Home Museum Monument Dedication Association 385th BG Support us News Contact us Midair Collision of two American B-17 bombers  On 12th July 1944 at about 1150, B-17 bombers flew over the village of Perlé, Luxembourg. Coming from Great Ashfield, England, their mission was to bomb the city of Munich in Germany. The bomber convoy was composed by B-17 Flying Fortress attached to the 385th Bomb Group.  This was the Bomb Group's 150th mission and they went back the next day, which shows that they may not have hit their target on the first raid.  For an unknown reason, two of them collided over the village of Perlé. According to the Bomb Group records, 42-31917 (Capt. White) was caught in the prop wash of proceeding aircraft, nosed up and hit 42-102606 (1/Lt. McDonald). Only two members of the two crews survived the impact by parachuting to safety: Sgt. Larry Atiyeh and Sgt. Robert P. McPherson. 18 crewmen lost their lives in this accident.  German policemen captured one of the two survivors, Sgt. Larry Atiyeh. Sgt. Robert McPherson crossed the Belgian frontier and was rescued by members of the Belgian Maquis.  The back part of one plane fell 60 meters behind the Bertemes farm in Perlé. The fuselage with three engines crashed 600 meters northwest from Perlé into a potato field. This part of the plane caught fire and it was impossible to get closer because of the ammunition exploding in the flames. The Germans inspected the wrack the next day and found four bodies, completely burned. It was impossible to identify the men. In an area of about 600 meters around the crash site, 6 other bodies were found.  One of the engines that was detached during the impact, fell in the water-point "Geschleid" at Haut-Martelange and was recovered after the liberation by US ground forces. The wings and the four engines of the second plane fell into a field near Wolwelange. We consider most of the crewmen being ejected during the impact, as their bodies were found scattered in an area between Perlé and Wolwelange. The Germans took the bodies to the former school building in Perlé in order to identify them.  Sgt. Fitzwater wore his dog tag at his left arm. At his left hand, he wore a golden alliance and a ring with a red star. 2/Lt. Henry, 25 years old, had with him a bank note of one $US, 14£ Sterling and his personal documents. He wore his identification tag around his neck. Sgt. Comegys had 20 bank notes of 100 French Francs each and two maps.  F/O Francis Christman, 23 years old, had with him two albums of pictures showing his wife and his child. He also had french money and two maps.  The custom officers based at Holtz leaded the hunt for the men escaped by parachuting. Helped by police dogs, they had no success. The police brigade of Perlé, under the command of 1/Sgt. Frantz collected all weapons and ammunition from the planes and put them in safe keeping. Some bombs were defused on site by German military engineers.  The two planes belonged to the 385th Bomb Group. The plane crashed near Wolwelange was registered under the number 42-102606. Its call number was the letter K (Kilo). It was attached to the 550th Squadron. The plane crashed near Perlé was registered under the number 42-31917. Its call code was the letter S (Sierra), its call sign was "Offspring". It was attached to the 551st Squadron, Offspring only flew 5 missions befor its tragic ending.  As it was impossible to celebrate a requiem for the dead airmen during the Nazi occupation, a ceremony was held after the liberation by the American troops. It took place in the church of Perlé on October17, 1944 at 1830. Eighteen candles and eighteen helmets, one for each airman, were placed in the church to honour the dead crewmembers. BACK
Another crash near Perlé  On 9 November 1944, another B-17 crashed near Perlé. 1/Lt. Lewis C. Williams (Pilot), died in this crash with his B-17 "Boomerang", assigned to  the 349th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group. 
385th Bomb GroupMemorial Museum  Perlé - Luxembourg
Copyright © 385th Bomb Group Memorial Museum Asbl. Perlé/Luxembourg 2013-2015
The Memorial Monument and the local Museum in Perlé will remember these young US airmen, the US Air Force and all victims of W.W.II.
OFF SPRING B-17 G No. 42-31917 call code : S (sierra) call sign : Off Spring 8th Air Force 385th Bomb Group (Heavy) 551st Bomb Squadron location : AAF Sta.155 Great Ashfield airplane delivered : Cheyenne 4/1/1944 Kearney 13/1/1944 Grenier 26/1/1944 MACR (missing air craft report) : 7507 CREW capt. Richard B.WHITE, pilot 2nd Lt. Patrick J.FLANAGAN, bombardier 2nd Lt.Clarence E.GITTINS, co-pilot F/O James “Jim” W.JOHNSTON, navigator S/Sgt Marvin W.NIEMAN, top turret/flight eng. S/Sgt Harry E.FITZWATER, radio operator S/Sgt Willian R.LORD jr. right waist gunner S/Sgt Homer C.COMEGYS, ball turret gunner S/Sgt Samuel L.CANTER, left waist gunner S/Sgt Robert P.McPHERSON, tail gunner   
CURLEY’S KID’S B-17 G No. 42-102606 call code : K (kilo) call sign : Curleys Kids 8th Air Force 385th Bomb Group (Heavy) 550st Bomb Squadron location : AAF Sta.155 Great Ashfield airplane delivered : Cheyenne 18/3/1944 Kearney 2/4/1944 Dow fd 14/2/1944 MACR (Missing air craft report) : 7489 CREW 1st Lt. Robert L.McDONALD, pilot 2nd Lt. Stephen F.RYAN, co-pilot 2nd Lt. William T.HENRY, navigator F/O Francis M.CHRISMAN, bombardier S/Sgt Russel HALE, radio operator S/Sgt Peter J.HEFFERNAN, right waist gunner S/Sgt Walter R.BEROSH, ball turret gunner S/Sgt Peter LINTON, tail gunner S/Sgt George E.BROWN, top turret/flight eng. S/Sgt Larry ATIYEH, left waist gunner          
Dedication