Note attached by R. F.
Hanson: This is a letter from Hincewicz, our engineer after
I wrote him. Marco had found his address and sent it to me.
Robert Hansen ended up in the same compound with me, and he told
me Clarke had been asleep and never fired a shot and I don't
believe the heroic tale about tossing Luce out or he would have
mentioned it. No word was ever heard on the intercom from the
rear gunners and this exchange about me telling Chet they had
all left never happened. Chet's version of all this is not as it
was. I think it is because he had got knocked out and I think
was still not clear headed. The flame broke though in the radio
room, not in the bomb bay. When it did, I turned and hollered to
the pilots and when I got my chute, Chet had already jumped.
29, Dec. 2000
First, I must apologize for not answering your most
welcome letter with more speed. Truthfully, I've been swamped
with holiday tasks, even more so than usual at this time of the
year. Also, maybe it is because old age is finally getting to
me. Here at home, every thing is about normal again. My son and
daughter were here for Christmas Day and declared the turkey was
the best they had ever tasted!
Your letter was interesting, in that I had the same
reactions to some parts of the "News Story" by Mike Ciano. It
contains a lot of inaccuracies, but he must be forgiven because
we were all going through a very demanding experience. If a
fellow can do all the right things in a timely fashion without
losing his head in a violent situation - which we were in then
he has to be above average and well experienced. I think we did
our best, and without out the engine fire we could have made it
back to Old Blightey. I was knocked unconscious when I was hit. When I revived, I pulled
my release cable and dropped out of the turret. I immediately
inquired about the gunners and you replied they had all bailed
out. I never went back to the waist section so I never saw the
gunners again, until I saw Pete Clarke in Sept. 1944, London,
standing in a chow line! He told me about Luce and Ciano being
wounded, but never stated that Luce was tossed out. Pete Clarke
was very reticent about what had taken place in the waist
section and I did not want to press. We socialized about three or four days and then he left
for home. I continued to relax in London until the V-2 rockets
began to "come in" and I also left for home.
That smoke in the bomb bay, Dick, was from the
hydraulic fluid tank which took a hit from a 20mm shell and
ignited briefly. If we had made it back to England, we would
have made a crash landing or bailed out. When I convinced you
Dick, that we could make it back to the channel if we put out
the fire, you decided to stay awhile. I shall always remember
hanging in the open bomb bay with one arm and working that heavy
fire extinguisher through the hole into the No. two engine. I
thought we did extinguish it, but when I saw that blue
torch-like flame burning into the bomb bay I knew it had to be
burning into the wing. That meant an explosion could occur at
any time, and we would have been trapped. That's when I told
Pavelka we had to leave the plane.
I also gave you the word and you left, but no one in
the radio room was in a "panic". Neither you, nor I. I was angry
that we had to quit and after you left I put on my chest pack
but before I left the plane, I took my escape money packet and
tossed it back into the plane to burn up with the rest of the
gear. I did remember not to pull my rip cord until I was close
to the ground, so that saved me from immediate capture, The next
six months were stressful, but I learned a lot which helped me
in my personal and professional life. I still owe a lot to the
people in the Underground, Dick, which I was never able to
repay, but, we also made sacrifices, Dick.
All the gunners were gone when you and I decided to
leave the plane. I thought all the officers were "okay" at that
time. Gilsdorf did not say anything about Burt being injured.
Pavelka didn't have any thing to say pro or con so I also went
Ciano also stated erroneously about "rockets"
being fired, but at that time no fighters were equipped with
Well, back to the present, Richard. I hope you and
your wife had a happy and peaceful Christmas Day. It is the
finest holiday we humans have, I believe, because it gives us
hope and makes most of us introspective about ourselves and the
rest of this crazy American society. I do hope you are holding
your own with your eye problem. I have an eye cataract
developing, but the eye doctors say it is too soon for removal.
I think they are hopeful old age will take care of me first! I
did knock down two pheasants, but the birds are so scarce there
is not much shooting. I do enjoy the tramping through the brush
In closing, folks, if you are out this way, drop in.
I have an extra bed and we will have a good visit. ALL THE BEST
FOR GOOD HEALTH AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!