S:Sgt Francis 'Bud' Owens was a waist gunner on B-17F 42-29928 when it was shot down over the Norman countryside in 1943.
The aircraft was part of 533rd Bomb Squadron, 381st Bomb Group(H), and was taking part in a raid on the Gnome-Rhone plant in le Mans on July 4th when it was attacked by Messerschmitt Bf-109s and finally crashed near the small village of la Coulonche.
Three of the crew of ten perished when the 'plane hit the ground, two of those who baled out were quickly captured. With local help, the remaining five attempted to make their way down to neutral Spain with a view to re-joining the fight against Nazism.
Four of them made it to Spain but 'Bud' Owens, a man who on many occasions had put others before himself, was to die of exposure in the Pyrenees, aged just 21. He now rests in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.
Please follow our project to honour and remember 'Bud' Owens and support it if you can. Thank you.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Visit to Ridgewell

A trip over to England enabled association secretary Sean to visit Ridgewell, the wartime home of the 381st.
Met by Ridgewell Airfield Association Membership Secretary Alan Steel and his wife Monica, a visit to the museum was followed by a tour around the old airfield.

Outside the museum is a monument to the 381st.

At the end of the war, a hole was dug and the keys to all the various buildings were buried, only to be dug up again several decades later.

Monica and Alan Steel,who graciously gave their time to welcome Sean and show him around.

Several of the old buildings survive- this was the gymnasium.

The main runway still runs across the fields, albeit in a narrower form.

A beautiful day in the Essex countryside. These fields were once the home of the B-17s of the 381st. One can only imagine the sights and sounds of those times.

The tragic bomb-loading accident of June 23rd 1943 is commemorated by this monument.

The airfield actually sits between several villages, including Ashen. In the church, there is a small exhibition and opposite, this flag, which was presented by twelve 381st veterans on their return in 1993.

 Also in Ashen, this house used to be known as the Old Cow, one of several pubs in the area.

The village green and sign in Ridgewell.

Thanks once again to Alan and Monica, for their friendly welcome and for the work they and others do to preserve the memory of those who fought tyranny and oppression.

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