1Lt Joseph F. Palmer
2Lt Robert M. Sheldon
2Lt Claude M. Kieffer
1Lt Nathan J. Rosenblum
S/Sgt Elmer E. Duffey
T/Sgt Edmund Gullage
S/Sgt Samuel A. Holder
Sgt Norman E. Hornbacher
S/Sgt Burl M. Owen
T/Sgt Gerald L. Lauffer
Sgt Alva E. Hodges
JOSEPH F. PALMER CREW - 360th BS
(crew assigned 360BS: 05 Apr 1943)
The following letter was written by a 15 year old girl and was received by William A. and Thelma Owen in Hawkins, Texas in March of 1946. It was written in Dutch and was translated by a man in Henderson, Texas. Thelma Owen corresponded with the girl for many years.
Termunten 17 March 1946
I want to write you some details about Burl M. Owen, No. 18109164. It was Friday June 25, 1943 at 9 A.M. I saw planes approaching from a westerly direction bound for Emden, I believe, a German city across from here. As they returned I saw a plane on fire in the sky. It was a dreadful sight. Parts were blown off the burning plane. Near my house lay the tail. Suddenly the plane fell and landed in a stretch of land. The disaster was terrible. Seven young men were killed there. Far from their family, far from home. Two of them who had been in the cockpit were charred. The five others were mutilated but not burnt. All were mutilated at the head. A couple had broken arms. Their parachutes lay beside them. I don't understand why they did not jump.
At the time the seven bodies were put in coffins and were taken to the church. All of us were quite overcome by what had happened. The entire village joined in mourning. Next day the burial took place in the churchyard. The organ played and thus the seven pilots were interred in a common grave. All of us were present. The mayor spoke and the minister offered a prayer in English. After the ceremony I went home, quite overcome. Poor boys who had to lose their young lives here far from their relatives. We have taken flowers to their grave. Flowers were also planted on the grave. All we could do. A couple of months ago, the bodies were exhumed and were taken to a central cemetery for American soldiers killed in battle. Perhaps you already know that.
I hope that you will receive this letter and that you will be able to have it translated.
With kind regards,
Miss A.J. Nannen
A 16 Termunten, Holland
The men are buried in the Margraten Military Cemetery in Holland. Burl is buried in Plot J, Row 9, Grave 17.
The Witch's Tit and Qui-nine were the other two B-17s of the 303rd Group, 360 Squadron along with Burl's plane, The Avenger, that were lost on this mission to Hamburg, Germany.
On 4-27-2000 I found that the official history from the 303rd historian says that The Avenger crashed at Borgsweer, Netherlands. Miss Nannen said it was Termunten. I have since received a map of the Netherlands from Frans Auwerda (a war historian living in Holland) that show these places. Frans explained that the villages of Borgsweer, Lalleweer and TermunterzijI form the municipality of Termunten.
In later letters from Miss Nannen (which I do not have copies of - this is the only one I have) she said that the Germans came and wanted to dig up the seven bodies but the villagers talked the Germans into leaving them there in the churchyard. They remained there until removed and taken to Margraten and buried in the U.S. military cemetery in October 1945.
[photos and notes courtesy of Bill Owen, brother of Burl Owen]