Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe) Guest Blogger
It was 69 years ago today. 7:27PM, Paris, France. The B-17G serial number 42-102552 was shot down by flak over Paris. Some of the crew managed to get out of the destroyed plane, some did not. Kirby Cowan, whom I wrote about here, was the only one of the crew captured by the Gestapo. He was one of the 168 allied airmen who ended up in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp instead of a POW camp.
This story is not really about Kirby Cowan, as much as it is about the 6600 American service members who died per MONTH, during WWII (about 220 a day). No one who was not alive then has any idea of the magnitude of the losses. 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theaters and another 18,000 wounded. Young men who climbed into thin aluminum coffins and flew into the stratosphere–and into history.
Also shot down that day at 7:24 PM, three minutes before Horn’s Hornets, was the B-17G #42-975432 flown by Second Lieutenant George Martin. That plane was also special because Staff Sgt. Carl E. Carlson was a member of the crew. SSgt. Carlson was the father of one of our own Turley blog commenters, Darrel Carlson.
This post is done in haste, because I wanted to get it up before 12:24 PM CDT (1:24 EDT), the moment Carlson’s plane crashed, and three minutes before Kirby’s plane crashed.
Please take a brief moment to remember them and all those youngsters who went off to war to defeat an unspeakable evil. Since I posted the story about the lost airmen of Buchenwald, I have learned more about that horror and plan to write about it later.
For those who read French, here is an excellent article in La Parsien, with an interview.
For those who may be puzzled by the references to “DCA.” “DCA” refers to the German anti-aircraft (Flak) guns, which in French is “défense contre-aérienne.” The word “Flak” is an acronym for the German “FlugzeugAbwehrKanone.” The infamous 88mm Flak gun was called the FlugzeugAbwehrKanone 88.