May 2012

We – Stacy Lyn’s Traveling Socks – decided to leave Paris early on a bright, sunny day and take her on a tour of a little-known town in Normandy called Incarville.

Only an hour west of Paris, we made it to Incarville later that morning.
What was the draw to this tiny little town, you ask?
Norm stands by the monument, our reason for visiting. Let us explain.

On August 13, 1944, FLt. Thomas P. Smith and a dozen crew members of his B17 bomber (named Fifinella) were on their way to destroy the Manoir-sur-Seine bridge in order to prevent a German advance.

But FLt. Smith’s plane was hit by German anti-aircraft fire just over the towns of Le Manoir and Incarville.
While the airplane circled aflame over Incarville, the crew members ejected from the dying craft.
The pilot was able to direct the plane to a field outside of town next to the Baudry home before crashing.
His plane exploded on impact, killing FLt. Smith.

Pierre Portier, an Incarvillager who was a teenager at the time of the crash, witnessed the horrific event.
He says that the FLt. Smith circled the town twice, giving his crew time to eject.
It appeared that the pilot wanted to avoid landing on the houses,
so instead of ejecting himself,
he stayed with the plane and landed it outside of town, causing his own death.

Mr. Portier spearheaded a movement to erect an engraved stone on the spot where the American hero gave his life –
so that his tragic sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Translation:

In this place
Was found the field of Incarville
Destroyed by the fall of a
Flying American Fortress B17
Shot down by the Germans
13 August 1944
In memory of pilot FLt. Thomas Smith
Who was killed at the controls
U.S. Air Force B17 Fifinella
91st Bomb Group H 322nd Squadron

This is why we went to Incarville.

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