09.08.1944 524th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-17G 42-32093 ‘Big Barn Smell’, 1st Lt. Willis W. Jones
Operation: Pirmasens (Mission #533), Germany
Date: 9th August 1944 (Wednesday)
Unit No: 524th Bomber Squadron (H), 379th Bombardment Group (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-17G Big Barn Smell
Serial No: 42-32093
Location: Schmithof, about 9½ km (6 mls) SE of Aachen.
Base: Kimbolton (Station #117), Huntingdonshire, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. Willis W. Jones O-743027 AAF Age 23. KiA
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. William P. Dry O-817180 AAF Age? PoW *
Nose Turret: S/Sgt. William R. McGinnis 17069554 AAF Age 20. KiA
Bombardier: 2nd.Lt. Paul Raymond Repas O-704234 AAF Age 24. KiA
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. William E. Black 37062315 AAF Age 27. PoW **
Engineer: T/Sgt. John Cecil Phillips 34099408 AAF Age 20. PoW (1)
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Alvin William Brady 33558589 AAF Age 26. PoW (1)
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Bernard M. Schupp Jr. 33434185 AAF Age 19. PoW **
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Charles W. Parrish 34802458 AAF Age 19. PoW *
This crew were rescued after their aircraft, B-17G 42-37859 WA:S, ‘Fighting Cock’, ditched in the North Sea on the 7th July 1944 returning from a mission to Leipzig, Germany. 2nd.Lt. Repas was not aboard on that mission. 2nd Lt. Peter N. Saveskie, O-757094 was the Bombardier on the mission.
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 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camp 3324-46 Krumbachstraße and Work Camp 3368 Munich)
** 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)
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 9th August 1944 the Big Barn Smell took off from Kimbolton on a mission to bomb the Ludwig Kopp Shoe Factory at Pirmasens in Germany. Before they reached their target the formation was recalled and as they neared Aachen the Big Barn Smell was shot down by flak. Six of the crew survived after they had managed to bail out of the aircraft.
After action reports describe that Big Barn Smell was hit by flak over Aachen, which blew off a large part of the aircraft’s nose section. According to the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Dry, 1st Lt. Jones was mortally wounded. He believed that S/Sgt. McGinnis and 2nd.Lt. Repas was blown out of the aircraft when the aircraft was hit.
The Big Barn Smell crashed at 09:45 hrs at Walheim, close to the engine building of the water purification works at Schmithof, about 9½ km (6 mls) SE of Aachen.
Hearsay information from German interrogators informed 2nd Lt. Dry that 1st Lt. Jones’ body was recovered from the aircraft wreckage. A German report recorded that the body of 2nd Lt. Repas was recovered from near the village of Raeren, just inside Belgium and 4¾ km (3 mls) SW of Schmithof in Germany. No information has been found as to where S/Sgt. McGinnis’ body was recovered.
2nd Lt. Dry reported in his Individual Casualty Questionnaire that S/Sgt. Brady and T/Sgt. Phillips were both severely beaten by civilians and in his opinion each of them should be awarded a Purple Heart, for the injuries they had suffered.
(1) After hostilities ceased an investigation was conducted into the reported beatings at the hands of German nationals of S/Sgt. Brady and T/Sgt. Phillips after they had been captured.
A British Military Court was convened at Bochum during the periods 13th to 31st August 1946 and the 2nd to 5th September 1946 where six German nationals were charged with committing a war crime in that they at Aachen on the 9th August 1944 in violation of the laws and usages of war were concerned in the ill-treatment of ASN No. 33558589 S/Sgt. Alvin William Brady and No. 34099408 T/Sgt. John Cecil Phillips, United States nationals and PoWs.
Those charged were a Dr. August Flasche, Johann Bergmann, Dr. Johann Konstantin Schwenke, Johann Wink, Jakob Kappes and Gottfried Fieseler.
Flasche was the former Polizeipräsident (Police President) of Aachen and an SS-Standartenführer (Col.), he was promoted to SS-Oberführer (notionally equates to Brigadier) later in 1944; Bergmann was a former Kriminalkommissar (Detective superintendent); Schwenke was the former Kriminaldirektor (Chief of detectives) of Aachen, and Wink was a former Kriminalsekretär (Detective inspector).
Kappes was a former member of the Deutsches Jungvolk (German youth = a section of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler youth)) and 13 years of age at the time of the crime; and Fieseler was a former member of the Hitler Jugend and 16 years of age at the time crime.
The court heard that there was an air raid on the town of Aachen on the morning of 9th August 1944 and that one of the aircraft was shot down. S/Sgt. Brady and T/Sgt. Phillips landed near the house of a peasant farmer named Kerres. T/Sgt. Phillips suffered a sprained right ankle in the landing.
They were picked up immediately by a group of German civilians and a Luftwaffe Private. The two airmen were then marched, S/Sgt. Brady carrying T/Sgt. Phillips on his back, to the Kerres’ house. Here they were treated decently by the family. A retired Polizeimeister (Police Sgt Maj) named Bock was also present and informed the Polizei in Aachen by telephone of the capture of the two airmen.
Upon hearing of the capture, Flasche ordered Bergmann to turn out the Jagdkommando (Unit formed to hunt for downed airmen) and march the airmen through the town of Aachen. It was established during the court proceedings that Flasche had no authority to give such an order to Bergmann. As police officials were prohibited, by an order issued by Himmler, to protect captured airmen against attacks by the civilian population it was speculated that he gave this order so as to invite the ill treatment of the airmen.
At about 12:00 hrs Bergmann, Wink and Polizeimeister Hans Muss arrived at the farm house in a police vehicle. The two airmen were interrogated and in the process Bergmann kicked T/Sgt. Phillips on his injured ankle and hit him about the face with his fists, drawing blood. The airmen were then taken to the police vehicle where they were ordered to remove their shoes, socks and jackets.
On the outskirts of Aachen, adjacent to a cemetery, the vehicle stopped and Bergmann struck T/Sgt. Phillips full in the face and gestured toward the cemetery. They were then driven to the centre of Aachen where the vehicle was parked. The two airmen were then forced to march for about a mile through the streets via a circuitous route to the police headquarters (HQ), barefooted and with their hands in the air.
S/Sgt. Brady wanted to carry T/Sgt. Phillips on his back but he was forced to walk on his own. The weather was hot and the road surface burned their feet as they made their way to the police HQ.
The airmen were assaulted by German civilians who threw bricks and stones, kicked and stamped on them. S/Sgt. Brady was knocked down after being hit in the head by a stone and as he was getting to his feet a civilian kicked him and jumped on him. Whilst he was on the ground he was knocked unconscious by a viciously thrown brick which inflicted a deep wound to the back of his head. T/Sgt. Phillips was also hit about the head by stones.
The court heard that Muss and a Max Stöber (believed to be in the SD (Sicherheitsdienst = Security service of the SS)) were instrumental in inciting the crowd to physically attack the two airmen. Neither of these individuals were before the court.
T/Sgt. Phillips was then ordered by Bergmann to carry S/Sgt. Brady the remaining distance to the police HQ. Prior to arriving there at about 14:00 hrs Muss was seen by a witness to knock down the two airmen and stamp on them. The same witness also testified that Kappes and Fieseler had thrown rocks that struck the two airmen. T/Sgt. Phillips then carried S/Sgt. Brady into the police HQ and laid him on the floor.
No medical attention was provided and S/Sgt. Brady’s head wound continued to bleed as he lay unconscious on the floor. The interrogation of T/Sgt. Phillips continued interspersed by the accused kicking out at S/Sgt. Brady which T/Sgt. Phillips tried to block.
Eventually at about 17:30 hrs a Luftwaffe officer and guard arrived and took over the custody of the two airmen. The Germans assisted the two airmen to the railway station and they boarded a passenger train heading toward Cologne (Köln). When the train stopped the Luftwaffe officer got off and returned with a bandage for S/Sgt. Brady’s head wound and with a canteen of beer for the two airmen. The train arrived in Köln at about 21:00 hrs on the 9th August 1944. From there the two airman were assisted and boarded a truck which took them to a Luftwaffe airbase in Köln where they received expert medical care.
T/Sgt. Phillips was sent to Dulag Luft, Wetzlar (for 2/3 weeks in late August 1944), then to Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Poland (early in October 1944 to 6th February 1945) and then finally to Stalag 357 (Stalag 11b), Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, Germany (for the last part of March 1945). He returned to the US on the 17th July 1945.
S/Sgt. Brady was sent to Dulag Luft, Wetzlar (18th August 1944 to 1st October 1944), then to an unknown PoW camp near Stettin in Military District II, (12th October 1944 to 2nd February 1945) and finally to Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, Prussia now Poland (12th February 1945 to 4th May 1945). He returned to the US on the 18th May 1945.
Affidavits provided by Kappes and Fieseler admitted that they were in the crowd that attacked the two airmen but only Kappes admitted to throwing stones. However, the court found them not guilty of the charge and were acquitted.
Wink, Flasche, Schwenke and Bergmann were found guilty of the charge. Wink was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, Schwenke to 12 years, Flasche to 10 years and Bergmann to 5 years.
Wink’s sentence was commuted, by way of clemency, to 15 years imprisonment and then from earned remission for good conduct he was released on the 15th June 1954. Flasche earned remission for good conduct leading to his sentence being reduced on the 30th June 1950, and he was released on the 4th May 1951. Bergmann earned remission for good conduct and was released on the 15th December 1949.
Schwenke died on the 6th November 1946 before he could be informed of the confirmation and promulgation of his sentence on the 2nd December 1946.
1st Lt. Willis W. Jones. Initially buried in Walheim Cemetery, Grave No. 3 on the 10th August 1944. Reinterred at the Ardennes American cemetery and then repatriated to be buried at the Pleasant Gardens Cemetery, Lake Wales, Polk County, Florida. Born on the 2nd January 1921. Son of Albert Jones of Lake Wales, Florida, USA.
Above: S/Sgt McGinnis (Courtesy: Des Philippet).
S/Sgt. William R. McGinnis. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred in Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten on 25th June 1945, in Plot III, Row 6, Grave 129 as X-1140. Relocated to Plot D, Row 10, Grave 18. Born on the 14th August 1923. Son to Joseph Orlando and Susan Marion (née Morrett) McGinnis of Iowa City, Iowa, USA.
Above: 2nd Lt. Repas (Courtesy: Zim-FindAGrave).
2nd Lt. Paul Raymond Repas. Buried in a local cemetery on the 11th August 1944. Reinterred at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery and then repatriated to be buried at the Allegheny cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 16th December 1947. Born 26th August 1920. Son of Paul and Victoria (née Kawalski) Repas of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 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’.