11.05.1944 366th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G 42-31611, Capt. Marion W. Holbrook
Operation: Railway marshalling yards at Saarbrücken, (Mission #351), Germany
Date: 11th May 1944 (Thursday)
Unit: 305th Bombardment Group (H), 366th Bombardment Squadron (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force
Serial No: 42-31611
Location: Hagondange, 14 km north of Metz, France
Base: Chelveston (Station #105), Northamptonshire, England
Pilot: Capt. Marion Willard Holbrook O-738153 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Donald Warren Wendt O-680780 AAF Age 23. PoW **
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Alfred B. Hills O-695422 AAF Age? PoW **
2nd Navigator: 2nd Lt. Mortimer R. Greenwald O-690411 AAF Age 28. PoW **
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Frank Joseph Murphy O-686117 AAF Age 27. PoW **
Radio Op: T/Sgt. Joseph Thomas Fitch Jr. 3823084 AAF Age 24. PoW ***
Engineer: T/Sgt. George Curtis Michie 39250129 AAF Age? PoW **
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. William Francis Lewis 32255303 AAF Age? PoW ****
Left Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Ted John McCormick 38329291 AAF Age? PoW **
Right Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Calvin C. Ferrari 33352403 AAF Age 23. Survived (1)
Tail Gnr: S/Sgt. Kenneth Marvin Zirkle 35421873 AAF Age 23. PoW **
* Stalag 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse and 3368 Munich).
** Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
*** 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).
**** Unknown PoW camp
Caption reads: "Staff Sergeant Calvin C. Ferrari, of Hazelton. assumes a look of grim determination as he shows how he sights along his waist gun in one of the death-dealing heavy bombers." (Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer, dated Monday, December 13th, 1943)
REASON FOR LOSS:
B-17G 42-31611 took off from Chelveston on the afternoon of the 11th May 1944 and joined 57 other bombers on a mission to bomb the railway marshalling yards at Saarbrücken in Germany. The aircraft was hit by flak in the target area and was last seen in a steep glide.
A document from the German Stab/Flak-Regiment 169 (Flakgruppe Saarbrücken), reported that nine men were seen to bail out of a bomber in a formation that flew over Dillingen in Germany. Eight of the airmen were captured and one was hospitalized at about 19:30 hrs.
German reports have the aircraft crashing at Hagendingen on or near an Iron Furnace plant, 15 km north of Metz in France at 19:40 hrs. A partial serial number reported as ‘2316’, which correlates with the normal practice of applying the aircraft serial number on the tail, which in the case of this aircraft was ‘231611’.
Hagendingen is the German name for the town named Hagondange which is located 15 km north of Metz. Hagondange was also the location of a plant manufacturing steel products for group of consumers named UCPMInote 1, which was led by Louis Renault.
The location of the aircraft crash site is some 45 km SW of Dillingen where eight of the crew were captured. Capt. Holbrook reported in his Individual Casualty Questionnaire (ICQ) that all the crew bailed out of the aircraft except for himself. He had difficulty in clipping on his parachute and bailed out somewhere near Metz which accounts for the distance from where the crew bailed out and the crash site. There are no details of the circumstances of his capture.
2nd Lt. Wendt was captured two days later, on the 13th May 1944 at 09:00 hrs, in the vicinity of Bedersdorf which is some 11 km SW of Dillingen.
(1) The circumstances leading to the death of S/Sgt. Ferrari were determined by a General Military Government Court convened at Ludwigsburg, Germany on the 20th March 1946.
One German national was charged that he did, at or near Dillingen, Germany on or about the 11th May 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully commit an assault upon an unknown member of the United States Army, who was then an unarmed, surrendered PoW in custody of the then German Reich by shooting him with a gun.
The accused was a Nickolaus (Nikolaus) Hartmann who was a former medic in the Sturmabteilung (SA). It was reported that he was never a member of the Nazi party and that his military experience had been limited to three weeks in the Wehrmacht and as a member of the Volkssturm (Militia = Home Guard).
SA = Paramilitary arm of the Nazi party
The court heard that on or about the 11th July 1944 between 17:00 and 19:00 hrs, an American airman, S/Sgt. Calvin C. Ferrari, parachuted from his disabled aircraft and landed in a tree in the town of Dillingen, Germany.
As he descended the townspeople immediately gathered and surrounded the tree where he was caught in the branches by his parachute. Hartmann came running towards the scene armed with an old rifle and when about 150 metres from the airman he stopped, took aim and fired a shot. The bullet struck the airman in the lower left arm passing straight through.
A Wehrmacht officer shouted at Hartmann to stop shooting and he then lowered his rifle but continued moving toward the scene. The officer climbed into the tree and cut the airman free of his parachute and with others assisted in lowering him to the ground.
When the officer and others treated the airman’s bullet wound it was found that he had a severe stomach injury which had been bandaged aboard his aircraft. Shortly thereafter the airman was taken to the hospital in Dillingen-Sall. Before a doctor operated on his injuries the airman told him his name, age, nationality, residence and also that he had been wounded by flak splinters before he bailed out of the aircraft.
Despite the efforts of the doctor the airman died the following morning from his severe stomach injury on the 12th May 1944 at 11:00 hrs. S/Sgt. Ferrari was buried in the Dillingen PoW Cemetery (A former Jewish Cemetery) in the English and American Section, Grave #1. The grave was marked with a wooden cross cand carried the inscription “Calvin Ferrari, USA”.
Hartmann in his original statement claimed that he was running toward the tree where the airman was suspended and called for him to raise his hands. As he neared the scene he tripped causing his rifle to fire a round. He contradicted his original statement during his testimony before the court where he claimed that he did not deliberately aim at the airman and only fired his rifle to scare him.
The court considered that the evidence presented made the case that the assault was committed with an intent to kill. Hartmann admitted that he had shot the airman and it was established that he was the only one of a number of townspeople rushing toward the airman who was armed and saw fit to fire his weapon. Hartmann was a civilian and as such under the rules of Land Warfare if he participated in the fighting he was liable to punishment as a War Criminal.
The court found Hartmann guilty of the charge and sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment. Upon review of the court proceedings the guilty verdict was upheld but the term of imprisonment was recommended to be reduced to 15 years, but the approval was fixed for 20 years. Hartmann was paroled in April 1954.
S/Sgt. Calvin C. Ferrari. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Recovered and reinterred in the Lorraine American Cemetery Plot 3S, Row 7, Grave 81. Relocated to Plot E, Row 25, Grave 36. Born on the 27th February 1921 in Hazleton, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Son of Joseph and Alma Maria (née Angeli) Ferrari. Both his parents predeceased him in 1922 and November 1935 respectively. His brother Albert C. Ferrari from Milwaukee, Wisconsin was listed as his Next of Kin.
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’.