10.02.1945 453rd Bombardment Squadron (M) B-26F Marauder 42-96261, 1st Lt. Andrew J. Lawrence III
Operation: Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany
Date: 10th February 1945 (Saturday)
Unit No: 453rd Bombardment Squadron (M), 323rd Bombardment Group (M), 9th Air Force *
Type: B-26F Marauder
Serial No: 42-96261
Location: Returned to base
Base: Denain/Prouvy (Station A-83), France **
Pilot: 1st Lt. Andrew J. Lawrence III. O-711715 AAF Age 22. Returned
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Edgar V. Lupfer O-711226 AAF Age? Returned
Bombardier/Nav: Sgt. Vernon Lawrence Berg 137144247 AAF Age 24. Returned
Radio Op/Gunner: Sgt. John Joseph Prangl 36655441 AAF Age? PoW Unknown Camp
Engineer/Gunner: T/Sgt. Cecil F. Allen 38529143 AAF Age? Murdered (1)
Gunner: S/Sgt. Donald F. Suhaysik 16155391 AAF Age? Returned
* The 323rd Bombardment Group were the first 8th Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with the B-26 Marauder on the 16th July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the 8th, the Group were assigned to the 9th Air Force, and they continued to fly strategic bombing missions over Europe throughout the war.
** The airfield was located south of Lille and about 16 km (10 mls) from the Belgian border. The 323rd Bombardment Group moved to the Denain/Prouvy (Station A-83) Airdrome on the 9th February1945.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The following is a statement by 1st Lt. A.J. Lawrence, O-711715, concerning the action that took place on 10th February 1945.
"On the 10th of February 1945, I was on a mission to Berg.-Gladbach, Germany, flying number six in the low flight of the second box, in aircraft #42-96261. We received “flak" from Limsburg [sic] going into the target. Evasive action was taken, and we did not receive any hits. Just before we started on the bomb run, the lead ship peeled out of formation, and our element took the lead. There was light “flak” at the target, but we did not receive any hits.
Re-tracing our route back, we received moderate and accurate “flak” from Limsburg [sic]. We received hits on the right wing and right engine, apparently cutting the instrument lines to the oil pressure and fuel pressure gauges for the right engine, causing the readings to drop to zero. The Co-Pilot called me to expect the right engine to go out, and the crew was ordered to “Stand By". Hits were received in the waist gun position, wounding the radio operator, and setting the ammunition on fire. I was in contact with the gunners all the time, and told them that I would be able to fly home alright.
I did not tell them to jump, and did not know that they had jumped until another ship told me. I judge that they jumped because the ammunition was on fire, and because the turret gunner jumped down from the top turret; presumably the engineer and the radio operator (flying tail gun and waist gun position respectively) mistook this for a “bail out” command, and went out the waist gun window. Sgt. C.F. Allen (engineer), and Sgt. J.J. Prangle [sic] (radio operator) bailed out approximately 16 km north of Nastätten, Germany, at 16:12 hrs."
Although badly damaged the aircraft made it back to base and landed safely, albeit without Sgt. Prangl and T/Sgt. Allen.
Records show that Sgt. Prangl was captured and transferred to Dulag Luft. He was returned to military control, liberated or repatriated, from an unknown PoW camp.
(1) The fate of T/Sgt. Allen was unknown until a General Military Government Court convened in Dachau, Germany between 30th April and 2nd May 1947.
Three German nationals were originally charged in that they did, at or near Kemel, Kreis Unter-Taunus, Germany, on or about the 10th February 1945, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing of a member of the United States Army, believed to be Cecil Allen, ASN 38529143, who was then and there a surrendered and unarmed PoW in the custody of the German Reich.
Two of the three charged were a Heinrich Otte who was a former Hauptwachtmeister (M/Sgt) in the Gendarmerie (Rural Police) and a member of the Nazi party since 1937 and,
a Willy Lang who was a former member of the Volkssturm (Home Guard) with no known Nazi party affiliations. The third name on the charge sheet was that of an Hans Otto Seidel, who was acquitted of the charge.
The court heard that following a bombing attack upon Nauroth, Germany on or about the 10th February 1945, an American airman parachuted from his disabled aircraft landing in some woods. He was captured and assaulted by German civilians. Otte who was accompanied by Lang arrived at the scene and took over the custody of the captured airman from two civilians near Kemel. Otte had previously encouraged the local civilians to kill captured airmen and questioned the two civilians as to why they had not already shot the airman.
The airman was then marched along the road between Nauroth and Kemel for about ¾ km (½ ml) at which point Otte, in the presence of Lang, from a distance of three paces behind, shot the airman in the head. Otte and Lang then left the scene and reported the incident to the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Kemel (who was not named). The next day the airman’s body was removed to the local cemetery at Kemel and buried there.
Otte claimed in mitigation for his actions that when he had received a telephone call, ordering him to secure the captured airman, he was told by the Ortsgruppenleiter (Local Nazi group leader), speaking for the Kreisleiter (District leader), that under no circumstances was the airman permitted to live. He claimed that he shot the airmen in the fear that he would killed were he to disobey this direct order.
The Ortsgruppenleiter was an individual named Doenges who committed suicide whilst in custody.
The Kreisleiter was one Oskar Wilhelm Koch who in another trial was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment commencing on the 9th May 1945 for his involvement in the murder of T/Sgt Allen. He was released on the 21st December 1951.
Lang admitted to the court that he had accompanied Otte and claimed that he had remonstrated with him reminding him that they both had sons in combat at that time and to consider what he was about to do, but to no avail.
The court found Otte guilty of the charge and sentenced him to death by hanging. He was executed on the 26th September 1947 at Landsberg in Bavaria. Lang was also found guilty and sentenced to 1 year imprisonment. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown.
Above: Common grave marker for T/Sgt. Allen and Pfc. Dailey. Credit Owen McKinney - FindAGrave
T/Sgt. Cecil F. Allen. Repatriated from the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten and interred, on the 22nd March 1950, at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Plot I, Grave 95, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. No further details.
T/Sgt. Allen and a Pfc. Harry Vernor Dailey, 33693979, US Army are interred in a common grave. Pfc. Dailey died on active service on the 21st April 1945 in Over, Harburg, Niedersachsen, Germany. He was repatriated and interred on the same date as T/Sgt. Allen. Born on the 4th April 1916 in Pennsylvania. Son to William Vernor and Lena Vietta (née Rearick) Dailey and husband to Mildred B. (née Anderson) Dailey of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA.
Researched by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.