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British Flyer Drowns


The St. Marys Oracle, January 20, 1944

British Flyer Drowns in the River near St. Marys 

His companion parachuted to safety – plane lights on Ohio side, and burns.

When their plane was disabled Friday afternoon, Two British flyers baled out, near Lock No. 16, about nine miles above this city. Squadron Leader R. S. Harmon, 25, of the Royal Air Force, parachuted to safety on the West Virginia side of the river, while the pilot, Fighter Leader B. B. Howe, 28, plunged into the Ohio River and was drowned. His body was recovered about 7:30 Sunday evening, and was found about 200 feet from where he went in the river two miles above Locke 16. The plane was en route from Dayton, Ohio to Boiling Field, Washington, D. C. and Squadron Leader Harmon returned to Washington Friday night.

The disabled plane crashed against a hillside on the Ohio side of the river and burned. Harmon managed to land against a hillside, but Howe apparently unable to direct his parachute, plunged into an air pocket the ice-filled Ohio River. He managed to break loose from his parachute harness just before he plunged in the river. He was about midway of the river and remained afloat for about 15 minutes. He was seen struggling to climb upon the ice, which was so thin it broke at every attempt to climb upon it, and probably exhausted and benumbed with cold he sand and drifted under the ice, while hasty efforts were being made to rescue him. 

Charles Kemp of Bens Run, Glen Triplet and Ray Williams, both of St. Marys hunting on a farm near, witnesses the descent of the two flyers.

Both men had engaged in many flights of the R. A. F. Harmon being credited with twenty-seven bombing raids over Germany. The two were very close friends: Harmon was engaged to be married to a lady in St. Louis this week, and Howe was to have been his best man at the wedding. We understand that Howe leaves a wife, and child in England. 

They had been sent to this country to serve as trainers in the field.

The pilot’s body was brought to the Ruttencutter Funeral home to await the arrival of representatives of the British embassy of Washington D. C. The body was shipped from Parkersburg Tuesday evening to Washington and burial was made in Arlington Cemetery. Six members of the American Legion Post No. 79, of this city accompanied the remains to Parkersburg, F. E. Rabel, O. S. Hissom, K. P. Russell, C. L. VanValey, C. L., Henthorn and S. D. Piercy