(This report of the crash of B-17G #42-39962 has been translated from French, and was found at this web address)
B-17G, #42-39962, MACR 2529
February 12, 1944 , 384th Bomb Group, 547th Bomb Squad, Combat Mission to Frankfurt, Germany
crashed 3 km NNE of St. Vaast -d'Équiqueville, about 20 miles south of Dieppe
Lt. Henry V. Markow, pilot of an aircraft flying in the same formation noted in a report to 13:45 during the flight back from the mission, 42-39962 was seen veering away suddenly and training, to approach the coast of the English Channel.
MACR 2529 …mention is made of the cockpit and bomb bay in flames, unable to extinguish the fire.
From the account of pilot, 2nd Lt. Seth G. Widener Jr.,:
”There was a raging fire in the bomb bay and all up the back of the pilot compartment. Impossible to extinguish the blaze. Gave the order to bail out and then concentrated on flying for a few minutes. Saw Cifelli come down out of his turret and assumed he was bailing out. In meantime had taken off my own oxygen mask and flak suit. Feathered the two inboard engines. Suddenly things began to get hazy and then it began to get dark and hazy in my eyes. I reached over and pulled my chute towards me. That is the last thing I remember doing in the plane. The next thing I knew I was falling thru the air. I cannot remember, seeing anyone or of leaving the plane, after I reached for my chute. My mental processes seem to have temporarily blacked out. The next thing I knew I was falling thru space. Landed on ground and broke left leg as I struck. Captured almost immediately by the Germans. Saw or heard of safety of everyone except Sgt Cifelli. The last I remember of Cifelli was seeing him getting out of his turret in great haste.”
Cifelli is buried at the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy.
Widener was taken prisoner, along with six other men, the co-pilot 2nd Lt Harvey W.Reid, bombardier Lt. Leonard E. Gerber, radio T / Sgt William E. Smith, gunner Sgt James W. Mosbey, gunner S / Sgt John P. Santosuosso, and gunner Sgt Howard G.Boon, Jr.