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LT  Robert H. LOHOF

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P

 Hometown newspaper article announcing Robert A. Lohof missing in action. (100th Photo Archives) 

SERIAL #: O-533023 STATUS: POW
MACR: 03022 CR: 03022

Comments1: 3 MAR 44 BERLIN (FAILED TO HEAR RECALL) (WY)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

 Capt Robert H. Lohof                         P POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN TAPS: 28 OCT 1985
 Capt Gerald R. Putnam                COM P POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
          1st Lt Robert L. Phillips, Jr        CP CPT  4 MAR 44 BERLIN  (with Lt William B. Murray Crew, see below)
          1st Lt William E. Vaden         NAV POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
          1st Lt Paul T. Davis            BOM POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
          T/Sgt Guy L. Brown           ROG POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
          T/Sgt Sidney A. Goldenberg  TTE POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
         S/Sgt Vern R. Lines             BTG POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
         S/Sgt Richard L. David         RWG POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
         S/Sgt James M. Butler         LWG POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
         S/Sgt George W. Briggs           TG POW  3 MAR 44 BERLIN
                       (G.W.Briggs died 11 Apr 45 -see POW Dr report below)
         
349th Sqdn.  Arrived at 100th Bomb Group in September 1943.  This crew was on it's 24th mission.  
See lost crews (J.G. Gossage & R.D.Vollmer) of 3 Mar 44 for more information on loss of this aircraft.  
MACR # 3022, Microfiche # 1022  A/C #42-31970
Lt Phillips was bumped off the mission because Capt. Putnam flew as Command Pilot. Lt Phillips flew final two mission with Lt William B. Murray Crew.

All ten men on the Putnam/Lohof Crew safely parachuted into northern Germany and were taken prisoner.  George Briggs the tail gunner died while in captivity.  Vollmer was on his 14th mission, flying Capt. Putnams original "Murderers Row".  Five men on this crew were KIA, Vollmer and four others were taken POW.

According to Dr. Leslie Caplan's M. D.* sworn affadavit in Minneapolis, MN on
Dec 48 & Jan 48, he reports:

At 0200 on April 9, 1945 at a barn in Wohlen, Germany, S/Sgt George W.
Briggs (Ser #39193615, TG of the Capt Robert H. Lohof crew,
(which crashed March 3, l944 @ Berlin), was suddenly overcome by violent
shaking of the entire body & soon went into a coma.

This patient was sent to a German hospital. We were under the jurisdiction of
POW Camp Stalag IIB & they voluntarily sent this patient to a hospital.  This is
in marked contrast to the treatment received when we were under the
jurisdiction of Stalag Luft 4 when every hospitalization was either
refused or granted after a long series of waiting for guards, waiting
for permission to see Capt Weinert and awaiting his decision. In spite
of the prompt hospitalization, this patient died on April 11, 1945. No
doubt this death was largely caused by being weakened on the first march
while under the jurisdiction of Stalag 4.

*Dr. Leslier Caplan continued to help ex-prisoners of war until his death.

National Medial Research Committee
American Ex-Prisoners of War, Inc.
1410 Adler Road
Marshfield, WI 54449

AMBC;

S/Sgt George W. Briggs, US Army Air Force, Service #39193615,
349th Bomb Sqdn, 100th Bomb Group. Entered the service from: Washington.
Buried at Row 37 Grave 12, Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium.
His awards are: The Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Hope this helps. Regards
Ken McPherson 8th AFHS.

Captain Robert H. Lohof Crew
Mission Summary 

1.     8 Oct 43   Bremen
2.     9 Oct 43    Marienburg
3.   14 Oct 43   Schweinfurt
4.   20 Oct 43   Duren
5.     3 Nov 43   Wilhelmshaven
6.     5 Nov 43   Gelsenkirchen
7.     7 Nov 43   Duren
8.   13 Nov 43   Bremen
9.   16 Nov 43   Vermark, Ryukan Valley, Norway
10. 19 Nov 43   Zutphen, Netherlands
11.  26 Nov 43   Paris, France
12.  29 Nov 43  Bremen
13.   5 Dec 43   Bordeaux, France
14.  11 Dec 43   Emden 
15.  13 Dec 43   Kiel
16.  16 Dec 43   Bremen
17.  24 Dec 43   St Joseph au Bois, Pas de Calais coast, France
18.  11 Jan 43   Osnabruk
19.  21 Jan 43   Pas de Calais, France
20.    5 Feb 43   Romily sur Seine, France (actually bombed alternate target south of Paris)
21.    6 Feb 43   Romily sur Seine, France (actually bombed airfield near Evereaux)
22.  13 Feb 43   Pas de Calais, France 
23.  21 Feb 43   Brunswick/Braunschweig (dads Casualty Report lists instead 23 Feb, Althorn; he may have mistaken the date and Althorn may have been IVO Braunschweig.)
24.  3 Mar 44   Berlin (mission recalled; Lohof crew shot down)

"MARCH 3 WAS THE DATE, BERLIN THE TARGET.  AS MENTIONED AT THE IN YOUR CHAPTER ON JOHN BENNETT, THE 100TH LOST 3 CREWS THAT DAY-PUTNAM/LOHOF, GOSSAGE, VOLLMER.  I REMEMBER THE OCCASION WELL FOR OBVIOUS REASONS BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD SERVED AS ACTING COMMAND PILOT AS GROUP LEADER-HAVING FLOWN DEPUTY LEAD ON TWO OCCASIONS PRIOR TO MARCH 3.  WE WERE LEADING THE 13TH COMBAT WING THAT DAY IN  A BRAND NEW PLANE WITH THE LATEST ELECTRONIC AND BOMBSIGHT EQUIPMENT BUT A VERY DEFECTIVE RADIO.  WHEN THE RECALL WENT OUT, WE DID NOT RECEIVE IT AND VERY SHORTLY FOUND OURSELVES  IN THICK SOUP OVER GERMANY.  AFRAID TO TURN THE GROUP BACK INTO THE FOLLOWING WAVES, WE DECIDED TO CLIMB ON COURSE FOR TEN MINUTES BEFORE TURNING AND HEADING BACK.  BY THAT TIME, WE HAD LOST VISUAL CONTACT WITH ALL EXCEPT OUR WINGMEN-GOSSAGE AND VOLLMER.  BEFORE THE 10 MINUTES WERE UP, WE STARTED BREAKING OUT OF THE CLOUDS, JUST IN TIME TO BE MET BY THREE FW-190's COMING AT US FROM THE SUN.  NUFF SAID, THE REST IS HISTORY"
        (LETTER FROM GERALD PUTNAM TO HARRY CROSBY JULY 28, 1993)

RECOLLECTIONS OF SIDNEY GOLDENBERG (TTE ON LOHOF CREW)…"THE PILOT ANNOUNCED WE WERE TURNING BACK, SO I DISCONNECTED FROM MY OXYGEN AND WENT TO CHECK ON FUEL.  I HEARD GUNFIRE…PILOT CAME ON INTERCOM AND SAID 'WE'RE HIT, WE'RE GOING DOWN, BAIL OUT!  THERE WERE INJURIES.  I HAD TO PUSH THE BOMBARDIER OUT OF THE HATCH.  WE WERE IN CLOUDS, DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IF WE WERE OVER LAND OR WATER.  IT WAS SNOWING HEAVILY , DIFFICULT TO BREATH OR SEE.  COULD SEE LAND JUST BEFORE HITTING GROUND, WAS MET BY ANGRY CIVILIANS.  DURING INTEROGATION THER GERMANS TOLD ME THAT THE WHOLE CREW WAS CAPTURED, THAT THEY KNEW CAPT. PUTNAM WAS NOT MY REGULAR PILOT… I ACTED AS IF I DID NOT KNOW HIM"

1st Lt William B. Murray                  P      KIA      6/3/44  Berlin
     Lt Richard M. Lambiotte            CP    POW    6/3/44  Berlin
2nd Lt Orrin H. Heinrich                NAV   POW    6/3/44  Berlin 
2nd Lt William G. Carr                  BOM   POW    6/3/44  Berlin
  T/Sgt Emory L. Brandt             TTE     POW    6/3/44  Berlin
  S/Sgt Fred C. Schillinger            ROG     KIA      6/3/44  Berlin
  S/Sgt Jim Peace                       BTG    POW    6/3/44  Berlin
  S/Sgt Palmer J. Hanson            RWG    POW    6/3/44  Berlin
  S/Sgt Mahlon A. Hall                   TG     KIA      6/3/44  Berlin
    Sgt Nick E. Hamalak                LWG    POW    6/3/44  Berlin

349th Sqdn.  MACR #3017, Microfiche #1020, A/C #42-30799.

Lt. Lambiotte was the regular CP on the crew of F.H. Mason.  The crew on its 15th or 16th
mission.

"Murray's head blown off by 20mm and his body destroyed by fire and explosion after plane
crashed."  Sgt. Hall was in the radio room having his head dressed by Sgt Schillinger and
either fainted or remained to long in the plane and was killed in the crash.  When this
crew joined the 100th group on 1/12/43, 2nd Lt Fred (?) Craft, Jr. was the CP.  No further
record of him has been found.  On 3/3/44 one R.L. Phillips flew on this crew as CP.  He
CPT.
A letter of 9/10/86 from Palmer J.Hanson reads that he recalls that"Fred Craft left our
crew when both his ear drums were damaged."  . . . "R.L.Phillips flew with us on Mar. 4,1943. 
On Mar.6th Lt.Lambiotte joined the crew.  He was a regular on the F.H.Mason crew.  
This was our 15th & last mission."

Information from Lt Vollmer to Tim Lohof (Capt Lohof's Son Jan 2002 mpf)

Boy, no kidding what a mission list. Can you imagine going down on your twenty-friggin'-fourth mission? I've also determined that after flying 8 Oct to Bremen, and 9 Oct to Marienburg, they actually took off on the 10 Oct mission to Munster, but had to abort due to their #2 and #3 engines overheating---but by the grace of God… I've been poring through a bunchof primary sources which Paul Andrews so kindly loaned me on 16mm reel and microfiche, including the after-action Operational Narratives, the 100th's war diary, and other documents. 

The other night I called up Robert Vollmer and talked with him for a while. He provided some interesting info for the story of their collective shootdown. He confirmed they were the very tip of the spear that day--nothing but the enemy ahead of them, the entire 8th AirForce behind them. As for the recall of the mission, Vollmer, of course, had received the call, but Capt Lohoh/ Capt Putnam did not. Intent on maintaining radio silence, Vollmer attempted to communicate the fact of the recall to dad/Putnam using what he called a "code gun" aka a "blinker," even now so many years later still showing slight frustration over why they didn't pickup the recall message and why they could not understand his attempts. He had not known that their radio was faulty (per Putnam's letter to Crosby).Neither had he known that they had determined to turn back anyway, first with an initial slight 5-10 degree left course change and climb to get ontop of the weather into clear sky. Once clear, they would then complete the turn back and head for home. Of course, no sooner did they finally climbout of the clouds, than they were shot down. Anyway, I attach my quickrecap of my phone conversation with him (filed in Lt Lohof Photo file in Photos 2).

Below you also note George Briggs' death in April 1945. Sid Goldenberg told me one account; I've discovered another differing one in the CasualtyReports completed after liberation by my dad Capt. Lohof and his copilot William Vaden.Goldenberg (and Nancy Putnam, who first related it to me) explained thatafter the SS took over the POW camps from the Luftwaffe in late 1944, things got very serious and tensions built rapidly on both sides. It seems that during a curfew Briggs was sighted outside the barracks and shot by a guard. He died some days later of an infection that had set in. The CasualtyReports, however, have it entirely differently. They indicate that during a forced march Briggs collapsed in an epileptic-type fit and died on a roadsomewhere. Hopefully, I might nail down which is fact as I interview the remaining crew members.


An Account of the Downing and Capture of Capt. Robert Lohof, USAAF, 3 March 1944, Target: BERLIN (by Tim Lohof) mpf 2002

 By February 1944, the 100th Bomb Group's heavy losses had earned it the moniker "Bloody Hundredth" and along with rotations of the few completing their 25 missions-the Lucky Bastards club-had established Dad as the senior crew of the groups 349th Bomb Squadron.  As such, dad and his crew led the way in the #1 position on of the lead element of the lead squadron (the349th) for the 8th Air Forces first real attemp at a daylight bombing of Berlin on 3 March 1944.  It was Capt Lohof's 23rd mission over enemy territory.  Weather and a tremendous cloud build -up enroute over the North Sea caused the Division leader to finally abort the mission over the Schleswig-Holstein coast.  Dad's radio operator, however, never received the call.  Despite his wingmen's attempts to convince him of the abort, (Gossage in the #2 position and Vollmer in the #3, both of whom had heard the abort call) and otherwise reluctant to turn back in the weather with the rest of the squadron, group, and armada behind him, Capt Lohof insisted on pressing on with the mission. (note: believe Capt Putnam would have made this decision since he was Command Pilot that day. Mpf) 
 Shortly after Dad's lead element disappeared into the cloud bank that had risen up, other pilots witnessed the bright flash of an explosion and later reported their belief that Dad and Vollmer had collided and debris so damaged Gossage's plane that he, after a radio call to the effect, intended to make an emergency landing in Sweden (he eventually landed in Denmark, believing it was Sweden).  In fact, they had not collided but rather successfully climbed above the clouds to 31,000 feet.  Unfortunately, 6 FW 190's soon spotted the lone trio and in a single pass, raked across the three plane formation to immediately down two B-17's, including Capt Lohof and Vollmer.  Crossing from 8 to 2 O'Clock, the fighters knocked out dad's two starboard engines, causeing the plane to quickly roll over and plumett back into the clouds.  Dad struggled to finally regain control around 19,000 feet and ordered "Bail Out"!  With all apparently out of the plane, he recalled just before going out the cockpit hatch, locking eyes down the passage way with his good friend William Vaden (Nav) who was standing ready to jump out the open Bomb Bay.  They gave thumbs up to each other and jumped, not knowing the next time they would meet would be 32 years later in 1976 at the 100th BG reunion in Colorado Springs.
 Dad's free-fall lasted for some time, he recalled the absolutely freezing conditions as he fell blindly through constant cloud while delaying deploying his chute at such high altitude.  Finally, anxiety overcame him in the long white out and he pulled his cord, feeling his chute open just as he fell out the bottom of the overcast at only 2000 feet AGL.  He knew he'd already been spotted coming down as he hit the ground somewhere near Bremen.  Ironically, no more than 100 miles east of the Dutch town his father left some forty years before to immigrate to the USA.  He had no time to gather and hide his chute, which otherwise blended somewhat well with the patchy snow cover.  He knew too, that he didn't have the heart to shoot anyone with his service revolver in such circumstances and so buried it under dirt and leaves in a hedge. Successfully evading civilian search parties for over 2 hours, he was finally cornered by German farmers, who took him prisoner at the tip of pitchforks.  Back at one farmers house, a call was made for German soldiers to come retrieve him. But during the 2+ hour wait, the farmer treated Dad well and took great joy showing him around the farm after learning he had grown up on a Montana/Wyoming sugar beet farm.
 Soldiers at last picked up Capt. Lohof, taking him to Stuttgart for around 1 week's interrogation. Finally told, "for you the war is over", he ended up in Stalag Luft 1 near Barth, Germany, on the Baltic sea coast, where he spent the last fifteen months of the war.  He delighted in recalling that the German s there finally stopped taking American out to the work fields , as invariably half -unlike the other nationalities-would be found missing at day's end trying to escape.  Advancing Russians freed the camp in May 1945.

Capt. Lohof's Awards:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal (w/ 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
Presidential Unit Citation
European, African, Middle East Campaign (w/ one Battle Star)
WW2 Victory Medal
French Croix de Guerre


ROBERT L PHILLIPS,82
BORN 4 DEC,1918
DIED 7 JUNE 2001
BURIED at WILLAMETTE NATIONAL CEMETERY IN PORTLAND,OREGON

*************************************************************************************************************

S/Sgt Richard L. David
100th BG / 349th BS
 
b. Nov. 18, 1920 - d. Mar. 4 2013 
 
69 years and 1 day after being shot down in Germany over Berlin and being held prisoner for 11 months. 
 He was part of Capt. Robert Lohof's crew on A/C # 42-31970 when they where shot down on a mission to Berlin.
 You may find it interesting to know that I have a letter from my grandfather to my great-grandmother dated November 3, 1943 detailing that he was on the original crew of "Ol' DAD" A/C # 42-3534.  In the letter, my grandfather states that their "Ship" was a B-17G and that the nicknames of the crew were painted in their positions. My grandfather was the RWG. His nickname was "Dick".  He names the pilot as "Crash".  The copilot as "Jockey". Tailgunner "Gramps". Navigator "Foparty". Bombardier, Andy J. "Melonhead". And LWG as "Hoboken.
 
In his letter, he also describes the nose art as a "raunchy character holding a mug of beer".
 
I have searched and searched for information about the original crew of "Ol' DAD" and her artwork, but have yet to come up with anything except the crash and her crew at the time, which my grandfather was not on.  
 
At the time of the crash of "Ol' DAD" (April 1944) my grandfather had already been in a "Luftwaffe hospital near the North Sea" sent to several other p.o.w. camps until ending up in Stalag IVD. (Anneburg near Leipzig). I have a separate letter written by my grandfather detailing the accounts of what happened after his crash in A/C # 42-31970 also.
 
Here is a link to his obituary:
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/obituary/3418306 
 
I thank you for your time.  I know that there are fewer and fewer of these heroes with us everyday and how important it is that they are remembered.
 
God Bless,
Simon Smith
simple0315@aol.com

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Berlin DATE: 1944-03-03  
AIRCRAFT: (42-31970) CAUSE: FW-190  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Robert H. Lohof crew (left to right)
Standing: Vern R. Lines, Guy L. Brown, Richard L. David, James M. Butler,
Sidney A. Goldenberg, George W. Briggs
Kneeling:  William E. Vaden, Paul T. Davis, Robert L. Phillips, Jr., Robert H. Lohof.
The photo was taken in Dyersberg, TN, in the summer of 1943 - 100th BG Photo Archives 

 Robert H. Lohof crew, Top Row; L to R, Richard L. David, Vern R. Lines, Paul T. Davis, Robert L. Phillips, Jr., Robert H. Lohof, and William E. Vaden, Bottom Row; George W. Biggs, James M. Butler, and Guy L. Brown. The photo was most likely taken at Blythe, California, and does not include the crew's tenth member, Sidney A. Goldenberg, probably because he had not yet been assigned. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 Robert H. Lohof Cadet picture (100th Photo Archives) Robert H. Lohof, POW 3 March 1944 on Berlin mission (100th Photo Archives) 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 3164