2Lt Vernon A Meierhenry

2Lt Vernon A Meierhenry

Birth
Nebraska, USA
Death 15 Oct 1944
Sudbury, Babergh District, Suffolk, England
Burial Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England
Plot Plot D Row 3 Grave 7
Memorial ID 56292422 · View Source
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Casualty of WWII,Vernon was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces;Service # O-722740.835th Bomber Squadron, 486th Bomber Group, Heavy. He entered the service from Nebraska. He held the Air Medal and Purple Heart.
B-17G, Flying Fortress, No 43-38137 commanded by Second Lieutenant Clarence B. Hermann took off at 05:38 hours in the darkness of early morning, 15th October 1944 from Sudbury Airfield in Suffolk, to take part in a bombing mission on Cologne. It was the sixth aircraft to take off but the No 4 engine failed and although the aircraft had attained take-off speed and lifted off, its wing lights showed that it was unable to gain altitude. These bombers were invariably flying with 3,000lbs above their design rate being laden with extra fuel, ammunition and bomb loads. It bore to the right then a loud explosion was heard and the glow of a fire lit up the morning darkness. The plane had torn into the top part of the Woodhall farmhouse near the end of the runway. It then continued on a short distance before exploding in a field beyond the house. Pieces of the aircraft were scattered over a wide area and the field was blackened by fire. Eight of the nine man crew were killed but the pilot was blown clear when the aircraft exploded. He was taken to the Station hospital at Acton where he spent two months recovering. On December 18 he was flown back to the USA still seriously injured and was never well enough to be interviewed about the cause of the crash. He died in 1976. A Major Smith and his family lived in the farmhouse. He later told how he was awakened from a deep sleep and thought that the house was coming down on them all. He got his wife and two daughters down the stairs and into the garden then went back for Raymond Smith, his 15-year old son. He found the stairs to Raymond's bedroom blocked with debris and a fire burning on that floor above. Raymond appeared climbing down through the debris. At first sight he did not look too bad but it soon became apparent that his face and hands were badly burned. An American jeep took him to the local hospital where Dr Rix found that in addition to the burns he also had severe damage to his lungs. That lung damage and shock due to the burns led to Raymond's death. As at May 2011, Raymond is not commemorated on the official list of civilian war dead-this list covers not just those killed as a direct result of enemy action, and his death would be regarded as caused by ‘friendly fire'. The site of the crash is now a Tesco Supermarket and a plaque commemorating the tragedy is affixed to the wall. It was unveiled in September 1999 and was attended by Raymond's sisters, Joyce Smith and Daphne Felton. Two USAAF Mustangs flew overhead at the ceremony.

Crew Members who died with him and who are interred at Cambridge were:

Joseph K. Cook
William M. Annan
Ralph M. Spaulding, Jr.
Robert R. Stone
John W. Jackson


Family Members


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  • Maintained by: Martin Douglas Packer
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 6 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56292422
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 2Lt Vernon A Meierhenry (unknown–15 Oct 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56292422, citing Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Martin Douglas Packer (contributor 47912178) .