This website is intended to remember nine American airmen, among the many who flew secret air missions during World War II, who lost their young lives when their aircraft, trying to bring some highly needed supplies to Italian partisans in the Friuli (Italy) region, crashed on the slopes of Mount Canin on the night of 16 October 1944.
A menu with the personal files about the crew members can be found on the left bar.
The site also includes many additional pages which may be of interest for the technical details enthusiasts and for the researchers on the 885th Bombardment Squadron (Special).
Hello, I’ve been using this site to research my great uncle, Sergeant George P. Gregory, who was a member of the 885th from December 1, 1944 until his death. He died from wounds sustained after his B-24J “604” crashed whilst attempting to land on March 2nd, 1945. There has been a lot of insightful information here and it’s been very helpful in allowing me to put together as much information as possible about my uncle George’s service. Thank you for creating this site.
Respectfully my father Paul E. LeSieur B-24 pilot 15th AF 464th,885th also earned Distinguished Flying Cross-Mediterarian Medal with 3 bronze stars.Lt Paul LeSieur was a member of Henry’s Boys who just by chance did not go up on a mission that ill fated night when “Smokey” crashed into the Alps.
It is with great sadness to say that my father, Eugene Kolupski passed away on July 6, 2019. He was one of the very few still living. He served with the 885th from Sept. 1943 thru Sept. of 1945. According to his Military record transcript he was first stationed in Blida and then Brindisi. He served thru campaigns including the Po Valley, Air Combat Balkans, Northern France, Southern France, Rome-Arno, Naples-Foggia,North Apennines and the Rhineland. His decorations and medals included, European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign medal with Silver Service Star and 3 Bronze Service Stars, Distinguished Unit Emblem with Oak Leaf Cluster, and of course the WWII Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
Dad was proud of the accomplishments and duty to country of the 885th, and with this site, their legacy and memories will live on.
Honor and Glory to him! Grazie per il Suo servizio e sacrificio, da una cittadina pugliese, amica del veterano Ralph Cavaliere.
I found a great photograph of my Uncle, Lt Jerome Solomon in his uniform and have sent it to Enrico to use here. So happy I finally found it.
Mr. Curtis Green, I do believe Enrico has copy of my Dads pilot log, let me know if not. Best regards Julien LeSieur… son of Lt.Paul E. LeSieur… co-pilot Henry Losers crew 464th-885th 2641st SG. B-24H #42-94919Q “SMOKEY”.
Found this site and my dad, Alford Downer (Linden, California) was in the squadron and the rooster. Was a tail gunner but interesting enough, I have a patch from the Holy Joe squadron (722nd), and a French Freedom Fighter armband along with the “15” with wings below. Al Passed many years ago and NEVER spoke of his time. It’s my understanding that he was shot down over France and made it back via the underground. I’m assuming that maybe he flew with the holy Joe group (722nd) and then was transferred to the 885th but that’s just a guess. Doesen’t look like there are many records. I doubt there’s anyone left who might have flown with Al but thought I would post.
Have you requested copies of your father’s military records from NARA? There was a big fire at their facility in St. Louis in 1973 and many records were destroyed; however a sizable number of records remain. If you obtain such records, you could then search/request information from the Air Force Historical Foundation about the units/groups he served with. Good luck!
If anyone here knew my uncle, Jerome Solomon, would contact me I would love to connect with you. Thank you!!! Devorah
Hi, my name is Robert Whitesmith Glasgow Scotland, my cousin is William Whitesmith Goldie a gunner on the ill fated flight, I would be glad to exchange information with you
Hi Mr. Whitesmith,
I am in U.S. working on family tree of Alice Whitesmith, who I believe was the sister of Emma Whitesmith Goldie. Can you share your email or phone with me? pamhedman at msn.com
Astonished and grateful to find this site. My dear uncle, Jerome Solomon was the pilot. I never got to meet him and only know the stories my mom (Florence Solomon Segall) shared about her beautiful brother Jerry. I have always wished I could talk with any of his friends from this time. Please contact me! I am on Facebook. Thank you so much for creating this honoring of the Solomon Crew.
Dear Ms. Segall, My father Travis Venters was co-pilot on the crew. Their mission was classified for 40 years, and still is in England. For more contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll have space to share details.
Finding out that my dad, Paul LeSieur was also a pilot on some missions while in the 885th 2641st BG with other crews is awesome. Also finding out what happened to the B-24 my dad was copilot “Smokey” #42-94919Q while in the 464th and 885th, actually getting to know the tail gunner, the more I read about the 885th the more I think a movie should be made, heads up Steven Spielberg. Thanks again… Julien LeSieur.
My dad, 1st Lt. Curtis G. Green flew with the 885th for a brief period of time (as shown on the roster). I would be interested in sharing/obtaining any additional information about the 885th, particularly any listing of missions wherein my dad was a crewmember. I have his pilot log book, but there are no entries for any of these missions – I assume because they were secret, the officers were not allowed to record this information in their log books. For roster purposes, my dad passed away on 21 April 1987.
Curtis, my father was a pilot in the 885th, I have info of his flights, Lt Paul LeSieur.
Thanks for your reply! I would be interested in exchanging whatever information we may have about the 885th. I’m still trying to obtain additional information from various sources but have not yet obtained any info that states which flights my dad may have been made, dates, etc. I do have my dad’s pilot log book but there are no entries for flights he may have made with the 885th, probably due to their classified nature. Can you advise the timeframe that your dad was assigned to the 885th? My dad was there from early Sept to mid-Oct 1944, and was transferred out due to contracting malaria.
Dear Mr. Venters, I flew on the B-24H #42-94919Q “Smokey” …
On April 13, 1945, this aircraft crashed into a mountain peak near Livigno in Northern Italy. All 9 crewmen and 3 of 5 American GI spies perished… (It had just come back from repairs and it was given to another crew because we had flown 3 or 4 straight nights).
The 2 who did survive parachuted in error. They weren’t supposed to because the aircraft was flying below 900’… An engine caught fire and she couldn’t make the climb over the Alpine Peak, Monte Delle Mine. Maybe you could work with the web-site over the copyright laws now in place to have a copy printed of your Dad’s airplane. Can you tell me where the picture was taken? The October date would mean Brindisi.
I have more news on your B-24J #42-51778 – It was built by the Ford Motor Company at its Willow Run plant (So was mine.) And it was from a run of 215 planes. #42 denotes the year it was built (1942).
The nose turret seemed newly installed. Please accept my condolences, however late, about your Father. The B-24 was an all-around better aircraft than the B-17. It flew higher, farther, faster and with a heavier pay load. She could also take a lot of punishment, but her slow rate of climb was her Achilles heel. I loved that aircraft.
Ralph Cavaliere. Did you know my Uncle, Jerome Jerry Solomon? I would love to speak with you. Thank you for everything. Devorah Segall
Mr. Cavaliere, thank you for your WW2 Army Airforce service! I want you to know how grateful I am for the history you have provided for “Queenie” on this truly great website for the 15th Army Airforce. Condolences to all of you who survive the lost crewman of ‘778’ bird commanded by 1st Lieutenant Jerome Solomon. My uncle, Joseph Leo Bouhl, perished in the crash of “Queenie”, the ‘919’ bird. He was a SSGT flight engineer who had completed his required 50 four hour missions and was waiting to rotate back (to the states)? The family story is he filled in for a crewman on sickcall — being bored of his grounding. (He had some flying hours in a supercub, and I think he had flying in his blood)! All his brothers have passed now and I doubt they ever knew the circumstances of his fatal crash on 13 April 1945. They did have a primitive looking image of Queenie’s black fuselage in the high Alpine snows. No wings, motors or tail empenage were to be seen in that photo. The locals did retrieve the crewmen, and my Uncle Joe’s remains were repatriated to his hometown cemetary. May he, his flight officer Lt. Hebinger, and all the crew for Queenie rest in peace. I weep every Memorial Day – thinking of all our service men who as President Lincoln observed “gave the last full measure of devotion” in service to this country. Again, Mr. Cavaliere, I can’t thank you enough for your contributions to this great website ! Richard Bouhl
Dear Mr Bouhl… I have a letter from one of the 2 survivors of that crash. S/Sgt. Armand Terracciano of Rhode Island wrote me that some of the GI Agents had a premonition that this was to be their last mission. The ill-fated “Queenie”, (her nose art was “Smokey”), caught fire on one engine and with the heavy load of 6 men in the rear of the fuselage, it was too much for her climb out of danger. The S/Sgt. saw her struggling to make it over the mountain peak with the engine on fire for another pass over the “Drop-zone.” His co-agent S/Sgt. Tomasello sustained a broken leg while he himself, parachuted safely. It was a day mission and the partisans, who were the receptionists gathering the supplies and equipment which were dropped from the aircraft, went to the aid of the stricken B-24, but the crewmen had no chance of survival. They all perished and the Italians gave them a military burial with a memorial on the site. I still hear from the younger brother of the navigator, Lt. Victor Carlson. As for Armand Terracciano, he died recently but is survived by a son. To his dying day, the S/Sgt. always questioned his survival. ‘Why me?”, he used to say and always had a guilty feeling on why did God chose him to live? He wasn’t supposed to have jumped. “Queenie” was flying much lower than the prescribe safe altitude of 900’. As he left the escape hatch on the floor in the rear of the fuselage, he inadvertently grabbed the ankle of Tomasello and they parachuted together. (Terracciano thought he was given the okay by the dispatcher). The other 3 spies and the crew of 9 never made it… The irony of it all, is that Lt. Hebinger’s own B-24 was flown by another crew, who, I’m told, was at the same drop zone and had left just before Queenie made her first pass… She was going for her 4th pass and never made it… We had flown her for the last time on March 9th and I believe this was her first mission since being laid up for repairs. My pilot, L. Henry Loser had given the ground crew-chief a long list of problems he wanted taken care of before her next flight. As far as I can determine, “Queenie”, aka “Smokey”, had flown 63 missions with the 8th AF out of England and in December of ’44, was assigned to us at Brindisi… Since we had more crews than aircraft, she was busy flying with other crews when we weren’t scheduled. I believe she had flown a total of 135 sorties and certainly earned her stripes. I used to hang a teething ring in the fuselage as a good luck charm when I flew with her…
Maybe I should have left it hanging.
Great Site: very interesting. My father was in the equivalent RAF 624 Squadron that was also at Blida in Algeria between 1943 and late 1944. I would be very interested to hear from any surviving members who may have some memories and recollections from this time. I know that there was some fraternisation between the two squadrons.
I would like to copy a picture of the black B-24 off my computer. I can print other images but not that one. The co-pilot was my Dad. So, please suggest to me a course of action. And, thank you, thank you for the site.
An excellent memorial and source of information, bravo!