On June 28 1944, the peace of a forest in the Rodophy mountain in southern Bulgaria was shattered by the crash of a U.S. B-24 Liberator bomber from the 828 BS of the 15th Air Force. It was returning from a mission after bombing the Ploesti oilfields in Romania, where it had taken heavy damage. No longer able to keep the plane in the air, the young pilot, a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, directed his crew to bail out. But the automatic pilot function in his plane was damaged - the young lieutenant had to fly the plane himself while his crew jumped to safety. Of the ten men that made up the crew of B-24 # 42-52701, only one, that heroic pilot, did not survive. That young man was Lieutenant John Crouchley.

Lieutenant John Crouchley and wife