C. Douglas Caffey
EMMETT BAGWELL, WWII
Wreckage of the “Dragon Lady”Account of crash on Thursday, 27 April 1944 at 3:55 pm.
The B-24F, numbered above, was named “DRAGON LADY”. There were at least four B-24s so named during WWII.
Emmett Bagwell, T/SGT, Flight Engineer and Top Turret gunner of the above B-24F Bomber was a personal friend. He was the best basket ball player in our Walnut Consolidated High School, Vance, MS. His sister, Francis, was a classmate of mine.
Below are the names of the crew, all of whom were killed in the crash on 27 April, 1944 upon take off from Flixton Field:
- Pilot – Case: Wayne, 1st. LT – 0684274
- Co-Pilot – Mayer: Roswell C. FO-T121325
- Navigator – Boulas: Joseph B. 1st. LT – 0728164
- Bombardier – Conant: Samuel B. 1st LT – 074757
- Engineer & TT Gunner – Bagwell: Emmett D. T/Sgt 34476923
- Radio Operator – Plallego: Lewis H. S/Sgt – 33234767
- Gunner – Kendall: August R. S/Sgt – 39118289
- Gunner – Rachal: James L. S/Sgt – 38385559 ( Last name may be Fathal)
- Gunner – Whitton: Morgan H. S/Sgt – 11035600
- Gunner – Douglass: Charles N. S/Sgt – 18052441
Nose art of B24 42-50306, “Dragon Lady”This B-24F crew had bombed a site in France in the morning and returned to the field (# 125) for a second mission to France in the afternoon… They were loaded with twelve (12) 500 lb. bombs.
Strong winds were blowing at Take Off when the wind direction changed by 90 degrees, causing the B-24F to crash at the end of the runway, demolishing a Radar shack and killing two RAF Brits, whereupon the plane caught fire and six bombs exploded. I have photos of the wreckage which totally demolished the plane. What is left of the plane doesn’t even resemble a plane. Bodies of the ten crew members were strewn over the entire crash area, with not enough left to send home.
I have a Restricted Copy of the US Army Air Corps report of the crash (#128). It is dated 27 April, 1944, AAF station 125, B-24J (not F), 8th AF. Cause of the crash is given as strong winds on Take Off.
It is interesting that another B-24 crashed on the same date and that my friend, Emmett Bagwell, was killed on each plane?? The second plane was # 42-7610.
Emmett’s plane was bound for Blainville, France. Further data on the crash is given below:
- 446th Bombardment Group
- 20th Combat Wing
- 2nd Air Division
- 8th USAAF
- Station 125, Flixton, England
- The 446th was known as “The Bungay Buckaroos”
- Their Motto: Voler Venger Vaencre, which means: Fly, Avenge, Vanquish.
- 456 crew members were killed, 1943 – 1946
- The 446th BG (Heavy) was activated 1 April, 1943 from Davis Monthan Field, Tucson, AZ. They trained at Lowry Field, Denver for overseas duty and departed 18 Oct. 1943 for Europe.
- They set up a permanent field at station 125, Flixton, UK in Nov. 1943
- They began operations on 16 Dec. 1943 with a raid against Bremen, Germany, and flew the last against Salzburg on 26 April 1945.
- They flew 273 missions between those dates losing 58 aircraft in battle, and 28 others from non-battles with 447 men killed in action.
- They dropped 16,818.95 TONS of bombs.
- Over 6, 000 airmen served at Flixton AAB during WWII.
- The 446th BG won the following Campaign ribbons:
- European-African – Middle Eastern Theatre
- Bronze Star ETO ribbon
- Normandy Campaign
- Northern France Campaign
- Ardennes – Alsace
- Central Europe
- Southern France.
I am C. Douglas Caffey, disabled veteran of WWII having served in the 509th BG, 58th Wing in the Pacific with B-29’s. I searched for how Emmett Bagwell died for over sixty years to no avail until the year 2003 when I began an extended search via the NET, and little by little, I finally learned how my friend Emmett Bagwell died.
He was my first friend to die in WWII. I have never forgotten Emmett, the Star basket ball player, nor Emmett, the B-24 Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner who gave his life for the cause of FREEDOM!
©Copyright August 5, 2008 by C. Douglas Caffey