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S/SGT  Ennis M. BANKHEAD

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: TG
SERIAL #: 38220710 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 00000 CR: 00000

Comments1: 3 SEP 43 BEAUMONT Le ROGER (COL WITH 100TH B-17)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2nd Lt Charles B. Winkelman         P      EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 0-738320
2nd Lt Ralph D. Smith                 CP     EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 0-801345
2nd Lt William H. Booth            NAV     EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 0-800093
2nd Lt Howard M. Harris           BOM     EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 0-676325
  T/Sgt Thomas E. Combs         TTE     EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 14134640    Taps 1983
  T/Sgt Jean E. Ray                 ROG      POW     3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 37426256
  S/Sgt Thomas L. Cuccaro        BTG      POW     3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 32437605
  S/Sgt Michael F. Darcy            WG      EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 32443852
  S/Sgt Alfred J. Zeoli               WG      EVADEE 3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 31042353
  S/Sgt Ennis M. Bankhead        TG      KIA       3/9/43  PARIS     SN# 38220710

349th Sqdn.  Crew, as above, joined 100th Group on 25/8/43. 
No MACR in national archives files.  A/C #42-30035 "TORCHY"

Crew was on its first mission - Paris.  Apparently a 100th Group a/c came up below the a/c
of this crew and one of its props chewed into the tail assembly killing Bankhead.  In 1981
correspondence with Thomas Combs he explained that he became separated from the rest of
the crew after bail out.  Combs  was aided by French patriots and underground.  Spent 3 months
in Paris then down to southern border and crossed Pyrenees in Dec. and was flown back to
England arriving 3 Jan. 1944 exactly 4 months after being shot down.  Winkelman got back
about 2 months later.

"TORCHY" was the a/c flown overseas by the crew of Sam L. Barr.  It was named after the
wife of James R. Brown, navigator of the crew.

Sgt. Bankhead is buried in the Epinal American cemetary.

I note a little error into Evaders' pages: About crewmen of Torchy serial 42-30035 (E&E167, 258, 259, 271, 272 303, and 468.) I read (^) Dhusson-Longueville, France. Sorry, is not D'Huisson-Longueville but precisely Cerny (91). I was searching about the S/Sgt Ennis Bankhead killed in his turret by propellers of Sunny serial 42-30089 and I hope a marble plate in honor to him. According to witnesses The Torchy was crashed in 48° 28' 11.09'' N / 02° 19' 46.97'' E on juridiction of Cerny…..Jean Robin.

MEMO 2:

100th B-17 came up from below and props chewed up tail killing Bankhead.

Ennis Murry Bankhead was born on August 16, 1920 in Cunningham, Texas to Johnnie B. and Ruby Carmon Phillips Bankhead. The US Census 1930 shows the family in Bonham, Texas, while the US Census 1940 lists the family in Paris, Texas. Bankhead grew up in rural Texas, and worked for J.C. Penny Co. before he joined the service.

He was drafted, and sworn into service in Dallas, Texas on August 22, 1942. His enlistment documents show that he had completed 3 years of high school, and was employed as a sales person. He was assigned to the Army Air Forces, and trained as an aerial gunner. He was then sent to crew training on the B-17 type aircraft.

The crew finished training and deployed to England, arriving there on August 25, 1943. Records reveal the first mission was flown on September 3, 1943. The target was the Renault Company plants in Paris, with secondary targets the Beaumont le Roger Airfield nearby. A controversy now erupts in the telling of the demise of this aircraft. Records of the 100th Bomb Group state that after receiving heavy flak and possible damage, B-17 # 42-30089, named "Sunny," came upwards unexpectedly and collided with this aircraft. The propellers cut into the tail section and killed the tail gunner in his station.

A later interview with the pilot (plus other sources) tell a different story. These state that the aircraft was hit by flak and lost an engine. A fire erupted, and the aircraft was out of control. The crew bailed out, and all made safe landings. Seven of the crew managed to evade, and return to military control. Two became POWs, and Bankhead was declared dead, killed in the accident.

Other records (including NARA POW records,) show Bankhead was captured, and died of wounds in prison camp as a POW. One even shows he received the POW Medal. A Texas newspaper has an article concerning how Bankhead's mother received a telegram that he was a prisoner, but died.

Somehow, Bankhead's body was recovered, and is buried today in the Epinal American Cemetery in France in Plot B, Row 20, Grave 64. (All sources give this disposition except 100th Bomb Group records which lists him in Grave 84.)

SSgt Ennis Murry Bankhead was acting as tail gunner on B-17G # 42-30035, named "Torchy," assigned to the 349th Bomb Squadron.

No Missing Air Crew Report was filed for this incident. However, crew rosters and personnel files show the crew was composed of:

2 Lt Charles B. Winkelman  p
2 Lt Ralph D. Smith  c-p
2 Lt William H. Booth  nav
2 Lt Howard M. Harris  bomb
TSgt Thomas E. Combs  eng/tt gun
TSgt Jean E. Ray  r/o
SSgt Thomas L. Cuccaro  btg
SSgt Michael F. Darey  wg
SSgt Alfred J. Zeoli  wg
SSgt Ennis M. Bankhead

Sgts Ray and Cuccaro were taken prisoner; seven others evaded; Bankhead was the only fatality.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Beaumont Le Roger DATE: 1943-09-03  
AIRCRAFT: "Torchy" (42-30035) CAUSE: Collided with B-17  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: B ROW: 20  
GRAVE: 84 CEMETERY: Epinal Am Cemetery  

PHOTOS:

Ennis M. Bankhead   349th   TG   KIA   3 Sep 43   Paris   Charles B. Winkelman Crew

Article on S/Sgt. Ennis Bankhead (courtesy of Laura Shivers)

Charles B. Winkelman Crew: Standing from left: Thomas E. Combs - TTE, Jean E. Ray - ROG, Thomas Cuccaro - BTG,  Michael F.  Darcy - WG, and Ennis M. Bankhead - TG.  Kneeling: Charles B. Winkelman - Pilot, Ralph D. Smith - CP, William H. Booth - NAV and Howard M. Harris - BOM, This crew was shot down 3 Sep 43 near Paris, France. Seven of this crew evaded capture and returned to Military Control, two were POWs and the Tail Gunner Ennis Bankhead was KIA. This aircraft was involved in the massive collision of 100th aircraft at Paris on 3 Sep 43.   Detailed Information    (100th Photo Archives)

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 205