B-17 Monument Bricquebec
Location and info
This remarkable memorial outside of the village of Bricquebec-en-Cotentin pays tribute to two United States B-17 Flying Fortress bomber crews who lost their lives during missions to destroy a ‘suspicious’ building being constructed to the south of Cherbourg.
The construction was identified as the massive V2 rocket launch site at Sottevast, a site which could have wreaked havoc on southern England had it become operational.
The first B-17 - number 42-97136 - was one of over 300 who were tasked with bombing raids across Normandy and Pas de Calais sites with 16 aircraft heading to Sottevast on April 27, 1944.
Unfortunately, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire in its left wing, starting a rapid fire throughout the plane and causing it to spin out of control and crash at nearby Rocheville with the loss of all 10 crew. They were buried in the Cherbourg cemetery on April 29. Four on them now lie in the military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.
On May 8, 1944, the 384th Bomber Group was again ordered to attack Sottevast this time with 18 aircraft.
One minute before B-17 number 42-31495 nicknamed "Wabbit Twacks" carrying 11 men begins its bombing run it was hit by an 88mm anti-aircraft shell straight into its fuselage. The aircraft crashes just outside of the town.
Incredibly, one man managed to escape from the wreck, co-pilot Clifford Johnson, who was captured by German forces occupying the town. He was able to go back home to the States after his captivity.
On May 12, 1944, the 10 airmen were buried in the Cherbourg cemetery. Five of them now lie in the military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.