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J. E. Ferroggiaro Data

Data from Thomas Sarbaugh
October, 1996

AIRCRAFT OF SPANISH CIVIL WAR VETERANS PROJECT: BOEING B-17F BOMBERS OF THE 350TH BOMB SQUADRON, (“BLOODY”) 100TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (H), USAAF, BASED AT Thorpe Abbotts , England, IN WHICH LINCOLN BATTALION SCOUT JEROME E. “JERRY” FERROGGIARO FLEW AS A GUNNER , 1943.

On August 17, 1943, the 8th AAF launched it’s famous “Double Strike” against aircraft factories at Regensburg and Schweinfurt to commemorate the first anniversary of the beginning of the US daylight bombing campaign. Besides the losses incurred by American airmen, the attacks were famous because of the account published by a senior observer who flew with the “Bloody” Hundredth Group: later co-author of Twelve O’ Clock High Col. Beirne Lay, Jr., in the co-pilot’s seat of “Piccadily Lily.” (His description, “I saw Regensburg Destroyed,” was published in The Saturday Evening Post.)

The 100th Group consisted of 4 B-17 Squadrons: the 418th (code LD-), the 349th (Code XR-), the 350th (code LN-) and the 351st (code EP).

Jerry Ferroggiaro was born in the U.S. in 1914, but went to China with his family in 1919 when his father became a General Motors distributor. At 16 (i.e. ca. 1930), Jerry joined the Shanghai Volunteer Corps, a light cavalry unit fighting the Japanese.

In 1933, Jerry returned to the US and joined the US Army Air Corps. He was assigned to the original B-2 bomber group. He left the army in 1938 and fought in the Spanish Civil War as a combat scout for the Lincoln Battalion, being wounded in the head and both arms. After returning to the US, he married, had a son, and then went to the Philippines as a civilian, soon returning to the US.

He tried to join the RCAF, but was rejected, instead re-joining the USSAC. He was trained as a Boeing B-17 gunner, usually assigned to the top turret and tail positions, but preferred the waist. There, apparently before the testing of the YB-40 gun-ship version of the B-17, Ferroggiaro fashioned a double 50 caliber machine gun mount.

The photo on p.62 of Great American Air Battles of WW II show him at his waist position on the 350th Sqdn. B-17F named “Phartzac.” On August 17, 1943, Ferroggiaro was a gunner in this plane, which was piloted by 1st Lt. Norman H. Scott. The names between the rear edge (left side of fuselage) of the gunner’s position and the individual A/C code letter (X) indicate the place Jerry fought prior to WW II:

Chapei (Shanghai Volunteer Group)
Kiangwan (Shanghai Volunteer Group)
Madrid (Lincoln Battalion)
Ebro (Lincoln Battalion)
Torrosa (Sic ! this is probably Tortosia; Lincoln Battalion)
Aragonne (Sic ! likely this is a spelling error, it does not refer to the WW I battle in France

After the August 17th mission, Capt. Scott was transferred out of the 100th Group and the gunners of “Phartzac” were assigned to other crews. On another disastrous raid for the 100th. October 8th, 1943 attack on Bremen, Jerry was a gunner in B-17F 42-3233 piloted by Bernard A. Demarco, with the 350th Squadron Commanding Officer, Major Gale Cleven acting as Command Pilot. The B-17 was shot down, with several crew members. Including Cleven becoming POW’s. Ferroggiaro was in (the real) Stalag 17B for 19 months, although he did lead the first escape attempt. After WW II he remained in the USAAF as a gunnery instructor. At age 45 he broke both legs during a parachute jump.