This story involves a very interesting incident. On June 6, 1948, a Dutchman by the name of F.M.A. Rooyakkers, from Eindhoven, Holland, wrote the British Air Ministry, London, enclosing seven photographs of a crashed American aircraft. He advised he was a deported Dutch workman in Germany and an eyewitness to an air raid on Leipzig; that the Germans had taken some pictures and they were enclosed. He was interested enough to state, "Maybe you can use them for inquiry or registration. I should like to hear something about the good receipt of the pictures." In August, 1948, receipt was acknowledged and the file was turned over to the proper U.S. Air Force authorities. The plane was identified as the one Crew 5303 lost. Another interesting note: In our early communication, Mrs. O'Brien sent me a large picture of the crew made in front of a B-17. She had knowledge somewhere along

the way their plane was nicknamed PAPER DOLL. She asked if I had come across anything about the PAPER DOLL in any of my research. I had not and did not, even though I tried.

The German Report of May 30, 1944 stated, "Furthermore, a squadron insignia - a bathing nymph... In addition to this, 25 yellow printed bombs and five red swastikas on the front."

Another report: "Type of Aircraft: Boeing B-17G, Fortress, Roman Letters: PAPER DOLL (beside insignia) Roman number II, No. K 42-107052 J." Ain't that something! The yellow bombs indicated the plane had 25 missions. The swastikas said five German aircrafts had been shot down. Two of the seven photographs clearly show all of these markings. Sonny's crew had not made 25 missions - probably another crew used the plane until their maximum missions were completed, then Crew 5303 took it over. STRANGE - the action of one unknown individual in a far part of the world over 50 years ago answered the question of a woman in Texas about PAPER DOLL. It is very possible the pictures permitted the American Graves Registration Command to locate, recover and return those brave airmen to their native land and loved ones.

According to the Internet web site, www.447bg.com, the 447th Bomb Group Association's site - the following information was obtained on the B-17 which Crew 5303 flew on May 29, 1944:

Manufacturer Model
Serial Group
AAF Serial Number
Delivered to USAAF
Assigned to 447th 
Disposition Date
710SQ; MIA Leipzig 5/29/44 w/Moran; flak, cr Seergeritz, Ger;
05/29/44 MACR (Missing Air Craft Report) 5303 

The Eighth Air Force dispatched 993 B-17s and B-24s, 888 of which uploaded on their assigned targets. The 1st Division, in attacking aircraft industries deep in eastern Germany near the Polish border, downed 22 Luftwaffe fighters. The 2nd Division B-24s attacked oil and air depot targets at Politz and Tutow. This force shot down 29 enemy fighters. The enemy lost 11 fighters to 3rd Division B-17s. The losses for all three Divisions totaled 34 bombers, 3.8 percent of the 888 completing the mission and 3.4 percent of the total dispatched. The fighter escort for all three Divisions was made up of 673 Eighth AF planes. They destroyed 39 Luftwaffe fighters in the air and 16 on the ground, all but one by P-51s. Fighter losses for this mission is not contained in the files I have supporting this document. The Luftwaffe lost a total of 117 fighters on that fateful day. At this point in the war, the Allies had air supremacy in the skies of Europe - with the one nemesis being the flak in and around the targets.

There is absolutely no defense against flak, except chance and luck. As the formation approached the target area, there could be no deviation or repositioning. It had to be straight ahead on target course. The Germans simply filled the air with a blanket, or box, of flak at the altitude of the formation - knowing the pilots had to fly through it. The air would be full of black smoke clouds created by exploding anti-aircraft shells, a certain "hell" each man had to enter, not having any assurance of a successful exit.

During the 20 months, December 24, 1943, to late April 1944, the 447th Bomb Group flew 258 missions with over 8,000 aircraft sorties in which 94 airplanes were lost or failed to return, and 40 crew members were known KIA, 125 wounded, and 870 missing. To dispatch 8,000 planes and have 7,906 return, .9883 is an extremely good "return."