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|Military Aviation Art
Sunday, August 22, 1943 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 8:
Target: Airdrome located at Beaumont le Roger, France.
...Lieutenant W.T. Caldwell was flying a ship named "PAY OFF" 134971 RU-Q in number six position of the low flight in the second box. He was taking 20mm hits in the bomb bay, smoke began to pour out as the fire spread. His right engine burst into flame, he was able to hold formation momentarily, then took his plane out of formation to the left. Tech Sergeant C.H. Burdick, Jr. was wounded as he manned the top turret of that plane. One parachute appeared as the ship lost altitude, but was still under control as it entered a cloud bank. He picked up a bit of altitude and headed toward the formation, a second parachute was seen to open. The plane rolled over on its back and then into a vertical dive. The aircraft came through the second cloud bank in three parts, all burning fiercely as viewed by the Captain Caney crew flying "BOOMERANG" 131631 RU-G, they were in the number four position of the lead flight in the second box.
Co-pilot on the Caldwell crew, Lieutenant Andrew Lindsey picks up the narration just prior to his bailing out of the stricken bomber: "The gasoline and hydraulic lines had been punctured, the hydraulic fluid and gasoline made a furnace of our bomb bay almost at once. Under those circumstances the likely hood of an explosion was present every second. W.T. with complete disregard for his own life maintained control of the aircraft until his crew could abandon it. No more could be expected of any man. When I left the cockpit, W.T. was still on the controls, smoke was so thick I could see the instruments only with difficulty." End of co-pilot statement. Lieutenant Lindsey received burns on his face and hands as he exited the plane.
In the same low flight, Aerial Engineer Staff Sergeant Billie B. Boyd, Jr. was manning his single waist gun in ship 131628 RU-L which was piloted by Flight Officer Durward Casey. A FW-190 dipped under their B-26 at 6 o'clock low position and out at 4 o'clock level. Eighteen year old Boyd rattled off one long burst from his 50 caliber Browning Machine gun at the attacking aircraft. Captain Clarence Mc Kinney flying as an observer in ship 134947 RU-K flown by Lieutenant Emmett Curran in number four position of the same low flight picks up the narration: "Staff Sergeant Boyd was firing at the FW-190 at a range of 25 yards. His fire raked the enemy plane from rudder to engine cowl, then the pilot’s head lurched back as the plane began emitting smoke and flames as it went into a spin. It crashed on the ground burning furiously! That particular FW-190 had a light gray bottom, black nose and yellow around the numbers and insignia." The Staff Sergeant received full credit for destroying that enemy plane.
The fate of the "Pay-Off" crew is as follows:
Lieutenants W.T. Caldwell, Jr. KIA. A.G. Lindsey, evaded. F.A. Schultz. KIA. Tech Sergeant C.H. Burdick, evaded. Staff Sergeants W.A. Callahan, POW and E.C. Sharpe, POW. Callahan managed to make contact with some members of the French Underground and made it to the Spanish Border, only to be picked up by the Germans when they shook down a train. Burdick made contact with the Underground as well, but no details are known how he evaded. Sharpe was captured immediately due to the fact he landed directly into the Field Headquarters of a Panzer Unit. He was injured during his landing because his chute did not fully deploy. Lindsey was able to connect with a young boy who was in the French Resistance. Later he was turned over to a man by the name of Henri and his wife Honor who lived in Evreux, France. His wife took care of Andrew Lindsey's burns on his face and hands and fed him during his painful recuperation time. Later he moved in with Jacques and Magdeleine Mourlet, they lived in the town of Quimper (Normandy). They were active in the Underground movement also. They lived up stairs and a Gestapo Officer lived down stairs. The house only three doors from the Gestapo Headquarters. The Germans never found out. Eventually Lindsey was well enough to travel and he was passed on to another group that got him over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, and finally back to England. Lieutenant W.T. Caldwell was posthumously awarded the second highest medal that the U.S.A. bestows upon an individual for heroism in combat, the DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS.
Image size 18 x 28