Operation: Kassel (Mission #650), Germany
Date: 27th September 1944 (Wednesday)
Unit No: 701st Bombardment Squadron (H), 445th Bombardment Group (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24H Texas Rose
Serial No: 41-28922
Location: Schiffenberg near Gießen, Germany
Base: Tibenham (Station #124), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Palmer Merrill Bruland O-763480 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Peter S. Belitsos O-822625 AAF Age? PoW ** (1)
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Norman J. Cuddy O-747646 AAF Age 27. PoW *
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. James H. Boman 39557815 AAF Age 23. PoW Unknown Camp
Engineer: S/Sgt. Stephen J. Gray 11015475 AAF Age 22. PoW **
Nose: S/Sgt. Ferdinand E. Flach 37540396 AAF Age? Murdered (2)
Right Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Lee R.J. Huffman 34203002 AAF Age 27. Murdered (2)
Left Waist Gnr: Sgt. Hugh J. Sullivan 39115320 AAF Age 29. PoW Unknown Camp
Tail Gnr: Sgt. Charles M. Dove 35226700 AAF Age 19. PoW **
Originally 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.
The Ball Turret was being removed from July 1944 as an operational decision to reduce weight and the improve manoeuvrability of the aircraft.
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
** Stalag Luft 7, Bankau near Kreuzberg, Silesia, Germany. (Now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland).
*** 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).
Back row, left to right: S/Sgt. Stephen Gray, 2nd Lt. Palmer M. Bruland, unknown, unknown: Front row, left to right: 2nd Lt. Norman J. Cuddy, unknown, unknown, unknown.
Others on the crew but not identified in this picture are: S/Sgt. Lee R.J. Huffman, Sgt. Hugh J. Sullivan, Sgt. Charles M. Dove, S/Sgt. Ferdinand E. Flach. There is also an unknown Co-Pilot. (credit. Kassel Mission Historical Society archives)
REASON FOR LOSS:
The Texas Rose took off from Tibenham on the 27th September 1944 as part of the 445th Bombardment Group mission to bomb the Henschel facility in Kassel, Germany. Because of an error in navigation the 445th became detached from the main stream and the fighter escort and proceeded north of Kassel to bomb the western edge of the town of Göttingen, some 40 km NE of Kassel.
After leaving the target area, the 445th was attacked by an estimated 150 enemy aircraft comprising Fw190 and Bf109 fighters. In a period of less than 6 minutes, 25 of the 35 B-24's had gone down in flames. The Texas Rose was severely damaged but all the crew safely bailed out of the doomed aircraft. It was reported that the aircraft exploded in mid-air before the wreckage crashed near Schiffenburg, east of Gießen, at about 11:45 hrs.
2nd Lt. Belitsos, T/Sgt. Boman and S/Sgt. Gray where captured at about 12:00 hrs that day near to Ruppertenrod, which is between Alsfeld and Gießen. Sgt. Sullivan was reported as being captured at 14:00 hrs that day near to Lich, east of Gießen. 2nd Lt. Bruland, 2nd Lt. Cuddy and Sgt. Dove appeared to have evaded capture for 3 days before being apprehended on the 30th September near to the Luftwaffe airfield at Ettingshausen, east of Gießen.
(1) 2nd Lt. Peter S. Belitsos was the stand-in Pilot for this mission. He was normally Co-Pilot to 1st Lt. Edward J. Speers’ crew who did not fly on this mission.
After bailing out both S/Sgt. Lee R.J. Huffman and S/Sgt. Ferdinand E. Flach landed near the village of Hattenrod where they were captured and held at the Bürgermeister's office. From here Karl Georg Böss (The name Boess was recorded on official documentation) and Herman Noack removed each airman in turn to different locations where they were shot and killed by Noack. The murdered airmen were initially buried where they had fallen but were later reinterred in the community cemetery in Herbach. After the remains of the two airmen were exhumed they were identified as S/Sgt. Huffman and S/Sgt. Flach who were finally laid to rest at the American Cemetery at Margraten in the Netherlands.
Noack and Boess were tried before a US Military Court at Dachau on the 29th-31st July and the 2nd-5th August 1946 for the murders of two unknown airmen. At the time of the trial their identities had not been established. Both men were found guilty of the murders with Noack receiving the death sentence and Boess an eight-year jail term. Noack was hanged at Landsberg on the 21st March 1947. Boess was paroled in January 1951.
Above: Sgt. Flach (credit. Kassel Mission Historical Society archives)
Sgt. Ferdinand E. Flach. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. American Cemetery at Margraten in the Netherlands. Plot A Row 15 Grave 14. Son to Mr. Ferdinand and Mrs. Margaret H. Flach of Saint Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, USA.
Above: Sgt. Huffman. (credit. Kassel Mission Historical Society archives)
Sgt. Lee R. J. Huffman. Air Medal, Purple Heart. American Cemetery at Margraten in the Netherlands. Plot H Row 3 Grave 8. Born in 1927, husband to Mrs. Leola L. Huffman of Dade County, Miami, Florida, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Traugott Vitz for his work on the database, and for reference to extracts from the book “Hangman at War” by Richard Clark and Traugott Vitz. Thanks also to ‘The Kassel Mission’ Historical Society for their kind permission for the use of images from their site.
RS 07.01.2020 - Editorial update
RS 29.04.18 - Original Upload
RS 22.06.18 - Added 8th Air Force Crest and restructure of layout
RS 20.08.18 - Minor restructure
RS 01.11.2018 - Update to PoW camp details
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RS 07.01.2020 - Editorial update
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