27.09.1944 702nd Bomb Squadron (H) B-24H 42-50324 ‘Eileen’ 1st Lt. Donald E. Brent
Operation: Henschel industrial plants at Kassel (Mission #650), Germany
Date: 27th September 1944 (Wednesday)
Unit: 445th Bombardment Group (H), 702nd Bombardment Squadron (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24H Eileen
Serial No: 42-50324
Location: About 3 km SE of Ulfen, Germany
Base: Tibenham airfield (Station #124), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. Donald Eugene Brent DFC O-747730 AAF Age 27. Survived/Murdered (1)
Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Walter Eugene George Jr. O-826917 AAF Age? PoW *
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Harold Max Mercier O-699562 Age 23. Killed
Nose Gunner: S/Sgt. Donald W. Larsen 39571317 AAF Age 19. Killed
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Sammy Samuel Weiner 19061861 AAF Age? PoW **
Engineer: T/Sgt. Constant Stanley Galuszewski 32583006 AAF Age? PoW ***
Right Waist: S/Sgt. Milton Clemence Smisek 17037617 AAF Age 24. Killed
Left Waist: S/Sgt. Woodard C. Watts 34366107 AAF Age 23. Killed
Tail: S/Sgt. George Benjamin Linkletter 33539866 Age 20. Killed
Originally the B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally comprised 9 personnel who were typically, but not always, Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Waist Gunner, Tail Gunner.
The Ball Turret was being removed from July 1944 as an operational decision to reduce weight and the improve manoeuvrability of the aircraft.
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
** Stalag Luft 4 Groß-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
*** Dulag Luft 12 Groß-Tychow Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The aircraft took off from Tibenham on the 27th September 1944 as part of the 445th Bombardment Group (BG) mission to bomb the Henschel facility in Kassel, Germany. Because of an error in navigation the 445th BG became detached from the main stream and the fighter escort and proceeded north of Kassel to bomb the western edge of the town of Göttingen, some 40 km NE of Kassel.
After leaving the target area, the 445th BG was attacked by an estimated 150 enemy aircraft comprising Fw190 and Bf109 fighters. In a period of less than 6 minutes, 25 of the 35 B-24s had gone down in flames and many parachutes were seen in the area. The 445th BG lost 116 airmen killed in action and 112 became PoWs on this mission date.
Two of the Fw190 pilots who swept through the 445th BG formation on the 27th September 1944 were Oblt. Oskar Romm the Staffelkapitän of IV Gruppe, 12./JG 3 and Uffz. Ernst Schröder of 5./JG 300.
Oblt. Romm claimed three B-24s his 77th, 78th and 79th victories and Uffz. Schröder two B-24s, his 2nd and 3rd victories. (Ref 1 & 2).
It was reported that the Eileen was damaged during the fighter attacks and broke up into three parts. The wreckage fell to earth about 3 km SE of Ulfen some 19 km WNW of Eisenach, Germany.
Aboard the aircraft 2nd Lt. Mercer and S/Sgt. Larsen were believed to have been seriously injured or killed during the fighter attack. Their bodies were found in the wreckage by T/Sgt. Weiner and a Lt. Weinstein.
1st Lt. Ira P. Weinstein O-694482, was the Bombardier and one of four surviving crew members from B-24J 42-51287 also from the same Squadron as the ‘Eileen’.
It was not known if S/Sgt. Smisek, S/Sgt. Watts and S/Sgt. Linkletter had bailed out of the aircraft. Lt. Weinstein, in his search of the wreckage, had not found their bodies nor their parachutes. There was speculation that they had been killed by hostile action on the ground, however, no evidence has been found to support this speculation.
The capture and location of the three surviving crew members was not recorded but it is possible, as T/Sgt. Weiner had assisted in the search of the wreckage, that they had landed and were captured in the vicinity of Ulfen.
1st Lt. Brent had been seen uninjured and to bail out about a minute before the aircraft broke up. Speculation was that he was killed by hostile action on the ground.
(1) The fate of 1st Lt. Brent was determined by a Military Commission which was convened in Dachau, Germany on the 21st September 1945.
Georg Schultheiss, a German national, was charged in that he did, at or near Renda, Germany, on or about the 27th September 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully kill Donald E. Brent, a member of the United States Army who was then unarmed and a PoW in the custody of the then German Reich by shooting him.
Schultheiss was a former Unterfeldwebel (Sgt) in the Wehrmacht on detached service in the town of Renda, Germany in charge of a work detail of French PoWs.
The court heard that on the night of the 27th September 1944 Schultheiss went to the home of Karl Linhose, the deputy Bürgermeister (mayor) of Renda who was also in charge of the Volkssturm (home guard). Schultheiss told Linhose that he had an American airman in custody who needed to be delivered to the police station in the neighbouring town of Netra, about 5 km to the north. He requested that a member of the Volkssturm be provided to accompany him.
As it was night Linhose suggested that the prisoner be held overnight in Renda but Schultheiss insisted that he had strict orders to deliver the prisoner immediately to Netra. Linhose agreed to detail a Volkssturm member named Nicolaus Ellenberger. Linhose and Schultheiss then went to the Gasthof (tavern) Morgental where the American airman was being held.
From here Schultheiss and the prisoner started on their way by foot to Netra and met up with Ellenberger on the outskirts of Renda. Ellenberger was not armed nor did he have any instructions as to what to do if the prisoner tried to escape.
It was between 20:00 hrs and 20:30 hrs when the three proceeded on their way with Ellenberger and the prisoner together and about 3 to 4 metres ahead of Schultheiss. After about 1 km it was claimed that the airman shouted something at Ellenberger who did not understand him and nothing happened. It was about 21:30 hrs, after they had covered a further 3 km, when the airman approached Ellenberger and shouted at him again. It order to maintain his distance from the airman Ellenberger stepped off the road.
As Ellenberger started to turn around a shot was fired by Schultheiss, who was about 2 metres from the airman who fell face downward, dead, shot in the head. After the shooting Ellenberger and Schultheiss carried the body to the grassy edge of the road and covered him up. At no time during the journey was there any conversation that indicated that Schultheiss had any intention in killing the airman.
Schultheiss told Ellenberger that he was going to report the incident to his company at the Eschwege airfield and the pair returned to Renda.
Eschwege was some 15 km due north of Renda.
The next morning Schultheiss reported to Linhose that the airman had become belligerent and that he had shot him. The same morning he also reported to Bürgermeister Reith that he had to shoot the airman because he had become aggressive. The following day, the 29th, Linhose and Schultheiss and two others went to fetch the body, located some 3½ km from Renda, which was taken by wagon to a nearby cemetery where it was buried.
The court concluded that it was beyond question that Schultheiss had shot the airman who was a PoW in his custody. The only issue was whether Schultheiss’s actions were justified in order to prevent the escape or a hostile act by the airman. The prosecution failed to provide any evidence to show that the airman had not attempted to escape and therefore chose to find Schultheiss not guilty of the charge.
2nd Lt. Globis, S/Sgt. Linkletter, S/Sgt. Larsen and 2nd Lt. Mercier were initially buried in the Ulfen Cemetery Graves 1 to 4.
2nd Lt. Edward A. Globis O-826923, was the Co-Pilot from B-24J 42-51080, 445th BG, 703rd BS on the same mission as the ‘Eileen’.
The initial burial locations for 1st Lt. Brent, S/Sgt. Smisek, S/Sgt. Watts and S/Sgt. Linkletter were not recorded.
Above: 1st Lt. Brent, left: credit of The Eugene Guard, dated Thursday, December 21, 1944, right: Grave marker credit: Dominique Potier
Above: The medals of 1st Lt. Brent presented to Mrs Francis H. Brent: Credit of The Eugene Guard, dated Sunday, June 24, 1945
1st Lt. Donald Eugene Brent. DFC, Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred on or about 11th April 1945 in the Ardennes American Cemetery Plot C, Row 6, Grave 141. Relocated to Plot A, Row 36, Grave 29. Born on the 22nd December 1916 in Washington County, Idaho. Son to George Frank and Jessie Pearl (née Martin) Brent from Eugene, Oregon. Husband to Francis Hope (née Barber) Brent from Eugene, Oregon, USA.
2nd Lt. Harold Max Mercier. Purple Heart. Reinterred on the 23rd June 1945 in the Netherlands American Cemetery, Plot 3K, Row 4, Grave 100. Repatriated and interred at the Highland Cemetery in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Born on the 28th February 1921 in Michigan. Son of Narcissus John and Estella (née Scott). Husband to Almeda June (née Schambers) Mercier of Wayne, Michigan, USA.
S/Sgt. Donald William Larsen. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Reinterred on the 23rd June 1945 in the Netherlands American Cemetery, Plot 3K, Row 4, Grave 93. Repatriated and buried at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Section H, Site 597, San Diego, California. Born on the 30th September 1924 in Frederick, Wisconsin. Son of Henry L. and Anna Leah (née McFetridge) Larsen from Hawthorne, California, USA.
Above S/Sgt. Smisek marker: credit Des Philippet
S/Sgt. Milton Clemence Smisek. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Reinterred in June/July 1945 in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Plot RR, Row 8, Grave 193. Relocated to Plot D, Row 21, Grave 24. Born on the 23rd November 1919 in Foreston, Mille Lacs County, Minnesota. Son of Edward Frank and Agnes Elizabeth (née Novak) Smisek from Mille Lacs County, Minnesota, USA.
Above S/Sgt. Watts marker: credit Des Philippet
S/Sgt. Woodard C. Watts. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Reinterred on the 23rd June 1945 in the Netherlands American Cemetery, Plot LL, Row 9, Grave 222. Relocated to Plot P, Row 21, Grave 10. Born during 1921 in Summertown, Tennessee. Son of Woodard F. and Freda M. Watts from Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Above S/Sgt. Linkletter marker: credit Des Philippet
S/Sgt. George Benjamin Linkletter. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Reinterred in June/July 1945 in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Plot 3K, Row 4, Grave 99. Relocated to Plot L, Row 3, Grave 3. Born on 29th December 1923 in Newburgh, Orange, New York. Son of Casper Lawrence and Lucy Jane (née Terwilliger) Linkletter from Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
1. Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Force Air Forces: Vol 4 - Stan D. Bishop and John A. Hey MBE.
2. Luftwaffe Aces: Biographies and Victory Claims - Mathews and Foreman