Operation: Lützkendorf (Mission #720), Germany
Date: 21st November 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit No 861st Bombardment Squadron (H), 493rd Bombardment Group (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Serial No: 43-38107
Location: 1½ km (1 ml) NW of Enschede, Netherlands
Base: Debach (Station #152), Suffolk, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. Llewellyn Hunter Baxter O-818812 AAF Age 20. PoW *
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Americo S. Galle O-886490 AAF Age 20. Murdered (1)
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Richard Edgar O-886467 AAF Age 25. PoW *
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. William Biggs Cox O-886637 AAF Age 24. PoW *
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. William Carrington Massey 20937639 AAF Age 24. PoW *
Engineer: T/Sgt. Richard Lamar Sipes 6896232 AAF Age 27. PoW **
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. William Brake Jenkins 6552038 AAF Age 31. PoW **
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Merle Auerbach 36760072 AAF Age 19. PoW **
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Herman Adam J. Schroeder Jr. 37623121 AAF Age 20. 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 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state 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).
Standing L to R: 1st Lt. Baxter, 2nd Lt. Galle, 2nd Lt. Edgar, 2nd Lt. Cox; Front L to R: T/Sgt. Sipes, S/Sgt. Auerbach, S/Sgt. Jenkins, T/Sgt. Massy, S/Sgt. Schroeder, S/Sgt. Marvin A. Cooper. (Note: S/Sgt. Cooper was an Air Gunner not detailed for this mission) (Credit: Fold3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
43-38107 took off from Debach on the 21st November 1944 on a mission to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Lützkendorf, SW of Merseburg in Germany. An after action report recorded that at about 11:00 hrs, over Zwolle in Holland and before reaching the target, the aircraft was hit by flak. It was seen to slip out of the formation about 5 mins later and jettison its bombs. The aircraft then turned on a reciprocal heading under control with #4 engine feathered and was last seen heading west.
1st Lt. Baxter recorded in his Individual Casualty Questionnaire (ICQ) that all of the crew bailed out of the aircraft about 1½ km (1 ml) NW of Enschede in Holland. Although no official German documents have been found to confirm the crash site it is probable that the aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Enschede
(1) Several ICQs reported that 2nd Lt. Galle was uninjured before he bailed out and that his parachute was seen to open. The crew except for 2nd Lt. Galle were captured and became PoWs for the duration of the war. 2nd Lt. Galle was not seen again by any of the crew. Anecdotal information from German interrogators at Dulag Luft had said that German Intelligence agencies had failed to find 2nd Lt. Galle. Other ICQs speculated that he may have been killed whilst descending by gunfire directed at the aircraft.
His fate was unknown until a General Military Government Court was convened at Burgsteinfurt, Germany on the 7th and 8th February 1946. The court charged seven German nationals in that they at Enschede in Holland on the 21st November 1944, in violation of the laws and usages of War, were concerned in the killing of an unknown Allied Airman, a PoW.
Those charged were a Dr. (of Law) Karl Eberhard Schöngarth, a former SS-Brigadeführer (Brigadier General) and Generalleutnant (Major General) of the Police and the commander of the Sicherheitspolizei (Criminal Police and Gestapo) and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst - German security service) in Holland; Friedrich Beeck, a former SS-Obersturmführer (1st Lt); Erwin Knop, a former Kriminalkommissar (Detective Superintendent); Wilhelm Hadler, a former Gestapo Kriminalsekretär (Detective) and SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lt); Herbert Fritz Willi Gernoth, a former Gestapo Kriminalsekretär; Erich Lebing, a former SS-Scharführer (Sgt.); Fritz Böhm, a former SS-Oberscharführer (S/Sgt)
Beeck was the commander of the Villa Hoge Boekel at Enschede which was occupied by a detachment of the SD. Lebing and Bohm were members of the Villa security police. Schöngarth was staying at the Villa overnight after a conference. Knop, Hadler and Gernoth were members of the local Einsatzgruppe (SS Death Squad).
The court heard that on the 21st November at some time between 11:00 and 12:30 hrs some airmen were seen to bail out of an Allied bomber. One of the airmen landed about 140 m (460 ft) from the Villa. Schöngarth, his Adjutant and an SS man named Blankennagel arrested the airman. It was noted that this was the first and only time that a PoW had been brought to the Villa.
Knop received orders from Schöngarth to report to the Villa and dispose of the airman. After arriving Knop reported to Schöngarth and Hadler together with Gernoth reported to Beeck. Knop, Hadler, Gernoth and Beeck then went to reconnoitre the local woods in the vicinity of the Villa where a grave was dug by the accused.
At about 15:30 hrs the airman, now dressed in civilian clothes, with his hands handcuffed behind his back and accompanied by Böhm, Lebing and Knop was taken back by car to the woods where Hadler, Gernoth and Beeck were awaiting them. It was Gernoth who shot the airman in the back of the head.
After hostilities ceased a number of exhumations were made in the grounds of the Villa and over the period of the 25th and 27th July 1944 four graves were found. At the time of the trial the identities of the remains of the four individuals had not been established. However, there was sufficient evidence to establish that the remains in one of the graves was that of an Allied airman and that he had been shot in the back of the head. The timing and location of the killing makes it probable that the airman was 2nd Lt. Americo S. Galle.
The court found all the accused guilty and sentenced Schöngarth, Beeck, Knop, Hadler, and Gernoth to death by hanging. They were executed by Albert Pierrepoint on the 16th May 1946 at Hameln jail. Lebing and Böhm were sentenced to 15 years and 10 years imprisonment, respectively. The final disposition of their sentences is not known.
Above: 2nd Lt. Galle. (Credit: Michel Beckers and Dominique Potier- FindAGrave)
2nd Lt. Americo S. Galle. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré. Plot B, Row 38, Grave 34. Born on the 26th December 1923. Son to Vincent P. and Margaret Galle of Yonkers, New York, USA.
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. Thanks also to Darren Jelley, the 493rd BG Archivist for the correction to the aircraft details.
RS & TV 04.04.2021 - Correction to Stalag Luft 1 details
RS 06.02.2019 - Initial upload
RS 19.03.2019 - Correction to aircraft details
RS 30.05.2019 - Editorial changes
RS & TV 04.04.2021 - Correction to Stalag Luft 1 details
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