2nd Lt Warren Mansfield Strawn's niece Marcia A Moyer has provided us with a wealth of information, pictures, poems and even a letter dated just four days before the Redlingfield crash. In the picture gallery is a cutting and picture of the crew she sent us. It is probably taken from a paper in Long Beach, California, where 2nd Lt Strawn's sister Martha, and her husband lived. It shows the crew in front of what the family believe is Lizbeth II. An earlier aircraft he co-piloted was Lizbeth I.
On November 15 1943 2nd Lt Warren Mansfield Strawn wrote home telling his sister Mildred of the earlier ditching of their aircraft in the North Sea - below is a transcript of that letter.
8.10 pm Nov 15 1943
Your nice air mail reached me today so I will try to ans [answer] it tonite. I've already told mom all about our hitting the north sea so I'd better tell you too. You see it was like this --
We took off on a mission (to where & at what date I can't say). But we were pretty high and the ship was pulling hard to stay in formation, then just as we reached our bombing altitude & left the coast of England one of our super chargers failed and our no. 2 engine would only pull about 15 inches it wouldn't help the other three a bit. But we decided to go on. We made it OK until we reached the target & started back. Then we discovered that the ball turret man was out cold from lack of oxygen. So in trying to revive him the radio man & right waist gunner slipped their masks and passed out too. I finally had to go back myself & revived the radio (man) & waist gunner and started to work on the ball turret man. He was almost dead so I gave him my oxygen bottle & got him out of the turret. As he began to revive I began to pass out myself. I started for the radio room and just made it when I went out cold. The boys plugged me in on the extra outlet and I came out of it pretty quick. During all this time we had rcd [received] a burst of flack in the bomb bay, which knocked the radio out. So we couldn't reach the English coastal stations and let them know where we were. We were running low on gas and our 364 engines failed at about 23,000 ft. We dropped out of formation and started for the nearest point of land in England. We lost altitude fast and our other two engines failed [at] about 2,000 ft. We hit the water about 20 miles off the English shore, it was a good landing and no one was hurt. But the sea was terribly rough & one rubber raft was taken away with only two of the crew on board. The other 8 of us was in one dinghy which was 6 inches under water. The (A.S.R.) Air Sea Rescue sent out planes and found us in about 2 hrs. But it got dark before the launch could get to us so they lost track of us for a while then about 2:00am a boat came to about 15 miles of us and we fired a flare. He saw it and blinked his search light. They finally picked us up and we found that we had floated about 40 miles for we were 30 miles north of where we landed and 40 miles off (he misspelled it 'of') the English coast. So it was no wonder they couldn't find us so easy. We only floated about 10 hrs which is not at all bad. So now you know all about it. I've withheld names, dates and places concerned. So what I've said will hurt no one. It has already been released in the news papers. I'm glad the lights are on again in part of the world.
I'd like to have some 127 films if you can get them. I really must close now for I've got to get in bed.
The picture of 2nd Lt Strawn, above, was sent to his mother and said on the back: "Don't worry, I'm not as scared as I look."
On November 16 1943 2nd Lt Strawn wrote to Marcia's parents. The envelope is postmarked November 18, one day before the fatal crash. Most of the letter is about the leave the crew were given after ditching their plane in the North Sea. The back of the envelope is postmarked December 2, thirteen days after the crash, when the letter reached the base at Maxton, North Carolina, where Marcia's father was stationed. Below are some extracts from that letter.
7.05pm Nov. 16 1943
Dearest Sis. & Jim,
I'm sure I answd. your V mail before I left on leave. But I will try to write a decent sort of a letter now - You see we went down in the north sea a few days ago & floated for about 10 hrs before we were picked up. So they gave us 7 days to rest up so they said. & before we got back we were more tired than before we started. For we ran all over the whole of England and spent more money than I thought was possible. I'm actually ashamed of myself. But I may never get the chance to see such things again ... We went to London and looked the town over from end to end and back again. We also went to Southport to a big beautiful Red Cross rest home and sure had a very swell time. I went to the formal dance which opened the winter season. The mayor of the town and everybody of importance was there ... So I took a very pretty little English girl to the dance. She is very nice, has blonde hair and big nice clear brown eyes. She is the prettiest thing I've seen since I left the U.S. I'm going to see her again some time. How was things at home when you left? I must close now. Ans. real soon.
Love to you Mansfield
Warren Mansfield Strawn's younger brother L B Strawn had already enlisted in the Air Corps when he received the news of his brother's death but was at home waiting his induction orders. He received his orders the next day. He did not see combat because he was still training as a bombardier when the war ended.
On December 7, 1941, Marcia's family were at home in Long Beach when they heard the radio broadcast about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They planned to picnic on the beach that day and decided to go ahead with it. However, at the beach a radio was broadcasting up-to-the-minute information about Pearl Harbor. Marcia's mother's oldest brother, Robert Earl Mann (Uncle Bob), just stood listening to the radio broadcast and after a while decided he needed to head back to the naval base. He knew he would be called back to duty shortly anyway. Her parents worked at McDonnell-Douglas, one of the plants that built the B-17s. Marcia's mother has often wondered if she actually worked on any of the planes that her brother flew in. Marcia's father was drafted later on and they moved to a base in North Carolina. He became ill at the time his group was being shipped overseas, so he did not get to go. All of her other uncles and uncles by marriage went overseas and her grandmother was considered a five-star mother because she had three sons and two sons-in-law in the military all at the same time.
Click here to see the official letter notifying 2nd Lt Strawn's parents of his death and the subsequent letter informing them that the remains of the six crew members were going to be returned to the US for burial in a veteran's cemetery in New Albany, Indiana.
The flag, above, was placed in the front windows of families that had sons fighting in the war. Marcia's mother, Reynolda Strawn Clegg, believes that the star was blue but then if the soldier was killed in action it was changed to a gold star.
Pictured at the 95th Bomb Group's 2010 reunion in Washington DC are, from left: Janie McKnight, then president of the 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation; 2nd Lt Strawn's sister Reynolda Strawn Clegg and her son Timothy Clegg and daughter Marcia A Moyer; with James Mutton then of the 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association. In the picture below, of of Squadron P Flight B Class 43E Randolph Field, Texas, 2nd Lt Mansfield is second row, eleventh from the left.
2nd Lt Warren Mansfield Strawn's family are talented poets. To see poems written in his memory visit our poems page.
Many thanks to Marcia A Moyer, proud niece of 2nd Lt Warren M Strawn.