History of the
B-17 #42-29531

Delivered Cheyenne 3/1/43; Salina 11/1/43; Morrison 8/3/43; Assigned 422BS/305BG Chelveston 8/4/43; Lost St Nazaire 29/5/43. Pilot, Marshall Peterson, POW. Co-pilot, Harry E. Bentz. Navigator, Larry Mandleberg, POW. Bombardier, Frank R. Perrica, Evaded. Flight engineer/top turret gunner, Hilton Hilliard, POW. Radio Operator, Joseph James Freeborn, POW. Ball turret gunner, Pete Milasius, Evaded. Waist gunner, George P Smith, POW.Tail gunner, Sal Tafolya, Evaded. Waist gunner, Percy C Matthews, Missing in Action. Flak hit, aircraft broke in two, crashed Saint-Bihy, 12 miles SW of St Brieuc, Fr. No MACR.

Crew 42-29531

P1LTMarshall R. PetersonPOW
CP2LTHarold Edward BentzEVD
BOMB2LTFrank R. PerricaEVD
ENG/TTS/SGTHilton G. HilliardPOW
ROT/SGTJoseph James FreebornPOW
BTS/SGTPeter P. MilasiusEVD
WGS/SGTPercy Clayton MathewsMIA
WGT/SGTGeorge P. SmithPOW
TGS/SGTSalvadore S. TafoyaEVD

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  1. von Joseph Freeborn am 23. October 2018 14:07 Uhr

    Just stumbled across this information I am the son of T/Sgt. Joseph James Freeborn (his name is wrong here) and was delighted to obtain this information. He was taken POW after the B-17 crashed and was imprisoned for almost 2 years. He died October 1985 and lived a good life. He married his wartime sweetheart who he met in St. Louis while he was in Tech School at Scott Airfield, IL. He raised 4 children and left a great legacy to his family. He was a member of the greatest generation.


    • von b17flyingfortress.de am 23. October 2018 14:29 Uhr

      Thank you! I have corrected the name.


  2. von Gregory P Smith am 25. January 2019 21:47 Uhr

    Gentlemen… This is truly amazing. My father was the left waist-gunner aboard the “Queen of the Skies” Serial No. 42-29531 when it was shot down over Saint Nazaire France on May 29, 1943. His name was George P. Smith. He rarely said anything about the war, or his imprisonment at Stalag 17B. He passed away in 1993. Hilton Hilliard’s, the top turret-gunner that bailed out with passed away two years later in 1985. Neither one kept in touch with each other. As a result, I’ve had to find out what the hell happened myself. I’m so grateful that this website is still active. Thanks… G.P.Smith


  3. von Gregory P Smith am 26. January 2019 6:49 Uhr

    There is a typo in my original comment. My father George P. Smith passed away in 1983, not 1993. He was only 62. Tough as nails but always fair, I stuck to him like glue when I was a kid. The picture of his plane, “Queen of the Skies” is treasure I’ll pass on to rest of our family. If you check out my website (wrongtree.org) there’s pencil sketch of my father when he was POW at Stalag 17B. Go to the top of the first page and click on MORE, then click on selected stories. Scroll down to “Top Secret Touchdown”. Rhoden was the POW artist. There’s also a photo of Hilton Hilliard, the ball turret gunner my father bailed-out with on May 29, 1943, as well as Hilton’s letter after the war thanking members of the French underground for helping them try to escape. Unfortunately, they were captured trying to cross the Spanish border by the Gestapo. Cheers…G.P.Smith


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