B-17G 42-31123: The aircraft that crashed in Redlingfield at Green Farm was Flying Fortress B-17G 42-31123 of the 334th Bombardment Squadron. Wreckage is still occasionally unearthed in the fields by Graham Abbott (who lives in the new Green Farm with his family) and his brother Patrick who farm the surrounding land.
The young men who lost their lives were:
2nd Lieutenant Kenneth B Rongstad, pilot - born in 1922, he was a single photographer from Flathead County, Montana, who enlisted in Missoula, Montana, in December 1941 (many thanks to The Daily Inter Lake, Kalispell, Montana, for the picture and article, right);
2nd Lieutenant Warren Franklin Mansfield Strawn, co-pilot - born in 1919, he was a single doorman who enlisted in Detroit, Michigan, in May 1942, and was originally from Missouri (pictured left).
2nd Lieutenant Richard E Diete, navigator - born in 1920, he was a single photo engraver from Cook County, Illinois, who enlisted in Chicago in March 1942;
2nd Lieutenant Joseph F Spicer, bombardier - born in 1920, he was a single printer from Cook County, Illinois. Originally from Kansas he enlisted in Chicago in April 1942;
Staff Sgt Gail A Richmond Junior, top-turret gunner/flight engineer - born in 1924, he was a single tool sharpener or dresser from Pennsylvania, who enlisted in Philadelphia in October 1942 (pictured right);
Staff Sgt Gordon V Sorensen, radio operator - born in 1919, he was a married, semi-skilled chauffeur or driver from Dickinson County, Michigan, who enlisted in Marquette, Michigan, in September 1942 (he is pictured below right with his wife Odetta);
Sgt Charles E Phinney, ball turret gunner - born in 1915, he was a single chauffeur or driver from Ulster County, New York, who enlisted in Albany, New York, in April 1942;
Sgt Julius William 'Buddy' Torok, right waist gunner - born in 1909, he was divorced and worked building aircraft. From Darien, Connecticut, he enlisted in Hartford, Connecticut, in August 1942;
Staff Sgt Kenneth Cosby, tail gunner - born in 1921, he was a single clerk from Montgomery County, Ohio, who enlisted in Cincinnati in September 1942” (pictured left is a newspaper article on his death);
Sgt Louis M Mirabel, left waist gunner - he has also been called Sgt. Louie Mirabile and Staff Sergeant L.M. Mirable - no details known (all other airmen's details from American records kindly located by Linda Tillman in the US).
One member of the crew survived the initial impact and explosions and was only killed when the ninth 500lb bomb exploded. Only one of the ten bombs on board did not go off and was “picked up” by an RAF bomb disposal unit.
The grave marker where six of the crew were buried in a "group" grave in United States Military Cemetery, Brookwood, England, is pictured here. On the upper vertical part of the cross, there are six dog tags attached. The top horizontal piece says "334 BMB SQ 95 BMB GP (H)" and below that "19 NOV 1943". The larger piece with writing includes the names of the crew in this order: 2nd Lt Warren M. Strawn; S/SGT Kenneth Crosby; S/SGT Gordon V Sorensen; S/SGT Gail A Richmond, Jr; SGT Charles E. Phinney; SGT Julius W. Torok. The serviceman in the picture may be 2nd Lt Warren M Strawn's brother L B Strawn, who visited the grave while he was overseas on his tour of duty.
On June 23 1948 the Department of the Army wrote to 2nd Lt Strawn's mother to tell her 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.
Many thanks to the 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association/Red Feather Club. And many thanks to Marcia A Moyer, proud niece of 2nd Lt Warren M Strawn. Thank you to Patrick Flynn for the picture of Gordon and Odetta Sorensen.