A message from Jim Ashlock on the heels of the posted article provided an additional detail about Pace Allen’s parachute jump.
Ashlock said he saw “Pace this morning and he told me he wasn’t shot down.”
When reading war stories about men bailing from flaming aircraft we immediately assume their plane sustained battle damage that compromised its airworthiness.
I should have looked into this a bit further before writing the post. But I didn’t because like many folks, I assumed the plane had been shot down by enemy fire.
It does not say this in the 409th history book. It simply states the plane lost engines and had to be evacuated.
According to Ashlock, Pace told him “the plane caught fire on its own.” One engine failed on the way to the bomb target. The other engine failed and caught fire on the way back. Hence, the pilot and his crew, including Pace Allen, hit the silk.
Pace told Ashlock that maintenance crews had been working on the plane “the night before. So something must have been mechanically wrong with the engines.”
It speaks highly of the crew’s bravery to continue on to the bomb target after one engine quit. Can you imagine completing a bomb run into enemy territory on half the power while all the time wondering if and when the other engine is going to quit?
It’s no wonder our World War II veterans were called the “Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw!