Her fighting days behind her, B-17 124485 “MEMPHIS BELLE’ makes her last farewell to her home station at RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, in company with a “saluting escort” of P-47 Thunderbolt fighters of the 52nd Fighter Squadron, as she leaves England for the last time for her home trip to the US. A second B-17F that had completed her 25-mission tally was her escort ship for the return flight.
This scene marked the end of the Memphis Belle’s 25-mission tour, from which she returned, often with minor to very severe battle damage from enemy flak and fighters, yet never lost a single man of her crew. Operating with the 91st Bomb Group 324th Bomber Squadron from Bassingbourn, her final mission was an attack on the Keromann U-Boat pens at Lorient on May 17th 1943. The raid was captured in a now-very famous documentary by the Hollywood director William Wyler.
Throughout her operational life she and her crew was captained by Captain Robert K. Morgan, who christened the aircraft “MEMPHIS BELLE” after his sweetheart Miss Margaret Polk and a Crew-Training flight to Memphis TN. during September 1942.
Today, the Memphis Belle is undergoing major restoration to static display condition at the national Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.
Copyright Image and Text Simon W. Atack