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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
05.12.1944 422nd Bombardment Squadron (H) B-17G 43-37827 ‘Wally’s Wheels’, 2nd Lt. Richard N. Pounds

Operation: Berlin (Mission #738), Germany

Date: 5th December 1944 (Tuesday)

Unit No: 442nd Bombardment Squadron (H), 305th Bombardment Group (H), 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-17G Wally’s Wheels

Serial No: 43-37827

Code: JJ:L

Location: Wedesbüttel near Martinbüttel, Germany

Base: Chelveston (Station #105), Northamptonshire, England

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Richard Norman Pounds O-552435 AAF Age 21. PoW *

Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Martin Burstein O-819487 AAF Age? PoW *

Navigator: FO. Frank G. Roberts T-129327 AAF Age? PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Channing Wayne Murray O-769075 AAF Age 23. PoW *

Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Robert Lewis Phillips 16080941 AAF Age 22. Killed (1)

Engineer: T/Sgt. Kenneth Lemuel Knudtson 19194674 AAF Age 25. PoW *

Ball Turret: S/Sgt. John Henry ‘Johnney’ Robinett 38420320 AAF Age 20. PoW *

Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Robert Adam Jahn 36766807 AAF Age 26. PoW *

Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Hillman Dilbert Oden 8627127 AAF Age 25. PoW *

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

* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

Above: B-17G 43-37827 which was originally named Wally’s Wagon Sweet 17 and assigned to Lt. Wallace “Wally” B. Davis and his crew. Taken on the 7th November 1944. (Office of the Photographic Officer APO #557 – Fold3)

REASON FOR LOSS:

B-17G Wally’s Wheels took off from Chelveston to join a force of some 400 B-17 to bomb the munitions and tank works at Berlin. The flak was intense and fairly accurate over Berlin but no enemy aircraft were sighted.

According to radio reports from Wally’s Wheels to the leader of the formation the aircraft had lost one engine after it was hit by flak over the target and that later on during the homebound leg two more engines were lost. The last radio message reported that the pilot was going to order the crew to abandon the aircraft. However, losing altitude fast the crew elected to make an emergency landing.

At 12:25 hrs the aircraft was put down in a field at Wedesbüttel near Martinbüttel, some 16 km north of Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany. The crew survived the landing uninjured, the aircraft being 35% destroyed.

All the crew were captured and transferred to the 3rd floor of the Main Luftwaffe Headquarters (HQ) at Braunschweig.

The HQ was believed to have been at the Braunschweig-Waggum Fliegerhorst (airfield) some 6½ km NNE of Braunschweig and adjacent to the village of Waggum.

On the 6th December the crew other than T/Sgt. Phillips were transferred to Dulag Luft at Oberursel in Frankfurt.

(1) A German report claimed that T/Sgt. Phillips was shot while trying to escape. However, information from the crew after they were liberated told of a different scenario.

This was a nonsensical claim given that it was determined that they were on the 3rd floor of the Luftwaffe HQ and behind two locked doors.

After being interrogated and as they were awaiting in the corridor at the Luftwaffe HQ a guard was evidently trying to impress the crew with his Luger and whilst waving the pistol in the faces of the crew it ‘accidently’ discharged a round. The bullet struck FO. Roberts and passed through his shoulder and then struck T/Sgt. Phillips, who was standing behind him, in the right cheek.

Both were treated by a German doctor who told 2nd Lt. Burstein, who witnessed the incident, that T/Sgt. Phillips had a 50-50 chance of surviving.

Whilst at Oberursel some members of the crew were told that T/Sgt. Phillips had died of his injuries.

T/Sgt. Phillips was buried on the 8th December in the Community Cemetery of Querum, about 3¾ km south of the Braunschweig-Waggum Fliegerhorst.

After being liberated 2nd Lt. Pounds, 1st Lt. Burstein and 2nd Lt. Murray provided witness statements to the US authorities describing the wounding of FO. Roberts and the killing of T/Sgt. Phillips. It is not known what if any investigation was carried out, either by the US authorities or the Wehrmacht, or if the guard was ever named.

Burial details:

T/Sgt. Robert Lewis Phillips. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred in the Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot W, Row 11, Grave 257. Repatriated and interred on the 20th June 1949 in Plot E, Grave 223, at the Rock island National Cemetery, Illinois. Born on the 24th March 1922 in Highland Park, Illinois. Son of Ray Lemuel and Sarah Grace Phillips of Highland Park, Illinois, USA.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive

RS & TV 09.09.2022 – 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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