What Happened to Allan C. Powell

The Lost Powell Son

Alan Campbell Powell flew a dangerous mission over enemy territory in World War II--and never returned

Among the many Spokanites who answered the call to service in World War Two was Allan C. Powell, son of William Weaver Powell and Helen Powell--formerly Helen Campbell.

The second son of the wealthy Powell family, 1st. Lt. Allan C. Powell flew as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot during World War II. Powell was a student at the University of Washington when the US entered into World War 2 and he decided to leave the university and enlist in the United States Army in 1942. “I haven’t any job I can return to when the war is over, I’m liable to be drafted at any day now, and I don’t have enough college credits to get a commission, I sure made of mess of things,” he wrote his father at the time.

Powell learned to fly B-17 bombers and was given his first crew at Geiger Field in Spokane, Washington. He was assigned to the 410th Bomb Squadron, part of the 94th Bomb Group, and was based in England. Powell flew nine missions with the squadron, dropping bombs on targets in Germany and Norway. He participated in the infamous second raid on Schweinfurt known as Black Thursday where 60 US B-17s were shot down and 650 American soldiers died. Flying in B-17s was dangerous, the crew of ten men had a less than 50% chance of returning from any mission. A crewmember had to complete 25 missions to finish a tour of duty, something only one out of every four men was able to do.

In the last letter to his parents in 1943, Powell wrote “I received my ticket to Boise, I go at the end of the week” after this, it is a blur what his timeline is from when he left the United States to when he died. In January 1944 Powell went missing on his ninth mission over the mountains of Bordeaux, France, when his bomber was shot down. His body was never found. The Spokesman-Review reported “the plane is said to have crashed in the vicinity of St. Laurent de Medoe, near the western coast of France while returning to base. But two of the crew survived.” In January of 1945, the Army officially declared Allan C. Powell to have been killed in action.

Powell's mother, Helen Powell had previously donated her family home, The Campbell House, to the Eastern Washington State Historical Society after her mother, Grace Campbell died. Now to honor the memory of her son she decided to donate the six lots of land adjoining the house as well, on the condition that a plaque dedicated to the sacrifice of her son be placed on the property. Lt. Powell’s headstone rests in the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France.



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