Remembering WWII B-17 Crew That Perished Saving French City

Mark Primmer - 2/15/2023

On 12 February 2023, Benjamin Franklin VFW Post 605 stood with U.S. Ambassador Mrs. Denise Campbell Bauer in the 79th commemorative ceremony in remembrance of a B-17 that crashed in Wissous, France; just outside of Paris near the Orly Airport.


Organized by the City of Wissous, in collaboration with the flag bearers, the Comité des Anciens Elèves de Wissous (CAEW), UNC 91, Le Souvenir Français, the Essonne and Municipal Police, and the Wissous Firemen, the annual commemoration honored the heroic actions of 2nd Lt. Arthur Clark, Co-Pilot of the B-17 Bomber.


On February 6, 1944, while returning to base, the B-17, G-K 231145 E and nicknamed, "Hi-Jinx" took flak over Wissous, killing Pilot Lt Allen S. Reed and Navigator 2nd Lt James Campbell. Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Clark ordered the rest of the crew to bail out, then guided the damaged bomber into a field to avoid crashing directly into the town. 2nd Lt Clark was killed in the crash, and another crew member, 2nd Lt. Thomas Wilkins, was shot by German soldiers while parachuting to the ground. The remaining crew members were captured.


After being liberated from occupation, the City of Wissous erected a monument at the crash site with amemorial plaque dedicated to the crew of the bomber. Each of the four pillars holding up the plaque is dedicated to one of the soldiers killed in action. The Memorial stands in Arthur Clark Park, which is also dedicated to the memory of 2nd Lt. Clark.


Post 605 Quartermaster Charles Steiner and Life Member David Ashcraft served as flag bearers, while Commander Mark Primmer presented a wreath on behalf of the VFW.


The ceremony served as a vivid reminder of the sacrifices made so many years ago.