histoire d'une forteresse volante abbattue à Saint-Colomban, près de Nantes, le 4 juillet 1943
1943 - 2004
July 3,4,5, 2004
# 42-5053
crash on July 4, 1943
in St-Colomban
Focke Wulf
into grand-lieu lake
10 young
american boys
B17 technical
Ralph D. McKee
(his escape)
Pilot escape
thanks to
american families
crewmembers families

written by his wife Polly Hulett (Arkansas), in 2004
(Translation made by Corinne Pouvreau and David Grant)

William Mooney, left waist gunnerJuly 4, 1943, my husband-W.O. Hulett, volunteered to fly a mission, I understand it was his 25th mission and he wanted to complete it so he could come back to the United States and train to be a fighter pilot. On that day, he was in the ball-turret and didn't have room for a parachute; the plane was hit by enemy fire and was burning badly. The men had orders to bail out, he got up from the ball-turret and was putting on his parachute and was walking towards the door, he had only one buckle buckled when he was hit by a 50 millimeters unexploded, he was hit in both legs and hip and had shrapnel in other parts of his body, he had one piece in his chest that was never removed - one piece worked out towards his hip in 1966 and was surgically removed. It was a rusty piece of metal about the size of a half walnut.

After he was hit in the plane, he passed out. Someone saved his life by pushing him out of the plane. He regained consciousness long enough to pull his cord but with only one buckle fastened, he went down sideways, and he landed in a field.

Some Frenchmen saw him go down and went to his assistance. He wanted water but all they had was wine, which probably helped ease some of his pain. The men made a makeshift tent over him with his parachute to help keep off some of the hot July sun. He always talked about how much he appreciated the Frenchmen who helped him. He was too badly hurt for them to help him escape as some of the others were helped; they had to call the German patrol to come get him to get medical care.

The Germans took him to some hospital, they moved him time after time, he was on a stretcher and both legs were in full casts. At one place he was in a room by himself with two guards with bayonets-guns to guard him-since my husband was a S/SGT, the guards had to be at least the rank the prisoner was, so they were older men and were CPLS, and my husband couldn't converse with them but they could communicate and he asked to see their gun and they let him look at it and they would slip him cigarettes and he would hide them in his casts. Food was very scarce, he went down from 170 lbs. to 90 lbs.

After months of being in medical facilities he was taken to a regular P.O.W. camp. When the guards would inspect the barracks everyone had to go outside-by that time it was very cold, some of the other prisoners would carry my husband outside and he had to lay on the ground-he said a man from New York that had been a professional football player took off his jacket and put it over my husband.

His parents didn't know for about 2 months if their son was alive or dead, they finally got a letter from a lady in Pennsylvania telling them that she had heard their son's name on a short-wave radio and that he was a prisoner of war, shortly after that the parents received the official report from the war department that indeed their son was alive and a prisoner of war.

He never really talked about the horrendous treatment the P.O.W.'s received. I believe the men blocked it from their minds, my husband would tell of the lighter things, his legs were in the old fashion traction where they used the sand bags for weights, the cleaning lady would hit the sand bags with her mop and it would be very painful, the prisoners were transported on what is called an open cattle car on the railroads in very cold weather, my husband had to lay on the ground beside the rail track until the train would arrive and women would spit on the prisoners, at that time he had no contact with any of the other crew members, he didn't know who was killed or who was alive, before he was hit inside the plane he did see crew members that were killed inside the plane.

In 1945 several attempts were made to repatriate some of the seriously wounded men - many attempts were aborted but finally my husband was on the Queen Mary ship and on his way to the USA. He was still in double casts, many doctors, some French, English and Germans had treated my husband - some told him he would never walk without double braces and crutches. He could remember begging them not to cut off his left leg, which some of them wanted to do, one of the Doctors was female and she understood that he was begging them to save his legs, all the ligaments were torn from the left foot by the mortar. He really suffered with left leg and foot and would have probably had less pain if it had been removed but he never regretted the decision to not have it taken off.

After arriving in the U.S.A., my husband was sent to an army hospital in Georgia for awhile, his family got to go visit him there, he asked for a transfer to an army hospital in Springfield, Missouri, which was closer to home; he was put in half casts there and started using crutches and was finally able to come to Arkansas to visit his family. Another Jackson County man - Mann Shoffner was in the same hospital and he would help my husband travel to visit his family.

My husband came out of the war without malice towards the Germans - without drugs or alcohol addictions, his attitude and outlook on life was fantastic, he loved life and loved to tease and joke. While wearing braces and on crutches and just before he was discharged from service he campaigned for the position of Jackson County Treasurer and won the election and served in that office for three terms {6 years}. He campaigned for the office of Jackson County Judge and won that election and served three terms {6 years}. At that time he was the youngest County Judge in the state of Arkansas. He left office in 1958 and went into the Insurance business.

W.O. had another traumatic time in his life. In February 1991 he had a bilateral temporal introcelebral hemorrhage (triple brain hemorrhage). He was in a hospital intensive care unit for 78 days, thankfully he didn't remember any of that. On the 78th. day, he was transported by ambulance to the Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was there for nearly 3 more months. It was a slow and traumatic process but he gradually improved. I brought him to Newport on July 29th, 1991. There were lots of problems but he did have some quality life and we were very thankful for the 7 more years. He went back into the hospital on December 1997; again he was taken to the Veterans hospital but he never got out this time, after 97 painful days he passed away on March 17,1998.

W.O. is the father of 4 children, 3 by another marriage, a son in Newport, Arkansas…Jerry Lynn Hulett and wife Diann; Jerry served in Germany in the Vietnam era, he was a Specialist 5th. Class. They are the parents of 3 daughters and have one grandson. Linda Hermes and husband Bobby of Conway, Arkansas, she is the mother of 3 children. Evelyn Garner and husband Cecil of Fort Smith, Arkansas and are the parents of 3 children. W.O. And I had one daughter, Donna Elizabeth Hofman and husband Jim of St. Louis, Missouri. They are the parents of 4 children. W.O. came from a large family, 6 brothers and 3 sisters. All 10 children graduated from High School in Swifton, Arkansas; their father was on the local school board and handed out the diplomas to each child as they graduated over the years. Several of the 10 children attended college with one son earning a PHD. W.O. attended business school in Little Rock, Arkansas. All 7 sons served in the Military in different wars, the 4 oldest served in WWII, all 4 served in foreign lands, and the 3 daughters husbands also served in the military. Makes on think of the movie "Saving Private Ryan". After my husband was taken as a POW, one of his brothers was in London walking down the street during a blackout; although it was pitch dark, the brother has a keen eye and he passed by a photo shop and my husband's picture was in the window; the brother went back the next day and got the picture. After my husband got back to the States he said he had the pictures made while he was on a pass and when he picked them up he left them in a taxi and when he didn't return for them the taxi driver took them back to the photo shop. The father and mother of these 10 children were great believers in religion, education and patriotism. Only 3 of the boys are still living, all 3 daughters are living. Both parents are deceased.

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you all for planning this memorial in St-Colomban, France. I am sure my husband and the other crewmembers would be very appreciative of this memorial. I know the descendents of these men will forever be grateful.

(2) Read Jean Chataigner


ADAMS crewmembers
stand up 1 2 3 4
sit down 5 6 7 8 9

Ralph McKee and William Hulett, before July 4, 1943, flew together with "Adams".
N°2 Ralph McKee
N°8 William Hulett

Memorial in Swifton
Photo of the memorial in Swifton erected in 2012 where the name of POW - W.O. HULETT is graved (Jackson county, Arkansas)

Polly Hulett
Polly Hulett, the widow of W.O. Hulett, in front of the memorial in Swifton in 2012

W.0. Hulett gravestone