05.11.1944 336th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G 43-38814 ’No No Nanette’, 2nd Lt. Richard H. Wright Jr.
Operation: Ludwigshafen (Mission #702), Germany
Date: 5th November 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 95th Bombardment Group (H), 336th Bombardment Squadron (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-17G No No Nanette
Serial No: 43-38814
Location: Nancy-Azelot landing ground, 13 km SSE of Nancy, France
Base: Horham (Station #119), Suffolk, England
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Richard H. Wright O-765384 AAF Age? Returned
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Stanford Gene Wolfson DFC O-772639 AAF Age 22. Survived (1)
Navigator: 2nd Lt. William L. Olson O-557424 AAF Age? PoW *
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Irving Herbert Levin O-772004 AAF Age 22. Returned
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Harry Albert Kolb 37478656 AAF Age 20. PoW **
Engineer: T/Sgt. Vincent Joseph Riccio 31168795 AAF Age 23. PoW ** (2)
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Rosco C. Hayes Jr. 35774969 AAF Age? PoW **
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Sidney Vincent Manders Jr. 37559177 AAF Age 20. PoW **
Tail Turret: S/Sgt. Merlin Henry Dyvig 37682309 AAF Age 19. PoW *
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 Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
** Stalag Luft 4 Groß-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
REASON FOR LOSS:
Commencing at 07:19 hrs on the 5th November 1944 38 aircraft from the 95th Bombardment Group took off from Horham to bomb the IG Farbenindustrie AG facilities at Ludwigshafen in Germany.
The No No Nanette was hit by flak in the target area which damaged the tail assembly. The aircraft continued with the formation until 11:27 hrs to a Lat/Long of 49 40N, 07 50E. The aircraft was last seen losing altitude and turning to the east with the landing gear down. No parachutes were seen.
The position 49 40N, 07 50E is some 77 km (48 miles) NE of Saarbrücken and 50 km (30½ miles) NNW of Mannheim.
The crew was ordered to bail out when the aircraft was some 100 miles NE of Nancy between Saarbrücken and Mannheim at 20,000 feet. 2nd Lt. Olson, the Navigator, had received a slight flak injury to the right arm. All the crewmen, except for the Pilot and Bombardier, who bailed out cleared the aircraft after jumping. The Pilot and Bombardier flew the aircraft to Nancy where they made an emergency landing at Angelot [sic] airfield, 10 miles SE of Nancy.
The airfield name of Angelot was recorded in the aircraft’s Missing Air Crew Report (MACR). However, this may have a misrepresentation of the Nancy-Azelot landing ground which was some 13 km SSE of Nancy in France.
The #1 engine, gas line, hydraulic system, Pilot’s and Navigator’s oxygen system and right flap were damaged by flak. The #2 propeller ran away, the engine caught fire and then stopped. The nose section was blown off and the aircraft as a whole sustained major flak damage.
B-17G 43-38814 was repaired and returned to service with the 336th BS and named ‘Cadet Nurse the 2nd’. On the 4th April 1945 the aircraft was battle damaged on a mission to Kiel, Germany and diverted to land in Sweden where it was impounded and the crew interned. The aircraft was returned to the USA on the 24th July 1945. The aircraft was sold for scrap metal on the 17th December 1945.
2nd Lt. Olson last saw 2nd Lt. Wolfson when they bailed out together at about 18,000 ft. He speculated, that as he knew 2nd Lt. Wolfson was of the Jewish faith, that he may have been murdered by hostile action on the ground. 2nd Lt. Olson had no useful information about the remainder of the crew.
2nd Lt. Levin was last seen in the bomb bay ready to bail out. However, he remained aboard the aircraft and survived the forced landing in France. Both he and 2nd Lt. Wright returned to base at Horham. Within a week 2nd Lt. Levin had completed his tour and returned home to the USA.
On a later mission 2nd Lt. Wright reportedly lost control of his B-17 over the English channel but the aircraft recovered safely to base. He was subsequently grounded and reassigned as the Operations officer.
(1) The circumstances leading to the death of 2nd Lt. Wolfson were determined at a General Military Government Court which was convened at Dachau, Germany, between the 17th and 23rd January 1947.
A German national was charged with that he did, at or near Kaiserslautern, Germany, on or about the 6th November 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing of a member of the United States Army, believed to be Stanford G. Wolfson, who was then an unarmed, surrendered PoW in the custody of the then German Reich.
The accused was an Albert Otto Ningelgen who was a former Kriminaloberassistant (Assistant crime detective) and SS-Hauptscharführer (M/Sgt.) of the Criminal Police (Kriminalpolizei (Kripo)) in Kaiserslautern.
The court heard that on or about the 6th November 1944, an American airman who walked as if he was injured, voluntarily surrendered at a sanatorium in Finsterbrunner Tal, Germany. The Kripo at Kaiserslautern was notified and SS-Obersturmführer (1st Lt.) Grums, SA-Sturmführer (2nd Lt.) Bansbach and Ningelgen drove to Finsterbrunner Tal to take the airman into custody.
The three entered the sanatorium and searched the prisoner for weapons. The airman was seated between Bansbach and Ningelgen in the rear of the car with Grums beside the driver. The driver was ordered to return to Kaiserslautern by a longer and more wooded route than the one they had taken to the sanatorium.
En route to Kaiserslautern and some 600 to 900 metres from the city were the road passed though a forest Grums ordered the driver to stop. He then ordered Ningelgen to take the prisoner by foot the rest of the way to the city. Although this was unusual Ningelgen did not seem surprised. As Ningelgen and the airman, who had his hands over his head, moved off Grums and Bansbach were driven to a foundry a further 400 metres along the road, where they stopped and waited.
About 1¼ hours later Ningelgen arrived alone at the foundry and when questioned by Grums his response implied that he had taken care of matters. They then continued on to the city where Ningelgen delivered the personal property of an airman named Stanford Wolfson to Kriminalsekretär (Detective Inspector) August Weidler and reported that the prisoner was “shot while escaping”.
Grums phoned the head of the cemetery at Kaiserslautern and told him to collect the body of the airman. The body, with a gunshot wound in the neck, was found in a wooded area off Honenecker Straße on the outskirts of and SW of the city. Unusually there was no guard with the body which had also been stripped of the outer garments.
Ningelgen claimed in his testimony that whilst escorting the prisoner he met with a Wehrmacht patrol and had turned over custody of the airman to the Feldwebel (Sgt.) in charge. As he continued on his journey to the city he heard a number of shots being fired and someone shouting. He turned and saw a number of soldiers motioning to him. When he returned to the scene the Feldwebel told him that the airman was shot because he had attempted to escape. Ningelgen removed the airman’s personal effects and one of the two dog tags and then made his way to the foundry to meet with Grums.
He also claimed that he had met with the Feldwebel in a railway station waiting room where he asked him if it was he that shot the airman. This conversation was overheard by a waitress who testified that the Feldwebel admitted that it was he that had shot the airman.
Furthermore, Ningelgen claimed that he had kept a copy of his incident report along with the Feldwebel’s report but both had been taken from him when he surrendered himself to the US Authorities and never returned. The location and retrieval of document was not pursued by the prosecution.
Although not privy to the court’s deliberations it is clear that Ningelgen’s claim that he had not shot the airman and his version of events were unsubstantiated.
The court found Ningelgen guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced to 30 years and then 29 years. He was paroled in March 1955.
After the finding of guilty was announced evidence was presented that Ningelgen had been tried by the French authorities and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ningelgen told the court that had received the sentence for transporting a Russian civilian to his place of execution after he had been sentenced to death.
(2) T/Sgt. Riccio landed near Trippstadt and was captured by Gendarmeriemeister (Police M/Sgt.) Spies who delivered him to the Kripo in Kaiserslautern the following day.
He was taken into custody by Kriminalsekretär August Weidler, who was the business room officer. He had T/Sgt. Riccio sit in his office awaiting the return of SS-Obersturmführer Grums. Unbeknown to him SA-Sturmführer Ernst Bansbach entered the room and kicked T/Sgt. Riccio in the stomach doubling him up. Weidler remonstrated with Bansbach over his actions and several witnesses to the assault turned away in disgust.
Sometime later Grums returned and when he saw the prisoner he instructed Weidler to take him away and shoot him ostensibly ‘whilst escaping’. Weidler was not of the mind to carry out this order and loaded T/Sgt. Riccio into the sidecar of his service motorcycle, sat on the pillion and had August Altmoos to drive them to the 23rd’s Kaserne (Barracks) where he handed over T/Sgt. Riccio to the Wehrmacht.
August Altmoos was the driver of the car involved in the killing of 2nd Lt. Wolfson and was a witness for the prosecution at that trial.
23rd Kaserne in Kaiserslautern was previously the home of the WW1 Royal Bavarian 23rd Regiment of Infantry. These barracks have been renamed as the “Kleber-Kaserne“ and are used to this day by the US Army.
Upon his return to Kaiserslautern Grums swore at him and Bansbach declared that had he been given the order he would have killed the airman. (Ref. 1)
SS-Obersturmführer Alfred Heinrich Franz Grums was killed in action on 25th March 1945 at Langstadt according to his death certificate.
It is not known why SA-Sturmführer Ernst Bansbach was not before the court to answer for his involvement in the killing of 2nd Lt. Wolfson and the assault on T/Sgt. Riccio. His name does not appear anywhere in the database of Dachau trials kept by the International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (ICWC) at the University of Marburg.
Credit St Louis Post Dispatch, dated Friday November 17th,1944
Credit St Louis Post Dispatch, dated Friday February 25th, 1949
2nd Lt. Stanford Gene Wolfson. DFC, AM, (Oak Leaf Cluster) Purple Heart. Repatriated and buried on the 27th February 1949, at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Born on the 23rd February 1922 in St. Louis, Missouri. Son of George E. and Mollye (née Fry) Wolfson from St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
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’.
1. Der amerikanische Flieger Stanford Wolfson (erschossen am 5. November 1944 bei Kaiserslautern) page 4 - Klaus Zimmer.