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SGT  William A. POKLEMBA

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: WG
SERIAL #: 31329122 STATUS: POW
MACR: 05172 CR: 05172

Comments1: 24 MAY 44 BERLIN (CREW 43 PL 102648) (NY) EAC

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2ND LT ROBERT G. ROEDER              P KIA 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
F/O PAUL V. LAMMERS                    CP KIA 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
2ND LT CLAUDE E.  ROBISON, JR   NAV KIA 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
2ND LT JAMES H. MADDOX           BOM NOC                                MACR 5172, Mcrofiche 1855
S/SGT WADE D. EASON                TTE KIA 24 MAY 44 BERLIN          A/C 42-102648 
SGT FRANK GOLDSTEIN                ROG KIA 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
SGT NATHAN E. McELROY             BTG POW 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
SGT WILLIAM A. POKLEMBA            LWG POW 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
SGT FRED F. CEBALO                   RWG POW 24 MAY 44 BERLIN
SGT ANTHONY P. LOMBARDI             TG POW 24 MAY 44 BERLIN

349TH SQDN.. CREW, AS ABOVE, JOINED THE 100TH ON 12 APR 1944

ON THE BERLIN MISSION OF 24 MAY 44, T/SGT MILTON GRABEL WAS FLYING AS TOGGALIER AND WAS KIA...pw
This crew,except for T/Sgt Grabel,joined the 100th Group on 12/4/44. At that time,
Lt James H..Maddox was the Bombardier. This was about the 10 mission for the crew.

Statement in MACR by Fred Cebalo -made in 1945 - follows:

"Circumstances of loss of aircraft: On a raid to Berlin we were hit by fighters,
ME 109s. They shot the left wing off. I was thrown back and trapped in the
waist,fracturing my right leg. As I was trying to get out,the ship broke at the
Ball Turret and tail section, I crawled to the door and jumped. I saw four other
chutes as I was going down. I was caught immediately by civilians with a couple of
soldiers upon landing.
I was taken first to a barn,and then by a civilian to a doctor's house.There I saw
the pilot and the tail gunner. We were joined about twenty minutes later by the left
waist gunner and the ball turret gunner. The pilot's right foot was shot off,and
they were amputating the shreds. He was also shot in the arm. We gave him our own
morphine,for the Germans had none. The tail gunner was limping,possibly from a
sprained ankle. Both the left waist gunner and I had broken legs. The ball turret
gunner complained of his back. They had the pilot in a separats room,and the rest
of us in the next room. The pilot who shot us down came in to question us,and
thought me rude when I refused to answer his questions. He visited the pilot and
left..About four hours later,the five of us surviving were taken into a truck along
with other airmen who had just been shot down,about a mile down the road toward camp.
An ambulance met us and took the pilot and another man off. I did not see him again.
My mother received a letter from the pilot's folks,with a clipping from his home
town paper saying that he had died of wounds.

Statement by Anthony P.Lombardi:

"We were going to Berlin. Made land fall between Kiel & Hamburg. McElroy (BT) was
ordered into turret. I saw something whlz by my tail -asked what it was. Soon McElroy
called on intercom to say the door fell off ball & he escaped falling out sans chute.
He was ordered to radio room to complete mission.. I called out fighters at six o'clock
as the navigstor called an attack at twelve o'clock. We were also attacked at nine
O'clock and the ship broke in half at the radio room. Tho radlo operator (Goldstein)
fell out without his chute. The ball turret gunner (McElroy) grabbed his chute and
managed to put it on and save himself. Both waist gunners (Cebalo & Poklemba) bailed
out and reached ground 0K.
The ship broke again at the tail wheel well. That left me and the tail floating thru
space.After riding the tail part way down,I bailed. When we got together later we came
to the conclusion on how the other boys made out. The Navigator(Robison),Toggalier
(Grabel) and Engineer(Eason) were killed by the fighters. The pilot(Roeder) and the
Co-pilot (Lammers) were blown out of the cockpit.The pilot had a seat type chute but
was shot up badly & later died. The co-pilot had no chute on.
The four survivors spent a year at Stalag Luft #4 and finally made it home again."


E-Mail note from Robert Black to Michael P. Faley (May 21, 2001)Subject: Martin Hoskinson crash
It has been reported that this plane, which went down on May 24, 1944, may have been hit by a bomb from an American plane above. It seems this is not true.
I have been in touch with a German researcher who sent me the following:
Dear Robert:
Please let me give you an overview from this day out of the German eyes: On this May 24, 1944 was from the Germans point of view a big air battle in the region of south Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost county of Germany with border to Denmark.
The combat boxes of the BG's were flying in lots of cirrus clouds and the sight was extremely bad. So the German fighters made lots of passes and could not see exactly distances to the bombers. They said it was a milky haze from the cirrus and from the smoke of the engines.. In this air battle only in our region were KIA 3 fighter pilots, one of them was the wing commander of I./JG 11 1st. Lt. Konig. Konig was coming from the night fighters with only one eye and on this day due to extreme bad view he crashed into a B-17, obviously on one of the three reported. His wing was seen falling off and his FW 190 spiraled down.
After his death 1st. Lt. Koing was made Captain and got the knights cross. Another two pilots were shot down and wounded. In the air was a mixture of Me 109s and FW 190s.
This battle is called "Die Luftschlacht bei Kaltenkirchen" the air battle at Kaltenkirchen. Kaltenkirchen a/f was a well-known airfield in the region.
From Kaltenkirchen a/f to the crash point of the three B-17
Nr. 2102635 Hoskinson at east of Itzstedt
Nr. 2102648 Roeder at west of Sulfeld 
Nr. 21026624 Johnson northeast of Rotenhahnare only about 30 km.
2102635 Hoskinson at Itzstedt and 2102648 Roeder at Sulfeld crashed only 200 m away from each other and I think that one of them had the air crash with commander Konig, If you know what position Hoskinson was flying it would be possible to say exactly that this ship had the crash.
The whole formation of I./JG 11 on this day had only 9 or 11 planes! (in another e-mail from our contact he reports another 30 German planes were in the air battle bringing the total to 40 which our U.S. records indicate.)
Should have had 27. The school chronicle says, that the plane with big noise came down out of the clouds and crashed into the earth exploding and burning with a big cloud of smoke. All airmen in the Itzstedt B-17 were dead inside the plane and burned by fire and the 10th lay outside the plane on a field. .
Robert L. Black, survivor of 2102624, crashed at Rotenhahn, had not seen a German fighter crashing into his plane as the survivors of the Roeder crew did not.. So from todays point of view 1st. Lt. Konig must have crashed into 2102635 Hoskinson.
In an earlier book by German fighter Fritz Engau says " This head on attack was one of the strangest and almost ghostly mission of I./JG 11. In more than 6,000 M (about 20,000 feet) the first B-17 appeared shadowy in a milky haze and made their vapor trails in this haze. The following b-17s made more and more vapor trails into haze and condensed the carped. Lt. Konig, who had only one eye made his head on pass obviously to late and crashed by accident into the B-17. Engau was flying second to the right and he saw something like a flash or explosion and thereafter-big pieces in the air. He had as well a B-17 in his Revi and shot some rounds but he got no credit this day.  Lt. Hans Heinrich "King" Konig was one of the experienced day fighting commanders with 28 credits-20 4 engine bombers.
Bob Black

MEMO 2:

POW/KIA notes: Fractured leg.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Berlin DATE: 1944-05-24  
AIRCRAFT: "BTO of ETO" (42-102648) CAUSE: ME-109  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  
ID: 4165