|Death: ||Mar. 18, 1944, Germany|
Co Pilot 1st/Lt. Willard V. Lidgard KIA
Hometown: Adrian, Michigan
Squadron:577th BS 392nd Bomb Group
Service # O-747834
Awards: Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart
Pilot 1st/Lt. Lynn G. Peterson KIA
Missing Air Crew Report Details
Date Lost: 3-Mar-44
Serial Number: #42-7497
Aircraft Model B-24D
Aircraft Letter: "N"
Aircraft Name: "OLD DADDY" 20th Mission
Location: 1 kilometer southwest of Kestenholz/County of Schlettstadt. Crew of 10 3KIA 7POW
Cause: German Fighters
The mission this day would see the 392nd suffer its heaviest losses, both aircraft and aircrew members, of any individual raid ever flown during its combat experience in World War II. Before the mission was completed, (14) aircraft and crews would be lost and (9) other ships damaged by fighters and flak, all totaling (154) casualties. General briefing for (28) aircrews was conducted between 0400-0530 hours.
MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: Eye-witness accounts from returning aircrews stated that this aircraft was last seen at 1510 hours after target at position 48-16N, 07-41 E. The ship was observed with one outboard engine on fire circling to the left and then spun down and crashed. Four parachutes were seen at once, then three more in a delayed jump sequence, totaling (7) chutes.
INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: The only individual accounts concerning this aircrew's missing status were those contained in German ground reports on-scene. Seven (7) men from this crew were reported as being taken prisoner by Report #KU1251 which also noted the time of the aircraft crash as 1530 hours near the village of Kinsheim. It was noted that (7) crewmembers were captured, all positively identified from their dog tags; and (3) others were found dead at the scene: The Pilot Peterson, L.G. and Co-Pilot Lidgard and one other who could not be identified (Note: This body later proved to be that of the Tail Gunner Dinda). From these enemy reports, it was determined that the three dead crewmen were found in the crashed plane which site was pin-pointed as (1) kilometer southwest of Kestenholz/County of Schlettstadt.
S/Sgt Apgar was wounded and spent some time in a POW hospital. While there, he wrote his sister a letter that the Germans apparently kept, as it is in file KU 1251. He told her, "Our bomber got shot down. But I bailed out just in time, before she blew up, I am wounded in the right arm. They got me on their second pass, but I'll be alright in time. I am in a German hospital and they treat me mighty fine. Don't tell mom what happened if you can help it, just tell her I am fine.
BURIAL RECORDS: The enemy reports above reflected that the deceased crewmen were buried on 20 March 1944 at 1445 hours in the community cemetery of Kinsheim. Later, U.S. National overseas Cemetery listings noted the following re-interments: Lidgard in the EPINAL Military Cemetery, France (Grave A-30-3) and Dinda, also at EPINAL (Grave A-14-3). There exists no record of Lt. Peterson in any U.S. overseas plot which suggests that his body was returned to the States later at Family request. Lidgard is noted to have earned the Air Medal with (3) Oak Leaf Clusters; and Dinda received an Air Medal with (2) Oak Leaf Clusters. Only Dinda is recorded to have been given a Purple Heart; but not Lidgard.
Crew of "OLD DADDY"
1st/Lt. Lynn G. Peterson Pilot KIA
1st/Lt. Willard V. Lidgard Co Pilot KIA
1st/Lt. Albert L. Long Navigator
2nd Lt. Pietro A. Cannistraro Bombardier POW
T/Sgt. Howard F. Lawrence Engineer POW
T/Sgt. Richard O. Bellerive Radio Op. POW
S/Sgt. David R. Apgar Gunner POW
Sgt. Roland C. Opsahl Gunner POW
S/Sgt. Alonzo C. Smith Gunner POW
S/Sgt. Bernard F. Dinda Tail Gunner KIA
Berlin Willard Lidgard (1888 - 1975)
Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial
Departement des Vosges
Plot: Plot A Row 30 Grave 3
Maintained by: John Dowdy
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 07, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56373787