The crew of the Consolidated B-24 “Lady Be Good” bomber of the 514th bomber squadron of the 375th bomber group of the USAF.
The plane went missing during the return to the base after the bombing of port facilities in the harbor of Naples (Italy) on April 4, 1943.
It was discovered only on November 9, 1958, when British geologists, flying over the Libyan desert 640 km south of the city of Soluch, noticed a crashed plane on the ground. The ground expedition reached him in March 1959. On board there were neither the crew members themselves, nor their parachutes. It was clear that the crew had left the car in the air. Uncontrolled aircraft landed successfully, having driven more than 600 meters in the sand, until the fuselage broke in two. In general, the aircraft, taking into account damage from the accident and a long stay in the desert, is well preserved. The radio station and machine guns were in working condition, the tea in the thermos found was suitable for drinking.
It was found that the plane lost its course during the return to the base and flew about 600 km deep into the Libyan desert. When the plane began to run out of fuel (engines number 1, 2 and 3 stopped), the crew left the car. One member of the crew did not open the parachute, and he died. The rest gathered together on the ground and tried to get to the nearest settlement. They believed that they were not far from the coast of the sea, but in fact they did not have a chance to reach him.
The bodies of eight crew members were found in the desert in 1960. Five of them were 80 miles (129 km) from the parachute landing site – exhausted pilots, having traveled such a distance, stopped, unable to continue their way, and three more able to go went looking for help, but she never came – Harold J. Ripslinger died in the desert 21 miles (33 km) from them, and Guy E. Shelly after that was able to walk another 11.5 miles (18 km). The body of the ninth crew member (Vernon L. Moore) was not found (there is a message that in 1953 a British patrol found human remains in the desert in the same area and buried them – perhaps this was Vernon L. Moore).
Entries in the diary of Lieutenant Robert Toner indicate that the crew traveled a distance of 130 km in 5 days in a 55-degree heat. The three pilots who had gone further lived for three more days.
In the photo from left to right:
1st Lt. William J. Hatton – pilot;
2nd Lt. Robert F. Toner – co-pilot;
2nd Lt. D.P. Hays – navigator;
2nd Lt. John S. Woravka – scorer (parachute did not open);
technician sergeant Harold J. Ripslinger – engineer;
technician sergeant Robert E. LaMotte – radio operator;
Senior Sergeant Guy E. Shelly – shooter;
Senior Sergeant Vernon L. Moore – shooter (body not found);
Senior Sergeant Samuel E. Adams – Shooter.