Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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B 17G 42-31126 crashed near Bellinge 20/2 1944.


The aircraft belonged to USAAF, 8 Air Force, 388 Bomb Group, 56o Bomb Squadron.
T/O Knettishall. OP: Posen.


Take off from Knettishall at 06:00 to rendezvous with other bombers at 07:00 English time. They were flying over Denmark at 10.000 feet in a loose formation when they were attacked by German fighters and Flt. Engr. T/Sgt William T. Morse was killed by a 20 millimetres round thru his chest. 42-31126 received several hits and control of the elevator was lost.


                      (Chris Chinni)

The crew

 

Pilot 1st Lt Richard F. Reed gave the alarm to bail out and opened the bomb bay doors as an exit for himself and Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Wyan E. Osness. Osness however dropped down to the navigators hatch instead of using the bomb bay exit. He was unable to open the hatch and called for Navigator 2nd Lt David D. Jacobs to assist him. Jacobs threw his weight against the door and left the aircraft with it. Osness next signalled Bombardier 2nd Lt Charles W. McCollester to bail out before him. At this time the right wing erupted in flames and the aircraft went into a spin throwing McCollister out and pinning Osness to the aircraft.
Before the spin Right waist Gunner S/Sgt Benjamin E. Ferrici had tried to bail out of the waist hatch but his chute had hung up in the hatch handle. Left Waist Gunner Sgt Kenneth H. Jones and S/Sgt William J. Rowling released him and then bailed out themselves.
 


                                (Historiecenter Beldringe)

 


                               (Historiecenter Beldringe)

 


                                 (Historiecenter Beldringe)

 

The tail now broke off and S/Sgt K H. Bonner left thru the opening. Tail Gunner S/Sgt John J. Chinni managed to free himself from the tail and landed safely in his parachute.
The aircraft exploded and knocked Reed unconscious. When he came too he found himself falling thru the space and opened his chute. He landed safely where he met with the rest of the survivors.

 


                            (Historiecenter Beldringe)


The wreck fell around the farm “Lykkessæde” near Bellinge on the island of Fyn (Funen) at 12:19 hours Danish time and Feldwebel Heinz Hanke of 2./JG 11 was credited with the destruction of the B 17.

 


                                                (Heinz Hanke)

Feldwebel Heinz Hanke
 

The dead bodies of Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Wyman E. Osness and Flt. Engr./ Top Turret Gunner T/Sgt William T. Morse was found with the wreck. Osness was found 100 metres south of the farm while Morse was found with his turret and the front of the fuselage150 metres south west of the farm.

 


                        (Historiecenter Beldringe)

Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Wyman E. Osness
 


The bodies were by the Danish police taken to Odense County and City Cemetery. On 21/2 at 17:00 hours they were moved to the chapel at Heden and on 22/2 1944 at 07:00 hours the Wehrmacht moved them to their graves at Odense Assistens Cemetery. Oberleutnant Langhagen gave a short speech before the coffins were lowered into the graves. This was done without ecclesiastical assistance but after that the Germans had left a Danish priest officiated at the graveside ceremony.
Their remains were disinterred on 30/4 1948 and were evacuated to the American cemetery at Neuville en Condron in Belgium by the US military. Today they both rest in USA.
 


                                (Historiecenter Beldringe)

 

Chinni, Ferrici and Rowling was captured near Bellinge around 13:30 hours by a patrol from 1 st. Comp. D IV, Odense. Rowling was picked up by Police Constable Clemens-Pedersen on the road between Brylle and the Assens main road. The flyer had hurt his hip and was placed in Clemens-Pedersens police car. It was Clemens-Pedersens intention to get the flyer out of the area but after a short while they were stopped by a German patrol. When they saw Rowling they placed a guard in the car and told Clemens-Pedersen to drive to a farm near the crash site. Here Rowling met with his two comrades. Clemens-Pedersen however managed to get the Germans permission to call a Doctor to treat Rowlings wounds.

 


           (Leighann Stonefield)

Ball Turret gunner S/Sgt William J. Rowling

 


                   (Chris Chinni)

Tail Gunner S/Sgt John J. Chinni



Bonner and McCollister stayed free until 23:00 hours when they were captured near Tommerup by Germans of 4.Comp. C VI. Odense.

Jones, Reed and Jacobs managed to stay at large until 23/2 when they at 11:00 hours were captured by Soldiers from 2nd Comp. Battl, Faaborg.

After interrogation at Dulag Luft Oberursel near Frankfurt Reed, Jacobs and McCollester was sent to Stalag Luft I Barth. Bonner was sent to Stalag Luft IV Gross Tychow while it is not clear where Ferrici and Jones were sent.

Chinni and Rowlings were sent by cattle car to Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug where Chinni was given number 1499. In July 1944 they was evacuated by ship to Stalag Luft IV Gross Tychow where they arrived on 18/7. On February 6th 1945 the prisoners were evacuated by foot and marched for 55 days to Stalag 357 Fallingbostel. They marched through snow, freezing rain and freezing weather and at night they were warehoused in barns with no heat or blankets. Chinni contracted pheumonia and was airlifted to England after they had been liberated by British troops probably on May 2th or 3th 1945.

 


                          (Historiecenter Beldringe)

 

 


                              (Historiecenter Beldringe)



A memorial was erected after the war

 


             (Historiecenter Beldringe)

 


               (Historiecenter Beldringe)

The original crosses



Sources: MACR, FB, RL 19/458, AS 28-81, TW, LBUK, “Dagbogsblade Assistens Kirkegaarden” by Henriksen/Jensen, Chris Chinni, Leighan Stonefield.


 

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