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Thread: Townsend Griffiss, forgotten hero of World War II

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    Senior Member wotsnext's Avatar
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    Default Townsend Griffiss, forgotten hero of World War II

    It's 70 years this week since the first US air force officer was killed in Europe, following America's entry into World War II. By heading the list of 30,000 USAAF men to lose their lives in the European theatre, Lt Col Townsend Griffiss became a footnote in the history of the war. But who was he and how did he die?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17011105

    30,000 ... Good God.

    Rest in Peace guys.

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    Senior Member Connaught Ranger's Avatar
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    A tragic "blue on blue" incident, thanks for posting a great read.

    Connaught Ranger.

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    Senior Member [WDW]Megaraptor's Avatar
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    They couldn't identify a B-24 Liberator as a friendly aircraft? What else could they have mistaken it for? A Ju290 is the only remotely B-24 like thing the Luftwaffe had.

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    Senior Member Connaught Ranger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [WDW]Megaraptor View Post
    They couldn't identify a B-24 Liberator as a friendly aircraft? What else could they have mistaken it for? A Ju290 is the only remotely B-24 like thing the Luftwaffe had.
    The answer is contained in the article:-

    Controllers who knew that a Liberator would be arriving on a path over occupied France on the morning of 15 February were also reprimanded for not warning the Exeter fighter sector.


    The question why the Liberator was not immediately identified on radar screens as a friendly aircraft went unanswered - either its friend-or-foe identification transmitter was not working or it was not switched on.


    The flashes of light from the Liberator were assumed to be a Morse-code message flashed from an Aldis lamp. But technically the Liberator should have signalled its friendly status by firing a colour-coded flare.


    One of the key lessons learned from the tragedy was that fighter pilots needed better instruction in the recognition of aircraft - both military and civilian.

    "In view of the important personages carried in civil aircraft, more attention should be paid to the identification of civil aircraft," the court of inquiry recommended.


    The B24 Liberator was to become one of the most familiar heavy bombers operated by US airmen in Europe, but in February 1942 there were not many around.


    Stanislaw Brzeski, the first of the Spitfire pilots to shoot, told the inquiry he had never seen a Liberator before. He mistook it for a German Focke-Wulf 200, another four-engined aircraft, usually grey in colour.
    Connaught Ranger.

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    L O L A JCR's Avatar
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    Hero is used a bit inflationary these days.
    Colonel Griffiss never had the chance to become a hero before falling victim to this tragic friendly fire incident.

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    Senior Member commanding's Avatar
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    Griffiss Air force base in Rome NY was named for him.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffiss_Air_Force_Base

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