05.08.1944 789th Bomb Squadron (H) B-24H 41-29363 2nd.Lt. Willard A. Langenfeld
Operation: Braunschweig-Waggum, Germany
Date: 5th August 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: 467th Bombardment Group (H), 789th Bombardment Squadron (H), 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division
Serial No: 41-29363
Location: Eichholz SW of Echternhagen, Germany
Base: Rackheath (Station #145), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 2nd.Lt. Willard Albert Langenfeld O-702293 AAF Age 23. PoW (1)
Co-Pilot: 2nd.Lt. Charles E. Whitacre O-761779 AAF Age 31. PoW (2)
Navigator: 2nd.Lt. Robert E. Delavan O-703961 AAF Age 22. (3)
Bombardier: 2nd.Lt. Louis Earl Younkin O-716804 AAF Age 21. (3)
Radio/Op: S/Sgt. Norman Eugene Schneider 36745005 AAF Age 33. (3)
Engineer/Top Turret: S/Sgt. Stanley J. Kalinejko 36638265 AAF Age 21. (3)
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. John A. Vititoe 35874059 AAF Age 19. PoW (4)
Right Waist: S/Sgt. Sherwood L. Kells 32740090 AAF Age 20. (3)
Left Waist: S/Sgt. Robert F. Kowalski 36643616 AAF Age 20. (5)
Tail: S/Sgt. Donald Trew McVicker 15118711 AAF Age 22. (6)
The B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally comprised 9 personnel who were typically, but not always, Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Waist Gunner, Tail Gunner.
REASON FOR LOSS:
B-24H 41-29363 took off from Rackheath on the morning of 5th August 1944 at 08:32 hours to take part in a 24 aircraft mission to bomb the MIAG aircraft components factory on the airfield at Braunschweig-Waggum in Germany.
The aircraft was reported to have been hit by flak and heavily damaged after leaving the target area. A German report records that the aircraft crashed at about 15:15 hours to the west of Eichholz which is located SW of the village of Echternhagen in today's municipality of Kalletal.
The wreckage of B-24H Liberator 41-29363 on Sunday, the day after the crash
Nine of the ten crew members successfully bailed out of the aircraft. The tenth member of the crew perished in the crash and another perished because of a parachute failure. The remaining eight airmen survived the bailout.
(1) After landing uninjured 2nd.Lt. Langenfeld left the area but was captured a short time later in the town of Vlotho about 4 miles NW of the crashed aircraft and handed over to Luftwaffe personnel from the nearby Detmold airfield. He was held as a PoW until liberated but there are no further details of where he was held or when he was liberated.
(2) 2nd.Lt. Whitacre landed uninjured on the outskirts of a small village about ½ mile distant from the aircraft crash site. He was captured immediately on landing and was handed over to the Luftwaffe personnel that had been detailed to search the aircraft wreckage. He accompanied them to the crash site where he observed them searching the wreckage. The searchers gave no indication of finding anyone in the wreckage. After leaving the crash site he witnessed, when they stopped at a farmhouse about 4 miles from the downed aircraft, a number of complete sets of American flying gear, flight suits, flying boots and GI shoes being loaded onto the truck in which he was being transported. From there they travelled to Detmold some 19 miles distance. He was eventually held as a PoW at Stalag Luft 3, Sagan in Lower Silesia now Żagań, Poland.
(3) After 2nd.Lt. Langenfeld and 2nd.Lt. Whitacre were liberated they reported their suspicions that their dead comrades were killed by German civilians. An investigation was conducted which led to a General Military Government Court being convened at Dachau in Germany from the 24th to the 29th January 1947. Four German nationals were charged with the unlawful killing of five unknown PoWs who were members of the United States Army in or near Hohenhausen on the 5th August 1944.
The four accused were a Gustav Stork who was a Gendarmeriemeister (M/Sgt.) in the Gendarmerie (District rural police), a Gustav Deppe who was an Oberwachtmeister (Sgt.) in the Gendarmerie, a Franz Dürschke who was a chimney sweep, and a Heinrich Jürgens who was the Gendarmerie Kreisführer (District police chief) with the rank of SS Hauptsturmführer (Capt.) but his name was removed from the charge sheet because he was not before the court.
Jürgens was held for some time in Staumühle, a British Internment Camp. Whether the reason was "automatic arrest" due to his position and SS rank, or whether it had to do with Denazification Proceedings is still being researched. There is no evidence that he was ever prosecuted for his part in the Hohenhausen murders
The court heard how five American airmen were assembled at a house commandeered by Stork at about 15:00 hours on the day in question. An hour or so later Stork and Deppe took two of the airmen from the house to a nearby woods where the accused each shot and killed one of the airmen. They immediately returned to the house and along with Dürschke took out the remaining three airmen to a nearby meadow where the accused each shot and killed one of the airmen. Later that day at around 20:00 hours Luftwaffe personnel arrived and removed all traces of identity from the dead airmen. Stork and Deppe then transported them to the local cemetery in Hohenhausen where the five murdered airmen along with the two airmen that died as a result of the crash and parachute failure, were buried in a rudimentary mass grave in the upper west corner of the old cemetery at around midnight on the 6th August 1944.
Stork, Deppe and Dürschke confessed to the shooting of the five airmen but claimed that they were under orders from Jürgens not to take any prisoners. The court found the accused guilty of murdering the five American airmen and they were each sentenced to death by hanging. After the sentences were confirmed they were executed on the 20th June 1947.
Although the trial documentation does not identify any of the victims by name, researchers have been able to deduce from a number of source documents and through a process of elimination that 2nd.Lt. Delavan, 2nd.Lt. Younkin, S/Sgt. Schneider, S/Sgt. Kalinejko and S/Sgt. Kells were the murder victims. However, it has not been possible to determine which of the three accused murdered whom.
(4) S/Sgt. Vititoe sustained injuries from the parachute landing. His injuries were serious enough for him to be admitted to the Branch Hospital (Technikum) in Lage-Lippe. He was eventually held as a PoW at Stalag 9c probably in the branch camp at Bad Sulza/Mühlhausen, which was 15 miles NE of Weimar.
(5) A recently recovered German Aircraft Crash report (KU = Kampf-Flugzeug, USA) for 41-29363 has provided evidence that it was S/Sgt. Robert F. Kowalski who perished in the aircraft crash.
(6) The extent of the injuries recorded in S/Sgt. McVicker’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) lead our researchers to believe that he was unable to walk which does not agree with the course of events as established by the evidence in court and in all probability he was the crew member that perished when his parachute failed.
The remains of the seven airmen were disinterred from the mass grave at Hohenhausen, Germany and reinterred at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten during April 1945.
(Left) 2nd.Lt. Robert E. Delavan. Purple Heart. Initially reinterred as X-334 on the 25th April 1944 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot HH, Row 5, Grave 114. Reinterred in Plot J, Row 3, Grave 1. Born in 20 February 1922. Son to Arthur E. and Elsie M. Delavan of Watertown, New York, USA.
(credit: Fields of Honor)
2nd.Lt. Louis Earl Younkin. Purple Heart. Initially reinterred as X-352 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot GG, Row 6, Grave 132. Reinterred in Plot N, Row 15, Grave 17. Born on 28 Feb 1925. Son to George P. and Helen L. Younkin of Rockwood, Pennsylvania, USA. (Right) Memorial stone, IOOF, Odd Fellows Cemetery, Rockwood, Pennsylvania, USA. (credit: Find a Grave)
(Left) S/Sgt. Norman Eugene Schneider. Initially reinterred as X-351 on the 27th April 1944 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot GG, Row 6, Grave 130. Repatriated and reinterred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Chicago. Born on the 18th July 1911, Cook County, Chicago. Son to Siegmon Schneider and Martha (née Eggli) Rapp of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
(credit: Find a Grave)
(Right) S/Sgt. Stanley J. Kalinejko. Purple Heart. Initially reinterred as X-354 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot GG, Row 6, Grave 136. Reinterred in Plot P, Row 19, Grave 10. Born on the 21st December 1922. Son to Kenneth and Helen Kalinejko and husband to Shirley (née Cox) Kalinejko of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, USA. (credit: Fields of Honor)
(Left) S/Sgt. Robert F. Kowalski. Initially reinterred as X-333 on the 25th April 1944 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot HH, Row 5, Grave 112. Repatriated and reinterred on the 22nd June 1949 at the Camp Butler National Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois, Plot C, Grave 102. Born on the 8th January 1924. Son to Mrs. Lillian M. Kowalski of Chicago, Illinois, USA. (credit: Iced Tea on Find a Grave)
S/Sgt. Sherwood L. Kells. Initially reinterred as X-353 on the 27th April 1945 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot GG, Row 6, Grave 134. Repatriated on the 25th June 1949 and reinterred in the family plot at the Cedar Park cemetery, Hudson, New York. Born on the 20th April 1924. Son to Edgar M. and Viloa Kells of Hudson, New York, USA.
S/Sgt. Donald Trew McVicker. Purple Heart. Initially reinterred as X-335 at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Plot HH, Row 5, Grave 116. Reinterred in Plot M, Row 10, Grave 15. Memorial Stone at the Darrtown Pioneer cemetery. Born on 26th April 1922. Son to Luther S. and Opal (Trew) McVicker of Darrtown, Butler, Ohio, USA. (credit: Family of Donald Trew McVicker)
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 Vitz database. Thanks also to Andy Wilkinson from the 467th BG(H) Association for his assistance and special thanks to the family of Donald Trew McVicker for their kind assistance