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Casualty Report from 1944-02-04

MACR: 02564 AIRCRAFT: 42-39799
TARGET: Frankfurt, Germany TYPE: B-17G
BASE: Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk, England NAME: Dobie

Damaged by flak and lost to enemy fighters southwest of Kasterlee, Beligium

PILOT: Lt John W. Brown - O-743172

POS: P STATUS: Evaded STATE: State N/A


Lt Brown was eventually captured by the Germans and escaped, recaptured and turned over to the Gestapo he again escaped.. It is known Lt Brown returned to the States but there is no further information concerning this gallant 100th veteran. (paul west)

CO PILOT: Lt Albert F. Fitzpatrick - O-751115

No notes on this crewmember

NAV: Lt Theodore M. Kleinman - O-795261

No notes on this crewmember

BOM:Lt Lawson W. Clements - O-735272

No notes on this crewmember

ROG: TSgt George E. Toomey - 16065537

No notes on this crewmember

TTE: TSgt Lola D. Florida - 33279635

No notes on this crewmember

BTG: SSgt Gordon F. Keon - 32472665

Wound in the air battle

RWG: SSgt Harold F. Janderup - 32555990

From the Original Capt Henry Henington Crew

LWG: SSgt William F. Kemp - 34409090

Initally buried at Antwerp-Deurne, Belgium - Grave 70. Moved in Ardennes Plot E-10-233 at end of hostilities - Final Internment - USA

TG: SSgt Richard A. Tangradi - 13125061

From Original Crew of Lt Amiero

EX1: N/A First, MI, Suffix Last Name - N/A

No notes on this crewmember

EX2: N/A First, MI, Suffix Last Name - N/A

No notes on this crewmember



Notes on this crew:
S/Sgt William F. Kemp was recovered from the tail section with severe head injuries and succumbed a few hours later.

Here is the real story about what happened to Lt Brown Crew by S/Sgt Tangradi:

Mike as you read the story of my last mission .2/4/44.we had no flak damage,I repeat no flak damage,period!!!! We
aborted way before we got to Frankford.S/SGT. Kemp was not wounded by flak.He didn’t have a scratch on him.I am 
sending you proof of above statement.Hang on to your chute aint over yet, didn’t somebody once say that???
Mike will send you real story of shoot down 2/4/44.soon.  Richard Tangradi, TG

Mike ,
        In respect to the Officers who flew this mission,this is the first time I have told this story in its entirety.As you read on you will know why.We aborted the mission to Frankford 2/4/44,we were not hit by flak! We were above the overcast about 10,000 ft.  Everything was OK until I spotted a small speck come out of the overcast maybe a thousand feet or more.  It was going in and out of the overcast as he was coming in.  I could see it was a fighter.  As it got closer, it was a 190.  I hit the intercom to alert the crew.  Guess what?  It was dead.  I wanted to run up to the waist to tell the guys, but then I thought I couldn't leave my position with this fighter on my tail.  I picked him up at about 600 feet out and squeezed the triggers.  Guess what again?  No music.  I believe the guns were frozen.  I grabbed both charging handles and pulled like hell.  They wouldn't budge.  I hit the intercom again.  It was still dead.  Jerry must have known something was wrong because I wasn't firing at him.  Boy, then he came right in, I mean 200 feet, and opened up.  All hell broke loose.  I could hear and feel his shells hitting all over the plane.  This seemed like it was going on for hours but it was only a couple of minutes.  Then everything was quiet.  I looked out and he was gone.
I figured I had better get up front to see what was going on.  I reached for my chute with both arms but only my right arm came up.  My left arm would not move.  I had no feeling in it.  Later on, a German Red Cross doctor told me that shrapnel had fractured my arm between the elbow and shoulder.  I was also hit in my right forearm but not too seriously.
I grabbed my chute and went up to the waist position.  The waist gunners didn't realize the shape we were in. The plane was vibrating and shaking something terrible and I could see smoke coming out of the two starboard engines.  The ball turret gunner was getting out of his ball and, my God, it looked like a 20 took his whole elbow out.  The radio gunner came out of his room and his face was full of blood,  He was holding his arms out in front of him.  All ten of his fingers looked white candles; they were frostbitten.  I grabbed Kemp and asked him to put my chute on.  He kind of stared at me as if asking, "how come?"  Blood started rolling down my wrist.  I showed him  and he shook his head like, "OK, now I understand".    He snapped it on and I told him to help the other two me.  Sgt.  Florida was coming out of the bomb bay.  I asked Janderup to go up front and find out what was going on.  Seconds later, he came running back shouting, "Hey Tan, hey Tan, there ain't nobody up front in the cockpit".  I hollered out, "What are you talking about, Pappy?"  He said, "The officers bailed out".
Now, I want to jump ahead and explain my opening statement to this story.  When I got back to England and was briefed on how we were shot down, I never told of how Pappy came back from the cockpit and what he said.  I don't believe the pilot abandoned his crew.  I firmly believe he hit the bail out button but the plane's systems were so badly shot up that the bail out button didn't work.  Janderup popped the waist door.  He looked me in the eyes, said, "See you, Tan" and jumped.  I looked at the other guys, kind of stared, and I went out.  The slip stream sucked the breath right out of me.  I 'm turning, twisting and tumbling.  You don't know where up or down is.  I pulled the rip cord when I got into the overcast.  There was a big bang and a jolt and I came to a sudden stop.   All at once, it was real quiet and still.  I am floating down and snow is coming up and hitting me in the face.  You know, it's not coming down on your head, it's coming up in your face, a real odd feeling.  Now I am thinking how and where I'm going to land.  I hope it's not in the water; I went through that before.  I got one arm, it's snowing in February, if I come down in the cold sea, forget it, I'm a goner.  I'm looking down and things below start to get darker.  I'm hoping it isn't water.  It turns out I'm coming down over a forest.  I can make out trees as far as I can see.  Now , I'm moving a little faster, in fact, those trees are coming up real fast.  No time to think.  I can't maneuver the chute with one arm.  As things turned out, I'm drifting backwards and I hit this big pine and slowly slid down like on an elevator landing on my butt in about 10 or 12 inches of snow.  I couldn't have done it better if I had two good arms and knew what I was doing, which I didn't.  OK, what's the first thing you do in a situation like this?  You light up a Lucky, that's what.  There I am, a 19 year old kid all busted up, God know where, sitting in the snow and smoking an American Lucky Strike cigarette.  After a couple more cigs, I got to do something.  I got to get out of these woods before it gets dark.  By the way, it was about 10:00 A.M.  I pulled out my escape kit, got the compass, checked it out and figured I had to go west.  I got out of my chute and harness and started walking.
Mike, if you don't believe in miracles, I'm going to make a believer out of you now.  I didn't walk more than 20, 25 feet when something on my right caught my eye.  So help me, it was two young boys walking on a road which I couldn't see.  I didn't know if I should cough or give the old, "hey, kid".  Anyway, they stopped, kind of startled, looking into the woods trying to see me.   I walked out to the road and tried to tell them I was an American.  They didn't understand.  I pointed to my left arm which by now was completely covered in blood.  I'm trying to tell them I need a doctor.  They recognized that word and I think they got the message.  I gave them a pack of smokes.  They lit up and motioned to me to follow them.  We came to an open field and I could see an old farm house.  One of the kids ran into the house and an old guy came out and motioned me to come in.  There was an old woman inside who told me to sit down at the table and brought me a cup of coffee and a slice of bread.  They treated me pretty nice.
About this farm house, it must have been 100 years old, bare floors, no ceiling, no furniture execpt the table and some chairs.  It had a loft where they slept.  By the way, the barn was connected to the house and it smelled like it.
I will finish this story tomorrow.  Take care
I got the other package with the pictures this morning.  Helen and I think you did a great job.


Lt John Browns info after return to Allied Control:
"Details of Sortie: Took off 0600 hours. We were hit by flak over Frankfurt, Germany, thus straggling from the group. We were attacked by approximately 3 German fighters, which knocked out three motors. I think all the men jumped. I was immediately taken in by an organization, which treated me very well. After going from place to place in the Brussels underground, I was finally picked up by the Gestapo and taken to St-Gilles prison for war criminals. During my stay there of 11 weeks, I was treated as a war criminal because I had been in civilian clothes. We lived 5 men to a cell about 8x12 feet without enough food and air. We ate criminal rations and received no cigarettes.

Our interrogations usually lasted about 4 hours with its usual tortures of punches to the face. After interrogation we were placed in a dark cell for weeks.

While being transferred to Germany as a Pow by train, I along with 42 others escaped. Our escape was made possible by the patriots and their sabotage. After the escape we reported immediately to the nearest high-ranking officer. We were in Brussels at the time of our escape and the British troops had entered the town but had not reached the station. 

Special recognition should be shown to the 43 English and American airmen who spent time in St-Gilles prison and escaped from the train with me. Many of these men are ill and in some cases absolutely stark crazy. Special recognition should be shown to 1st Lt William Grosvenor who suffered much torture in the hands of the Germans for not giving information."

Lt Brown escaped from what has become known as "The Phantom Train", or "Ghost Train", on September 4, 1944 as the British Guards Armor was entering Brussels.