Thursday May 25, 1944. During the allied air operations who had to destroy communication complex of the german occupant in the French south. 2 groups of B-24 Liberator from the 15th Air Force, 55th Bomber-Wing, the 464th and 465th Bomber-Group, had to drop bombs on Givors's railway junction, city located at 13 miles in the south of Lyon, Rhône's valley.
Four B-24 Liberator from the 464th BG will be very seriously damaged, 3 will not return at their temporary base of Gioia-del-Colle, in the Italian's Pouilles. The groups of American bombers had been hardly attacked on their return flight, by the Flak and the Luftwaffe, with Messerchmitt 109 and Focke Wulf 190 based in Istres, Salon-de-Provence and Channoines.
The 2nd plane lost was the B-24 serial 41-29412, nicknamed Strictly from Hunger, and was piloted by the captain Robert W. Hornbaker.
Badly hurt by Flack along the Esterel coast, he was particularly attacked by 4 enemy fighters, one of them, a ME-109, succeeded in avoiding the shootings coming from the American turrets, while diving and re-appearing on the bomber's left, while shooting with his MG15(7.92mm) an his 20 mm axial gun.
The result was not made wait : engine number 1 in fire (fire could not be extinct), engine number 2, high mode lost and oil pressure dangerously falling, while releasing an incredible black and heavy smoke.
But, it's not all, the left side of the fuselage is sifted with various shots and main fuel transfer pump is destroyed, making running out from the root of the left wing a fuel flood escapes by the bomb bays. More of bad luck, several control cables are cut.
But unfortunatly too, the pilot was killed because he was hit at head and thorax.
It is in this infernal context that the plane, now piloted by the second lieutenant Raymond H. Burklund, fortunately safe, goes while losing altitude, over the Mediterranean sea.
Along the coast the B-24 still will have been the object of shootings by the Flak, located in the Cape Roux, between Cannes and Saint-Raphaël.
Flying over sea, the group of B-24 from 464BG is then seen disappearing far away direction Italy via Corsica. It's at this moment that the copilot realizes that it was impossible for him to join Corsica, his plane risking the explosion at each second!
Leaving his road while turning in a large curve on the left, the B-24 deadly hit goes right to Cannes, crossing over Lérins's islands.
Then the Flak of the sector enters in action, while 4 crewmen (including the copilot) jump in parachute. Tthe plane, not piloted anymore goes in a last spiral on its left, crash on the hill of La Croix des Gardes, avoiding a disaster miraculously while not falling down on the city.
In the wreck,will be found the bodies without life of the pilot, one of another aviator who will never be identified, like any remains of the other last 4 men , and for due, it is indeed that on the ten crewmen, 4 jumped very far from the Provence's coasts (and will never be found), while for one of those who jump over Cannes, s/sgt Lawrence E. Reinceke, he didn't survive because his parachute did not open.
He'll be found died, face against ground, nearly 1.5 miles east of the crashed plane.
The result of this accident wich put in agitation all the Cannes's population, will be 4 disappeared, 3 killed (including 1 not identified), and 3 prisoners of war.
50 years later, july 4, 1994, the last survivor of this four-engined plane, sergeant Alfred R. Karow, mechanician and dorsal turret gunner, was on invited by Cannes's municipality and of Aéro-Re.L.I.C., came back on his first and only parachuting of his life: Cannes.
Also present with him, the pilot's widow, Mrs Velma Hornbaker/Kirby, which remaried many year later with Dr. Vernon Kirby. The sister of the tail machine gunner was also present, as her daughter, and veterans of captain Hornbaker's squadron.