B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 44-8746

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-8746


MACR: 13089


History of
B-17 44-8746

Delivered Cheyenne 13/12/44; Hunter 8/1/45; Grenier 2/2/45; Assigned 837BS/487BG Lavenham 20/2/45; 838BS; Missing in Action Orannienburg 15/3/45 with Joe Conwill, Cecil McNeish, Jerome Moderski, Clarry Randall (4 Killed in Action); Birtrum Lindquist, George Polifka, Lt Ramon Dippo {mickey op}, Jim Valentine, Bob Copelin {tg}, Capt Bob Reeder {obs} (6 Prisoner of War); flak, crashed Benvenson, Hol?. Missing Air Crew Report 13089.

Last updated: 27. March 2021


B-17 44-8746 Details

This A/C suffered a direct hit in the forward part of the plane which blew the nose off. It was hit at 1536 hours over Wittenberg 53 deg. 00′ N – 11 deg. 45′ E. It made a 180 deg. turn to the right, and lost altitude rapidly with 2 engines smoking. A nearby A/C reported that although it appeared to be under control, everything forward from the ball turret seemed to have been wiped out. It was last seen at about 4000 heading 360 deg. after losing altitude in a series of turns. As many as 5 chutes were seen.

Source: MACR 13089

Statements of some survivors

I was riding in the tail of the airplane the day we went down so what happened up in front is mostly unknown to me.

We received a direct hit by flak in the nose of the ship and from what the co-pilot told me after I got home, the under-side of the nose was entirely gone. I never saw or heard anything about the Bombardier or Navigator and took it for granted that they were hit by the burst.

I also heard from the co-pilot that the pilot bailed out and was taken prisoner but died in a prison camp from lack of medical aid for his wounds.

The radio-man said he looked up in front after we were hit and saw that the engineer was hit but couldn’t get up to help him and I doubt if he never got out.

The rest of the crew got out alright and that is the extent of my knowledge as to what happened to the others.

2nd Lt. Birtrum F. Lindquist

Lt. Cecil McNeish, the navigator and Lt. Jerry Moderski, the bombardier, were in their respective positions aboard the airplane. It was reported that the entire nose section was blown completely off the ship. I do not remember definitely how I managed to leave the airplane.

Lt. Joseph D. Conwill and I were together in prison until he died. I have reported and signed a statement to that effect.

Lt. Conwill and I, in our conversations, discussed many times the possibilities of the others. It was his opinion that Clarence Randall, the engineer, was never able to leave the airplane due to being mortally wounded.

It is impossible for me to sign a statement or state definitely of the others.

Capt. Rober G. Reeder


The last I saw Lt. McNeish alive was on the morning of the 15th of March 1945 before take off. The course of conversation on the interphone system of the ship was only what was required fo the successful completion of the mission.

When we were hit the interphone system was knocked out and there was no specific order to bail out. I had no idea as to how badly the plane had been hit other than that it was descending in a slow spiral. The other members in the back of the ship made ready to bail out and I did likewise. I wanted to look up front and after trying the door to the bomb bay and finding it jammed I broke it open and stepped thru into bomb bay. The engineer was sitting on the floor leaning into the bomb bay. I yelled at him to get out of the ship but only got a blank stare. I then looked up to the pilots seat and noticed it empty and the co-pilots seat was also empty. I noticed that the front escape hatch was missing. I did not go past the front of the bomb bay but noticed that the engineer was wounded in the legs. I yelled at him again and then made my way out of the plane.

In parachuting down the plane came quite close to me but I did not look at it with an eye out for the damage down. Other members of the crew stated that the front of the ship had received a direct hit. I personally did not see it but can only state that we did in that the bomb bay doors were full of holes and the sight of the flight engineer.

This is what I saw personally.

George Polifka


B-17 44-8746 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 1LT Joseph Dillard Conwill, Jr KIA
BOMB 1LT Jerome Daniel Moderski KIA
ENG/TT S/SGT Clarence W Randall KIA
RO SGT George J. Polifka POW
BT SGT Robert L Copelin POW
WG SGT James A. Valentine POW
TG 2LT Birtrum F. Lindquist POW
OBS CPT Robert G. Reeder POW
RCM 2LT Ramor William Dippo POW

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