07.07.1944 66th Bomb Squadron (H) B-24J 42-99966 ‘Full House’, 1st.Lt. Ted L. Weaver
Operation: Bernburg (Mission #458), Germany
Date: 7th July 1944 (Friday)
Unit: 44th Bombardment Group (H), 66th Bombardment Squadron (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24J Full House
Serial No: 42-99966
Location: Valthe, Nieuw-Weerdinge, 6 miles north of Emmen in Holland
Base: Shipdham airfield (Station #115), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st.Lt. Ted Lionel Weaver O-693829 AAF Age 22. Evd (1)
Co Pilot: 1st.Lt. Walter Burton Shambarger O-700998 AAF Age 22. Murdered (2)
Navigator: 1st.Lt. Lawrence Platt Jr. O-706965 AAF Age 21. PoW *
Bombardier: 1st.Lt. Robert Embrey Read O-699567 AAF Age 21. PoW **
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Donald Francis Fahey 37506294 AAF Age 20. PoW ***
Eng/Top Turret: T/Sgt. Joseph S. Gniadek 31258858 AAF Age 27. PoW ***
Right Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Marvin L. Crouse 35631988 AAF Age 21. PoW ***
Left Waist Gnr: Sgt. Stanley G. Nalipa 15324363 AAF Age? Killed
Tail Gnr: S/Sgt. Lorin L. Voigt DFC, 19186262 AAF Age 20. PoW Unknown camp
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 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse and 3368 Munich).
** Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
*** 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).
‘Full House’ nose art: Courtesy B-24 Best Web site
REASON FOR LOSS:
B-24J Full House took off from Shipdham airfield at 04:10 hrs on the morning of the 7th Jul 1944 to bomb the Junkers Zweigwerke aircraft factory some 2 miles NW of Bernburg in Germany. This was the 23rd mission for the crew.
Just before bombs away 12 or more Bf110 Zerstörer (Destroyer) fighters dived onto the High Squadron of the formation. Only one pass was made but the Full House was hit in the top turret, flight deck, navigator’s compartment, wings and three engines. One shell exploded in the instrument panel and filled the cockpit with smoke. Only one engine could be feathered and the other two engines started wind-milling.
The aircraft dropped to 15,000 ft and straggled behind the formation. The gunners successfully fended off a further attack by Bf109 fighters. The Full House was last seen flying together with B-25 #170*, which was also badly damaged, under escort by two US AAF P-38s.
* This was B-25J 42-100170, WQ:G, ‘Patsy Ann II’: 1st.Lt James A. Wilson and his crew, except for his Radio Operator S/Sgt. Dominic P. Yucco, bailed out over Groningen. 1 KiA, 9 PoW.
The Full House continued to fly west steadily losing altitude. Eventually the two wind-milling engines seized up and caught fire forcing the crew to abandon the aircraft. 1st.Lt. Read and 1st.Lt. Platt Jr., who was wounded in the fighter attacks, bailed out over Germany about 13 miles from the Dutch border. When the aircraft’s altitude was down to about 2000 ft the rest of the crew bailed out.
1st.Lt. Shambarger bailed out over De Maten, an area south of Ter Apel, just across the border inside Holland. He was followed by 1st.Lt. Weaver and T/Sgt. Gniadek who were the last to leave with the altimeter indicating around 500ft.
T/Sgt. Gniadek and 1st.Lt. Weaver were the best of friends and said to him before bailing out of the bomb bay “I will jump when you jump”.
1st.Lt. Read and 1st.Lt. Platt Jr. were captured at Berge, in the district of Bersenbrück in Germany at 10:00 hrs. 1st.Lt. Platt Jr. was wounded in one leg during the fighter attacks and he injured the other on landing. Both were sent to Dulag Luft the following day. T/Sgt. Gniadek and T/Sgt. Fahey were captured by a rural policeman at Lindloh, in the district of Meppen in Germany at 11:00 hrs. S/Sgt. Crouse and S/Sgt. Voigt were arrested by a customs officer at Rütenbrock, in the district of Meppen at 11:00 hrs.
Sgt. Nalipa, who was a substitute gunner, was seriously wounded during the fighter attacks. S/Sgt. Crouse and S/Sgt. Voigt made sure that he had a firm grip of his parachute ripcord and that he was conscious before they helped him to bail out but his parachute did not open and he fell to his death at Rütenbrock.
The aircraft, being on autopilot, flew on further and came down largely intact, near Valthe, Nieuw-Weerdinge, 6 miles north of Emmen in Holland at 11:00 hrs.
(1) 1st.Lt. Weaver was the last to bail out and his parachute barely had time to fully deploy and he injured his back from the heavy landing near Ter Apel in Holland at 11:30 hrs. He managed to crawl to a hiding place and later in the evening made contact with members of the Dutch underground. He was sheltered in Ter Apel until the 21st July before being moved to Emmen where he remained for 2 days before being moved to Nijverdal where he stayed until the 31st July. Between the 1st August and the 9th April 1945 he was moved between various locations in Hellendoorn, Overijssel and Nijverdal.
He was liberated by Allied forces at 20:00 hrs on the 9th April 1945 at a castle near Haarle, possibly Sprengenberg which is about 12 miles from due west of Almelo.
Whilst in hiding his Dutch minders informed him of the capture of an RAF airman named Gerald Hood and a young Dutchman named Bote, a son of the van der Wal family living in Nijverdal.
(2) 1st.Lt. Shambarger landed in a meadow on the Moerloot, some 33 miles SE of Groningen in Holland, not too far from the German border.
In the absence of the actual trial narrative the following has been derived from anecdotical information and references 1-3.
Shortly after landing safely 1st.Lt. Shambarger was met by a young man named G.J. Trechsel from Emmer-Erfscheiderveen. It was established that he was a member of the NSB (Nazi movement in Holland). Trechsel was reported to have offered his hand in what appeared to be a handshake. Unsuspectingly, 1st.Lt. Shambarger reached out in response. Trechsel grabbed his hand and whilst pulling 1st.Lt. Shambarger toward him he simultaneously stabbed the airman with his bayonet, killing him.
The German authorities circulated a story that 1st.Lt. Shambarger had been impaled on a fence post when he landed. T/Sgt. Fahey saw the bodies of 1st.Lt. Shambarger and Sgt. Nalipa on the ground covered in a bloodied parachute but he was told another story by the Germans, to wit that their parachutes had not opened. He later saw 1st.Lt. Shambarger’s body in a mortuary some distance from where they had landed. He was easily identified but was covered in blood which appeared to him to be inconsistent with falling to his death without his parachute opening.
T/Sgt. Gniadek, after he was captured, was taken to a barn where the body of 1st.Lt. Shambarger was laying. To him it looked as if 1st.Lt. Shambarger had suffered a knife wound.
When Holland was liberated Trechsel was arrested and brought before the Asser Chamber of the Special Court in Leeuwarden. The court found him guilty of killing 1st.Lt. Shambarger and sentenced him to death. Trechsel was given leave to appeal to a Special Court of Appeal in Leeuwarden.
After a psychiatric examination, it was determined that Trechsel should not be considered a person of sound mind and as a result the state attorney commuted the death penalty to 10 years imprisonment with a deduction for his time on remand. His sentence was consequently reduced to 8½ years imprisonment in 1947.
After his release from prison it was alleged that he was being harassed by former members of the Dutch underground and as a result committed suicide.
1st.Lt. Shambarger and Sgt. Nalipa were initially buried at the New Cemetery at Lingen-Emms, Germany on the 8th July at 08:00 hours in Row 14, Grave 28 and Row 14, Grave 29 respectively.
(Left) 1st.Lt. Walter Burton Shambarger. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred at the Ardennes American Cemetery Plot S, Row 6, Grave 145. Relocated to Plot D, Row 11, Grave 28. Born on the 2nd October 1918 in Williams County., Ohio. Son to Walter G. and Eva E. (née Burton) Shambarger of Montpelier, William, Ohio, USA. Courtesy: Dominique Potier - FindaGrave
(Right) Sgt. Stanley G. Nalipa. DFC, Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred at the Ardennes American Cemetery Plot S, Row 6, Grave 148. Relocated to Plot A, Row 37, Grave 1. Son of John Nalipa, Poland, Ohio, USA. Courtesy: Dominique Potier - FindaGrave
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks to Dr. Joseph P. Gniadek, the son of T/Sgt. Gniadek, for his father’s recollections.
1. Dutch Newspaper clipping dated 8th November 1946 - “Land ranger sentenced to death”.
2. Dutch Newspaper (Nieuwsblad van het Noorden) dated 7th November 1946 - “American pilot stabbed to death”.
3. Dutch Newspaper clipping dated 13th February 1948 - “Special Board of Appeal”.