"B17 Aircraft AAF 42-5130 of
which the undersigned was the pilot, was hit by enemy flak, 6 March 1943,
over Lorient, France. The airplane crashed in western Bretagne, about 10
miles from Pont L’Abbe, after the complete crew of ten men had parachuted to
safety. All members of the crew other than the pilot, Major J.L. Ryan, and
the co-pilot 1st Lieutenant Simmons, were made Prisoners of War
by the Germans. The members included 1st Lieutenant Robert B.
Herman, at present discharged from US Army, 1st Lieutenant James
Laine, S/Sergeant Glen Blakemore, and S/Sergeant (first name unrecalled)
Forrester, at present discharged from the US Army. The names of others of
the crew could not be recalled.
1st Lieutenant Gerald L Simmons, ASN O-661879,
while attempting to escape capture, shortly after parachuting to the ground,
was shot five times in the back of the head by a German Sergeant, 6 March
1943, at approximately 1445. He was buried 7 March 1943 in the churchyard of
the Catholic Church at St Jean-Trolimon, Finistère, France. His grave is
marked by a regulation German army headstone. This information was received
from Frenchmen who had witnessed both death and burial and is believed to be
Photographs of the grave are at present in the possession
of Major JL Ryan, which were obtained from a French boy, Noël Arhan, Loctudy,
Finistère, France, who was shot by the Germans, in Paris, France, November
In a recent letter to Major John L Ryan, Mademoiselle
Clémence Barbarin stated that the above information on the death of
Lieutenant Simmons was reported by her to an atrocities investigator of the
US Army, Captain Clarence Olsen, about September 1945. Also in the letter
was a report that the German Sergeant who shot Lieutenant Simmons was court
martialled and sent to Russia.
With the exception of the information contained in the
letter of Mademoiselle Barbarin, the information above was previously
reported by Major John L Ryan to Military Intelligence, 8th AAF,
and the British Army Intelligence, in London, England, 18 April 1943"