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S/SGT  James J. SORENSON

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: WG

Dog Tag of James Sorenson after being taken prisoner. 

WG on Lt. Raymond Harney Crew.

SERIAL #: 17155212 STATUS: POW
MACR: 09373 CR: 09373

Comments1: 28 SEP 44 MERSEBERG (FLAK)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
                   MERSEBURG

1st Lt Raymond E.Harney      P   KIA    28/9/44
2nd Lt William R.Kimball        CP  KIA    28/9/44  A/C  44-6306  XR-G
2nd Lt Charles M.Hamrick    NAV  KIA    28/9/44  MACR #9373,Microfiche ,#3436
2nd Lt Warren.M.French    BOM  KIA    28/9/44
   Cpl Thadeus L.Gotz         TTE RFS
   Cpl Hubert J.Burleigh,Jr.  ROG  KIA    28/9/44
   Cpl Melvin F.Cordray        BTG  POW 28/9/44
   Cpl Robert C.Minear         WG  KIA    28/9/44 (MOVED TO TTE WHEN GOTZ RFS)
   Cpl James J.Sorenson      WG  POW 28/9/44 sn#17155212
   Cpl John H .Bundner        TG  RFS  NOC

349th Sqdn.  Crew,as above,joined the 100th Group on 22/8/44. On 28/9/44,T.L.Gotz was not 
aboard the A/C and  Robert  Minear was flying as engineer.   A S/Sgt JACK D.FRANCISCO was aboard 
as tail gunner and became a POW

Crew was on it's eighth mission.

 EYEWITNESS:  "A/C #306 was hit in #2 engine by flak at 1210 hours in the target area. The engine caught fire, but   
was quickly put out when it pulled away from the formation. It then pulled under our group but began to fall back when   
#4 engine was also feathered.  Later #4 started running and it was thought to be this aircraft that followed our    
formation 28 to 30 minutes before going down into the undercast near 5051N and 1057E with P-51s escorting.

James J. Sorenson
  We do not have the track to the target for the 29 Sep 44 Merseburg mission.  I have enclosed what information we have, you will note that it is not the complete Field Order (N0# 434). When I return to the Archives at Suitland, Maryland I will try and find the maps with the track marked as well as the complete field order.

 Was nice to see you in Little Rock and looking forward to seeing you at the next reunion.  Should you need anything further from the files. let me know and if I do not send more information on the Merseburg mission drop me a note as I might forget..

 The above airmen were all promoted to S/Sgt 11 Sept 1944
 Ted Gotz and John Bundner were removed from combat duty,
 Bob Minear was moved from LWG to TTE
 Jack Francisco replaced Bundner
 Ted Gotz, Melvin Corday and John Bundner are all deceased at this writing. (1994)
 The whereabouts of Jack Francisco is unknown.
This from a letter to Paul West in 1994...

MISSIONS OF S/SGT JAMES J. SORENSON (mpf 2002)

1. 08/09/44 MAINZ
2. 09/09/44 DUSSELDORF
3. 10/09/44 NURNBURG
 14/09/44 OPERATION FRANTIC (RECALLED)
4. 18/09/44 WARSAW, POLAND (2nd RUSSIAN SHUTTLE)
5. 19/09/44 SZOLNOK, HUNGARY
 22/09/44 ITALY TO ENGLAND
6. 25/09/44 LUDWIGSHAVEN
7. 26/09/44 BREMEN
8. 28/09/44 MERSEBURG (SHOT DOWN)

ENDED UP IN STALAG LUFT IV

The loss on 14.00 o`clock at Schwickershausen/Germany. The Pilot Ramony E. Harney and the Bombardier French  was killed at the crash on a field. 3 Crewmembers was killed by German policeofficers on the Nordheim-area. The radio operator was killed from a NSDAP-Kreisleiter with Name Andreas Ingebrand from Neustadt/Saale. This NSDAP-Kreisleiter to die in November 1948 in Landsberg/Lech - death by hanging

"What was perception from inside plane":  we were hit by flak on bomb run - dropped bombs, then took direct hit in engine #2 which caught fire - then #1 took direct hit, knocked it out - then #4 had to be feathered, Jim wasn't exactly sure what happened there - so plane went from full power to 1 engine in short period of time - plane lost power, fell out of formation, went into lower cloud layer - pilots probably overwhelmed with how to keep plane flying, plane went into spin - Jim, BTG Mel Cordray, and TTG Jack Francis defied gravity, crawling to waist exit door, bailed out (Jim, Jack, Mel - in that order) - were picked up quickly by a German officer (not Luftwaffe, he thinks Wehrmacht) - while being marched to makeshift jail, German officer pointed to black smoky cloud on the horizon and said "Das is your machine, all is kaput" - Jim then believed all but the 3 of them died in the crash - by the way, they did not hear "bail out" order, but knew they were going down - the next morning Germans escorted them by train to Dulag Luft, stayed there a few days, then moved by train to Stalag Luft IV in Poland - train was very crowded with women, children, soldiers and the captured airmen were in middle surrounded by German guards - Jim says at one point he looked out the window and saw massive piles of aluminum scrap, all obviously remnants of US B-17s, B-24s, P-51s....  All he could think about was that he hoped crews survived - When he arrived at Stalag Luft IV, all newcomers were herded into a room, told to strip so that they could be searched and were given explicit order not to sit - after awhile, Jim said, he began to sit (without really thinking...) and the guard who he soon learned was the notorious "Big Stooge" came after him - (this guard was killed at end of the war, was feared by Germans as well as Allied POWs) - Jim was then separated from Jack and Mel who went to other camp compounds - Jim assigned to the one British barracks, got along well with all - stayed there Oct- Jan, the non Feb 7 all POWs were marched from camp, kept on marching without any consistent food or water or shelter until end of March when they arrived Stalag Luft VIIA - a few weeks later they were marched again away from Allied advancing lines, and were finally liberated May 5 on a road by a British tank unit wich happened upon them...

MEMO 2:

Jim Sorenson remembrances of  28/9/44 MERSEBURG

Jim states that it was a routine mission on Sept 28, 1944, until the B-17 was over the target and was hit by flak... Bombs were dropped, and there was direct flak hit in #2 engine which caught fire, shortly followed by direct hit to #1 engine and #4 having to be "feathered"...  This all happened quickly, and B-17 went from full power of 4 engines to power of only 1 engine, so plane fell out of formation and lost altitude... Plane went into spin, but 3 aircrew managed to crawl to waist exit and bail out: Jim (waist gunner), Jack Francis (top turret gunner) and Mel Cordray (ball turret gunner)....  They never heard any "bail out" order or alarm....  They were quickly picked up on the ground by a German army officer... While being walked to jail, the German officer pointed to a black smoky cloud on the horizon and told them, "Das is your machine, all is kaput".... At that point in time Jim, Jack and Mel believed there were no other survivors from the plane... 

Jim states that he and the other two airmen were well-treated by civilians once they parachuted down to the ground, that there was no harm to them in the hour or two before authorities arrived.  The officer who took them off for imprisonment was definitely a young German Army officer, not local policeman.  Jim said he seemed no older than 19 or 20 years, wore a new uniform and spoke reasonably good English.  His behavior towards the three captured airmen was appropriate.  Jim says the bad treatment did not begin until later, when they arrived at prison camp. From then until the end of the war life was very difficult with mistreatment, poor food and no sanitation.

The next day the 3 men, now POWs, were moved by train under guard to Dulag Luft near Frankfurt, then after several days moved again by train to Stalag Luft IV in Poland.... This is POW camp known by survivors for "Big Stooge", a prison guard considered one of the worst throughout German prison camps...  "Big Stooge" did attack Jim Sorenson his first day at the camp, as if to teach him a lesson....  This guard was killed at war's end, and was as feared by many Germans as Allied prisoners... Jim was assigned to a barracks holding British POWs, not Americans, and was thus separated from Mel and Jack (who he never saw again)...  Conditions at the camp were crowded, food and water were scarce, with little sanitation or heat provided...  Jim was POW here until Feb 7, 1945, when all POWs were force marched from the camp in the cold winter conditions - little food, water, sanitation or shelter was provided during weeks of marching around countryside....  POWs were always marched away from any Allied liberating force by order of Hitler - they were pawns until war's end, and many died from disease, starvation or cold... About 6 weeks later, at end of March, they straggled into Stalag Luft VIIA, but stayed only a week or two before being marched off again...  They were not liberated until May 5, 1945 on a road where they were found by a British tank unit.   

Jim again thanks the townspeople of Schwickershausen for remembering the losses of this sad day, of preserving the cross and presenting it to the 100thBG Foundation for memorial display at the museum in Thorpe Abbotts, England.  I told Jim about our visit on Sept 9, and he was amazed that so many people remember AND that pieces of the plane were found after all these years...


Nancy Putnam
100th Bomb Group Foundation
*****************************************************************************************

James J. Sorenson, 91, Green Bay, took his last flight on Friday, April 8, 2016, in Mesa, AZ. He was born on September 12, 1924, in Superior, WI, to the late James C. and Minnie Sorenson. Jim enlisted with the U.S. Air Force in 1942. During his time in the service he served on a B17. He was shot down over Germany earning him a Purple Heart. After being shot down Jim was held as a prisoner of war until the end of the war. During his time in the Air Force Jim also received the Air Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Jim retired from the Air Force Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel. Shortly after returning from the war Jim was married to the former Mary Voss. After moving to Green Bay, Jim was employed by Preble High School as a Chemistry and Physics teacher. He later worked as Director of Audio/Visual for the Green Bay Public School System, retiring in 1983. Jim had a passion for airplanes. He was involved in EAA and a partnership in Nicolet Airport. He also loved building, restoring, and flying planes.

Jim is survived by his wife, Marlene Clausen; children and their spouses, Thomas and Sue Sorenson, Michael Ann and Bruce Lynch, Joan (Converse) and Michael Yates, five grandchildren, Shawn (Lisa) Lynch, Evan (Nikki) Lynch, Mary Beth Lynch (special friend Jeremy), Kristen (Nick) Stewart, and Edward Converse; four great-grandchildren, Mackenzie, Lydia, Cadence, and Anna; a sister, Betty (LeRoy) Eliason and many other relatives and friends.

In addition to his parents Jim is preceded in death by his first wife, Mary; a son, Steve Sorenson and a sister, Irene Sorenson.

Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 18, 2016, at Proko-Wall Funeral Home, 1630 E. Mason St. The Memorial Service will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday at the Funeral Home. Online condolences may be expressed at www.prokowall.com.

Jim's family would like to extend a special thanks to the staff at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
Published in Green Bay Press-Gazette from Apr. 15 to Apr. 17, 2016

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Merseburg DATE: 1944-09-28  
AIRCRAFT: (44-6306) CAUSE: FLAK  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  
ID: 4884