487th Bomb Group (H)
Station 137 - Lavenham, Suffolk, UK
22-Sep-43 to 7-Nov-45
487th Bomb Group (H)
Comments of George W Brooke
recorded by and provided to us by his son, Jeff Brooke
Notes related to "Honorable Patches" B-17 # 42-97997
I talked with my father last weekend and revisited war stories I've heard
since grade school. I have a few facts about B-17 No. 297997 to pass on:
The bomber was assigned to the 838th Bomb Squadron and was equipped with
Pathfinder Radar. All heavy bombers outfitted with Pathfinder gear were used
as lead aircraft.
It seems the name "Honorable Patches" was a creation of my father's
youthful imagination. The plane had accumulated a comparatively high
frequency of battle damage that was repaired with numerous aluminum patches. On one
mission my father counted a total of 375 patches that he had applied. The patches
covered a count of 1300 bullet holes. B-17 No. 297997 also lost it's entire
rudder and about a third of the vertical stabilizer on the same mission. My
father too was responsible for painting the plane's name on the nose.
Battle damage from another mission required the ground crew to replace the entire
outboard section of the right wing. My father and his Crew Chief completed the
repair work in 2.5 hours as the 8th Air Force was heavily engaged in committing
their Maximum Effort bombing campaign and needed the plane for the next day's mission.
Most ground crews consisted of up to five mechanics and technicians. My father's crew
on this and other bombers he worked on only consisted of him and his Crew Chief.
Orville D. Myers is the name of the Crew Chief my father worked under on this plane.
Again youthful zeal. My father painted all the patches he applied to B-17 No. 297997
different colors. This was the inspiration for the name "Honorable Patches". One
day he too decided that the plane's tires would be more presentable with hand painted
whitewalls. The pilot who flew the plane the most had no trouble with the painted patches
and custom whitewalls, but the base CO took exception to the latter and ordered the tires
returned to their mil-spec and less colorful conditions.
One of the patches my father applied to the plane measured about 8-feet in length and 2-feet
in width. The repair was made to the right rear fuselage between the waist gunners
position and the radio operator's compartment. The patch was not rectangular and had
to be cut into a shape that basically outlined the battle damage.
Lt. Loye Lauraine was lost saving his crew while flying this bomber. He was not the
plane's regular pilot as he and his flight crew were transferred over to this B-17
from another 487th squadron on the day he was lost (11/24/44). The plane was manned by
several flight crew. My father thought the pilot who most frequently flew the plane was
named Olson, but in looking over your photos it appears his name actually is Olin. My
father remembers the regular pilot as being very tall. The officer standing right of center in
the back row of the Olin Crew photo certainly fits this description. The plane was not scheduled
to be flown on the day it was lost, but was made ready for flight as part of the 8th Air Force's
Maximum Effort bombing campaign.