Lady Be Good

I’m not talking about the 1924 Broadway show that featured music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. I’m talking about a B-24D Liberator that vanished after a bombing run over Naples during World War II. That fateful day was April 4, 1943.

When I was a kid, my parents subscribed to LIFE Magazine – the weekly news journal that was published from 1883 to 1972.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on LIFE when it walked in the door.  Simple kid that I was – I loved the pictures.  And the armchair adventure.  And I remember with clarity a day in 1960 when I learned that a mysterious B-24 Liberator that had been spotted a year before deep in the Sahara had been identified as the Lady Be Good.

The Lady Be Good on that early April day – was staffed by a newbie crew of nine – just one week off the boat.  Their first mission was a big one.  A night bombing run over Naples harbor.  The Lady Be Good took off with 25 other bombers from Soluch Field in Libya.  Near Benghazi.  Most of the bombers returned to base within a few hours — because of high winds.  But the noble Lady pressed on.  And ended up dumping her bombs in the Med.  And the Lady with its nine souls – began the return trip – alone.  In the black of night, the plane overflew the base and continued on.  Deep into the Libyan Desert.   The pilot believed the desert below was the ocean.  So they continued.  Until they ran out of fuel.  And the crew bailed out. . . . . .

In February 1960, the U.S. Army visited the plane and conducted a formal search for the remains of the crew.  Eight of the nine were found.  And in August 1994 the remnants of the plane were removed from the site.  Only one member of the crew – S/Sgt. Vernon L. Moore of New Boston, Ohio – was never found.  His body still rests – where it fell – 73 years ago. . . . .  

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