The photos are by kind permission of Bernard Ballanger and the two photos of Louis Sortino are with the kind permission of his daughter Barbara Sortino Potter.
Crew of the B-24
Standing from left to right : Bennie Ricci, Edwin Ashworth, Robert Warner, Edward Cannon, Felix Anderson, Louis Sortino. Kneeling from left to right : Gustavo Kotta, Charles Frascati, Richard Wilson, Victor Swenson.
|Château de la Hoguette in the commune of Chamouillac, South of the Charente-Maritime|
|S/Sgt Louis C. Sortino|
|Robert Warner and Gustavo Kotta.|
Photo taken by Henry Baudry at the château
Photo taken in the drawing room of the château.
From left to right : Raoul Joulin, his wife Marcelle, Marie-Yvonne Baudry (daughter of Mr and Mrs Dugué, her husband Henry took the photograph), Robert Warner and Gustavo Kotta.
After he landed, he kissed the ground and thanked God for allowing him to be safe and well. He met two Frenchmen who gave him some bread and jam, which he accepted with gratitude and thanked them. These two kind men advised him to head quickly to a wooded area. This he had hoped would be the start of a long journey across France to reach Spain and gain his freedom. However, he was picked up by the Police when he passed through a town.
On 7th January he slept in a cell having received the assurance that, he believed, that we would be taken to a Résistance group the following day and then eventually taken over the Pyrénées. The next morning, accompanied by the Police in a small restaurant, he was handed over to the Gestapo. He was arrested and imprisoned for the night. The next day he was interrogated and the following day he was taken down to Toulouse where he was put in isolation for three weeks.
Around 15th February, along with some other prisoners, he was transferred by train to the prison at Fresnes and put in a cell. He stayed there a month and then again transferred, this time to Wiesbaden in Germany. A few days later he was taken by truck to a temporary camp and then finally taken by truck to Stalag 17b near Krems in Austria. He would be liberated the 9th May 1945 by Russian troops.
On the same mission the 446th BG lost another plane, "Buzz Buggy" flown by Lt. L.V. Allen which crashed for an unknown reason in the vicinity of Mimizan, southwest of Bordeaux, all 10 crewmen were killed. (Missing Aircraft Report #1679).
Other stories concerning mission no. 171 31st December 1943 (link)
Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum and home of the 446th BG memorial at Flixton (link)
Each year on 31st December a ceremony is held in France at the monument dedicated to the crew from the 446th BG : 2012 / 2016
Further reading :
"The History of the 446th Bomb Group 1943 - 1945" compiled by Harold E. Jansen (1989)