Marauder Man: 1st Lt. Francis M. Kirby
- Air Force: 9th
- Bomb Group: 394th
- Squadron: 585th
- This is being sent in honor of 1st Lt. Francis M. Kirby and his
crew--shot down over Creil, France on June 12, 1944.
- Narrative Description of the Last Mission of B-26-B-55 Marauder
42-96117 of the Ninth Air Force's 394th Bombardment Group 595th
- Lt. Francis M. Kirby's plane was on a mission with 36 other planes
on June 12, 1944. Their target was the Eiffel railroad bridge in
Conflans St. Honorine. Lt. Kirby's plane was shot down just before the
formation reached the Initial Point.
- At approximately 8:55 A.M., on the morning of Monday, June 12, 1944,
a Martin B-26-B-55 “Marauder” medium altitude bomber, bearing U.S. Army
Air Force (USAAF) Serial No. 2-96117,  was shot down just outside
Paris, France by German anti-aircraft guns. According to the USAAF’s
official Missing Air Crew Report No. 6050, the plane went down at
approximately 49 degrees 14 minutes North/ 2 degrees 23 minutes East
near the French town of Creil. The plane had departed earlier that
morning from USAAF Airbase No. 161 in Boreham, England and was
apparently on a mission to bomb a railroad bridge (Eiffel Bridge) over
the Oise River in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, France when it was shot
-  At the time that the plane was hit by antiaircraft fire, it was
being piloted by 1st Lt. Francis M. Kirby (XXXX011). Counting Lt.
Kirby, the Marauder carried a crew of seven (7), including First Officer
and Co-pilot, Sol Hershkowitz, 2d Lt. and Navigator, Patrick J. Healy,
2d Lt. and Bombardier, James D. Jones, Staff Sgt. and Engineer/Gunner,
Dana L. Baker, Staff Sgt. and Radio Operator, John J. McConville, and
Staff Sgt. and Aerial Gunner, Lloyd E. Sjolander. Statements taken from
two eyewitnesses  on June 13, 1944 indicated that Lt. Kirby’s plane
had taken a direct and extremely violent hit from the German gunners.
One of the witnesses [T.Sgt. Hagedorn] stated that the plane:
- “… came past my right waist window. I could see it didn’t have any
cockpit on it. It was blown off at the bulkhead between the navigator’s
compartment and the cockpit. It fell about 2000 feet, and then a fire
spread slowly over the wings. I watched it go down, and saw two (2)
chutes come out. It went behind a cloud out of sight at about 2000 feet.
I didn’t see it crash, but saw it burning on the ground after we had
finished our bomb run.”
- Another eyewitness [S.Sgt. Bainter] stated that he:
- “… saw Lt. Kirby’s ship fall out of formation. The nose section was
blown off from the leading edge of the wing on the under side of the
fuselage; on the top of the fuselage, it was blown off back to the
generator panel. Both engines were missing. The ship dropped
approximately 300 or 400 feet when two (2) parachutes were seen to open.
The ship then dropped through the clouds and I lost sight of it.”
- The wreckage of the plane apparently went down near German “Field
Ammunition Camp 10/XI St. Leu.” An English language version of a German
report indicates that Lt. Kirby’s plane was shot down en route to its
intended target. Five members of the seven (7) man crew were killed. Lt.
Kirby and First Officer Hershkowitz miraculously were able to parachute
out of the plane before it crashed.  First Officer Hershkowitz was
captured at Chantilly at approximately 9:30 A.M., while Lt. Kirby was
captured about ten minutes later by the “General Headquarters II Fighter
Corps” “[o]n road from Vineul to Chantilly.” The German military appears
to have retrieved the remains of five (5) crewmen, “a flight map,” and a
number radio receivers and transmitters from the wreckage of the downed
-  2-96117 (actually 42-96117) was part of USAAF Ninth Air Force’s
394th Bombardment Group 595th Squadron. According to USAAF records
[possibly based on a translation of German military records], 42-96117
was shot down “near Villersous-St. Leu, 6 km south west of Creil.”
[Other entries indicate the plane was shot down “7 km south west of
Creil” at “10.30”] The plane, which reportedly bore the markings of the
394th/595th and three white stripes on its wings with its serial number
painted in yellow, may have been shot down by German Antiaircraft
Section 880/V Cormeillas. 42-96117 was one of 36 B-26s that were
dispatched on the mission that June morning 1944.
-  According to the book “Bridge Busters,” by J. Guy Ziegler, the
394th Bombardment Group had two missions on June 12, 1944. Lt. Kirby’s
mission was to bomb a “railroad bridge at Conflans, France.” Based on
independent research, this bridge is believe to have been the Eiffel
Bridge, a railroad bridge over the Oise. The second mission was
reportedly to bomb the railroad bridge at Monte Glasscourt.
-  Robert W. Hagedorn (T.Sgt. 19015664) and Robert H. Bainter (S.Sgt
16018848). T.Sgt. Hagedorn is reported to have one time been a crewman
on a B-26 Marauder of the 386 Bombardment Group 554th Squadron called
“Ye Olde Crocke” (Serial # 131755 RU-F) flown by 1st Lt. Robert J.
McCallum. (In February 1944, personnel from the 386th, 323rd, & 322nd
Bombardment Groups were transferred to the 394th).
-  Although it is not entirely clear, a “Casualty Questionnaire”
taken from Co-Pilot Hershkowitz suggests that 42-96177 might have been
flying at approximately 12,000 feet when it was struck by antiaircraft
The same document states that “Lt. Kirby, Pilot, bailed out
simultaneously with me.”
- Lt. Kirby in the back row on the far left. Five of the crewmen shown
I believe were the men killed on June 12, 1944. I also believe, but I am
not sure, that First Officer Sol Hershkowitz is to Lt. Kirby's left.