AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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
15th Air Force
22.09.1944 760th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24J 42-50888, 1st Lt. Armin E. Van Dale

Operation: München (Munich) (Mission #102), Germany

Date: 22nd September 1944 (Friday)

Unit No: 760th Bombardment Squadron (H), 460th Bombardment Group (H), 15th Air Force

Type: B-24J

Serial No: 42-50888

Code: Blue W

Location: Tittmoning, about 23 km (14½ mls) NE of Traunstein, Germany

Base: Spinazzola airfield, Italy

Pilot: 1st Lt. Armin Emerson Van Dale. O-664699 AAF Age 26. PoW *

Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. James Anthony Solsman O-705150 AAF Age 25. PoW *

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Mark Linenthal Jr. O-2057964 AAF Age 22. PoW No. 6047 *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Jacob Hallock Feagles Jr. O-776651 AAF Age 25. PoW *

Radio/Op: Sgt. Roy Downing 37522454 AAF Age 23. PoW **

Engineer: Sgt. Rubin Franklin Harkey 34772208 AAF Age 20. Killed (1)

Assistant Engineer: Sgt. Eugene Milton Maloney 37680642 AAF Age 19. PoW **

Assistant Radio/Op: Sgt. Harold Lee Lovelace 19103139 AAF Age 25. PoW **

Air Gunner: Sgt. Kermit Thomas Medlock 37537386 AAF Age 19. PoW **

Assistant Air Gunner: Sgt. Frederick Arnold Lackman 33310820 AAF Age 34. PoW **

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, Radar Operator, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Waist Gunner, Tail Gunner.

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

** Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde)


Believed to be an image of B-24J 42-50888, Blue W. (Credit: American Air Museum in Britain - Roger Freeman Collection)

On the morning of the 22nd September 1944 B-24J 42-50888 took off from the Spinazzola airfield in Italy on a mission to bomb the Oberwiesenfeld Engine Factory in Munich, Germany.

Three eyewitness statements were recorded post mission, each of which described the circumstance of the loss of 42-50888 from their position in the formation.

Formation showing relative positions of the aircraft, #5 being B-24J 42-50888, Blue W

Statement by Pilot 2nd Lt. Randall B. Darden, O-709517:

“On 22 September 1944, I was flying position #7, high box, first attack unit. First Lieutenant Armin E. Van Dale, O-6644699, pilot of Blue “W” for William, B-24J, #42-50888, who was flying position #3 [sic], high box, first attack unit, left the formation to our right and was last seen going down with smoke coming from #3 engine. Lt Van Dale left the formation just at or about the time of bombs away. The plane was not in flames the last time I saw it. In my opinion Lt Van Dale had control of the plane. No chutes were seen leaving the plane”.

Statement by Pilot 1st Lt. Gideon H. Jones, O-771045:

“On 22 September 1944, our target was Munich I/A, Germany. My ship was flying #3, high box, first attack unit. First Lieutenant Armin E. Van Dale, O-6644699, was flying in a B-24J, #42-50888, position #5, high box, first attack unit. Shortly before bombs away, the flak became intense and accurate. I noticed that #3 engine on Lt Van Dale’s ship was smoking. He peeled off to the right and when last sighted Lt Van Dale seemed to have the ship under control. I did not see any parachutes open”.

Statement by Navigator 2nd Lt. Rudick J. Murphy, O-2057985

“On 22 September 1944, our target was Munich I/A, Germany. Our ship was flying #6, high box, first attack unit. Ship Blue “W” for William, a B-24J, #42-50888, who was flying position #5, high box, first attack unit. Blue “W” was seen to peel off to the southeast and was observed to have been hit. Trailing smoke was coming from the bomb bay or #2 or #3 engines. While the plane was observed going down, no parachutes were seen to open. At the time of the observation, we were on a heading 090 degrees having dropped bombs and were leaving target. It is assumed that Blue “W” had also dropped their bombs”.

The aircraft was reported to have crashed east of Tittmoning, about 23 km (14½ mls) NE of Traunstein at 14:30 hours.

All of the crew successfully bailed out of the aircraft and nine of the crew were captured in the vicinity of Tittmoning.

The Individual Casualty Questionnaires (ICQ) from five of the crew described that Sgt. Harkey was uninjured when he was seen to bail out of the aircraft. When Sgt. Harkey was next seen by a number of the crew he was dead. There were various and wildly different descriptions of the state of his body ranging from facial injuries, mutilated hands and a small calibre bullet wound to his body.

His body was taken to a small village chapel whilst the remainder of the crew were taken away for processing as PoWs.

(1) The exact circumstances of Sgt. Harkey’s capture and death were unknown until a General Military Government Court was convened at Dachau, Germany from the 15th to 17th April 1947.

One German National, a Siegfried Scholz, was charged in that he did, at or near Palling, about 11 km (7 mls) SW of Tittmoning, Germany on or about the 22nd September 1944, wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully kill a member of the United States Army, believed to be Sergeant Rubin F. Harkey, who was then and there a surrendered and unarmed PoW in the custody of the then German Reich.

Scholz was a former Wehrmacht Hauptmann (Capt) with no known Nazi party affiliations.

The court heard that following a bombing raid on Munich, Germany, at least eight American airmen bailed out of their disabled aircraft at about 13:00 hrs, and landed near Palling. A detail of soldiers, under the command of Scholz, promptly captured seven of the airmen who were taken to Palling.

Scholz, together with a Leutnant (2nd Lt) Johann Schaller and a German civilian named Hauer in a car, with the aid of German troops, started to search for an airman who was thought to be in the vicinity. As Scholz, Schaller and Hauer proceeded down a road they observed an airman in the custody of another German civilian, both of whom were approaching the car on foot.

When the airman saw the approaching car being driven by Scholz he ran across the road up and over an embankment and into some adjacent woods. Scholz stopped the car and with Hauer jumped out and set off in pursuit.

The testimonies of Scholz and Hauer recalled that, together with a German soldier who had approached on a motorcycle, they shouted “Halt” several times before the airman stopped. Scholz and Schaller testified that the airman assumed a defensive attitude, however, Hauer was of the mind that the airman was surrendering. Scholz had stated that in the dim light of the woods he was unable to tell if the airman was unarmed and fired a single shot from his service pistol.

It was established that the bullet passed through the back of the airman’s left hand, struck him in the body and heart and killed him, which confirmed that his left hand was not raised in a gesture of surrender. However, it could equally be possible that his left hand was in the process of being raised in surrender when the shot was fired. The body was taken to Palling where it was identified as being that of Rubin F. Harkey, 34772208.

The court considered that given the circumstances of the shooting in that Sgt. Harkey tried to escape and when he did stop his posture did not appear to be one of surrender, coupled with the dim lighting in the woods and that it was unknown if the airman was armed it was considered that Scholz had no alternative but to shoot first.

The court did not believe Scholz’s actions even in retrospect could be construed as a war crime and acquitted him of the charge.

Burial Details:

Sgt. Harkey was initially buried at the Traunstein Community Cemetery on the 23rd September 1944.

Sgt. Rubin Franklin Harkey. Repatriated and buried at the Marvin United Methodist Church Cemetery, Lincoln County, North Carolina. Born on the 3rd December 1924 in North Carolina. Son to Bryant Michael and Betty Katherine (née Carpenter) Harkey of Lincoln County, North Carolina, 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 05.04.2021 - Correction to Stalag Luft 1 description

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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.
Click any image to enlarge it
Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site

Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© 2012 - 2024 Aircrew Remembered
Last Modified: 03 March 2023, 11:48

If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.