Heroes: the Army Air Corps


"...the #2 engine on (my dad's) B-26 was hit by flak and burning as the group was flying toward home over the French channel coast..."


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 J. F. "Jim" Snell

  • Branch of Service: Army Air Corps
  • Unit: 9th Air Force, 386th Bomb Group (Med), 555th Squadron
  • Dates: 1940 - 1945
    Recalled to Active Duty: Korea 1951-1952 (USAF Res. 1945-1970
  • Location: European Theater
  • Rank: LTC (Ret)
  • Birth Year: 1925
  • Entered Service: Detroit, MI




image of flak damaged B-26

Sept 1943. Image of flack damaged B-26 Martin Marauder over the English Channel coast of France. See below for details.


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LTC(ret) J. F. (Jim) Snell

9th Air Force, 386th Bomb Group [Med], 555th Squadron

United States Army Air Corps

1940 -- 1945

[USAF Res. 1945 - 1970, recalled active duty, Korea 1951-52]




Bombing a Railroad Marshalling Yard in France - September 1943


The following information is from Jim Snell's son, Pete.

I have asked my dad about telling his stories of flying with the 9th AF, 386BG[Med], 555th Sq over France & Low Countries in 1943 - 1944. He is reluctant to discuss many details, but I did get a picture from a Sept.1943 mission over a marshalling yard in France. You are welcome to use the image.

The #2 engine on my dad's B-26 was hit by flak and burning as the group was flying toward home over the French channel coast. My dad (co-pilot) and pilot were trying to extinguish the fire and feather the #2 prop at the time. They returned successfully to base in England and flew the repaired plane, 'Hellzapoppin2', on another mission 3 days later.

The Squadron photographer in another B26 lent his camera to the tail gunner who took this shot.The AAF photo was given to the AP/UPI services and appeared widely in October-November '43.


The materials depicted on this page were reprinted with kind permission of the son of the subject of this essay -- Pete Snell.

We, at the World War II Stories - In Their Own Words web site wish to offer to Mr. Jim Snell our most profound THANK YOU for his poignant story of his personal experiences -- during World War II and especially for allowing us to share those memories. We will always be grateful for Mr. Snell's contributions to the war effort and to the countless other men and women who put forth their "finest hour".


Original story transcribed from hand written notes received on
18 September 2002


Here are some interesting links that are related to this story:

War Birds on the Web: 386th Bomb Group

555th Bomber Squadron

B-26 Tail Gunner (386th BG - 555th BS) (Plenty of photos!)

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USAF Aircraft Serial Number Search Help

American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll

National World War II Memorial


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