History of the B-17 #42-106988

Delivered Cheyenne 18/1/44; MacDill 24/1/44; Morrison 6/2/44; Assigned 816BS/483BG Sterparone 9/3/44; transferred 347BS/99BG Tortorella 31/3/44; Missing in Action {11m} Wiener Neustedt 10/5/44 with Bill Waltermire, Co-pilot: Morris Kirdich, Navigator: Irving Baum, Bombardier: Alfred Marshall, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Chas Forrest, Radio Operator: Frank Juergens, Waist gunner: Francis Koltz,Tail gunner: John Humphries, (8 Prisoner of War), Ball turret gunner: Furman King, Waist gunner: Boleslaw Klocek (2 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, #4 knocked out, then two more enemy aircraft, crashed Allhau; 9-10 chutes seen; Missing Air Crew Report 4729.

Details 42-106988

10. May 1944: Shooting of a four-engine bomber over Riedlingsdorf
By Roland Pfeiffer, Leopold Banny and Heinz Bundschuh

The Americans attacks targets in the area Wien and Wiener Neustadt again on 10 May 1944. More than 20 bombers were shot down by the German flak and fighters on this day. One of these bombers, a machine of the type B-17 Flying Fortress, were attacked and damaged German fighters so heavily, that he falls away at the border to Buchschachen at 11.15 hours. The Riedlingsdorfer residents watch the death throes of the American aircraft from the ground. They see solving vague points of the machine like yourself and some float at parachutes to the ground later. How prove later, 8 of the 10 men crew could leave the burning aircraft. Search parties are immediately divided up on the ground whose task to take the bailed out American soldiers to POW.

Walter Zapfel, at that time even 12 years old, belong to the search group which must look for the crew member who has jumped down in the Ried Zeming at the Hotter. They find dragging traces of the parachute on a field and some dig this of the earth later where the American has hidden him provisionally. On her further search they turned out well till into a piece of woodland in Unterschätzen, where they find a farmer married couple. The question if they looked the American, they say no but her fear has to be said for them. They finally dare to betray the near hiding-place of the American to the search bunch anyway. The American is arrested and the men of the search group can make himself clear with him in English. He leads her to the place in the woods where he has buried his pistol in a ground deepening nearby the jump place.

Wilhelm Berk from Riedlingsdorf, at that time 10 years old, can still remember, how another search bunch has arrested an American, who has descended in the woods nearby the Neudörfels. This place is about three kilometers away from the first American, who was taken prisoner by the search groub of Walter Zapfel.Wilhelm Berk well in memory that the American soldier has quaked with fear at the whole body.

Walter Zapfel can still remember that the fuselage of the aircraft has lain neaby the soldier grave at Buchschachen for some time. Wreck parts of an American aircraft can approximately a kilometer west of the soldier grave be found today. These parts are certainly as Roland Pfeiffer from Markt Allhau has found out parts of a B-17 Flying Fortress.

It is thanks also to Roland Pfeiffer and the well-known book author Leopold Banny from Lackenbach that all details on this plane crash are known now. Mr Banny made a copy of the MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) which serves as a basis for the following statements available: The aircraft shot down is a B-17G with the serial number 42-106988 and 99th Bomb Group, 348th Bomb Squadron. The machine has taken off for an attack on Wiener Neustadt on 10 May 1944 from her home airfield Tortorella (Italy). On position 47 degrees and the 6 minutes north and 16 degrees and zero minutes it is still exploded in the air as it attacked by several German fighters.

Serial number: 42-106988 Enginetype: R-1820-97 with the serial numbers SW 008249 (Engine a), SW 008639 (b), SW 008571 (c) und SW 008332 (d) Installed guns: Browning .50 cal. with the serial numbers 773846(gun a), 773879(b), 1074420(c), 1073680(d), 1074968(e), 1074592 (f), 1074288(g), 1074626(h), 1074951(i), 1074175(j), 1074864(k), 1074999(l) und 1074784(m)

Pilot1Lt. William E. Waltenmirecaptured in Riedlingsdorf 10 May at 11.30
Co-Pilot2Lt. Morris M. Kirpichcaptured in Aschau on 10 May at 14.00
Navigator2Lt. Irving Baum Jr.captured Oberschützen 10 May at 11.30
BombardierAlfred W. Marshall Jr.captured in Markt Allhau on 10 May
EngineerSgt. Charles F. Forrestcaptured in Riedlingsdorf 10 May at 11.35
2nd EngineerSgt. Francis W. Foltzcaptured (Details unknown)
Radio Op.Sgt. Frank Juergenscaptured in Buchschachen on 11 May in the afternoon
2nd Radio Op.Sgt. Furman KingKIA, buried in the cemetery of Buchschachen on 12 May
GunnerSgt. Boleslaw J. KlocekKIA, buried in the cemetery of Buchschachen on 12 May
Tail GunnerSgt. John W. Humphriescaptured (Details unknown)

Two original reports of US Air Force crew members, who had watched the crash of their comrades and told in the debriefing:

“I was flying as tail gunner on ship number 615, piloted by Lt.Col.Barnett, on the mission to Wiener Neustadt on May 10. 1944. Ship No. 988 was flying on our left wing. About five minutes before we reached our I.P. the props on 988s number two engine began windmilling and the ship pulled out of formation. They did not go over the target and were about five thousand feet below us when we came off the target. I saw two figthers making passes at it and the their left wing caught of fire. I saw three chutes open up and the the plane went into a dive and exploded about a thousand feet about ground.”
Robert W. Franklin, Sergeant, US Air Force

“I was the tail gunner on 061 on the mission of 10. May 1944 Ship 988 was flying off Col. Barnett’s left wing, fell out of formation a couple minutes after I.P. with what looked like #3 engine windmilling. They fell out to tail and charlay on the bomb run, losing altitude first. When flak got really heavy they pulled out and went north of the target. After we dropped bombs and turned off the target, they were west of target headed South. One chute blossomed, then three fighters made a pass and two more chutes blossomed. Then the plane was attacked by two more fighters and #2 engine caught on fire and 988 peeled off as if to start in a dive and then exploded. At the time of the explosion one more chute blossomed, making four that I saw. The had approximately 30 or 36 minutes to clear the airplane from the time they pulled out of the formation until the went down.”
Richard O.Westphal, Sergeant, US Air Force

Copyright by Roland Pfeiffer, Leopold Banny und Heinz Bundschuh

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