Mission#18 September 6, 1943 – the loss of F/O Earl W. Perry Jr., 352nd Fighter Squadron

Date: Sept 6, 43

Dispatched: 45 Aborts: 19

Mission: Penetration support to 1st & 2nd TF 140 B-17’s

Field Order: 55/125 Time Up/Down: 07:17 hrs     09:37 hrs

Leader: Major Duncan Target: Stuttgart

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-00

Group made landfall at Mardyck, 23,000ft, 08:00 hrs. Belly tanks were dropped in the vicinity of Bethune. R/V with the bombers was made at Chaulines on schedule at 08:14 hrs at 24,000ft. Escorted bombers in ‘S’ formation to Le Chatelet where a 180 degree turn was made to starboard at 08:35 hrs and withdrawn over planned course covering penetrating third task force. Out at Berck-sur-Mer at 24,000ft. B17 was seen going down near St Quentin at 08:39 hrs. Four chutes seen to open. Two Fw190 observed chasing one P-47 at Le Chatelet. P-47 was in a dive. Heavy intense flak over Bethune and St Omer, accurate for height. Large fire seen in the vicinity of Ghent. Difficulty in understanding Jacknife [Fighter Control]. Transmission was weak from St Quentin on. Continuous whine was exceptionally loud. Jamming reported on C Channel. Considerable difficulty was experienced in releasing belly tanks, causing some pilots to return earlier than planned [note that 19 aborted]. F/O Perry, of the 352nd Fighter Squadron, was reported missing. Lt Col. McCollom and Capt. Stafford of Group HQ participated in the flight.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 07:32 hrs. T/D 09:33 hrs. Total flight time 2:01 hrs. Two returned early due to failure of belly tanks to release. Heavy flak encountered in the vicinity of Dunkirk. R/V was made with bombers on time as they were on way in. As the Squadron turned to leave the bombers, Lt. Odom observed a P-47 rolling over to the left, going into a ‘split s’ dive, and being followed by a gray FW190 with a bright red nose. The 190 was following the manoeuvre but rolling to the right and firing his cannon all the time. The cannon flashes were what attracted Lt. Odom’s attention and he was close enough to observe black crosses on the wings. Lt. Mckean observed the same engagement and reported that one large fragment flew off one of the planes. Lt. Walsh observed an FW190 or Me109 make a head on attack at the bombers after the Squadron had been ordered to return home, but the results of the attack were unobserved.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt William W. Odom
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz (352nd FS)

351st: Major Christian. T/U 07:23 hrs. T/D 09:51 hrs. Total flight time 2:28 hrs. Route in south of Dunkerque, Bethune, Chaulines, Le Chatelet, North Amiens and out Berk S Mer.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
Capt Charles L. Stafford
1st Lt William J. Maguire
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt David C. Kenney
Capt Orville A. Kinkade
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
1st Lt George N. Ahles
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft

352nd: Unknown but likely Major Duncan. T/U 07:17 hrs. T/D 09:40 hrs. Total flight time 2:23 hrs.  Penetration support. Course: Mardyck-Marchelepot-Chamoville-Chatelet-Matchelport-Berck sur Mer. F/O Perry did not return from this mission. Flight plan as per Squadron records:

1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison
1st Lt William F. Streit
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz (flew with 350th FS)
2nd Lt Donald P. Corrigan
Capt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
Capt Charles J. Hoey
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Jordan
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
F/O Earl W. Perry  W56

Nobody saw what happened to F/O Earl W. Perry Jr., Wakeford 56, flying SX-Z (a/c 42-7901). Included in his Missing Air Crew report are the testimonies of members of the 350th Squadron which suggests the P-47 they saw under attack may have been Perry. 1st Lt James N Poindexter felt he was the victim of a sneak attack:

I was Wakeford Blue 3 and last saw F/O Perry when making a 180 degrees turn at Le Chatelet Sur R, our deepest point of penetration. The turn was exactly down Sun and after the completion and roll out of the turn, F/O Perry did not pull up into formation.

Perry was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921 and enlisted into the cavalry before transferring to the Army Air Corp. He gained his wings in October 1942 and joined the 352nd Squadron in January, 1943. He was killed when his Thunderbolt crashed in Gueudecourt, near Bapaume (France) and his remains were repatriated to Cleveland Lake View Cemetery June 22, 1949. He left a widow, Katherine, who remarried in 1947.

Sadly, this rather poor picture of F/O Earl W. Perry Jr. (T186020) from “C” Flight, 352nd FS is the only one I have. (353rd FG Archive)

As a further piece of information on this sad loss, there is a French researcher, Laurent Wiart, who is in contact with the man who witnessed the crash and ensured the remains of the young pilot were treated respectfully until returned to the United States. Anyone with further information on F/O Perry should drop me a line and I can also put them in touch with Laurent.

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