2nd Lt John F Duffy USAF
Aircraft: B17 G Flying Fortress. Nose name: Fortworth Jailhouse. Registration number: 44-8436H
Squadron: 326th bomber squadron
Date of crash: 05/05/1945
Related Airmen:1st Lt Reginald L Hammond USAF 1st Lt Robert L Sprout USAF T/Sgt Jacob Buikema USAF S/Sgt Daniel Minkon USAF 2nd Lt William J Dutton USAF
b. 1922 (according to findagrave.com) It may be 1923 as he is listed as 7 in 1930s US Census.
d. 05 May 1945
Burial Place: Holy Cross Cemetery
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, USA
Find A Grave Memorial
Buried Aug 3, 1948
Obituary The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mon Aug 2, 1948 pg 7
DUFFY-LT. JOHN F., on 364 72nd Street, killed in a plane crash in england on May 5, 1945 loving son of Jane Duffy (nee Woods) and the late Edward Duffy. American Legion memorial services will be held on Monday evening at 8 o’clock. Solemn Mass of Requiem at Our Lady of Angels Church on Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock. Interment with Military honors at Holy Cross Cemetery.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mon Aug 2, 1948 pg 7
Rites Tomorrow for Lt. John Duffy.
Lt John F. Duffy who was killed in a plane crash in England on May 5, 1945 after completing 31 missions over Germany as navigator with the 8th Air Force will be buried with military honors tomorrow in Holy Cross Cemetery. A solemn requiem mass will be offered at 10 am in Our Lady of Angels R. C. Church. Until shortly before the mass the body will be in the home of his mother Mrs. Jane Woods Duffy at 364 72d street where a memorial frites will be held at 8 o’clock tonight by the American Legion.
Lieutenant Duffy who wa s22 at the time of his death held the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and the Presidential citation. His father Edward Duffy died some time ago.
Born in Brooklyn, Lieutentant Duffy was graduated from the parish school of Our Lady of Angels and St. Michael’s High School. He had been employed by the American Gas and Electric Company of Manhattan. He was a student at St. John’s University when he enlisted in November 1942. He was an only Child.
B17 Fort Worth Jail House, 326SQ/92BG: 5 May 1945
Description of the Crash: 92nd Bomb Group (H) Fame’s Favored Few – Turner.
On the 5th, 1st Lt. Reginald L. Hammond, 326th, crashed and burned at Sidown Hill, killing six of the seven crew. In 10/10 fog, Hammond clipped tree tops at about 700 feet, breaking the wing tips. He pulled the aircraft up—bellying in on the top of the hill.
Wreckage was strewn for almost a mile down the far side of the hill. Casualties, in addition to the pilot, were: 1st Lt Robert L. Sprout, co-pilot; 2nd Lt John F. Duffy, navigator; 2nd Lt William J. Dutton, a passenger; T/Sgt Jacob Buikema, engineer, and S/Sgt Daniel Minkon. Only the radio operator, Technical Sergeant Nitti, who was badly injured, survived.
At the time of the accident, the B-17 crew had experienced a rather more spectacular career than the average:
Beginning their tour on Feb. 3rd, they had established a speed record in completing 33 missions by April 16th.
They had been named “Crew of the Week” for their persistence in bombing a target of opportunity on March 28th, after flak had severely damaged the aircraft and a turn-back would have been unquestioned.
On April 11th, a blown tire on take-off resulted in their plane exploding on the runway, with crew members safely away from the scene.
On May 18th, the DFC was posthumously awarded to Lt Hammond, in recognition of “extraordinary achievement” on a series of missions.”
Not an operational flight. The 92nd Bombardment Group had flown its last bombing mission of the war on the 25th April.
The group took part in the last major Eighth Air Force mission of the war, an attack on the Skoda works at Pilsen on 25 April 1945. This was the 92nd’s 310th mission. The group lost 154 aircraft in combat during its 310 missions.
Delivered Lincoln 16/9/44; Grenier 1/10/44; Assigned 326BS/92BG [JW-H] Podington 8/11/44, crash landed Sidow Hill, Wilts, UK with Reg Hammond 5/5/45 (1 survived); Salvaged 6/5/45.
Rhoten Smith (wife Barbara) (Pilot: July 1944-Jan 1945)
Smith and his crew were allowed to select their plane’s name, too, and picked “The Fort Worth Jailhouse,” because Smith, their pilot, was from Fort Worth, Texas.
“As a new crew with a new plane coming in, we were allowed to pick the name,” Smith says. “But about that time, President Roosevelt announced that soldiers fighting overseas would be allowed to vote in the election. The military re-named the plane `The Soldier’s Vote.’”
Smith flew the missions for six months – from July 1944 to January 1945 – when the crew completed the 35 missions and was sent home again
Story piece: Life and Death aboard a B17.
Killed in a Crash; Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4
While I’m not a relative of John Duffy, I know of him through my father, Frank Shields, who was a friend and classmate of John’s. They graduated together from High School in Brooklyn, NY in 1941; my father joined the enlisted reserve corps in October of 1942 and John enlisted in the Army Air Force in November of that year.
John went through basic training in early 1943 in Atlantic City, NJ, then to the University of Pittsburgh for physics and math courses, then on to the Nashville Army Air Center in Tennessee and finally to Maxwell Field in Alabama in the latter half of ’43. Although initially hoping to be a pilot, around March of 1944 he switched to navigator training, which he successfully completed. In early 1945 he shipped overseas to England with the 8th Air Force. His first mission over Germany was in mid-February of 1945, and by March 20 he had flown 19 missions.
I know all of this because John and my father were part of a group of friends who regularly corresponded with each other during the war, and my father saved most of those letters. I have several letters from John Duffy to my father and even more letters from friends of theirs sharing news about each other.
John’s death came as a great blow to one friend in particular, whose name was John Collon. Collon wrote to my father expressing his anguish at Duffy’s death and made a very moving tribute to Duffy. One passage in particular is noteworthy:
“He did nothing that was expected of him; he did everything that was required of him; and that practice has lifted him to be a hero. I am sure his blood is this day a rose, upon England’s land, taught by his body and spirit, to assume the fairest aspect, according to its substance, before God’s eye and ours.”
John Duffy was an only child, and his father, who had been in poor health for a while, died just a few months after John did. That left his mother, Jane Duffy, as a childless widow. Collon was with the US Legation in Cairo when he received the news about Duffy, but sometime after he returned to the US he decided to take care of Mrs. Duffy. In 1982, Collon wrote to my father that “being with her all these years, simply as friends, no more, has been the most pleasing as well as edifying experience of my life.” It’s unfortunate that Collon pre-deceased Mrs. Duffy by 3 years, so it’s not clear what her final years were like. But Collon is buried in the Duffy family plot in Brooklyn, along with John, his mother and father.
Almost all of the information above is from the letters that my father collected. Unfortunately, I didn’t know of their existence until my father had died. But since then I’ve scanned many of the letters (including all of the letters written during the war years) and have made them available at a website. Anyone who wishes to know more about Duffy, Collon, my father or their friends is welcome to read the letters. I have also created some web pages for those friends who appear in the letters most often; both Duffy and Collon have their own pages.
To read more about Duffy, his web page can be found at: http://www.woodandcraft.com/Frank/RoguesGallery/Duffy_John.html.
Thank you for your tribute to these men. Without the hardships and sacrifices they and their entire generation had to endure, our world would be a very different place.
F. Jay Shields
Thank you for this valuable information Jay, and what a beautiful tribute your father wrote. We are hoping that we can all stand together this weekend and pay tribute to those who serve and those who save. As you say, our world would be unimaginable without their sacrifice.
John F.Duffy Hello F. Jay Shields . I would love for you to contact me … I am the owner of John F Duffy’s Pontiac .
Jay , can you please contact me re: John F Duffy