Long Island Shooters Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
WWII: Gunner fell 22,000 feet WITHOUT a parachute and survived

http://www.warhistor...d-survived.html



Ranked among the luckiest people in the world, Alan E. Magee survived a free fall of almost four miles from a B-17 bomber during a raid in WWII.

When his bomber came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns, he ran out of options. His bomber was spinning mid-air and spiralling towards the ground. Magee had to jump out of it to escape certain death. But he was not aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute.

Magee's survival story has featured in many magazines and is considered one of the most miraculous survivals of WWII. After the war, Magee did not discuss his ordeal or his survival story with anyone.

T

hree months before being shot down, the original crew assigned to the B-17F Snap! Crackle! Pop! #41-24620 (PU-O), under Jacob W. Fredericks, from October 14, 1942. Source: 303rd BG [Via]

Magee lived another 61 years after his fall in WWII and died of kidney failure and complications from a stroke. He is buried in San Angelo, Texas.

Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country.

He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17's ball turret. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. On the day Magee went on the mission of his lifetime, he left his parachute on the bomber's deck because there was not much space inside the turret.

Magee's friend, Don Jenkins, also a veteran of WWII, said that being a B-17 gunner was not an easy job during WWII. It was common knowledge among soldiers that the B-17 ball-turret gunners had a very high casualty rate. This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. Remembering his friend and comrade, he said that Magee was a great friend and a kind human being. He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times.

On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. He was 24, and was one of the ten-man crew of the B-17 bomber. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. In total, there were 85 B-17s involved in the raid, along with some fighter planes escorting them.

When Magee's bomber reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. The bomber took a couple of nasty blows on its wing and engine; it started spiralling towards the ground, and was spinning at a very high speed. Magee had no idea how to control the plane and saw a small opening, which he quickly jumped through.

Magee plunged almost 22,000 feet, falling unconscious before crashing into the roof of the St Nazaire railway station. When he regained consciousness, as the Germans were taking him to hospital, he exclaimed, 'Thank God I am alive." Magee once told his friend that the Germans had great respect for those who survived miraculously.



On the 23rd of September 1995 Alan E. Magee, accompanied by his wife Helen, returned to St Nazaire to take part in a ceremony sponsored by French citizens, dedicating a memorial to his seven fellow crewmen killed in the crash of Snap! Crackle! Pop! in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. [Via]

The mission Magee was a part of turned out to be a failure for the Allied forces. The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged, the Free Republic reports.

Magee stayed in various German camps as a Prisoner of War. He was released in May 1945. Alan Magee received the Air Medal for meritorious service and the Purple Heart for his achievements in the war.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,781 Posts
I read that story in Reader's Digest maybe 40 years ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
551 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,375 Posts
I was looking around the net about this after I posted this. There are some casting doubt on this guy jumping without a chute. Not questioning the rest, just the jumping without a chute part. I couldn't find anything about anyone backing this up. Who knows? It is what it is.

Paul
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,781 Posts
I fell off my highchair once. My mother said I was never the same after that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rightsholder

·
Winter is coming
Joined
·
3,569 Posts
Geez, I don't want to fall off my deck.
That'd hurt enough.
If I had hit that RR station they'd have an instant subway.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
0 Posts
I've seen those belly ball turrets. They don't look like anyone could fit let alone a guy wearing a heavy flight suit.
I wonder where on the plane he was when he bailed out. No way in hell he could have gotten out of that turret during a spin. I don't even know if there's a control inside the turret to roll it into get in/ get out position, or if he wiggled out of the turret as shown in the top picture?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
I believe that the ball gunner was supposed to enter/leave the turret through that hatch, but in a vertical position. In other words, the guns were pointing straight down and the hatch was then pointed up into the plane. The waist gunners helped him in and out , and his chute was left in waist gunner area. Not sure if he had a small reserve chute on while in the ball. I also remember reading about a tail gunner from either a B-24 or Lancaster that fell out after flak shattered the turret and he fell into pine trees and landed in snow bank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,571 Posts
I was looking around the net about this after I posted this. There are some casting doubt on this guy jumping without a chute. Not questioning the rest, just the jumping without a chute part. I couldn't find anything about anyone backing this up. Who knows? It is what it is.

Paul
There are a few documented instances of people surviving falls like this - I remember seeing helmet-cam footage of one who landed in mud, there was a woman who survived that was featured in Timex? commercials - both of these were skydivers, there are more.

Then consider the "high dive" stunts where someone jumps 100 feet into 6 inches of water...

So really it's just land "just right" where you displace the energy and you might just walk away.

They also never said if or how badly injured he was after that fall.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top