Missing US Bomber Used in World War II Found on British Seabed after 72 Years

Missing US Bomber Used in World War II Found on British Seabed after 72 Years
Tue Dec 1, 2015 15:36:50

When divers found a World War II bomber off the coast of Norfolk, they unearthed a long lost tale of heroism and tragedy.

The tragic story of a World War Two American bomber crew has been pieced together by divers who discovered their plane wreck off the coast of Britain.

The lost Boeing B17 Fortress Flyer ditched in the sea off the Norfolk coast on May 13, 1943, killing the pilot, Captain Derrol Rogers.

But now a team of divers who found and identified the wreckage have uncovered the remarkable courage of both Captain Rogers and his co-pilot Norville Gorse that saved the lives of nine people.

Paul Hennesy and Mandy Frary, from the North Norfolk Divers, led a team of underwater explorers to a spot off the coast of Blakeney which had been identified as the site of a plane wreckage.

Divers on an earlier expedition three years ago believed the plane was a Lightning jet from the 1960s.

But after comparing photos of the wreckage with parts of the Fortress Flyer, they discovered the aircrafts true identity.

The plane was indeed the missing flyer, number 42-29752, which had taken off from the RAF's Grafton Underwood airbase in Northamptonshire on May 13, 1943.

It was the crew's first combat mission to attack the Luftwaffe airfield at St Omer in France - but things went badly wrong from the start.

Having been warned about being attacked on take off, the Flyer's machine guns were charged before it left the runway.

But as Capt Rogers banked the plane to one side, a machine gun went off and hit the aircraft's tail, severing a stabilizer.

Two of the crew were also hit by the spray of bullets, and without the stabilizer the plane was out of control and still climbing.

Tying the plane's control column with cord, Rogers and Gorse managed to steer the Flyer back to the airbase, allowing all but the pilot and co-pilot to bail out.

An injured crew member, who had been hit in the spine, had a rope tied to his rip chord before being thrown from the plane, ingeniously allowing his parachute to open without his intervention.

The two remaining men then flew out to sea to avoid crashing the plane in built up areas.

Both bailed out of the plane before it hit the water.