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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
06.08.1944 532nd Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G ‘Under Ground Farmer’, 1st.Lt. Allen W. Webb

Operation: Brandenburg (Mission #530), Germany

Date: 6th August 1944 (Sunday)

Unit: 381st Bombardment Group (H), 532nd Bomber Squadron (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-17G Under Ground Farmer

Serial No: 44-6020

Code: VE:A

Location: Lübeck, Germany

Base: Ridgewell (Station #167), Essex, England

Pilot: 1st.Lt. Allen Weldon Webb O-757633 AAF Age 22. PoW *

Co Pilot: 2nd.Lt. John W. Hayes O-818922 AAF Age 22. PoW **

Navigator: 2nd.Lt. Earl S. Grossnickle O-716427 AAF Age 20. PoW ***

Bombardier: 2nd.Lt. George Gomez O-703479 AAF Age? PoW *

Radio/Op: S/Sgt. Ralph K. Murkin 17006635 AAF Age 24. PoW Unknown Camp

Engineer: T/Sgt. Lendon L. Grisham 134287281 AAF Age? PoW Unknown Camp

Ball Turret: S/Sgt. William C. Burt 17088513 AAF Age 22. PoW ****

Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Adolph M. Gonzales 39277899 AAF Age 20. PoW Unknown Camp

Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Jack Steiner Patrick 34392540 AAF Age 23. Survived (2)

One of the two Waist Gunners were removed from crew complements starting on the 7th June 1944 and then both from 23rd February 1945.

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

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

*** Hospital No.11 (Serves Stalag 10a, Schleswig).

**** 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).

The crew of 44-6020 ‘Under Ground Farmer’. The aircraft in the photograph was not their actual B-17. Tentative identification of crew: Back L to R: 1st.Lt. Webb, 2nd.Lt. Hayes, 2nd.Lt. Grossnickle, 2nd.Lt. Gomez; Front L to R: T/Sgt. Grisham, S/Sgt. Murkin, S/Sgt. Burt, S/Sgt. Gonzales, S/Sgt. Patrick. (Credit: American Air Museum)

44-6020 ‘Under Ground Farmer’ (Credit: Fold3)

REASON FOR LOSS:

The Under Ground Farmer took off on morning of the 6th August 1944 on a mission to bomb targets in Brandenburg, Germany. An after action report by the Group Leader, Capt. Edward H. Macheill, reported that just after bombs way at 12:37 hours the #2 engine of the Under Ground Farmer was hit by flak. 1st.Lt. Webb reported that the engine propeller could not be feathered due to lack of oil. The Wing leader, Maj. Briggs, instructed 1st.Lt. Webb to try and make it back to base. The last contact with the Under Ground Farmer was 40 miles west of the target being covered by friendly fighters.

Other information described that the crew agreed to try and head for Sweden, however the aircraft crashed into Baltic Sea between Neustadt and Pelzerhaken, north of Lübeck at about 13:33 hours.

German records indicate that 8 of the crew successfully bailed out of the aircraft. 1st.Lt. Webb, 2nd.Lt. Gomez, 2nd.Lt. Hayes, T/Sgt. Grisham and S/Sgt. Burt were captured in Kuecknitz near Lübeck at about 1400 hours. They were transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel the next day, on the 7th August 1944.

S/Sgt. Gonzales was captured in the northern part of Lübeck. He had suffered a wound to his left thumb by a flak fragment. 2nd.Lt. Grossnickle was captured in the northern city districts of Lübeck at about 14:05 hours. He was wounded by a flak fragment and suffered a fractured pelvis. S/Sgt. Murkin was captured in the northern city districts of Lübeck at about 14:00 hours. He had suffered a compound fracture of the knee. The three injured crew were admitted to the Reserve Lazarett (Hospital) II, Lübeck on the 6th August 1944 for treatment. They were transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel on the 27th October 1944.

(2) It has been deduced from the available Individual Casualty Questionnaires (ICQ) that S/Sgt. Patrick was not injured after the aircraft was hit by flak and that he had successfully bailed out of the aircraft. Another crew member’s supposition was that S/Sgt. Patrick may have been killed whilst descending on his parachute or after reaching the ground. This belief was based on his own experience after being shot at whilst descending and the threats and treatment to which he was subjected after landing.

T/Sgt. Grisham witnessed 2nd.Lt. Davis being taken to an ambulance to identify a body whom the Germans thought was a crew member. An uncorroborated entry in Vol. 4 of ‘Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces’ claimed that the airman’s body had been recovered near the Power Plant at Lübeck-Sienz at about 14:10 hours. In his ICQ 2nd.Lt. Davis recorded that he had told T/Sgt. Grisham, that the body was either that of S/Sgt. Murkin or S/Sgt. Patrick, but he would not give the Germans any information.

The records show that S/Sgt. Murkin survived and became a PoW, therefore the airman that perished must have been S/Sgt. Patrick. No official documentation has been found that provides any information regarding the circumstances of S/Sgt. Patrick death.

German documents recorded that an unknown airman had been buried at the Vorwerker Friedhof (Cemetery) in Lübeck on the 12th August 1944 and was associated with the date and location of the loss of 44-6020 Under Ground Farmer. It is not know what prompted an investigation into the circumstances of the death of the unknown airmen. However, it resulted in a General Military Government Court being convened at Dachau, Germany during the period 28th March and 4th April 1947.

The court charged 16 German nationals, that they did at or near Lübeck-Siems, Germany, on or about the 6th August 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing of an unknown member of the United States Army, who was then an unarmed, surrendered PoW in the custody of the then German Reich.

Those charged were, Richard Ernst Hammer, who was a machinist, a former member of the Nazi party and up until 1933 a member of the SA (Sturmabteilung=Paramilitary arm of the Nazi party); Hans Ohrt, who was a shipbuilder with no known Nazi party affiliations or military status; Gotthard Parzyk, who was a locksmith and machinist, a former member of the Nazi party and up until 1934 a member of the SA; Willi Voight, who was a machinist with no known Nazi party affiliations or military status; Paul Hermann Doose, who was a former factory policeman, an SS-(Schutzstaffel=Protection arm of the Nazi party) Obersturmführer (1st.Lt.) and member of the Nazi party; Ernst Hachmeier, who was a river (work) supervisor, a former member of the SS and of the Nazi party; Otto Emil Friedrich Giese, who was a machinist and a former member of the Nazi party; Friedrich Lehmensick, who was a blacksmith and mechanic, and a former member of the Nazi party; Karl Neeb, who was a machinist and former member of the Nazi party; Hertha Stapelfeldt who was a housewife with no known Nazi party affiliations.

Additionally on the charge sheet were, Hans Wahls and Christian Schutt, who were acquitted of the charge; Karl Jentz, August (Dose) Doose and Hohn (first name unknown) who were neither served nor tried, and Paul Sack for whom a nolle prosequi* was entered in the record.

* A prosecutor's decision to voluntarily discontinue criminal charges either before trial or before a verdict is rendered.

The court heard that on or about the 13th August 1944* during an air raid over the northern part of Germany, an American bomber was disabled and it crew parachuted from the aircraft, one of whom landed in a corn field not far from the Autobahn near Lübeck-Siems in Germany.

*This date is not in line with the charge details. Furthermore, all Allied missions flown on this date by the 8th, 9th and 15th Air Forces were over France so this date cannot be correct.

A witness for the prosecution described how he watched the airman being escorted away from the corn field by two Wehrmacht soldiers and an SS officer, believed to be a SS-Sturmbannführer (Major), across some railway tracks toward the Autobahn. Three witnesses saw Parzyk participate in the beating of the airman and the firing the fatal shot that killed him. The court heard that Hammer, Voight and Ohrt, by their own admission, also participated in beating the airman.

The court found the following accused guilty of the change and sentenced them according to their culpability in the assault and subsequent murder of the airman:

Parzyk was sentenced to death by hanging which was commuted to life imprisonment of 25 years. He was paroled in March 1954,

Hachmeier and Giese were each sentenced to life imprisonment which was later reduced to 25 years. They were paroled in January 1954,

Hammer was sentenced to life imprisonment which was later reduced to 26 years. He was paroled in March 1954,

Voight was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment commencing on the 1st July 1945. He was released in March 1952,

Lehmensick was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment commencing on the 7th May 1945. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown,

Stapelfeldt, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment commencing on the 20th August 1945. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown,

Ohrt was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment commencing on the 1st May 1946. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown,

Doose was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment commencing on the 1st July 1945. The sentence was subsequently disapproved*,

Neeb was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment commencing on the 14th May 1945. The sentence was subsequently disapproved*.

* Upon review it was decided that either the application of the law was faulty or that the evidence did not warrant a finding of guilty.

The location and the timing of the murder, coupled with the observation from 2nd.Lt. Davis that the body he was asked to identify was either that of S/Sgt. Murkin (Subsequently confirmed to be a PoW) or S/Sgt. Patrick, makes it highly likely that this case relates to the murder of S/Sgt. Jack Steiner Patrick.

Burial details:

S/Sgt. Jack Steiner Patrick. His remains were recovered during May 1946 and reinterred in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Plot N-6-133. He was later repatriated and interred at the Oakwood cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama. Born on the 10th January 1921. Son to Jasper D. and Daisy Belma (née Goodson) Patrick of Montgomery, Alabama, USA. (Courtesy: Lonewalker-FindAGrave)


Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

RS & TV 30.12.2019 - Editorial update

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', 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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