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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via Helpdesk
8th Air Force
09.03.1945 336th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-17G 42-97844

Operation: Frankfurt am Main (Mission #875), Germany

Date: 9th March 1945 (Friday)

Unit No: 336th Bombardment Squadron (H), 95th Bombardment Group (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-17G

Serial No: 42-97844

Code: ET:R

Location: West of Wiesbaden, Germany

Base: Horham (Station #119), Suffolk, England

Pilot: 2nd Lt. William Eugene Ourant O-833980 AAF Age 24. PoW *

Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Dwight A. King O-929862 AAF Age 26. PoW *

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Elmer E. Miles O-2072502 AAF Age? PoW *

Togglier: Sgt. William Albert Waskow Jr. 16187547 AAF Age 20. PoW *

Radio Operator: Sgt. John Anthony Star 15133702 AAF Age 21. Killed (2)

2nd Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Dave John Willoughby 16136223 AAF Age 24. KiA (1)

Engineer: Sgt. Victor Albert Johnson 19124637 AAF Age 28. PoW *

Ball Turret: Sgt. Donald Gettis Norvet 17117014 AAF Age 18. PoW *

Waist Gunner: Sgt. Andrew James Demchak 33575436 AAF Age 21. PoW *

Tail Turret: Sgt. Arthur S. Billings 17134470 AAF Age? PoW *

* Unknown PoW Camp

One of the two Waist Gunners were removed from crew complements starting on the 7th June 1944 and then both from 23rd February 1945.

Togglier. When it was required for all aircraft in a Squadron formation to drop their bombs simultaneously, the designated Bombardier was on the lead aircraft. The task of the Bombardiers in the rest of the formation was to drop their bombs when the lead aircraft dropped theirs. When there were personnel shortages the role of Bombardier was carried out by an enlisted crew member who was designated as the Togglier.


B-17G 42-97844 took off from Horham on the morning of the 9th March 1945 to join a force of thirty-eight bombers from the 95th BG on a mission to bomb the marshalling yards at Frankfurt am Main in Germany.

The Assistant Operations Officer, Capt. David E. Ollson reported the following:

B-17G 42-97844 piloted by 2nd Lt. Ourant was seen to be hit by flak over the target and dive down with one engine on fire. The fire was seen to be put out and the plane continued under control. The aircraft was last seen by a fighter pilot at 10:45 hrs west of the Rhine, directly west of Wiesbaden. Four chutes were seen to leave the aircraft over the target area.

Note: Wiesbaden is some 30 km west of Frankfurt am Main, however, Darmstadt (See Ser 2) is some 26km south of Frankfurt am Main and Wiesbaden is 37 km NW of Darmstadt. So it appears that the aircraft flew south before turning on a north-westerly course.

It is not known which crew members, other than Sgts. Willoughby and Star, bailed out over or near the target area or who from the crew remained with the aircraft which appears, from photographic evidence, to have successfully forced landed west of Wiesbaden.

(1) Sgt. Willoughby was aboard as a German language radio interpreter. German cemetery documents have been found that record Sgt. Willoughby had died from severe internal injuries after having bailed out of the aircraft. He was initially buried at the Community Cemetery in Neu-Isenburg, which is about 7 km due south from the centre of Frankfurt am Main.

(2) A General Military Government Court was convened at Dachau, Germany, on the 12th June 1947 at which one German national was charged that he did, on or about the 9th March 1945, at or near Darmstadt, Germany wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the assaults of a member of the United States Army, Sgt. John A. Star, who was then and there a surrendered and unarmed PoW in the custody of the then German Reich.

The accused was a Paul Schult, who was a former Hauptmann der Polizei (Capt in the Police).

The court heard that on or about the 9th March 1945 an American airman, Sgt. John A. Star landed in a forest near Darmstadt. He was captured by two policemen and conducted to police headquarters and delivered to Schult. An angry crowd of policemen gathered in the corridor shouting words to the effect “Beat him dead”, “Shoot the murderer” and “Bump him off”.

Schult searched the airman and then, speaking in German, ordered him to remove the chewing gum from his mouth. As Sgt. Star did not understand what was said, he continued to chew, which infuriated Schult and it was claimed that he kicked out at the airman.

The evidence was conflicting as to whether Schult’s foot actually made contact with the airman. Also Schult denied mistreating the airman.

The court decided for Schult and he was acquitted of the charge and released from custody.

The circumstances leading to the death of Sgt. Star after the events described in the charge above are not known. To this day his remains have not been found and recovered.

Burial Details:

Sgt. John Anthony Star. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Commemorated on the Wall of the Missing, Luxembourg American Cemetery. Legal Date of Death recorded as 10th March 1946. Born on the 27th February 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio. Son of John and Mary Star of Ashtabula, Ohio, USA.

Above: Military Rites for T/Sgt. Willoughby (Courtesy of The Daily Calumet, dated Friday, January 21st, 1949)

T/Sgt. Dave John Willoughby. Purple Heart. Recovered on the 25th February 1946 and initially interred at the Lorraine American cemetery, Plot 3Q, Row 10, Grave 139. Repatriated to Illinois and interred on the 22nd January 1949 at the St. Mary Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum, Evergreen Park, Cook County, Illinois. Born on the 7th March 1921 in Winnipeg, Canada. Son of John D. and Geraldine B. Willoughby of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, 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’.

RS & TV 21.09.2022 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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