your father and crew (looking
the picture of you daddy,my wife say : it's a nice man-dammage that he is
died).
Your informations are nearly the same that i know : my mother (living at
Nismes - just near Petigny) say that +/- 17h00 a plane turn and turn at low
altitude ( these day a little smog was in the country) and finally she don't
hear him; after one hour, peoples from the village know that the ship do a
crash landing at Petigny and that the crew is save but that in a first time
they don't know where they are and try to go away in the forest when they
see peoples.
the village people cry :" belgique" but the crew don't understand; after
they cry in bad english "belgië - belgium"
the crew (your  father following your information) understand and stop;
after the crew go to Couvin and the plane stay at Petigny with US guards
that's all she remember.
After my holliday i try to know more , today i forward yours e-mails to the
school-master at petigny (e-mail : EcolePetigny@caramail.com) if you like
contact him it will be very happy (he do a big job to save all theses old
pictuures i send to you )
I hope also it's the beginning of a friendship between us,
Best regards
claude



Subj: Re: 100th BG information question  
Date: 10/1/2004 8:55:11 AM Pacific Daylight Time 
From: john_oleary07@yahoo.com 
To: mpratt@heidelberg.edu 
CC: janr@cei.net, XR_crew@yahoo.com, MPFaley@aol.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 
Hi Mike: RE: Your Dad's (WADE D. PRATT) ships on missions;Aircraft flown...I wish all Mike Faley's requests were this easy!   
I have your dad flying both Combat and Chowhound missions on :
44-38821  LD-O  "GIRDLE GIRTY" 
a/c assigned 100thBG 10/10/44
transferred 482ndBG Alconbury 05/20/45 
RZI Bradley CT 06/06/45
RFC Kingman  11/29/45..….
First mission for PRATT on 821 O approx. first few days of  March,1945...(When Pratt not flying,418TH Pilot Roy N. Kallstrand flew 821 O on 3/12,4/6, and 4/10/45 combat missions)

      MISSION Details for W.D.PRATT
3/31/45  ZEITZ            C-SQDN  PRATT  821 O hardstand #  R/W 04,
4/3/45    KIEL              D-SQDN  PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04,
4/4/45    KIEL,             B-SQDN, PRATT  821 O                   R/W 04, 
4/7/45    BUCHEN,        D-SQDN, PRATT 821 O                    R/W 04, 
4/14/45  ROYAN          B-SQDN, PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04
4/15/45  ROYAN          A-SQDN, PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04, 
4/18/45  STRAUBING,   C-SQDN  PRATT  821 O                    R/W 04, 

CHOWHOUND MISSIONS
MAY 3,1945  C-SQDN PRATT  821 0 HARDSTAND  39,
MAY 4,1945  D-SQDN.PRATT  821  0, HARDSTAND  39, (mission scrubbed because of weather)
MAY 5,1945  D-SQDN, PRATT  821  0 HARDSTAND  39
MAY 7,1945  A-SQDN, PRATT  821  0 HARDSTAND  39.........(NOTE--Hardstand move (R/W 04) from  RUNWAY 04  (between hardstands 31 &  32)  to hardstand # 39 sometime after combat missions..)   That's all for now Mike in answer to your inquiry...Jack O'LEARY




Subj: "Lay or Bust"  
Date: 4/12/2005 3:24:17 PM Pacific Daylight Time 
From: mpratt@heidelberg.edu 
To: MPFaley@aol.com, xr_crew@yahoo.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 


Mike & Jack:  I know you guys will "get it."

My wife and I made a trip to Petigny, Belgium to visit the site of my 
father's crash landing of Lay or Bust.  We made contact with some people 
there after seeing the pictures they posted on the 100th web site- Mike, 
you may recall some of the earlier email, pictures and info I sent you on 
the Wade Pratt crew in 02. Jack, we discussed our father's experiences on 
the Buchen mission.

    We had been told that we would be able to meet some of those who 
remembered the incident and were scheduled to meet with them Easter 
morning; then have lunch with the officers of the village historical 
society. The Belgians had actually been working overtime to prepare for our 
visit. Everything that happened next had been kept secret and was revealed 
to us at the last possible moment.

    It turned out that the society had created an exhibit in their town museum 
which included numerous photos of the local people- crowds, groups and 
individuals- around and on the wreckage of Lay or Bust.  They also 
displayed a number of pieces of the aircraft- collected by villagers at the 
time.  Our morning was spent in "preview" of the exhibit and in meeting 
with those who had been photographed on the wreckage. I didn't think it 
could get better.
    After the "lunch" (a multi-course dinner), we returned to the exhibit hall 
to find that we were to walk to the crash site area and assist in the 
dedication of a stone marker commemorating the crash-landing.  The "walk" 
was a parade through the village. Lead by an American motorcycle club from 
Supreme Headquarters for Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE), representatives 
of about a dozen local veterans groups, a WWII era Belgian AF pilot and a 
current officer from a nearby air base, the village band, the mayor of the 
region, and just about the entire town. The papers and TV covered the event.

    The monument lies on the highway at the edge of town (a public area) and 
in sight of the spot where Lay or Bust came to rest. The Mayor's speech 
stated that the sacrifices of the men from all allied countries saved 
Belgium. The stone was erected to remind those who remember and educate 
those who were too young to remember. I cut the ribbon and said some words 
of gratitude and friendship on behalf of my Dad's crew. Got through it 
because I had to pause for the translator.  Then the village band played 
the Star Spangled Banner-well- that was it for my wife, me, and several of 
the American bikers.  We paraded back to the exhibit hall where there was 
another ribbon cutting ceremony to open the exhibit to the public. Then 
they showed us the souvenir book they had printed!

    I learned a few things about the crash-landing, but most of those I spoke 
with were children who came after the crew left and played on the wreckage 
and most of them wanted to express personal gratitude for their liberation 
by the Americans.

    I found out that several days after the crash, military personnel arrived 
and removed the guns and bombsight. Later- some time in the summer of 45, 
the military returned and removed the engines. They then painted "for use 
of the people" on the fuselage. An officer named  Irving May was at the 
crash site during one of these occasions.  Aluminum skin was removed and 
used to re-roof a shed hit by the  right wing during the crash landing and 
to used as a covering for the large stacks of firewood which are still 
common in the village (and are now covered by corrugated fiberglass roofing 
or blue plastic tarp.)  Later in the same year "a man with a scrap 
business" cut up and removed the bulk of the wreckage. I guess Lay or Bust 
ended up with the same fate as the ships that were flown back to Kingman.

    The aircraft pieces that remain include fragments of cable, hose, clamps, 
and hydraulic parts. Probably the stuff left behind by the scrap man.  I 
think you have seen pictures of the section of fuselage skin with the star. 
That was a prominent piece of the exhibit and the most recognizable part. 
If you look at the photo of the nose on the 100th web page, you can see the 
ammo feeder belt for one of the nose guns- it was in the display.

    The exhibit was to remain up for a week. We understood that there was a 
very good turnout and that the historical group received some new 
information and additional photos.
It is my understanding that they are sending information about all of this 
to Thorpe Abbotts through one of the officers of the society who has 
contact with Ken Everett.

    I have spent more than 30 years of off and on research on my father's war 
experiences. I thought the trip to Belgium, if it ever happened,  would be 
the capstone.  It far exceeded my wildest imagination and, I think, has 
opened the door to additional information and, I hope, some lasting 
friendships.  What a trip!

Thought you'd like to know.
Mike Pratt (Wade Pratts Son)

MEMO 2:

 - No MACR.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 Part of the Wade D. Pratt crew, kneeling L to R, William Lucas, Robert Guidi, standing; Ernest T.DaMato, Anthony Szott, Hansel H. Adkins. Picture courtesy of Michael Pratt. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 Part of the Wade D. Pratt crew; kneeling L to R, John E. Crotty, William Lucas, standing; Wade Pratt ,Hansel H. Adkins, Anthony Szott,. Picture courtesy of Michael Pratt. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 Wade D. Pratt Detailed Information Picture courtesy of Michael Pratt. 

 "LAY OR BUST" in Belgium. During 1945, the USAAF had emergency landing fields set up in Belgium and France. The Pratt crew could not make it to one of these fields. Detailed Information (Photo courtesy of Claude Roulin - mariclau@swing.be) 

 Lt. Wade Pratt crew crash landed in Belgium on 20 Feb 45. The plane, LAY OR BUST, was salvaged, but the crew returned to Thorpe Abbotts and resumed flight operations. Detailed Information (Photo courtesy of Claude Roulin - mariclau@swing.be) 

 "LAY OR BUST" in Belgium. (Photo courtesy of Claude Roulin - mariclau@swing.be) 

 "LAY OR BUST" in Belgium. (Photo courtesy of Claude Roulin - mariclau@swing.be) 

 "LAY OR BUST" in Belgium. Detailed Information (Photo courtesy of Claude Roulin - mariclau@swing.be) 

 "LAY OR BUST" in Belgium. Detailed Information (Photo courtesy of Claude Roulin - mariclau@swing.be) 

Lt Wade Pratt And James Brand , Navigator on Lt Owen Griffith Crew. Killed in crash after hostilities with Lt Wade Pratt. Photo courtesy of Daughter Virginia Troy Brown. 

Picture of crash that took the life of Lt James Brand , Navigator on Lt Owen Griffith Crew. Killed in crash after hostilities with Lt Wade Pratt. Photo courtesy of Daughter Virginia Troy Brown. Thanks 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 4212