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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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8th Air Force
17.08.1943 418th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17F 42-30063 ‘Picklepuss’ Capt. Robert M. Knox

Operation: Regensburg (Mission #84), Germany

Date: 17th August 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: 418th Bombardment Squadron (H), 100th Bombardment Group (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-17F Picklepuss

Serial No: 42-30063

Code: LD:S

Base: Thorpe Abbot (Station #139), Norfolk, England

Location: Schmalgraf some 2¾ km SW of Klemis, Belgium

Pilot: Capt. Robert Miller Knox O-438010 AAF Age 28. KiA

Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. John Oesterling Whitaker O-798061 AAF Age 25. KiA

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Ernest E. Warsaw O-667461 AAF Age 22. PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Edwin F. Tobin O-732685 AAF Age 20. PoW **

Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Walter Paulsen 12077723 AAF Age? PoW ***

Engineer: S/Sgt. Glover E. Barney 39601716 AAF Age 27. PoW ***

Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Frank W. Tychewicz 36344174 AAF Age 31. KiA

Right Waist: Sgt. Alexander W. Markowski 12170779 AAF Age 22. KiA

Left Waist: S/Sgt. Joseph F. LaSpada 32035862 AAF Age 27. KiA

Tail: S/Sgt. Henry Aurdis Norton 14090803 AAF Age 32. KiA

* Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)

** Stalag 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse and 3368 Munich).

*** Stalag 17b Krems-Gneixendorf near Krems, Austria.

The Crew: Kneeling L-R: 2nd Lt. Edwin F. Tobin, Capt. Robert M. Knox, 2nd Lt. Ernest E. Warsaw, 2nd Lt. John O. Whitaker. Standing L-R: S/Sgt. Frank W. Tychewicz, T/Sgt. Carl T. Simon, T/Sgt. Walter Paulsen, Unknown, S/Sgt Malcolm K. Maddran, S/Sgt Joseph F. Laspada, S/Sgt Henry A. Norton, unknown (Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation via Michel Beckers)

Note: The aircraft was named for Dorothy, wife of the pilot, Capt. Robert Knox as he nicknamed her 'Pickelpuss'.

REASON FOR LOSS

On the 17th August 1943, the 418th Bombardment Squadron was the lead for the 100th Bombardment Group (BG) on a mission to bomb the Messerschmitt factory at Regensburg, Germany.

From the aircraft’s MACR the intended destination was North Africa. This mission, for at least the 100th BG, was what was termed a ‘shuttle run’.

The return missions for the 100th BG was on the 24th and 25th August 1943 when they bombed targets in France before returning to Thorpe Abbot.

The aircraft was last seen to turn back from the formation near Frankfurt at 10:20 hrs but still under control. Ten parachutes were reported to have been seen leave the aircraft.

The aircraft exploded in midair with the wreckage falling to earth at 11:40 hrs about 500 m west of Schmalgraf, near Kelmis in Belgium.

S/Sgt. Barney was blown out of the aircraft when it exploded. He believed that the six crew who perished did not bail out.


Original narrative which is being researched

Shot down by enemy fighters (Hauptmann Von Bonin,Oberleutnant Barte and Leutnant Witzke), the aircraft crashed at Herbesthal Lontzen, 500 meters west of Schmalgraf, near Kelmis, west of Aachen, Belgium.

Much has been written about the 'Legend' of the 100th Bomb Group being 'picked on' or singled out by the Luftwaffe for punishment because a 100th Group B 17 had, during the Regensburg raid, pulled out of formation with battle damage and then lowered its wheels in a supposed token of surrender. Then, when approached by several Luftwaffe fighter aircraft, its gunners were supposed to have opened fire and shot down several of the German planes.

Above: Hptm. Eckart-Wilhelm Von Bonin (Courtesy Ron Putz via Michel Beckers)


Burial Details:

The six who perished were initially interred at the Cemetery of Honor, Eupen in Section 16, Grave numbers 218 to 222 and 232.

Above Grave marker for Capt. Robert Knox (Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation via Michel Beckers)

Capt. Robert Miller Knox. Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Plot B, Row 12, Grave 18. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Born on the 30th September 1914 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Son of George Miller Knox. Husband to Dorothy E. Knox of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, USA.

2nd Lt. John Oesterling Whitaker. Air Medal. Repatriated on the 29th November 1947 to Greenwood Cemetery, Wheeling, Ohio, County, West Virginia. Born on the 29th May 1918 in Wheeling, Ohio, County, West Virginia. Son of George Parks and Marie (née Stifel) Whitaker of Wheeling, Ohio, County, West Virginia USA.

S/Sgt. Frank W. Tychewicz. Air Medal. Repatriated to Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois. Born on the 22nd September 1911 in Chicago, Illinois. Son of Jospehine Tychewicz of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Sgt. Alexander W. Markowski. Repatriated to Saint Albert Cemetery, Schenectady, New York. Born on the 4th April 1921. Son to Alexander and Helen (Gutowskich) Markowska. Next of Kin listed as his Aunt, Margaret Ciecierski of Utica, New York, USA.

S/Sgt. Joseph F. LaSpada. Air Medal. Repatriated to Saint Joseph Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York. Born on the 27th March 1916 in Buffalo, New York. Brother to Mrs Grace Ciraola of Nigeria Falls, Nigeria, New York, USA.

S/Sgt. Henry Aurdis Norton. Air Medal. Repatriated to Calvary Baptist Church Cemetery in Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama. Born on the 31st July 1911 in Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama. Son of Edwin Forest and Betty Ardell (née Sellers) Norton of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama, USA.

Originally researched by Michel Beckers. Reviewed and updated by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. (Jun 2022).

RS 30.06.2022 – Reviewed and updated narrative

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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