The Story of the B17 Chow-hound

The story of the B17 “Chow-hound” continues 75 years after the plane was downed in Lonlay l’Abbaye, France. The families of the Thompson crew lost in the “Chow-hound” have developed a strong bond with the residents of this small village in Normandy, France. Flowers have been placed at the crash site every year by a resident who saw the crash from her home; she was just 10 years old at the time. Due to the efforts of a French organization, ANSA, the location of the crash site was provided to the US Department of Defense in 2001. The remains of three crew members, MIA for over 60 years, were recovered during the USDOD excavation of the site in 2004. Residents of Lonlay l’Abbaye participated in the excavation. A memorial was established in the Lonlay l’Abbaye town square with a plaque listing each of the crewmembers. A Military Funeral with Full Honors was held at Arlington Cemetery for the Thompson crew in 2006. The services were attended by more than 75 family members; a representative of ANSA also attended. A display was dedicated to the “Chow-hound” at the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona Museum in Mesa, AZ in 2007. Two representatives of ANSA attended the dedication. One of the representatives, a member of the French Resistance, donated a propeller of the “Chow-hound” which he had kept in his barn since the crash. A wing of the “Chow-hound”, which separated from the fuselage, rested in another farmer’s field until it was repatriated by the 514th Air Mobility Wing (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ – JBMDL) in 2011. The wing is the centerpiece of a permanent display at JBMDL air passenger terminal honoring the crew. The dedication ceremony in 2015 was attended by a large number of family members. In 2015, the family of a crewmember visited the crash site, and with the assistance of ANSA, found more “Chow-hound” artifacts. One of the artifacts turned out to be to the flak jacket which belonged to their relative. A book published in 2019, The Chow-hound by Bruce Brittain, documents the story of the “Chow-hound”. Mr. Brittain is a relative of one of the crewmembers. Family members who have visited the crash site and memorial in Lonlay l’Abbaye have been warmly hosted by the residents and have participated in remembrance ceremonies for the crew. Most recently, a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the crash was held in August of 2019 and was attended by family members of the crew. Continuing the French tradition of being grateful and giving back, an ANSA representative requested that the attendees bring back a dog tag recently recovered at another crash site and ensure that it was delivered to the family of the fallen soldier. We think the Armed Forces Heritage Museum is an ideal relationship for the “Chow-hound” website – it is telling the history of the war and keeping the memory alive.

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