AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER BASE, ENGLAND - When a direct burst of flak blasted they B-17 Flying Fortress, instantly killing the pilot, shearing away five feet of the left wing and riddling the fuselage with holes, Captain Raymond Baguley, 26, navigator from New Orleans, and his crew were forced out of their Eighth Air Force formation, but they continued down the bomb run alone, dropping their bombs on the target, a railroad yard at Karlsruhe, Germany.
After bombs away they were forced to descend to 13,000 feet, but were able to maintain that altitude. Having assessed the damage to their plane -- one engine out, controls partly shot away, oxygen and radio systems damaged, on engine's instruments and ignition system severed, in addition to the badly shattered wing -- they decided to try to make it back to England.
Near the French coast they ran into a snow storm and heavy clouds, which necessitated an instrument crossing of the channel and brought CAPT Baguley's navigational skill of its crucial test. Reaching the English coast, they broke into a short "breather" of clear weather, enabling the navigator to check his work and give an accurate course for home.
While flying through clouds over the channel, their fort had acquired a coating of ice an over the home base they again found themselves in a snow storm. Despite these added hazards, however, the copilot brought his crippled bomber in for an expert landing.
CAPT Baguley is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Baguley, New Orleans, and a former student at Tulane University. He won his wings, May 1942, at Turner Field, GA., and now wears the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. His wife, Mrs. Mildred Baguley, lives in New Orleans.
The Louisianan is a member of the 486th Bomb Group commanded by Colonel Glendon P. Overing, Orange, MA. The 486th is a unit of the Eighth Air Force's Third Air Division, the division cited by President for its England-Africa shuttle bombing attack on Messerschmitt factories at Regensburg, Germany.
© Copyright by the 486th Bomb Group Association