15.08.1944 358th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G Flying Fortress 'Bad Penny' 2nd. Lt. Arthur L. Goss
Operation: Wiesbaden airfield (Mission #554), Germany
Date: 15th August 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit: 303rd Bombardment Group (H), 358th Bombardment Squadron (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force (5)
Type: B-17G Bad penny
Serial No: 42-31183
Location: Wittlich, Bernkastel, Germany
Base: Molesworth (Station #107), Cambridgeshire, England
Pilot: 2nd. Lt. Arthur L. Goss O-765995 AAF Age? PoW *
Co Pilot: 2nd. Lt. Harry J. Cook Jr. O-767751 AAF Age 20. PoW **
Navigator: 2nd. Lt. Lester E. Reuss O-720010 AAF Age 21. Survived (1)
Bombardier: 2nd. Lt. Malcolm M. Fouts O-769027 AAF Age 20. PoW **
Radio/Op: Sgt. Patsy Rocco 32216757 AAF Age 28. Survived (2)
Engineer: Sgt. Floyd A. Sprague 38404014 AAF Age 21. PoW ***
Ball Turret: Sgt. James A. Earon 42025593 AAF Age? PoW ***
Right Waist: Sgt. Roy M. Stevens 20947853 AAF Age 29. PoW ***
Left Waist: (3)
Tail: Sgt. Norman A. Bunney 37357596 AAF Age 20. PoW *** (4)
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
** Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
*** Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
Arthur L. Goss Crew - 358th BS (crew assigned 358 Bomb Squadron (H): 25 July 1944 - photo: July 1944) (Back L-R) 2nd.Lt. Malcolm M. Fouts , 2nd.Lt. Lester E. Reuss ,2nd.Lt. Harry J. Cook, Jr., 2nd.Lt. Arthur L. Goss (Front L-R) Sgt. Roy M. Stevens, Sgt. James A. Earon, Sgt. Patsy Rocco, Sgt. Floyd Sprague, Sgt. Norman A. Bunney, Cpl. Luther M. Mettauer. (Courtesy Fold3 - The images were received in October 1946 from 303rd Bomb Group thru AAF Historical Section)
REASON FOR LOSS:
On 15th August 1944 Bad Penny was one of thirty-eight bombers assigned to bomb the Wiesbaden airfield in Germany.
On the return leg to Molesworth the formation was flying in lower, higher and lead groups when at about 11:48 hours the aircraft were attacked by twenty to twenty-five German Bf-109 & Fw-190 fighters. Nine aircraft out of thirteen of the lower group were shot down. One of them was Bad Penny, which was flying immediately behind and to the left of the leading aircraft. All nine crew members were able to bail out. The aircraft crashed near Wittlich in Germany.
(1) 2nd.Lt. Reuss landed in a tree near the village of Preist. Whilst removing his parachute harness, a crowd gathered which included a Matthias Krein, a member of the German Landwacht (Home guard). A Peter Back arrived on the scene and without provocation shot Reuss twice, once to the head. This was followed by a Peter Kohn repeatedly striking the wounded airman about the head with a thick stick. A third man, Matthias Gierens then also struck Reuss about the head with a hammer, when he had finished the airman was dead. The next day Reuss was buried by Johann Jacob & Nikolaus Nospes without a coffin or a priest present, because of a Nazi edict, at the Cemetery in Preist.
Three of the perpetrators were arrested and brought to trial at Ahrweiler in Germany. All three were found guilty of murder, Krein as an accessory because of his dereliction in duty to protect Reuss and sentenced to death by hanging. Peter Back was arrested and tried at a later date and found guilty of the murder of Reuss. Upon review Krein's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour. The sentences for the other three was carried out on the 29th June 1945.
(2) Sgt. Rocco landed safely in the vicinity of a village called Idesheim near Bitburg, Germany and about 3 miles to the west of Preist. He surrendered and was taken to a local PoW camp. On the 17th August 1944 Rocco was given into the custody of Friedrich Scheilz, a policeman, to be taken on foot to Bitburg, 12 miles to the north. Rocco had his arms shackled behind his back and they proceeded on the road to Idenheim where Scheilz armed himself with a pistol, carbine & bayonet and set out to walk Rocco to Bitburg. Scheilz claimed that Rocco was trying to escape and fired a shot over his head, but the bullet struck him in the back of the neck killing him on the spot. Later that day the body was take to Bitburg, examined and buried in the local Cemetery.
Scheilz was arrested and brought to trial at Dachau, Germany on 9th August 1947. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to Life Imprisonment. However, upon review this was quashed and he served two years.
(3) Cpl. Luther M. Mettauer aged 19, was an assigned Waist Gunner on Bad Penny but did not fly on this mission. One of the two Waist Gunners were removed from crew complements starting on the 7th June 1944 and then both from 23rd February 1945
(4) Sgt. Bunney evaded capture for three nights before he was captured. He spent a couple of days with four other prisoners in a shed at a village near Frankfurt, then was interrogated at Frankfurt and sent by train to Stalag Luft 4. He spent about six months as a PoW before the Germans closed the camp and forced the 8,000 PoWs to march in a meandering trip through northern Poland and much of Germany without adequate food or medical assistance in what has become known as the Death March. He and his fellow PoWs were freed by Allied troops in April 1945.
(5) B-17G Flying Fortress 42-31183 was assigned to the 359th Bomb Sqn (H) on 18th November 1943 but was later transferred to the 358th Bomb Sqn (H). Bad Penny remained assigned to the 358th on the date it was reported as Missing in Action.
2nd. Lt. Lester E. Reuss. Air Medal, Purple Heart. American Cemetery in Luxembourg, in Plot A, Row 6, Grave 8. Born on the 23rd February 1923 in Lewistown, Montana. Son of Ernest A. and Marie E. (née Jenni) Reuss from Forsyth, Montana, USA.
Sgt. Patsy Rocco. Air Medal, Purple Heart. American Cemetery in Luxembourg, in Plot B, Row 9, Grave 9. Born in 1916 in New York. The son of Mrs. Rose Rocco, Long Island, New York, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Also the 'Hell's Angels' 303rd Bomb Group Website for permission to use the two Grave Markers.