|B-17 Flying Fortress
|14 Jan 1922
|15 Nov 44
2/Lt. Richard Michael Tracy was the navigator of B-17 42-31189 ‘Paragon’ that sustained flak damage over the target area on July 7, 1944. Returning over the Netherlands another engine failed and it became obvious that they could not make it to England. Approaching the Noordoostpolder, an area reclaimed from the Ijsselmeer, the pilot gave the order to bail out. Tracy landed in the reed beds of this area and after disposing of his gear, headed east. After half an hour he was accosted by Dutch labourers in a field. They told him to sit tight while they went for help and civilian clothes. Soon after this, he was joined by fellow crewmember and waist gunner, S/Sgt. Frank E. Garofalo (E0596). When the labourers returned, both men changed into the civilian clothes that the Dutch men had collected and then were taken to Vollenhove. Here they spent the night and the next day a truck brought the two airmen to Meppel. In this town they spent the weekend, were given 'better' civilian clothes and provided with false Dutch Identity Cards. On July 10, Tracy and Garofalo travelled to Amsterdam by train without controls or searches. Here they stayed in two separate places for two days before they left for Deurne for a week. First to one house and then to two different farms. Here they met fellow Americans 2/Lt. John Fullerton (E0585) and Sgt. Frank Peichoto (E0587) and RAF-airmen, Sgt. Charles Francis (E0496) and Sgt. Dennis Sharpe (E0498). From Deurne they went to Nuth near Hoensbroek where they stayed for nine days. The plan to cross the Dutch-Belgian border near Maastricht had to be abandoned. After two weeks in Hoensbroek, they all were put on the train to Roermond. From the station there they were taken to the ‘De Bedelaer’ estate near Haelen where they could hide in the woods around the estate. In case of danger, they could go to the ‘De Spikkerhof’, an isolated farm near the estate. Early in September they moved to a farm in Kelpen and from there to a barn in Leveroij. Their hiding place there became anxiously close to the front line when the Allies started operation Nutcracker. Tracy and his fellow evaders were liberated on November 15, 1944, when the 51st Scottish Division arrived in Leveroij. Richard Michael Tracy passed away on 16 March 2002 at the age of 80.
|* National Archives, Washington, EE-2678