04.07.1942 226 Squadron Boston III AL677 2nd Lt. Frederick A. Loehrl.
Operation: De Kooy airfield, Holland
Date: 4th July 1942 (Saturday)
Unit: 226 Squadron
Type: Boston III (A-20 Havoc)
Serial No: AL677
Location: Balgzand, 300m NE of De Kooy, Holland
Base: RAF Swanton Morley, Norfolk
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Frederick A. Loehrl O-432079 AAF Age 25. Killed
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Marshall Daniel Draper Jr. O-724624 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Radio Op/Gunner: T/Sgt. Robert Lawrence Whitham 6563963 AAF Age 27. Killed
Gunner: Cpl. James W. Wright 19000376 AAF Age 21. Killed
* Stalag Luft 7a, Moosburg, Southern Bavaria, Germany.
This operation, flown on America’s Independence Day, involved for the first time crews from the 27th Bombardment Group (Light), 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light) who had been attached to 226 Squadron for operational training in low-level day bombing techniques, whilst awaiting deliver of their own aircraft.
Above: RAF Bomber Command Boston Mk III
REASON FOR LOSS:
Twelve Bostons took off on an early morning attack on enemy airfields in Holland. Six of the aircraft were crewed by personnel from the US Army Air Force (AAF).
The four airfields were:
De Kooy which was 61 km north of Amsterdam and 4 km south of Den Helder;
Bergen which was 4 km WNW of Alkmaar and 2½ km south of Bergen. 2nd Lt. William G. Lynn Jr, flying Boston III AL741 and Plt Off. Charles M. Henning flying Boston III Z2213 were shot down.
Haamstede which was near the western tip of Schouwen island and 2½ km NW of the village of Haamstede;
Valkenburg which was on the coast 14 km NE of den Haag and about 1½ km SW of the village Valkenburg.
AL677 took off at 07:11 hrs detailed as part of a flight of three aircraft tasked with attacking the German fighter airfield at De Kooy, 61 km north of Amsterdam and 4 km south of Den Helder, Holland.
The other two aircraft were Z2234 MQ:X flown by Sqn Ldr. Joseph S. Kennedy DFC 81351 RAFVR, who lead the overall mission, and AL750 MQ:Z flown by Capt, Charles C. Kegelman O-22412 US AAF.
At De Kooy intense flak was encountered and the aircraft were unable to carry out the attack. 2nd Lt. Loehrl’s aircraft was hit by flak from 4./le.Flak Abt. 845 defending the airfield. The aircraft on fire crashed off the coast on the sandbar named Balgzand, 300m NE of De Kooy at 08:02 hrs.
2nd Lt. Draper survived and became the first PoW of the 8th Army Air Force in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO). He was returned to Military Control on 24th July 1945.
Cpl. Wright’s body was recovered and initially buried in the General Cemetery Huisduinen, Municipality of Den Helder, Holland.
On the 11th July 1942 Sgt. Whitham was recovered from the sea between Vlieland Island and Harlingen on the Dutch mainland and was also buried in the General Cemetery Huisduinen, Municipality of Den Helder, Holland.
No trace of 2nd Lt. Loehrl was found.
Sqn Ldr. Kennedy went on to bomb and machine gun a 250 ton trawler but his bombs overshot. Capt. Kegelman’s aircraft was hit by flak and the starboard engine caught fire causing the propeller to fall off. He regained control of the aircraft and went on to silence a flak tower with his forward machine guns and brought his badly damaged aircraft back to base.
For this action Capt. Kegelman and his crew were each given the immediate awards. The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) to the two officers and Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) to the two NCO airmen.
Above Left to Right: Sgt. Bennie B. Cunningham, Sgt. Robert .L. Golay, Maj. Charles C. Kegelman , 2nd Lt. Radall Dorton.
Members of the crew of the Boston Bomber photographed after they had been awarded their medals, in front of a Boston Bomber (Credit: American Museum in Britain).
2nd Lt. Frederick A. Loehrl. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Memorialised on the Tablets of the Missing, Netherlands American Cemetery. Born on the 25th August 1917 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Son to F.O. Loehrl of Seattle, Washington, USA.
T/Sgt. Robert Lawrence Whitham. Purple Heart. It is believed that his remains were repatriated sometime between 1948 and 1950. His burial location is unknown. Born on the 27th November 1914 in Tacoma, Washington. Son to William and Agnes Theresa (née Olsen) Whitham of Seattle. Washington, USA.
Cpl. James W. Wright. Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery Plot C Row 36 Grave 7. Born on the 14th February 1921 in San Francisco California. Son to Charles W. and Clara L. (née McCoy) Wright of Sacramento, California, USA. His sister Mrs Lucille Schwill from Stockton, California was his Next-of-Kin.
His paternal father predeceased him in 1930. His mother remarried a Charles Leonard Dooley. Tragically both his mother and step-father also predeceased him in April 1939 and October 1940 respectively.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.