18.06.1944 526th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G 42-102628 ‘G.I. Jane’, 1st.Lt. Stephen J. King
Operation: Hamburg (Mission #421), Germany
Date: 18th June 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 379th Bombardment Group (H), 526th Bombardment Squadron (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-17G G.I. Jane
Serial No: 42-102628
Location: Near Pinneberg, Holstein, Hamburg, Germany
Base: Kimbolton (Station #117), Huntingdonshire, England
Pilot: 1st.Lt. Stephen Joseph King O-808429 AAF Age? PoW *
Co-Pilot: 1st.Lt. Milton Sherman Miller O-808877 AAF Age 20. Killed (1)
Navigator: 2nd.lt. Donald Emil Casey O-696058 AAF Age? PoW **
Bombardier: 2nd.Lt. Charles W. Henry O-674766 AAF Age? PoW *
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Charles Emil Rutishauser 39835671 AAF Age 23. Killed
Engineer: T/Sgt. Raymond Frank Weehler 19059212 AAF Age 23. PoW ***
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. James Howard Hagen 39285838 AAF Age 20. PoW ***
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Zigfryd "Ziggy“ Valentino Czarnecki 33437551 AAF Age 20. Survived (2)
Tail: S/Sgt. Eugene Victor Miller 35562207 AAF Age 23. Killed
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 7a, Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camp 3324-46 Krumbachstraße and Work Camp 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 Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 18th June 1944 the G.I. Jane took off from Kimbolton on a mission to bomb the Blohm and Voss shipyard facilities in Hamburg, Germany.
The G.I. Jane was last seen leaving the formation while over Hamburg at 09:47 hrs with #3 engine on fire which had spread back onto the wing itself. The aircraft disappeared going down through the clouds but was under control.
The aircraft was reported to have exploded with the wreckage falling to earth near Pinneberg, Holstein, at 09:50 hrs. Seven of the crew managed to successfully bail out of the aircraft. T/Sgt. Rutishauser and S/Sgt. Miller both died in the explosion.
1st.Lt. King was wounded and captured along with S/Sgt. Hagen in the area of Pinneberg, Holstein at 10:25 hrs and 10:30 hrs respectively. T/Sgt. Weehler was captured near Sand, Harburg at 10:20 hrs. 2nd.Lt. Henry was captured near Klövenstein, Holstein at 10:25 hrs. 2nd.Lt. Casey was captured near the water tower on the Elbe river at Blankenese-Altona at 10:30 hrs.
(1) 1st.Lt. Miller was found dead by German civilians near Strandweg 78, Blankenese-Altona at 13:10hrs. There was an unconfirmed claim that he had been shot and killed whilst descending on his parachute.
(2) The fate of S/Sgt. Czarnecki was unknown until an American General Military Government Court was convened at Dachau, Germany on the 10th and 11th April 1947.
One German national was charged that he did, at or near Appen, Germany, on or about the 18th June 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing of an unknown member of the armed forces of a nation then at war with the then German Reich, who was then and there a surrendered and unarmed PoW in the custody of the then German Reich.
Although the identity of the American airman was not known at the time of the trial it was later established that this was S/Sgt. Czarnecki.
The accused was a Wilhelm Langeloh (alias Felix Bauer) who was a former SA-Obersturmführer (1st.Lt.) and Kreisorganisationsleiter (Nazi party district organiser).
SA= Sturmabteilung (Paramilitary arm of the Nazi party)
The court heard that an American airman parachuted from an aircraft and landed between the villages of Appen and Etz, which is some 3km from Pinneberg. He was taken into custody by a Rottmeister (police Cpl.) Pein from Etz and immediately handed over to reserve Wachtmeister (police Sgt.) Johnny Wohlers from Appen at about 11:00 hrs. He was taken to the Appen police station by way of the office of the Bürgermeister (mayor) and guarded by Wohlers and Landwachtmann (Local defence force member) Hans Runge.
Within an hour or so Wohlers received a telephone call from Langeloh at the Kreisleitung (Nazi District office) in Pinneberg, inquiring if an American airman was in custody. When Wohlers confirmed that was so, Langeloh told him that he was on him way and that the airman was to turned over to him.
Wohlers declined to do so and stated that he intended to turn over the airman to the military authorities as a PoW. Langeloh then told Wohlers that he was to hand over the airmen by order of the Landrat (Nazi County Administrator).
Langeloh arrived shortly afterwards and told Wohlers that he would transport the airman to the Uetersen airfield and stated "whether he gets there, I don’t know". Wohlers directed Runge to follow and observe the actions and conduct of Langeloh. The party of three set off in the direction of the airfield on foot. After they had travelled between 150 and 200 metres from Appen, Langeloh who was walking behind the airman, shot him in the neck from the rear and the airman fell forward. Langeloh using his feet then rolled the airman into a ditch after which he left the scene.
Runge testified that the airman appeared to be dead but had started to speak after about 5 minutes. Langeloh returned a short time later and was told by Runge that the airman was still alive. Langeloh had words with Runge and then left for the airfield to make a report.
When a group of soldiers came upon the scene Runge asked one of them to notify Wohlers of the situation. Wohlers arrived with a vehicle to transport the airman to the dispensary at Uetersen airfield. Langeloh then returned for a third time waving his pistol in the air and ranting that it was only one human life and that there would be more. He then left the scene in the direction of Pinneberg with a curt "Heil Hitler".
A Dr. Edwin Wright testified that he had treated the American airman in the dispensary at Uetersen airfield for a gunshot wound in the back of the neck adjoining the spine. He had ordered that the airman be taken immediately to the Reservelazarett (Reserve Hospital) V at Hamburg-Wandsbek. The next morning Dr. Wright received news from the hospital that the airman had died.
In his own pre-trial testimony Langeloh admitted that he had changed his name to Felix Bauer because he had heard that the Allies were looking for him under his regular name. He also claimed that he shot the airman solely to injure him and emphasized that he did not intend to kill him.
Given the facts presented by the persecution the court found Langeloh guilty of the charge and sentenced him to death. He was hanged at Landsberg on the 10th October 1947 at 13:58 hrs.
T/Sgt. Rutishauser and S/Sgt. Miller were initially buried in the local cemetery at Rellingen, Holstein in unmarked Graves K.IV. Feld No. 5 & 6 respectively, on the 18th June 1944. 1st.Lt. Miller’s burial took place in the Evangelical-Lutheran Churchyard on Kirchenweg in Sülldorf-Altona, Hamburg. S/Sgt. Czarnecki was initially buried in the cemetery at Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, Germany, Row 14, Grave 11.
(Left: Courtesy -The Pittsburgh Press August 10, 1945).
1st.Lt. Milton Sherman Miller. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Reinterred in the Ardennes American Cemetery Plot N, Row 5, Grave 102. Repatriated and buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, Virginia. Born on the 7th April 1924 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Son of Milton Sebastian and Lillian M. (née Lynch) Miller of Wilkinsburg, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA.
(Right: Courtesy - The Salt Lake Tribune July 1, 1944).
T/Sgt. Charles Emil Rutishauser. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred in the Ardennes American Cemetery Plot N, Row 5, Grave 101. Relocated to Plot D, Row 16, Grave 4. Born on the 8th December 1920 in Sanpete, Utah. Son of Emil and Minnie C. (née Christensen) Rutishauser of Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah, USA.
(Above: Courtesy - Vindicator I , Scott Muselin - FindAGrave).
S/Sgt. Zigfryd "Ziggy“ Valentino Czarnecki. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Repatriated and buried at the St. Marys Cemetery, Beaver Falls, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Born on the 18th October 1923, Beaver Falls, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Son of Emil and Stella C. Czarnecki of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, USA.
(Left: Courtesy - Indianapolis Star - May 29, 1949).
S/Sgt. Eugene Victor Miller. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Reinterred in the Ardennes American Cemetery Plot N, Row 5, Grave 103. Born on the 23rd July 1920 in Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana. Repatriated and interred at the Washington Park Mausoleum, Washington DC on the 31st May 1949. Son of Martin H. and Mary Ethel (née Harris) Miller of Northwest, Washington DC, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.