Season 1 Episode 6 Missing In Action

Directed: Byron Paul
Written: Birne Lay, Jr.
Released: 13 Nov 1962

This episode begins in the briefing room of the 465th Bomber Wing. I looked this up and there was actually never a 465th Bomber Wing but there was a 465th Bombardment Group.

465th
465th Bomber Wing briefing room

Colonel Hobey Japko, played by Howard Duff is doing the briefing and tells them about the next “milk run” that they’re going to be on; to bomb a rail yards that’s somewhere past Rouen. I couldn’t make out the place name.

This is something that’s strange. Combat takes place in the months following D-Day and the invasion of France. The lines are still adolescent in favor of the allies. By definition, a “milk run” is a bomber mission that involves relatively little danger. (mining the oceans, surveillance and spotting, that sort of thing) These so called “milk runs” only credited the crew with 1/3 of a mission. Here these guys were flying into a wall of anti-aircraft, flack fire as well as fighter protection and this should never have been called a “milk run”, in my opinion. With this type of anti-aircraft opposition, this should’ve been considered a full mission.

Colonel Japko’s B-24 gets hit and he’s forced to bail out over France along with the rest of his crew.

Cut to the guys in the squad looking into the woods as German flares go off, blinding the men in the mean time. They’re all warned by Sgt. Saunders that the Germans are sending in “infiltrators” that are dressed as Frenchmen. The men are extra vigilant to watch out for this type of person coming across their lines.

While another flare goes off, a guy stumbles across their lines, wearing civilian clothes. The guys see him, panic and all of them open up on him, critically injuring him.

fergus
Fergus feeling bad about shooting Lt. Tate.

It turns out that this man is Lt. Tate, a downed pilot who is from Col. Japko’s outfit. In his dying breath, he tells Saunders and Hanley about Col. Japko hiding behind enemy lines in a farmhouse.

Lt. Hanley is tasked with locating Col. Japko to bring him back to American lines. He chooses Caje, Braddock and Fergus, a new BAR man that I’ve never seen before.

Fergus was very upset that he shot Lt. Tate. They let Fergus carry this arc until his demise. You knew he was going to “get it” because he’s new to the show and he showed a personal moment. That’s usually how you know who the sacrificial lamb is going to be every episode.

They enlist Gallard, a French resistance Marquis fighter. Their plan is to sneak the men to the farmhouse in the back of a truck carrying cabbages to the market. Everybody crams in there very tight. Hanley had previously drawn M1 Carbines for everybody because of the cramp space so that is what everybody was carrying. This is probably the only time I saw Caje fighting with the Carbine vs the Garand.

They come to a road block and as expected, the German sentry, while looking in the back of the lorry, fires his MP-40 sub machine gun into it. Of course, it was Fergus who got it. I was sitting there saying to myself “I just knew it!”. Fergus just laid there, in pain and was forced to be silent while he was in agony. There was some pretty good acting there because you could actually feel the pain and what it would be like to be gut shot right there, where the liver is located.

Gallard finally pulls over and they now must continue on foot. Gallard gives Hanley a cigarette pack with a black feather in it. I was thinking how clever that was.

They get to the farmhouse. Fergus is being carried in a litter. Here’s something that I always found funny. This litter is made from two long round poles, around 10 – 12 feet long. Also, it has a bed for the wounded man to lay in. Where in the world would you find two poles in the middle of the night?

Hanley uses the secret cigarette pack while meeting a man at the door, another resistance member. (not credited) He pretends to not understand English but he understands it fully well. Even after he tells them that, they still keep insisting on speaking to him in French translated by Caje. He is a friend of Gallard. He is also the uncle of Denise.

Oh Denise. What can I say about her? Have you ever fantasized about what it would be like to be a pilot over war torn France and then getting shot down? Of course, this fantasy would have to involve getting rescued by an attractive young woman and nursed back to health and having the woman fall in love with you. That was Denise.

denise
Denise professing her love for Maj. Japko

I can imagine that menfolk were scarce during the war as they all went off to fight it. Denise had this manic attraction for Japko. It’s hard to know if this was a result of him being so attractive to her or perhaps because he was simply an available man. From the expressions on Japko’s face, I took it to mean that he cared for her yes, but also he didn’t consider her to be “the one”. He was very concerned about her and her family’s safety inquiring whether there was enough room in the back of the lorry, but space was maxed out.

In the mean time, Japko learns that it was Hanley’s men that shot Lt. Taft, who was a friend of his. Hanley tried to explain what happened but Japko wasn’t having any of it and continued throwing guilt at Hanley, which clearly wasn’t deserved.

Gallard had informed Hanley and Japko that there is a traitor in the midst of their organization. He brought up three examples of betrayal, which also included Lt. Taft’s.

Fergus dies of his wounds (as expected).

Denise is frantically trying to find a way to convince Hanley and also Japko for him to remain there at the farmhouse and simply await for the allied lines to catch up to them. Hanley told Japko that he had his orders to bring him back. Japko countermanded those orders since he outranked him.

Denise even attempted to seduce Hanley so that Japko could stay but she flicked her cigarette away in frustration that her ploy didn’t work.

denise-seduction
Denise trying to convince Hanley to let Japko stay

Some Germans roll up in a personnel carrier.

The guys scramble for the woods. Germans question the family inside. You hear machine gun fire indicating that the German killed the uncle and aunt.

As a couple of Germans search the surrounding woods, Japko goes and fires into them with a .45 pistol basically alerting everybody of their presence. That’s when the firefight is on.

After it’s over with German bodies scattered around, Gallard asks Denise why the German didn’t kill her also? That it would’ve been a simple matter of pulling the trigger to kill her. That’s when she confesses that she had to betray the organization for Japko. Because she loved Japko so much. Only for him is why she did it. A bit too much over acting and the symbolism as she stumbles over a German body while crying after Japko.

Gallard makes it back to the American lines by ramming a road block. The German fired a MP-40 burst into it but nobody got hit. I wondered about that, because an MP-40 could fire about 20-30 rounds in one burst.

Hanley killed 2 Germans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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