Leavitt, G. N.

The Gerald N. Leavitt crew: 710th Squadron

Leavitt crew at Harvard, October 1943, with Piccadilly Ann, 42-31210

As given in embarkation orders, Harvard AAB, 11/8/43

Lt. Gerald N. Leavitt Pilot
Lt. Carrol Greshan Co-Pilot
Lt. Walter Kolodziejczyk Navigator
Lt. James W. Ferry Jr. Bombardier
Sgt. Harry V. Coleman Engineer
Sgt. Murray Wasserman Radio Operator
Sgt. Dewey “Dusty” Rhodes Waist Gunner L  (KIA 6/19/44)
Sgt. Forest N. Lowry Waist Gunner R
Sgt. Arthur L. Varnau Ball Turret Gunner
Sgt. Clairmont D. Hohensee Tail Gunner



Rattlesden, late spring 1944. Probably photographed with 41-102651 Piccadilly Ann II

NOTE: This photo (filename crew1) was on previous website’s page for the Leavitt crew, but also is repeated on the McDermott and North crew pages. May have been a “template” error.




10/43 – 11/43 Harvard, Nebraska
11/43 In Transit by air, 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
11/43 – 5/44 710th Squadron, Rattlesden, UK
Missions flown: 30


The following missions have been identified for Lt. Gerald Leavitt as 1st pilot, and may not represent all of the missions flown by Leavitt or his crew.

Combat Missions

12/30/43 LUDWIGSHAFEN 42-31082
1/5/1944 MERIGNAC 42-31160
1/11/1944 BRUNSWICK 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
1/21/1944 NOBALL NO. 107 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
1/29/1944 FRANKFURT 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
1/30/1944 BRUNSWICK 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
2/3/1944 WILHELMSHAVEN 42-31112 Paper Doll
2/4/1944 FRANKFURT 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
2/10/1944 BRUNSWICK 42-97484
2/13/1944 NOBALL NO.S 110, 78  42-97484
2/21/1944 DIEPHOLZ 42-31563
2/24/1944 ROSTOCK 42-39865
2/25/1944 REGENSBURG 42-31112 Paper Doll
2/29/1944 BRUNSWICK 42-31112 Paper Doll
3/4/1944 BERLIN – RECALL 42-31210 Piccadilly Ann
3/15/1944 BRUNSWICK 42-31902 Stormy Weather I
3/27/1944 MARIGNAC CHARTRES 42-31902 Stormy Weather I
04/01/44 LUDWIGSHAFEN 42-38164 Virginia Lee I
04/29/44 BERLIN 42-97538 Dallas Dottie
05/28/44 KONISBURG 42-102651 Piccadilly Ann II
06/07/44 NANTES (π) 43-37544 D-Day Doll
06/12/44 CONCHES A/F (π) 42-102651 Piccadilly Ann II
06/20/44 FALLERSLABEN KONINGSBORN 42-102651 Piccadilly Ann II
06/21/44 BERLIN 42-102651 Piccadilly Ann II
06/23/44 ST. QUENTIN 42-102651 Piccadilly Ann II
06/28/44 DENIAN-PROUVY (π) 42-102651 Piccadilly Ann II
07/08/44 ST. ANDRE DE L’EURE / NOGENT M/Y (π) 43-37541 Down and Go


From the Public Relations Office,

447th Bomb Group, Rattlesden

This is the only known reference to the aircraft 42-31210 as “Buccaneer.”  In all other records, the aircraft’s name “Piccadilly Ann” is well-established.

Quick thinking and courage on the part of Staff Sergeant Arthur L. Varnau, 26, ball turret gunner on the Flying Fortress, “Buccaneer” saved the lives of two of his fellow crew members. Sgt. Varnau’s crew were flying their eighth mission over enemy territory, the target was Frankfurt, one of Germany’s largest industrial and rail centers. As the plane reached the target, she was me by a heavy concentration of flak, one burst tore through the nose of the ship, glanced off the navigator’s table, hitting both the Navigator, 2nd Lt. Marion O. McGurer, 23, of Athens, Michigan, and the Bombardier, 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Burrell, 23, of San Diego, California, in the leg. Both of the officers informed the pilot of their plight. Sgt. Varnau, his own gun rendered useless because of a damaged sight,  immediately went to their aid. Reaching the nose of the ship he found the Bombardier stretched our in the doorway; he quickly applied a tourniquet to his leg and helped him to his seat. He followed the same procedure with the Navigator and after making them both as comfortable as possible he turned his attention to the ship which thought damaged badly by flak, was still heading for the target, which was only a few minutes away.

Realizing that both Navigator and Bombardier were out of action, he saw that it would be his job to drop the bombs. Without a moment’s hesitation, he opened the bomb bay doors and prepared to release the Buccaneer’s special gift to Frankfurt. Over the target he dropped his bombs and watched with satisfaction as he saw them hurtling downward in their journey of destruction.

Sgt. Varnau now resumed his attentions to the two men injured in the nose. The Bombardier’s leg was still bleeding badly, Sgt. Varnau applied another tourniquet and gave the officer some morphine to ease the pain. It was then that he began to notice his own predicament: his oxygen supply from his walk-around bottle was almost gone, there was no way of getting fresh oxygen in the nose, both the injured men needed all the oxygen they could get. If it had not been for the sudden appearance of a German fighter on the scene, Sgt. Varnau would probably not be around to tell this story today. In order to avoid the fighter, the Buccaneer went into a steep dive seeking protection in the clouds. She was flying at about 17,000 feet, this permitting Sgt. Varnau to take off his mask and replenish his oxygen supply.

For the remainder of the journey homeward, Sgt. Varnau rose in the nose looking after the injured crew members. Upon reaching their home station safely, the two men were taken to the station hospital and the flight surgeon commended Sgt. Varnau for the skillful way in which he had handled the difficult situation, for it was undoubtedly his First Aid that saved the lives of the two men. For Sgt. Varnau it was just another scene in the continuous drama that goes on in the Flying Forts every time they take off on a bombing assault on Fortress Europe.

Bombardier Lt. Thomas Burrell (Huckins crew, 711th) and navigator Lt. Marion McGurer (Gilleran crew, 708th) were both flying on this 4 February 1944 mission as replacements with the Lt. Gerald Leavitt crew. Sgt Varnau was decorated for his actions on the recommendation of Lt. Leavitt and the group’s commanding officer, Col. Hunter Harris.


One week later, the Leavitt crew again came to the attention of the PR office in this article written on the 10 February 1944 mission to Brunswick (Branschwieg):

Staff Sergeant Forest L. Lowry, 22, of Redkey, Ind., is the left waist gunner on the Flying Fortress “Piccadilly Ann” that was with the formation of the Eighth Air Force that went out to pound the vital German industrial targets in Brunswick, Germany. The Luftwaffe put in the air all the fighters they could muster to meet the determined assault of the Fortresses.

Sgt. Lowry tells of his part in the great air battles that ensued: “The Jerries were attacking pretty regularly, as someone said, ‘it was a devil’s merry-go-round.’ There must have been at least twenty-five or thirty attacks on my left waist gun position. They stayed with us and kept up running attacks on our formation that lasted for two hours, from the time we entered enemy territory until the time we left it.”

“About two minutes after we left the target area, two Messerschmitt 110’s came in together. One peeled off and I opened fire on the one that kept coming ion towards my gun position. I kept firing, more or less steadily, until he passed underneath our ship. Our ball turret gunner, Staff Sergeant Arthur L. Varnau, 23, of 1809 N. Oakland Street, Arlington, Va., saw the Kessie turn over and a German bail out before his ship went into a cloud.” “Some of the Nazi’s were more successful than the one I shot down. I saw two fortresses blow up and go down. At one time an old fortress with a German crew passed very close to us. They grinned and waved as they went by. There were parachutes, both German and American, floating all around.”

“Our ship did not escape injury. The astrodome, the small glass lookout the Navigator uses to set a course, was knocked out; the fuselage was split, there were 20mm holes in the engine cowling and flak holes in the tail. This was my sixth mission and I hope I will never have another one as rough. Not one of our crew had a scratch but we were very tired. It was all we could do to carry our equipment to the supply room.”

A graduate of Redkey High School, Sgt. Lowry is the son of Mrs. Orie E. Lowry of Redkey. He was employed as a glass worker by the Indiana Glass Company of Dunkirk, Ind. before entering the AAF in September, 1942.


Walter Kolodziejczyk; Navigator








Some photos/information provided by:
Mr. Lance Leavitt

Some information and/or images sourced from the American Air Museum database