Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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B 17F 42-30289 crashed Hvidkilde 4/1 1944.


The aircraft belonged to USAAF, 8 Air Force, 390 Bomb Group, 568 Bomb Squadron.
T/O Framlingham. OP: Kiel.


When bombing the Fried. Krupp Germania Werft in Kiel from 27000 ft. number 2 and 3 engine was hit by flak and number 3 engine started burning. The 42-30289 flew behind low squadron and when they were over Marstal Bay at 12:30 hours it continued north towards the island of Fyn trailing smoke. North of the island of Ærø the crew started bailing out and were swept south by the strong wind.
 


                              (Via Finn Buch)

Rear: Wahl, Watters, Gallagher, Prophett
Front: Gott, Shanholtz, Allen, Oster, Conklin and Gristak


 
Right Waist Gunner Sgt Jack M. Allan and Left waist Gunner Sgt Richard A. Conklin both landed near Vesterløkke on Ærø Island and was at 13:15 captured by members of the German 19./Ln.Regiment 222 near Vindeballe.
 
Another crew member landed on the Voderup Klint (cliff) but before he could release his parachute he was swept out over the Baltic Sea by the strong wind and disappeared.

Fishmonger Johannes Madsen of Bøjlsgaard farm south of Vester Skjerninge saw the flyers leave the aircraft and knew that the strong wind would bring the flyers down in the sea and together with a neighbour he set his small boat in the sea and started out to help the flyers. He managed to pick Navigator 2nd Lt Ronald A. Watters out of the cold sea and brought him ashore. Here they were met by Cattle dealer Peder Jul and his truck. Watters was placed in the truck and taken to Doctor Frølich in Vester Skjerninge for examination after his stay in the cold water. The rumour spread that a flyer were present at Frølichs house and late in the afternoon two Danish police constables picked Watters up and took him to Fåborg where he was admitted to the German Lazaret at 18:00 hours.

Also the Fishermen Laurids Juel and Svend Nielsen together with Mads Weber had noticed the flyers and set to sea in a small boat and when they were retrieving Bombardier 2nd Lt Russel F. Wahl from the sea they collided with a fishing boat which had also come to assistance and fell in the water. Both Juel, Nielsen, Weber and Wahl were then picked up by the fishing vessel and at 15:00 hours the course was set for Svendborg. When arriving at the harbour Wahl was immediately arrested by German soldiers and taken to the German Lazarett at Egensevej road.

 


                    (Bernard T. Gallagher via Finn Buch)

B 17F 42-30289


At Vester Mølle near Vester Skerninge Engelbrecht Jensen was having his lunch break and was watching the noisy aircraft that flew over the place. It suddenly climbed steeply and then dived again. At the same time he saw a flyer descending in his parachute and with a work mate he ran towards the landing place. At Flidsbo at Syltemae Ådal they found Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Bernard T. Gallagher. Gallagher who suffered from frost bite saw two men running towards him and head them speak what he believed to be German and tried to draw his pistol but did not manage neither this nor to release his parachute harness. The Danes took him to a nearby farm where the owners in English promised to help him to Sweden. Soon after an ambulance arrived and picked Gallagher up. The ride however ended abruptly when they came to a German roadblock where it was stopped and Gallagher arrested by the German guard. It was then 14:00 hours. Gallagher who suffered from the cold and exposure was locked up for the night in a cold cellar.

The Pilot 2nd Lt James H. Prophett Jr. left the aircraft over Egebjerg bakker and landed at Dalsmose north of Ollerup. Soon after German soldiers of VII./Artl.-Mar.Ers.-Abteilung Ollerup showed up and at 14:00 hours they arrested Prophett and took him to the German Lazaret in Ollerup. Elderly people still to this day remember a tall flyer walking thru Ollerup village guarded by two small German soldiers.
 


                                  (Finn Buch)

Smoke from the burning aircraft


Left by its crew 42-30289 circled a couple of times from Ollerup to Egebjerg Bakker to Kirkeby and towards Lunde. When it was over Kirkeby the second time it was so low that people feared thet it would crash in the village. It straighed up and disappeared over Egebjerg Bakker to crash in Amalielyst Forest near Hvidkilde Sø lake on the island of Fyn (Funen) at 12:50 hours. From the lake it ploughed thru the trees, hit the ground and exploded.
 


                                       (Svendborg Lokalarkiv)

Wreckage

 
Four of the crew was missing.

Ball Turret Gunner Sgt John B. Gott bailed out before the bail out signal while the aircraft was still over the Baltic Sea south of Ærø Island and landed in the sea.
 
Radio Operator S/Sgt Bernhard Oster was first man out after the bail out signal and ended up in the Baltic Sea south of Ærø Island. It is believed that he was the flyer who landed on Voderup Klint but was carried out over the sea by the wind.

Tail Gunner Sgt Oliver S. Shanholtz landed in the sea south of Fyn after having bailed out just before Watters.


                                    (Via Finn Buch)

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner S/Sgt Henry T. Gristak



Engineer/Top Turret Gunner S/Sgt Henry T. Gristak bailed out together with Gallagher but his chute did not open and he fell to his dead in the sea. In January or February 1946 Fisher Marius Petersen of Lyø was fishing in the Lille Bælt off the coast of Als when he found the body of Gristak in his net. Due to the state of the body he was not able to bring it onboard but managed to find the ID tag before letting go of the body. The tag was later sent to the American Embassy in København (Copenhagen).

They have no known grave and their names are found on Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England.

 


                     (Via Finn Buch)

1st Lt. James H. Prophett Jr. crashed and died by an aircraft accident in 1947.


                    (Via Finn Buch)

 Burial: Melbourne Cemetery Melbourne Brevard County Florida, USA

 


(Via Finn Buch)

Local Newspaper Clip. Date: 18/3 1944






Sources: FB, MACR, LBUK, RL 19/458, AS 24-222.



 

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