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

This page presents the other pictures in Luftgaukommando Report 1054, in a format akin to the prior blog post.

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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

____________________

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: APN-1 Radar Altimeter and M.C.R.-1 Miniature Communications Receiver

____________________

Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1

Pictures 8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1

Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1

Pictures 8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1

Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1

Pictures 8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1

Bild 11:         RT-3 / APN-1

Picture 11:            RT-3 / APN-1

Comments:  Here are several views of the APN-1 radar altimeter.  The case has been damaged and the front cable sockets removed, but the interior of the unit – chassis and attached components – is completely intact. 

A video description of the APN-1, created by the infoagemuseum (Wall, New Jersey – in Monmouth County) and narrated by Mr. Ray Chase, describes the operation of the unit.  A beautiful set of illustrations of a (quite intact!) APN-1 is available at the website of Aces, Contrails and Unsung Heroes, while the schematic diagram of the APN-1 can be found at this link to the Waverley Amateur Radio Society

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Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Pictures 17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Pictures 17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Pictures 17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Comments for Photos 17 and 18: One aspect of the crew’s intended mission is evidenced by the subject of these images:  A Miniature Communications Receiver – 1 (“M.C.R.-1”).  The M.C.R.-1, a portable, tube-based miniature receiver unit, was designed for use by S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) Agents, Special Forces, and Resistance Groups.    

An M.C.R.-1 unit with its associated components is seen lying on a table.  Three power packs (one of which is connected to the unit by a short cable) are present, while on the right are three “Frequency Plug-In” coil packs, each of a different frequency range (2.5 MHz – 4.5 MHz, 4.5 MHz – 8 MHz, and 8 MHz – 15 MHz), which extend the receiver’s length. 

A thorough description of the M.C.R.-1 (with very nice color photographs) is available at the CryptoMuseum website.  The operating manual for the receiver – in which it’s dubbed a “Midget Communications Receiver” – can be found here, while the schematic diagram of the unit (via the Waverley Amateur Radio Society) can be found here

The Luftgaukommando Report includes a small and fascinating bonus:  It contains a very actual – quite original – very genuine – surviving remnant of the McDonald crew’s last mission: a placard of operating instructions for an M.C.R.-1. 

A superb set of images of an M.C.R.-1 and its associated components (including interior views of both the receiver and its power supply) as well as instructions covering its installation and use, is available at Jan Poortman’s PA3ESY Vintage Radio Collection website

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References

Harrington Museum – Carpetbagger Planes (compiled by Roy Tebbutt)

Harrington Museum  (Aircraft of the 801st / 492nd Bomb Groups, and 406th NLS, compiled by Roy Tebbutt)
http://www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Carpetbagger-planes.pdf

Harrington Museum (List of Allied Aircraft lost on Special Duty Operations, compiled by Roy Tebbutt)
http://www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Aircraft-lost-on-Allied-Forces-Special-Duty-Operations.pdf

Frank G. McDonald Crew

USAAF Special Operations – 801 BG – 492 BG Carpetbaggers (McDonald Crew History)
http://www.801492.org/Air%20Crew/McDonald/McDonald%20Crew.html

USAAF Special Operations – 801 BG – 492 BG Carpetbaggers (McDonald Crew Orders)
http://www.801492.org/Air%20Crew/SO%20Singles/SO75-Sta102-431216.pdf

USAAF Special Operations – 801 BG – 492 BG Carpetbaggers (McDonald Mission Reports)
http://www.801492.org/Air%20Crew/McDonald/McDonald%20Crew%20MRs.zip

Escape & Evasion Report 669 (Lt. Frederick C. Kelly)

NARA Escape & Evasion Report search portal:
https://catalog.archives.gov/id/305270

NARA Escape & Evasion Report search portal (Escape & Evasion Report 669, for Frederick C. Kelly):
https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5555339

WW II Escape and Evasion Information Exchange (Directory of MIS-X Report Numbers for members of US Army Air Forces, and, US Army Ground Forces) – An extraordinarily comprehensive website! 
http://www.conscript-heroes.com/Art38-MIS-X.html

BC-929A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (general description):
https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/indicator-radar-interrogator-bc-929-anapn-2-rebecca-mk-iia

AeroAntique.com (general description):
https://aeroantique.com/collections/other-instruments/products/receiver-indicator-rebecca-id-169a-apn12-bc-929-a?variant=28901668295

QSL.net (“Connecting Hams Around the World”) (brief description):
http://www.qsl.net/pe1ngz/airforce/airforce-raf/raf-eureka-rebecca.html

Wikipedia Entry for Rebecca Radar Interrogator:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca/Eureka_transponding_radar

Walt Gromov’s Radio Museum – Communications in WW I and WW II:
“Graphic Survey of Radio and Radar Equipment Used by the Army Air Forces – Radio Navigation Equipment – 1 July 1945” (BC-929 and APN-1 illustrated in document)
http://www.rkk-museum.ru/documents/archives/images/52b-45-04.pdf

Braun’scher Tube

The Inventors.org
http://theinventors.org/library/inventors/blkarlbraun.htm

APN-1 Radar Altimeter

Aces, Contrails, & Unsung Heroes (Photos and description)
http://www.usaaf.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=1035

Waverley Amateur Radio Society
http://vk2bv.org/archive/museum/apn1.htm

Waverley Amateur Radio Society (APN-1 schematic diagram)
http://vk2bv.org/archive/museum/k-files/apn1.gif

HyperWar (Use of the APN-1)
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ref/RADTWOA/RADTWOA-6.html

Inforagemuseum (Video about APN-1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9nsNCibnC8

VMARS (Vintage and Military Amateur Radio Society) Manuals (APN-1 Manual
“Handbook Maintenance Instructions for Radio Set AN / APN-2  –  AN APN-2Y  –  AN / APN-2B (1945 09 25) (Technical Order 12P-5 – 2APN-2)”
http://www.vmarsmanuals.co.uk/archive/4016_APN-2_Maintenance_Manual.pdf

Miniature Communications Receiver M.C.R.-1

Crypto Museum (Description of M.C.R.-1)
http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/mcr1/

Crypto Museum (Detailed instruction manual for M.C.R.-1)
http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/mcr1/files/mcr1_manual.pdf

Imperial War Museum (Photographs of M.C.R.-1)
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30005792

Waverley Amateur Radio Society (M.C.R.-1 schematic diagram)
http://vk2bv.org/archive/museum/k-files/mcr1.gif

Jan Poortman’s Vintage Radio Website (illustrations of M.C.R.-1)
https://www.pa3esy.nl/military/gb/army/mcr-1/html/mcr1_set.html

Books

Freeman, Roger, The Mighty Eighth – A History of the U.S. 8th Army Air Force, Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City, N.Y., 1970 (Special Operations Group – Carpetbagger history summarized on p. 263)

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. 

____________________

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 1679, 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…

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

The three prior blog posts concerning photographs in Luftgaukommando Reports (that for P-51D Mustang 44-14040 (“Chicago’s Own”) in Report J 2525, and the two posts for B-24H Liberator 41-28754 (“Tell Me More”) in Report KU 1680) share a fortunate similarity:  The aviators aboard that Mustang and Liberator all survived the loss of their planes.  Taken prisoner, they all returned to the United States after the war’s end. 

The loss of the aircraft covered in this blog post – B-24D Liberator 42-63792 of the 36th Bomb Squadron, 328th (later 801st) Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, covered in Missing Air Crew Report 3666, resulted in a different outcome:  One crew member evaded capture, but one aviator was killed in the loss of the aircraft, and the remainder spent the rest of the war as POWs.

In historical and archival terms, the Luftgaukommando Report (KU 1054) covering the loss of this bomber so far has the distinction of having the largest number of photographic images I’ve found in any KU Report I’ve examined.

This is probably attributable to the nature of the electronic equipment found in the plane, which comprised three notable items: 1) A BC-929-A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator, 2) An APN-1 Radar Altimeter, and 3) A M.C.R.-1 Miniature Communications Receiver.

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This nicknameless Liberator, piloted by 1 Lt. Frank G. McDonald, squadron letter “U”, was lost at 23:30 on the evening of March 2 – 3, 1944, during an operation dubbed “Musician 5”.  The Crew’s Mission Report for March 3, 1944 describes the plane’s load as 3 packages and 13 containers (both of unspecified contents), and 10 leaflets (containers of leaflets?). 

Roy Tebbutt’s extraordinarily comprehensive document “Aircraft lost on Allied Force’s Special Duty Operations & Associated Roll of Honour” states that the plane was shot down by flak mounted on railway cars.  The crash location in his compilation is stated as “Hem-Hardinval, Fienvillers (Somme)”, France, which is consistent with the location given in the KU Report as “five kilometers southwest of Doullens”.

Co-pilot Lt. Frederick C. Kelly’s Escape & Evasion Casualty Questionnaire (one page of which is included in the MACR; the transcribed account is given below), states that the propeller on the #1 engine was damaged, the #2 engine was on fire, the #3 engine was struck by flak and inoperative, the tail turret would not work because of damage to the hydraulic system.  And unsurprisingly, the fuselage was peppered with flak holes.

Here is a page from the KU Report describing the plane’s wreckage.  Note that the investigator identified the plane as a “Boeing Fortress II”.  (!)

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Here is the crew list in the MACR:

More information about the crew – all of whom were still in the aircraft when it crashed – is given below:

Pilot
McDonald, Frank Green, 1 Lt., 0-675932

Mrs. Mary Thornton (mother), 1975 Sabine Pass, Beaumont, Tx. (or) 2823 South Adams St., Fort Worth, Tx.
Born 7/15/17; Died 1/15/99
Buried Hopewell Cemetery, Bowie, Tx. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) – (North Compound 1)

Co-PilotKelly, Frederick Clyde, 2 Lt., 0-681112
Mrs. Frederick C. Kelly (wife), 26 Bellevue Road, Arlington, Ma.
Mrs. Elnora E. Watson (mother), Main Street, Taftsville, Vt.
Born 7/14/23
Evaded – Returned to England approximately June 1, 1944

NavigatorKendall, Thomas H, 2 Lt., 0-690665
Mr. Philip R. Kendall (father), Williamsburg, Oh.
POW Stalag 7A (Moosburg)

BombardierShevlin, Edward Francis, 2 Lt., 0-679669
Mrs. Mary R. Shevlin (wife), 908 Presidio, Forth Worth, Tx.
Born 8/12/19, Cortland, N.Y.; Died 3/7/11
Buried Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Titusville, Fl. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
(Edward Shevlin’s tombstone – illustrated in his biography at FindAGrave – gives his wartime rank as S/Sgt.  This is almost certainly in error.)
POW Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) – (North Compound 1)

Flight Engineer Gellerman, Norman Raymond, T/Sgt., 37309882, 5 missions, AM, PH, KIA – Sole Fatality
Mrs. Virginia L. Gellerman (wife), 1415 Palace St., St. Paul, Mn.
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Louis and Winnifred Gertrude (McHugh) Gellerman (parents)
Brothers and sister: Vincent Clay, John Paul, Francis J., Louis Ernest, Roger Leonard, and Kathleen Mary
Born 12/20/17, Ramsey County, Minnesota
Normandy American Cemetery, St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France – Plot A, Row 13, Grave 32 (https://www.findagrave.com/)

Radio OperatorRoss, Warren Lewis, T/Sgt., 16092986
Mrs. Carrie E. Ross (mother), 216 West Ann St., Ann Arbor, Mi.
POW Stalag Luft 6 (Heydekrug)

Gunner (Right Waist)Goswick, Leroy Ellsowrth, S/Sgt., 13090050
Mrs. Amy Goswick (mother), 19 South 2nd St., Youngwood, Pa.
Born 7/28/22, Youngwood, Pa.; Died 1/12/17, Greensburg, Pa. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
Buried Youngwood Cemetery, Youngwood, Pa.
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)

Gunner (Tail)DeCoste, Edward Henry, S/Sgt., 11087792
Mr. Alcid Decoste (father), 36 Adams St., Newtonville, Ma.
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)

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Though the MACR gives no details, translated German documents indicate that Lieutenant Shevlin was captured on March 3 in Rosieres, and was hospitalized at Luftwaffe Hospital 8 /31 at Amiens with a broken leg and a wound to his lower left arm.  Sergeant Goswick appears to have been captured by May 11.  The German crew roster in the MACR (translated from the German KU Report) also lists the capture of Lieutenants McDonald and Kendall, and Sergeant De Coste, but does not specify the dates and places of their capture.  The surnames of Lieutenant Kelly, and Sergeants Ross and Jennings appear in the translated crew roster with no further information.  The 801st/492nd BG website specifically states that some of the POWs had been betrayed to the Germans by collaborators.

What about Lieutenant Kelly?  As mentioned above, he was the proverbial “one that got away”. 

A transcript of the typewritten account he composed for his Escape & Evasion Report (E&E Report 699) appears below.  (Notably, what follows isn’t a verbatim transcript.  I’ve included those few sentences and phrases which were “struck out” of the original document, as struck-through text.) 

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LIEUTENANT FREDERICK C. KELLY’S ACCOUNT OF ESCAPE AND EVASION

We were shot down by flak.  The plane crashed and a couple of us were thrown out.  We walked several miles and slept the rest of the night in a gully, where we also stayed the next day.  That night some Frenchmen who had seen us brought us bread.  We continued walking, and lay up in a shed on the edge of town, and spent the next day there.  In the evening a girl who had come upon us gave us food.  At nightfall we continued on our journey southwards, found a barn from which no dogs scared us away, and rested part of the night in a barn.

The third morning we approached an old man.  He said that the women of the village would take care of us.  We were led down the main street of the village, still dressed in our flying clothes, and taken in out of sight.  We were then given civilian clothes and taken to a house from which our journey was arranged.

However, when I got down in the S of France something went wrong with my helpers’ connections, of the people who were helping me.  I was given a railroad ticket to another town and continued the journey to Spain on my own.  After the train ride I walked out of the town and spent the night in bushes by a river.  The next morning I made the mistake of walking to the NE.  I spent the night outside a village and approached help the next morning and was told to take a bus to a town where I could find directions for getting to Spain.  The bus, however, went only as far as the town at which I left the railroad.  So I continued walking S and was taken in by a peasant who agreed to shelter me if I would leave my identity papers with him for the night.  It seemed that the farther S in France I went the more suspicious the people were

I walked to the town to which I had been directed, was fed by a peasant, and went on to a town farther to the S.  On the way a French gendarme checked my identity papers and asked me where I was going.  When I told him he asked me why I was going there.  “To work”, I explained, my identity card said that I was a blacksmith.  The gendarme laughed and let me go.  I spent an uncomfortably cold night in a shed outside of town and was colder than hell

I walked all the next day and spent that night in a sheep-fold.  The next day I continued walking.  About 1000 the next morning a women took me in and fed me.  She explained that it was dangerous to be found in the area along the Spanish border, that it was a in the Zone Interdite along the Spanish border, which I already knew from P/W lectures.  This woman kindly arranged got a guide to take me over the mountains.

Additional Comments

Airmen should have explained to them the difference between regular French gendarmes and the Vichy police – they wear different caps, for instance.  Men should be especially careful in the south of France where the people are not as friendly as in the north; they will feed you but are less likely to shelter you.

If you are not being moved it is a good idea to set a definite date by which your helpers must take some action; if they do not move you or do not give you a good reason for their failure to move you, you had better go on your own.

Statement of information covering the period from 2 March to 21 April 1944

Appendix B

Traveling by train from AMIENS to Paris in middle April informant saw that the railway yards at ALBET had been thoroughly blown up by bombing, with box cars strewn around and locomotives overturned.  AMIENS railway yards had also been hit but had not suffered so much damage.

In March or early April there was some kind of maneuvers around CONTY (Somme).  Infantry and tanks were involved (hearsay).

Informant saw a submarine in the river at BORDEAUX in middle April.

Informant was told, that DAX was a military headquarters of some sort.  Between BORDEAUX and DAX he saw a lot of German soldiers, most of whom seemed to be young.  There seems to be a large hospital at DAX; informant saw many German nurses.

There are a number of airfields between DAX and PONTONX  (Pontoux sur l’Adour)

Appendix D

I used the Horlocks tablets, milk tube, halazone tablets, matches, adhesive tape, chewing gum, water bottle, and compass.  The water bottle leaked.  There should be a check to see that the kits are new and in good condition.

I carried a yellow purse, the contents of which I gave to helpers. 

I carried eight passport-size photographs, one of which I used on my identity card.

I had been lectured on evasion and escape.  The lectures were of value only in so far as they concerned the use of the escape kits.  I don’t believe that I had ever heard of evaders.  At CCRC on November I believe I heard only a lecture on enemy interrogation, which was excellent.

Suggestions:  Carry every escape aid that you can.  Keep optimistic.

Lieutenant Kelly arrived in Spain on April 21, reached Gibraltar on May 29, and departed for England May 31. 

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Akin to the blog post concerning B-24H Tell Me More, I’ve used Google (what else…no-one escapes Google!)* to generate maps – at successively larger scales – of the plane’s crash site, with the “concluding” image being an aerial view of the crash site as it appears in now, 2017.  The most probable general location of the crash site is denoted by a red oval superimposed on the maps and photo. 

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The next two blog posts cover the 19 photographs contained in the Luftgaukommando Report for 42-63792.  Click ahead…!

* Yet…. 

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?

A Path in the Sky: A Navigator’s Log from a Downed B-17

In prior posts, I presented photographs from German Luftgaukommando Reports – in the United States National Archives – concerning a P-51D Mustang fighter, and, a B-17G Flying Fortress, which were lost in combat missions over Germany in late 1944.  For the former, a series of technical intelligence photographs taken by the Germans upon recovery of the crash-landed fighter.  For the latter, a remarkable “in-plane” / “in-flight” photograph carried by and captured from one of the B-17’s crewmen.

This post – covering another Luftgaukommando Report – is a little different, for it shows a find of a different sort:  An intact and complete Air Corps Navigator’s Log retrieved from a crash-landed Flying Fortress, which has survived in much the same condition as when the last notations were recorded upon it a little over 72 years ago.

The story behind the Log?

It began at 8:03 A.M. on Tuesday, December 26, 1944, when B-17G 44-6337, Kandy, of the 32nd Bomb Squadron, 301st Bomb group, piloted by 1 Lt. Harry Owen Filer, departed for a mission to the oil refinery complex at Blechhammer South, Germany.

Missing Air Crew Report 10746 carries three accounts of the plane’s disappearance.

     1 Lt. Charles A. Dews, navigator, reported, “Right after bombs away, Plane No. 6337 started falling back from formation.  Number 3 or 4 engine had been hit by enemy flak.  My pilot reported that it was losing altitude and that either smoke or gas vapor was coming from 3 or 4 engine.  Just before we rallied at Ciezyn we lost sight of 6337 who was lagging back and losing altitude but under control.  We last saw Plane No. 6337 at 1250 hours, 26 December, 1944, location of 50/01 N – 18/27 E.  The weather was CAVU and no chutes were seen.

     Another navigator, 2 Lt. Joseph I. Laird, recounted, “Just after we dropped our bombs on the target, I noticed #4 engine smoking on Plane No. 6337.  The plane peeled out of formation taking a heading of 45 degrees and slid down to the left smoothly, losing altitude but under control.  The #4 engine was probably hit by flak over the target.  The plane dropped back from the formation but was still under control when I last saw it at 1250 hours, 26 December, 1844.  It was at 50/01 N – 18/27 E, the weather was CAVU and no chutes were seen.

     Tail gunner S/Sgt. Harry P. Hale described the following: “Shortly after bombs away, Plane No. 6337 fell out of formation, losing altitude and dropping back.  Smoke was coming from either No. 3 or 4 engine which was apparently hit by flak encountered over target.  The plane seemed to be under control when I last saw it at 1250 hours, 26 December, 1944, and saw no one bail out.  The weather was CAVU and our Navigator gave the coordinates of 50/01 N – 18/27 E when I last reported seeing aircraft No. 6337.

As in many Missing Air Crew Reports, eyewitness statements account for the plane’s loss only up to the time it disappeared.  But, as in (also) many other Missing Air Crew Reports, an explanation of the plane’s loss is presented in postwar Casualty Questionnaires.  In Kandy’s case, these were filed by pilot Harry Filer, navigator Gilbert Nesch, and radio operator Earle Cochrane.   

The following is a summary of information in the Questionnaires:  The plane was struck by flak, and left formation while southeast of the target, shortly after 12 noon.  Not long after, Kandy was crash-landed near Krakow, Poland.  The entire crew survived uninjured and were captured, all returning to the United States after the war’s end.

Some decades later, co-pilot Alfred Cryer’s brief account of the plane’s loss has now appeared at the website of the 301st Bomb Group, under the heading “My First Mission“, giving the story of the plane’s loss “from the cockpit”:

The crew that I was flying with, the day I was shot down, was not my crew.  It was my first mission and I guess it was a crew made up from the pool.  The reason we came down near Krakow, Poland was we were heading to a field in Russia.  On the second bomb run on the target our ship and the lead ship were hit by anti-aircraft fire.  We took hits in the number two and number four engines.  Orders were if you were not able to make it back to Italy, you could try for this field in Russia.  Our navigator told us when we should be able to see the field, after making a couple of circles and not seeing a field we decided a wheels up crash-landing was the way to go.  Only it was occupied Poland, about 35 miles from the front lines.

The names of the crew, their next of kin, and their wartime home addresses – derived from information in the MACR, and the Luftgaukommando Report – follow below:

Pilot: 1 Lt. Harry Owen Filer
Mrs. Alice B. Filer (wife), 510 NE 56th St., Miami, Fl.


Co-Pilot
: 2 Lt. Alfred James Cryer (Born in Illinois, in 1922)

Mrs. Gladys M. Cryer (wife), 141 South Prairie St., Batavia, Il.

Navigator
: 2 Lt. Gilbert Theodore Nesch (Born December 6, 1917)

Mr. Frank F. Nesch (father), 1105 Yout St., Racine, Wi.

Togglier
: T/Sgt. William Eugene Nassif (Born April 2, 1922)

Mr. Otto Nassif (father), 613 40th Avenue North, Fargo, N.D.
Mrs. Bessie Nassif (mother), Pollock, S.D.


Flight Engineer
: T/Sgt. Ernest Mario Anticola (Born 1921)

Mr. Natale Anticola (father), 564 Hopkins St., Buffalo, N.Y.

Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Earle James Cochrane
Mrs. Kathleen G. Cochrane (wife)
Mrs. Blanche E. Haislip (mother), 49 Oak Ridge Ave., Schoolfield, Va.

Gunner (Ball Turret):
S/Sgt. Edward Anthony Codo (Born June 30, 1925)

Mr. Edward C. Codo (father), 213 Sherman St., Joliet, Il.

Gunner (Waist)
: S/Sgt. Philip Shlom (Born 1922)

Mrs. Marion V. Shlom (wife), 3435 Richton St., Apt. 112, Detroit, Mi.
Mrs. Libby Shlom (mother), 2017 Clairmount Ave., Detroit, Mi.


Gunner (Waist)
: S/Sgt. Franklin Junior Elmen (Born 1915)

Mrs. Hazel B. Elmen (wife), 1112 Spruce St., Leavenworth, Ks.
Mr. Walter F. Elmen (father), 1315 South State St., Salt Lake City, Ut.

Gunner (Tail)
: S/Sgt. Patrick Marvin Nicks (Born 1925)

Mrs. Margurite Goeden (mother), South 523 Washington St., Spokane, Wa.

Here are some pages from the MACR for 44-6337:

First page of MACR 10746, with information about the crew and plane, and summary of data about the circumstances of its loss.

A map showing the plane’s last reported position.

Crew roster, another (usually!) standard document in MACRs covering multi-place aircraft.

Google Map showing southeastern Germany, Czechia and Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia) and southern Poland, with Google Map’s red position indicator superimposed on Krakow. 

Southern Poland, zooming in on Krakow.

The southern part of Krakow, itself.

Getting closer…  The plane was crash-landed somewhere in the vicinity of the communities of Kobierzyn and (Lagiewniki) Borek-Falecki, shown in the right-center portion of this map. 

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Remarkably, at the website of the Polish Aviation Museum a photo (actually, a composite of three photos) exists of the crash-landed B-17.  The same image – and much more – can be found at the “intheair” website, which features extensive information about contemporary interest by the local community (most recently as of January, 2016) in the history of Kandy’s loss. 

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But, what of the Navigation Log?

Rectangular in format, the dimensions of the Log are 20″ by 26″.  The upper half is subdivided into two rectangular areas of roughly equal size (which I’ve dubbed the “first” and “second” sections), while the lower half (which I’ve dubbed the “third section”) has the general format of a spreadsheet.  

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The “first” section of the Log (13″ x 10″) covers:

Information about the plane, date of mission, and target.
Mission Orders
Weather (General Forecast)
Flight Plan
Flight Crew
Winds
Memoranda

This section appears below:

Here are highlights of the information that Lt. Nesch recorded in this section of the Log:

Plane Number (last three digits of serial): 337
Plane Type: B-17G
Date: 26 Dec 1944
Place of Departure: Base
Destination: Bleichammer [sic] South

Mission Orders

Target: Bleichammer [sic] South
IP (Initial Point): Jagendorf
Axis: 060
Rally: Right
Guns (anti-aircraft at target): 153
Weather (General Forecast) (lots of data recorded here…)
Latitude / Longitude
Dist: Distance (elapsed)
TC: True Course
TH / MH: True Heading / Magnetic Heading
Alt / Temp: Altitude / Temperature
IAS / TAS: Indicated Airspeed / True Airspeed
GS: Ground Speed
Time: Time of record

Flight Crew

P             Filer                       1 Lt.
CP           Cryer                     2 Lt.
N            Nesch                     2 Lt.
B            Nassif                    T/Sgt.
E            Anticola                 T/Sgt.
R            Cochrane               T/Sgt.
BT          Codo                      S/Sgt.
WG         Schlom                  S/Sgt.
TG          Nicks                     S/Sgt.
WG         Elmen                   S/Sgt.

Winds

Memoranda

Flak: Csehi, Gor, Bratislava
Fighters: 50-80 Vienna, 40-50 Target, 120-130 Total
Escort
50 P-51s
66 P-51s    49-35, 17-43    12:56
60 P-51s    49-28, 18-00    12:50
Station: 0730
Takeoff: 0800
Rend (Rendezvous): 0857
Target: 1245
ETR (Estimated Time of Return): 1540
(other notes)
Mielec 50-19, 21-48
Rzeszow 50-07, 22-03
12 – 500 RDX (bomb load)

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The “second section” (12 1/2″ x 10″) covers:

Celestial Data
Fuel Consumption
Colors of Day
Memoranda
Radio Bearings

This section of the Log also includes pre-printed formulas and geometric reminders for calculating Interception, and, radius of action, and also conversion scales for temperature (C / F), and, barometric pressure (millibars / inches).

Here is the second section:

Here are highlights of the information that Lt. Nesch recorded in this section of the Log:

Celestial Data

No such data is actually recorded!  Instead, under the heading “Charts“, appears a list of aerial navigation maps carried aboard Kandy.  These covered Naples, Chieti, and Fiume (Italy), Graz and Vienna (Austria), “Taby” [sp?], and, Krakow (Poland).

Fuel Consumption (lots of data recorded here…)

Colors of Day:
GRR (probably green-red-red)
YY (likely yellow-yellow)
RGG (presumably red-green-green)

Memoranda
Wing: C
Group: B
Bomber: Schoolroom #1
Escort: Rubbish
Recall: Frontier
Weather (nil)
Lake Lesina 0857 3500′
KP Split 0944 1100

____________________

The third section (26″ x 10″) occupies the “bottom” half of the Log, and in tabular format, provides fields for entry of data relevant to aerial navigation, as the mission progressed.  The fields comprise the following:

Aircraft position (Latitude / Longitude)
Time
True Course
Drift Correction
True Heading
Variation
Magnetic Heading
Deviation Correction
Compass Heading
Temperature (Celsius!)
Airspeed (Indicated, Calculated, and True)
Winds
Ground Speed
“Run” (?)
“To Next Check Point” (Distance, Time, and Estimated Time of Arrival)
Meteorological Observations (Weather, Visibility, and Clouds)

An area to the right of these entries, entitled “Remarks”, allows the navigator to write notes about significant events as the mission progressed.  A scan of this section is presented below:

A transcription of the above notes follows:

ENGINES STARTED: 0803 (handwritten note at top of log)

ENGINES STOPPED: (…no entry would ever be made…)

08:57  GP. REND. 1 MILE WEST OF RD PT.  0903 HEADED EAST ALONG COAST, AT 48-07 N, 15-30 E (altitude 4000)

09:15  TAKING UP HEADING FOR SPLIT (altitude 9000)

11:32:  LIGHT FLAK 47-43 N, 17-42 E (altitude 21000)

12:00:  CIRCLING IP MADE 360 TURN  JUST WEST OF IP. (altitude 24000)

12:29:  OILFIRES FROM PREV. WAVE.  BOMBS AWAY  SMOKE SCREEN, BARRAGE TYPE FAIRLY HEAVY (altitude 25000)

____________________

Corroborating and reflecting the information in the Navigator’s Log is Luftgaukommando Report (KSU / ME 2620), a translated page of which – from the MACR – is shown below:

As listed above, the following material was retrieved from the aircraft:

1 folder-form with course calculation (Navigator’s Log)
1 radio key
1 plane instructions
1 package with optical lenses
1 radio handbook
2 sheets of radio instructions (secret)
1 (aerial)?) map of each of following cities: Chieti, Vienna, “Naples, Krakau” (Krakow), Taby (?), “Graz” (Gratz), and Fiume.  This list is identical to the list of maps in the Navigator’s Log.

Of the above items, the only material that was actually retained to become part of the Luftgaukommando Report was the Navigator’s Log.  This is consistent with Luftgaukmmando Reports covering American heavy bombers, which may list all manner documents and material (such as cameras, electronic, and navigation equipment) salvaged from downed warplanes, where – upon examining the actual Luftgaukommando Report – such items are unsurprisingly (!) not present.  I would suppose this was due to the sheer physical size and weight of these items, and, the probability that they were analyzed (if not disassembled?) for intelligence purposes.  Above all, (im)practically speaking, a B-17 pilot’s manual, the manual for a BC-348 radio, or a reflector gunsight, cannot readily be stuffed into an 8 1/2″ x 10″ file folder!

Thus, what is present in Luftgaukommando Reports – at least sometimes – are letters (V-Mail and handwritten), dog-tags, and personal documents (such as driver’s licenses, military “calling cards”, or Officer’s Identification Cards), and – in rare instances, like this – a Navigator’s Log. 

Items that, given the anonymity and chaos of war, are striking reminders of the very human side of history.   

So, though Lt. Nesch reported that Kandy’s engines were started at 8:03 in the morning, but never quite had the opportunity to record the return of his crew to Lucera, Italy, at least they did return, albeit some months later. 

As did his log, which seven decades later exists as a reminder of a war ended long ago. 

Mission, complete. 

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

Through Enemy Eyes: A Downed P-51 Mustang in a German Luftgaukommando Report

The Army Air Force’s Missing Air Crew Reports were instituted in May of 1943 to provide a system for the documentation and organization of information covering aircraft and personnel reported missing on Army Air Force operational missions, the ultimate goal being the conclusive determination of the fate of such missing personnel. Though these documents show notable variation in style and format depending upon the immediate organization filing the report*, the “elements” of information within them remained highly consistent throughout the war.  A thorough description of the implementation and use of the MACR system is presented in the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Publication M1380: Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, available here.

Commencing with the de-classification of MACRs on September 10, 1982, historians, military aviation enthusiasts, and genealogists have been able to avail themselves of these documents, and the multi-faceted wealth of information within them.  As such, a casual perusal of books published since the mid-1980s about the WW II Army Air Force – particularly unit histories – as well as a cursory web search, will quickly reveal the importance of these documents.  They are now available in microfiche format at the National Archives and Records Center in College Park, Maryland, now digitally through Fold3.com, and in transcribed or other formats at many websites. When used with official Squadron and Group histories, they are an essential resource in the creation of accurate and comprehensive histories of combat units of the WW II Army Air Force.

Another series of documents, perhaps less widely known than Missing Air Crew Reports but complementary to them (specifically, those MACRs filed for USAAF losses in the European and Mediterranean Theaters) are the German Luftgaukommando Reports. These documents, held within NARA’s collection of Foreign Records Seized (Record Group 242), are reports on Allied aircraft lost in the European and Mediterranean Theaters of War. In terms of the information recorded with them, they are an ironic and accidental counterpart to MACRs. Though the extent of information in Luftgaukommando Reports shows very great variation, in a general sense, they include information about the nature and circumstances (flak or fighters) as to how an American aircraft was downed and recovered in German-occupied territory, the location and condition of its wreckage, technical aspects of the plane or its equipment particularly noted by German investigators, and, nominal biographical information about aircrew casualties.

A particularly notable aspect of Luftgaukommando Reports is that these documents not uncommonly contain material found in the possession of American airmen when they became casualties. The reports can include dog-tags, correspondence both to and from servicemen (V-Mail, and, typed or handwritten letters), official documents, and other items, such as navigational records or fragments of technical documents.  Luftgaukommando Reports practically never include POW information / identification cards (“Personalkarte“ – “Personal Card“) created by the Germans about captured aviators – post capture.  And, they don’t include POW identification photographs (“mug-shots”) of captured airmen typically attached to such cards.

In any event, far more than digitized, published, or secondary material, the content of Luftgaukommando Reports – documents carried by airmen – inevitably make one “pause” and reflect about the reality, nature, and impact of war.

A small fraction of the Luftgaukommando Reports include photographs of downed American aircraft.

Such material is the subject of this posting: A crash-landed P-51 Mustang of the 356th Fighter Squadron of the 354th Fighter Group, the “Pioneer Mustang Unit”.

The aircraft was piloted by Captain Gordon T. McEachron when it was downed by flak on December 1, 1944, near Niederkirchen, Germany.

Captain McEachron, from California, was originally assigned to the 380th Fighter Squadron of the 363rd Fighter Group (9th Air Force), in the service of which he scored three aerial victories in 1944 while a First Lieutenant: An Me-109 on April 30, another Me-109 on May 28, and an Me-410 on June 20.

An account of his victory of May 28 – from his Distinguished Flying Cross citation for his actions of May 28 – appeared in Steve Blake’s publication Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat, in 1983, in a comprehensive six part series about the history of the 363rd Fighter Group.

The citation states: “Lt. McEachron was leading a Flight on a bomber escort mission when he spotted a large number of enemy aircraft overhead. He immediately ordered the Flight to drop their wing tanks and make a sharp turn to the left. By the time the Flight had completed the turn, the enemy aircraft could no longer be seen. Suddenly a break was called, and as Lt. McEachron turned, he saw more than 100 enemy planes approaching from the rear. Intercepting the group of Me-109s just as they were pressing their attack on the bombers, Lt. McEachron picked a target, closed to about 300 yards, and fired a long burst. Strikes were noted along the fuselage and wing, and the enemy aircraft rolled over and split ‘S’d’ with dense black smoke pouring from the engine.

“Suddenly an Me-410 appeared just in front of him. As the enemy turned, Lt. McEachron turned with him and fired a long burst. Strikes were observed along the fuselage of the enemy plane. Together with his wingman, Lt. McEachron went after the main group of enemy aircraft which were ahead. Another target, an Me-109, came into view. Lt. McEachron chased in on the enemy fighter and began firing from 500 yards. Pieces of the plane began to fly off as round after round went home. Suddenly black smoke began pouring from the plane and it caught on fire. The enemy pilot bailed out.”

Lt. McEachron was sent home on leave in August of 1944, and after his return to France as a Captain – at which time the 363rd Fighter Group no longer existed – was assigned to the 354th Fighter Group in November, as Assistant Operations Officer of the 353rd Fighter Squadron.

Captured and imprisoned at Stalag Luft I, Barth, Germany, Captain McEachron returned to the United States at the war’s end. According to his biography at FindAGrave.com and his Wikipedia entry, he coached college football at the University of Nevada, and, Pepperdine University (near Los Angeles) between 1953 and 1958. Later, he sold insurance. He died on April 22, 1993.

And now, time for some photographs and documents…

McEachron, Gordon 1 600Captain McEachron, probably photographed while still in Stateside training, given that his flight helmet is equipped with Gosport Tubes.  (From Steve Blake’s The Pioneer Mustang Group: the 354th Fighter Group in World War II.)

* * * * * * * * * *

mceachron-gordon-t-1A portrait of then Lieutenant McEachron, from Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat.

* * * * * * * * * *

beachcomber-ii-2Gordon McEachron seated on the wing of his personal P-51B, Beachcomber II, while serving in the 363rd Fighter Group.  He named the aircraft after a club he founded while a student at Pepperdine University.  This image is reproduced from the book Mission 376: Battle Over the Reich, May 28, 1944, by Ivo De Jong.

* * * * * * * * * *

mceachron-gordon-t-2_edited-1Additional views of Lt. McEachron in service with the 363rd Fighter Group, from Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat.  The upper photograph is another view of Beachcomber II, while the lower photograph shows Beachcomber III (with three kill markings) a P-51D he received in July of 1944.

* * * * * * * * * *

     And now, the subject of our study. 

First, the Missing Aircrew Report (MACR 11479) filed by the 353rd Fighter Squadron after Captain McEachron failed to return to Saint Dizier, France.

fold3_page_2_missing_air_crew_reports_macrs_of_the_us_army_air_forces_194219471

fold3_page_4_missing_air_crew_reports_macrs_of_the_us_army_air_forces_194219471

Eyewitness account of loss of Captain McEachron and Chicago’s Own

Now, we come to the subject of our study:  Images from Luftgaukommando Report “J-2525” covering P-51D 44-14010, AJ * G, otherwise known as Chicago’s Own

44-14010 1 J 2525 600Right-front view of the Mustang, under an overcast but still sunny sky.  Note that the aircraft’s coolant radiator has been removed from the fuselage.

* * * * * * * * * *

44-14010 2 J 2525 600Close-up of canopy rails along left side of cockpit, with names of ground-crew (Rooney, Branch, and Smith) painted below.  (Why photographs were not taken of equipment within the cockpit itself, is a matter of conjecture!)

* * * * * * * * * *

44-14010 6 J 2525 600Starboard gun bay, providing an excellent view of the installation of the three fifty-caliber guns and firing selonoids.  Belts of .50 caliber ammunition are still laying in ammuntion trays.

* * * * * * * * * *

44-14010 7 J 2525 800A very high resolution (800 dpi) scan of the above photograph, specifically of the placard attached to the interior of the gun-bay access door, showing bore-sighting information and ammunition loading diagrams.  (This image will be of particular benefit for plastic modelers building Tamiya’s 1/32 P-51D while under the influence of AMS – “Advanced Modeler’s Syndrome”!)

* * * * * * * * * *

44-14010 3 J 2525 600View of inboard section of the port flap.  Curiously, though the photographs were taken with black & white film, the “No Step” marking appearing on the image of the flap has been colored with red ink, matching the color and shape of the marking on 44-14010.

* * * * * * * * * *

p-51d-44-14010Images of Chicago’s Own (a color profile, and an official USAAF photograph of the aircraft at Debden, England) can be found in William Hess’ book 354th Fighter Group,  The aircraft is described as having been the personal plane of Lt. Frederick J. Warner.  The above color profile of Chicago’s Own, by Chris Davey or John Weal, appears on page 41 of Hess’ book.

The USAAF photograph of 44-14040, dated October 6, 1944, can be found at the website of the American Air Museum in Britain.

* * * * * * * * * *

The “Meldung über den Abschuss eines US-amerikanischen Flugzeuges” (Notification About the Shooting Down of a U.S. Aircraft) form – commonly found in Luftgaukommando Reports – filed for Captain McEachron and Chicago’s Own.

The data fields in the form covering the aircraft comprise:

Abschusstag und Zeit:   Date and time of shooting down

Abschussort:   General location of shooting down

Flugzeugtyp:   Aircraft type

Meldende Dienstelle:   [Location of] Reporting Service

The data fields in the form covering the aviator comprise:

Name und Vornamen / Geburststag und –ort:   Name and first name / Date and place of birth

Dienstgrad:   Rank

Erk.-Marke:   Tag number

Gef: [Gefangenen]:   (prisoner? [if so]) –   Welches Lager:   Which camp

Verw: [Verwundet]:   (wounded? [if so]) –   Art d. Verwundung:   [?]

Tot: [Tot]:   (killed? [if so]) –   Grablage:   Grave Location

And, at the bottom of the form:

Bemerkungen:   Remarks

44-14010 A J 2525 400

* * * * * * * * * *

The same form was typically used in Luftgaukommando Reports to cover aircrews of multi-place aircraft. 

This is a Luftgaukommando Report (KU 3493) crew list for a multi-place aircraft.  In this case, B-17G 43-97215 (BG * J) of the 334th Bomb Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, piloted by 2 Lt. Stewart D. Reed, which was lost on December 31, 1944.  There were five survivors of the plane’s nine crewmen, covered in MACR 11368.

43-38215-crew-list-ku-3493-360

* * * * * * * * * *

I hope that readers find these images of interest.  I may be able to post similar images in the future.

*Particularly distinctive in format are MACRs filed by the 15th Air Force’s 483rd Bomb Group.

 – References –

Books

Blake, Steve, The Pioneer Mustang Group: the 354th Fighter Group in World War II, 2008, Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA.

De Jong, Ivo, Mission 376: Battle Over the Reich, May 28, 1944, 2012 Stackpole Books, Mechanichsburg, PA.

Hess, William N., 354th Fighter Group, Osprey Publishing; 2002, Botley, Oxford, United Kingdom

USAF Historical Study No. 85, USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II, 1978, Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center, Air University.

Other Publications

 National Archives and Records Administration, Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, NARA Publication M1380, 1942-1947, 2005, Washington, D.C.

Missing Air Crew Reports

 https://www.fold3.com/title_95/missing_air_crew_reports_wwii#overview

http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/missing-air-crew-reports.html

http://www.afhso.af.mil/questions/topic.asp?id=1934

https://www.archives.gov/research/microfilm/m1380.pdf

Luftgaukommando Reports (see comments by RodM) at:

 http://www.rafcommands.com/archive/06732.php

J (Jäger) Report 2525

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

Report J-2525: (At) Records Group 242, Entry 1013, Shelf Location 190 / 14 / 9-8 / 2-1

Gordon T. McEachron

 Blake, Steve, The 363rd Fighter Group in WW II (Part II), Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat, Number 6, Fall, 1982, pp 13-23.

Blake, Steve, The 363rd Fighter Group in WW II (Part III), Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat, Number 7, Winter, 1983, pp 15-22.

Blake, Steve, The 363rd Fighter Group in WW II (Part IV), Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat, Number 9, Summer, 1983, pp 22-26.

Blake, Steve, The 363rd Fighter Group in WW II (Part V), Fighter Pilots in Aerial Combat, Number 11, Winter, 1985, pp 4-15.

http://findagrave.com/ (Search for entry under Gordon Townsand McEachron)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_McEachron

P-51D 44-14010

 http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/14229

– Michael G. Moskow