10.04.1945 600th Bomber Squadron B-17G 43-38853, 2nd.Lt. James W. McAfee
Operation: Oranienburg (Mission #938), Berlin, Germany
Date: 10th April 1945 (Thursday)
Unit: 600th Bomber Squadron (398th Bombardment Group (H)), 8th Air Force
Serial No: 43-38853
Location: In the vicinity of Oranienburg, Berlin, Germany
Base: Nuthampstead (Station #131), Hertfordshire, England
Pilot: 2nd.Lt. James William McAfee O-779952 AAF Age 23. Killed
Co-Pilot: 2nd.Lt. Donald J. Jones O-833757 AAF Age 21. Killed
Navigator: 2nd.Lt. Burton H. Roth O-2071034 AAF Age? Killed
Bombardier: S/Sgt. Frank E. Lewis 34684050 AAF Age? PoW * (1)
Engineer: S/Sgt. Arthur John Roit 33588344 AAF Age 22. Killed
Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Paul Krup 35061043 Age? PoW * (1)
Left Waist Gunner: Sgt. Felix Hale Tichenor Jr. 35812049 AAF Age 25. Killed
Right Waist Gunner: -
Ball Turret: Sgt. Haskell Boyes 15041483 AAF Age? PoW Unknown camp
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Max W. Paxton 15382883 AAF Age 21. Survived (2)
RCM: ** S/Sgt. Robert W. Engard 13201033 AAF Age? PoW Unknown camp
* Stalag 3A, Luckenwalde, Brandenburg, south of Berlin.
** RCM = Radio Counter Measures operator. S/Sgt. Engard’s role, who was seconded from the 603rd Bomb Sqn, was to operate the “Spot Jammer” equipment.
REASON FOR LOSS:
B-17G 43-38853 took off from Nuthampstead, on the morning of the 10th April 1945 and joined thirty other aircraft from the 398th Bombardment Group on a mission to bomb targets at Oranienburg, north of Berlin in Germany. 43-38853 was flying on the left flank of the lead squadron for this mission.
The formation had approached to within 18 miles of the target when 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft appeared to be hit by flak and was then attacked by German fighter aircraft. The aircraft was last seen at about 1450 hours at a position some 2½ miles NE of Oranienburg.
An after mission report by 1st.Lt. Arthur C. Watson Jr, the pilot of B-17G 42-102487 which was flying off the starboard wing of 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft, described that during the bomb run he saw what appeared to be a flak burst between the #3 and #4 engines of 43-38853. He watched as the aircraft pulled up slowly while falling back from the formation and dropping its bomb load at the same time. The aircraft appeared to be under control until he lost sight of it. He then looked around for flak but saw none. Then his gunners started firing and he thought he saw an Me-262 peel away just off the port wing of his aircraft.
A second after mission report by Sgt. George G. Hafer, the left waist gunner of 1st.Lt. Watson’s aircraft, described that as bombs were being dropped over the target, three jet propelled aircraft, which he believed to be Me-262’s, attacked the formation. He witnessed 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft being hit in the wing between #3 and #4 engines. A few minutes later he saw the aircraft at 7 o'clock low. The aircraft was under control but appeared to be under attack by two fighters. A split second later another enemy fighter attacked the formation and he took his eyes off of 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft. When he looked back, a few seconds later, the aircraft was no longer in sight. He called his tail gunner who had been unable to pick up 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft. No parachutes had been observed at any time.
The following are extracts from Ref. 1 - Appendix 1, which describes the attack on the formation and the engagement with 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft:
Oberleutnant (1st.Lt.) Walter Schuck and his flight of four Me-262 jet fighters of 3./JG-7, flying out of the Oranienburg airbase, attacked the Lead Squadron. At about 1447 hours 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft was only seconds away from the target with its bomb doors open when the Me-262s attacked. 30mm cannon shells hit from astern blowing a large hole in the waist fuselage and seriously wounding Sgt. Tichenor and shooting off Sgt. Boyes left arm in the ball turret.
It is not know which of the four Me-262 pilots claimed 2nd.Lt. McAfee’s aircraft.
Oberleutnant Schuck’s tally for this mission was four bombers but his Me-262 was badly damaged by a Mustang flown by 1st.Lt. Joseph A. 'Pete' Peterburs, and he had to bail out, although this was not established until many years later.
The Individual Casualty Questionnaire submitted by T/Sgt. Krup after the war provided the following information regarding the crew members that perished:
S/Sgt. Paxton was seen uninjured and to bail out of the aircraft. T/Sgt. Krup was told by a Wehrmacht Leutnant (2nd.Lt.) who had captured him, that an American airman had been killed by civilians as he had landed. He presumed this airman to be Paxton. This was S/Sgt Paxton’s first mission with the crew but was a veteran of thirty previous missions,
Sgt. Tichenor suffered injuries to the left side of his body and left leg and could not be moved. Additionally his parachute was missing presumably blown out of the aircraft during the fighter attacks. It is presumed that he perished when the aircraft exploded in mid-air,
S/Sgt. Roit was last seen uninjured in the upper turret and may have perished in the flames which engulfed #3 engine fuel tank,
2nd.Lt. Roth was last seen in the nose of the aircraft without his parachute. S/Sgt. Lewis was making his way to the cockpit to give 2nd.Lt. McAfee a heading to fly when the aircraft exploded. S/Sgt. Lewis was blown out of the aircraft and survived,
2nd.Lt. Jones was last seen in the co-pilot’s seat and it was speculated that he may have been overcome by the flames. 2nd.Lt. Jones was the co-pilot from another crew on which their normal co-pilot, 2nd.Lt. Phil Krieg, flew for this mission,
2nd.Lt. McAfee apparently stayed in the pilot’s seat to hold the aircraft level to allow the crew to bail out and perished when the aircraft exploded in mid-air,
T/Sgt. Paul Krup recorded that he saw 4 other parachutes in the air, whom he believed to be S/Sgt. Lewis, Sgt. Boyes, S/Sgt. Paxton and S/Sgt. Engard.
A Casualty Interrogation Report submitted by S/Sgt. Engard described that after he had bailed out he saw three other parachutes besides his own leave the aircraft. A few seconds after he had bailed out he saw a scattering of debris and noted one large section of the waist and another large section of the wings and nose of the aircraft hurtling earthward. After he had landed he met up with T/Sgt. Krup and Sgt. Boyes at a first aid station. He saw that Sgt. Boyes had one of his arms blown off but later heard that he had survived.
(1) S/Sgt. Lewis and T/Sgt. Krup became PoWs at Stalag 3A, Luckenwalde. The story of their escape is told by 1st.Lt. Peterburs in Ref. 1 - Appendix 1. In summary, the two met up at the PoW camp with 1st.Lt. Peterburs and his fellow fighter pilot, Capt. Richard Morrison ’Dick’ Tracy. 1st.Lt. Peterburs and Capt. Tracy were flying Mustangs as fighter escorts on the Oranienburg mission and were shot down by flak whilst strafing the Berlin-Schönwalde airfield. The four airmen escaped from Luckenwalde under the wire and within about 5 miles they met up with a Russian tank unit and were eventually returned to the UK and then home to the USA.
(2) The circumstances surrounding the death of S/Sgt. Paxton have not been established. All that is known is that he was last seen uninjured in the aircraft and that he bailed out of the aircraft. He was believed to be under one of the four parachutes seen in the air by T/Sgt. Krup after he had bailed out. The only uncorroborated allegation that S/Sgt. Paxton may have met his death at the hands of hostile German civilians came from the Wehrmacht Leutnant who had captured T/Sgt. Krup.
No war crime case has been found that can be related to the allegation so his death remains unexplained.
(Left: Courtesy: jbmgs-Find-A-Grave) 2nd.Lt. James William McAfee. Repatriated and buried at the Palmyra Cemetery, Indiana. Born 13th October 1922 in New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. Son to Henry William and Garnet Pearl (née Baker) McAfee of Harrison, Indiana and husband to Ruby I. McAfee of Palmyra, Indiana, USA.
(Right: Courtesy: Dominique Potier-Find-A-Grave) 2nd.Lt. Donald J. Jones. Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré, Block CC, Row 6, Grave 139. Relocated to Plot B, Row 25, Grave 6. Born on the 10th January 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Son to Mr. John A. Jones of Perrysville, Pennsylvania, USA.
2nd.Lt. Burton H. Roth. Repatriated. Brother to Mr. Stanley W. Roth of New York, New York, USA. No further details.
(Left: Courtesy: JM-Find-A-Grave) S/Sgt. Arthur John Roit. Repatriated and buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Section T, Lot No. 26, Range 13, Grave 1, in Montgomery County, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born on the 18th September 1923, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Son of Anton and Sophia (née Dzubak) Roit of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
(Right: Courtesy: Dominique Potier-Find-A-Grave) Sgt. Felix Hale Tichenor Jr. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré, Block CC, Row 6, Grave 136. Relocated to Plot B, Row 37, Grave 9. Born on the 9th August 1920 in Owensboro, Kentucky. Son to Felix H. and Margaret F. (née Wingfield) Tichenor of Evansville, Indiana and husband to Ruth L. Tichenor of Evansville, Indiana, USA.
(Left: Courtesy: Dominique Potier-Find-A-Grave) S/Sgt. Max W. Paxton. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré, Block V, Row 12, Grave 280. Relocated to Plot B, Row 16, Grave 20. Born in 1924 in Crawfordsville, Montgomery, Indiana. Son to Mrs. Minnie A. Paxton of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
1. The Me 262 Stormbird by Collin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis