2nd Lieutenant
Don P. Neff

1917 - December 16, 1943

Spokane, Washington - MIA

 


Don P. Neff was from Spokane, Washington. Not much is known about him. he was born in 1917.

Don joined the USAAF (probably on 28 March 1942 in Indiana, while he was living in Ohio. It is stated elsewhere he was from Spokane, Washington) and became an pilot with the 95th Bomb Group, operating out of Horham. Again, not much is known about his time in the USAAF.

He flew his last mission on 16 December 1943.  2Lt Neff and his crew took off in B-17 #42-30255 nicknamed "Lonesome Polecat II". The target for that day was the German city of Bremen.

 

412th Bomb Squadron

95th Bomb Group
 

His crew consisted of:

Pilot Frederick A. Delbern
Co pilot Don P. Neff
Navigator Royal L. Jackson
Bombardier Junius E. Woollen
Engineer Loren E. Dodson
Radio Operator Eugene F. Darter
Ball Turret Gunner Charles J. Schreiner
Left Waist Gunner Frank V. Lee
Right Waist Gunner Doral A. Hupp
Tail Gunner Robert T. McKeegan


The crew of the Lonesome Polecat II (picture courtesy of Mr. Michael Darter)

The 95th BG sent 40 planes on this mission. Take off from Horham started at 08.30. The flight path would take the bombers over the North Sea, north of The Netherlands, to Bremen. A few hours later they found themselves over the target.

Eugene's brother Michael continues:" Their aircraft was badly hit by both flak and fighters and fell out of formation with #3 engine feathered and #2 on fire and crew wounded. My brother, S/Sgt Eugene Darter, was hit in the radio room while shooting out the top of the plane at an attacking Me 109. He collapsed on the floor and was not found until 30 minutes later as the LP II approached the coast of Holland, loosing altitude and the pilots badly wounded. The bombardier (Ed Woollen), navigator (Pete Jackson), and top turret (Loren Dodson) had bailed out over Germany (and were badly wounded but became POW's and survived), but the men in the back of the plane had not heard the bailout command. Doral Hupp, ball turret, found Eugene and administered first aid, got his parachute on and got him up ready to bail, and as everyone else was getting ready to bail, watched him smile and say "I'll be all right" as he went out the rear hatch and disappeared into the total cloud cover below.

They all thought they would land (and die) in the North Sea, but the four remaining men (Doral Hupp, Charlie Schreiner, Bob McKeegan, and Frank Lee) miraculously landed on Texel Island, 20 miles out in the North Sea. They hit hard as the plane was only 3000 ft above the ground. The LP II was brought down skillfully by the injured pilots (Fred Delbern & Don Neff) through the fog ditching in the North Sea, just off the coast of Texel, but they did not get out of the plane which lies about 1000 ft off the beach near De Koog village.

S/Sgt Eugene Darter bailed out and landed just short of Texel shore.
Cornelius Ellen was located on Texel, who when 17 years old, witnessed an American airman suddenly come throught he fog and landed out in the Wadden Sea on the east side of Texel, crying for help, but could not get his parachute unbuckled (his arm was shot badly).  As Cornelius ran for a boat, Eugene was observed to be dragged off by the parachute out into the sea and never seen again.  "

2Lt Don Neff is commemorated at the Wall of the Missing at Margraten American Cemetery.

Eugene Darter's brother, Michael, has spent years researching the fate of the crew of the Lonesome Polecat II. He wrote a book "Fateful Flight of the Lonesome Polecat II" (ISBN 0-595-32588-2). Visit his website at www.lonesomepolecat.com for more information on the crew (then and now) and the mission.

 

See also:
Lt Frederick Delbern
S/Sgt Eugene Darter

Sources and Acknowledgements:
Mr. Michael Darter (www.lonesomepolecat.com)


Directions to the Cambridge American Cemetery

Posted 17 February 2007


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This website is dedicated to the men and women who died and/or are buried in The Netherlands during World War II.

 

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