Captive Technology: German Photographs of Electronic Equipment in a Downed Special Operations Squadron B-24 Liberator – II

This – and the next – page present the 19 pictures in Luftgaukommando Report 1054, for B-24D 42-63792.  The format is identical to that followed in the blog post covering the Luftgaukommando Report for B-24H Liberator Tell Me More:

By scrolling “down” the post from top to bottom, you’ll see images of the two pages in the Report listing the captions of the photos. 

This is followed by a verbatim transcription of the block of the German text in those two pages.  The German text is followed by its English-language translation (in italics) which I transcribed from the MACR.

Then, moving “down” through all the pictures…

Each photo has its caption – in both German and English – below it.  The English-language translations are presented in italics. 

The images and their captions aren’t presented in the same numerical order as in the KU Report.  They’re arranged as if you were moving along the plane (or, er, uh…in this case, what’s left of the plane…) from front to rear.  I’ve also added comments below some captions.

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DESCRIPTION OF AIRCRAFT 42-63792, AND PHOTO CAPTIONS

Feindgerät-Untersuchungsstelle 5
RLM GL C-Rü                                                                                                O.U. den 23.4.44
Feldpostnummer: L 50825 FW, Lgp. Brüssel.

Untersuchungsbericht Nr. 5/2021:

Am. 2.3.44 um 23.30 Uhr wurde in Fienvillers (8 km s.w. Doullens) eine Liberator durch Flak abgeschossen.  Von der Besatzung wurden 2 Mann gefangen genommen.

Das Flugzeug war als Sabotagematerialträger eingesetzt und sehr stark zerstört.

Die Typenbezeichnung des Flugzeuges lautete: B 24 D, Ser. 42-63792.  Bemerkenswert an diesem Flugzeug war die FT-Ausrüstung.  Es befanden sich beiderseits des Rumpfbuges die im Bild 1 u. 2 dargestellten Antennen.  Ferner befanden such nachfolgende FT-Geräte an Bord, die grösstenteils bereits durch Kurier nach dem RLM GL C-Rü gesandt wurden:

1.     RT-3 / APN-1
27 Volt
D.C. N.X.S. – 2424
1341 C.R.V.

2.    T-7 / APN-1
110 DB / 25
N.X. – 23763
1237 C.R.V.

3.    Anzeigegerät mit Braun’scher Röhre, vermutlich Suchgerät (Bild 12, 13, 14, 15 u. 16). –
4.    BC-433-C, Ser. Nr. 14506
5.    BC-966-A, Ser. Nr. 45327
6.    BC-454-A, Ser. Nr. 140
7.    BC-455-B, Ser. Nr. 20162
8.    BC-445-B, Ser. Nr. 52370
9.    BC-929-A

Trotzdem bei diesem Flugzeug verschiedene neue Geräte dabiei waren, waren sämtliche FT-Geräte von der Funkmeisterei des Fl.H. Rosiéres weggenommen worden.  Die FT-Geräte mussten erst dort abgeholt und zur Entnahme der Stecker und Kabel wieder in das Flugzeug eingesetzt werden. –

Ferner wurden mehrere Agenten-Empfänger des Musters Miniature Communications Receiver (M.C.R.1.) festgestellt.

Als Anlage zum Bericht werden 18 Fotos übersandt.

Erläutering zu den Bildern:

Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges
Bild 3:           Gerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.  Rechte oben im Bild ist die Kabeleinführung der im Bild 1 u. 2 gezeigten Antennen ersichtlich.
Bild 4:          Kabeleinführung in grösserem Masstab.
Bild 5, 6, 7:  zeigt den Lageert der Geräte RT-7 / APN-1
Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1
Bild 11:         RT-3 / APN-1
Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.
Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Engelhard
Stabsing. Und
Sondering. GL

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Enemy equipment investigation center 5                                             KU 1154
Ministry of the Air Force GL C-Rue                  Local Quarters, 23 April 1944
Field postal No L 50825 FW
Air District Post Office Brussels

Investigation Report No 5 / 2021

On 2 March 1944 at 2330 a Liberator had been shot down by anti-aircraft over Fienvillers (8 km southwest of Doullens).  Two members of the crew had been captured.  The plane was equipped as sabotage material-carrier and therefore very seriously damaged.

The type markings of the plane were as follows: B 24 D, Serial No. 42-63792.  This plane was equipped with remarkable radio equipment.  There were aerials on both sides of the front of the fuselage as pictures 1 and 2 show.  Further, there was the following radio equipment on board, the greatest part of which has been sent by messenger to the Ministry of the Air Dorces GL C-Rue.

1.     RT-3 / APN-1
27 Volt
D.C. N.X.S. – 2424
1341 C.R.V.

2.    RT-7 / APN-1
110 DB / 25
N.X. – 23763
1237 C.R.V.

3.    Indicator-set with Bruan’scher tube, probably search-equipment (see picture 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16)
4.    BC-433-C, Ser. No. 14506
5.    BC-966-A, Ser. No. 45327
6.    BC-454-A, Ser. No. 140
7.    BC-455-B, Ser. No. 20162
8.    BC-445-B, Ser. No. 52370
9.    BC-929-A

Though this plane was equipped with different kinds of new radio equipment, all radio equipment had been taken out by the radio office of the Air-base Rosieres.  The radio equipment had to be obtained from that office, and for the purpose of the removal of the plugs and cables had to be installed again into the plane.  Also, several agent receivers of the type “Miniature Communications Receiver (M.C.R. 1)” were found.

Enclosed in this report 18 photographs.

Photo explanation.

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.
3:     Equipment with Bruan’scher tube.  In the right upper corner of the picture the cable installation of the antenna (shown in picture 1 and 2) can be seen.
4:     Cable installation on larger scale.
5, 6, 7:     shows the location of the equipment RT-7 / APN-1
8, 9, 10:   RT-7 /APN-1
11:            RT-3 / APN-1
12, 13, 14, 15, and 16     Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.
17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Enclosures:

Instructions for the
“Miniature Communications Receiver”
and 18 photographs.

Signed: Engelhard
Staff-Engineer and Special Engineer

____________________

Photos: Crash Site, APN-1 Antenna, and BC-929-A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator Unit

____________________

These three un-numbered images show the scope and scene of the plane’s crash.  Most of the airframe and wings have been destroyed (the tail and left wing broke off during the crash) but ironically, several components of the plane’s special electronic equipment, situated in the central fuselage and nose, survived relatively or completely intact.  These have been extracted from the fuselage and placed in front of the wreckage. 

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Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.

Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.

Bild 3:           Gerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.  Rechte oben im Bild ist die Kabeleinführung der im Bild 1 u. 2 gezeigten Antennen ersichtlich.

Picture  3:     Equipment with Bruan’scher tube.  In the right upper corner of the picture the cable installation of the antenna (shown in picture 1 and 2) can be seen.

Bild 4:          Kabeleinführung in grösserem Masstab.

Picture 4:     Cable installation on larger scale.

Comments for Photos 1, 2, 3, and 4: Close-ups of nose-mounted external receiving antenna associated with the APN-1 radar altimeter, and, the interior electrical connection of an APN-1 antenna within the fuselage.  Notably, the nose-mounted BC-929-A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator unit and its attached cables (in photo 3) are completely intact. 

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Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Comments for photos 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16:  These are external and internal views of the BC-929-A Rebecca Radar Interrogator.  The phrase “Braun’scher Röhre” (Braun’scher tube) is German for “cathode ray tube”, the first such device having been invented by a Dr. Karl Ferdinand Braun in 1897. 

The remaining photographs are presented on the next blog post…

A B-24 Liberator, Up Close and Personal: German Photographs of a Downed B-24 in Holland – I

In September of 2016, this blog commenced with a post about Luftgaukommando Reports – documents created by the Germans to record information about aircraft and aircrews of the United States and British Commonwealth air forces shot down over German-occupied Europe and Germany itself, during the Second World War.  Also known as KU (Kampflugzeug Unterlagen – “Downed Allied Aircraft”) Reports, these documents are part of Records Group 242 (Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675-1983) in the United States National Archives. 

By nature, Luftgaukommando Reports comprise records compiled by the Germans, and not uncommonly, include documents (personal and otherwise) and other items, such as V-Mail and hand-written correspondence, carried or worn (dog tags) by air crewmen. 

That “first” post (a multitude of keystrokes ago…!) focused on Luftgaukommando Report J 2525, which covers “Chicago’s Own”, a P-51D Mustang (44-41010) of the 353rd Fighter Squadron of the 354th Fighter Group, which was piloted by Captain Gordon T. McEachron, and served to introduce and describe general aspects of Luftgaukommando Reports. 

What makes Luftgaukommando Report J 2525 noteworthy is the presence of several excellent photographs of the downed and mostly intact – albeit no longer quite flyable! – Mustang. 

Report J2525 is one of the very few Luftgaukommando Reports containing photographs.  Sometimes, like the pictures of Chicago’s Own, such images suggest the features, components, and design aspects of American warplanes that particularly drew the attention of German investigators and technical analysts.

In a large sense, perhaps an apt word for such images is “evocative”.  It’s one thing to read “about” the loss of an American military plane in a book, article, or Missing Air Crew Report.  It’s quite another to actually see and hold an image of what that aircraft looked like, to those who actually flew within it over seven decades ago. 

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This post presents another series of German photographs of a downed American warplane:  An entirely intact yet rather broken 8th Air Force B-24 Liberator – ironically nicknamed “Tell Me More” – which was examined by the Germans after force-landing in Holland on April 29, 1944.  The 15 images presented here, in Luftgaukommando Report KU 1680, represent the second highest total quantity of images found in any of the Luftgaukommando Reports (whether J, KU, or ME Reports) I’ve thus far examined.  (The largest quantity of photographs in a Luftgaukommando Report– 19 – hopefully the subject of a future post!)

“Tell Me More”, a B-24H 41-28754 of the 787th Bomb Squadron, 466th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, squadron code 6L * N, was piloted by 1 Lt. Carl E. Hitchcock, and was lost during the Group’s mission to Berlin on April 29, 1944.  Its loss is covered in MACR 4447.  The 466th lost one other Liberator that day (41-29399, “T9 * D”, of the 784th Bomb Squadron, covered in KU 1681) while the 8th Air Force lost 61 other B-17s and B-24s; the 15th Air Force 4 B-24s. 

In human costs, approximately six hundred and seventy men.

According to tables of B-24 Liberator serial numbers in Allan Blue’s The B-24 Liberator (pp. 195 and 202), Tell Me More was a B-24H-1DT, and – going by serial numbers alone, rather than calendar date of manufacture and delivery – was the very first ”H” version of all 3,100 B-24H Liberators manufactured. 

The crew list from the MACR is shown below:

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Neither the MACR nor the KU Report contain information describing the actual cause of the aircraft’s loss.  The KU Report simply states that the plane, “made an emergency landing 6 km east of Apeldoorn”, also vaguely mentioning “Liberator Shot Down”.  Regardless, as can be seen from the list in the MACR and KU Report, the entire crew of 10 was eventually captured.  

Fortunately, all survived the war. 

They were:

PilotHitchcock, Carl Edward, 1 Lt., 0-664597
Mrs. Mary Hitchcock (mother), North Bradley St., McKinney, Tx.
Born 1/17/15, Tx.; Died 9/23/95
Buried Sunset Memorial Park, San Antonio, Tx. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag 7A (Moosburg)
Captured by 6/22/44

Co-PilotYoung, Lloyd G., 2 Lt., 0-680791
Mrs. Mary Young (mother), Park View Ave., Knoxville, Tn.
Born 9/25/18, Smith County, Tn.
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured May 3, 1944, at Vorort v Tiel, by Officer Heitzwebel

NavigatorWillson, Robert Edwin, 2 Lt., 0-698245
Mrs. Frances (Gardner) Willson (wife), 3026 Lebanon, El Paso, Tx.
Born 9/9/20, Sherman, Tx.; Died 2/3/08
Buried Dallas – Fort Worth National Cemetery, Dallas, Tx.
On tombstone – “Ex-POW – It is well with my soul.”  (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW – Camp Unknown
Captured by 6/22/44

Robert Willson’s tombstone, photographed by FindAGrave contributor William Nance, is shown below:

BombardierBochicchio, Vito Joseph, 2 Lt., 0-682047
Mrs. Margaret Bochicchio (mother), West 21st St., New York, N.Y.
Born 1/1/17, New York, N.Y.; Died 3/23/10
Buried Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, N.Y. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured May 3, 1944, at Vorort v Tiel, by Officer Heitzwebel

Flight Engineer DiManno, Carmine Gerard, T/Sgt., 31276739
Mrs. Mary Dimanno (mother), 19 Orchard St., Hartford, Ct.
Born 7/7/23; Died 5/29/77
Buried East Cemetery, Manchester, Ct. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Probably Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Radio OperatorMcCue, Thomas J. (“Thomas Francis”?), S/Sgt., 12188732
Mrs. Lee V. McCue (mother), 476 Dean St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Gunner (Ball Turret)Browne, Charles Graham, S/Sgt., 19116027
Mrs. Agnes G. Browne (mother), East South Mariposa St., Glendale, Ca.
Born 12/21/19, Twin Falls, Id.
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Gunner (Right Waist)Smith, David Leon, S/Sgt., 18213749
Mrs. Mary Smith (mother), General Delivery, New Franklin, Mo.
POW Stalag Luft 1 (Barth)
Captured by January 5, 1945

Gunner (Left Waist)Lugosi, Alex Paul, S/Sgt., 36631214
Mrs. Anna Lugosi (mother), 12632 Wallace St., Chicago, Il.
Born 11/11/21, Chicago, Il.
POW – Camp Unknown (numerical indicator is “0”)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Gunner (Tail)Dorrian, Thomas George, S/Sgt., 12121740
Mr. James Dorrian (father), 2541 99th St., East Elmhurst, Long Island, N.Y.
Born New York, N.Y.
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

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The crew list and other documents in the KU Report imply that the crew split up after landing – the enlisted men in one group, and the four officers in two pairs – in an attempt to evade capture.  This is suggested by their dates of capture, which are listed in the KU Report as follows:

Captured on April 29, at Apeldoorn:

T/Sgt. Carmine G. DiManno (flight engineer)
S/Sgt. Thomas J. McCue (Radio Operator)
S/Sgt. Charles G. Browne (Ball Turret Gunner)
S/Sgt. Alex P. Lugosi (Left Waist Gunner)
S/Sgt. Thomas G. Dorrian (Tail Gunner)

Captured May 3, at “Vorort v Tiel”, by an “Officer Heitzwebel”:

2 Lt. Lloyd G. Young (Co-Pilot)
2 Lt. Vito J. Bochicchio (Bombardier)

Captured by June 22, at an unspecified location:

1 Lt. Carl E. Hitchcock (Pilot)
2 Lt. Robert E. Willson (Navigator)

Managed to evade until early January, 1945; location of capture unspecified:

S/Sgt. David L. Smith (Right Waist Gunner)

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The specific location of the aircraft’s landing is presented as follows:

1) The American Air Museum website lists the plane as having crash-landed at Apeldoorn.

http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/804

2) The Eighth Air Force Historical Society lists the plane as having landed at Wilp-Achterhoek, in Gelderland.

3) The KU Report gives two locations for the plane’s loss:

a) 6 kilometers east of Apeldoorn
b) 4 kilometers south of Touge

Touge is east-northeast, and Wilp-Achterhoek directly east, of the geographic center of Apeldoorn.  Based on this information, I’ve created three Google maps at successively larger scales, “zooming in” on the location which seems (seems!) to be the best composite of the above-reported locations.  This is denoted by the north-south oriented red ovals superimposed on the map, just southwest of Wilp-Achterhoek, and repeated on the Google Earth view of the same locale. 

These maps and the aerial photograph are presented below:

Here is an image of Tell Me More from the American Air Museum website, showing the relatively intact and rather bent B-24 resting on its forward fuselage, on a vacant field.  The American Air Museum website includes two other images of the plane, one showing what seems to have been a very hastily applied individual aircraft letter – “N” – on the lower port fin. 

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But, what about the images in the KU Report?  To be told more of Tell Me More, refer to the next post…

The Missing Photos – II: Upon an Endless Sea – A B-24 Liberator Shot Down Over the Central Pacific, 1944

Previously, I presented photographs from two Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) covering the loss of two 416th Bomb Group A-20 Havoc attack-bombers over France in 1944.  That post concluded on an “upbeat” note:  The six aviators from both planes safely parachuted and survived the war as POWs, eventually returning to the United States.

The circumstances surrounding “this” post – covering the loss of an 11th Bomb Group (…”Gray Geese”…) B-24 Liberator in the Central Pacific Ocean in late 1943 are, sadly, very different.  Though at least some members of the plane’s crew initially survived the ditching of their plane in the Central Pacific, they were never seen again.   

In that sense, this Missing Air Crew Report and the two photographs within it epitomize – in a manner far more powerful than words – the nature of the Pacific air war, some seven decades ago.

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The aircraft in question, B-24D 41-24214 (Dogpatch Express) was one of a group of eight B-24s of the 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force, which staged through Nanomea (the northwestern-most atoll in the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu) for a strike against Taroa Island (not to be confused with Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands!), in the Maloelap Atoll of the Marshall Islands, on December 21, 1943.

Here is a superb photo of Dogpatch Express’ nose art, from Pinterest (via Hawaii.gov):

Here’s another view of the plane (the crewmen are unidentified) appropriately from B-24 Best Web:

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What happened?

The MACR (# 1423) describes the sequence of events surrounding the loss of the bomber in very great detail, an aspect of MACRs covering 7th Air Force B-24 losses which seems to have been quite consistent.  

After the squadron’s bombing run on Taroa, Lt. Smith’s plane was observed to lag behind the other seven bombers, though the specific cause is not delineated in either the MACR or squadron history.  Five other B-24s turned back to provide protection for the Express, with one escorting pilot, Captain Jesse Stay (whose account is presented below) maintaining radio contact with Lt. Smith.  Having already lost his #4 engine, the Express’ #3 engine soon began emitting smoke, upon which 252nd Kokutai Zeros and Hamps (assigned to the defense of Taroa, as described at Pacific Wrecks) – which had been attacking the formation from the time it left the target – began to especially concentrate their fire upon Smith’s aircraft.

Heavily damaged, with its #4 engine out and #3 engine smoking, Lt. Smith lost altitude, and, eventually ditched. 

The Liberator broke in two immediately behind the flight deck, with part of the tail remaining afloat for several minutes.  Throughout, three Zeros, which had probably expended their ammunition, remained in the area to observe the scene. 

Taken together, the accounts of Captain Stay and Lt. Sands indicate that at least three – and possibly four – of the crew survived both the ditching and a strafing run by a solitary Zero.  Two life rafts were deployed, and “water marker” (dye marker?) at the scene was visible from a distance of 10 to 12 miles.

So, at least some of the crew – presumably gunners in the rear of the aircraft – remained alive after the crash. 

Later that day, upon the arrival of two PBYs at the location of the ditching (the time of their arrival is not listed and the naval squadron is unidentified) – nothing was found.  To quote the squadron history: “It was later found that upon arriving at the spot, no trace was found of the survivors, and it is presumed that they either were strafed by returning Jap airplanes or taken prisoner.”  

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The accounts of Captain Stay and Lt. Sands are presented below verbatim, along with a summary of the mission from the records of the 42nd Bomb Squadron:

Captain Stay’s Account

My flight, consisting of myself and Lt. Pratte in A/P #156 followed Capt. Storm’s flight of three airplanes over the target on Taroa Island.  We were followed by “C” flight in which Lt. Smith in A/P #214 was No. 2 man.  We made our run and turned off to the left, increasing our power and diving to catch up with Capt. Storm’s “A” flight.  We had been off of the target approximately 12-15 minutes when S/Sgt. Blackmore, my tail gunner called me to say that one A/P in “C” flight had become a straggler and was being attacked by several Zeros.  As he told me this Lt. Sands in A/P #073, who was flying #2 position in “A” flight pulled out of formation and started a turn back.  My flight of two ships turned with him and at the same time my Co-pilot informed Capt. Storm of the straggler.  Lt. Sands fell in on Lt. Smith’s right wing and I took up a position on his left wing with Lt. Pratte flying on my left wing.

Shortly after this Capt. Storm and his remaining wing man, Lt. Perry in A/P #007 fell into our formation.  At this time we noticed that the #4 engine on A/P #214 was feathered and he had many holes in the fuselage and emphennage of his A/P, and he was losing altitude fast.  Approximately 3 minutes after we joined him in formation his no. 3 engine caught fire giving off a heavy white smoke.

I spoke to Lt. Smith over V.H.F. and suggested that he feather no. 3 engine and try to put cut the fire with his Lux System.  Lt. Smith called back asking me to get Dumbo service for him and I acknowledged.  Shortly after Lt. Smith feathered #3 engine and the fire was apparently extinguished.  From the time that we had left the target we had been having a running fight with from 15 to 20 Zeros.  When Lt. Smith’s #3 engine began to smoke the Zeros began to press their attack and from 7 to 8 overhead passes were made at the formation before Lt. Smith landed his ship in the water.  The Zero pilots made excellent use of the sun and they seemed very experienced in this type of attack.

Lt. Smith had been losing altitude rapidly and when he was at about 3,000 ft. he started #3 engine again and it immediately began to smoke again.  We dropped down through a .4 cumulus cloud cover and our formation circled through a hole to 1000 ft. to watch his landing.  At this time there were still four Zeros in the air but they were apparently out of ammunition because they made no more passes.

Lt. Smith landed in the water at 13:45 L.W.T. at a position of 08 04 N and 172 33 E. The ship broke in two and the nose appeared to go down leaving the trailing edge of the wing and very little of the bomb bay afloat.  The whole ship was under water in approximately 3 minutes.  We observed at this time one life raft with one man lying prone across it.  The rest of the formation left for their base and Lt. Sands, Lt. Pratte and myself circled the scene for cover and to give what aid we could.  Three Zeros were still in the area but appeared to be only observing the crash.  Our top gunner was only able to fire a few shots at any of them.

Lt. Sands dove in low over the raft and dropped a life raft then we dove in and dropped a box of emergency rations.  Both the raft and the rations remained intact and afloat.  We called for Life Guard service on command voice on 6210 K.C. giving our distance of 90 miles and our course of 120° M from the target.

The Zeros left and we climbed above the clouds and Lt. Pulliam took a sun shot over the raft and confirmed our position.  At the same time my radio operator was calling first Tarawa, then Makin, then Apamama but receiving no answer from any of them he again called Tarawa and sent through a request for Dumbo Service.  Our three planes left the scene for Tarawa and after we had been on course for approximately 10 minutes the men in the back of my A/P reported seeing what they thought was a submarine wake behind us.  I turned around and headed back to the raft hoping to be able to assist the Submarine but on approaching the life raft we were able to see the water marker for from 10 to 12 miles from 1000 ft.

As we dove over the scene to fifty feet we saw that there were two rafts inflated and three men ware in one and possibly one on the other.  We set our liaison up to transmit on 6210 and called for Life Guard Service again.  We left the scene finally at 1434 L.W.T. and landed at Tarawa to refuel where we learned that two PBYs had been sent out 2 hours before.

Captain Jesse E. Stay

Lt. Sands’ Account

I was flying A/P # 073 in the Number 3 position of “A” Flight.  We had left the target about five minutes when the tail gunner called and said there was a B-24 smoking and losing altitude and was alone.  I told my crew that we were going to make a 90° turn so I could get a look at it.  When I observed the conditions under which Lt. Smith was placed I continued my turn and went back to get in formation with him.  We pulled in on his right wing as that was the side that about 10 Zekes were making overhead passes at the crippled plane.  We had been in formation with Lt. Smith about three or four minutes when the four other planes pulled into formation on his left wing.  We continued to escort him until he landed in the water at about 13:45 L.W.T.

The plane appeared to break in two just back of the flight deck.  The entire plane with the exception of the tail surfaces sank almost immediately.  The tail surfaces floated for about four minutes.  One man was definitely seen to be laying across a partly inflated, overturned life-raft with possibly one other person in the water.  I ordered my crew to get a life raft ready to throw overboard which was done as we passed over at a minimum altitude.

One Zeke was seen to make a strafing attack at the spot where the plane sank.  The Zeke then left the area.  We circled for another ten minutes, and seeing no more Zekes, we departed for Tarawa.  My radio operator immediately sent out a position report of the crashed plane which was unanswered.

1 Lt. Warren H. Sands

42nd Bomb Squadron History

TAROA MISSION * 20 December 1943

Lt. Kerr in 143, Captain Storm in 155, Lt. Gall in 100, Lt. Perr (431st) in 007, Lt. Schmidt in 838m Lt. Stay in 960, Lt. Sands in 073, Lt. Smith in 214, and Lt. Pratte in 156, staged through Nonomea for a strike against Taroa on Maloelap Atoll.  Each airplane carried 6 x 500 GO bombs.  Interception began as the airplanes pulled away from an AA spattered bomb run, with 20 – 30 Zekes and Hamps rising to the attack.

AA began as the airplanes neared the island, in some cases not reported as occurring until the run had started, with a majority of the bombs landing in or near the target area.  Lt. Gall did not reach the target due to malfunction.  It was on this mission that Lt. Smith had two engines shot out either by AA or cannon fire, and found it necessary to make a water landing about 75 miles from Taroa.  Covered by other elements of the flight, he made what was described as “an excellent” water landing, from which at least four men were seen to leave the badly damaged airplane and crawl onto two rafts.  Captain Stay had, prior to the crash, radioed to both Dumbo and Lifeguard to come in, and this was later found to have reached both agencies through other intercepting mediums as well as the original call.  It was later found that upon arriving at the spot, no trace was found of the survivors, and it is presumed that they either were strafed by returning Jap airplanes or taken prisoner. 

Several Jap interceptors were knocked off on this mission, by Sergeant Kernyat of Sands crew, Sgt. Brannan of Lt. Kerr’s, Sgt. Roth, Sgt. Ball, and S/Sgt. Tanner of Captains Stay’s crew.  They were all confirmed…

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To give you a better understanding of the setting and location of this incident, the following series of maps and illustrations show the location of the Marshall Islands in general and Taroa in particular, the island’s appearance in 1943 (and 2017), as well as the location where Dogpatch Express was lost in relation to surrounding islands.

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Here is a map of the Marshall Islands (from Wikimedia Commons) illustrated on a global view of the earth, centered on Polynesia.

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The map below, from the Diercke International Atlas, shows Taroa Island (right center) and the other islands comprising the Maloelap Atoll. 

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This undated Air Force photograph shows the “Bombing of the Japanese Airfield on Taroa Islet [sic]…”  The image is from the WW II U.S. Air Force Photo Collection at Fold3.com.  (Image A42044 / 73717 AC)

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Here’s a Google Earth satellite view of Taroa, circa 2017.  The island’s miniscule size is evident by the distance scale (one thousand feet!) in the lower right corner of the image.  Note the changes in the island’s shape that have ensued since World War Two, and, the still-visible remnant of one of the two runways.

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This Google map shows the location of Taroa (via the red pointer), relative to surrounding islands.  Obvious (in reality, not-so-obvious) is the fact that the Maloelap Atoll and Taroa are “invisible” at the scale of this map. 

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This map, generated by entering latitude and longitude coordinates in Google Earth, shows the location where Dogpatch Express was ditched (denoted by the red pointer).  Akin to above, at this scale, Maloelap and Taroa do not appear.

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This map shows the location of Nanomea Island (red pointer once more) relative to the Marshalls.  Akin to the above map views, Nanomea is so small as to be “invisible”

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The plane was lost. 

Ten men were lost.

Who were they?

Typical for MACRs, Report 1423 gives the names of the plane’s crewmen, their crew positions, and, their serial numbers.  However, the Report does not contain any “contact” information; the names and residential address of next-of-kin.  If you were to go by the MACR alone, the men would be, in a sense, “anonymous”: names, ranks, serial numbers, and nothing more.    

However, there is one set of records in the National Archives that gives these men fuller identities. 

This information is present in Records Group 165, in the “Bureau of Public Relations Press Branch” releases covering military casualties (specifically Missing in Action, Killed in Action, Wounded in Action), which were issued throughout the war to the news media by the War Department.  

Within these press releases, casualties are listed by theater of war (Europe, Mediterranean, Pacific, etc.), with mens’ names listed alphabetically within each category.  The name of a casualty was usually (usually) released approximately one month subsequent to the calendar date on which he was killed, wounded, or missing.  The predictably of this time-frame is a very reliable way (at least, through the late spring of 1944) to identify the year and month when the press release listing a serviceman’s name, his next-of-kin, and emergency address, was released to the news media.   

(Maybe more about this in a future post?)

Given that Lt. Smith’s crew was lost in late December of 1943, it was assumed that their names could be found in Press releases issued in late January of 1944.  Research in RG 165 verified this:  The men’s names appeared in Casualty Lists issued on January 21, 22, and 24, and (one man) February 9, of 1944.

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The crew’s names are other relevant information are presented below, along with (in parenthesis) the calendar date of the relevant Press release.  

They were:

Pilot     Smith, George W.     1 Lt.          0-374301     (1/22/44)
Mrs. Ida R. Smith (mother), Prairieton, In.

Co-Pilot     Lowry, John E., Jr.     2 Lt.     0-800907     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Margaret E. Lowry, Jr. (wife), Spring St., Smyrna, Ga.

Navigator     Mortenson, Carl A.     2 Lt.     0-738872     (1/22/44)
Mr. Harry Walter Mortenson (brother), 1380 Riverside Drive, Lakewood, Oh.

Bombardier     Ortiz, Ralph P.     1 Lt.    0-663307     (1/22/44)
Mr. Daniel C. Ortiz (father), 603 Agua Fria, Santa Fe, N.M.

Flight Engineer    Sopko, Clarence T.     T/Sgt. 35308715     1/22/20     (1/22/44)
Mrs. Mary S. Sopko (mother), 2138 West 26th St., Cleveland, Oh.
Memorial Tombstone – at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery – Section M, Plot 6 (Photo by Douglas King)

Radio Operator     Gearon, Roy T.     T/Sgt.     20616199     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Catherine Ann Gearon (mother), 5464 Woodlawn, Chicago, Il.
Crew Picture and related  information from Patrick Maher (Second Cousin)  (See below.)

Gunner     Hudman, Jesse Harvey S/Sgt.     12146959     1918     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Florence L. Hudman (wife), 10 Marble Place, Ossining, N.Y.
Mrs. Carrie Hudman (mother), Gilbert Park, N.Y.
Memorial Tombstone – at Dale Cemetery, Ossining, N.Y. (photo by Jean Sutherland)
Notices about Sgt. Hudman appeared in the Citizen-Register, of Ossining, N.Y., on May 22 and 25, 1946, concerning a memorial service that was held in his behalf on May 19 of that year. 

Gunner     Paradise, Arnold J.     S/Sgt.     36264577     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Fern Paradise (mother), Garden Acres, Chippewa Falls, Wi.
WW II Memorial – June Havel (sister)

Gunner     Dell, Carl N.     S/Sgt.     13038323     4/19/20     (2/9/44)
Mr. William J. Dell (father), Route 1, Middle Road, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Memorial Tombstone at Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by “Genealogy-Detective”)

Gunner     Nielsen, Earl Dewayne     S/Sgt.     39831608     7/29/21     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Vera P. Nielsen (mother), Cleveland, Id.
Memorial Tombstone at Cleveland Cemetery, Franklin County, Id. (Photo by Bill E. Doman)

All the crewmen are memorialized in the Courts of the Missing (Court 7), at the Honolulu Memorial, in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, at Honolulu, Hawaii.

Remarkably, there is a photograph of this crew… 

Mr. Patrick Maher, a second cousin of T/Sgt. Roy Gearon, has posted a picture of the crew at the Memorial Page for his relative at FindAGrave.com, with the message, “We are 2nd cousins Roy.  Know you were remembered then and still by your family with a proud military tradition. May you and your crew forever rest in peace at the bottom of the ocean.  Your last mission was accomplished Sir.  Sorry on behalf of your government for your case and many like it.  Your death date was December 21, 1943 not 1946.  Silver Star recipient.  Rest in Peace Sir.”  

Mr. Maher’s entry also includes a close-up image of the final moments of Dogpatch Express, identical to one of the photographs in the MACR below.

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The photos?

Unlike the images for the A-20s, these two photos are unattached to the documents in the MACR; they’re “loose” in the file.  Here they are:

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Here’s the “first” image.  This shows Dogpatch Express heading back – well, trying to head back – to Nanomea, showing Lt. Sand’s B-24 to the right and slightly above Lt. Smith’s aircraft.  This may be the point at which – as described by Capt. Stay – the squadron dropped to an altitude of 3,000 feet, upon which the Express’ #3 engine emitted smoke when it was restarted.

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This is a 2,400 dpi crop of the above photo.  The damage to Dogpatch Express is obvious.  The #4 engine has been feathered, and there’s a large hole in the starboard rudder.  Close examination shows that the ball turret has been rotated downwards and retracted into the fuselage, while in the dorsal turret – rotated to the rear – the guns have been elevated to 70-80 degrees.  The trail of smoke – thick smoke; dense smoke; white smoke – emitted from the #3 engine is plainly evident.

Given that the direction of flight from Taroa to Nanomea was approximately south-southeast, by looking “into” this image –  the viewer is looking west-southwest. 

Beyond and below the aircraft, and into the indefinite horizon, there are clouds, water, and, more clouds and more water. 

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This picture shows the scene of Dogpatch Express’  ditching. 

(Though this post doesn’t pertain to camouflage and markings, this image illustrates the Insignia Blue overpaint of the Insignia Red surround to the National Insignia, which had been a feature of the national insignia of American military aircraft between 28 June and 14 August 1943.)

Though intended as a historical record – for which it more than serves its purpose – this photograph – like the image above – is extremely evocative of the war over the Pacific:  Distance.  Water.  Emptiness. 

The point of the B-24’s impact – a trail of churned water perhaps several hundred feet long – is obvious.  However, compared with the expanse of sea encompassed by the image and receding into the distance, the site is miniscule.

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This is a 2,400 dpi crop of the above image.  Though the resolution is too low to identify details, four objects can be seen floating at the top of the “ditching trail”.  Captain Stay mentioned that the scene was visible up to 12 miles away, due to dye marker in the water.  Is the gray patch of water in the upper left of the ditching site the dye marker? 

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The survivors – whoever they were – were never seen again.

The 42nd Bomb Squadron mission summary suggests two possibilities for their fate:  They were strafed by Zero fighters during the interval between the departure of the other B-24s and the arrival of PBYs, or, they were captured by the Japanese, via naval vessels.

Given the location and circumstances under which the crew was lost, and, the passage of time, what ultimately happened to the few survivors will probably forever be unknown.  There is a slight – (very slight?) – possibility that IDPFs filed for the crew may include more definitive information about their fate, but even those documents, I suppose, will be ambiguous as well.

What is not supposition was – and will always be – their bravery, and the bravery of many men like them.   

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A Brief Digression on Names and Numbers

Did the Army Air Force (or post-1947, the Air Force) ever complete statistical studies comparing the chances of survival for WW II USAAF bomber aircrews lost over the Pacific, to those for aviators lost in the European / Mediterranean Theatres of War?  I don’t know!

I’ve attempted a brief comparison of that sort.  Or, at least half of a comparison…  This was based on an evaluation of statistics about 7th Air Force B-24 losses, with information derived from MACRs (my own review of those documents, extending over some years), and, miscellaneous references. 

MACRs and other sources for losses of 7th Air Force B-24s (75 aircraft covered by “wartime” MACRs, 6 aircraft covered by post-war “fill-in” MACRs, and 11 B-24 losses mentioned by books and other sources) cover a total of 92 aircraft.  (Doubtless there were other planes for which MACRs were never filed…)

Among those 92 B-24s, there was a total of 950 airmen, of whom there were 237 survivors and 713 fatalities.  The 237 survivors represent 24% of the 950 crewmen.  (There were no survivors from 51 planes, while entire crews survived among 5 of the 92 lost aircraft.)

In light of these statistics, and bearing in mind that these figures represent people, not simply “numbers” – I wonder if…it seems that…despite the greater aircraft losses incurred by the 8th and 15th Air Forces, as opposed to the 7th (and 13th, and 5th)…the chances of survival for an aircrew lost in the Pacific Theater of war were actually far lower than in Europe and the Mediterranean.

If so, I’d attribute this to the utterly different geography encompassed by and overflown in the Pacific, where combat missions by nature occurred over vast, near-featureless expanses of water; abruptly changing climatic conditions; the challenges inherent to locating downed airmen at sea, during both aerial and sea-borne searches; the lower chances of simple physical survival (aside from enemy activity) for those few aviators who may have been able to parachute onto land or sea; and last – but hardly insignificantly – the ethos of the Japanese regarding captured members of the Allied Air Forces.  (Thirteen 7th Air Force B-24 crewmen survived the war as POWs of the Japanese.*)

So, to conclude (if there is a conclusion) let these photos stand as a reminder of those who didn’t return, and the very few who did. 

– Michael G. Moskow

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Notes

For an essay on Taroa illustrated with stunningly beautiful contemporary photographs, visit The World War II Legacy of Taroa Island.

For a historical overview of Taroa, specifically focusing on the island during World War II and as a tourist destination (circa 1995), see the essay Dirk H.R. Spennemann (of the Institute of Land, Water and Society, at Charles Stuart University), at Taroa, Maloelap Atoll – A brief virtual tour through a Japanese airbase in the Marshall Islands.

* These POWs were:

ABEL, WILLIAM E.                   S/Sgt.                   36440823            Gunner (Tail)
CARTWRIGHT, THOMAS C.    2 Lt.                      0-831661             Pilot
EIFLER, HAROLD                    2 Lt.                      0-721673             Pilot
GARRETT, FRED F                 1 Lt.                      0-740163             Pilot
HRYSKANICH, PETER             2 Lt.                      0-806683             Co-Pilot
MARTIN, WILLIAM R., JR         2 Lt.                      0-2065804           Navigator
MINIERRE, LINCOLN S.           T/Sgt.                   11073217             Radio Operator
PHILLIPS, RUSSELL A.            Capt.                    0-726463             Pilot
SELLERS, CLYDE J.                Sgt.                       36871713            Gunner
SMITH, RICHARD M.                2 Lt.                      0-692346             Navigator
STODDARD, LOREN A.           Capt.                    0-428873             Pilot
WALKER, ARTHUR JAMES       Col.                      0-022462            Pilot
ZAMPERINI, LOUIS S.               1 Lt.                     0-663341             Bombardier

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References

(Books)

Bell, Dana, Air Force Colors Volume 2 – ETO & MTO 1942-45, Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, Tx., 1980.

Cleveland, W.M., Grey Geese Calling – Pacific Air War History of the 11th Bombardment Group (H) 1940-1945, 11th Bombardment Group Association Inc., Seffner, Fl., 1992.

Doll, Thomas E., Jackson, Berkley R., and Riley, William A., Navy Air Colors – United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aircraft Camouflage and Markings, Vol. 1 – 1911-1945, Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, Tx., 1983.

Forman, Wallace R., B-24 Nose Art Name Directory, Specialty Press Publishers and Wholesalers, North Branch, Mn., 1996.

Rust, Kenn C., Seventh Air Force Story …In World War II, Historical Aviation Album, Temple City, Ca., 1979.

(Web Sites)

11th Bombardment Group History, at http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/browse?type=subject&value=11th%20Bombardment%20Group%20(H)

At OAKTrust Digital Repository of Texas A&M University – Special Collections
http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/

In connection with / related to biography of T/Sgt. Paul Fredrick Adler
42nd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).  Monthly Squadron Histories and Documents, 20 May 1943 – 5 March 1944
http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/90568/3%20History-42dBS-1943-44-Missions.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (On pages 89 of 104 of PDF.)

Dogpatch Express nose-art (Pinterest), at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/551268810615004024/

Dogpatch Express crew photo (B-24 Best Web), at http://www.b24bestweb.com/dogpatchexpress-v1

Dogpatch Express nose-art (B-24 Best Web), at http://www.b24bestweb.com/dogpatchexpress-v1-1.htm

Dogpatch Express nose-art (B-24 Best Web), at http://www.b24bestweb.com/dogpatchexpress-v1-2.htm

Marshall Islands (at Wikimedia Commons), at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Islands.

Nanomea Island (Wikipedia entry – listed as “Nanumea”), at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanumea

Taroa Island (at Pacific Wrecks Database), at http://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/marshalls/taroa/index.html

Taroa Island (at Charles Stuart University), at http://marshall.csu.edu.au/Marshalls/html/japanese/Taroa/Taroa.html

The World War II Legacy of Taroa Island (at Nothing Unknown), at https://www.nothingunknown.com/content/2016/10/7/taroa-island

(United States National Archives)

Records Group 165 “War Department Special Staff Public Relations Division News Branch Press and Radio News Releases, 1921-1947” (arranged chronologically), at Stack Area 390, Row 40, Compartment 3, Shelf 6.

The Missing Photos – I: A Panorama of Havoc – Two A-20 Attack-Bombers Over France

In an earlier post – The Missing Photos: Photographic Images in Missing Air Crew Reports – I described the 58 Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) which include photographs. 

This post – covering two such MACRs – brings you an example of one of these images.  (One image for two MACRs?  I’ll explain…)

The MACRs in question are numbers “5033” and “5032”, covering two 416th Bomb Group A-20G Havoc light bombers.  Respectively, the Reports cover A-20G 43-10203 (5H * R), piloted by First Lieutenant Lucian J. Siracusa, and, 43-10206 (2A * F), piloted by First Lieutenant Allen W. Gullion, of the 668th and 669th Bomb Squadrons.  Both planes were lost during a mission to Amiens, France, on May 27, 1944. 

Fortunately, all six crewmen aboard the two planes parachuted safely, to spend the remainder of the war as POWs.

The circumstances under which the two planes were lost were identical.  Both Havocs were shot down by flak which struck their right engines – at an altitude between 11,300 and 11,500 feet – shortly after 1800 hours (local time), during the 416th’s bomb run. 

The witnesses to the planes’ loss – 1 Lt. Gustave Ebenstein, S/Sgt. Holley Perkins, and Sgt. S.P. Newell – the crew of A-20G 43-9907 of the 668th BS – were the same for both MACRs. 

The maps filed with the two MACRs show the last location of the Havocs as having been north of the Somme River. 

Specifically, Lt. Gullion’s aircraft was north-northeast of Amiens / west-northwest of Albert, as seen in the map from MACR 5032:

Lt. Siracusa’s plane was last seen between Amiens and Albert.  In his postwar Casualty Questionnaire (the only such document in either MACR), he mentions that his plane crashed “10 miles west of Amiens”.  The last position of his bomber is depicted in the map below, from MACR 5033:

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On the “contemporary” side of things, Google maps of this region are shown below.  The first map shows northern France, specifically the locations of Amiens and Albert…

…while the map below shows the area between Amiens and Albert in more detail.

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But, what about the airmen themselves?  They were:

A-20G 43-10203 (MACR 5033 / KU 809A)

Pilot: 1 Lt. Lucian J. Siracusa                    POW (camp location unknown)
Mrs. Philomena Siracusa (mother), 325 13th St., Palisades Park, N.J.

Gunner: S/Sgt. James N. Hume                POW at Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Mrs. Edith R. Hume (mother), South Side Road, York Village, Me.

Gunner: S/Sgt. Floyd E. Brown                POW at Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Mrs. Evelyn G. Brown (wife), 9 Linden Ave., Moundsville, W.V.

A-20G 43-10206 (MACR 5032 / KU 807A)

Pilot: 1 Lt. Allen W. Gullion, Jr.                POW at Stalag Luft III (Sagan)
Mrs. Allen W. Gullion (wife), 3333 Rittenhouse St., Northwest, Washington, D.C.
c/o Mrs. Thomas Moorman

Gunner: S/Sgt. Gerald L. Coffey             POW at Stalag Luft III (Sagan)
Mr. George L. Coffey (father), Route Number Two, Dardanelle, Ak.

Gunner: S/Sgt. Grady F. Cope                POW at Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Mrs. Myrtle V. Cope (mother), Route Number Two, Gould, Ok.

The Germans filed Luftgaukommando Reports for both crews, which – at least as Luftgaukommando Reports go! – contain only nominal information about the planes and crewmen.  Report KU 807A indicates that the crew of 43-10206 was captured at Vignacourt, while Report KU 809A, for 43-10203, mentions that Siracusa and Hume were captured at Bertangles, and Brown at Amiens.  

The somme-aviation-39-45 website reveals that 43-10206 crashed 1 kilometer west of Vignacourt, at Boise de Parisiens.  The website includes a remarkable series of images of the recovery of the plane’s wreckage (in 2006) with added commentary, which is quoted below:

As described:

L’excavation de Vignacourt a eu lieu le samedi 28 octobre 2006.  Les prévisions météorologiques laissaient craindre des averses mais finalement le travail pourra s’effectuer convenablement.  L’agriculteur a eu la gentillesse de différer ses semis à l’emplacement du crash afin de nous permettre d’effectuer les recherches.
“Le Boston IV A20 G du 416ème Bomber Group de la 9ème Air Force des USA a ainsi été retrouvé.

“Les deux moteurs, de type radial WRIGHT R-2600, ont été retrouvés à un peu plus de 2 mètres de profondeur, ce qui laisse à penser que le bimoteur, s’il n’est pas arrivé en vol rasant, a tout de même heurté le sol avec un angle faible.  Ces moteurs ont tous deux été brûlés et l’un des deux est d’un volume moindre car il a certainement été atteint par un obus de la DCA [Défense Contre Avions].  Nous avons également retrouvé quelques cylindres, également brûlés, dont nous pourrons extraire quelques soupapes qui semblent en bon état.

“Eu égard à l’emplacement des deux moteurs dans la terre, cet avion arrivait probablement du Sud / Sud-Est (trajectoire courbe à partir d’Amiens s’orientant vers Vignacourt se trouvant au Nord-Ouest d’Amiens).

“D’autres pièces ont également été retrouvées : les deux moyeux d’hélice tripale, 3 pales plus ou moins endommagées et très corrodées, des douilles de 12,7 mm brûlées.

“Quasiment toutes les pièces ont été brûlées et sont corrodées à cause de l’incendie de l’appareil.

Translation?

“The excavation of Vignacourt took place on Saturday, October 28, 2006.  The weather forecasts threatened showers but eventually the work could be done properly.  The farmer was kind enough to postpone his seeding at the crash site to allow us to do research.

“Boston IV A-20G of the 416th Bomb Group of the 9th Air Force of the United States has been recovered.

“The two engines, Wright R-2600 radials, were found at a depth of a little more than 2 meters, which suggests that the twin-engined [aircraft], if it has not [landed] in flight, nevertheless struck the ground at a low angle.  These engines were both burned and one of the two is of lesser volume as it was certainly hit by an anti-aircraft defense shell.  We also found some cylinders, also burnt, from which we could extract some valves that seemed in good condition.

“In view of the location of the two engines in the ground, this aircraft probably came from the South / South-East (curved trajectory from Amiens to Vignacourt, northwest of Amiens).

“Other parts have also been found: the two three-bladed propeller hubs, 3 blades more or less damaged and very corroded, burned 12.7 mm shells.

“Almost all the parts had been burned and are corroded because of the fire.”

All well and good, and genuinely good:  All six men returned. 

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Other 9th Air Force A-20 losses that day, with relevant MACR and Luftgaukommando Report numbers, comprise the following:

409th Bomb Group

43-9694, 640th BS, piloted by 2 Lt. Raymond L. Gregg (3 crew; no survivors) – MACR 5086; KU 1997
43-9446, 640th BS, piloted by Capt. Leland F. Norton (4 crew; 2 survivors) – MACR 5087; KU 1992

410th Bomb Group

43-9665, 646th BS, piloted by 1 Lt. Richard K. Robinson (3 crew; 2 survivors) – MACR 5046; KU 1993
43-10218, 647th BS, piloted by 2 Lt. Warren A. Thompson (3 crew; all survived) – MACR 5037; KU 1996

416th Bomb Group

43-9983, “2A * J”, 669th BS, piloted by 2 Lt. Harry E. Hewes (3 crew; all survived) – MACR 5035; KU 1977

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But, what about the photos…? 

That’s where things become interesting. 

Both MACRs include a photograph of the two damaged planes falling below and behind the 416th’s formation.  A comparison of both pictures (not possible via Fold3) shows that the images are actually identical, having been printed from the same negative.  The only difference is that the photographic print in MACR 5032 – notably darker than that in MACR 5033 – was presumably developed (by the 416th BG photo lab?*) longer.  The notations at the bottom of the image in MACR 5033, such as focal length of 6 3/8”, probably argue for this being the “original” print.

But, what about the photos…? 

That’s where things remain interesting.

For a photograph taken under combat conditions – very likely by an automatic camera, at that – it’s actually a very good photo.  By sheer luck, the “focus” of interest – the two mortally damaged A-20s – are situated within the center of the image.  From the towns, forests, and farms on the earth below, to the 23 (ugh!) flak bursts in the upper left, to the four A-20s in flight, the resolution and clarity are excellent.  

Beyond this, the picture imparts an impression of depth (well, there was over 11,000 feet of “depth” beneath the planes), as if the viewer is not only looking at the four A-20s, but looking through and beyond them, as well. 

And ultimately, in this year of 2017, we are not only looking through space, but into the past.   

And with that discussion – oh, yes! – here are the pictures….

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The MACR for Lt. Siracusa’s bomber, first…

Here’s how the image looks in the actual MACR.  Both the photographic print and the original documents comprising the MACR are in excellent condition. 

Here’s the photograph itself, scanned at 1200 dpi.  Notice information at the bottom of the image covering date of mission, focal length of camera, and target. 

The image once more, scanned at 2400 dpi, and cropped.  The arrow is pointing to Lt. Siracusa’s plane.  The fire enveloping his starboard nacelle is striking, even from a distance.   

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And now, the MACR for Lt. Gullion’s plane…

As before, here’s the print as it appears in the MACR.

And, the image itself, at 1200 dpi.  Notice the obvious differences from the image in the previous MACR.  No information has been recorded on the print.  The photographic developing process brought out background details richly and deeply. 

Zooming in at 2400 dpi.  The arrow points to Lt. Gullion’s Havoc  This cropped view shows both their smoking (and burning!) starboard engines quite clearly, with the canopy and dorsal turret of Lt. Gullion’s plane being readily visible.

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I hope to bring you more MACR photos in the future.

– Michael G. Moskow

Acknowledgements and References

     Further information about the 416th Bomb Group can be found at the extraordinarily comprehensive 416th Bomb Group website, which covers the Group’s history and activities in a depth and breadth rarely found among most other websites covering Army Air Force Combat Groups.  (Examples: The 416th BG website includes detailed information about men wounded or injured.  Similarly, it includes combat mission loading lists.  Such details are unusual, and moreso, unusually valuable.)

416th Bomb Group Mission of 27 05 1944 to Amiens, at http://www.416th.com/missions/mission58.html

France-Crashes 1939-1945 website, (Daniel Carville), at http://francecrashes39-45.net/index.php

A-20G 43-10206 (at France-Crashes website), at http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=1848

Somme Aviation website, at http://www.somme-aviation-39-45.fr/index_.html

Recovery of wreckage of A-20G 43-10206, at http://www.somme-aviation-39-45.fr/pages-dossiers-decouverte/boston-iv-a20-g-vignacourt-27-mai-1944/boston-a-20g-vignacourt-27-mai-1944.html

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*Photo lab?  Hey, what’s a photo lab?

The Missing Photos: Photographic Images in Missing Aircrew Reports

We live in a visual world.

In terms of photographs pertaining to the WW II United States Army Air Force, sources of pictures include the U.S. Air Force Still Photography Collection (accessible at the National Archives by directly researching original photographic images, or digitally via Fold3.com), foreign archives (the National Archives of Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, as well as the archival holdings of most any nation which was involved in the war) regional and local newspapers (often only accessible as 35mm microfilm), and – perhaps the best source for “one-of-a-kind” images – the private collections of veterans, their families, and descendants. 

Images from these sources have long been featured in publications about the Army Air Force, or World War Two (in general), and the Internet as well, and will certainly continue to do so for the future.

However, there is one small but interesting source of images has long been (ironically!) missing: Photographs in Army Air Force Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of World War Two.

MACRs – referred to in previous blog posts – will doubtless need little introduction for many visitors of this website.  However, for those unfamiliar with these records, NARA publication M1380, Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, will give you a great start.

The overwhelming majority of the 16,605 MACRs are by nature comprised of documents, and, maps.  However, a very small but notable group of MACRs – 58 to be precise – include something else:  Photographs…of the aircraft (and in an unusual case, a solitary parachuting airman) covered by these documents.

Of these 58 MACRs, most – 43 – include one photograph, while the bulk of the remaining 15 include 2, 3, or 4 images.  Two contain 9 photographs, and one includes 15 photographs.  The total number of photographs among all these 58 MACRs is 101.

The MACR photographs appear to have been taken by either 1) automatic, down- or rear-facing cameras, on low-level bomb-runs, or, high altitude bombing missions, or, 2) hand-held cameras, in “air-to-air”, “air-to-ground”, and “ground to ground” situations.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of this set of 58 MACRs – 56, to be specific – pertain to bomber or transport aircraft.  One covers an F-5A reconnaissance Lightning, and another a P-40K Warhawk.

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The quality of the MACR photographs is highly variable. 

The main aspect of these images is that many – especially the air-to-air and air-to-ground images – were captured by happenstance.  Some were taken fortuitously, by a crewman seeing, sensing, and and quickly “snapping” a photograph through the nearest available window – without much time for composition or centering! – in combat conditions.  As such, the relative sized of the subject (the aircraft in question) occupying the image is relatively small.

Images of shot-down aircraft “on the ground” unsurprisingly tend to be of much better quality, at least in terms of subject size and framing. 

Overall, what these images may lack in resolution and detail is outweighed by their importance as the last reminders – both historically and symbolically – of a conflict and era that is receding into the past.  As such, these pictures don’t manifest the photographic composition, lighting, and focus of the stereotypical “official” publicity photo of an aircrew patiently posing beneath the nose-art of their bomber. 

But by nature, they do show an aspect of the nature of WW II that cannot be depicted in posed photographs.

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The table below, based on and extracted from a much larger spreadsheet covering WW II USAAF aircraft losses (based on data in MACRs, and, a variety of other sources) presents nominal information about the 58 “photographic” MACRs.  Information in the table comprises the number of the relevant MACR, the name and rank of the aircraft’s pilot, the date the aircraft was lost, the aircraft’s serial number, the type and sub-type of aircraft, the total number of photographs contained within “that” MACR, and the manner of photography of the photograph(s) therein.

The information shown “here” is limited in order to simplify and streamline the appearance of “this” blog post.  A presentation of this and other relevant information about the 58 MACRs is available in a PDF file here.

Once you open the above PDF, you’ll see the information therein arranged as listed below, with three lines of “data” per MACR:

Line 1
MACR Number

Pilot’s name and rank
Date of incident
Squadron
Group
Air Force

Fate of Crew: “Total number of crew and / or passengers (Total survivors, Total Fatalities)”
Line 2
Aircraft type and sub-type
Aircraft serial number
Squadron Designation (alphabetical, numerical, or alpha-numerical) (if any; if known; in italics)
Nickname (if any; if known; in italics)
General location where aircraft was lost or last seen (with German KU or ME Report number, if relevant)
Line 3
Total number of photographic images in MACR

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A note, and more than a note…

An acknowledgement, and more than an acknowledgement…

It is my understanding that upon their declassification in the early 1980s, MACRs were made available to the public as the “original” documents, but, with the realization of the importance and heavy use of the documents, this policy was rescinded, with the records then being made available in microfiche format – at some time in the mid-1980s – by which they could be purchased from, or directly viewed at NARA.  Fiche format MACRs are presently available at NARA, digitally through Fold3.com, and in many and varied websites in PDF, word (transcribed or summarized), or JPG formats. 

It was through a review (albeit a lengthy and intermittent review; conducted over some years!) of MACRs in fiche and digital formats that I discovered the 58 particular Reports that are the subject of this post.  That review focused on the approximately 14,900 wartime MACRs, and a smaller number of the post-war, “fill-in” MACRs which were created for gaps in wartime coverage, and, pre-mid-1943 aircraft losses.   

After I identified this set of MACRs, the National Archives very kindly granted me access to the “original” documents in order to scan photographic images within them. 

As a result of their generosity – for which I’m deeply appreciative – I’m now able to bring you this post.

And, I hope to bring you a few of the better images in the future. 

– Michael G. Moskow

____________________

Here are a few examples…

MACR 1087.  (Refer to this account at Justin Taylan’s Pacific Wrecks Database.)

MACR 5032.  (Refer to this account at the 416th Bomb Group website (maintained by Wayne G. Sayles, Rick Prucha, Chris Adams and Carl Sgamboti).

 

MACR 8440.  (Refer to this account at the 303rd Bomb Group website.)

 

MACR Pilot Date Aircraft Serial   Type of Camera
64 Perkins, John H. 1 Lt. 7/14/43 B-17F 42-3049 1 Automatic
150 Flavelle, Brian F. 1 Lt. 8/1/43 B-24D 42-40563 1 Hand-Held
304 Miller, Ralph R. 1 Lt. 8/19/43 B-17F 42-29807 1 Automatic
394 Moore, Don W. 1 Lt. 8/27/43 B-17F 42-29530 1 Hand-Held
489 McDonald, Harry L. 1 Lt. 8/30/43 B-24D 42-40217 3 Hand-Held
614 Boren, William T. Major 9/21/43 B-26B 41-31721 1 Automatic
935 Stookey, Donald L. 1 Lt. 10/16/43 B-25D 41-30561 1 Automatic
1057 Manley, Daniel 1 Lt. 10/9/43 B-25D 41-30363 1 Hand-Held
1087 Smith, Richard F/O 11/3/43 B-25G 42-64850 1 Hand-Held
1146 Gullette, Frank E. 1 Lt. 11/20/43 B-25D 41-30572 1 Hand-Held
1170 Paschal, James M. 1 Lt. 10/19/43 B-25C 41-12631 4 Hand-Held
1416 Meister, Robert A. 1 Lt. 12/17/43 B-25D 41-30661 2 Hand-Held
1423 Smith, George W. 1 Lt. 12/21/43 B-24D 41-24214 2 Hand-Held
1544 Besley, Charles E. 1 Lt. 12/21/43 B-25D 41-30771 1 Automatic?
1620 Unruh, Marion D. Col. 12/30/43 B-24D 41-24186 3 Hand-Held
1629 Morse, Roger W. 1 Lt. 1/3/44 B-24D 42-41205 1 Hand-Held?
2450 Sutphen, Harry S. Capt. 2/22/44 B-25G 42-64779 1 Hand-Held
2578 Ecklund, Robert D. 1 Lt. 12/27/43 F-5A 42-13068 2 Recon & Hand-Held
2761 Fletcher, William H. 1 Lt. 2/21/44 B-17G 42-37796 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
3680 Rauh, Theodore A. 1 Lt. 4/2/44 B-24J 42-73150 1 Hand-Held
3971 Rogers, Robert J., Jr. 2 Lt. 4/2/44 B-24H 41-28698 1 Hand-Held
5032 Gullion, Allen W. 1 Lt. 5/27/44 A-20G 43-10206 1 Automatic
5033 Siracusa, Lucian J. 1 Lt. 5/27/44 A-20G 43-10203 1 Automatic
5303 Moran, Bart 2 Lt. 5/29/44 B-17G 42-107052 9 Hand-Held (Ground)
5536 Randolph, Benjamin D. 1 Lt. 6/3/44 A-20G 43-9959 1 Automatic
5628 Jackson, Loren E. 2 Lt. 6/12/44 B-17G 42-31762 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
5982 Burch, Richard W. Capt. 6/20/44 B-17G 42-97892 1 Automatic
6070 Casey, Thomas V. 2 Lt. 6/22/44 B-25J 43-27656 1 Hand-Held
6455 Dunn, Lamar J. 1 Lt. 6/26/44 B-24H 42-50401 1 Hand-Held
6456 Carter, Thomas J. Major 6/26/44 B-24H 42-95451 1 Automatic
6996 Jones, Ellsoworth D. 2 Lt. 7/28/44 B-24H 41-29275 1 Automatic
7419 DeMatio, Donald H. 2 Lt. 7/19/44 B-24H 42-94893 2 Hand-Held
7685 Hoschar, John P. 1 Lt. 8/15/44 B-25J 43-27783 1 Automatic?
8187 Carpenter, Floyd B. 2 Lt. 9/2/44 P-40K 42-9860 15 Automatic
8440 Litman, Arnold S. Capt. 8/15/44 B-17G 43-37838 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
9750 Barnsley, Daniel V. 2 Lt. 10/21/44 B-24J 44-40557 3 Hand-Held
9906 Yaeger, William C. 1 Lt. 9/17/44 C-47A 42-100648 1 Hand-Held
10154 Levitoff, Julius 2 Lt. 11/6/44 B-17G 42-97330 1 Hand-Held
10156 Campbell, Robert G. 1 Lt. 11/2/44 B-17G 43-38670 1 Automatic?
10303 Alleman, James E. 2 Lt. 11/5/44 B-17G 43-38363 1 Hand-Held
11392 McKanna, Ellis J. Capt. 1/18/45 B-25J 43-27649 2 ?
11555 Smith, Edmund G. 1 Lt. 1/27/45 B-29 42-24769 1 Automatic
11574 Eisenhart, Oliver T. 2 Lt. 1/13/45 B-17G 43-38689 1 Automatic
11576 Statton, Roy F. 1 Lt. 1/10/45 B-17G 42-97861 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
11577 McGinnis, Martin S. Capt. 1/13/45 B-17G 42-107099 1 Hand-Held
11713 Murchland, Robert K. 1 Lt. 1/18/45 B-25J 43-4069 2 Hand-Held
12050 Bierwirth, Herman L. 1 Lt. 2/8/45 B-24L 44-41470 1 ?
12092 Figler, Roman H. 1 Lt. 2/13/45 B-25J 43-27670 1 Hand-Held
12130 Ross, Charles D. 1 Lt. 2/5/45 B-25J 43-36098 1 Hand-Held
12680 Smith, Jay B. Lt. Col. 2/22/45 B-26C 42-107745 3 Hand-Held (Ground)
13419 Kreiser, Joseph R. Capt. 3/24/45 C-46D 44-77582 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
13421 Phillips, Moorhead 1 Lt. 3/24/45 C-46D 44-77595 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
13422 Hamilton, Gerard E. 2 Lt. 3/24/45 C-46D 44-77512 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
13431 Barton, Junior R. 1 Lt. 3/24/45 C-46D 44-77474 1 Hand-Held (Ground)
13515 Bauer, Christian C., Jr. 2 Lt. 3/6/45 B-25J 43-36150 2 Hand-Held
14351 Custer, Glenn R. 2 Lt. 5/4/45 B-24M 44-42058 1 Automatic
14408 Larsen, Leonard G. 1 Lt. 5/10/45 B-25J 43-36149 1 Hand-Held
15098 Norton, Charles E. Capt. 9/24/42 B-17E 41-2420 4 Hand-Held (Ground)

References

NARA Publication M 1380: Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington. D.C., 2005

“B-25G-5 Mitchell Serial Number 42-64850″, at http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-25/42-64850.html.

B-17G Fearless Fosdick, at http://www.303rdbg.com/pp-fearlessfosdick-crash.html. (Website copyright by Gary L. Moncur.)

“416th Bomb Group Mission # 58”, at http://www.416th.com/missions/mission58.html.  (Website copyright by Wayne G. Sayles.)

A Point in Time, A Point in Space: In the Cockpit of a B-17 Over Europe

Photographs of military aircraft taken during aerial missions are legion, having existed in all forms of print media since the First World War.  With the advent of the internet, such images can now be found as instantaneously as they are created. 

The commonality of such pictures, regardless of the conflict, country, or activity, is that by their nature the great majority of such images – especially those from the early and mid-twentieth century – capture action and events occurring outside of the aircraft or platform from which the photographer is situated.  That aspect of aerial photography is so natural and taken-for-granted that it hardly bears mentioning. 

That is, until one comes across the opposite:  A picture of activity within a military airplane during a combat mission. 

Such an image is the subject of this discussion.

In an earlier blog post, photographic images were presented of a P-51D Mustang fighter (“Chicago’s Own”, of the 354th Fighter Group) which was crash-landed near Niederkirchen, Germany, on December 1, 1944 by Captain Gordon T. McEachron.  These images are found in German Luftgaukommado Report “J 2525”, at the United States National Archives, in College Park, Maryland. 

That post included two “Meldung über den Abschuss eines US-amerikanischen Flugzeuges” (Notification About the Shooting Down of a U.S. Aircraft) forms, showing how the German armed forces recorded information about downed American military aircraft, and, their crews.  One of the two forms, in J 2525, is an example of how single-seat fighter aircraft were documented.

The other from, from Luftgaukommando Report KU 3493 (KU being an acronym for Kampfflugzeug Unterlagen – “combat aircraft documentation”) covers a B-17G Flying Fortress, and shows how multi-crew aircraft were documented.  The crew list in KU 3493 appears below, and will bring us to the photograph that is the topic of this post.

43-38215-crew-list-ku-3493-360Crew list in “original” KU Report

a40-macr-11368-crew-list

Crew list in translated KU Report, as seen in MACR 11368

KU 3493 was filed for B-17G Flying Fortress 42-97215 (erroneously listed in MACR 11368 as “43-97215”), “BG * J“, of the 334th Bomb Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, which was piloted by 2 Lt. Stewart D. Reed, and shot down during a mission to Hamburg on December 31, 1944.     

MACR 11368 notes that there were no direct witnesses to the plane’s loss, but presents the following account, derived from S-2 files, for the incident:  “B-17G 43-97215 [sic] piloted by 2 Lt. Reed was seen to be hit by enemy fighters from 6 to 8 minutes after “bombs away”.  The attack was made from 5 to 7 o’clock high and out of the sun.  The aircraft was hit on the first pass on the #3 engine causing it to catch fire.  The pilot endeavored to put out the fire but failed to do so.  The aircraft went in a slow spiral under fairly good control.  One chute was seen before the aircraft was lost from sight at 53-20 N, 09-30 E at 1153 hours.”

KU 3493 gives no information specifying where the individual crewmen were actually captured or recovered.  However, the document gives four place names – all generally similar – denoting the area where the plane crash-landed, and, the general locality of all events relevant to the loss of 42-97215.  These are “Lauenbrueck near Hanover”, “Lauenbrueck 15 km [from] Rothenburg”, “Lauenbrueck-Hollege-Vahlde bei Rotenburg”, and “Lauenbruch (Lauen bridge) on Reichstrasse, Hamburg / Bremen”.

map-hamburg-bremen-regionGoogle map of Hamburg, Rotenburg, and nearby localities.

map-lauenbruckGoogle map of Lauenbrück

Besides Lt. Reed, the other eight men in the plane’s crew were:

Co-Pilot:                                            2 Lt. Harold Joseph Rensch
Navigator:                                         F/O Anthony A. Marnik, Jr.
Nose Gunner (Togglier?):             Sgt. Charles Oscar Doughty
Flight Engineer:                               S/Sgt. William Andrew Raab
Radio Operator:                               Sgt. George LeRoy Carrier
Ball Turret Gunner:                         Sgt. Morgan Joseph Heafey
Waist Gunner:                                  Sgt. Richard G. Saalfeld
Tail Gunner:                                      Sgt. Hyrum Lamar Spencer

Four of these men – Heafey, Marnik, Saalfeld, and Spencer – did not survive the mission.  The others were captured and imprisoned, returning to the United States after the war’s end.

A review of postwar accounts by the survivors reveals that Carrier, Doughty, Marnik, Raab (wounded in the arm by flak), Rensch, and Saafeld bailed out, while Lt. Reed crash-landed the plane with Heafey and Spencer still aboard. 

Heafey was instantly killed by a direct hit on the ball turret.  Spencer, severely wounded, died shortly after landing.  Carrier suggested that he could have been saved had he received immediate medical attention. 

The fates of Marnik and Saalfeld present a mystery.    

Saalfeld, after bailing out, was seen alive, in mid-air, by Rensch.  His name (along with those of Heafey and Spencer, and the surviving crew members) does appear in the crew list recorded in KU 3493.  Rensch suggested that he, “May have been captured by radical civilians & slain”.

Marnik was not seen after the crew bailed out, and his fate was still under investigation in August of 1945, indicated in a statement filed by Doughty with the Adjutant General’s Office.  Therein, Doughty reported, “Plane hit by fighters.  The plane immediately went into a flat spin.  I saw Marnik jump from the plane.  After he jumped he was never heard of again.  I believe that Marnik might have become unconscious from lack of oxygen after he bailed out at over 22,000 ft and there by not open [sic] his chute.  He has not been heard of since.” 

Document “131615” within KU 3493 states that Marnik was “recovered dead” at Burg / Sittensen – almost six north-northwest of Lauenbrueck – on December 31, at 12:15, about twenty minutes after 42-97215 was shot down.  Though this document gives his serial number and name, neither his rank nor any other information is listed.  Oddly, his date of burial – at Gross-Sittensen – is noted as having occurred nearly two weeks later: On February 12, 1945.  This explains the absence of Marnik’s name from KU 3493, which was filed on January 18, 1945.

map-lauenbruck-sittensenGoogle map of area of Sittensen, Lauenbrück, and nearby localities.

Given the limited and cryptic information in the MACR, more information about what actually befell Saalfeld and Marnik might be found in the IDPFs (Individual Deceased Personnel Files) for these men.  If possible war crimes had been investigated, then Case Files for these men may exist within the records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (NARA Records Group 153).

But about the men of 42-97215… 

Like many (but certainly not all) MACRs filed for crews of multi-place aircraft, MACR 11368 gives the names and addresses of the crew’s next of kin.  These are:

Those, Who Survived

Pilot: 2 Lt. Stewart Dean Reed (POW, Stalag Luft I)
Born October 11, 1921
Margaret C. Reed (wife), 1402 Dodson St., San Pedro, Ca.
Dr. Claude L. and Mildred Reed (parents), Wakefield, Ks.
Stewart Reed died on July 12, 2009, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of July 15 of that year.

Co-Pilot: 2 Lt. Harold Joseph Rensch (POW, Stalag Luft III)
Elizabeth D. Rensch (mother), Makoti, N.D.

Nose Gunner (Togglier?):
Sgt. Charles Oscar Doughty (POW, Stalag Luft III)
Agnes M. Doughty (mother), 30 Baker St., Norwalk, Oh.

Flight Engineer:
S/Sgt. William Andrew Raab (POW, Stalag Luft III)
William L. and Catherine Raab (parents), 59 Seyle Terrace, Rochester, N.Y.
Sgt. William Raab in the Rochester Times Union, May 29, 1945.

raab-william-a-rochester-times-union-1945-05-29-2_edited-1Sgt. William Raab in the Rochester Times Union, May 29, 1945.

Radio Operator: Sgt. George LeRoy Carrier (POW, camp unknown)
Lola M. Carrier (wife), 806 North Gordy St., Eldorado, Ks.

Those, Who Gave All

Navigator: F/O Anthony A. Marnik, Jr. (Born 8/18/20)
Anton and Sophie (Eltman) Marnik (parents), Jean and Raymond (sister and brother)
4138 North Lavergne Ave., Chicago, Il.            
Place of Burial: Saint Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, Niles, Il.; Section 52, Block A, Lot 3.
Buried September 7, 1949, as reported in Chicago Tribune of September 1.

marnik-anthony-a-cropped_edited-2Anthony A. Marnik, Jr., in the DePaulian (De Paul University yearbook) for Class of 1938. 

____________________

Ball Turret Gunner: Sgt. Morgan Joseph Heafey (Born 8/23/22)        
John C. and Helen Cecelia (Gillespie) Heafey (parents)
3825 South 25th St., Omaha, Ne.
John C. Heafey, Helen C. (Heafey) Kinnear, Thomas E. Heafey (brothers and sister)
Place of Burial: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Omaha, Ne.

heafey-morgan-j-portrait____________________

Waist Gunner: Sgt. Richard G. Saalfeld (Born 5/3/24)
Herman H. and Lillian F. Saalfeld (parents), Harold C. and Herman A. Saalfeld (brothers)
2302 G St., Ohama, Ne.
Place of Burial: Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Omaha, Ne.

saalfeld-richard-g-article-2____________________

Tail Gunner: Sgt. Hyrum Lamar Spencer (Born 10/28/19)
Glenda (Winget) Spencer [later Smith] (wife), Ronald H. Spencer (1941-1943) and Kenneth Austin Spencer (sons)
Box 157, Monroe, Ut.
Austin Jabez and Hannah Elizabeth (Price) Spencer (parents); Nine siblings (four sisters and six brothers)
Place of Burial: Aurora Cemetery, Aurora, Ut.; Block 7, Grave 5; Buried June, 1949

spencer-hyrum-l-portrait-2____________________

A Captured Moment, Captured

Now, the subject of this post:  One photograph.

The image is rather small: about two by three inches.

It’s not entirely in focus.

It’s overexposed.

There is no information recorded upon it – whether on the print itself, or its reverse side.  It’s “anonymous”. 

There is no information about it within KU 3493.  It’s simply present among the documents contained in the report.

But, precisely because it’s not a “professional” image, it has an aura of mystery (well, a small mystery) that evoke questions about its origins:  Who was the photographer?  When was it taken?  What kind of camera was used? 

Some observations:

The picture was taken by someone immediately behind the pilot and co-pilot, probably situated in the space between the B-17’s dorsal turret and pilots’ seats.

The pilot’s right hand rests on the throttles.  His head slightly is turned to the right, while the co-pilot’s head is slightly turned to the left.  Details of the top of the instrument panel, the ceiling mounted instruments, ceiling light, and wiring between the upper windows, are clearly visible.     

Both men are wearing external radio headsets over their flight helmets; especially evident for the pilot.   

From the pattern of light and shadow on the pilot’s left arm, and especially the glare upon the right windshield and obscuring the co-pilot’s face, it seems that the plane is flying towards the sun.    

Given that the picture is entirely undamaged and unmarked, I assume that it was confiscated by the Germans from Lt. Reed himself, Rensch, Doughty, Raab, or Carrier, after their capture.  If I were to venture a guess, I would suggest it was taken by Sgt. Charles O. Doughty.  (But, that is only a guess.)

42-92215-ku-3493-macr-11368-photo-2b-600-cropped-working_edited-1-bwSomewhere over Europe, seventy-two years ago.

This photo is strikingly reminiscent of a depiction of a B-17 pilot at the controls of his bomber that appeared in John Muirhead’s 1986 book Those Who Fall.

those-who-fallThe book (cover by Eric Joyner) is a memoir of Muirhead’s experiences as a Flying Fortress in the 32nd Bomb Squadron of the 301st Bomb Group, a Bomb Group assigned to the 15th Air Force’s 5th Bomb Wing.  It encompasses the time from his arrival at the 301st’s base at Lucera, Italy, in February of 1944, through June 23, 1944, when his plane and crew were shot down on a mission to Ploesti (covered in MACR 16203), and concludes with his liberation from Bulgarian captivity in September of that year.

Published by Random House in 1986, his book merits very high praise.  The quality of writing is excellent, equaled by the depth of the author’s observations about the complexities of human nature; relationships between and among his crewmen, comrades, commanders, and Italian civilians; the seeming randomness of human fate during war; history, human nature, and “life” in general. 

Some of the names in the book may be pseudonyms, some characters may be “composites” of different personalities, and the accounts of some combat missions may be based on a combination of memory, anecdote, and personal impressions, along with historical records.  No matter.  These qualities do not detract from the book’s literary and historical worth. 

Fifteen sketches by Susan Coons, in pencil or charcoal, are interspersed throughout the book, and depict personalities, combat, and life at 301st’s Italian base at Lucera.  These have no captions, the reader being left to infer such from nearby or related text.   

One sketch image is particularly compelling, and is a fitting counterpart to KU 3493’s anonymous photo: It depicts a B-17 pilot, right hand resting on the throttles of his aircraft, as sunlight reflects off his windshield. those-who-fall-john-muirhead-1986-p-127-susan-coonsLike the pilots in the photo – seen at an unknown time and unknown place somewhere over Europe (or perhaps even earlier, over the continental United States?) – the pilot in Susan Coons’ sketch is piloting his aircraft into the sun, towards an unknown destination. 

Like the crew of aircraft B-17G #215, he is flying into history. 

As are we all – whether earthbound, airborne, or between – each in our own quiet way.

References

Books

Freeman, Roger A., and Osborne, David, The B-17 Flying Fortress Story, Arms & Armour Press, London, England, 1998.

Muirhead, John, Those Who Fall, Random House, 1986, New York, NY.

Rust, Ken C., Fifteenth Air Force Story, 1976, Historical Aviation Album, Temple City, Ca.

Biographical Information

Heafey, Morgan J., biographical information by Loren Bender, at http://www.findagrave.com/.

Marnik, Anthony A., Jr., information and photograph from DePaulian 1938 (De Paul University Yearbook), accessed through Ancestry.com.

Marnik, Anthony A., Jr., biographical information by “Russ C.”; photograph of tombstone by Mary Arvidson, at http://www.findagrave.com/.

Raab, Sgt. William A., Rochester Times Union, May 29, 1945, accessed via Fulton History website, at http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html.

Reed, Stewart D., obituary and biographical material at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?n=stewart-dean-reed&pid=129752191

Saalfeld, Richard G., biographical information by Loren Bender and “SRGF”, at http://www.findagrave.com/.

Spencer, Hyrum L., biographical information and photographs by his son, Kenneth Austin Spencer, at http://www.findagrave.com/.

Archival Documents

KU (Kampfflugzeug Unterlagen) Report 3493

United States National Archives – Collection of Foreign Record Seized – Record Group 242: “Records of Luftgaukommandos: German Reports of Downed Allied Fighters and Other Aircraft

Report KU 3493: (At) Records Group 242, Entry 1022, Shelf Location 190 / 14 / 9-12 / 1-5 (Box 306)

Also see: https://research.archives.gov/id/64379

– Michael G. Moskow