15.10.1944 566th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24J 42-50760 ‘Maggie's Drawers’, 1st Lt. John R. Hanzlik
Operation: Düsseldorf (Mission #678), Germany
Date: 15th October 1944 (Sunday)
Unit No: 566th Bomber Squadron (H), 389th Bombardment Group (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24J Maggie's Drawers
Serial No: 42-50760
Code: RR: M+
Location: Heddesheim, about 1½ km (1 ml) north of Bad Kreuznach, Germany
Base: Hethel (Station #114), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st Lt John Robert Hanzlik O-822941 AAF Age 22. PoW *
Co Pilot: FO Charles Arthur Lindberg T-125024 AAF Age? PoW *
Navigator: 1st Lt Robert Charles Card O-717179 AAF Age? PoW *
Bombardier: 1st Lt John Fleming Hodges Jr. O-762921 AAF Age 21. PoW *
Radio/Op: T/Sgt William B. Gardiner 16060284 AAF Age 25. PoW **
Engineer: T/Sgt Richard J. Ellwart 36633443 AAF Age? Killed (1)
Nose Turret: S/Sgt Prince Elwood Strickland 34670854 AAF Age 19. PoW **
Right Waist: S/Sgt Kurt Hirschinger 32814651 AAF Age? PoW ***
Left Waist: S/Sgt Harry Zettick 33055633 AAF Age? PoW PoW **
Tail Turret: S/Sgt. Eugene Kalinowsky 11105754 AAF Age 22. Murdered (2)
The B-24 had 10 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.
Ball Turrets were being removed in the spring of 1944 due to the increased long-range fighter escort being available and to save weight.
* Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) .
** Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow Pomerania, Prussia (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde) .
*** Dulag Luft Grosstychow Dulag 12
A field-applied armour plate below the Co-Pilot’s window obscured the word ‘Maggie’s’ on the aircraft’s last mission (Credit: B24bestweb)
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 15th October 1944 the Maggie's Drawers took off from Hethel (Station #114) to join the mission to bomb the oil refinery at Düsseldorf in Germany.
An after mission report by S/Sgt Vernon K. Longhurst, the tail gunner from B-24J 42-50739 ”Ole Buckshot reported that his own aircraft was hit by flak in the target area as was 42-50760 Maggie's Drawers and both aircraft dropped behind the formation. Maggie's Drawers flew in formation with ”Ole Buckshot off the port wing. When both aircraft encountered a flak battery Maggie's Drawers turned away to the port to avoid the flak whilst ”Ole Buckshot flew directly through the area. Maggie's Drawers was did not take any evasive action but was seen to lose and gain altitude. As Maggie's Drawers started to re-join ”Ole Buckshot it was hit by another flak battery. The aircraft received a direct hit in the starboard wing between #3 and #4 engines. The wing was blown off and the rest of the aircraft burst into flames and broke up. S/Sgt Longhurst did not see any parachutes and watched the falling debris until it passed out of sight.
From the various Individual Casualty Questionnaires (ICQs) it has been deduced that Maggie's Drawers was hit by flak over Düsseldorf which knocked out #1 engine and the aircraft lagged behind the formation on return. In the Bingen area another burst of flak struck the mid wing section and set the interior on fire. Most of the crew bailed out in area Bingen-Laubenheim-Gensingen before the aircraft blew up and crashed.
German documents record that the aircraft crashed at about 11:00 hours at Heddesheim about 1½ km north of Bad Kreuznach, Germany.
The ICQs, German documents and PoW records confirm that eight of the crew had successfully bailed out of the aircraft before it crashed.
(1) T/Sgt. Ellwart was last heard over the aircraft intercom from the top turret, where he was spotting flak, prior to the aircraft being hit and catching fire. It appears that T/Sgt. Gardiner attempted to extricate him from the Upper Turret but had to bail out because of the fires that were raging around the flight deck. He was the last person to see T/Sgt. Ellwart. From the available ICQ reports it has not been possible to determine whether T/Sgt. Ellwart bailed out of the aircraft.
What has been established was that T/Sgt. Ellwart was dead when he was found by German searchers but the circumstances of his death cannot be reported with any degree of certainty. T/Sgt. Ellwart’s identity was initially established by 1st Lt. Hanzlik through the class ring shown to him by his German captors. He was not permitted to see the body. T/Sgt. Ellwart’s identity was confirmed from his ’dog tags’ which were found with his remains when they were disinterred by a team from the US Graves Registration Service.
(2) S/Sgt. Kalinowsky was flying his 50th and last mission over Germany before an expected furlough home.
S/Sgt. Hirschinger saw Kalinowsky standing by the waist escape hatch with his parachute. beside him but not attached to his harness and was apparently unhurt. None of the crew knew whether Kalinowsky did bail out and none of them ever saw him again.
But a ten-year-old German boy saw him and witnessed everything that followed. The events still haunted him when he wrote down his recollections on the 26th June 1982:
According to him, Kalinowsky came down in his parachute and landed in a vineyard of the wine village Laubenheim on the river Nahe. He was uninjured except for a small burn on his head. Two German soldiers from a flak unit took him into custody, told him to pick up and carry his chute, and then set out to take him to their Captain who had his HQ in an inn at the far end of the village, 1½ km (1 ml) or so distant. Before they had reached the main village road a motorcycle approached ridden by an individual wearing civilian clothes. He stopped and left the machine at the street corner. After reaching the crowd which had meanwhile gathered around Kalinowsky and his escort, he let them pass and then joined them, walking immediately behind the captured airman. The crowd was hostile and shouted abuse but refrained from physical ill-treatment. Local Nazi party members who had also arrived argued with the soldiers about who was to have custody of the airman. Some 46 m (150 ft) before reaching the place where he had left his machine, the motorcycle rider suddenly revealed a pistol and held it to the neck of the airman and pulled the trigger.
Kalinowsky fell to the ground facedown into his parachute. He was then dragged and pulled into the courtyard of a farm building. The mortally wounded airman gasped and writhed on the floor of the courtyard. The white parachute was red with blood. The killer chased the children away, and with no concern for the airman that he had just shot, mounted his motorcycle and drove away.
The child witness together with some of his friends ran to his home nearby and which also offered a clear view from its rear garden into the courtyard where Kalinowsky was lying. Forty years later, he still remembers the scene of the dying man and that it took hours before he became still. The corpse was taken to the fire engine house, and put in a coffin. The next day, an army truck delivered his coffin to the cemetery at Heddesheim where Ellwart’s coffin was already waiting. They were buried side by side the next day.
Image of the crime scene, from Google Earth. Blue cross: Assumed landing place in the vineyard site ‘Laubenheimer Karthäuser’. Red cross: Scene of shooting. White cross: Garden from where the children watched Kalinowsky die.
Modern day view of Laubenheim. It is probable that Kalinowsky landed on the piece of land where there are no vines, which is depicted by the blue cross on the map above.
Ernst Best, who is believed to be one of the children who witnessed the murder, at the crime scene, which is depicted by the red cross on the map above. (Both images: courtesy of Joachim Hennig)
The man who had shot Kalinowsky was well known to those who had witnessed the crime. He was Kurt Tesch, the owner of a large winery which had been in his family’s possession since 1723. He was also an officer in the SS and had just returned for the weekend from a training course in sabotage and other Werewolf (guerrilla tactics behind allied lines) practises.
When the war was over, he disappeared and lived under an assumed name. In May 1952, obviously believing that he could afford to show his face again, he resurfaced in Langenlonsheim and was immediately reported to the police and arrested.
Starting on the 24th February 1953, Tesch was tried before the court of Bad Kreuznach. On the 3rd March 1953, he was sentenced to just 18 months imprisonment. The defense had succeeded in befuddling the court through legal sophistry into believing that this was, in fact, a case of homicide. Both the defense and prosecution appealed, and the Federal Court of Justice, the highest German court in criminal matters, sent the case back to the court of Mainz for retrial. This second trial in the first half of March 1955 ended in a sentence of 12 months imprisonment for “aiding and abetting in homicide” from which the time spent on remand was deducted. The court believed Tesch’s claim that he had been under orders of SS general Jürgen Stroop to shoot downed airmen which made Stroop the principal, and Tesch his accessory. The sentence achieved legal force and Kurt Tesch left the court a free man.
Recent analysis by a retired German judge (see Resource:) came to the conclusion that the court ignored or mis-interpreted important evidence, and then mis-applied the law. Tesch should have been sentenced as a murderer under the law as it stood at the time. This was deemed a deplorable miscarriage of justice.
German and US documents record that T/Sgt. Ellwart and S/Sgt. Kalinowsky were initially interred at the Heddesheim cemetery on the 17th October 1944. They were both reinterred at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, T/Sgt. Ellwart in plot Z-2-48 on the 27th June 1945, and S/Sgt. Kalinowsky in plot Z-2-24.
Above: T/Sgt. Richard J. Ellwart. (Credit: Photograph, Mike McMahon and grave marker, Luxembourg American Cemetery)
T/Sgt. Richard J. Ellwart. Air Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters). Born on the 30th May 1921 in Kansas. He was reinterred at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, Plot D. Row 11, Grave 24. Son to Aloysius C. and Helen E. (née Birong) Ellwart of Chicago and husband to Geraldine ‘Jeri’ G. Ellwart of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Above: S/Sgt. Kalinowsky. (Credit: Photograph, Lorraine Canino and Grave Marker, Jason M. Crockwell - FindAGrave)
S/Sgt. Eugene Kalinowsky. Repatriated on the 12th July 1948 and interred with a Russian Orthodox ceremony at the Pittsfield Cemetery, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Born on the 12th October 1922. Son to Vasily J. and Anna V. (née Michaels) Kalinowsky of Pittsfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, USA.
Researched by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Also with thanks to Traugott Vitz for his valued research and work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
Resource: Joachim Hennig, Der Meuchelmord von Laubenheim. Ein Stück Kreuznacher Justizgeschichte, in: Jahrbuch für westdeutsche Landesgeschichte, 42. Jahrgang (2016), S. 377-462. Reference: 3 Ks 1/54 of Landgericht Mainz, 18/03/1955