The Adventures of a Frantic V Crew Chief
Polatava, Russia, Aug 1944,
(Top L-R) Bill Hood, a Russian, Egan's Russian accomplice, Dick Eagan, Don Lumley, and two Russians. Ground L-R) Russian, Sgt JL Pizani, a Russian, Unknown, SSgt Amos Langdon, and a Russian
Those who were
part of FRANTIC V, and those who have read past issues of the
The B-17s, from
the 95th and 390th Bomb Groups were scheduled to land and be based
All of those who
participated have stories to tell and some of them have done so
Eagan's diary, his B-17 landed at Poltava at 1730 hours, on the
Part of the
B-17 force, with a small P-51 escort, flew a bombing mission the next
On the morning of
the 8th, the two bomb groups, along with most of the 357th
this idle waiting time, Eagan engaged in a bit of espionage
Eagan recalls the episode:
Sometime after the pictures were taken I asked him about getting a copy of the photos for myself. He said he would try but would I do him a favor in return. He asked if I would go to one of the medics on the base and see if it was possible to obtain some penicillin. He had a venereal disease and there was no way he could get what he needed in the Russian armed forces. It so happened that the GI medic was from a city not to far from Peabody, Mass, and he and I had gotten friendly. I approached him about getting some penicillin and his answer was "sorry, no". At least I had tried. I went back to the Russian, told him I tried, but would still like a copy of the photos. He believed me, and set up a meeting with me that evening. He and I went into Poltava late in the night and while I stood guard, he broke into the photo-lab and stole two copies for me. As I look back, we were both crazy, we could both have been shot on the spot and no one would ever know what happened. The two photos that could have caused an international incident, are seen with this article. Three days later, on the 11th of August, the B-17 with Eagan (and his purloined photos) departed Poltava with a Russian navigator, bound for Teheran, Persia (now Iran). On the day they left for Teheran, most of the 357th and the bombers returned to their bases in England. Eagan kept a brief diary of events for the next two weeks and we will quote from this to follow his activities.
11 August: Left Russia 7 AM, arrived Teheran Persia 1500 hours. Put up in ATC (Air Transport Command) section of Camp Aaminabel, American camp just outside Teheran. Went into Teheran and saw some of the sights.
12 August: Troubles with aircraft, decided to wait until the next day before take off. Had all the ice cream in the world to eat and I saw an old movie at the open air theatre.
13 August: Left Teheran 0630 Sunday, arrived Payne Field, Cairo, Egypt 1400. Put up at ATC camp. Went t into Cairo at night and saw a bit of the city. Had ODs on and were the only soldiers in town with ODs.
14 August: Drew some Tans from quartermaster, will be normal again now. Went into Cairo for the day but there wasn't much about Cairo that I cared about.
15 August: Another whole day and all of it spent here on the field. I didn't feel like going into Cairo, so instead hung around the service club. Think I'll go to the movies tonight.
16 August: We took off this morning around 0800, but had to turn back on account of a bad engine. They are pulling an engine change and it should he ready some time tomorrow afternoon, which means that we probably will take off Friday. I haven't any money so I'd just as soon get back to England as soon as possible. Looks like the movies again tonight.
17 August: Hung around all day, our plane being worked on and it doesn't look as though we would be out of here for a couple of days yet. Saw a ping pong match between the RAF and Payne Field last night - pretty good, but the RAF won.
18August: Another day lust hanging around. Saw as soft ball game between the WACs of Camp Huckstap and the boys of Payne Field. Afterwards saw a very good movie, THE CANTERBURY GHOST.
19 August: Still here but it looks as if the plane would be ready tomorrow. It will be test flown this afternoon and I think I will go along for the ride. I want to get a good look at the Sphinx and the Pyramids.
28 August: Cairo to Tunis.
30 August: Tunis to Marrakish.
1 Sept: Marrakish to Horsham.
Total flying time, 54 hours, 8,499 miles.
End of Eagan diary.
The long gap from 19 August to the 28th is explained by the fact that they departed Cairo several times during that period, but turned back each time with engine problems. In addition, by now he was eager to get home and simply let his diary entries taper off.
Sgt Eagan was not the only one who came home late from Frantic V. Captain Maurice Baker, 362nd pilot, crashed on takeoff from Italy, and he also returned much later in a B-17 via Casablanca and Algiers. It is believed that several other pilots returned late due to mechanical problems in Russia and Italy.
Soon after return of the mission, Group Headquarters published a citation awarding the Air Medal to 3 officers and 32 enlisted men on the shuttle. The 35 men on the list did, in fact, receive the Air medal, but Eagan was not on the list. Eagan should have received the medal.
Written by Merle Olmsted, 357th FG Historian, courtesy of the 357th FG Association Newsletter.