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Diederich Crew—Lost on 15 July 1944 near Yap, MACR #6924
Yap Island Trip: Sharon Crowley Connor accompanied Pat Ranfranz and his wife in 2006 on a search trip to Yap Island to try and find his uncle's plane. Sharon held a memorial service out in the ocean in a place nearby where her dad's plane went down. READ SHARON'S TRIP BLOG
Excerpt about the Diederich Crew crash from book "The Long Rangers" by Sam Britt:
The real tragedy of the mission was the collision of two Liberators. There were several versions of the accident. George Krum, the ball turret gunner on Lt. Gage's (370th) crew had a good view since he was in the turret at the time. As he saw it, the Zero's crowded the formation in front of the 370th formation forcing them closer and closer together until one of the planes apparently got caught in the slip stream of the plane in front and both were pulled together like giant buzz saws, slashing each other until the two wings locked together and fell into the water. George saw seven to ten parachutes open. The Japanese pilots went down and strafed the parachutes and any survivors they could find in the water.
The 372nd version states that three minutes after the break away, the pilot flying the B-2 position was attacked by a Zeke pilot who apparently scored some damaging hits that caused the plane to swerve to the left and crash into plane #555 (Lt. Sylor, 370th) flying in the 370th formation. The two planes locked and burst into flames. Plane #555 broke in two at the forward end and bodies were seen to be hurled from the wreckage. Three chutes opened and drifted to the water, and this time the attacking fighter pilots did not strafe the parachutes. There were eleven crew members in the plane. Plane #555 was flying above and slightly overlapping Lt. Anthony Diedrich (372nd). The two planes hit the water about five to eight miles apart.
The collision as witnessed by Lt. Dooley (371st) and Lt. Blair (371st) and their crews present a slightly different version. They stated that the solver B-24 and a painted one side-slipped approximately five hundred feet under Lt. Blair's plane and that they were very close together. It was believed that prop wash caused the painted B-24, which was flying on the left wing of the silver one, suddenly to loose control. Its right wing struck the silver plane amidship and on the top of the fuselage. The wing crumpled and both planes exploded. No parachutes were seen to open. The 370th report stated that Lt. Sylor's (370th) plane was hit by another plane flying the B-3 position about ten minutes after bombs away. The waist and tail of Lt. Sylor's plane were chopped off; the planes locked wings and both crashed off the southwest end of Yap Island. Five parachutes were seen to open. It was not determined whether another plane, which was flying outside of B-3, crowded into B-1's prop wash or whether turbulence caused the planes to collide. The air was extremely turbulent.
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