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The Remains of Lady Be Good

Article #156 • Written by Alan Bellows

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

In early November, 1958, a British oil exploration team was flying over North Africa's harsh Libyan Desert when they stumbled across something unexpected... the wreckage of a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) plane from World War 2. A ground crew eventually located the site, where a quick inspection of the remains identified it as a B-24D Liberator called the Lady Be Good, an Allied bomber that had disappeared following a bombing run in Italy in 1943. When she failed to return to base, the USAAF conducted a search, ultimately presuming that the Lady and her crew perished in the Mediterranean Sea after becoming disoriented.

The British oil surveyors found that the desert environment had preserved the aircraft's hardware astonishingly well; the plane's 50 caliber machine guns still operated at the pull of the trigger, the radio was in working condition, one of the engines was still functional, and there were still containers filled with water on board. But the remains of the crew were nowhere to be seen.

It took the US military over a year before they took the sighting seriously, but eventually they dispatched a search operation which scoured the desert for the remains of the crew. The search teams found several improvised arrow markers at varying distances to the northwest-- one made of boots, others made from parachutes weighed down with rocks-- but the markers stopped at the edge of the vast, shifting sea of sand known as Calanscio. The group was unsuccessful in finding any further trace of the crew.

The Lady Be Good had been crewed by nine men:

March 1943
March 1943

1st Lieutenant William J. Hatton, Pilot
2d Lieutenant Robert F. Toner, Copilot
2d Lieutenant Dp Hays, Navigator
2d Lieutenant John S. Woravka, Bombardier
Technical Sergeant Harold J. Ripslinger, Flight Engineer
Technical Sergeant Robert E. LaMotte, Radio Operator
Staff Sergeant Guy E. Shelley, Gunner & Assistant Flight Engineer
Staff Sergeant Vernon L. Moore, Gunner & Assistant Radio Operator
Staff Sergeant Samuel R. Adams, Gunner

The official search was eventually called off on account of equipment problems from the harsh environment. But quite by accident, all but one of the crew were located during the year of 1960, over sixteen years after the Lady had disappeared into the desolation. Combined with the findings from the crash site, the clues found with the remains of the crew told the story of men's final days.

The April 4th, 1943 bombing run on Naples had been the first call to action for Lady Be Good and her crew. That afternoon they launched from the Benina air strip in the city of Soluch in Libya. They departed amidst a sandstorm which incapacitated two other bombers in the flight group, forcing them to return to base. Lady's engines ingested some of the airborne sand as well, but seemed to be running normally, so Lieutenant Hatton opted not abort the mission. En route to the target, the aircraft was buffeted by severe winds that pushed her off course and further away from the bomber group, forcing numerous course corrections on the way to Naples. By the time they neared the target, the other Liberators had long since come and gone, and visibility was reportedly poor. So the pilot turned back, dumping their bombs into the Mediterranean Sea.

The last contact from the crew of Lady Be Good was a radio transmission from her pilot, William Hatton: "My ADF has malfunctioned. Please give me a QDM." This indicated that his position-finding equipment had failed, and due to the thick cloud cover he had become disoriented. For reasons unknown, Lt. Hatton never received a response to this request for a position report, but it has been suggested that the radio tower suspected a German trick. Later, in the darkness, the distinct droning sound of a B-24 emanated from the clouds over Benina airport. Flares were launched to signal the bomber, but the engine sound passed overhead, and faded into the distance.

Realizing that they were hopelessly disoriented, several members of the Lady's crew made notations in their logs indicating that they had become lost. A notepad belonging to bombardier Lt. John Woravka revealed one side of a written conversation, probably penciled so their pilot wouldn't hear them over the intercom. It suggests that there may have been some disagreement in the cockpit:

"What's he beeching (bitching) about?"
"What's going to happen?"
"Are we going home?"

Running dangerously low on fuel and probably believing they were over the Mediterranean Sea, the nine men donned parachutes and ditched the aircraft to take their chances. It's likely that the men were surprised when their boots hit sand rather than water. Using revolvers and flare guns, the seven scattered survivors managed to find one another in the desert. They decided to get underway immediately, knowing that the unforgiving Libyan desert reached daytime temperatures of up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lady Be Good flew on through the dark night, slowly descending to crash-land sixteen miles from the men's gathering place. Not realizing that their plane and its supply of food and water were a scant sixteen miles away, the men estimated that travelling northwest would bring them back to the airbase in Soluch. They set out on foot with what supplies they carried. By their calculations, they were no more than 100 miles from the base. In reality, the distance was over 400 miles.

When the plane's wreckage was located in 1958, desert survival experts predicted that the airmen could only have moved up to thirty miles on foot, particularly considering the fact that they were unprepared for the unforgiving desert environment. Much to the amazement of investigators, the remains of the first group of men were found about eighty miles north of the wreck. A British oil survey team discovered the five bodies, closely grouped together in an area strewn with personal effects such as wallets, flashlights, pieces of parachutes, flight jackets, first-aid kits, and most importantly, the diary of Lieutenant Robert Toner which described his final eight days with a sober brevity:

Sunday, Apr. 4, 1943
Naples--28 places--things pretty well mixed up--got lost returning, out of gas, jumped, landed in desert at 2:00 in morning. no one badly hurt, cant find John, all others present.

Monday 5
Start walking N.W., still no John. a few rations, 1/2 canteen of water, 1 cap full per day. Sun fairly warm. Good breeze from N.W. Nite very cold. no sleep. Rested & walked.

Tuesday 6
Rested at 11:30, sun very warm. no breeze, spent P.M. in hell, no planes, etc. rested until 5:00 P.M. Walked & rested all nite. 15 min on, 5 off.

Wednesday, Apr. 7, 1943
Same routine, everyone getting weak, cant get very far, prayers all the time, again P.M. very warm, hell. Can't sleep. everyone sore from ground.

Thursday 8
Hit Sand Dunes, very miserable, good wind but continuous blowing of sand, every[one] now very weak, thought Sam & Moore were all done. La Motte eyes are gone, everyone else's eyes are bad. Still going N.W.

On 9 April, Lieutenants Hatton, Toner, Hays and Sergeants Adams and LaMotte ended their trek, too exhausted to continue. Sergeants Shelley, Moore and Ripslinger continued northward in search of help. There was no further written record for the three men who departed, but with negligible water, no food, and temperatures as high as 130 degrees, the misery of their last few days is difficult to imagine. Lieutenant Toner continued to keep his diary as they waited:

Friday 9
Shelly [sic], Rip, Moore separate & try to go for help, rest of us all very weak, eyes bad, not any travel, all want to die. still very little water. nites are about 35, good n wind, no shelter, 1 parachute left.

Saturday, Apr. 10, 1943
Still having prayer meetings for help. No sign of anything, a couple of birds; good wind from N. --Really weak now, cant walk. pains all over, still all want to die. Nites very cold. no sleep.

Sunday 11
Still waiting for help, still praying. eyes bad, lost all our wgt. aching all over, could make it if we had water; just enough left to put our tongues to, have hope for help very soon, no rest, still same place.

Monday 12
No help yet, very cold nite

The entry from Monday, April 12 was the last, written in thick pencil lines.

Of the three men who continued on, the remains of two were eventually found; Staff Sergeant Guy E. Shelley was discovered twenty-one miles north of his five crewmates, and Technical Sergeant Harold J. Ripslinger may have been the last to fall, having crossed an incredible 109 miles of open desert. Radio operator Moore has never been located.

Left-to-Right: Staff Sgt. Vernon L. Moore, 2nd Lt. Lieutenant Hays, 2nd Lt. John S. Woravka, Staff Sgt. Guy E. Shelley, and Technical Sgt. Harold J. Ripslinger
Left-to-Right: Staff Sgt. Vernon L. Moore, 2nd Lt. Lieutenant Hays, 2nd Lt. John S. Woravka, Staff Sgt. Guy E. Shelley, and Technical Sgt. Harold J. Ripslinger

Later that year, the remains of the bombardier, 2nd Lt. Woravka, were found a few miles from the crash site. His parachute was still attached but appeared to have malfunctioned during evacuation, causing him to fall to his death. Under the circumstances, he was probably the most fortunate of his crew.

When they set out after evacuation, had the survivors trekked southeast towards the wreckage of Lady Be Good, they would have greatly increased their chances of survival by retrieving the food and water stored there, and using the radio to call for help. But they had no way to know how far Lady had glided before landfall. And had their emergency maps included the area where they bailed out, they might have realized the severity of their predicament, and instead headed for an oasis to the south. Good fortune certainly did not favor the crew of Lady Be Good on her first-- and last-- battle mission. But the toughness of the crew is unquestionable, surviving days of marching across unforgiving desert with only a half-canteen of water to share between them.

The remains of the eight crewmembers which were found were all returned to the United States. Today the wreckage of the plane is stored in a compound in Libya, but many of the crew's personal effects and a few parts from the plane are on display at the Army Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 04 April 2006. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows.
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68 Comments
mestebanez
Posted 05 April 2006 at 02:14 am

Fantastic Blog with excelent-writting stories. Greetings from Madrid(Spain).


Marius
Posted 05 April 2006 at 02:35 am

Wow. If I were wearing a hat I would take it off.


PresMatt
Posted 05 April 2006 at 02:36 am

Hell of an article. I loved it. Damned sad how those boys had to die...


MikeyToo
Posted 05 April 2006 at 03:59 am

Interesting story. Got me thinking about that guy they found in the ice in the Sierras not long ago.

Quote: "Later, in the darkness, the distinct droning sound of a B-25 emanated from the clouds over Benina airport."

Shouldn't that be B-24?


BigPete
Posted 05 April 2006 at 04:06 am

Once again great story. I can only imagine what it must have been like in the desert for so long without any resources, I reckon it won't be long before Hollywood hook onto this story, but surely a film remake would be a good tribute perhaps?


another viewpoint
Posted 05 April 2006 at 05:04 am

Quote "It took the US military over a year before they took the sighting seriously, but eventually they dispatched a search operation which scoured the desert for the remains of the crew. "

...which gives rise to the classic oxymoron...military intelligence!

I don't understand why the government fails to believe the unbelievable over and over and over again. What does it take to have some ranking official confirm such a story or not? Millions of dollars can be wasted on pork projects, but when it comes to something of importance (assuming the government would rate human life as important), there never seems to be enough money in the treasury!

Doubt it would make it to a Hollywood screen though...little to no opportunity for any special effects. Anyway...as noted...a fantastic story and Damn Interesting!


Justin
Posted 05 April 2006 at 05:46 am

I can't think of another site that I visit where I take the time to read everyword. Keep it up guys, you've got the best site going in my eyes.


Berg
Posted 05 April 2006 at 06:38 am

Interesting, Damn Interesting. Poor crew though...


Alan Bellows
Posted 05 April 2006 at 10:00 am

MikeyToo said: "Shouldn't that be B-24?"

D'oh... you're right. Fixed now. Damn typos.


AZditz
Posted 05 April 2006 at 11:09 am

So the pilot turned back, dumping their bombs into the Mediterranean Sea.

Is there such a thing as a `pure' sea or ocean?


Avenger
Posted 05 April 2006 at 12:13 pm

I don't understand why the government fails to believe the unbelievable over and over and over again. What does it take to have some ranking official confirm such a story or not? Millions of dollars can be wasted on pork projects, but when it comes to something of importance (assuming the government would rate human life as important), there never seems to be enough money in the treasury!

Judging by how long it takes to fill out the paperwork to buy the necessary hardware to do our job, I would say that something as complicated as getting a survey team together, trained and prepared, then sending them TDY to the Libyan Desert would take more like two years, not one.

If it were a civilian plane, you can bet the FAA and (to a larger extent) the airline itself would have scores of people out there the day some news came in.


ballaerina
Posted 05 April 2006 at 02:57 pm

Justin said: "I can't think of another site that I visit where I take the time to read everyword. Keep it up guys, you've got the best site going in my eyes."

I agree 100%. I check this site daily for updates; you've got me hooked.

This was such a sad story, but what outstanding bravery. I probably would have given up. Has anyone seen "Flight of the Phoenix?" Not a great movie but I think it conveys the "lost in the desert" idea pretty well.


wileybot
Posted 05 April 2006 at 04:43 pm

Great read, I remember seeing something about this story a few years ago on the history channel. What struck me as interesting is they believed the navigator/pilot was never instructed to "circle" and search when they got to the end destination (airstrip). In this case they just kept going...... sad....


USNSPARKS
Posted 05 April 2006 at 08:00 pm

This tale was on TV a LONG time ago. Cannot remember which network aired it.

Seems to me they should have actually attempted to ditch. I realize it's not as easy to do as one might
think but if they had belly flopped into the desert I think they could have very well survived. I don't think
walking toward to direction the plane was heading would have necessarily meant they'd have found it.
May God continue to watch over their souls. No one deserves to die like that.

After a quick Google I see that Amazon.com also has a History Chnl 2000 release for sale. It's part of
of their History's Mysteries series. I'm still digging but so far can find NO mention of the TV documentary I saw.


BobAlexander
Posted 05 April 2006 at 11:22 pm

Dear newfound friends,
this is my first post on this great blog.

As an ex competitive sailplane pilot I tend to take stories of other pilots very personally.

I would love to know if anyone has some coordinates of the place the wreck was found, the place in which the crew likely bailed out and the place where the victims where found.

I would love to see them using Google Earth.

Thank you for any input and excuse me for my scarce grasp of English,
Bob (Roma - Italy)


PresMatt
Posted 06 April 2006 at 12:16 am

BigPete said: "I reckon it won't be long before Hollywood hook onto this story, but surely a film remake would be a good tribute perhaps?"

Ever hear of Flight of the Phoenix? Anyone else notice it closely parallels this story? I bet Hollywood used this story as their basis, leaving out refrences to WWII and other precise details to avoid paying royalties to the dead airmen's families.


Alan Bellows
Posted 06 April 2006 at 01:20 am

BobAlexander said: "I would love to know if anyone has some coordinates of the place the wreck was found, the place in which the crew likely bailed out and the place where the victims where found.

I would love to see them using Google Earth."

I only have the coordinates for the crash site... 27.1° N 23.7° E

Here's the Google map, though there isn't much to see. It's pretty damn desolate place.


BigPete
Posted 06 April 2006 at 01:38 am

PresMatt said: "Ever hear of Flight of the Phoenix? Anyone else notice it closely parallels this story? I bet Hollywood used this story as their basis, leaving out refrences to WWII and other precise details to avoid paying royalties to the dead airmen's families."

I agree, that's exactly what I was thinking when I was reading the entry, havn't seen the film myself but it did look familiar. Shame the WWII aspect was removed, but I spose it's a typical Hollywood distortion of the facts from WWII, just look at the film U-571...


tjm
Posted 06 April 2006 at 04:09 pm

This was definitely the basis for the TV Movie "Sole Survivor". One of my favorites when I was a kid.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065007/


johnj
Posted 06 April 2006 at 06:33 pm

Man, that would be incredible to stumble upon a WWII bomber wrecked in the desert with everything in pristine condition. That is amazing how the plane crash landed itself and yet was in such excellent condition. Those old planes were incredible. Anyway, it is a very sad story about the guys dying in the desert. I can only imagine what torture it must have been being exposed to 130 degree seering heat. Must have felt like they were in an oven being slow baked.


USNSPARKS
Posted 06 April 2006 at 08:57 pm

Bob,

No apologies needed. Your "scarce grasp of English" is a LOT better than my own scarce grasp of Italiano.
You put to shame a bunch of native born Americans. I was stationed in bella Napoli 2 different times for a total of 4 years. Welcome to the BEST web site around.

Karl


Haywood Jablome
Posted 11 April 2006 at 09:10 am

This probably was never made into a movie because there is no happy ending. All of the crew members died and mostly to blame, from my viewpoint, is the american air force for letting them fly over the base and not going on a search for them. However, I for one would love to see this made into a movie. Even with no happy ending. I mean, King Kong had no happy ending. This would indeed be a good tribute to the families and a smash box office hit. What a great movie title "Lady be Good" !!


Robert Conner
Posted 29 May 2006 at 01:03 pm

Haywood Jablome said: "This probably was never made into a movie because there is no happy ending. All of the crew members died and mostly to blame, from my viewpoint, is the american air force for letting them fly over the base and not going on a search for them. However, I for one would love to see this made into a movie. Even with no happy ending. I mean, King Kong had no happy ending. This would indeed be a good tribute to the families and a smash box office hit. What a great movie title "Lady be Good" !!"

Actually, while the Lady's story has never been made into a movie, an episode of "The Twilight Zone", was based, loosely, on this incident, way back in the early 1960's. I remember seeing it as a kid, and it made a powerful impression on me.
The episode first aired on 30 August, 1960 and was called "King Nine Will Not Return".
But the saga of the "Lady Be Good" would make a good movie today.


bora
Posted 07 June 2006 at 03:28 am

Robert Conner said: "Actually, while the Lady's story has never been made into a movie, an episode of "The Twilight Zone", was based, loosely, on this incident, way back in the early 1960's. I remember seeing it as a kid, and it made a powerful impression on me.

The episode first aired on 30 August, 1960 and was called "King Nine Will Not Return".
But the saga of the "Lady Be Good" would make a good movie today."

I remember seeing that Twilight Zone episode with a flying fortress. It was at least 17 years ago and I still recall the scenes very clearly, gives me shivers. Hah, it was on beta ofcourse :)


akeley
Posted 07 August 2006 at 08:51 pm

I'd like to know the origin of the name of the aircraft--Lady Be Good.

Does this refer to "Lady Luck"? or to something else. I'm familiar with the musical and the song by that name.


adastra
Posted 08 January 2007 at 09:15 am

I, too, remember the Twilight Zone very clearly. Bummer. BAD day at the office:-(


Drakvil
Posted 08 January 2007 at 10:52 am

WWII is just chock full o' stories where the perseverance and character of the people involved shine through and let me believe there is hope for the human race. These guys were thought to have made it only 30 miles and they tripled it.

I once met a dive bomber pilot from WWII... he was one of about 17 that survived out of his class of about 40 at dive bomber training school. You have to admire people that believe in a cause to not just go through something like that, but to excell at it.


HarleyHetz
Posted 08 January 2007 at 12:24 pm

USNSPARKS said: "Bob,


No apologies needed. Your "scarce grasp of English" is a LOT better than my own scarce grasp of Italiano.
You put to shame a bunch of native born Americans. I was stationed in bella Napoli 2 different times for a total of 4 years. Welcome to the BEST web site around.

Karl"

I agree, you have no need to apologize!! I have been to Naples on two occassions myself, although my stay was much shorter, only a few days at a time. We must keep those Navy ships moving after all. I did two Med cruises while in the USMC and both times we hit Naples, very friendly people there, and the women were most accomodating if memory serves me correctly...


ExperimentNo6
Posted 08 January 2007 at 12:43 pm

Alan Bellows said: "I only have the coordinates for the crash site… 27.1° N 23.7° E

Here's the Google map, though there isn't much to see. It's pretty damn desolate place."

I know it's off topic, but what are those green-black circles about 100 miles west?


tomslatin
Posted 08 January 2007 at 12:46 pm

I love reading about these old-school military mysteries. This article is great.


SparkyTWP
Posted 08 January 2007 at 01:56 pm

ExperimentNo6 said: "I know it's off topic, but what are those green-black circles about 100 miles west?"

Water retention ponds for irrigation? (Total guess though)


sulkykid
Posted 08 January 2007 at 02:37 pm

SparkyTWP said: "Water retention ponds for irrigation? (Total guess though)"

More likely (still guessing), they are fields of crops. The irrigation pipes/sprinklers pivot around the center. You will see similar fields in the Western U.S.


bookcrafter
Posted 08 January 2007 at 03:22 pm

Damn interesting!! And damn sad. While I realize war is sometimes unavoidable, I truly hope someday the human race advances to the point where we can resolve our disputes in a way that doesn't involve such massive loss of human lives.


Firstetq
Posted 08 January 2007 at 10:40 pm

I was knew one of the men interviewed on the History Channel show about the Lady Be Good. We were both engineers at McDonnell in St. Louis during the 60's. He had been a fighter pilot in WWII and the Lady Be Good story struck a chord with him.

The British military were using the wreck as a destination for desert training. Jim contacted the commander and asked him to retrieve some small parts use in a study on the affects of long exposure to the elements on various engineering materials . The items retrieved were usually small and were varied in nature. They included gauges, cloth, papers, some hydraulic parts, etc. When the Brits were about to leave Libya because of a change iin government there, the commander with whom he had been dealing, called Jim and told him they making one last trip and asked if there were anything in particular he would like to have. Jim asked for a cylinder from one of the engines. The next call informed him that it was too difficult to remove a cylinder so they pulled the entire engine and would he please arrange for pickup. Amazingly, after a few phone calls to friends, it was set and a MATS plane, flying a AF reserve training mission, picked up the engine and delivered it to a MATS base near St. Louis (I believe this base has been closed). Jim arranged for a company truck to deliver the engine to his garage. I still have an 8 X 10 of Jim and that engine in his garage. All this was more than 40 years ago. About 15 years ago, I again saw the items Jim had shown me back then in St. Louis. This time they were in display cases at the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH with placards identifying them as having been provided by James Walker.


STML
Posted 09 January 2007 at 03:47 am

ExperimentNo6 said: "I know it's off topic, but what are those green-black circles about 100 miles west?"

SparkyTWP said: "Water retention ponds for irrigation? (Total guess though)"

sulkykid said: "More likely (still guessing), they are fields of crops. The irrigation pipes/sprinklers pivot around the center. You will see similar fields in the Western U.S."

According to the good people of the Google Earth community, the large circles to the west of the crash site are massive desert wells, part of Libya's Great Man-Made River Project.

The BBC has an article about the project here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4814988.stm.

Would make a pretty good Damn Interesting article too!


sulkykid
Posted 09 January 2007 at 11:38 am

STML said: "According to the good people of the Google Earth community, the large circles to the west of the crash site are massive desert wells, part of Libya's Great Man-Made River Project.


The BBC has an article about the project here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4814988.stm.

Would make a pretty good Damn Interesting article too!"

No, it is irrigated fields. Although the water for the irrigation may come from these Libyan wells. See:

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16729


Intellectual-Bonobo Hybrid.
Posted 09 January 2007 at 07:39 pm

I suspect he went on to make a fortune in the Internet. Cold case episode: have Jobs, Gates, et. al., account for where they were that night.


Intellectual-Bonobo Hybrid.
Posted 09 January 2007 at 10:46 pm

Comment 37 was intended to be in response to the TV hijacking article... sorry


JAGwriter
Posted 11 January 2007 at 09:46 pm

AZditz said: "So the pilot turned back, dumping their bombs into the Mediterranean Sea.
Is there such a thing as a `pure' sea or ocean?"

I wouldn't worry about the Med. It's 2.5 million square kilometers with an average depth of 1500 meters. A B-24 bomb load would've created about as much contamination as tossing a hand grenade in the Persian Gulf. Just imagine the nasty stuff belched into the world's oceans from undersea volcanoes.
Besides, the bombs would likely detonate on impact; better there than in the belly of The Lady upon ditching. Also, Lt. Hatton needed to lighten the load and conserve fuel.
As a pilot I can't imagine being in that situation.
It was a sad ending for a courageous crew and a mighty aircraft.


davo
Posted 22 February 2007 at 03:37 pm

akeley said: "I'd like to know the origin of the name of the aircraft–Lady Be Good.


Does this refer to "Lady Luck"? or to something else. I'm familiar with the musical and the song by that name."

No one knows who named the B-24 Liberator in 1943.
It might have been named from one of the grounds crew in Soluch, Libya.
There was a 1941 movie titled, "Lady Be Good", and that might have gave someone the idea for the name.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033803/


Mikayla
Posted 26 March 2007 at 10:57 am

Mikayla is the bomb!


jared
Posted 26 March 2007 at 11:02 am

hades is the king of tartrus!!!!!


012345
Posted 27 March 2007 at 09:43 am

fish monkeys


012345
Posted 27 March 2007 at 09:44 am


012345
Posted 27 March 2007 at 09:46 am

fish monkeys rock my socks


KABOOOOMMM
Posted 19 April 2007 at 09:32 am

HOLY $HIT MY GRAMPAS BEST FRIEND DIED LIKE THAT *TAKES HAT OFF* I SALUT U DAMN INTERESTING FOR SHOWING THIS THANK U POOR SAM POOR POOR SAM


m8art
Posted 04 July 2007 at 12:55 pm

bora said: "I remember seeing that Twilight Zone episode with a flying fortress. It was at least 17 years ago and I still recall the scenes very clearly, gives me shivers. Hah, it was on beta ofcourse :)"

Actually it was a B25 in the twilight zone episode.It is episode 37, filmed in 1960(about a year after"lady be good" was found).I found a copy on the net.It stars robert cummings as capt embry.He wakes up in the libyan desert,next to the crashed B25.It is riveting.I first seen it when I was 8 years old.It stayed with me for a long time.


Shatzi
Posted 07 August 2007 at 07:56 pm

I remember that movie "Sole Survivor." It was definitely based on the Lady Be Good. I saw it as a kid sometime in the late '60s I think and it stuck with me ever since. In the movie the crew were all ghosts hanging around the crashed bomber. At the end of the movie as their remains were found one by one, each character would vanish. It ended with the one man (radio operator) all alone at the bomber because no one ever found his remains. It was sad but powerful. I'd love to see it again. There was a documentary about the Lady Be Good on the History Channel not too long ago as well.


Rowbow100
Posted 19 November 2007 at 03:43 am

I was working in Libya during 1982 and our rig , Rig 8 I beleive was drilling in the sand sea area close enoughfor several of the rig guys to visit the site . The tanks to the West are part of the newly built Kufra water project known as the Great ManMade River .


pettycash
Posted 07 July 2008 at 08:35 pm

Harold Ripslinger was my Uncle...........It would be wonderful to have a movie of this
memorable story....
I have seen the exhibit in Dayton, Ohio.......go see it, for they change the artifacts from time to time. I can't believe those boys were in such cramped quarters....and could not break radio silence to know they had passed their destonation.

All of the family are disseased except for the nieces and nephews.
We have boxes of paperwork about this story.
The B-24 folks are almost gone....their memory and braveness are in our hearts. God Bless
the USA.......

np

8/08/08


Big Sly
Posted 16 February 2009 at 08:54 pm

I was able to get a piece of the fuselage back in 1997. There's not much left.
02/16/09


pwillitz
Posted 26 August 2009 at 09:22 pm

I am a 60 year old former New Yorker who has been living in California for the past 24 years. When I was in the 5th(?) grade, there was a LOOK or LIFE magazine with a photo layout on the story of finding the crew of The Lady Be Good. I recall the photos of American flags on the ground, covering the remains of a number of the crewmen. I was fascinated to say the least.
As I recall, the US group that finally got to the plane found a thermos of coffee that was, according to them, still good.
The story stayed in my mind for years and while at a flea market here in California, I picked up a copy of a book on the subject. The entries from the diaries were heart wrenching.
Then a discovery. A friend here in Ca had the same name as one of the crew members, John Woravka! When I next spoke with John I mentioned the plane, story, same name, etc. His response floored me! Yes, it was his uncle who was the bombardier and he (my friend) was named after him.
As sad as the story is, John's family felt that John Woravka, the bombardier, was fortunate that he did not have to suffer like the other crew members.


Donone
Posted 01 June 2010 at 08:14 am

You may be interested to know that I have photo's of Lady Be Good on my website that were taken in the last couple of years. I have more (inside and out) that will be posted during the next two weeks.
The LBG is now in Tobruk, Libya where it is un-ceremoniously dumped.
I also cover the Bardia Mural which you may find damn interesting.
http://www.don-simmonds.co.uk


ramsay
Posted 01 September 2010 at 02:06 pm

The last paragraph says "The remains of the eight crewmembers which were found". If you read the article it says all nine were found. Which is it?


ramsay
Posted 01 September 2010 at 02:18 pm

JAGwriter said: "AZditz said: “So the pilot turned back, dumping their bombs into the Mediterranean Sea.
Is there such a thing as a `pure’ sea or ocean?”

I wouldn’t worry about the Med. It’s 2.5 million square kilometers with an average depth of 1500 meters. A B-24 bomb load would’ve created about as much contamination as tossing a hand grenade in the Persian Gulf. Just imagine the nasty stuff belched into the world’s oceans from undersea volcanoes.
Besides, the bombs would likely detonate on impact; better there than in the belly of The Lady upon ditching. Also, Lt. Hatton needed to lighten the load and conserve fuel.
As a pilot I can’t imagine being in that situation.
It was a sad ending for a courageous crew and a mighty aircraft."

If they were able to make it ~400 miles past their destination before running out of fuel I dont think they needed to lose the bomb's weight to have enough fuel to make the trip; even though they flew a longer distance than they expected, because of the winds that blew them off course.

You say its better that the bombs explode in the water than in the plane upon ditching but they werent expecting to ditch. They were expecting to make it back to the base so why not save the bombs for the future?

Simply because the earth spews into the oceans does not mean humans need to. Two "wrongs" dont make a right.


pwillitz
Posted 22 September 2010 at 04:39 pm

I am not sure what the policy was at the time, but perhaps it was a rule that bombers landing at night or under adverse conditions would have to dump their bomb loads in order to lessen the possibility of a
major explosion in the event of a landing mishap.
True, there was not damage to the aircraft, but perhaps they were following procedures when they dumped the bomb load.


dave88
Posted 11 October 2010 at 12:26 am

The Lady Be Good is one of the great mysteries of human error and a story that absolutely absorbs a lot of people, including myself. The 1970 movie "Sole Survivors" is avalible online at google video. I don't think a modern film version could do much better however, I'd pay to see the effort!

I've researched the flight on and off through the years and one mysteries that nags me is the fact of speed and time. I'm aware that the crew was brand new with no experince, and how this fact could cause the Nav.. officer to be confused. It's documented that the radio op requested an airstrip HF radio bearing at or about 24:00 (midnight). The loop attanna of the radio op could read in reverse if not operated correctly. The home bearing for the flight from Naples would have been 330 degrees. In there found location it would have indicated 150 degrees, the exact reverse of 330 degress. If you follow the 330 bearing from the airstrip it leads directly 440 miles to the crash site. From this: one can only assume the Nav officer, pilot, co-pilot and radio op all thought they were still out at sea . I find this highly unlikely. Someones alarm bells would have had to go off and I think someone did. Being the Capt. is the boss, I think he over ruled any objections made by the crew and assumed the radio direction reading of 150 should have been 330 and continued upon that heading for two more hours ending at 02:00 with fuel gone.

The fact is, that given a round trip flight time, from their base to Naples, in perfect conditions of around 6 hours and being when the radio direction was taken at 24:00, (9 hours) all the crew would have had to be out of there minds not to know they had crossed their air base and the 150 degree reading most certainly could not be in error. At this point I can only think that the error had to be with the Capt. Any thoughts anyone?


oldbear
Posted 28 December 2010 at 07:55 am

Hello all
I have just come across this site.
Iuse to work all over Libya and visited the LBG which had been moved to Torbruk, it was in a sorry state the last time i visited it. It was stored in a yard behind the Blind school.
The locals wanted more room in the yard and used a shovel loader on the wreck to move the bits around.


sarainsandiego
Posted 26 February 2011 at 02:50 pm

While following the Libya situation came across this page......wow! I, too, found this too interesting to skip a word!
The link to the episode of Twilight Zone referred to by Robert Conner #23 above:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqq6DaF1kbg

Many thanks, Author of This Site. Really well written!


Raedin
Posted 31 January 2012 at 09:02 pm

Wow, Is the B-24 in the same spot where it crashed? Is it worth trying to restore? is it owned by anyone? or could anyone go get it and restore it?


Raedin
Posted 31 January 2012 at 09:13 pm

Oh, after seeing these pic`s : http://www.don-simmonds.co.uk/ladybgood.htm
i see that it would be hard to restore it to where you could fly it. :'(
If the dip-shits left it where it was it could be restored...


koltrayne
Posted 29 June 2012 at 02:32 pm

I've followed the story and research folks have done on all the websites with interest since reading the book many years ago. I'm still touched by the crew's bravery and the terrible suffering they endured. I guess something about the Lady keeps drawing me back. Incidentally, Lt Toner was from my state, MA, and I've visited the memorial dedicated in his honor in his hometown. If anyone is interested in seeing them let me know where I could post them. Thanks.


Dennis
Posted 31 January 2014 at 02:11 pm

Raedin said: "Wow, Is the B-24 in the same spot where it crashed? Is it worth trying to restore? is it owned by anyone? or could anyone go get it and restore it?"

My father wrote a book about this plane crash saga. Parts of the plane are now on display at various site around the world. The last pieces of the plane were removed from the crash site in 1994. When it was discovered, the plane was clearly recognizable, but badly damaged. The tail section was broken off, yet still lying immediately behind the rest of the plan at a sharp angle. The nose windows were mostly shattered and the fore section of the fuselage was buckled somewhat, so the airframe was probably warped. A view of the satellite image of the site shows no clue that anything but sand has ever been there.

Google Maps Satellite view:
https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=26.712694,24.024167&q=loc:26.712694,24.024167&hl=en&t=h&z=13

Wikipedia Article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Be_Good_(aircraft)


El_Gato
Posted 16 February 2014 at 10:57 pm

I remember reading the story when it first came out about 1960. I was fascinated then and still am by this tragic story. I recall that it was sirmised that they probably were reading their direction off the "back of the loop". In other words the loop antenna that read their direction was indicating like an earlier poster said 150 which they read as 330. An unexpected tail wind was also a factor, I believe.


Stephen M.
Posted 25 February 2014 at 08:38 pm

To begin...The February 2014 edition of Air Force Magazine has a great story about the Lady be Good. As I was reading it, I remembered my father, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, telling me years ago the story of the B-24 and it's crew. Aside from the historical significance and fascination of the story, he was sharing with me the family relationship we have with Lt. William Hatton. Though this is a minor footnote, it has some significance and fascination within our own family history. My grandfather's sister, Dorothy (Dot) Meyer, was forever married to William's brother, Joe Hatton. William's wife, Millie, and my great aunt had developed a good relationship as sisters-in-law and stayed in close touch after William's disappearance. Since the passing of my grandparents and my grandfather's seven sisters in years beginning in the late 1950's through the mid 1990's, as well as my father being a child of only six years in 1943, never having known William, and knowing or remebering little more than I am posting here, a clearer story of family events involving the Hatton and Meyer families has been lost.
As I mentioned, this is a minor footnote, but I thought maybe some one would enjoy reading it for what it's worth.

Steve
U.S. Air Force veteran


June Hamer
Posted 05 June 2014 at 06:22 am

I have a tin box from the Lady be good and some photos taken by my late husband when working on the oil exploration in Libya I was wondering if there is anywhere that would want it as part of the history otherwise it will be discarded.


Richard
Posted 21 August 2014 at 03:59 pm

I was a member of the RAF desert rescue team operating from El Adam from 1967 to 1969.
During this time an expedition was made to recover one of the engines to be sent to the states for inspection.
I unfortunately could not be released from duties for the expedition.
However I was granted permission to be flown, with priority over some top brass, to the site for a day trip while the rest of my team mates were there.
Unforgettable.


Tom Risinger
Posted 23 August 2014 at 04:07 pm

June Hamer said: "I have a tin box from the Lady be good and some photos taken by my late husband when working on the oil exploration in Libya I was wondering if there is anywhere that would want it as part of the history otherwise it will be discarded."

The American Airpower Power Museum in Farmingdale, NY has a display about the fate of the "Lady be Good." I'm sure they would take good care of the photo's. Their address is 1230 New Hwy, Farmingdale, NY 11735.


END OF COMMENTS
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