Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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B 24H 42-95144 crashed into Langelandsbæltet 20/6 1944.


The aircraft belonged to USAAF, 8 Air Force, 389 Bomb Group, 565 Bomb Squadron.
T/O Hethel. OP: Politz.


On its way to the target 42-95144 collided with B 24J 42-100351 that was flying above it. 42-100351 lost an propeller and crashed shortly after.

42-95144 lost its tail and went into a spinning dive which ended when the aircraft hit the sea approximately 2 kilometres southeast of Kelsnor lighthouse on the island of Langeland.
Just after the tail was cut off tail gunner S/Sgt Jack K. Wagner tried to get out of his turret and put his parachute on. He did not make it and went down without it.

Left waist gunner S/Sgt Jacob G. Heilich and Right waist gunner S/Sgt Howard R. Penfield were flying in the waist and as soon as the tail disappeared Penfield put on his chute and jumped out of the hole. When Heilich reached for his chute the plane started spinning and he was pinned to the floor. They lost about 5000 feet before the plane levelled out and Heilich quickly put on his chute and bailed out.
It is believed that the rest of the crew went down in the aircraft.

When Heilich floated down he could see Penfield landing in the sea. A little later Heilich also landed in the sea. He had trouble getting rid of his chute and went under several times.

After about half an hour a Danish fishing boat picked him up and took him to Keldsnor on the island of Langeland where he was taken to a German look out post. In the afternoon he was put on a bicycle and taken to Magleby cemetery where he was told to dig what he believed was his own grave. When the grave was finished Heilich was taken back to the post.
 
The grave he had been digging was actually for the body of P/O Fournier who was lost on 15/2-44 and had been found washed ashore on 18/6-44.

The next day Heilich was taken to Odense and later sent to Germany. It is not known which POW camp he was sent, but in February 1945 he arrived it Nürnberg-Langwasser.

The body of Co-pilot 2nd Lt Donald M. Fuller was retrieved from the Store Bælt on 21/6 and was laid to rest in Korsør cemetery on 22/6-1944. His remains were disinterred on 29/4 1948 and were evacuated to the American cemetery at Neuville en Condron in Belgium by the US military

On 8/7 Shoemaker Russel found the body of Rear gunner S/Sgt Jack E. Wagner washed ashore on the east end of Ærøs hale on the island of Ærø. On 11/7 at 06:45 he was laid to rest in Marstal new cemetery with military honours. He still rest there to this day.

 

Rear gunner S/Sgt Jack E. Wagner's grave in Marstal

 


      (Ib Lødsen)

 



The body of S/Sgt Howard R. Penfield was found washed ashore on the beach near Nordenbrogaard, Magleby Parish on 2/9-1944. He was laid to rest in Magleby Churchyard on 4/9-1944. On 30/4-1948 his coffin was transferred to the American Military Cemetery Neuville-en Condron in Belgium. Today he rest in St. Louis, Missouri USA.

 

 

 

Penfield is still remembered in Magleby Cemetery.



Pilot 1st Lt Herschell R. Chappel, Radio operator T/Sgt Richard V. Owens, Top turret gunner T/Sgt Harold H. Valentine and Ball turret gunner S/Sgt Ralph P. Feliz have no known graves and their names are found on Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England.

Navigator F/O Alex M. Rodek and Bombardier 2nd Lt Richard M. Mullins has no known graves and their names are found on Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margrate, Netherlands.
 



Sources: MACR, UA, ABMC.

 

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