28.05.1944 703rd Bomb Squadron (H) B-24H 42-50346 ‘Sho-Sho Baby’ 1st.Lt. John Wallace Campbell
Operation: Merseburg (Mission #376), Germany
Date: 28th May 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 445th Bombardment Group (H), 703rd Bombardment Squadron (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24H Sho-Sho Baby
Serial No: 42-50346
Location: 1 km SW of Stößen, 10 km SW of Weißenfels, Germany
Base: Tibenham airfield (Station #124), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st.Lt. John Wallace Campbell O-742061 AAF Age 20. PoW *
Co-Pilot: 2nd.Lt. Roger Thomas Marlin O-811111 AAF Age 24. PoW **
Navigator: 1st.Lt. Bernard Edward Wholeben O-748120 AAF Age 25. PoW *
Bombardier: 1st.Lt. Daniel Joseph Matheu O-752882 AAF Age 21. PoW **
Radio Op: T/Sgt. William Modie Robinson 18217813 AAF Age 21. PoW ***
Engineer: S/Sgt. Harold Bennett 35686620 AAF Age 22. PoW ***
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Cophlin Williams 18217813 AAF Age 23. PoW ***
Right Waist: S/Sgt. Royce Eugene Ball AAF 18216066 Age 20. PoW **
Left Waist: Sgt. Roy Millard Wampler 13122404 AAF Age 29. Survived (1)
Tail: S/Sgt. Leo Gerard Vallette 38381202 AAF Age 19. PoW ***
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.
* Stalag Luft 7, Bankau near Kreuzberg, Silesia, Germany. (Now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland).
** Unknown Camp.
*** 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).
REASON FOR LOSS:
The Sho-Sho Baby took off from Tibenham on the 25th May 1944 as part of the 445th Bombardment Group mission to bomb the Leuna works at Merseburg, Germany. The flak over the target was moderate to intense. The aircraft was hit by flak over the target just after having dropped its bombs and immediately dropped out of formation. Ten parachutes were seen to exit the aircraft.
Aboard the aircraft S/Sgt. Bennett, in his role as engineer, made his way to the bomb bays and reported that there was severe damage with torn fuel lines and tanks. 1st.Lt. Campbell ordered the crew to bail out and everyone vacated the aircraft within 5 minutes.
German documents reported that the aircraft crashed at 14:30hrs 1 km SW of Stößen, 10 km SW of Weißenfels, Germany.
From the various Individual Casualty Questionnaires (ICQ) it appears that S/Sgt. Bennett struck the back of his head and was knocked out as he bailed out of the bomb bay. Although he had no recollection of pulling his parachute’s rip code evidently he did. Upon landing he suffered a dislocated hip, internal and back injuries. He revived when he was in custody of the Germans but had no recollection of anything that had transpired nor anything about the mission.
Nine of the crew were captured near Weißenfels and held together in the same jail in Leipzig. Of the nine, 2nd.Lt. Marlin, 1st.Lt. Wholeben, S/Sgt. Bennett and S/Sgt. Williams were wounded. The seriousness of the injuries suffered by 2nd.Lt. Marlin and Sgt Bennett resulted in them being admitted to the garrison hospital (PoW) previously located at Pittlerstraße 33 in Leipzig-Wahren, Germany.
German documents record that 2nd.Lt. Marlin had suffered an injury to his left ankle (sprained ankle) and Sgt Bennett had suffered an injury to the back of his head and an injury to his left hip. The treatment for their injuries was expected to last 4 to 6 weeks. They were transferred to Dulag Luft, Wetzlar on the 16th June 1944.
(1) Those of the crew who saw Sgt. Wampler aboard the aircraft stated that he was not injured and was seen making his way to the waist escape hatch. A number of the crew saw Sgt. Wampler’s body and his flying clothing, however, their recollections of what they saw differ other than he was dead. The recollection that is the most plausible came from S/Sgt. Vallette who reported that he saw Sgt. Wampler’s body in a barn covered in hay and that he was only wearing his woollen underclothing. He also saw that Sgt. Wampler had suffered what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the chest.
A German document reported that Sgt. Wampler was shot by the Gendarmerie (State rural police) officer Köhler from Unterkaka, which is some 12km south of Weißenfels, allegedly while the airman was attempting to escape.
No documents have been discovered that record if Köhler was ever arrested or brought before a court to answer tor the shooting of Sgt. Wampler.
Sgt. Wampler was initially buried in the Kistritz cemetery, some 11km south of Weißenfels, in grave No. 131.
(Courtesy Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph, dated Tuesday July 18th, 1944 and Des Philippet - FindAGrave )
Sgt. Roy Millard Wampler. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Recovered and reinterred on the 3rd June 1945 at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Block F, Row 21, Grave 10. Relocated to Block DD, Row 6, Grave 141. Born on the 11th December 1915 in Irwin, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. Son of Samuel Randell and Magdalene M. (née Pfaller) Wampler and husband to Virginia Pearl (née Poe) Wampler from Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, 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’