26.11.1944 853rd Bomber Squadron B-24J 44-40205 ‘The Moose’ 1st.Lt. Warren C. Moore
Operation: Hannover, Germany
Date: 26th November 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 853rd Bomber Squadron (491st Bombardment Group (H)), 8th Air Force
Type: B-24J The Moose
Serial No: 44-40205
Location: South of Gehrden, 9 miles SW of Hannover, Germany
Base: North Pickenham (Station #143), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st.Lt. Warren C. Moore O-547092 AAF Age? PoW *
Co Pilot: 1st.Lt. Robert D. McIntyre O-699618 AAF Age? PoW **
Navigator: 1st.Lt. Ross S. Houston O-886646 AAF Age 23. PoW * (1)
Bombardier: 1st.Lt. George Kenneth Patten O-754761 AAF Age 28. Killed
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Joseph F. Rimassa 32159109 AAF Age 24. PoW Unknown camp
Engineer: T/Sgt. Francis Sylvester Hawkins 12122898 AAF Age 33. Killed
Nose Turret: 1st.Lt. Richard Kiernan McDonnell O-754752 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Ball Turret: -
Right Waist: S/Sgt. John P. Murray 12193506 AAF Age 21. Killed
Left Waist: S/Sgt Frederick Franklin ‘Freddy’ Borger Jr. 33623530 AAF Age 19. Killed
Tail: S/Sgt. Marshall E. Williams 18219340 AAF Age 22. Killed
The B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and 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.
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, Prussia now Poland.
** Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
Rear L to R; S/Sgt. George McGee, 1st.Lt. Houston, 1st.Lt. McIntyre, 1st.Lt. James McKeown, 1st.Lt. Patton, T/Sgt. Hawkins. Front L to R; T/Sgt. Rimassa, S/Sgt. Williams, S/Sgt. Borger, S/Sgt. Murray. 1st Lt. Moore and 1st. Lt. McDonnell not depicted on this photograph (Courtesy: American Air Museum)
Both 1st Lt. James C. McKeown and his B-24 were seriously mauled by flak on the same mission on the 15th June 1944. McKeown, badly hit in the ankles and groin and bleeding profusely, was laid out on the flight deck and given what aid the crew could accomplish, including several injections of morphine, while the co-pilot, Lt. Bob McIntyre, took over and brought the Liberator home on three engines. Arriving over the base, McIntyre found he would have to land the crippled aircraft in a strong cross wind; something he had never done before. The first pass was unsuccessful; at which point McKeown got up off the floor and, in spite of a serious loss of blood and the intense pain in his ankles brought about by the strong rudder pedal pressures required, landed the plane safely. McIntyre claimed later that his pilot couldn't wait to get down to collect his Purple Heart while McKeown (who was actually awarded the Silver Star) claimed he was afraid if they stayed airborne any longer the crew would give him more morphine and, according to Mac, a needle in the hands of a nervous gunner was as bad as the flak. (Ringmasters: 491st Bombardment Group (H) (1992))
Most of McKeown's crew continued to fly on 'The Moose'
REASON FOR LOSS:
The production line at Consolidated's Fort Worth, Texas, factory.
3rd in line is B-4J 42-40205 which initially flew with the 415BS, 98BG as the 'Joker' before being transferred to 853BS,419BG and renamed 'The Moose'. 2nd in line is 42-40209 which flew with 513BS, 376BG as 'The Wild Wolf'. 1st in line is 42-40206 with flew with 514BS, 376BG as the ’8 Ball'. (Courtesy: American Air Museum)
The Moose took off from North Pickenham on the morning of the 26th November 1944, with 8 other aircraft from the 853rd Bomber Sqn on a mission to bomb the oil refinery at Misburg 5½ miles ENE of Hannover. The 491st Bombardment Group comprised 3 Sqns with the 853rd in the high Sqn position.
At 1100 hours the formation crossed the enemy coast and were immediately attacked by some 150 German fighters which were driven off by the close escort fighters. Upon reaching the Initial Point (IP) to turn onto the target a large number of enemy fighters appeared in the distance and the entire close fighter escort went after the enemy aircraft, leaving the bombers on their own.
Shortly after the high Sqn dropped their bombs they were attacked by some 50 to 70 enemy fighters, predominantly Fw-190s. The Moose was hit hard in the first pass of multiple attacks setting fire to the bomb bay and #2 engine and knocking out the intercom and hydraulics.
Although on fire the aircraft proceeded to the target. As the hydraulics were out T/Sgt. Hawkins left the top turret and went through the fire to open the bomb bay doors manually. He was not seen again by any of the crew. The rear of the aircraft was riddled with 20mm shells which killed S/Sgt. Murray, S/Sgt Borger Jr., and S/Sgt. Williams. After the aircraft dropped its bombs 1st.Lt. Moore sounded the bail out alarm.
In the nose turret with the inner and outer doors open, which was normal practice over a target, 1st.Lt. Patten tracked a German fighter without closing the inner doors and the turret jammed in the extreme left position. 1st.Lt. Houston tried to straighten the turret to free him but ran out of time and had to bail out. It is believed that 1st.Lt. Patten perished in the aircraft crash. Only five of the crew managed to bail out before the aircraft exploded. All were captured shortly after landing.
German documents record that the aircraft came down south of Gehrden which is about 9 miles SW of Hannover.
All nine aircraft from the 853rd Squadron were lost on this mission.
(1) 1st.Lt. Houston landed near to the village of Roloven in Germany were he was assaulted by a German civilian who knocked him to the ground before he was rescued by the German military. 1st.Lt. Houston spent the rest of the war as a PoW.
After hostilities ceased an Intermediate Military Government Court was convened at Ludwigsburg in Germany on the 2nd April 1946. The court charged an Alfred Koller, a German national, that he did, at or near Roloven, Germany, on or about the 26th November 1944, wrongfully, and with intent to do him bodily harm, commit an assault upon an unknown member of the United States Army, who was then an unarmed surrendered PoW in the custody of the then German Reich, by hitting him over the head with a stick.
The court heard that on or about the 26th November 1944 at 1200 hours, a plane crashed in the vicinity of Roloven and the pilot, 1st.Lt. Ross S. Houston, landed near the village where several people from the village gathered around the airman. The first to approach was Koller, who had picked up a stick as he approached. Koller struck the airman multiple times about the head, until he began to bleed and was seen to fall to the ground. A member of the crowd told Koller not to beat him any more. Shortly thereafter a Luftwaffe Leutnant (2nd.Lt.) and two Wehrmacht soldiers from an antiaircraft unit took the airman to the office of a Luftwaffe Commandant.
Sworn statements by several witnesses were sufficient for the court to find Koller guilty of the assault and sentenced him to 5 years imprisonment commencing on the 1st May 1945. This was later reduced to 2 years. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown.
(Left) 1st.Lt. George Kenneth Patten. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Epinal American Cemetery, Dinozé, France. Plot B, Row 42, Grave 12. Born on the 28th August 1915. Son to Ainsley Harrold and Florence Christina (née Tyler) Patten. Husband to Marjorie Lorraine (née Crosby) Patten of Quincy, Massachusetts, USA. (Courtesy: Andy Anderson - FindAGrave)
George’s brother, 2nd.Lt. Irving Bruce Patten O-735143, was killed on the 1st October 1943 in Switzerland. He was the Bombardier on B-17F ‘Sugarfoot’ (42-30126) from the 416th Bomber Sqn (99th Bomb Group (H)). He is buried near to George at the Epinal American Cemetery in Plot B, Row 45, Grave 21. Air Medal (5 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Born on the 8th June 1915, Dorchester, Massachusetts
(Right) T/Sgt. Francis Sylvester Hawkins. Initially interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré in Plot K, Row 12, Grave 295. Repatriated and interred at the Caroline Episcopal Church, Setauket, New York. Born on the 18th June 1911. Son to Everett Augustus and Celia Gillette (née Sweezey) Hawkins of Setauket, New York, USA. (Courtesy: Barbera Tyler- FindAGrave)
(Left) S/Sgt. John P. Murray. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Initially interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré in Plot K, Row 12, Grave 281. Relocated to Plot A, Row 37, Grave 16. Born in 1923. Son to William Francis and Mary Agnes (née Cantillon) Murray of the Bronx, New York, USA. (Courtesy: Dominique Potier- FindAGrave)
S/Sgt. Frederick Franklin ‘Freddy’ Borger Jr. Initially interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré in Plot K, Row 12, Grave 280. Repatriated and buried at the Allentown Lehigh Cemetery in Pennsylvania. Born on the 30th December 1924. Son to Frederick Franklin and Anna Eva (née Correll) Borger of Nazareth, Northampton, Pennsylvania, USA.
(Right) S/Sgt. Marshall E. Williams. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Initially interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré in Plot K, Row 12, Grave 286. Relocated to Plot B, Row 11, Grave 5. Born in 1921. Son to William Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. (Courtesy: Dominique Potier- FindAGrave)
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 ‘VitzArchive’ and for his valued research and advice in compiling this report.