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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
26.11.1943 510th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-17G 42-37817 ‘Aristocrap’ 2nd Lt. Orville L. Castle

Operation: Bremen (Mission #138), Germany

Date: 26th November 1943 (Friday)

Unit No: 510th Bombardment Squadron (H), 351st Bombardment Group (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-17G Aristocrap

Serial No: 42-37817

Code: TU:A

Location: Eggese about 2 km (1¼ ml) SSW of Groß Mackenstedt, Germany

Base: Polebrook (Station #110), Northamptonshire, England

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Orville Lee Castle O-800357 AAF Age 25. KiA

Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Leon Edward Anderson O-747704 AAF Age 25. KiA

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Marion Ralph Cessna O-741134 AAF Age 22. PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Kenneth Daniel Williams O-686439 AAF Age 21. PoW No: 1664 * (1)

Radio/Op: Sgt. Mike Clarence Beckett 20841980 AAF Age 21. KiA

Engineer: Sgt. Clinton Dale Logan 15337451 AAF Age 20. PoW **

Ball Turret Gnr: Sgt. Francis Joseph Bousquet 11114353 AAF Age 20. PoW **

Left Waist Gnr: Sgt. Lawton Harvey Wilkes 14141878 AAF Age 31. PoW/Murdered ** (2)

Right Waist Gnr: Sgt. Robert L. Cheek Jr. 14055344 AAF Age 18. PoW **

Tail Gnr: S/Sgt. George Warren Bond 36401591 AAF Age 23. PoW **

* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

** Stalag 17B Krems-Gneixendorf, Austria. (The name commonly used was “Braunau” which seems to have come about because in April 1945 when the Red Army was approaching, PoWs who were able to walk were evacuated to Weilhartsfort near Braunau, 300 km distant).

Above 2nd Lt. Castle’s crew in October 1943.

Front row left to right: 2nd Lt. Anderson, 2nd Lt. Williams, 2nd Lt. Castle, 2nd Lt. Cessna. Standing left to right: Sgt. Bousquet, Sgt. Wilkes, Sgt. Logan, Sgt. Brady. (Courtesy of usafdo – FindAGrave)

Note: Sgt. Brady was not on this mission as he was sick. 2nd Lt. Cessna and S/Sgt. Bond were not regular members of the crew.

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 26th November 1943 the 351st BG was detailed to join an operation to bomb the city of Bremen.

The original aircraft assigned to this crew was B-17F 42-29858, named Murder Inc., had an engine failure before take off and the crew transferred to the Aristocrap. This resulted in a take off 10 to 15 mins behind the rest of the formation. The aircraft was not seen after take off by any of the 351st BG aircraft.

After dropping their bombs the Aristocrap was hit by flak causing damage to the controls preventing it turning with the rest of the formation and head for home. The aircraft became isolated and was attacked by German fighters mortally wounding Sgt. Beckett in the radio room and causing a fire in the cockpit area.

The parachutes of 2nd Lt. Castle and 2nd Lt. Anderson were burnt in the fire. 2nd Lt. Anderson baled out hanging onto Sgt. Logan’s parachute harness but when the parachute opened 2nd Lt. Anderson lost his grip and fell to his death. It was reported that 2nd Lt. Castle jumped from the aircraft without his parachute and fell to his death.

The aircraft crashed near Eggese about 2 km (1¼ ml) SSW of Groß Mackenstedt, SW of Bremen at 12:07 hrs.

The Aristocrap was one of 29 bombers lost, the highest losses on a single mission in November 1943, and represented just over 4½ % of the heavy bombers despatched by the 8th Air Force.

(1) 2nd Lt. Williams was wearing a flight jacket with “Murder Inc” emblazoned on the back. This was used by the Germans for anti American and British propaganda by publishing a photograph of him wearing the jacket together with two articles justifying their painting of the Allies as gangsters and murderers.

Additionally, on the 21st December 1943, a press conference had taken place at the Berlin Foreign Office, where a spokesman threatened court-martials for the alleged war crimes of ‘Terror Flyers’. This was one of the first harbingers of the lynching campaign against Allied airmen that developed its full force in May/June 1944 and did not abate until the end of the war.

The following are translations of the two highlighted sections of the above front page of the Pforzheimer Anzeiger (Pforzheim Gazette) dated Thursday, 23rd December 1943. The photo and the caption that went with it appeared that day in many other German papers, accompanied by commentaries or opinion articles in the same vein as shown here.

Churchill congratulates his Air Gangsters

Enemy brutality no longer knows any bounds / To murder now cynicism as well


Our picture shows American aviator Kenneth D. Williams from Charlotte (North-Carolina), 1504, Scott Avenue, born on May 16, 1922. Williams was shot down during the attack on Bremen on November 26, 1943 at noon shortly after 12 o'clock near Eggese (Groß-Mackenstaedt). The squadron to which his aircraft - a Boeing Fortress II - belonged, we already reported briefly, officially bears the designation "Murder Incorporated". This designation is further carried by each individual crew member in combination above the American national emblem. The same inscription was on the downed aircraft. Prisoner Williams, moreover, stated during his interrogation that other squadrons and crews had been christened with similar designations taken from gangster language. The physiognomy of the American airman Williams suggests that not only the names, but also the crews were taken from the Chicago underworld - (Atlantic, Zander-Multiplex-K).


The London and the US press are pleased to accompany the bomb terror against defenceless German women, children and old people with cynicism. Thus Reuter reports with true pleasure that during the last raid on Frankfurt (Main) again some so-called "apartment block busters" had been dropped. These "apartment block busters" are those bombs deliberately dropped over German residential areas. Reuter thus boasts of the British murder of the German civilian population. On the other hand, he does not know how to hunt for a word about the fact that this air raid, as the British press used to hypocritically declare in former times, would have been aimed at destroying German production facilities.

With the same cynicism and a disgusting hypocrisy a USA journalist declares that one does not want "to destroy the lives of innocent civilians", but rather "to preserve the lives of our fathers, sons, husbands and brothers", and therefore there can be "no cowardly pity for the wailing from Berlin". We do not know that even the slightest word of lamentation or indignation about the murderous terror of the USA bandits in Berlin has been uttered. If the USA journalist was correctly informed, then he should have known long ago that the Berliners as well as all inhabitants of other German cities, which are haunted by the British and USA air raiders, have accumulated a burning hate in their hearts, which will one day be terribly discharged. We do not expect pity from criminals and murderers who, like that USA aviator captured in Bremen, slash together to form a "murder club" and attack German cities in the Chicago gangster style.

If England and the USA are interested in preserving the lives of their fathers, sons, husbands and brothers, then they should have thought about it beforehand. With their organized murder, they are forfeiting any right to be spared. It does not surprise us, by the way, that the chorus of cynicism is joined by the voice of the arch-criminal Churchill, who had his air gangsters congratulated on the mass murders in Berlin and Leipzig through the mouth of his Air Minister Sinclair. The measure of this murderer Churchill is full to overflowing. He will receive his just punishment for his historical guilt. Then it is up to us to say that we can feel no pity with the lamentation of the others, because who elevates the murder to warfare can be fought down only with the sharpest and most radical means.

In neutral foreign countries, the publication about the capture of American gangster pilots who wore the inscription "Murder incorporated" on their uniforms above the American national emblem receives the strongest attention. It is pointed out that during the war in Brooklyn a gang of murderers consisting of Jews and other gangsters was discovered, which committed murders on a continuous basis in order to be able to collect insurance sums. In the course of the investigation it turned out that the gang maintained regular branches in all major eastern cities of the United States in order to be able to carry on the murder business on a large scale everywhere. More than 100 murders were committed.

The most important thing is that this gang called itself "Murder incorporated" and thus provided the American Jewish press with a new gangster catchword. Since then, when mass murders have been detected, one speaks of a new "Murder incorporated”. In an unscrupulous manner, the Jewish film companies then made a major film "Murder incorporated" to glorify such mass murderers. Also detective and newspaper novels appeared under this title. In a short time "Murder incorporated" had become a catchword for all mass murderers.

If today American pilots, indeed the planes of a whole American squadron, bear this designation on their planes, it is proof of the extent to which the highest military authorities in Washington are guided by the idea of carrying out murder on a large scale against the German civilian population. These circles still seem to take some credit for having, in a sense, inherited the "Murder incorporated" of the Jewish gangsters in Brooklyn.


(2) Sgt. Wilkes lost his life whilst being held at Stalag 17B on the 15th September 1944.

The Wilkes family heard many reports describing different circumstances leading to their son’s death. Sgt. Cheek jr. who was a fellow crew member and PoW at the same camp told them that Sgt. Wilkes had been shot in retaliation for the death a Gestapo Officer who was beaten and killed by the prisoners.

They tended to believe this version over other reports that variously described that he was shot whilst trying to escape or whilst looking through the camp fence at flowers. Still another held that he became delirious in the camp hospital and tried to run away in his pyjamas.

Note: An article in the magazine “America in WWII” about Stalag 17B, that inspired a movie and TV Comedy, provided an insight about the actual camp and the conditions the PoWs had to endure.

The article cited an unconfirmed claim that in 1943 at the camp three American PoWs were killed in suspicious circumstances and in the following year trigger-happy guards shot an unbalanced prisoner who ran screaming across the compound one night. His body lay sprawled across the fence until the morning as a warning to his fellow shaken prisoners.

All the above scenarios remain speculation as no official report has been found that provides any information on the actual circumstances leading to the death of Sgt. Wilkes. However, several index cards exist in the US National Archives that reference an investigative file (no. 12-156) for the death of Sgt. Wilkes. This file has not yet been accessed.

Sgt. Wilkes was buried in the Forest Cemetery at Krems, Donau in Austria.

Burial details:

Above grave marker for 2nd Lt. Castle (Courtesy of Dominique Potier – FindAGrave)

2nd Lt. Orville Lee Castle. Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot B, Row 19, Grave 19. Born on the 16th November 1918 in Winston County, Mississippi. Son of Joel Talmadge and Emma Beatrice (née Wilson) Castle in Lauderdale County, Tennessee, USA.

2nd Lt. Leon Edward Anderson. Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot B, Row 20, Grave 19. Born on the 7th February 1918 in Providence County, Rhode Island. Son of Eric Gunner and Alice Louise (née Jeffers) Anderson in Providence County, Rhode Island, USA.

Above Newspaper notice of funeral for Sgt. Beckett

Sgt. Mike Clarence Beckett. Repatriated and buried at the Masonic Cemetery, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Born on the 2nd June 1922 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Son of Harry and Antonet (née Ruiz de Santiago) Beckett of Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.

Above Newspaper notice of funeral for Sgt. Wilkes

Sgt. Lawton Harvey Wilkes. Repatriated and interred at the Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia on the 20th July 1951. Born on the 9th April 1913 in Cobb County, Georgia. Son of Harvey Young and Zaida A. (née Endsley) Wilkes of Atlanta, Georgia. Husband to Helen Ribound Wilkes of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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’.

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 15.05.2023 - Initial upload

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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