(WTAJ) — A World War II pilot from Pennsylvania has finally been accounted for nearly 80 years after his plane went down in England.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William B. Montgomery, 24, of Ford City, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II, was accounted for Jan. 10, 2023.
DPAA said that in the summer of 1944, Montgomery was assigned to the 844th Bombardment Squadron, 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force. On June 22, Montgomery was piloting a B-24H Liberator that was struck by anti-aircraft after a bombing raid on a German airfield in Saint-Cyr-l’École, near Versailles, France.
Despite the damage to the B-24 Liberator, Montgomery’s piloting skill allowed him to nurse the aircraft until it was over the English coast, at which point he ordered his crew to bail out. Seven of the airmen parachuted successfully while the other three crew members, including Montgomery, were still on board. Two of the crew witnessed the aircraft crash into a farm in West Sussex, England.
Beginning in 1946, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), Army Quartermaster Corps, was the organization tasked with recovering missing American personnel in the European Theater. In November 1947, AGRC investigators searched the area of the crash site, but they did not discover the remains of any other crewmembers. Montgomery was declared non-recoverable May 10, 1950.
A local aviation archaeology group attempted to excavate the crash site in 1974, to search for aircraft parts. A number of DPAA investigation and recovery efforts took place in 2017 and 2019, with a June 2021 recovery mission finding possible human remains and material evidence.
To identify Montgomery’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), analysis.
Montgomery’s name is recorded on the Wall of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Cambridge, United Kingdom, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Montgomery will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on a date yet to be determined.