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WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.

Article about: This letter was written by a Lester Eckmann Frankenstein. He was born on November 5th 1921 in Indiana. During the war, he would serve in the 332nd Bomb Squadron within the 94th Bomb Group as

  1. #1

    Default WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.

    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.
    This letter was written by a Lester Eckmann Frankenstein. He was born on November 5th 1921 in Indiana. During the war, he would serve in the 332nd Bomb Squadron within the 94th Bomb Group as a Navigator. He would serve on multiple B-17’s and with multiple crews. On July 8th 1944, while Lester and his crew (42-102574 “Florencia “) were returning from a mission when they were shot down while flying near Barenton, France and forced to bail out over the English Channel. Lester would receive the Purple Heart for wounds he received during the event.

    The crew list for the mission was:

    B-17G-55-BO 42-102574 Florencia
    07/08/44 XM N Barenton, France. Abort - enemy action. Ditched in the English Channel. (No MACR)
    P Skelton, Gwynn E. 1st Lt. O-819195 RTD
    CP Mac Rae, Hugh (NMI) 2nd Lt. O-691108 RTD
    B Boyd, William R. 2nd Lt. O-706793 WIA
    N Snodgrass, James P. Jr. 2nd Lt. O-708577 WIA
    E Wetherington, George D. T/Sgt. 34664525 WIA
    R Matarese, Christopher R. T/Sgt. 32693041 RTD
    BT Frankenstein, Lester E. S/Sgt. 16078659 WIA
    WG Munoz, Francisco P. Sgt. 18047119 RTD
    WG Pazinin, Andrew F. S/Sgt. 36738534 RTD
    TG Di Giovanni, Anthony F. Sgt. 12193131 WIA.

    This letter was written by Lester 2 months later In September. It reads:

    “ Sept 13 (Wed)

    Dear Folks,

    Just time to drop a mid-week note to say that all is well. Still doing a bit of local navigation and loading around the post.

    I imagine you are all curious to know what happened to my crew- (the one you have the picture of)- well, there aren’t many of us around here anymore. And the news is old so can now be revealed. Nick, our original pilot, went down last June over Germany. We have hopes that he is a prisoner of war. Dick Goldman, the bombardier and Red Stull, the tail gunner were grounded by the medics early in the summer. Dick is back in the states. Red works on the ground here.

    Frank Munoz, the Mexican boy who we all liked so very well was killed in action soon after we ditched. Well, after that, Skelton, Snodgrass, Matarese, and Pazinin decided they have had all they wanted and were grounded because of battle fatigue. They recently left for home, but will probably be assigned to action again in a couple of months. That leaves George and myself to carry on. We could have claimed fatigue but somehow couldn’t see our way clean to quit now. Besides, I was afterwards offered the Navigation job which is a break. Really hated to see the boys leave for home without me but am sure I made the right decision by staying.

    The Navigation job should mean an extra stripe, and perhaps a flight officer rating when I finish up. I like my Group and Squadron and know my way about it. Should I have changed , I may not have been lucky.

    Right now we aren’t thinking much about the war, instead we are planning for our big time this week-end with Glenn Miller and etc. I plan to recover from the celebration by adding a couple day in London. Decided that I’ll need a pass, so I get it, a thing one can’t do in the states.

    Just realized I never thanked Hannah for the picture she sent with her last letter. It’s a pin-up now. Never realized my sister was so cute.

    Love,
    Les “

    Lester would eventually return to duty onboard another B-17 (43-38099, “DOROTHY V” ) with a different crew and would carry out bombing missions. A few months later on January 4th 1945, Lester would have another scare when his b17 suffered a mechanical issue with the bomb racks on the way to a bombing mission on Fulda, Germany. When returning to the RAF base, the crash landed. All in onboard survived. Thankfully Lester would survive the rest of the war and return home. He would pass away on September 6th 1992 aged 70.
    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.
    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.
    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.
    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.
    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.
    WW2 Era Letter Written by B-17 Navigator Shortly After Being Shot Down.

  2. #2
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    Once again many thanks for posting the letters you do.

    Interesting timing coinciding with the release of 'Masters of the Air' over here in the U.K. The B-17 and crews are very topical.

    Looking for LDO marked EK2s and items relating to U-406.....

  3. #3

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    No problem!

    And I’ve actually only seen the first episode. Really good so far.

  4. #4

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    Well done on the research..

    Smitty

  5. #5

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    Hi JB.

    I echo what the other guys have said.

    Kind regards,

    Will.

  6. #6

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    Thank you!

    JB

    - - ------- - -

    Hey Will,

    Thank you. I appreciate it.

    Good day,
    JB

  7. #7

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    Another very engaging letter JB, he was lucky to get home after so many eventful missions. We must not forget the lives that this generation lived.

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