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Lieut Niel Randolph Larsen

Lieut Niel Randolph Larsen

Birth
Death 23 Jun 1944 (aged 24)
France
Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot V_269_12
Memorial ID 152062 · View Source
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Pilot 1st/Lt. Niel R. Larsen KIA
Hometown: Wife, Arlene Fort Worth, Texas
Squadron: 577th BS 392th Bomb Group
Service #O-689971
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart.

Target: LEON-ATHIES AIR FIELD (France)
MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #06523
Date Lost: 23-Jun-44
Serial Number: #42-50287
Aircraft Model B-24
Aircraft Letter: "V-PIus"
Aircraft Name: (NO NICKNAME) 17th Mission
Location: southeast of Dunkirk
Cause: flak Crew of 10 6KIA 4POW

Between 1400-1500 hours, (24) crews were briefed with the 579th, Lieutenant Cetin as Bombardier, and 577th Squadron, Lieutenant Issenberg as Bombardier, assigned lead positions. At 1630 hours, all (24) ships took off with all but (1) going over the target to release (1190) 100 and 120# bombs. Results were poor and intense, accurate AA fire on the bomb run contributed to the bombing inaccuracy. Over the target, the Group lost (2) aircraft.

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: An eye-witness (Lt. Holliday, crew Pilot 577th) reported this aircraft as being first hit by flak over the target, hit again at Dunkirk (return route) and lost a propeller with plane going down in a spin out of control and believed to have crashed, (3) chutes seen. A German Report #KU2368, 23 June at 2130, Airdrome Command at Lille, stated that this aircrew of ten were recovered with (6) dead: Larsen, Stratton, Robinson, Prazak, Cristofaro and Whitt,-and (4) members captured. The men taken prisoner were identified positively and sent on to DulagLuft center for interrogation at Oberursel/Frankfort on 27 June.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: One crew survivor, O'Neill, later gave information in a ‘Casualty Questionnaire' to U.S. authorities after his repatriation from POW status, as follows: that their ship had left the Group formation about five miles north of the target after bombing (and took a more direct route returning to England); and about (10) miles southeast of Dunkirk some of the crew began bail out starting at about 10,000 feet down to 3-4,000 feet due to the plane being in a spin (after being hit by flak again); that the Pilot, Co-Pilot, and Engineer were in their respective flight positions when the plane took a direct flak hit into the flight deck, and that was the last seen of these members; that the ship had crashed about (10) miles southeast of Dunkirk between a railroad, canal, and a road near a house there; and it had burned with no surviving crew members able to get back to it. He noted further that the Pilot and Co-Pilot were killed instantly, he believed, and the Engineer perished before he could bail out since the plane, immediately after the AA hit, went into a right hand spiral spin and no abandon ship signal was given. Another report from Lt. Hiller, Bombardier, stated that he and the Radio Operator bailed out through the bomb bays after the ship stopped spinning momentarily around 10,000 feet, followed by the Navigator and Nose Gunner who jumped through the nose escape way (Note: Escape had to be through the nose wheel well-doors as this exit was the only way from the nose section, and quite difficult to accomplish with a parachute on, back or chest pack). No other accounts were filed with this MACR.

BURIAL RECORDS: No German report exists on this aspect. U.S. National Overseas Cemetery records note that the following (2) crew members are interred in the NORMANDY (Omaha Beach) cemetery: Stratton (Grave A-l5-23); and Prazak (Grave B-16-24). Stratton is recorded to have the Air Medal with (2) Oak Leaf Clusters, and Prazak the same medal with (4) Oak Leaf Clusters. Neither are recorded to have received the Purple Heart awards, posthumously. Records on the initial, or reburial of the other deceased members were not available in these files.

The #42-50287 Crew
1st/Lt. Niel R. Larsen Pilot KIA
2nd/Lt. Charles R. J. Stratton Co Pilot KIA
2nd/Lt. Thomas J. Oneill Navigator POW
2nd/Lt. Thomas B. Hiller Bombardier POW
T/Sgt. William F. Robinson Engineer KIA
T/Sgt. Henry H. Fox Radio Op. POW
S/Sgt. Clyde G. Whitt Gunner KIA
S/Sgt. Gus J. Cristofaro Gunner KIA
S/Sgt. Stanley J. Prazak Gunner KIA


Family Members

Gravesite Details Repatriated burial 30 Apr 1949

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  • Maintained by: John Dowdy
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 152062
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lieut Niel Randolph Larsen (4 Aug 1919–23 Jun 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 152062, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by John Dowdy (contributor 47791572) .