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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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Major Jerry Aircrew’s used to rub Jerry’s back for good luck ahead of missions

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The ‘Tail’ of Major Jerry

Suzie Harrison, American Battle Monuments Commission, Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial, tells us the remarkable and moving story of the US Dalmation who took to the skies in WW2

Published on December 18, 2019



Young Lewis Frederick described his ‘civilian’ occupation as actor, when he volunteered as a Cadet with the Air Corps in October 1941. He became a larger than life character during his service career.

After training, Lewis was assigned to the 14th Squadron, 61st Troop Carrier Group, rising rapidly through the ranks. By spring of 1942 he had teamed up with his best buddy Jerry, and they flew together via the southern Atlantic route, to take part in the campaigns of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Jerry was an able observer, capable of spotting other aircraft well before anyone else.

Charismatic Lewis, nicknamed ‘Freddy’, was such an excellent pilot, that he soon came to the notice of the media. However, it may not have been just his deeds that brought Freddy attention. His friend Jerry also made the limelight. The two buddies featured in magazines such as ‘Life’ and ‘Stars and Stripes’. Freddy always just one rank ahead of Jerry.

By the time they arrived in the UK prior to D-Day, Freddy and Jerry had logged well over a thousand flight hours. Unfortunately, the then, Capt. Jerry, was brought down to earth with a bump, when he fell afoul of the British Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, who ordered him quarantined!

Jerry in a specially made parachute Jerry wearing the parachute that had been specially made for him by squadron members; his rank badges attached to his collar.

Therefore, although Freddy flew and dropped paratroopers on D-Day, Jerry was not with him. Freddy was one of the first to land. During his de-brief on 6 June, and with a big grin, he is quoted as saying, ‘Well...Europe’s all invaded to hell’. His faithful K9 had become squadron mascot, so when Jerry returned to work, aircrew still continued to rub his back for ‘good luck’.

Completing his tour, the Army Air Force had one more task for Freddy before he could go home. He transferred to the more technically advanced B-24 Liberators which were being retro-fitted with huge fuel tanks; the precursors of the modern refuelling aircraft.

The flight on 18 December 1944 was a training flight, and Major Jerry sat between the two pilots. The formation aircraft were all piloted by highly experienced air crew. Instructors were on board to train the men and monitor these transition flights. Perhaps the crews were a little de-mob happy, but by all accounts it was a rather light-hearted affair.

Shortly after take-off, a second C-109 in the formation (piloted by 1 Lt Daniel C Wolf), dipped underneath Freddy’s ‘Lazy Lou’, coming up under the port engines. Wolf’s aircraft crashed immediately, but ‘Lazy Lou’ wallowed on in an attempt to make it back to the airfield. In a bid to avoid a cottage, the loss in air speed caused the aircraft to stall and a wing tip hit the ground. Four of the ‘crew’ were thrown free, including Major Jerry; the remainder were trapped in the burning wreckage. Loyal Jerry crawled back into the debris to find his master.

Both Freddy and Jerry were badly burned. Lt Col Lewis S Frederick, 25, died of his injuries that day; Jerry was taken back to Barkston Heath and was looked after in a special pen. They called in a young veterinary surgeon from Grantham, but Jerry succumbed to his injuries the day after Christmas. He is buried at Barkston Heath airfield. Freddy is buried at Cambridge, D-2-48.

In 2020, Cambridge American Cemetery will be marking VE Day with a special ceremony on Friday 8 May. In order to honor those who sacrificed their lives fighting for all our freedoms, staff are planning to roll out our ‘Faces of Cambridge’ project. Since its inception in 2017, we and our volunteers have been researching to be able to put more faces to the names. Over 50% of those commemorated at Cambridge now have a photograph. These images will be displayed on the weekend beginning 8 May. On May 25, the Cemetery hosts its annual Memorial Day ceremony. For more details, go to www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/cambridge-american-cemetery

Bibliography:
What ever happened to you Lazy Lou? Bristow, D. Barny Books: barnybooks.co.uk

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