29.12.1944 349th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G 42-8514 ‘Lassie Come Home’, 1st Lt. John K. Furrer
Operation: Frankfurt (Mission #769), Germany
Date: 29th December 1944 (Friday)
Unit: 100th Bombardment Group (H), 349th Bombardment Squadron (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Serial No: 42-8514 Lassie Come Home
Location: Returned to base
Base: Thorpe Abbotts (Station #139), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. John K. Furrer Jr. O-821253 AAF Age 20. Returned to Duty (1)
Co Pilot: 1st Lt. James Howard Young O-824031 AAF Age? PoW *
Navigator: 1st Lt. John Henry Peters O-713220 AAF Age? PoW *
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. James Adams McElrath O-712074 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Radio/Op: S/Sgt. Joseph R. Feagans 16153619 AAF Age? Returned to Duty
Engineer: T/Sgt. Robert William Garrison 33355463 AAF Age 22. Murdered (2)
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Howard B. Bobb 35874828 AAF Age 25. Returned to Duty
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Paul K. Miller 39575632 AAF Age? Returned to Duty
Tail: S/Sgt. Loranza D. Guthrie 34813505 AAF Age? Returned to Duty
One of the two Waist Gunners were removed from crew complements starting on the 7th June 1944 and then both from 23rd February 1945.
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
Far right: 1st Lt. Furrer Jr. shaking the hand of Lt. James R. Evans (P-51 pilot from the 352nd Fighter Sqn who escorted ‘Lassie Come Home’ back to base); From L to R: S/Sgt. Bobb (sitting on the jeep), S/Sgt. Miller (lying on the wing of ‘E-Z Goin’), in unknown order are S/Sgt. Guthrie and S/Sgt. Lester E. Sheffield. (S/Sgt. Sheffield did not fly on this mission but had flown on 1st Lt. Furrer's crew). (Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation, 100thbg.com)
From L to R: 1st Lt. Young, 1st Lt. Peters, 1st Lt. Furrer Jr., 2nd.Lt. McElrath. (Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation, 100thbg.com)
REASON FOR LOSS:
42-8514 Lassie Come Home took off from Thorpe Abbotts on the morning of the 29th December 1944 on a mission to bomb the railway marshalling yards in Frankfurt, Germany.
An after action report recorded that 42-8514 Lassie Come Home had received a direct hit by flak over the target. The aircraft was out of control with one engine knocked out and on fire when 1st Lt. Furrer gave the order to bail out. 1st Lt’s Young and Peters, 2nd Lt. McElrath and T/Sgt. Garrison bailed out about 11 km NW of Frankfurt. The crew from the rear of the aircraft did not hear the call to bail out. 1st Lt. Furrer then nosed the aircraft into a 1000 ft dive in an attempt to extinguish the fire. He succeeded and returned the aircraft and the remainder of the crew back to Thorpe Abbotts.
German records indicate that 1st Lt’s Young and Peters and 2nd.Lt. McElrath were captured and initially held at Stalag Luft Oberursel.
(1) 1st Lt. John K. Furrer Jr. (Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters (OLC)), S/Sgt. Feagans (Commendation Ribbon), S/Sgt. Bobb (Air Medal with 2 OLC), S/Sgt. Miller (Air Medal with 2 OLC) and S/Sgt. Guthrie (Air Medal with 3 OLC) returned to the United States shortly after this mission.
1st Lt. Furrer Jr. continued to serve in the Air Force and retired as Lt Col. Today he enjoys a happy retirement with his family and friends.
(2) Crew members reported that 1st Lt. Young helped the uninjured T/Sgt. Garrison out the top turret. The remaining crew saw his parachute open after he bailed out. He was not seen again. One crew member speculated that he had been killed by the Germans. His fate was unknown until a General Military Court was convened at Dachau, Germany during the period 10th January to 21st March 1947.
Four German nationals were charged (Charge No. 5 of 10) that they did, on the 30th December 1944, at or near Delkenheim, Germany, willfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing of a member of the United States army, believed to be T/Sgt. Robert W. Garrison, ASN 33355463, who was then and there a surrendered and unarmed PoW in the custody of the then German Reich.
Those charged were Jürgen Stroop, the former Higher SS (Schutzstaffel) and Police Leader in the SS main district of Rhein-Westmark and former SS-Generalleutnant (Major General) of the Waffen SS; Hans Trummler who was a former SS-Oberführer (Notionally the same level as a Brigadier General), an Oberst (Col.) in the police and commander of the Security Police and the SD (Security Service of the SS) in the district of Rhein-Westmark; an Otto Somann who had been Trummler’s predecessor and an Arthur Führ who had been working for the Wiesbaden Gestapo as a driver and motor mechanic and was a former SS Master Sergeant (probably an SS-Stabsscharführer).
The court heard that Trummler ordered Gestapo agent, Kriminaloberassistent Richard Freundt and Arthur Führ to kill a captured American airman who had landed in the vicinity of Langenhain and had been transferred to the Gestapo headquarters, located on Paulinenstraße in Wiesbaden, by the Gendarmerie (Rural Police). A written report accompanied the airman in which he was labelled a “terror flier”.
After dark Freundt and Führ drove the airman in an official car toward Oberursel, near Frankfurt. On the Wiesbaden to Frankfurt road, near to an inn named Zum Wandersmann (The Wanderer or The Hiker), the airman was ordered out of the car and then shot by both Freundt and Führ. They then went to find the local Gendarme (Rural policeman) and ordered him to have the airman buried. Returning to Wiesbaden they reported the execution of the order to Trummler. Whilst they were there Trummler telephoned Stroop and told him that the airman had been killed.
Gendarme Michael Eugen Eisenmann was told by one of the Gestapo agents that the body of the airman was located on Wandersmannstraße south of the road and across from the Wandersmann monument, which was about ½ km from the inn. This location was within the boundary of Delkenheim and consequently the airman was buried in the cemetery at Delkenheim.
Location of Wandersmann monument. Left: position in 1944. Right: modern day view, Red arrow, approximate position in 1944, Blue arrow, current position.
The court found Stroop and Trummler guilty of transmitting orders regarding the illegal treatment of captured Allied airmen and both were sentenced to death by hanging. Stroop was also found guilty on charge 9 and both Stroop and Trummler were additionally found guilty on charge 4 and charge 6.
Stroop was subsequently extradited to Poland and executed there for other crimes on the 6th March 1952 and Trummler was executed on the 22nd October 1948 at Landsberg in Bavaria.
Somann was found not guilty on this charge but was found guilty of 2 of the 10 charges and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment commencing on the 30th May 1945. He was released in May 1949.
Führ was found guilty of participating in the killing of T/Sgt. Garrison. He was additionally found guilty on another 3 of the 10 charges. He was sentenced to death by hanging and was executed on the 15th October 1948 at Landsberg.
It is clear from the trial documentation that the second suspect in the killing of T/Sgt. Garrison was the individual named Freundt, however, it is not known why he was not in court and charged along with the other accused.
The identity of the airman exhumed from the cemetery in Delkenheim some time during the period December 1944 and January 1945, was confirmed to be T/Sgt. Garrison.
(Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation, 100thbg.com and Carol Eastway, FindAGrave)
T/Sgt. Robert William Garrison. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Repatriated and buried at the Tiogra Point Cemetery, Plot EE, Athens, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Born on the 22nd February 1922. Son to William J. and Helen (née Payne) Garrison of Sayre, Pennsylvania, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Traugott or his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks also to Mike Faley from the 100th Bomb Group Foundation for the images of the crew.