Memorial

B-24 Grave Cartigny

The bomber belonged to the 1st Pathfinder Squadron, on the day it crashed (January 22, 1945), it marked the bridge over the Our River (Belgium) blocking thousands of Germans and vehicles on the west side of the river. It is documented as being the most successful day of the Ninth Air Force. They flew so low down the Our Valley to successfully mark the target and particularly the bridge over the river that the German anti-aircraft guns were firing down at them from the valley banks. The lower left memorial plaque is to the Americans who were stationed in the Bois de Buirre, which is the woods behind the memorial. They participated in the drive to the east during WW-1, fighting with the Canadians, Australians, and British. The American Bony WW-1 Cemetery is located about ten miles to the east. The lower right memorial plaque is to the 452nd Bombardment Group, as many French citizens, as the author had, that the Lady Jeannette had crashed where the top secret B-24J had actually crashed.

On November 10, 1994, we dedicated a memorial stone to this grave. The dedication was attended by T/Sgt Russell W. Gustafson, a Lady Jeannette survivor, two nieces of 1/Lt Gott, CMOH, pilot of the Lady Jeannette, and many French citizens. The Honor Guard consisted of members of the Souvenir Francais, a volunteer organization of French military veterans who maintain military graves and cemeteries across France. In May 1998, after everyone else had accepted the author’s research, fundamentally based on the description of the crash of the bomber these dead belonged in the Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Lt Gott and Lt Metzger. It is a well-known fact, due to extensive research prior to the award of these medals, and unless totally supported by facts and eyewitnesses, no one would be awarded that medal. The author proved that the two medal citations contained false information and every signor from Lt Harms, the required eyewitness officer knew or had to have known, that the medal applications contained this false information. The families of the three men were fully informed of the existence of the second combined grave of their family members and they requested that Americans allow the grave to remain where they are, as the French cared more about their loved ones than the American military commanders who were directly responsible for the original hiding of their combined remains.

On November 10, 2000, with the sister of Lt Metzger present, we dedicated a new memorial on the grave, with the Honor Guard being provided by the USAF, identifying the grave with the proper identification of the three men, of which the grave contains approximately two-thirds of their combined remains. Recovered from a hidden grave created by American military personnel by the village Priest on November 23, 1944. The village elders and the Priest (Mr. le Curé Etienne Serpette), had discussed the situation and had determined these men in the hidden grave who had died for the Liberty of France and had been discarded in a hidden grave by the US military, deserved a marked grave of their own in a consecrated cemetery. After the war, when the American Graves Registration units were searching for isolated graves, they asked the Priest, if he knew of any unrecovered war graves around the village, and the Priest answered no. They felt they could not trust the same people who had hidden the men’s remains once and might do so again and these men had died for the Liberty of France. He was at ease, they asked about graves ‘around’ the village when the grave in question was ‘in’ the village cemetery, he had not lied in the eyes of God, as he had answered the question correctly.

addedThere were two radar battalions in the area of the eastern front line in the Metz area of France, one of them being the 563rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion. The 563-SAWB was comprised of several separate individual radar units located in a line behind the front line, with an area of responsibility which was from the city of Nancy (France) to their south, then to the north with their northernmost unit in southern Belgium. Another Battalion’s coverage overlapped in the Belgium area to the south and continued to the north. The radar’s coverage, depending on the weather and the height of the target, could track a flying object in a circle for fifty to seventy-five miles in the direction the rotating antenna was pointing. Overall, each radar unit could cover a full circle with a diameter of one hundred to one hundred fifty miles. Their main search areas covered the free fire zone, on the east as far as their radar could track.

Radar System SCR-584 1944

Early in the morning of November 10, 1944, a B-17J began its night’s mission. Several of their squadron B-24s were scheduled to form a line from Belgium down to the south of Verdun. They were to fly to an assigned location arrive at an exact time and begin the pre-arranged operation, which consisted of flying a figure ‘8’ flight path. The point was located fifty miles to the west of the western boundary of the ‘free fire zone’ that ended twenty-five miles west of the front line. The American radar unit’s assigned mission was to keep the skies swept of German aircraft, anywhere to the east of that boundary line. There were two radar battalions in the area of the eastern front line in the Metz (France) area. The 563rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion was comprised of several separate individual radar units, located in a line behind the front line. The 563rd’s area of responsibility was from the city of Nancy (France) to their south, then to the north with their northernmost unit in southern Belgium. Another Battalion’s coverage overlapped in the Belgium area to the south and continued to the north. The radar’s coverage, depending on the weather and the height of the target, could track a target in a circle for fifty to seventy-five miles in the direction the rotating antenna was pointing. Overall, each radar unit could cover a full circle with a diameter of one hundred to one hundred fifty miles. Their main search areas covered the ‘free fire zone’, on the east as far as their radar could track.

At about 0145 in the morning, one of the overlapping 566th radars reported a probably friendly target flying from the west to the east. As the British normally flew in line instead of formation, the first target appeared to be a British bomber heading to the east to bomb Germany. Soon, another target appeared with the new target basically following the first target’s flight path. At that time, the 563rd Headquarters Plotting Center at Hattonville was informed of the new target, which was just far enough north for the next actions to be determined by the 566th. For the next few minutes, history continued in its stream with no reason to divert or divide into a different future. Then, the target that had been heading east, passed over the ‘free fire zone’ boundary. Then, an astonishing thing happened, the target turned right heading south inside the ‘free fire zone’. Aboard the target, which was suddenly declared an Unknown, instead of a Probably Friendly, the pilot, 1/Lt Joseph R. Hornsby, and the copilot, 2/Lt Robert H Casper listening intently for the navigator to call out a new course correction, 2/Lt Frederick G. Grey, was the only person aboard the B-24, who knew what all the electronic equipment on board was intended to do. When it was time to take off, he would tell the pilots what runway to use for takeoff. He then gave them ongoing instructions to reach a certain altitude, and fly in a certain direction and when he was ready, he would give the pilots orders to begin the figure ‘8’ flight pattern orbit. It was normally fifty miles from one end to the other and about ten miles wide. Once, they began the orbit, one of the gunners normally worked with him, by sitting by the stack of electronic equipment which had many marked switches on its panels. Sgt Mears, one of the gunners, who normally flew in the nose turret position would listen for the navigator and follow his instructions, which would be, to turn switch one on, then it might be turn on switch two and turn off switch one. Mears had no idea, as none of the crew, except for the navigator had any idea of what they were doing. They would normally spend a couple of hours orbiting in Figure ‘8’, with Mears flipping the switches dozens of times, all at the direct order of the navigator. Then, the navigator would give the pilots a new course and they would begin the return to their base in England.

One thing, each crewman the author interviewed, supported by Stephen Hutton’s research, was the pilots and crew had no idea of where they were or what they were really doing. All they knew was that they left their base and in due time, the navigator would guide them back.

When the Hornsby crew reported to an airfield in Maine, for their next flight over to Iceland and then England, they were told new orders had been received. They were to go to Maryland and report at a base there. Upon arrival, Hornsby was told, that the navigator was going to a special school and in about two weeks, he would return and then, they were to make their way to England. However, during that time, the crew would be given a temporary navigator and they would spend the two weeks learning a top-secret flight pattern, flying first during the day and then, during the night. Plus, the crew’s job, especially the pilots, was to never question the navigator, and they were to never discuss what they were doing with anyone, not even among themselves.

Their first mission was a daylight one and the fill-in navigator told Hornsby when to start the engines, when to start their taxi to a certain runway, and then, to stop and run up the engines, then to turn onto the runway and begin their takeoff. Upon clearance of the runway, the pilots were to fly a certain compass setting, gaining so many feet per minute and so on. Then, the navigator would give them a compass course to fly for so long and then, he led them through a new orbit pattern, in the shape of a figure ‘8’. They would do this for a length of time and then the navigator led them back to the base. This went on for two weeks and after a couple of daylight missions, where they could tell where they were, due to landmarks and such, they began night missions.

At first, they flew a couple of daylight missions and then it was three or four, mostly night missions. When interviewed by the author, the pilots both stated, that unless it was daylight, they never knew where they were once they left their runway. Hornsby and the rest of the crew interviewed, told the author, it was the strangest flying from day one to the day they crashed. They never knew where they were and never knew what they were doing. The author interviewed the radio operator, T/Sgt Joseph Danahy, several times. As with all the author’s research that began many years ago, the living completed their final transfers and are no longer available to help the author. The flight engineer/top turret gunner was T/Sgt Jack Chestnut; the normal nose turret gunner was Sgt Raymond G. Mears; the waist gunner was Sgt Robert Veliz; the ball turret gunner was Sgt Pete Yslava; and the tail gunner was Sgt Frank A. Bartho. As with all their other missions, the Hornsby crew quickly settled in, they were going to fly only in friendly territory so the gunners had little to do, but sit at their position and observe whatever they wanted.

On this mission, for some unknown reason, the normal tail gunner, Sgt Bartho, and the normal nose turret gunner, Sgt Mears switched positions. Then, the normal waist gunner, Veliz, manned the tail turret, while Mears went to the bomb bay to work the switches on the stack of electronic equipment, he knew nothing about. If, one thinks about it, what is the best way to protect secrets, keep it secret and that way, if in any way one of the men becomes a captive, they had no knowledge to give up. After about two hours, the Navigator told the pilots to change course to the south and be prepared to start the orbit. The position they were supposed to be at, was over the French-Luxembourg border. However, due to the weather, the navigator had been unable to use positive landmarks to verify their true position in the air. In fact, that night, something they knew nothing about had settled lower over Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. Called the ‘Jet Stream’, well known today, instead of their normal easterly wind to factor in, the Jet Stream had pushed them about 55 miles to the east of the position they were supposed to be at. At the time, Hornsby saw the moon which was partially blocked by clouds, reflected a large river in front of them. He assumed it was the Meuse River, which they often completed their figure ‘8’ over the river which ran from the south to the north roughly 75 miles to the west of the next large river, the Moselle. As the clock reached 0200, the B-24 turned south and the navigator and Mears had the top-secret equipment and were ready to broadcast, whatever it was going to broadcast. At the 566th SAW Battalion Plotting Center, a Probably Friendly suddenly became an Unknown, and all Unknowns in the ‘free fire zone’, were to be attacked by their night fighters.

The officer who controlled the night fighters, put a call out to the 422nd P-61 Black Widow Night Fighter that just happened to be flying a circular orbit waiting for some action, just a few miles away from the new Unknown. The controller gave the night fighter the flight vector to the Unknown target and quickly, the night fighter radar operator locked onto the target in the sky ahead of them. On the ground, the controller asked for verification to issue a shoot-down order, and when given, he told the night fighter to shoot down the Unknown. The P-61 approached from the 4 o’clock position, climbing toward the Unknown target. When it was within range, the gunner opened fire with its four 20-MM cannons. Immediately, in the light of the tracers and the explosions on the inboard #3 engine on the right wing of the target, the pilot identified the Unknown target as a B-24J. It was a B-24J, where no B-24J was supposed to be. The Americans did not fly night missions, and especially, they did not fly into the ‘free fire zone’ at night, unless it was an American night fighter. Otherwise, the Allies would be shooting down with ‘friendly fire’, their own aircraft. The pilot broke off his approach and contacted his controller, telling him that the unknown appeared to be an American B-24J and it had turned to the west, as soon as it had been hit. At the Plotting Center, they were already getting new radar position reports, showing the target was quickly losing altitude and was flying directly back toward England. The pilot of the P-61 was immediately vectored back to his original orbit position to wait for any other possible targets.

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P-61 Black Widow

added info by DocThe Northrop P-61 Black Widow was a night-fighter aircraft used by the US Army Air Force during World War II. It was designed to operate at night and in low-light conditions, equipped with radar and specialized equipment for intercepting enemy aircraft. Here’s an overview of its history and technical specifications:

(Development): The development of the P-61 Black Widow began in the early 1940s as a response to the need for a dedicated night-fighter aircraft. It was designed by the Northrop Corporation under the leadership of Jack Northrop. (First Flight): The first prototype of the P-61 flew on May 26, 1942. It was a twin-engine, twin-boom aircraft with a distinctive black paint scheme, which led to its Black Widow nickname. (Role): The primary role of the P-61 was to intercept and engage enemy aircraft at night, as well as to conduct ground-attack missions and reconnaissance. (Radar): The P-61 was equipped with advanced radar systems for locating and tracking enemy aircraft. The AN/APS-4 radar system, located in the aircraft’s nose, allowed the crew to identify and engage targets even in complete darkness. (Crew): The P-61 typically had a crew of three: a pilot, a gunner/navigator, and a radar operator. (Dimensions): The aircraft had a wingspan of 66 feet 0 inches (20.12 meters) and a length of 49 feet 7 inches (15.11 meters). (Engines: The P-61 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines, each producing around 2000 horsepower. (Maximum Speed): It could reach a maximum speed of approximately 366 mph (589 km/h). (Range): The P-61 had a maximum range of about 1900 miles (3058 km). (Armament): The armament of the P-61 varied throughout its production. It was equipped with various combinations of 20-MM cannons, .50 caliber machine guns, and 37-MM cannon pods. Some models also had provisions for carrying bombs or rockets. (Armor and Defense): The P-61 was equipped with armor protection for the crew and self-sealing fuel tanks to enhance survivability during combat. (Production): A total of 706 P-61 Black Widows were built during its production run from 1942 to 1945. (Service): The P-61 saw action in both the Pacific and European theaters of World War II. It played a significant role in intercepting enemy bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, contributing to the Allied victory. Despite its effectiveness as a night fighter and its technological advancements, the P-61 Black Widow’s service life was relatively short due to the rapid advancements in aviation technology following World War II. It was retired from active duty shortly after the war’s end, as newer and more advanced aircraft emerged. However, the P-61’s contributions to night-fighting tactics and technology were invaluable during its operational period.

Northrop P-61C Black Widow

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Once, the shells struck the engine of the B-24J #42-51226, an event had started which, if General Patton had returned to the United States after New Year 1946, used his ability to use the American media to tell what he knew, the world would be an extremely different place today. And, if he used that fame and his natural ability and had the desire, I believe, in 1948, the new President would have been Gen Patton. Instead, one of those who were attempting to destroy him had managed to continue the cover-up of what he had verbally ordered on November 10, 1944, the crash of the top secret B-24 and the existence of the 8000 pounds of America’s most top secret electronic now on the soil of France, must go away. And, it must go away in such a way, that no German spy could obtain anything from that crash site, which might enable the Germans to duplicate what we were using against them and use it against us. If that happened, we would still win the war, but the Germans could shoot down hundreds more Allied aircraft and during that time, tens of thousands of civilians would also die.

Thus, whatever it took, it had to be done and it had to be done with Eisenhower’s protection, or major commanders, unit officers and enlisted men who did what they were verbally told to do, would be open to immediate court-martial followed by the loss of their careers, jail time and total public humiliation and then, the direct hatred of the American public.

When this series of articles and especially, if you read the books to learn the research base foundation of this series, in the end, you will and I mean, you will realize, that Gen Patton could not have been allowed to return to the USA and tell the American public what he knew, supported by the absolute evidence he had to support his truth. At the end of this series, you will know exactly what Patton knew and if you, the mother, the father, the sister, the brother, the wife, the children, a relative, or just a friend of a soldier who had not returned and you were told, you may never have that information and you must accept that fact. Then you listen to Gen Patton’s speech and you hear, what he could prove, from the eyewitness officer, who would have stood next to Patton to provide his story and his support, tell how two Congressional Medals of Honor had been awarded to two pilots, who would have deserved the awards, if the truth of their death had been presented, had been used by the highest military commander to hide the truth of how his orders led to the burial of American War Dead in unmarked graves and his verbal order that a false description of their death and heroism be the foundation of the award of the medals when he knew from the first day, the men awarded the medal and the men who died with them, did not die as stated. Then, Lt Harms, would step forth and hold up his medical records that proved absolutely, their B-17 did not crash as described, nor did the men who died, die as described. Then, he would tell, how his Squadron and Group Commanders and a Colonel from General Eisenhower’s headquarters had ordered him to sign the applications without questioning their contents, or he would be sent to the front line as an infantry officer. He was a flyer, with no infantry training and he had a pregnant wife at home he would tell the American public while holding up his official medical records proving his truth, I was not a damn fool then, and I am not a damn fool now, so I signed the two applications as the required ‘Eye Witness’ officer, verifying the description of crash and death of the men, saluted the three officers, walked outside the office and became a non-flyer accounting officer in the 452nd Bombardment Group.

B-24 crash site late 1944 (Illustration)

Gen Patton would then ask the American public to remember how he had been punished by Gen Eisenhower and his Chain of Command, for slapping a soldier that he truly thought would gain his courage back from that slap. Then, he would remind the American public about his successes in combat, in Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, and Germany and during his Victory Tour in May and June, across the country, he was met by large crowds of Americans who appreciated his service to his country. While touring the country, in every newspaper, he read of two Congressional Medals of Honor, being awarded on GO-38 May 16, 1945, to the pilots of a B-17 that had crashed in his area of command. He had learned of that crash the day it happened and early the next morning, he was told of the crash of a top-secret aircraft, loaded with the most secret electronic equipment. Then, he learned of steps being taken in the field, that could only have happened with the approval of Gen Eisenhower. His friend, Gen Wendover, the XIX Air Force Commander, had kept him briefed on what was being done and why it had to be done. The fact is, at the time I agreed with what had to be done, for the very reasons given by Gen Eisenhower. If that was all that was done and I had approved of what was done, I would fully understand the wrath that would be placed upon me and my career.

However, as I had time to realize what I had learned during my tour, and I was continually being mistreated by those who had been attempting to destroy my career, a month ago, I made my mind to quit the army and stand here before you as an equal citizen, to tell you that I feel the misuse of the medal our country values so highly, by commanders who knew the truth and passed to our government and President, who most likely never knew the truth, cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Thank you and I promise, I will help you obtain justice due for those who may never return and especially, those who never returned and will never return unless those responsible are held responsible for their actions in hiding American war dead and the deceitful use of our highest military medal, to cover up their illegal actions while in command. If Patton had returned and given a speech somewhat like the above, every signor of the application from Squadron Commander to the highest position who knew the truth and then lied as they passed the application up the line would have had their career destroyed and legal action brought against them. If that truth had been hidden from the Congress and the President, think about it. It is obvious, that Patton must not return and follow through with his plan. The car accident was just that, it was an accident, no matter what Bill O’Reilly might claim in his book. I believe Gen Patton would have not returned alive from that day’s planned pheasant hunt!

This will end Part One
A link to Part Two will be activated as soon as published.
Doc Snafu

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