Articles / Once upon the time in Bydgoszcz - a story of "Betty Jane" crew

M. Mucha, R. Gadacz | Model Redukcyjny nr 1/2002
1An American bomber Boeing B-17G "Bette Jane" (s/n 43-38420) landed on Bydgoszcz's airfield on March 18, 1945. Her crew belonged to the 379th Bomb Group and consisted of 1st Lt. Merton H. Abbott - pilot, F/O Ora T. Hale - co-pilot, F/O Peter J. Kernan - navigator, Sgt Stanley Feldman - engineer and top turret gunner, S/Sgt Angelo Paolo - radio operator, S/Sgt Thomas L. Vance - nose gunner, Sgt Bernard H. Gasda - tail gunner, and Sgt J. J. Tonsic - ball turret gunner.

Their Fortress was seriously crippled over Berlin and was not able to keep her position in formation. Therefore the pilot decided to fly east, to Russian-held Poland.

Airmen of Lt. Abbott's crew were guests of Soviet airmen based at Bydgoszcz for seven days. Then they flew to Poltava on board a C-47 or Li-2 carrying red stars. They returned to England flying a Fortress named "Maiden USA" via Italy and France.

Left at Bydgoszcz "Bette Jane" was captured by the Soviet Air Force.

B-17G "Bette Jane" after landing at Bydgoszcz.
(drawing: Grzegorz Niewczas)

A photo taken by Russians at Bydgoszcz in March 1945. First row (left to right): Sgt J. Tonsic, Sgt T. Vance, Sgt A. Paolo, an unknown Canadian Corporal, Sgt B. Gasda, Sgt S. Fieldman. Second row: two Soviet officers, Lt. Bud Abbott, F/O T. Hale, F/O P. Kernan, a Soviet officers, two Russians.
(photo: B. Abbott's archives)

B-17G "Bette Jane" carried the name Yvonne on her tail.
(photo: R. Gadacz's archives)

Another photo taken at Bydgoszcz. From left: a Soviet officer, Bud Abbott, and Ted Hale.
(photo: B. Abbott's archives)
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