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LT  Joseph F. KAWIECKI

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: BOM
SERIAL #: O-682550 STATUS: POW
MACR: 03030 CR: 03030

Comments1: 6 MAR 44 BERLIN (FORT WAYNE, IN) (FLAK - EAC)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

                    
 A/C 42-39872, "RUBBER CHECK", DAMAGED BY FIGHTERS NEAR HASELUENNE AT ABOUT  1200 HOURS.  
  

     Crew:  6 MAR 44 BERLIN

 GRANACK FRANK A. LT P POW
 DUNHAM ROBERT L. LT CP POW
 GEISLER MURRAY LT NAV POW
 KAWIECKI JOSEPH F. LT BOM POW
 SCOTT  GRANT H.L. T/SGT ROG KIA
 STEARNS HAROLD T/SGT TTE POW
 RODGERS LLOYD H. JR. S/SGT BTG POW
 BROWN GLENN D. S/SGT RWG KIA
 HARRELL EDWIN T. S/SGT LWG POW
 CHRISTIAN GEORGE C. S/SGT TG POW

350th Sqdn.  This crew joined the 100th Group on 28/11/43. See photo of crew on p.l99 of "CONTRAILS" 
taken 2 days prior to their loss. See also p.38 & p.46 of S.O.C.

On March 4, 1944, T/Sgt Harold Stearns shot down the first fighter over BERLIN in a daylight attack.  The 100th BG was flying with the 95th BG when a recall was heard.  Elements of the 95th BG and 100th BG felt this recall was a German ploy since it was not given correctly and continued with the Mission to Berlin. 

On March 6, 1944, Lt Granack's Crew returned to Berlin.  The results were different this time.  This was the 16th mission for this crew. Eyewitness report from MACR has the following:

"B-17 in lead squadron (Granack) fell out of formation over target with an engine damaged. Went down 
under control with E/A pressing attacks."   Scott & Brown were both victims of 20 mm fire and killed instantly. Harrell was wounded in ankle.

     Letter to Jim Brown April 30, 1988..pw
Dear Jim,

 I am writing to you in response to your letter requesting first-hand information relative to our crew's final mission aboard the "Rubber Check" (Czech). Your research work into the fate of the 180 crews who were lost in action from the 100th Bomb Group must be very interesting and certainly commendable. I am pleased that you contacted me, and I will be happy to assist you in any way I can. 

 I have given your request much thought and attention; this stirred up many poignant and bittersweet memories. In my response I am providing you with as much detail as I possibly can. Many years have elapsed and time has taken its toll, however, I believe I can still recall most of the pertinent details of that fateful mission. 

 Following is my best shot of what happened when we went down on March 6,  1944: 

 Shortly after Lt. Joe Kawiecki, our bombardier, announced "Bombs away' over the Berlin target area, we were hit by heavy flak. "Rubber Check" was rocked by a shell exploding  very close to our right wing. The plane was damaged and the No. 4 engine knocked out of commission; it was smoking and a few licks of flame appeared but they quickly dissipated. We were momentarily knocked out of formation and we were busy making adjustments in the cockpit controls as I struggled to regain our position in the flight. At that altitude, because of the flak damage, I found it impossible to catch the faster moving formation. I informed flight leader Major Bucky Elton that if his air speed was reduced about 5 MPH, I might be able to get back into the protection of the group. He said that would be impossible, but he wished us "Good Luck." Gradually, we fell further and further behind, and below the formation until we were all alone. I still had basic control of the aircraft although we had to lose some altitude to maintain safe air speed. Meanwhile, we were trying to assess the extent of the flak damage. Lt. Bob Dunham, my co-pilot, and I carefully monitored the cockpit controls and panel for any signs of additional problems. 

 The entire crew became extra alert because we were now easier prey and more vulnerable to enemy fighter attacks; we knew there were many bandits in the area. About this time, Lt. Murray Geisler our navigator, informed me that he would give me a bearing for Sweden any time it became necessary to head in that direction. 

 We weren't alone for long! "Fighters at 3 o'clock" crackled over the intercom. Me 109's  and FW 190's were attacking from several different directions and we were raked the length of our plane with heavy gunfire; a fierce running battle ensued. All the gunners in our valiant crew fought back with all the 50 caliber fire power they could muster. Several enemy  fighters were hit; two or three may have been downed; Sgt. Harold Stearns was sure he got one with his top turret guns. However, the additional damage inflicted on our plane was considerable. Our No. 2 engine was having problems and No. 3 was damaged and out of commission (both 3  and 4 were now smoking and fire was a serious threat); our intercom was shot out, therefore, it  was impossible to get a rapid assessment of the extent of our damage and casualties. However, it turned out that our greatest and most painful losses were in the crew. Sgt. Grant Scott, radio operator and Sgt. Glenn Brown, waist/gunner were both killed by the fighters; Sgt. Ed Harrell, the other waist/gunner was wounded in the leg. 

 About this time the enemy fighter attacks slackened, at least for the moment. We had to ease   up on our good engine, No. 1, when it appeared to be developing trouble. We were now losing   altitude rapidly to maintain sufficient air speed to keep basic control of the plane. Cockpit adjustments to maintain control were steadily getting more difficult Our position was getting  more perilous by the moment and to preclude the possibility of a total disaster, I decided to order the  plane abandoned. Because our intercom was out, I instructed co-pilot Dunham to go through the plane  and  see that each surviving crew member was aware of my orders to "bail out immediately". He was  to provide assistance to anyone who needed it; Sgt. Lloyd Rogers, ball turret gunner and Sgt. George Christian, tail gunner were to be free of their confining positions as soon as possible to prevent being trapped in case of a sudden control emergency. Lt. Dunham was to report to back to me; knowing the urgency of the situation, he left quickly to carry out the orders. Meanwhile, the bomb bay doors (an important exit) would not open; fortunately, later they suddenly dropped open. Lt. Dunham returned shortly and told me he had carried out all my orders. He had done a fine job; I thanked him and ordered him to bail out with the crew. We shouted a few brief words of farewell as he took off for the bomb bay. From the cockpit I looked back toward the bomb bay and watched as crewmen tumbled out one after the other, until they were all gone. 

 Rubber Check was virtually without power; the #3 and #4 engines were smoking, another was making death sounds. I turned the trim tabs to put the plane into a steeper glide to reduce the chances of a stall or other sudden negative, violent movement by the plane as I was trying to get out. I then slipped out of my pilot's seat and held control of the plane as long as I could; I let go and ran down the passageway to the bomb bay where I made a running, head first dive into space as I bailed out. All the remaining eight crew members had bailed out successfully and were taken Prisoners-of-War.Jim, if you desire any further information please don't hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to provide it --- if I can.

Good luck in your research work. 
Respectfully, Frank A. Granack

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Berlin DATE: 1944-03-06  
AIRCRAFT: "Rubber Check" (42-39872) CAUSE: EAC-FLAK  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 The Franklin A. Granack crew that flew "RUBBER CHECK": Standing from left: Joseph F. Kawiecki - BOM, Murray Geisler - NAV, Robert L. Dunham - CP and Franklin A. Granack the Pilot; Kneeling from left: Grant H. Scott - ROG (KIA Mar 6, 1944 Berlin), Edward T. Harrell - WG, George C. Christian - TG, Harold Stearns - TTE, Lloyd H. Rodgers - BTG and Glen D. Brown - WG (KIA March 6, 1944 Berlin) Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 2709