years of underwater work made by Aéro-Re.L.I.C on La Ciotat's P-38 site
were necessary to do the identification : the twin-engine was piloted
by second lieutenant James G Riley Jr, who die in his machine january
The enquire made on this plane, is close to a
second P-38 wreck discovered quite intact by Marcel Camilleri, of
Lecques, and which lay on its back, less than 3 marine miles east of La
Ciotat(Pilot : s/lt Harry H. Greenup ).
January 27, 1944, the 14th Fighter Group of 15th
USAAF, equipped with P-38 Lightning, escort B-17 bombers coming to
destroy the airfield of Salon-de-Provence.
We are in during d-day of Anzio's beaches , and the
allies don't progress advance, because there is a lot of German air
raids, coming from the bases located in the Rhône's delta.
The bombardment of Salon-de-Provence's aifield will
be proceed under a terrible Flak, while German fighters are still
working : they are 3 times in number than the allied escort!
One B-17 will be shot down (crash in the area of
Lançon-de-Provence), while 2 P-38 will not return... of which that of
January 15, 1994, we made our first diving of
recognition on the site. J.P. Joncheray gave us the terrestrial
reference marks : "up to us to work now to identify this
It will be necessary to wait the year 2000 to
identify the plane thank to the reception of document founded by J. K
Mattison, in the USA.
We learned that it was the plane of James G Riley,
P-38 type G, serial 43-2543, who disappeared in flames at sea in La
Ciotat's bay, shot down by the combined shootings of German Flak and
In october 2002, we were
located by... a charming american retired lady named Jean Martin-Riley!
It was the widow of James who had echo, by the 14th FG veterans
association with were in contact, that : "French divers" discovered her
husband's P-38 always reported missing in action!.
Nothing much was
necessary, Mrs Riley make as soon as possible a long trip over Atlantic
to came visiting us in may 2003.
So was going to be
deposited, on the surface of the sea at the vertical of James G Riley
Jr.'s P-38 wreck, a splendid sheaf of flowers which was going in
finality bringing an interior peace to his widow who had waited this
moment for... 59 years.