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303rd CREWMEN MURDERED
After Parachuting Safely From Their Stricken B-17s
[Copyright ©1997 Harry D. Gobrecht]

30 May 44 - Pilot: 2Lt D.C. Van Weelden, 359BS B-17: #42-31213 "Pistol Packin Mama" - Mission to Halberstadt, Germany. B-17 crashed at Nordhausen, Germany. CoPilot 2Lt William A. Sysel, Radio Oper S/Sgt Ralph E. Ledogar, Waist Gunner S/Sgt William K. Forsythe and Tail Gunner Sgt John K. Barry are believed to have been shot by Germans.

15 Aug 44 - Pilot: 2Lt A.I. Goss, 359BS B-17: #42-31183 "Bad Penny" - Mission to Wiesbaden, Germany. B-17 crashed into Seinsfeld. Navigator 2Lt Lester E. Reuss and Radio Operator Sgt Patsy Rocco were murdered. A Nazi party man and two civilian beat Lt Reuss to death. They were found guilty of murder by War Crimes Tribunal and were hanged. A home guardsman was sentenced to death but sentence was changed to life at hard labor. A Policeman shot and killed Sgt. Rocco. The War Crimes Tribunal sentenced him to life imprisonment, but it was reduced to two years. Read the War Crimes Trial Transcript here.

28 Sept 44 - Pilot: 1Lt Charles G. Glasgow, 427BS B17G: #44-89335 (No name) - Mission to Magdeburg, Germany. B-17 crashed near Heerte/Salzgitter, southwest of Brunswick, Germany. Bombardier 2Lt Homer W. Goff parachuted safely and was captured by German civilians and taken to their village. The local police station was called. A German police officer arrived and took Lt Goff through a path in the woods and later told everyone that Lt Goff was shot trying to escape. A post-war autopsy showed that he was shot in the back of the head at close range. The Police Officer was found guilty of killing Lt Goff in a post-war war crimes trial.

28 Sept 44 - Pilot: 1Lt James T. Hahn, 360BS B-17G: #42-97805 (No name) (358BS) - Mission to Magdeburg, Germany. 1Lt Hahn and an unidentified airman parachuted to safety near Halchter, Germany. They surrendered and were taken to the City Hall. After searching the flyers, local Police Sergeant Wilhelm Bock, 50, armed with pistol and carbine, left the community house with the airmen. Shortly thereafter, both flyers were shot by Bock near a gravel pit on the road to a nearby airfield. The unidentified flyer was killed and Hahn was wounded with a bullet wound in his chest. They were driven to a nearby town. Hahn walked from the truck and was being treated by a local Red Cross nurse when Bock arrived with a drawn pistol and ordered everyone to leave. Bock and the Mayor of Halchter remained with Hahn, and shortly thereafter a shot was heard by three witnesses. Hahn was killed with a bullet to the head. The two airman were buried in a common grave, along with four others killed on the same combat mission.

Bock was convicted of murder at a War Crimes trial 7-13 November 1946 in Dachau, Germany. He was sentenced to death by hanging and executed on 3 April 1947. You can read the Trial Transcript here.

28 Sept 44 - Pilot: 1Lt V.L. Howard, 360BS B-17: #43-37930 (No name) - Mission to Magdeburg, Germany. B-17 crashed near Ohrum S/Wolfenbuttel. Radio Operator Sgt Sheppard Kerman was murdered. (Sgt Claude McGraw, Engineer, advised that Sgt Kerman was conscious with minor wounds when he bailed out.

Sgt Kerman's parachute fouled on the roof of a two story house at Wolfenbuttel and kept swinging in front of a window. Some Germans in Army and Nazi Party uniforms entered the house and pulled Sgt Kerman into a room on the second floor. A captain ordered that Sgt Kerman be shot and killed with a pistol. All the time Sgt Kerman had his arms raised as a token of surrender. The German Captain was sentenced to death by hanging in a post war war crimes trial at Dachau for the murder of Sgt Kerman and two others received life imprisonment. (Cases 12-1104 and 12-1104-1) per John A. Hey, Netherlands Historian.

Trial Summaries and Transcripts

File Number: US075
Review Date: 461211
Case Number: 12-1104 (US vs. Gerd Beck and Otto Weinreich)
Crime Category: War Crimes
Accused:
Beck, Gerd - Death Sentence
Weinreich, Otto - Life Sentence
Court: General Military Government Court at Ludwigsburg, Germany 460507
Country where the crime had been committed: Germany
Crime Location: Wolfenbuttel
Crime Date: 4409
Victim: POW
Nationality: American
Office: Civilians
Subject of the proceeding: An American flyer parachuted from his disabled plane over the vicinity of Wolfenbuttel, Germany. The parachute fouled on the roof of a house and the flyer became suspended before the window. The accused witnessed the flyer land and set out after him. Once helping the officer through the window the accused proceeded to shoot and kill the airman.
Trial Transcript

File Number: US076
Review Date: 471029
Case Number: 12-1104-1 (US vs. Wilhelm Kanschat)
Crime Category: War Crimes
Accused:
Kanschat, Wilhelm - Death Sentence
Court: General Military Government Court at Dachau, Germany 470825-470828
Country where the crime had been committed: Germany
Crime Location: Wolfenbuttel
Crime Date: 440928
Victim: POW
Nationality: American
Office: Wehrmacht, Reserve Captain
Subject of the proceeding: An American flyer parachuted from his disabled plane over Wolfenbuttel and was captured by a search party. The accused, along with Beck and Weinreich (see US075), was present in the room where the victim was held and ordered Beck to shoot the flyer.
Trial Transcript
Much more information on the murder of Sgt Sheppard Kerman is here.

28 Sept 44 - Pilot: 2Lt W.F. Miller, 360BS B-17 (359BS Crew) B-17: #42-97187 "Miss Umbriago" - Mission to Magdeburg, Germany. B-17 crashed near Suppingen, Germany. Engineer Sgt Leo F. Waldron was dragged from a small town jail between Brunswick and Magdeburg and was murdered by angry German farmers.

21 Nov 44 - Pilot: 1Lt Arthur F. Chance, 359BS B-17 (427BS Crew) B-17: #42-102484 "Heller's Angel" - Mission to Merseburg, Germany. B-17 crashed near Frankfurt, Germany. Navigator 1Lt William M. Couch and Tail Gunner S/Sgt Anthony B. Martin parachuted safely and were made POWs. They were murdered by two Nazi officials after obtaining their release from local policemen by gunpoint. [Information from Gus Lerch, Frankfurt, Germany 10/16/97]

21 Nov 44 - Pilot: 1Lt P.F. Cureton, Jr, 360BS B-17 (427BS Crew) B-17: #43-38705 (No name) - Mission to Merseburg, Germany. B-17 crashed near Frankfurt, Germany. CoPilot 2Lt Stonewall Jackson Raley was hung by German farmers. Navigator 1Lt Ben F. Dubois and two additional unnamed crewmen, according to a fragmented Swiss Red Cross Report, were pitchforked to death by German farmers near Frankleben, Minn-Otte, Tannenburg, about 7km Southwest of Merseburg, Germany. [information from James W. O'Leary, 427th BS Lead Pilot]

17 Apr 45 - 1Lt T.F. Kahler, 427BS B-17: #44-37597 "Earthquake McGoon" - Mission to Dresden, Germany. B-17 crashed near Brux, Czechoslovakia. Pilot 1Lt Thomas F. Kahler and Tail Gunner Sgt Theodore R. Smith were killed by civilians and S.S. Troops. Their bodies were hung in a tree. Sgt Smith was a regular member of the Lt Barr Crew that joined the 427th on 27 March 1945.

17 Apr 45 - Pilot: 2Lt B.E. Thomas, 360BS B-17: #42-102544 "Sack Time" - Mission to Dresden, Germany. B-17 crashed near Dresden, Germany. Togglier S/Sgt Edward G. Eschinger and Sgt Melvin C. Carlson are believed to have been murdered by civilians.

30 Dec 43 - Pilot: 1Lt W.C. Osborn, 360BS B-17: #42-39795 "Women's Home Companion" - Mission to Ludwigshafen, Germany. B-17 crash landed in a field at Froid Chappel near the Luxembourg-French-Belgian border. R. Waist Gunner Sgt Vincent J. Reese joined the joined the underground after evading capture. He fought with them destroying German installations. He and 22 others of the underground were captured in a shack and executed on 22 April 44 in a woods near Chimay, Belgium.