13.06.1944 831st Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24H 42-52709 ‘Gawgia Peach’, 2nd Lt. Herbert F. Frels
Operation: München (Munich), Germany
Date: 13th June 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit No: 831st Bombardment Squadron (H), 485th Bombardment Group (H), 15th Air Force
Serial No: 42-52709 Gawgia Peach
Location: Near Sillertshausen, Germany
Base: Venosa, Italy
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Herbert Finley Frels DFC. O-816453 AAF Age 22. PoW *
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Dennis Harold Griggs O-705120 AAF Age 22. Murdered (1)
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Donald H. Vincent O-712431 AAF Age 24. KiA
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Chester David Cram Jr. O-703030 AAF Age 23. PoW **
Radio/Op: S/Sgt. Richard Barnes 19093897 AAF Age? PoW Unknown Camp
Engineer: T/Sgt. Francis A. Winner 15125917 AAF Age 32. PoW ***
Nose Turret: Sgt. Robert H. Boynton 16031893 AAF Age? Murdered (1)
Upper Turret: Pvt. Thearon Ott Ivy 18200511 AAF Age 22. Murdered 21)
Ball Turret: Pvt. John Warren Krueger 36819852 AAF Age 21. PoW ****
Tail: Pvt. Donald William Martin 37499866 AAF Age 21. PoW ****
The B-24 had 12 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally 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 Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
** Stalag 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camp 3324-46 Krumbachstraße and Work Camp 3368 Munich)
*** Stalag 9C Bad Sulza Saxe-Weimar
**** 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)
Back L to R: 2nd Lt. Cram Jr., 2nd Lt. Vincent, 2nd.Lt. Griggs, 2nd Lt. Frels; Front L to R: Pvt. Krueger, Sgt. Boynton, S/Sgt. Barnes, Pvt. Martin, Pvt. Ivy, T/Sgt. Winners (This image was found on FindAGrave)
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 13th June 1944 at 06:03 hrs B-24H 42-52709 Gawgia Peach was one of 38 B-24s that took off from Venosa in Italy to bomb the ordnance depot at Milbertshofen north of Munich, Germany.
The Gawgia Peach was the last aircraft in the high box of the second wave and was in formation during the bomb run and when the formation started the homebound leg of the mission. The Gawgia Peach was last seen near Anzing in Germany but straggling behind the formation and being attacked by German fighters. There were no witnesses to observe when the aircraft left the formation and it was only when the rest of the aircraft landed back at Venosa that the Gawgia Peach was discovered to be missing.
An Oberfeldwebel (Flt.Sgt.) Westerhoff from 2./ZG-76, flying a Bf-110, claimed a B-24 in the Freising/München region on this day at about 10:04 hrs (local) (OKL Fighter Claims; Reich, West & Südfront)
2nd Lt. Frels, believing that there were still crew aboard the Gawgia Peach, crash landed the aircraft in a field near Sillertshausen at about 11:00 hrs. He and 2nd.Lt. Cram, who had parachuted down near the aircraft crash, were captured shortly afterwards and were taken to the General Hospital in Freising for treatment for the injuries they had sustained.
It is believed that the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) was awarded to 2nd Lt. Frels for this action. However, to date, it has not been possible to find the citation for the award of the DFC.
S/Sgt. Barnes was captured by the police at Oberhaindlfing, about 3 km (1¾ mls) SSW of the crash site, and transferred to Stalag Moosburg and from there to Oberursel. S/Sgt. Martin was captured near Seysdorf, some 2 km (1¼ mls) NNE of the crash site, at about 10:30 hrs. Pvt. Krueger was captured by the Gendarmerie (Rural Police) near Mainburg, some 13 km (8 mls) NNE of the crash site, a day later on the 14th June 1944 at about 14:00 hrs. He was transferred to Straubing, some 65 km (40 mls) NE of Mainburg, by truck on the 15th June 1944 at 13:44 hrs.
It was established that 2nd Lt. Vincent had bailed out of the aircraft but was killed when his parachute failed to open. His body was identified by Pvt. Martin.
Anecdotal information from the Individual Casualty Questionnaires (ICQ) speculated that 2nd Lt.Griggs, Sgt. Boynton and Pvt. Ivy were either killed in the aircraft or by hostile action after being captured.
(1) After hostilities ceased a Military Government Court was convened at Dachau, sitting from the 10th to 26th June 1946. The Court considered itself legally convened as a General Military Government Court and entered this in the trial record. However, during the Review process only an order convening this court as an Intermediate Court could be found. This led to all sentences being lowered on Review to 10 years imprisonment which was the maximum an Intermediate Court could impose.
A total of eleven German nationals were variously charged on two counts that they did, at or near Attenkirchen, Germany, on or about the 13th June 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing of two unidentified members of the United States Army who were then and there unarmed, surrendered PoWs in the custody of the then German Reich.
Those charged on both counts were a Maximilian Herrmann, a former SA-(Sturmabteilung) Sturmführer (Junior officer) and a member of the Nazi party; Hans Staudinger the former Kreisgeschäftsführer (Manager of the party’s county office) and the deputy to Villechner (see 3), and a member of the Nazi party; Johann Heilmeyer the former chauffeur to Kreisleiter Villechner and a member of the Nazi party; Josef von der Grün the former Chief of Gendarmerie (Rural police) and a former Nazi Blockleiter (Block leader: responsible for political supervision of a neighborhood); Hans Lechner a former SA-Standartenführer (Col.) and the former Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Freising.
Additionally charged on the first count was Franz Xaver Friedel a former Leutnant der Gendarmerie (Lt. in the Rural Police) and Heinrich Heidenreich who was acquitted. Additionally charged on the second count were Theresa Gebhardt the former local Frauenschaft (Nazi woman’s league) leader, Korbinian Kaindl, the former Ortsgruppenleiter (leader of the local party group) at Hemhausen, who was acquitted and Else Kreis who was cited but not tried.
The court heard that before midday on the day in question and after an air raid on Munich three or more American airmen parachuted from an aircraft in the vicinity of Sillertshausen, in the district of Freising.
On the first count of the charge it was alleged that an airman was taken into custody by Anton Wimmer, a member of the Luftwaffe, at about 10:30 hrs. At nearby Hirnkirchen the airman was turned over to a man named Bauer who was a member of the Volkssturm (Home Guard). He had been instructed by a Bürgermeister Hagel to take him to Attenkirchen. En route, near Sillertshausen, Bauer was stopped by Staudinger, Herrmann and a man named Karl who then took the airman away. Staudinger then ordered Herrmann and Karl to take the airman toward a nearby woods. About 15 mins later two shots were fired and the airman collapsed.
Both men returned to Staudinger and one of them said "It has been done" after which they left the scene of the shooting and started out in the direction of the aircraft crash site. There they were joined by a group consisting of Villechner, Friedel, Kaindl and other unnamed individuals. Villechner and some of the others walked over to view the body of the airman and found him writhing in pain on the ground from a gunshot wound to the neck. Friedel, at the direction of Villechner, ordered von der Grün and a man named Kress, a member of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst = Security service of the SS) to carry the airman to some nearby woods. Von der Grün then returned to keep people away. Villechner borrowed a pistol from one of the others in the group and fired a shot into the airman killing him.
It is not known why the man named Karl, who was clearly implicated in the shooting of the airman, was not before the court.
On the second count of the charge it was alleged that another airman was taken into custody and transported to the police station in Attenkirchen and locked in a cell sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 hrs on the day in question. At about 14:00 hrs the same day Villechner, Herrmann, Staudinger, von der Grün, Heidenreich, Lechner and other unnamed individuals assembled in the apartment above the police station which was maintained by Gebhardt. Heilmeyer remained with Villechner’s car. The group discussed the killing of the first airman as well as the prospective killing of the airman in the cells below. Villechner ordered Staudinger to go downstairs and kill the airman. Staudinger went down to Heilmeyer and sent him to borrow a hammer from the post office. On his return Staudinger broke open the cell door and assaulted the airman with the hammer. A short while later some of the group came down from the apartment and Villechner ordered Heilmeyer to race the engine of the car whilst others assaulted the airman. Villechner then ordered Staudinger to give Herrmann a pistol which he used to fire two shots into the airman killing him.
The court found Herrmann and Staudinger guilty on both counts, and they were sentenced to death. The death sentence was reduced to 10 years imprisonment commencing on the 26th June 1946. However, both were executed on the 5th December 1947 for other crimes.
Heilmeyer was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to life imprisonment. The life sentence was reduced to 10 years commencing on the 26th June 1946. He was released in January 1952.
Von der Grün was found guilty on the first count and not guilty on the second. He was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment commencing on the 27th May 1945. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown.
Lechner was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. Upon review the sentence for the first count was disapproved and the second reduced to 4 years commencing on the 7th May 1945. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown.
Friedel was found guilty on the first count and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, commencing on the 25th January 1946. He died in prison from a heart attack on the 25th May 1948.
Gebhardt was found guilty on the second count and sentenced to life imprisonment which was changed to 10 years commencing on the 26th June 1946. According to Heinrich Pflanz, Der Spöttinger Friedhof, P. 176, she was released from Landsberg Prison in 1952 and died a few years later.
According to German researcher Marcus Siebler, the airman murdered near the aircraft crash was Sgt. Robert H. Boynton and the airman murdered in the police cell was 2nd Lt. Dennis Harold Griggs.
(2) German documents recorded that Pvt. Ivy was shot on the Langenbach-Moosburg road on the 17th June 1944 while allegedly attempting to escape.
According to German researcher Marcus Siebler, Pvt. Ivy had been in hiding for 3 days after the crash before he finally surrendered to a farmer in Geierlambach near Kirchdorf. After the Nazi administration of Freising became aware of the airman he was shot by an unknown perpetrator or perpetrators. No trial proceedings pertaining to this murder have been found.
(3) Hans-Rupert Villechner, who was also cited in another war crime, was removed by a Nazi party court from the office of Kreisleiter due to his involvement in the murder of a foreign worker, and in due course was drafted as a soldier. At the end of the war he was captured by US forces but by faking his identity he was released. Since he was on the American wanted list, he and his family spent the next five years incognito living in the Soviet Occupation Zone and in the British Zone, in Oldenburg. He turned himself in to the authorities in 1951. A first trial which ended in a prison sentence was overturned on appeal, and in a fresh trial he was acquitted due to lack of evidence. He also had to face the Denazification Court which classified him as "incriminated". On appeal, he managed to get this lowered to "less incriminated" in 1955, thanks to a number of "Persilscheine" (*) and to the general reluctance of witnesses to testify.
(*) "Persilschein" (=Persil certificate) being the mocking German expression for statements, affidavits etc. used to 'wash white' a person accused of being a Nazi.
Located at Sillertshausen, near Freising, Bavaria, Germany (Courtesy: Ditmar A. Sachse)
After the crash of a US bomber on 13th June 1944 near this place,
the following members of the crew were killed by NSDAP officials:
Second Lieutenant DENNIS H. GRIGGS from Texas
Staff Sergeant ROBERT W. BOYNTON from Illinois
Private THEARON O. IVY from Texas
Killed in a parachute jump:
Second Lieutenant DONALD H. VINCENT from Massachusetts
Erected in their memory June 2012
Three of the recovered bodies were found to have been buried in the Cemetery at Hochmutting near Oberschleißheim on the 15th June 1944 at about 17:00 hrs. 2nd Lt. Vincent was buried in the Cemetery at Au i.d. Hallertau.
Above: 2nd Lt. Griggs. (This image was found on FindAGrave)
2nd Lt. Dennis Harold Griggs. Repatriated and buried at the Mount Olivet Cemetery at Forth Worth, Texas on the 29th June 1949. Born on the 6th June 1922. Son to Brice E. and Pearl (née Webb) Griggs of Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
2nd Lt. Donald H. Vincent. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Initially interred in the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, Block EE, Row 11, Grave 255 and relocated to Block F, Row 6, Grave 31. Born in 1910. Son to Albert B. and Florence (née Benedict) Vincent of Springfield, Massachusetts, USA.
Above: Sgt. Boynton (Credit: Chard - FindAGrave)
Sgt. Robert W. Boynton. Repatriated and buried at the Spring Lake Cemetery, Aurora, Illinois, Plot PW-48. Son to Harold D. Boynton of Aurora, Illinois, USA.
Above: Pvt. Ivy. (Credit: Rhoda Schmidt - FindAGrave)
Pvt. Thearon Ott Ivy. Repatriated and buried at the Bethel Cemetery, Mason County, Texas. Born on the 22nd August 1921. Son to James Ott and Mary E. (née Murray) Ivy of Owens, Texas, 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’.
This report is based largely on a documentary by Marcus Siebler from Gerolsbach, Bavaria which the author kindly made available, and on German newspaper reports on screenings of this documentary in the towns around the crime scene.