A friend's father was a nose gunner in a B-17 during WWII. In 1945, he was shot down near Poznan, Poland, survived the crash and was captured by the Soviets. My friend provided the following information on his father:

B-17 Name: Frigid Fanny
385th Bombardment Group, 550th Bomb Squadron
Sergeant Robert Willis Crider
Serial # 35 556 619

Can anyone please provide information on the best way to research this B-17 or information surrounding the event? Since I am new to historical research, any advice would be most welcome.

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    This may be useful: William Whitfield Varnedoe, Charles W. Lundsberg (III), The 385th Bomb Group, 8th Army Air Force, World War II : History and Data. 385th Bomb Group Association 2015, 255 pp. The 385th Bomb Group Association appears to have a Facebook presence (I am not on Facebook so I cannot confirm), you may be able to find people there that can help you identify relevant resources such as publications or archives.
    – njuffa
    Dec 20, 2023 at 4:12
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    Could this be the B-17 in question (seems to be operated by a different unit, though): "43-38929 delivered Lincoln Oct 12, 1944, to Grenier Oct 22, 1944. Assigned to 337th BS, 96th BG at Snetterton Nov 1, 1944. Damaged on mission to Zwickau, Germany Mar 19, 1945 and force landed Poznan, Poland. Crew OK. Aircraft to USSR"
    – njuffa
    Dec 20, 2023 at 4:44
  • This looks like a great book for reference, I'll check it out. Thanks!
    – MSF
    Dec 20, 2023 at 15:11
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    Sorry for the tangent but I'm curious about the concept of Americans captured by Soviets during WW2. Does "captured" imply they were held as POWs, even though the two countries were allied (at this point)? Dec 20, 2023 at 15:29
  • I'm unsure. I found and read through MACR #13141 and the crew reported that they were shot down by two Russian Fighters after making it to Poland - the crew stated they didn't know if they were actual Russian or German pilots which was interesting. The report stated that one of the crew was killed during this attack. Once on the ground, they were captured, received medical care and then eventually sent via ship to Naples, Italy. I'm also curious what US Airmen status would be under the Russians during the end of the war.
    – MSF
    Dec 20, 2023 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


See below, is this your Robert W Crider?

Actually he shows up as a gunner in a B-17G #42-102481 “Kentucky Winner” (385BG/550BS) crashing near Grodzisk, Poland, 18 Mar 1945. You will need the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) #13141; it's about 20 pages in all. These are pages 1, 17 & 18.

Couple of hours later after a reminder, though I first found this information through the pay site Fold3, a little later sleuthing found the report on the NARA site here: Missing Air Crew Report number 13141

Something I'll try to keep in mind.

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    Sorry, somehow managed to do this twice.
    – R Leonard
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:12
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    This is great information! Can I ask how you found this MACR and where I can find the full version including the other crew members accounts? I do believe this is the same Robert Crider - the SN number matches though this written account differs from the one my friend related to me. According to my friend, his dad told the story that there were 3 survivors from the crash, they were captured by the Russians and were transported around Eastern Europe prior to be released back to the US.
    – MSF
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:33
  • I guess there's also the possibility that his aircraft was shot down multiple times. I'd think that time and distance between the events and when the story was told might make memories fuzzy as well. Do you know if there is any way to determine the crash location? Would be very interesting to visit the site if at all possible.
    – MSF
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:37
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    MACR for this incident was found on the Fold3 site here fold3.com/image/29443880/29443880. Don't know if there is free access to this report (I have an account for my research purposes), but you can sign up for a free 7 day trial account. Best way is search American records, MACRs, 1945 and filter by the aircraft number (42-102481).
    – R Leonard
    Dec 20, 2023 at 15:19
  • This is great, thank you for the information - very helpful!
    – MSF
    Dec 20, 2023 at 19:03

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