World War II
Pilot Observer 2/Lt Francis J. Thackray
Squadron: 565th BS 389th Bomb Group
Service # O-799270
Pilot 2/Lt Royce E.Smith, POW Klamath Fls, OR
Target Ludwigshafen, Germany
Missing Air Crew Report Details
USAAF MACR#: 1852
Date Lost: 7-Jan-44
Serial Number: 42-7593
Aircraft Model B-24H-1-FO
Aircraft Letter: P
Aircraft Name: BLUNDER BUS
Location: Crashed at Le Plesis, France ( Alternatively - near Orgères-en-Beauce in Eure-et-Loir )
Cause: German fighters 1 KIA, 7 POW, 2 EVD
The 389th BG flies home alone over France. German fighters make repeated attacks and the group loses four aircraft.
Following information supplied by French FAG member David Grassin.
The crash of the Blunder Bus is not at Le Plessis in Loir-et-Cher but near Orgères-en-Beauce in Eure-et-Loir on 7 January 1944.
There were 11 crew members.
Pilot : Royce E. Smith
co-pilot : Robert H. Hirsh
navigator : Duane C. Strayer
bombardier : Revis L. Smith
radio operator : Robert G. Hauger
Top turret gunner : James Dillon Jr. KIA
ball turret gunner : Thomas L. Burton
waist gunner : William J. Donley
waist gunner : Relius E. Nobles
Tail gunner : Edward J. Gilbert
Observer : Francis J. Thackray
James Dillon KIA in the plane.
Thomas Burton bailed out, but was wounded. The Germans captured him in a hospital.
Royce Smith, Robert Hirsh, Duane Strayer, William Donley, Relius Nobles, Edward Gilbert and Francis Thackray bailed out and met up with the French resistance. Duane Strayer and his French guide were captured by the Germans at Toulouse. The remaining aircrew of this group set out to cross the Pyrenees mountains with a Spanish guide and two French resistance members who were escaping as well. An avalanche occurred. Royce Smith excavated (unearthed ?) himself and saved several of the group. The Spanish guide, the two French Resistance members along with Francis Thackray were killed. The survivors were now lost in mountains. The Germans captured them at Tarbes.
Robert Hauger and Revis Smith bailed out both evaded capture with help of a different group of the French resistance. They traversed the Pyrenees mountains and successfully reached Spain.
David Grassen is a member of a French association that commemorates the Blunder Bus crew and on 7 September 2013 will make a commemoration in France as well as writing a book of the story of the crew.
Visit the virtual cemetery of the "BLUNDER BUS"" Crew. Click here
Updates provided by John Dowdy.
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