During september 10 to september 11, 1944's night, a B-17 called "Miss Charlotte", taking along on her board 9 crewmen, flies over the Mediterranean sea in direction of the mountainous zone of Cuneo, in Italian Piemont with mission : dropping 14 containers and 4 big packs of approximatively 1/4m3 to the Italian Piemontese underground.
The weather was very bad in this sector, and the plane taken in a terrible snowstorm, will go too much north of its drop-zone, in a place where the alpine peaks largely exceed 10000 feet, whereas the envisaged flight's altitude was... 7000 feet!.
In Sestrière, Italian ski resort, located not far from Montgenèvre, close to Briançon, a soldier in faction at the guardroom, the captain Vittorio Bianco, drink a coffee cup.
The night is totaly black, when suddenly, coming from the south, a characteristic buzz from a lonely plane is heard.
Surprised, the officer warmly equipped left the guardroom for better locate from where comes this noise. It seem's that a big plane flies in the mountains?
Then, the echo decrease, suddenly a short lightning followed by a red/orange gleam, illuminates instantaneously the mount Gran Mioul's peak, while few seconds later, a terrifying explosion is heard.
The B-17 "Miss Charlotte", has just hit the northern face of the mountain, which is localised approximately 12.5 miles in the south of the captain Bianco's location.
None of the 9 crewmen survives at the crash. This lost of a crew recently arrived from the USA, was the first lost in operation of the 885th Bomber-Group!
48 years later (July 12, 1992), our team located the wrecks of the B-17 on the Northern wall of Gran Mioul, disseminated from the top of the mountain (10000 feet hight), to the foot, this is almost more than 1 miles.
One year later, July 20, 1993, the two sisters of radio-operator Ernest Kolln (which we had located in the USA. thanks to the assistance of John K Mattison, veteran of the 885th Squadron Special which had known the crew of the Miss Charlotte), came on the crash site where had been this tragedy.
It was, for us, the occasion to seal a plate in the memory of this crew on the wall of one Gran Mioul's farm, located on the western side of the mountain.
Click to enlarge