20.02.1944 565th Bomb Squadron (H) B-24J 42-100352 ‘Swamp Angel’, 2nd Lt. Robert J. Wozniak
Operation: Brunswick (Mission #226), Germany
Date: 20th February 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 389th Bombardment Group (H), 565th Bomber Squadron (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24J Swamp Angel
Serial No: 42-100352
Location: Near Sillium, Germany
Base: Hethel (Station #114), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Robert J. Wozniak O-672920 AAF Age? PoW *
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Lorimer Peterson O-533672 AAF Age 22. PoW *
Navigator: 2nd Lt. Elroy Frank Wyman O-735946 AAF Age 24. PoW No. 2758 */Killed (1)
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Harold ‘Harry’ Leonard Gmong O-676470 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. George Joseph Shady 33290882 AAF Age 22. PoW **
Engineer: T/Sgt. Robert Henry Hunt 38114773 AAF Age 23. PoW **
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Teamus Bowling 15097281 AAF Age 22. PoW **
Right Waist: S/Sgt. William Louis Grimmer 38182062 AAF Age 23. PoW **
Left Waist: S/Sgt. Charles ‘Bud’ Conner Barlion 15200535 AAF Age 22. PoW **
Tail Turret: S/Sgt. William Merrill Anderson 7154409 AAF Age 22. Killed
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.
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
** Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow Pomerania, Prussia (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 20th February 1944 the Swamp Angel took off from Hethel (Station #114), to join the mission to bomb targets at Brunswick (Braunschweig), Germany.
Immediately after bombs away five German fighters attacked the formation. The Swamp Angel was seen to receive hits and rear out of the formation. Within 30 seconds, at 13:25 hrs, the aircraft exploded and the wreckage was seen falling with smoke trailing behind. After mission reports revealed that, in all, seven parachutes were seen in the air. It was later determined that nine of the ten man crew successfully bailed out and became PoWs.
The gunners in the rear of the aircraft tried to aid S/Sgt. Anderson to bail out of the aircraft but he had died in his position in the tail turret.
The wreckage fell to earth at or near Sillium which is some 30 km SW of Braunschweig, Germany.
(1) On the 18th March 1945 2nd Lt. Wyman was shot by Obergefreiter (acting Cpl) Emil Bühler who was a guard at Stalag Luft 1, Barth-Vogelsang.
At about 11:30 hrs on the 18th March an air-raid warning was in progress, however, many PoWs were not aware of the situation as these warnings could not be heard in many areas of the camp.
It appeared that 2nd Lt. Wyman was one not aware of the air-raid warning but when stepping out of barrack block #2, he noticed that no one was about and immediately turned round and hastened back to his barrack block.
A witness saw Bühler, who was outside of the boundary wire unshoulder his rifle, take aim and without any warning fire a shot from a distance of about 90 metres. The bullet struck 2nd Lt. Wyman and passed through his head and continued on into and through room 1 of barrack block #2 and finally through the outer wall. The bullet narrowly missed two US AAF PoWs who were in the room.
2nd Lt. Wyman’s body fell partway into the open doorway of barrack block #2 and was hurriedly pulled all the way in. After alerting the guards the camp Medical Officer was permitted to operate on his head wound but 2nd Lt. Wyman died soon after the operation the same day at 14:30 hrs.
Capt. W. Martin Nichols, RAMC, was captured in May 1940 and in civilian life had been an eminent brain surgeon in England. After some eventful falling out with the German authorities at various hospitals he ended up at Stalag Luft 1 as the camp Medical Officer.
2nd Lt. Wyman was buried on the 23rd March 1945 in the Barth-Vogelsang City Cemetery with the funeral service being conducted by Col. Hubert Zemke. 2nd Lt. Robert J. Wozniak was a witness at the burial.
On the 30th October 1944 Col. Hubert Zemke, the Commanding Officer of the 479th Fighter Group, was flying a P-51D over Germany when he encountered unforecasted turbulence which tore off a wing from his aircraft. He was forced to bail out and managed to evade the enemy for several days before being captured. He became the Senior Allied Officer (SAO) of Stalag Luft 1. Zemke’s combat service encompassed 154 missions and 17¾ confirmed aerial victories. His decorations include the DSC, Silver Star (Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster), DFC (Silver and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Medal (Three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters) and Purple Heart.
After hostilities ceased his remains were recovered and reinterred at the American Ardennes Cemetery in Plot BB, Row 7, Grave 161.
There is UN War Crimes Commission File No. 1628 - case 11 of US vs Germany, which it is believed to be concerned with Obergefreiter Emil Bühler and the killing of 2nd Lt. Wyman. It is not known if this case came to trial.
Burial services for 2nd Lt. Wyman. (Credit Portland Press Herald, dated Monday June 6th, 1949)
2nd Lt. Elroy Frank Wyman. Air Medal. Repatriated on the 1st June 1949 and buried at the Hillside Cemetery in North Berwick, York County, Maine. Born on the 28th September 1921 in North Berwick, York County, Maine. Son of Melville James and Isabelle C. (née Blakeley) Wyman from North Berwick, York County, Maine, USA.
2nd Lt. Wyman’s Air Medal (AM) Citation reads: “For extraordinary achievement in aerial flight. He, as a crew member of a bombardment type aircraft, participated in 15 strike sorties against the enemy. Throughout these combat operations he displayed high professional skill, courage, and devotion to duty which exemplifies the highest traditions of Army Air Forces.”
Above grave marker for S/Sgt. Anderson (Credit: Fred - FindAGrave)
S/Sgt. William Merrill Anderson. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred in the Netherlands American Cemetery Plot DD, Row 12, Grave 292. Relocated to Plot D, Row 10, Grave 12. Born on the 26th October 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Son of Mrs. Edna A. Anderson from Star Route, Two Harbors, Minnesota, USA.
Researched by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Also with thanks to Traugott Vitz for his valued research and work on the ‘VitzArchive’.