Information

9 November 1943


9 November 1943

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War at Sea

German submarine U-707 sunk with all hands off the Azores

Diplomacy

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) formed in Atlantic City



9th Infantry Division in WWII

– The History of the 9th Infantry Division –

1918:
Organized on July 18th, 1918 at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, the 9th Infantry Division was in training in the United States when World War I came to an end. The Division was then demobilized on February 15th, 1919, but was re-designated to a Regular Army Unit in 1923.It remained on the inactive list though.

1940-1941 :
Reactivation of the Division came on August 1st, 1940 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with units assigned to it that had seen combat action during World War I. Among them were three Infantry Regiments: The 39th Infantry Regiment, the 47th Infantry Regiment and the 60th Infantry Regiment. These regiments had already distinguished themselves in combat and would receive honors in the years to come. After reactivation the Division entered a period of intensive training, followed by the Carolina maneuvers, conducted by the First Army in September 1941. The Division later was attached to the Amphibious Corps of the Atlantic Fleet and underwent amphibious training. Subsequently released from its attachment, the Division again came under control of the Army Ground Forces.

1942:
The first elements of the 9th Division departed in November 1942 for the North – African Theater of Operations. Elements of the Division took part in “Operation Torch”. When the 39th Regimental Combat Team landed at Algiers, the 47th Infantry Regiment hit the beaches of Safi, French Morocco while the 60th Infantry Regiment fought on the beaches of Port Lyautey, Morocco and secured the “Citadel”, known as the “Kasba”.

1943 :
In the weeks that followed, the 9th Infantry Division completed combat missions in Tunisia (where the German “Afrika Korps” was smashed) and in Sicily before leaving for England where it went into training for the invasion of Fortress Europe. The 9th Infantry Division did not take part in D-Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6ht, 1944 because it was considered a veteran Division that already fought in several heavy battles.

1944:
The Division landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day+4, June 10th, 1944. It helped to cut of the French Peninsula and in capturing the city of Cherbourg and its vital port. It battled further across France and on September 2nd laid claim to being the first Allied unit to begin the liberation of Belgium when a unit of the 9th Division entered the town of Momignies. The Meuse river was crossed early in September and then the Division were amongst the first to cross into Germany, just south of Roetgen, on September 13th, 1944. From here the 9th Division helped to penetrate the German Siegfried Line and fought several heavy battles in the Hurtgen Forest area. After being pulled of the line due to heavy casualties, it “rested” in the Monschau Forest area, where on December 16th 1944, the German winter offensive, the “Battle of the Bulge” started. Here the Division beat back the enemy’s best efforts.

1945:
Highpoint of its World War II record was the crossing of the Rhine early in 1945. By the morning of March 7th, all bridges across the Rhine had been blown, except for one. This was the “Ludendorff Bridge” below the small town of Remagen. After a forced march, the 47th Infantry Regiment’s 2nd Battalion deployed over the bridge. Crossing against heavy artillery it became the first Infantry Regiment to battle across the Rhine barrier since the Napoleonic Wars. Soon the 60th Regiment made a daring dash across the battered bridge, followed by Division support units. Meanwhile the 9th Military Police Platoon, despite artillery and air attacks, kept traffic moving and doubled as medics and evacuation men. By March 11th, all combat teams of the 9th Division were across the Rhine. On March 17th the bridge collapsed and all further crossings by Allied troops in the central sector had to be made on pontoon bridges erected by engineers. By March 20th the 9th Division had conquered the entire central bridgehead area between the Rhine and Wied Rivers, securing a front from which the final blow was struck at the heart of Germany. The Old Reliables (a nickname given to them for actions around the Schwammenauel Dam in February) worked constantly on the shrinking Ruhr Pocket in the closing days of war, freeing approximately 900 slave laborers from five different countries with the capture of Sinu on the Dill River. On April 21st, 1945, the Division relieved the 3rd Armored Division along the Mulde River near Dessau and held that line until V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day), May 8th 1945.

Following the war the Division was assigned to Ingolstadt, Germany. Here it performed occupational duties until January 15th, 1947, the day the Division was inactivated. The 9th Infantry Division was reactivated again later in 1947 and served as a part of the Nato Forces in Goepingen, Germany from 1954 to 1956. It was then reorganized and the three Infantry Regiments became five Infantry Battle Groups. The 9th Infantry Division participated in many battles during the Vietnam War.


9 November 1943 - History

A selected mix of 444th History:

Originally constituted as the 444 Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 15 Feb 1943 and activated on 1 Mar 1943, the Group was redesignated the 444 Bombardment Group (Very Heavy Special) in November, 1943. Training with B-17, B-24, B-26, and later with B-29 aircraft. The 444th moved to India via Africa (ground crews via Australia) in Mar-Apr 1944. Assigned to Twentieth AAF in June of 1944. First based in Charra, or "Hell's Half Acre" as the men called it, and then on to Dudkhundi which was not much of an improvement. The 444 flew supplies over the Hump to Chinese bases that its B-29'S were to use for staging attacks on Japan. On 15 Jun 1944 participated in the first AAF strike on the Japanese home islands since the Doolittle raid in Apr 1942. Bombed transportation centers, naval installations, aircraft plants, and other targets in Japan, Burma, China, and Thailand/Formosa. Conducted a daylight raid against iron and steel works at Yawata, Japan, in Aug 1944 being awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for the mission.

The 58th Bomb Wing evacuated staging fields in China in Jan 1945 but continued operations from India, bombing targets in Thailand and mining waters around Singapore. Moved to Tinian in April of 1945 for further operations against targets in Japan and participated in bombing of strategic objectives and incendiary raids on urban areas for the duration of the war. The unit received another DUC for attacking oil storage facilities at Oshima, bombing an aircraft plant near Kobe, and dropping incendiaries on Nagoya in May 1945. Struck light metal industries at Osaka in Jul 1945 receiving yet another DUC for this action. The 444th returned to the US late in 1945 and was soon assigned to the newly formed Strategic Air Command on 21 Mar 1946. The Group was officially inactivated on Oct. 1, 1946.

Christmas Bombing: Kharagpur, India

Gerald T. Cravey’s Account, September 15, 2004

About that bombing? Let me give it some thought here. On the night before Christmas in 1944, my station chief, Harlow F. Brown and I, as chief radio operator of headquarters station 20 Air Force, had saved our beer [over a period of time]. We each had a case, which proved to be all we could consume that night and most of the following day. We had had a few hours sleep but were still feeling the effects of celebrating. We had grown complacent about possible attack by enemy aircraft due to out extreme distance from any Japanese aircraft that we knew of.

About an hour before sunset the air raid sirens and public address systems went off telling us that we were under red alert. “This is the real thing,” the announcement kept repeating. As quickly as possible, Brown and I ran to the radio station in the compound that housed the 20 Air Force headquarters. We saw that every radio operator scheduled for duty was on duty and monitoring is frequency. Of course the station as well as headquarters was blacked out. This went on for seemingly two to three hours with the commanding general [Curtis LeMay] and his entire staff in the building just beyond the burlap bag which separated the 20 Air Force command room from our radio station.

At about this time I felt the call of nature and exited the blackout curtains and proceeded to well, answer the call. I’m sure that beer the night before didn’t help! You’re not writing that down? You are! [laughter] It was a bright moonlit night, probably near full moon. All at once I heard the drone of bomber aircraft. Looked up to see the aircraft in the moonlight, how many I’m not sure, but not many. I heard them cut their engines to go into a bombing run. What seemed like fifteen minutes was surely less than three or four minutes before bombs began to explode with a typical “whompf” at Salua Air Base, the main station of B29’s about three or four miles away. The 20 Air Force had four other dispersal bases as follows: Kalikunda, Paridoba, Dudkundi, and Chakulia. I flattened out on the ground like a gallon of molasses. I would have gotten into my helmet if possible. They flew right over headquarters. Because it was blacked out, they didn’t know it was there. I would have guessed them to be 6,000 or 7,000 feet high. Years later, my station chief [Harlow] “Pappy” Brown sent me some CBI Sound-Off magazines which had an account of the bombing and wrote in the margin, “And where were you, Mr. CV ? (my personal sign for radio purposes). I think the date of the bombing was actually Christmas Day, because Brown and I celebrated by drinking our beer on Christmas Eve.

Gerald T. Cravey, September 15, 2004

Margaret Cravey, Gerald T. Cravey’s wife, located a letter Gerald had written the day of the event. It is headed “Christmas Night, 1944, 7:10 pm, somewhere in India”. The letter was interrupted. When Gerald resumes the letter he hints at the bombing in the next to the last paragraph: “It’s now 12 o’clock and I still have to go back to the station. I’ve been there since I left rather hurriedly at 7:45.” Dad said that because of security reasons and heavy censorship of the mail he could not write about the bombing nor could he even tell my Mother his exact location in India.

Notes by Georgia Cravey

The 444th was based at the West Field of Tinian, an island about four miles wide at it widest and 12 miles long. The first observers thoght it was about the size of Manhattan and the main road going north and south was named Broadway and the one that ran east and west was called 42nd St. The island was important because it was 1.600 miles to Japan and our foes had no planes that could compare with the range of the B-29.

Our main problem was lack of anything but sugar-cane fields. It would rain for a brief heavy down-pour usually about four times a day followed by bright sunshine. The temperature never varied more than 15 degrees the year around (from 70 to 85 degrees) and the humidity stayed so high all the time we had ear and feet fungus and everywhere else fungus. Dengue Fever was rampent and could lay you low.
_________________
Howard Chamberlain
World War II Vet AAF 1943-46
MOS 911 (Armament)
313th Wing, 504th Bomb Group, 680th Sqd (Circle E)
Tinian North Field, Marianna Islands

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Journey to the Pacific

After spending the spring of 1943 conducting shakedown and training cruises, Essex departed for the Pacific in May. After a brief stop at Pearl Harbor, the carrier joined Task Force 16 for attacks against Marcus Island before becoming the flagship of Task Force 14. Striking Wake Island and Rabaul that fall, Essex sailed with Task Group 50.3 in November to aid in the invasion of Tarawa.

Moving to the Marshalls, it supported Allied forces during the Battle of Kwajalein in January-February 1944. Later in February, Essex joined Rear Admiral Marc Mitscher's Task Force 58. This formation mounted a series of hugely successful raids against the Japanese anchorage at Truk on February 17-18. Steaming north, Mitscher's carriers then launched several attacks against Guam, Tinian, and Saipan in the Marianas. Completing this operation, Essex departed TF58 and sailed to San Francisco for an overhaul.


A Missing Man: Major Milton Joel, Fighter Pilot, 38th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force: XII – The Names of Others: Jewish Military Casualties on November 29, 1943

Having focused so closely on Monday, November 29, 1943 – in terms of the loss of Major Milton Joel during the encounter of the 38th Fighter Squadron (55th Fighter Group), with the Luftwaffe over the Netherlands – “this” post is a follow-up to the events of that day: Here – paralleling much the same “template” as my ongoing series of posts (about 30, thus far) focusing on Jewish soldiers in The New York Times – are brief accounts about some other Jewish airmen and soldiers lost or involved in combat on that Monday in November.

But first, “something completely different”. Well, somewhat different. Well, at least kind’a different… An “artifact” direct from November of 1943: The cover of that month’s issue Astounding Science Fiction, featuring art by William Timmins, illustrating the story “Recoil” by George O. Smith.

You can view similar – let alone unsimilar – images, and many more at my brother blog, WordsEnvisioned.

Now, back to the topic at hand…

Some other Jewish military casualties on Monday, November 29, 1943 (2 Kislev 5704) include…

United States Army (Ground Forces)

Bernstein, Samuel M., Cpl., 33034466 (in Ireland)
314th Ordnance Maintenance Company
Mr. William Bernstein (father), 807 Carson St., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Born Pittsburgh, Pa., 10/29/16
Jewish Criterion (Pittsburgh) 9/7/45
Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England – Plot F, Row 5, Grave 4
American Jews in World War II – 511

Fine, Benjamin, Pvt., 33100225, Purple Heart (at Venefro, Italy)
179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division
Mr. and Mrs. Abe and Goldy Fine (parents), 705 Washington Blvd., Williamsport, Pa.
Born Grodek Molodetzna, Russia, 8/30/13
Place of Burial unknown
American Jews in World War II – 520

Horwich, Irving I., 2 Lt., 0-1307017, Purple Heart (at Mount Pantano, Italy)
A Company, 168th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division
Graduate of University of Notre Dame
Mr. and Mrs. Phillip and Anna Horwich (parents) ((or, Mrs. David Goldstein (mother?)), 805 West Marion St., Elkhart, In.
Mrs. Adeline Levine (sister), Elkhart, In.
Born 6/12/13
Hebrew Orthodox Cemetery, Mishawaka, In.
Jewish Post (Indianapolis) 12/31/43
The American Hebrew 3/10/44
American Jews in World War II – 123

United States Army Air Force
8th Air Force

Gladstone, Stanley, 2 Lt., 0-750137, Bombardier, Air Medal, Purple Heart
338th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group
B-17G 42-37811, Pilot: 2 Lt. Herbert O. Meuli, 10 crewmen – no survivors
MACR 1391
Mrs. Yetta Gladstone (mother), 3822 Surf Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Aviation Cadet Jasin J. Gladstone (brother)
Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England
Casualty List 1/1/44
Brooklyn Eagle 12/31/43
American Jews in World War II – 321

“I would love to go over seas again just for the purpose of finding those graves. I will do all I can to help. Thanking you for having interested in my crew. I still worship the lot of them and I would to God that their bodies are found.” – Edgar E. Schooley, summer, 1945

Gorn, Lion A., S/Sgt., 32411565, Gunner (Right Waist), Air Medal, Purple Heart, 4 missions
525th Bomb Squadron, 379th Bomb Group
B-17F 42-29787, “FR * E”, “”Wilder Nell” II”, Pilot: 2 Lt. Charles H. LeFevre, 10 crewmen – one survivor: S/Sgt. Edgar E. Schooley, Jr, Tail Gunner
MACR 1332
Mrs. Janice L. Gorn (wife), 255 East 176th St., New York, N.Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Nathan [?-10/50] and Fannie Rebecca (Widoff) [8/29/92-10/64] Gorn (parents)
Mildred E. Gorn (sister)
Name commemorated at Tablets of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Holland
Casualty Lists 1/1/44, 12/24/45
P.M. (…the newspaper P.M., that is…) 11/2/46
American Jews in World War II – 331

Based on comments by Fold3 contributor patootie63, the image below, Army Air Force photo A-71044AC (A-11535) captioned, “A crew of the 379th Bomb Group poses beside B-17 Flying Fortress “Wilder Nell II” at an 8th Air Force base in England, 11 November 1943,” presumably shows Lt. LeFevre’s crew posed before the nose of their simply nicknamed bomber.

Though (except in one case – see below!) names cannot be attached to faces on an individual cases, assuming that this is the LeFevre crew, then the men would be:

Le Fevre, Charles H., 2 Lt. – Pilot (rear, far left)
Miller, John R., 2 Lt., Co-Pilot (rear, second from left)
Spurgiasz, Jan, T/Sgt. – Navigator
Valsecchi, Alfred, 2 Lt. – Bombardier (rear, third from left)
Mulligan, James C., T/Sgt. – Flight Engineer
Dixon, Leonard, T/Sgt. – Radio Operator
Hunter, Robert W., S/Sgt. – Gunner (Ball Turret)
Laird, Wesley W., S/Sgt. – Gunner (Right Waist)
Schooley, Edgar E.. S/Sgt. – Gunner (Tail) (probably front row, far left)
…and Sgt. Lion A. Gorn
…of whom the only survivor would be S/Sgt. Schooley.

S/Sgt. Schooley’s postwar account of the loss of the crew of Wilder Nell II, in the Individual Casualty Questionnaires in Missing Air Crew Report 1332, recounts that the aircraft was damaged by both flak and fighters, with Lt. LeFevre giving orders to ditch while the aircraft was still over land. With the exception of Lieutenants LeFevre and Miller, the entire crew – standard for B-17 ditching procedure – was soon gathered in the aircraft’s radio room.

A particularly poignant and haunting aspect of Sgt. Schooley’s account is his mention that Sergeants Schooley, Gorn and radio operator Hunter said “good-bye” to one another just before the the plane struck the sea, with Sgt. Dixon remaining in his seat (transmitting the plane’s position?) even as the plane struck the water.

When the plane impacted, the bottom of the radio room burst open, and “Everything happened so fast that nobody could think very much. I was just tossed by some one.” Sergeants Laird and Mulligan were probably pinned in the sinking plane, while Sgt. Gorn – who stood up just after the B-17 first struck the water (there were typically two impacts when an aircraft ditched, the first moderate in force and the second almost always far more severe) – was thrown forward, and did not survive the ditching. Dixon, Miller, Spurgiasz, and Valsecchi managed to escape the sinking plane. Sadly, though Lt. LeFevre survived the ditching, he became jammed in the co-pilot’s side (right side) window as he attempted to escape the sinking Wilder Nell II. In Sergeant Schooley’s words, “I know he was stuck in the window because I tried to get to him to help, but the sea was too rough. If you will look up the weather on that day, you will know better than I can write.”

Then, “Dixon, Valsecchi and Spurgiasz were hanging on an uninflated dinghy in the water. About 100 ft behind me. Dixon saw me and spoke my name. Then an Me-109 came down and opened up his guns and then I passed out from the cold”.

As described at ZZAirWar, Wilder Nell II ditched one mile off the Dutch coast, near Petten.

While Sgt. Schooley attributed the deaths of those men who had survived the ditching to a strafing Me-109, ZZAirWar suggests a different explanation: machine gun fire from a coastal gun emplacement: “A German officer came running towards the machine gun nest and stopped the shooting [this was a heavy defended coast line, part of the anti-invasion Atlantic Wall]. “Schooley floated unconscious against a wave breaker and was dragged onto the beach. Also Lefevre and Valsecchi washed ashore that day.”

“They were all three brought to the nearest hospital, which was the German Navy Hospital in village Heiloo (‘Hialo’ and ‘Halio’ writes Schooley). This was the to us well known Dutch Mental Hospital ‘St. Willibrordus’, of which the Germans had confiscated a large part and made it their Kriegsmarine Lazeret. Lefevre and Valsecchi were dead and later buried in Heiloo on the General Cemetery. Schooley regained consciousness after 4 days.”

Finally (but there seems not to have been a “finally”…) the following is a transcript of a handwritten letter that Sgt. Schooley included along with his crewman’s completed Individual Casualty Questionnaires:

While in the German Hospital at Hialo [actually, Heiloo] Holland, the German people would not tell me any thing.

When I got well and was sent to Amsterdam they told me that they had a body or two. Then they showed me the name of a man and it was Valsecchi 2nd Lt. Then they told me that he was buried some where in Holland, and that Somebody else was there also but they couldn’t describe him to me and he had no identification. That is all I know.

I would love to go over seas again just for the purpose of finding those graves. I will do all I can to help. Thanking you for having interested in my crew. I still worship the lot of them and I would to God that their bodies are found.

Edgar Schooley died on March 12, 2015. His obituary can be found at Legacy.com, where appears his portrait (below). And so, in the above crew photo of Wilder Nell II, he appears to be in the front row, at far left.


Lion Gorn’s wife Janice – Dr. Janice L. Gorn, affiliated with New York University – never remarried. Born March 23, 1915, she died on December 18, 2002. The Honoree Page for her husband can be found at the website of the National WW II Memorial: “Arrived in England in October. Forty three bombing kills. He and eight others on B-17 were killed on the way home over North Sea. Tail gunner was rescued and imprisoned until end of war. There were no fighter escorts at the time.”

Though Army Air Force navigator Second Lieutenant Ralph Victor Guinzberg, Jr. (0-797311), was killed in action on the 29th of November, as a member of the 334th Bomb Squadron of the 95th Bomb Group, he had participated in two particularly significant combat missions prior to that dat, during neither of which was he injured. Born in 1916, he was a 1938 graduate of the University of Wisconsin. His family resided at 485 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, while his uncle Frederick lived in Chappaqua, N.Y.

The photo below was published in The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon) on August 27, 1943 (via FultonHistory)

The “first” of the two incidents was a mission to Kassel, Germany, on July 30, 1943, during which his aircraft, B-17F 42-30192 “OE * Y“, “Jutzi“, was struck by flak while about 10 miles from Knocke, Holland, knocking out the hydraulic and oxygen systems, and disabling three engines. Control of the bomber being temporarily lost, Lt. Jutzi ordered the crew to bail out. The plane’s four gunners and radio operator did so, but the radio operator and tail gunner did not survive. Realizing that the plane could be kept under control, Lt. Jutzi countermanded his bailout order, and ditched Jutzi six miles from Dover. Injured by flak during the mission, Lt. Guinzberg saved the life of S/Sgt. Harold R. Knotts, after the latter had been knocked unconscious during the ditching.

Lt. Jutzi, his three fellow officers and the flight engineer were rescued. Thus, a total of eight men eventually survived the mission, the incident being covered in MACR 217.

The crew roster for the mission comprised:

Robert B. Jutzi, Pilot (POW 9/16/43 while piloting Terry and the Pirates, 42-30276)
Robert D. Patterson, Co-Pilot (Completed 25 missions)
Wilbur W. Collins, Navigator (POW 9/16/43 aboard Terry and the Pirates, 42-30276, with Lt. Jutzi)
Harold R. Knotts, Flight Engineer (POW 11/29/43 aboard Blondie III)

T/Sgt. Robert Randall, Radio Operator (KIA)
S/Sgt. Warren W. Wylie, Left Waist Gunner (POW)
S/Sgt. Philbert A. Comeau, Right Waist Gunner (POW)
S/Sgt. Leland M. Bernhardt, Ball Turret Gunner (POW)
S/Sgt. Harold W. Jordan, Tail Gunner (KIA)

The mission eventuated in Lt. Guinzberg’s receipt of a Commendation, the text of which appears below, in this article from the New Castle Tribune of August 27, 1943.

LT. GUINZBURG DECORATED FOR HEROIC ACTION

Lt. Ralph V. Guinzburg, Jr. Awarded Purple Heart and Air Medal

Although Wounded When His fortress Was Shot Down, He Rescued Engineer

Lt. Ralph Victor Guinzburg. Jr., 27, of New York City and Chappaqua has been awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal and has been recommended for the Silver Star for saving a fellow flyer although himself wounded when his B-17 was shot down over the British channel late in July.

According to word received by Lt. Guinzburg’s family, the Fortress was hit by anti-aircraft shells as it headed home from a mission over the continent.

The last entry in the plane’s log, which was kept by Lt. Guinzburg, navigator, was “Ack-ack inaccurate, low and to the left.” A few minutes later the Fortress was struck three times, with Lt. Guinzburg receiving shrapnel wounds in the ankle. Five of the crew bailed out as the B-17 began to lose altitude at the rate of 1000 feet a minute. Lt. Guinzburg and three other officers remained in the plane, trying to get it back to the coast of England.

Seven miles from the British coast, the Fortress crashed into the sea. One man was knocked unconscious and Lt. Guinzburg was thrown violently against the roof of the ship. He suffered a deep cut on the forehead but remained conscious. As the Fortress began to sink, he remained inside to push the unconscious man through the hatch, while the others helped from the outside.

The plane’s automatically inflated life-rafts were already floating on the water as the plane went down. Carrying their unconscious comrade between them, the three men swam to the rafts and were shortly rescued.

Lt. Guinzburg attended the Fieldstone School in Westchester and is a graduate of Wisconsin University. Before his overseas assignment, he was on anti-submarine patrol here. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Guinzburg.

Complete citation of Lt. Ralph Victor Guinzburg, Jr.

Through the Commanding Officer:

“1. As a result of enemy anti- aircraft fire on a mission over Germany on July 30. 1943, the airplane on which you were the navigator was seriously damaged. Three engines, the oxygen system, and the hydraulic system were rendered unopperative. After making a forced landing in the open sea, the plane began to sink rapidly. Observing, when about to leave the aircraft, that the aerial engineer was missing you searched and found him in the radio room. He was unconscious, his foot pinned by equipment. You brought him through the plane safely into the dinghy. For a few minutes you were securely in the dinghy when the stabilizer of the sinking aircraft brushed by causing another member of the crew to jump into the water. Though physically weakened by injuries, you, with unfailing determination, paddled to him and helped him to climb into the boat. You are commended for extraordinary courage.

“2. A copy of this commendation will be filed in your official file and made a part of your next efficiency report.”

ALFRED A. KESSLER. Jr.
Colonel Air Corps, Commanding.

“1. I desire to add my commendation to the above for your extreme coolness and courage in your action during the damaging of your airplane.

“You have been an inspiration to the entire command.”

JOHN K. GERHEART
Colonel Air Corps, Commanding.

“1. Your actions under duress reflect the spirit which we like to consider symbolic of Americanism.

“2. My heartiest congratulations.”

DAVID T. MACKNIGHT
Major Air Corps, Commanding.

Likewise, the story was reported upon in the New York City-based German refugee newspaper Aufbau, on September 24, 1943, in an unsigned article that oddly was in English, not German. (? – !)

More Medals for Guinzberg

The navigator of a Flying Fortress returning home from a bombing mission over Europe made an entry in the plane’s log. “Ack-ack inaccurate,” he wrote, “low and to the left.” It was the last sentence in that log. A few minutes later the Fortress was struck three times. The navigator suffered a shrapnel wound in the ankle. Five of the crew bailed out as the plane began to lose altitude at the rate of 1,000 feet a minute. The navigator and three officers remained in the plane. They tried to get the B-17 back to the English coast.

Seven miles from the coast of Britain the Fortress crashed. It plunged into the sea, and in the rush of its downward flight one man was knocked unconscious and the navigator was hurled violently against the roof of the ship. There was a deep cut on his forehead, but he was still conscious.

The Fortress was beginning to sink. The navigator stayed inside. He did not leave until he had helped push the unconscious man through the hatch, while the third man helped from the outside.

By this time the plane’s automatically inflated life-rafts were already floating on the water. Carrying their unconscious comrade between them, the three men swam to the rafts and were shortly rescued.

The navigator who stayed in that sinking Fortress to save a fellow-officer is a 27-year old New Yorker named Lt. Ralph Victor Guinzberg. He has been awarded the Purple Heart and was recommended for the Silver Star for his heroism on that mission. The incident took place in July.

Lt. Guinzberg, who holds the Air Medal for an earlier exploit, is the nephew of Ralph Guinzberg of the Jewish Welfare Board’s Greater New York Committee. He is the grandson of Mrs. Henrietta Kleinert Guinzberg, of Westchester, who founded the Red Cross Chapter of Westchester more than a quarter of a century ago.

Lt. Guinzberg attended the Fieldston School in Westchester and is a graduate of Wisconsin University.

On September 7, 1943, Lt. Guinzberg was wounded in the leg by flak while flying aboard B-17F 42-30233 (“QW * X”, “Rhapsody in Flak”) with the 412th Bomb Squadron, during a mission to Watten, France. (By definition there’s no MACR for this incident.) The plane was piloted by Lt. Edmund L. Barraclough. The image below, dated September 24, 1943 (coincidentally the same date as the above Aufbau article) shows his receipt of an award (I’m not sure which). Note that he’s using a cane to support himself.

Lt. Guinzberg’s last mission: The incident is covered in MACR 1560 (extremely poor reproduction by Fold3…) and recorded in the very “early” Luftgaukommando Report KU 462 (probably destroyed or lost, as it never became part of NARA’s holdings).

He was killed during the Bremen mission while aboard B-17F 42-6039 (“BG * H“, “Blondie III“) piloted by 1 Lt. Leslie B. Palmer. The bomber was last seen in the vicinity of Bremen, losing speed but under control, but there were no specific witnesses to Blondie III’s loss, or at least none whose names appeared in MACR 1560.

Postwar Casualty Questionnaires revealed that shortly after Lt. Guinzberg informed the crew, via intercom, that their plane had entered Germany territory, it (and presumably, other 95th Bomb Group B-17s) was attacked by Me-109s. Immediately after, Lt. Guinzberg was killed by enemy fire – the crew’s sole casualty – and the plane sustained such damage that they was forced to parachute. All did so successfully, with the crew landing and being captured in the vicinity of Oldenburg. According to David Osborne’s “B-17 Master Log”, the aircraft crashed at Aumhle Bosel, four miles southeast of Friesoythe. Blondie III was the only 95th Bomb Group aircraft lost that day.

Lt. Guinzberg received the Air Medal, 4 Oak Leaf Cluster, Soldier’s Medal, and Purple Heart. He completed between 14 and 17 missions. He is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery, at Neupre, Belgium. (Plot B, Row 25, Grave 2)

Lt. Ralph Guiznberg’s name appears in the following sources:

War Department Casualty Lists 10/10/43, 1/1/44
The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon) 8/27/43, 2/9/44, 1/17/45
New Castle Tribune (N.Y.) 8/27/43
Aufbau 9/24/43
American Jews in World War II – 338

Weider, Norman L., 1 Lt., 0-795530, Co-Pilot, Air Medal, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, 15 missions
548th Bomb Squadron, 385th Bomb Group
B-17G 42-37874, WHO DAT – DING BAT ”, Pilot: 1 Lt. William Lawrence Swope, 10 crewmen – no survivors MACR 1532
Born 12/24/19
Mrs. May Weider (mother), 107-55 123rd St., Richmond Hill, N.Y.
2 Lt. Arthur Weider (brother)
Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England
Casualty List 1/1/44
Brooklyn Eagle 12/31/43
Long Island Daily Press 1/16/43, 12/31/43
The Record (Richmond Hill) 11/4/43
American Jews in World War II– 466

The photo below was published in the Long Island Daily Press on January, 16, 1943. Caption? “The war has brought these youths together at Moody Field, Tx. The boys – on their way to commissions as second lieutenants in the Air Force – are, left to right, Gerard T. Soper of 152-50 129th Street, Ozone Park Norman L. Weider of 107-55 123rd Street, Richmond Hill, and Henry L. Timmermans of 50-24 214th Street, Bayside.” A review of various databases (WW II Memorial, NARA, Fold3, etc.) reveals that Soper and Timmerman – assuming they eventually served in combat – survived the war, and were never POWs.

A little over a month before the November 29 mission, Lt. Swope’s crew posed in front of B-17F 42-30094 “Belle of the Blue” at Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England, for a photo that would become Army Air Force image C-59116AC / A9135. Caption?: 𔄙st Lt. W.L. Swope’s crew of the 548th Squadron of the 385th Bomb Group based in England, standing by their B-17 Flying Fortress. 22 October 1943.”

The four officers in the front row have been identified by Fold3 researcher Patootie63 as:

Far Left: 2 Lt. Robert Charles H. Prolow, navigator
2nd from left: Lt. Weider
3rd from left: Lt. Swope
Far right: 2 Lt. Douglas H. Baker, bombardier

The six crew members in the rear, albeit without names correlated to faces, are probably:

T/Sgt. Stanley Robinson – Flight Engineer
S/Sgt. Richard E. Street – Radio Operator
S/Sgt. James W. Harbison – Gunner (Ball Turret)
S/Sgt. Francis J. Magner – Gunner (Tail)
S/Sgt. Earl R. Robinson – Gunner (Left Waist)
S/Sgt. Elmer J. Congdon – Gunner (Right Waist)

Nearly one month later, the December 31, 1943, issue of the Brooklyn Eagle, in its daily back page column “With Our Fighters”, reported that Norman and his brother Arthur spent Thanksgiving together at Great Ashfield. The brief news item closes with Arthur’s hope that, “But he [Norman] was positive he’d get back home, and I’m pretty confident myself that he’s safe somewhere.”

Old Newspapers Old Newspapers

BROTHER MET WEIDER BEFORE LAST FLIGHT

Second Lt. Arthur Weider, a navigator in the ferry command, delivered a B-17 to Scotland last November. While there he visited his brother, 1st Lt. Norman L. Weider, a pilot and flight commander in the A.A.F. at an air base near London.

They spent the 24th and 25th together and then Arthur returned home. On November 29 Norman went on his 15th mission and didn’t return.

“I phoned him long distance on the 27th,” Arthur said today – he’s home for a few days. “At that time he was out on the Bremen raid. The next day was a raid on Berlin and since that date he has been listed as missing.

“But he was positive he’d get back home, and I’m pretty confident myself that he’s safe somewhere.”

The 24-year-old pilot enlisted the day Germany declared war on the United States and has been in England since last August.

The Weiders live at 107-55 123rd St., Richmond Hill.

The below image of Lt. Weider, contributed by researcher “Anonymous“, is from his FindAGrave biographical profile. The original source of the clipping is unknown, but given is halftone printing, it’s probably from a newspaper.

As reported in Missing Air Crew Report 1532, three witnesses reported seeing WHO DAT – DING BAT drop out of the 385th Bomb Group’s formation over the Zuider Zee, with Lt. Swope or S/Sgt. Street radioing that the aircraft had only 30 minutes of fuel remaining and they would try to reach England. Last observed descending into clouds near “Tessel” (Texel) Island, Holland, the plane was never seen again.

Sixteen days later, on December 15, police at Whit Stable, Kent County, England, discovered the bodies of two men on the Whit Stable Bay mud flats. S/Sgt. Congdon, the plane’s right waist gunner, was found within one of the bomber’s two 5-man life-rafts, while 200 yards away was found the body of 2 Lt. Prolow, the plane’s navigator. According to the Squadron Flight Surgeon, indirectly quoted in MACR 1532, both men had survived until approximately December 14.

Lt. Prolow is buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery in Coton, England, while S/Sgt. Congdon is buried at Beaverdale Memorial Park, in New Haven, Ct. Notably, the date on both men’s tombstones is actually November 29, the date when WHO DAT – DING BAT was actually lost, suggesting a discrepancy in records, or, an error in the account as presented in the Missing Air Crew Report.

AC 2C Charles Goldberg and Gunner Abraham Yudkin

Died or Murdered While Prisoners of War

While researching records in Henry Morris’ We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945, I came across the name of Gunner Abraham Yudkin, who served in the Royal Artillery and who the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records as having been killed on November 29, 1943. Further research at the CWGC database for that calendar date yields a record for Aircraftman Second Class Charles Goldberg, whose name is absent from Morris’ book. As well, neither man’s name ever appeared in any wartime issue of The Jewish Chronicle. Biographical information about the men follows…

Goldberg, Charles, AC 2C, 1061437, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Mrs. Shirley Goldberg (wife), Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Mr. and Mrs. Louis and Cissie Goldberg (parents)
Singapore Memorial, Singapore – Column 429
We Will Remember Them – Not Listed

Yudkin, Abraham, Gunner, 1819219, England, Royal Artillery
2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 48th Battery
Born 1914
Mrs. Frances Yudkin (wife), Hackney, London, England
Mr. and Mrs. Sam and Anne Yudkin (parents)
Singapore Memorial, Singapore – Column 34
We Will Remember Them – An Addendum – 23

The date of “November 29, 1943” and commonality of the Singapore Memorial somehow seemed to link the two, and a web search (the mens’ serial numbers were the “key” here) revealed their story: They were both prisoners of war of the Japanese, and among the 548 British and Dutch POWs aboard the Japanese army cargo ship SS Suez Maru. I don’t know when they were captured, but given the place of their commemoration – the Singapore Memorial – perhaps they were taken captive on or about February 15, 1942, during the fall of Singapore.

As for the Suez Maru? On November 29, 1943, the Surabaya-bound ship was sunk by a torpedo attack from the submarine USS Bonefish, while 50 miles northeast of Kangean Island, north of Bali. Whether Goldberg and Yudkin (let alone any of the other 547 POWs, on a specific name basis) survived the vessel’s immediate sinking, or not, will never be known among men. But in any event, what transpired soon after has become known as the “Suez Maru Massacre”, and in some ways parallels and is representative of the horrors that befell American POWs aboard what are now known as the “Hell Ships” later in the war.

As described by Jan Lettens at WreckSite, Suez Maru Massacre, “Unbeknown to the submariners [of the USS Bonefish] , Suez Maru had on board 415 British and 133 Dutch POWs. 69 Japanese were killed in action.

“Escorting Japanese minesweeper W-12 rescued some 200 Japanese and Korean survivors. Only after the war, the fate of the POWs was revealed: Kawano Usumu, commander of W-12 had instructed his gunners to kill all (200 – 250) survivors.

“At 14:15, the massacre began the Japanese fired with their machine guns from a distance of 50 meters and continued until the sea around turned red with blood. More than 2 hours later, at 16:30, the W-12 moved away from the scene, having carefully verified that all were killed.”

1. The W-12 was torpedoed and sunk on April 6th, 1945 by submarine USS Besugo (SS-321).

2. After the completion of the Japanese War Crimes Trials, no further action was taken to indict Kawano Usumu, Commander of Minesweeper W-12, for the killing of Allied Prisoners of War, neither Lt. Koshio for carrying out the orders on the Suez Maru.

Lasky, Isaac, Pvt., 7368048, Royal Army Medical Corps
Born 1918
Mr. and Mrs. Abram and Lily Lasky (parents), Sheffield, England
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 4,E,3
We Will Remember Them – 116

Levin, Sam, Pvt., 187618, South African Medical Corps, Technical Service Corps
(wife), at 161 Jules St., Belgravia, Johannesburg, South Africa
Alamein Memorial, Egypt – Column 146
South African Jewish Times 1/15/43, 9/7/45
South African Jews in World War Two – xii
Previously MIA, @ 1/1/43 – Presumably escaped from captivity, or, evaded capture

Babahikian, Setrack Haji, Driver, PAL/31428, Royal Army Service Corps
Heliopolis War Cemetery, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt – 5,P,13
We Will Remember Them – An Addendum – 42

United States Army Air Force

Breslau, Morton David, 2 Lt., 0-673470, Navigator
548th Bomb Squadron, 385th Bomb Group
POW, Stalag Luft I, North Compound I
B-17F 42-30204, “GX * H”, “Gremlin’s Buggy”, Pilot: 1 Lt. Richard Yoder, 10 crewmen – 5 survivors MACR 1581, Luftgaukommando Report KU 465
Born July 22, 1916
Mrs. Bertha Breslau (mother), 2503 (2305?) University Ave., New York, N.Y.
Casualty Lists 1/7/44, 2/5/44
Returned POW List 6/16/45
Syracuse Herald-Journal 10/5/43
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

While my prior series of posts, concerning Major Milton Joel, focused on P-38 Lightning losses incurred by the 8th Air Force on November 29, 1943, the 8th Air Force actually lost a total of 16 fighters (seven P-38Hs and nine P-47Ds) that day. From this group of pilots there were seven survivors, among whom was Second Lieutenant Charles K. Hecht, Jr. (0-795955), a member of the 358th Fighter Squadron of the 355th Fighter Group. Flying p-47D 42-8631 (the un-nicknamed “YF * U“), he crash-landed in Holland, and was captured, spending the rest of the war in Stalag Luft I (Barth), specifically in the POW camp’s South Compound. He was awarded the Air Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster. Born on September 20, 1918, he was the son of Charles K. Hecht, Sr., and Sadie (Berg) Hecht), and resided at 1202 Cedar Avenue, in Columbus Georgia. He passed away on July 18, 2001.

Some years ago – specifica lly, in 1994 – I h ad the good fortune of interviewing Mr. Hecht about his wartime experiences. His words provide an interesting counterpoint to those of William S. Lyons, who served in the 357th Fighter Squadron of the 355th. You can listen to Mr. Hecht’s recollections and comments below, a “breakdown” of the topics discussed being listed below the sound-bar.

0:00 – 1:54: Entering the United States Army Air Force, from being an enlisted man in the Army ground forces.
1:55 – 2:46: Pilot training.
2:46 – 3:50: Becoming a fighter pilot, and, being assigned to the 355th Fighter Group.

3:51 – 5:18: The death of his brother, Major Morris Hecht, commander of 67th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force. The two news items below, from November 5, 1943 about Major Hecht’s death, and, from January 28, 1944, about Charles’ MIA status, are from The Southern Israelite.

5:18 – 6:17: Service in the 358th Fighter Squadron movement to England aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. (At 5:40: “A cabin for two, and fourteen of us in it.”)
6:17 – 6:57: Arrival and experiences in England.
6:57 – 7:25: Thoughts about implications of being captured and identified as a Jew. (He didn’t think about it!)
7:25 – 8:30: Flying the P-47 flying combat missions.
8:30 – 10:30: Mission of November 29, 1943 possibly having shot down an “Me-210” (9:36). (Given the service history of the Me-210, the aircraft encountered was almost certainly an Me-410.)
10:30 – 11:40: Crash-landing in Holland. His wingman was probably 2 Lt. Richard Peery in 42-22484 (“YF * L“), who also survived.
11:40 – 12:23: Being captured.
12:23 – 13:05: During his interrogation, was there a focus upon his being a Jew? – (Answer: No.)
13:05 – 13:30: Arriving at Stalag Luft I (Barth). Comments about Captain Mozart Kaufman (494th FS, 48th FG, 9th AF).

13:30 – 14:02: POWs remembered from Barth:

“Willie Yee” from Hawaii: 2 Lt. Wilbert Y.K. Yee, 0-735224, Bombardier, 546th Bomb Squadron, 384th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, B-17F, 42-24507, Pilot: 2 Lt. James E. Armstrong, “JD * B”, “Yankee Raider”, MACR 772

“Wally Moses” (?) (Probably “Mo” Moses, from Vidalia, Ga.)

Other members of 358th Fighter Squadron remembered from Barth

“Kossack”:Capt. Walter H. Kossack (POW 11/7/43, P-47D 42-8477, “YF * X”, MACR 1282)

“Roach”: (2 Lt. William E. Roach (POW 11/7/43, P-47D 42-22490, “ YF * U”, “Beetle” (In Luftwaffe service as “7 + 9” ), MACR 1281)

“Carver”: 1 Lt. Harold I. Carver (POW 3/16/44, P-51B 43-6527, “YF * J”, “Indiana Clipper”, MACR 3391)

14:02 – 14:35: Activities at Barth.
14:36 – 15:10: Segregation of Jewish POWs.
15:10 – 15:47: Liberation.
15:47 – 15:55: Did he keep a diary?
16:10 – 17:08: Return to United States and home at Columbus, Georgia.
17:10 – 17:26: Other aspects of his interrogation.
17:26 – 17:55: Memories of other Jewish aviators.
17:55 – 18:10: Service In Air Force Reserve.
18:11 – 18:40: Return visit to Steeple Morden in early 1990s.

18:40 – 19:26: Other Jewish POWs remembered from Barth:

Capt. Leon Bernard Margolian, 0-420749, Fighter Pilot, 65th FS, 57th FG, 12th Air Force, POW 12/10/42, Shot down during dogfight with Me-109s at “Marble Arch” (near Ra’s Lanuf – a town on the Gulf of Sidra), Libya, while piloting P-40F (“Tiger Lil“, “5 * 4”?). Wounded during the incident.

The image below, a portrait of Captain Margolian from his POW diary, was sketched by “ Smedley “. A review of various databases and websites reveals that “ Smedley ” was in all probability Captain Arthur A. Smedley, Jr., of either the 96th Fighter Squadron or Headquarters Squadron of the 82nd Fighter Group. He was captured on January 30, 1943.

This image, also from Captain Margolian’s diary, shows a sketch of “Tiger Lil” – “5 * 4“. The artwork is by “ Llewellyn “, who was probably Captain Raymond A. Llewellyn, of the 66th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group, captured on November 1, 1943.

And, Captain Margolian’s POW “mug shot”…

2 Lt. Milton Plattner, 0-736650, Navigator, 20th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, POW 12/19/43, B-17F 42-5427, Pilot: 2 Lt. John C. Williams, MACR 1530, 10 crew members – 8 survivors Luftgaukommando Report ME 572

The video below, from Andy Kapeller’s YouTube channel Andrea ́s-living-history-hautnah, entitled � Weerberg Nurpensalm“, shows the remnants of 42-5427 as they appeared four years ago (and probably still do today?). The video description is: “Wandern am Weerberg zur Alpe Obernurpens. Wrackteile an der Absturzstelle des amerikanischen Bombers B-17F Flying-Fortress (Nr. 42-5427) der 2nd Bomb Group, 20th Bomb Squadron der 15th USAAF aus Amendola (Italien) kommend, welche am 19.Dezember 1943 um ca. 12 Uhr dort zerschellte.”

Translation? “Hiking on the Weerberg to the Alpe Obernurpens. Wreckage at the crash site of the American B-17F Flying Fortress bomber (No. 42-5427) of the 2nd Bomb Group, 20th Bomb Squadron of the 15th USAAF, coming from Amendola (Italy), which crashed there on December 19, 1943 at around 12 noon.”

Though most of the debris is unrecognizable, from 2:50 to 3:00, Mr. Kapeller’s camera focuses upon an intact remnant of the plane: A cylindrical ring with protrusions. This object is an exhaust manifold assembly from one of the bomber’s four Wright Cyclone engines. A clearer view of the varied designs of exhaust manifolds for a B-17’s engines (notice that the design of the manifold differs depending upon the location – positions “one” through “four” – of the plane’s engines) appears in the illustration below, from the Illustrated Parts Breakdown for the B-17G (USAF TO 1B-17G-4).

2 Lt. Arthur A. “Red” Carmel, 0-668893, Bombardier, 407th Bomb Squadron, 92nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, 11/16/43, B-17F 42-29996, “PY * R“, “Flagship“, Pilot: 2 Lt. Joseph F. Thornton, MACR 1384, 10 crew members – all survived Luftgaukommando Report KU 429

2 Lt. Milton Julius Caplan, 0-683250, Navigator, 511th Bomb Squadron, 351st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, 1/30/44, B-17G 42-3509, “DS * Z“, “Crystal Ball“, Pilot: 1 Lt. Charles E. Robertson, “DS * Z”, “Crystal Ball”, MACR 2262, 10 crew members – 9 survivors Luftgaukommando Report KU 771

2 Lt. Isaac Sackman Marx, 0-735623, Bomber Pilot, 578th Bomb Squadron, 392nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, 11/13/43, B-24H 42-7483, “R-“, “Big Dog”, MACR 1553, 10 crew members – all survived Luftgaukommando Report KU 414

9th Air Force: A B-26 Returned – Two Crewmen Did Not

Among the over 16,000 Missing Air Crew Reports filed for WW II-era USAAF combat or operational losses at least 235 for aircraft which were not actually lost, and either returned to their own base of origin, or, returned to “other” air bases in England, Western Europe, the Mediterranean Theater, the Pacific, or Asia. MACRs in such circumstances – all for multi-place aircraft, typically bombersand in one case each, a P-61 and C-47 – generally pertain to incidents during which one or more aviators parachuted from their aircraft due to their immediate (very immediate!) perception and belief that the plane was about to crash, battle damage, loss of control by pilots, (very) sudden mechanical failure or fire, severe injury or wounds, bad weather, or, some some combination of these factors.

One such incident is epitomized in MACR 16096, a high-numbered post-war “fill-in” MACR pertaining to an incident that occurred on November 29, 1943. This involved to Martin B-26B Marauder 41-31679 – “Itsy Bitsy” / “FW * K” – of the 556th Bomb Squadron of the 387th Bomb Group, piloted by Major Walter J. Ives. (The MACR lists two serials for the aircraft: 41-31679 and 41-31697, but the correct number is the former, as 41-31697 was “Duck Butt” / “TQ * R“.) Two of the plane’s crewmen, co-pilot 1 Lt. Jess A. Watson, and flight engineer S/Sgt. Curtis L. Christley bailed out over the English Channel (at 50-14 N, 00-40 E a little over half-way between Eastbourne, England and Dieppe, France – see the Oogle map below) when the bomber’s controls became frozen by ice and the plane appeared to go out of control. However, Major Ives managed to regain control of the plane, to land at an RAF Spitfire base with his four other crewmen. After refueling, he flew back to the 387th’s base at Chipping Ongar.

Lt. Watson and S/Sgt. Christley were never seen again.

MACR 16096 covers the incident in detail, and includes statements by T/Sgt. Andrew Smerek, the radio operator, and S/Sgt. Martin S. Cohen, the bomber’s tail gunner. These statements, both written nearly two years after the incident, convey the nature of the event in vivid and frightening clarity.

Here’s S/Sgt. Cohen’s statement:

3831 Pennsgrove Street
Philadelphia 4, Pa.
September 5, 1945

N.W. Reed, Major, Air Corps
Chief, Notification Section
Personal Affairs Branch
AC/AS-1

This is in reply to your letter of August 31, AFPPA-8-JH, concerning Staff Sergeant Curtis L. Christley, 33154439. As you had stated, I was the tail gunner of the air crew of which Sergeant Christley was engineer on November 29, 1943. According to your request the following is a report to the best of my knowledge of the circumstances concerning the mission:

We were flying lead ship for the group piloted by Major Walter Ives. The weather was very bad that day. As I remember many of us remarked that it was much too bad for flying. However, we took off, anyway.

We flew over a rather wide part of the Channel. As it was later estimated, about twenty miles from the French coast we received a recall from Wing. When we turned around I sat by the waist windows. The pilot tried to climb through the overcast which was very thick. When we reached approximately 16,000 feet (This was the approximate height at the time of the incident estimated upon our return.) the plane iced up and went out of control. I did not have my head-set on, so I could not say what conversation followed. However, I noticed the bomb-bay doors opening, and the bombs were salvoed.

My parachute was in back of me and upon seeing this I turned around to get it. When I looked forward again someone was standing on the catwalk, whom I later found out to have been our navigator. By this time we were about 10,000 feet, and the ship seemed to be under control. We were under the overcast as I could see the Channel.

Between the time that we were given the word to return and the time of the incident, the remainder of the ships in our group had left us. About a half hour later I went up front and found out that Lt. Watson, our acting co-pilot and Sgt. Christley, the engineer, had bailed out. This was done while my back was turned looking for my parachute, so that I did not see them jump.

As we neared the English coast two Spitfires, which were flying around, motioned for us to follow them, and we landed at their base. Major Ives called our field and reported the incident. Then we gassed up and left for our home field.

I would appreciate your advising me of any information concerning Lt. Watson and Sgt. Christley. I trust that this account will be of some help.

And, here’s T/Sgt. Smerek’s statement:

Sept. 9, 1945
In Regard to AFPPA-8-JH

A few days ago I received a letter in regard to a mission in which I participated on Nov 29, 1943, and asking me to give information about S/Sgt. Curtis L. Christley, who was engineer gunner on the same plane. It’s been a long time and I don’t remember very clearly just what happened. But here it is – as much as I remember.

We were flying lead ship in a formation of 18 planes. Major Ives was the pilot and my regular pilot Lt. Jesse Watson was flying as co-pilot because they were breaking him in as flight leader. Christley was the engineer and the other members of the crew were Lt. Neal bombardier Lt. Arthur Newett navigator and Sgt. Martin Cohen as tail gunner.

We hit some bad weather over the Channel and it kept getting worse. We kept on climbing to get over the bad stuff and then I got the message over the radio that we were recalled back to our base. I called Maj Ives on interphone and he acknowledged. He gave the message to the rest of the formation and we started back. There was plenty of ice on the windows at this time and I noticed the altimeter as being over 15,000 ft. Then Maj Ives yelled over the inter phone to bail out. At that time I noticed the bomb bay doors opening and the bombs being salvoed. Lt Watson pulled his co pilot seat back and all in the same motion went through the radio room and jumped out the bomb bay. Sgt. Christley watched him go by and promptly put his chute on and followed him out.

I was busy sending out an S.O.S. and giving Lt. Neal a hand in fastening his individual dinghy to his ‘chute harness. Lt Newett sat on the door between the radio room and the bomb bay and wasn’t sure whether he wanted to go or not. At about that time Lt. Neal was motioned up front by the pilot and Maj Ives evidently had the plane under control again for no one else left the plane. It all happened just that quickly. When I noticed the altimeter again it read 700 feet.

I immediately contacted Air Sea Rescue and sent my message in the clear telling them that two men had bailed out and giving them the approximate position which I received from the navigator. I kept in constant contact with them until we landed at some base – which incidentally they directed us to.

That’s just about all that happened. I saw Christley and Watson go and I wasn’t too eager to go until I had to! I was questioned about this same matter when I was in France last November. I hope I have managed to help you in some small way. I never did hear anything about either one of the men and was hoping to hear that they were prisoners of war. I’d be glad to hear from you if you decide on anything definite.

The photo below (discovered via Pinterest, and then flickr) shows Captain Thomas H. Wakeman, Jr., and his crew standing before B-26B Marauder “Lil Grim Reaper” (or, “Underground Farmer“) / “KX * K” (42-31640) of the 387th Bomb Group’s 558th Bomb Squadron. The plane was lost in an accident on June 8, 1944.

Captain Wakeman
2nd Lt. William N. Schreiber – Co-Pilot
1st Lt. Kenneth A. Omstead – Navigator / Bombardier
S/Sgt. Ferdinand P. Brabner, Jr. – Flight Engineer / Gunner
S/Sgt. Paul M. Tarrant – Radio Operator / Gunner
Martin S. Cohen – Tail Gunner (At the time, listed as a PFC)

Born on June 7, 1922, S/Sgt. Martin S. Cohen (13098524) survived the war. He as awarded the Air Medal, 11 Oak Leaf Clusters (thus implying between fifty-five and sixty missions), and Purple Heart.

The son of Harry T. Cohen, he was born on June 7, 1922, and lived 3831 Pennsgrove Street in Philadelphia. During the war, his name appeared in both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Record, on November 18, 1943. His name can also be found on page 516 of American Jews in World War II. He passed away on February 4, 2006.

Dublin, Louis I., and Kohs, Samuel C., American Jews in World War II – The Story of 550,000 Fighters for Freedom, The Dial Press, New York, N.Y., 1947

Morris, Henry, Edited by Gerald Smith, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945, Brassey’s, United Kingdom, London, 1989

Morris, Henry, Edited by Hilary Halter, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945 – An Addendum, AJEX, United Kingdom, London, 1994

South African Jews in World War Two, Eagle Press, South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1950


9 November 1943 - History


Propaganda was central to National Socialist Germany. This page is a collection of English translations of Nazi propaganda for the period 1933-1945, part of a larger site on German propaganda. The goal is to help people understand the great totalitarian systems of the twentieth century by giving them access to primary material. The archive is substantial. If you are looking for something specific, try the search function. For further information on the German Propaganda Archive, see the FAQ .

My book Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic(Michigan State University Press, 2004) provides an analysis of much of the material on the German Propaganda Archive. The hardcover edition is out of print, but the paperback edition remains available. My most recent book is Landmark Speeches of National Socialism (Texas A&M University Press). It is available in hardcover and paperback editions.


The Online Teacher Resource Pack is designed to accompany the Student Book and is available as an online subscription.

Contains: lesson plans, worksheets, exam practice papers and exam sample answers with commentary.

Assessment

These resources have been written to support the Pearson Edexcel International GCSE (9–1) specification, a linear qualification which consists of examinations at the end of the course of study for History.

Provides a solid basis for students wishing to progress to Pearson Edexcel AS and Advanced GCE Level, International Advanced Level or equivalent qualifications.


Coventry: What Really Happened

Although Finest Hour has covered this subject before we asked Sir Martin for his own rendition based on his most recent research.

On the night of 14 November 1940, three hundred German bombers dropped 500 tons of explosives, 33,000 incendiary bombs and dozens of parachute mines on the industrial city of Coventry. During the raid, 507 civilians were killed and 420 seriously injured.[1]

A play at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, One Night In November, repeated the frequently made claim that Winston Churchill knew of the attack several days in advance, but that he held back the information to protect the most important secret of the war: the breaking of the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park. In the words of the press publicity: “… the play examines the idea that Winston Churchill had advance warning of the attack. Was Coventry sacrificed for the greater good? Or to provoke America into the war?”[2]

The truth about the bombing of Coventry is very different. On 12 November 1940, Enigma decrypts made it clear that a major German bombing raid was imminent. Its code name, Moonlight Sonata, had been read in the decrypts. But the decrypts gave no clue as to the destination of the German bombers.

The Air Intelligence report that Churchill received on 12 November gave, on the basis of the latest intelligence, five possible targets: Central London, Greater London, the Thames Valley, or the Kent or Essex coasts.[3]

A German pilot who had been shot down on November 9th had, under interrogation, suggested that two cities—Coventry and Birmingham—would both be attacked in a “colossal raid” between 15 and 20 November but the senior Air Intelligence Liaison officer at Bletchley, Squadron Leader Humphreys, noted, in contrast to this, that there was “pretty definite information that the attack is to be against London and the Home Counties.”

The Intelligence analysts at Bletchley considered the German pilot’s information “doubtful,” as it was earlier than the information available to Squadron Leader Humphreys.[4]

Churchill was sent a summary of these reports on the morning of 14 November he read them just after midday, on his return from Neville Chamberlain’s funeral. The summary informed him that whatever the target, the usual counter-measures had been prepared since early that morning, and would be activated as soon as the precise target was known.

In the Air Ministry summary, Churchill read that the target area would be “probably in the vicinity of London.” If, however, “further information were to indicate Coventry, Birmingham or elsewhere,” it was hoped that the standard “Cold Water” instructions for counter-measures could be got out in time.[5] These were instructions to rush fire engines and civil defence personnel to the area indicated from all the surrounding towns in a wide arc.

That afternoon, Churchill prepared to leave Downing Street by car to spend the weekend at Ditchley Park, northwest of Oxford. As his car prepared to leave, John Martin, his Principal Private Secretary, handed him a top-secret message in a locked box. As the car reached the Albert Memorial, Churchill read the message. It was the latest intelligence from Brigadier Menzies—”C”—head of the Secret Intelligence Services. Churchill immediately told his driver to return to Downing Street, explaining to Martin that he was not going to spend the night peacefully in the country while the capital was “under heavy attack.”[6]

That there would be an attack was known, Churchill’s Junior Private Secretary Jock Colville noted in his diary that night, “from the contents of those mysterious buff boxes, which the PM alone opens, sent every day by Brigadier Menzies.” Colville did not know the contents all he knew was that, of that particular night’s raid, “its exact destination the Air Ministry say they find it difficult to determine.”[7]

Early that evening Churchill waited at Downing Street for the expected attack on London, sending the two duty private secretaries that evening, John Colville and John Peck, to the underground shelter at the disused Down Street underground railway station on the Piccadilly Line, telling them: “You are too young to die.”[8] He also gave instructions for the “Garden Room Girls”—the typists at 10 Downing Street—to be sent home.[9]

Churchill then went to the underground Central War Rooms (now known as the Churchill War Rooms), but, as Colville noted in his diary that night, “became so impatient that he spent most of the time on the Air Ministry roof waiting for Moonlight Sonata to begin.” [10] Over London, it never did begin.

The moment that German radio beams made it clear that Coventry was the target, the Air Ministry ordered eight British bombers to bomb the aerodromes—south of Cherbourg—from which the attackers were expected to take off. A continuous fighter patrol was maintained over Coventry itself, and the “Cold Water” defence preparations were activated.[11] These brought fire engines and civil defence personnel unto Coventry from a wide area around.

The defences of Coventry had recently been strengthened. Following a German air raid on 2 November—the sixteenth on Coventry in a month—Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour responsible for factory production, had complained to Churchill about the poor state of the city’s protection.[12] In response, Churchill had given instructions on November 7 to strengthen Coventry’s anti-aircraft defences.[13] These instructions had been carried out. Around Coventry on the night of 14 November were five times as many anti-aircraft guns per head of the population as there were around London, and one hundred British fighters were airborne.[14] But that could not save the city from the firestorm created by the incendiary bombs.

On 12 November, Enigma had revealed a raid in prospect, but not the target. At the moment on 14 November when the German radio directional beams revealed the target, all possible counter measures had been taken without delay.

[1] A larger number of civilians – 545 – had been killed in the Coventry-Birmingham area in the previous month. The number of dead in London for that same month was 5,090. (Premier papers, 3/108, folios 39-43).

[2] ‘The Belgrade Theatre presents One Night in November by Alan Pollock’: www.belgrade.co.uk/site/scripts/show_details.php?showID=223

[3] A1 1(W). Memorandum to Directorate of Home Operations, 12 November 1940: Air Ministry papers, 2/5238.

[4] A1 1(W). Memorandum to Director of Air Intelligence, 12 November 1940: Air Ministry papers, 2/5238.

[5] Air Staff summary, 14 November 1940: Air Ministry papers, 2/5238.

[6] Sir John Martin, letter to The Times, 26 August 1976, published 28 August 1976.

[7] John Colville diary, 14 November 1940.

[8] John Colville diary, 14 November 1940.

[9] Sir John Martin, private letter, 24 February 1983.

[10] John Colville diary, 14 November 1940.

[11] War Cabinet No. 289 of 1940, 15 November 1940: Cabinet papers, 65/10.

[12] Letter marked “Urgent”. 7 November 1940: Premier papers 3/108, folios 47-8.

[13] “Action this Day”, Prime Minister’s Personal Minute, D114, 8 November 1940: Premier papers, 3/108. Folio 45.

[14] Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of Sate for Air, to Churchill, 15 November 1940: Premier papers, 3/22/3, folio 199.


9 November 1943 - History

The councillors adopted a declaration in Jajce noting that: in the course of the national liberation struggle a new ratio of forces was created and that it had to be reflected appropriately in the administrative and state leadership that the remnants of the hegemonistic policy of greater Serbia were destroyed and that material, political and ethical conditions were created for the future democratic federative brotherhood of Yugoslav nations who wanted their allies to recognise their fight against the occupier and free democratic will that the bodies of national power should be recognised and respected abroad that the Yugoslav "government" abroad should be stripped of the right to represent Yugoslav peoples and that measures should be taken against the king and monarchy in accordance with their attitude towards the national liberation fight they expressed their warm feelings towards the Soviet Union, Great Britain and United States and awe and recognition of the heroic fight and glorious victories of the Red Army and allied forces against the fascist occupier they thanked the allies for their first aid in military material, equipment and food sent to the peoples of Yugoslavia they accepted and welcomed the decisions of the Moscow conference.

After this, conclusions were adopted, serving as the basis for the formulation of decisions. AVNOJ was constituted as the supreme legislative and executive representative body, as the supreme representative of the sovereignty of the people and the state of Yugoslavia. It adopted a number of decisions, three of them of constituent character: Decision on the Supreme National Legislative and Executive Representative Body of Yugoslavia and National Liberation Committee of Yugoslavia as the provisional bodies of the supreme people's power in Yugoslavia during the people's liberation war Decision on stripping the so-called Yugoslav government abroad of the right of legal government, and on banning King Peter II Karadjordjević to return to the country Decision on constructing Yugoslavia on the federative principle.

The supreme state bodies of new Yugoslavia were established under AVNOJ decisions. The Presidency of AVNOJ was elected, made up of the president, five vice presidents, two secretaries and 55 members. The AVNOJ Presidency adopted a decision on the definition of NKOJ as the body bearing all characteristics of a government, through which AVNOJ realised its executive function.

Decisions from the Second AVNOJ Session have constitutional character. Although these decisions suspended the internal continuity with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia because they do not take their strength from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia of 1931, they did not interrupt the international legal continuity of Yugoslavia as a subject of international law. Though monarchy was not abolished, it was "legally suspended."


Mildred D.Taylor

Even though he lived in the North, Taylor’s father never stopped loving the South and the family that remained behind in Mississippi, and throughout Taylor’s childhood, he regularly took his wife and children to visit them. It was during those visits to Mississippi that Taylor learned about family history and storytelling, both of which would, years later, become essential to her writing career.

The telling of family stories was a regular feature of Taylor family gatherings. Family storytellers told about the struggles relatives and friends faced in a racist culture, stories that revealed triumph, pride, and tragedy. The stories inspired Taylor, and she still has a vivid recollection of the storytelling sessions:

I remember my grandparents’ house, the house my great-grandfather had built at the turn of the century, and I remember the adults talking about the past. As they talked I began to visualize all the family who had once known the land, and I felt as if I knew them, too.

Many of the stories told were humorous, some were tragic, but all told of the dignity and survival of a people living in a society that allowed them few rights as citizens and treated them as inferiors. Much history was in those stories, and I never tired of hearing them. There were stories about slavery and the days following slavery. There were stories about family and friends. (“Acceptance of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for The Friendship.” The Horn Book Magazine, March 1989, 179-80)

From these stories, Taylor learned about her great-grandfather, the son of a white plantation owner in Alabama and a slave woman. In the late 1800s, this young man ran away from Alabama to buy land and settle in Mississippi the land he purchased more than 100 years ago is still owned by the Taylor family.

In the 1950s, Taylor attended newly integrated schools in Toledo she graduated from Scott High School in 1961 and from the University of Toledo in 1965. After graduation from college, she joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Ethiopia. When she returned to the United States, she enrolled in the University of Colorado, eventually earning a master’s degree. After she graduated from the University of Colorado, Taylor settled in Los Angeles to pursue her writing career.

Her first book, Song of the Trees, won the Council on Interracial Books for Children Award in 1974 and was published by Dial Books in 1975. Her second novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, won the 1977 Newbery Award from the American Library Association. The Land is the ninth book in her award-winning saga about the Logan family.

All of Mildred D. Taylor’s novels to date are based on stories from her own family, stories she learned at family gatherings throughout her life. In her “Author’s Note” in The Land, she explains that her great-grandfather was the basis for the character Paul-Edward:

In writing The Land, I have followed closely the stories told by my father and others about my great-grandparents. From as far back as I can remember, I had heard stories about my great-grandfather, who bought the family land in Mississippi. Born the children of an African-Indian woman and a white plantation owner during slavery, my great-grandfather and his sister were brought up by both their parents. Their father had three sons by a white wife, and he acknowledged all of his children. He taught his children to read and write and he ordered his white sons to share their school learning with them. All the children sat at their father’s table for meals, and my great-grandfather often went with his father and his brothers on their trips around the community. (369)

Similarly, in her other novels, nearly all the events are based on stories Taylor has heard from her father and other family members nearly all the characters are based on family members or acquaintances she has known or learned about. The Logan family saga, then, is essentially family history for Taylor. The saga begins with Paul-Edward Logan in The Land leaving his family in Georgia in the 1870s and eventually settling in Mississippi where he buys the land that will become the homestead for all the future Logans. The next part of the saga, The Well, is told by David Logan, one of Paul-Edward’s sons. The third book of the saga, Mississippi Bridge, is the only book in the Logan stories not narrated by a member of the Logan family. A white boy, Jeremy Simms, reports a tragedy that he and the Logan children witness in 1931. The fourth book, Song of the Trees, is told from the point of view of a third-generation Logan, Cassie, who narrates the rest of the Logan stories: The Friendship Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Let the Circle Be Unbroken The Road to Memphis and Logan.

The Logan stories closely follow the history of Taylor’s own family, from her great-grandfather’s purchase of land in Mississippi in the 1880s to their move to Ohio in the 1940s. Her last novel planned for the saga, Logan, will take the Logan family from their home in Mississippi to their new home in Ohio. Taylor is currently working on this novel, the final episode in the Logan family saga.

(Article first posted December 2001)

Related Links & Info

The Mildred Taylor Teacher Resource File features links to lesson plans and additional information about the writer.

  • Song of the Trees. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1975.
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry . New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1976.
  • Let the Circle Be Unbroken . New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1981.
  • The Gold Cadillac . New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1987.
  • The Friendship . New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1987.
  • Mississippi Bridge . New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1990.
  • The Road to Memphis. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1990.
  • The Well. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1995.
  • The Land. New York: Phyllis Fogelman Books, 2001.
  • Logan. (tentatively scheduled for 2004).
  • “Acceptance of the Boston-Globe/Horn Book Award for The Friendship.The Horn Book Magazine 65.2 (March/April 1989): 179-182.
  • “ALAN Award Acceptance Speech.” ALAN Breakfast, Detroit Michigan, November 22, 1997.
  • “Growing Up with Stories.” Booklist (December 1, 1990): 740-741.
  • “Mildred D. Taylor.” Something About the Author Autobiography Series. Ed. Adele Sarkissian. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988. 267-286.
  • “Newbery Medal Acceptance.” The Horn Book Magazine 53.4 (August 1977): 401- 409.
  • Crowe, Chris. Presenting Mildred D. Taylor. New York: Twayne, 1999.
  • Fogelman, Phyllis J. “Mildred D. Taylor." The Horn Book Magazine 53.4 (August 1977): 410-414.
  • Harper, Mary Turner. “Merger and Metamorphosis in the Fiction of Mildred D. Taylor.” Children's Literature Association Quarterly 13.1 (1988): 75-80.
  • Kirk, Suzanne Porter. “Mildred Delois Taylor.” Writers for Young Adults, volume 3. Ed. Ted Hipple. New York: Scribner’s, 1997: 273-282.
  • Kutenplon, Deborah and Ellen Olmstead. Young Adult Fiction by African American Writers, 1968-1993. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996.
  • “Meet the Newbery Author: Mildred Taylor.” videocassette. Prod. By Miller-Brody. Dist. By American School Publs. 1991 #004614.
  • “Mildred D. Taylor: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” videocassette. Films for the Humanities and Sciences. 1988, 1991 release. #2800.
  • “Mildred D(elois) Taylor.” Children’s Literature Review. Ed. Gerard J. Senick. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 223-229.
  • “Mildred D(elois) Taylor.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon R. Gunton. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1982. 418-421.
  • Moss, Anita. “Mildred D. Taylor.” Writers of Multicultural Fiction for Young Adults: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook. Ed. Daphne M. Kutzer. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996: 401-413.
  • Rees, David. “The Color of Skin: Mildred Taylor.” The Marble in the Water. Boston: Horn Book, 1980. 104-113.
  • Smith, Karen Patricia. “A Chronicle of Family Honor: Balancing Rage and Triumph in the Novels of Mildred D. Taylor.” African-American Voices in Young Adult Literature: Tradition, Transition, Transformation. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1994: 247-276.
  • Taxel, Joel. “The Black Experience in Children’s Fiction: Controversies Surrounding Award Winning Books.” Curriculum Inquiry 16.3 (1986): 245-281.
  • “Taylor, Mildred D.” Something About the Author, Volume 70. Eds. Donna Olendorf and Diane Telgen. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1993. 222-226.
  • Mildred Taylor Teacher Resource File.
  • Mildred D. Taylor. Bibliography.
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 25th Anniversary Edition. Information about the book from the publisher, Penguin.
  • Score: Roll of Thunder - Teacher Guide.
  • SparkNotes: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
  • Mildred D. Taylor, Mississippi Writer. From the Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project, Starkville High School, Starkville, Mississippi.

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