This day in 1944: A tough show for the 4th Fighter Group

On 9 May, 1944, a sweep by the Fourth Fighter Group to the aerodrome at St. Dizier destroyed only one plane in return for four Mustangs and their pilots. “We came over the field in a dive from 200 feet down,” said Lt. Frank Speer. “I believe Lt. (Herbert) Blanchfield was shooting at a flak tower, as was his No. 2. As we passed the field, I saw his streaming white smoke as he pulled up to about 3000 feet, very slowly, on a course of 240 degrees from the field. His jacket was covered in oil, which also covered the side of the plane. He seemed to have lost both oil and glycol, and the engine was detonating violently.

“Blanchfield climbed out of the cockpit as the plane rolled in a half roll to the left. When he left the plane, it was going about 150 mph, and his chute opened almost immediately. He landed in a small woods. His plane immediately burst into flames and burned furiously about a half a mile from where he landed.”

Blanchfield ran from the woods and eventually encountered a farmer, who put him in contact with a man who hid downed allied flyers. A few days, the Gestapo discovered his hiding spot. He spent five months in the hands of the Gestapo, then was shipped to Stalag Luft 1.

Also shot down by flak on this mission were Lt. Vernon Burroughs and Lt. Lloyd Waterman. Lt. Robert S. Sherman struck the ground with his prop and ended up bellying in. All three became POWs.


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