24.05.1944 350th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-17G 42-31941 ’Big Stoop’, 1st Lt. Lindley L. Williamson
Operation: Berlin (Mission #367), Germany
Date: 24th May 1944 (Wednesday)
Unit No: 350th Bombardment Squadron (H), 100th Bombardment Group (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-17G Big Stoop*
Serial No: 42-31941
Location: West of Bückwitzer See, 3¼ km (2 mls) SE of Wusterhausen.
Base: Thorpe Abbotts (Station #139), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. Lindley L. Williamson O-753831 AAF Age 23. PoW **
Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. James Gordon Dennis O-816707 AAF Age 23. Murdered (1)
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Barwick Odessa Barfield O-691680 AAF Age 23. PoW **
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. William Carrillo O-757695 AAF Age 25. PoW ***
Engineer: T/Sgt. Charles B. Sewell 13049902 AAF Age 26. PoW ****
Radio Operator: T/Sgt Lloyd K. Kouns 35090841 AAF Age 31. KiA
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. James O. Townsend Jr. 34508071 AAF Age? PoW **
Left Waist: S/Sgt. Colbert W. Graham 18105469 AAF Age 21. PoW ****
Right Waist: S/Sgt. Walter Wisniewski 33379081 AAF Age 25. PoW ****
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Robert H. Anderson 37161782 AAF Age? PoW ****
*The nose art name ‘Big Stoop’ was submitted by the original Radio Operator of this aircraft, T/Sgt. Louis P. Paltrineri (11086814), but was never applied. T/Sgt. Paltrineri’s aircraft was also lost on this mission and he became a PoW at Stalag Luft 4.
** Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
*** Stalag 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camp 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse and Work Camp 3368 Munich).
**** 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).
Original Williamson’s Crew.
Standing L to R: (left to right) 1st Lt. Williamson, 2nd Lt. Dennis, 2nd Lt. Barfield, 2nd Lt. Carillo; Kneeling: L to R: S/Sgt. A. L. Sullivan (Waist gunner), S/Sgt. Jack E. Marshall (Waist gunner), S/Sgt. Kouns, S/Sgt. Anderson, T/Sgt. Sewell, S/Sgt. Townsend.
S/Sgt. Graham was from Lt. John Lautenschlager’s crew and S/Sgt. Wisniewski, original crew is unknown, are not depicted on this photograph. (Courtesy of Denise Normandin, Sgt. Anderson's daughter and the 100th Bomb Group Foundation).
REASON FOR LOSS:
Big Stoop took off in the early morning of the 24th May 1944 from Thorpe Abbotts to join a force of 464 aircraft tasked with bombing targets in and around Berlin. The mission began badly because of assembly difficulties causing the 100 BG formations to enter enemy territory strung out and vulnerable which was exploited by the Luftwaffe.
Such was the confusion and devastation of the German fighter attacks that few concise details of the losses that day have been established. It was believed that some 40 to 50 Fw-190s attacked the Low Sqn and shot down four B-17s in the first pass. The pilot of Piccadilly Lilly II may have witnessed the final moments of Big Stoop when he saw a B-17 sweep through the formation and observed ten parachutes deploy from the aircraft. Big Stoop crashed at about 11:35 hrs west of the Bückwitzer See some 3¼ km (2 mls) SE of Wusterhausen which is NW of Berlin.
Big Stoop was one of nine aircraft lost by the 100th Bombardment Group on this mission.
German documents record that 1st Lt. Williamson, 2nd Lt. Carrillo, 2nd Lt. Barfield, S/Sgt. Anderson, S/Sgt. Graham and T/Sgt. Sewel were all captured between 11:30 and 13:00 hrs on the 24th May in various locations in the district of Ruppin. There is no record of where and when S/Sgt. Wisniewski was captured. S/Sgt. Townsend was captured the next day near Rhinow which is some 16 km (10 mls) SW of the aircraft crash site.
T/Sgt Kouns was recovered from the aircraft wreckage and buried at the village cemetery Kampehl district Ruppin in Grave 1 on the 24th May. 2nd Lt. Dennis was reported to have been buried in the local cemetery at Segeletz in the district of Ruppin, which is some 5 km (3 mls) SE of the aircraft crash site, on the 26th May, two days after the crash.
(1) The circumstances of 2nd Lt. Dennis’s death were unknown until captured German documents uncovered correspondence from the German PoW administration to the Chief of SiPo (Sicherheispolizei=Security Police) and SD (Sicherheitsdienst=Security Service of the SS), Berlin, dated 20th March 1945.
The letter records that after parachuting out of the aircraft and landing safely at about 12:30 hrs 2nd Lt. Dennis was arrested by Forestry Supervisor Meier. The airman was handed over to two Landwacht (Home Guard) men named Bünger and Schönbeck who were to transfer him to the Amtsvorsteher (Equates to village Mayor) at Segeletz. En route they were overtaken by a car with Berlin number plates which stopped and SS-Brigadeführer (Schutzstaffel – Position equates to Maj Gen) Alfred-Ingemar Berndt got out of the car. He was informed that the airman was being taken to the Amtsvorsteher. Berndt responded that the airman was going to be killed despite the protests of Bünger and Schönbeck.
Berndt returned to his car and collected his pistol and then said: "I am the Brigadeführer of the Berlin Security Main Office and take responsibility.” He warned them that he was about to shoot, and that they were in danger of being hit, too, if they did not stand aside. 2nd Lt. Dennis was standing with his hands up when Berndt shot him three times after which he got in his car and was driven away. The cold blooded murder was witnessed by numerous civilians and by French and Polish PoWs.
Some time later SS-Sturmbannführer (Maj) Kunze, from the Reich Security Main Office in Berlin, arrived and ordered the body to be taken to Segeletz and buried. He collected the airman’s clothing and personal effects at 22:00 hrs before returning to Berlin.
The letter warned that an intervention by the protective power would be expected and therefore a declaration was urgently required. The response on behalf of Berndt was that he used his firearm because the prisoner made an attempt to escape.
After the Normandy landings Berndt expressed a pessimistic opinion about the military situation and was subsequently suspended from this post in the propaganda department in Berlin. He then volunteered for combat and was elevated to the military rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Capt) in the Waffen-SS. According to several eyewitnesses, Berndt, as a commander in the 2nd Battalion of 5th Waffen-SS Panzer Regiment "Wiking," was killed at Veszprém in Hungary, during an attack by Soviet dive bombers on 28th March 1945.
Left: Courtesy of The Arizona Republic, September 9, 1944. Right, Grave marker: (Courtesy: Michel Beckers)
2nd Lt. James Gordon Dennis. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Recovered and interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neuprė in Plot Z, Row 5, Grave 108. Relocated to Plot B, Row 12, Grave 12. Born on the 2nd May 1921. Son to James G. and Ethel L. Dennis of Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
Above Grave marker for T/Sgt Kouns (Courtesy: Dominique Potier)
T/Sgt. Lloyd K. Kouns. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Recovered and interred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neuprė in Plot Z, Row 5, Grave 101. Relocated to Plot D, Row 10, Grave 37. Born on the 19th October 1913. Son to Thomas Orville and Hazel G. (née Essex) Kouns and Husband to Vonda Mae (née Beaty) Kouns of Boone, Indiana, 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’. Thanks also to Mike Faley from the 100th Bomb Group Foundation for the image of the crew.