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History of a propeller
The history of a B-17 F bomber, factory #42-5789, and of two propellers, one of which is
on display in the Museum at the Castle, in the Raesfeld exhibition WW II 1939-1945
[Translated by Bernard J. Siehling, 5375 Egypt Valley, Belmont, MI 49306 U.S.A.
written by Richard Suehling, Heimatverein Raesfeld, Germany] Status: 020908

This propeller serves as an eye catcher
in the museum in Raesfeld

[Richard Suehling wrote down this first section in July 2007. It is based on the report by
eyewitness Willi Knuewer from Heiden, and reports by the still living crew member Harold
Kline in statements he made to my brother on the phone and my own considerations as to
what happened inside the airplane. Harold Kline was the belly gunner. The actual
connections became more apparent once the precise descriptions dealing with the crash were
available from the biography of pilot Paul Kahl.]

A memorable Day

In the morning of the 22
of June 1943 the American Airforce carried out a major attack with
243 B17s [Flying Fortresses] of the Chemical Works in Marl-Huels [BUNA]. Fourteen

bombers did not return to their home bases in England. It was the last flight also for the B 17
[factory # 42- 5789]

Two motors were out of commission by anti-aircraft or German fighter attacks. The plane left
its position within the squadron and lost altitude continuously. After useless attempts to regain
control of the plane the pilot ordered the crew to use their parachutes and jump. Two crew
members had jumped already when it was reported that the machine gunner Harold D. Kline
in the belly was unconscious. With combined forces they dragged him through the narrow
entry and he regained consciousness. The jump signal was still on. But the remaining crew
members did not trust the machine gunner to jump on his own or the salvage efforts had lost
so much time that the altitude was too low to jump. The pilot searched for a landing place,
made a final circle around Heiden and prepared to land. After he made contact with the
ground he slid across a potato field and came to rest near the farm Ebbing-Lohaus close to the
road from Heiden to Borken. The plane had torn down 2 wooden electrical masts that
supplied Ebbing-Lohaus. The eight remaining crew members could leave the plane under
their own power.

With the assistance of US military archives I obtained a list of all planes that did not return to
their bases in England from this attack. That report also contained the number of missing and
prisoners of war crew members as well as indications of approximate locations of the lost
planes in Belgium, Germany and Holland. Even though no localities like Heiden or Borken
were mentioned, it was possible by comparing data to reduce it to 2 or 3 planes that might
have landed in Heiden. The first attempt was a hit.

Here is a list of the crew members:

Aircraft/Group Pos. Rank First Name Last Name State COUNTY Status Phone

25789/91 5TT T/Sgt George V. Barnett TX DALLAS .......
25789/91 8LW Sgt Boyd C. Burkey PA BERKS died ......
25789/91 3N 2Lt Ely E. Cohen NY KINGS ...
25789/91 4B 2Lt William L. Corson OH BUTLER died ..
25789/91 9RW S/Sgt Clement L. Fuller MA HAMPDEN died ..
25789/91 6RO T/Sgt Daniel (NMI) Goldstein NY ? . . . . . . . . . . (602) 862 9129
25789/91 1P Lt Paul D. Kahl CA MERCED Austr. 067 954 400
25789/91 7BT Sgt Harold S. Kline PA BERKS (610) 367-7826
25789/91 2CP Lt John M. Pearse TX ? . . . . . . . . . . ..
25789/91 10TG S/Sgt Thomas P, Ryan NJ MONMOUTH died ..

By e-mail received on 15 of July 2007 I obtained the names of three
crew members that might be alive yet, namely Harold Kline, Daniel
Goldstein (both U.S.) and Paul Kahl in Australia. In the next few
days my brother Bernie [Photo on the left] in the U.S. made phone
contact with all of them and asked questions about goings-on in the
air and on the ground. Paul Kahl turned out to be the most reliable
source. He answered a few questions by phone, additional ones by
e-mail of 31 July 2007. In this e-mail he mentions his autobiography
with the title Cotton pickin Pioneer to check out the details. He
asked his secretary to send my brother the book. On page 40 of his
book Paul Kahl reports that 2 gunners had not received the order to
stay with the plane and had jumped on their own.

In the fourth paragraph on page 40 he describes his attempt to flee together with his co-pilot
and how they were taken prisoners by two children carrying rifles. So he reports. These two
children were Willi Knuewer and Alfons Brun. He also reports that an older armed man
took over and accompanied them to the local office. This man was named Heinz Franzen. He
happened to spend his leave in Heiden and because of this capture received an extra day of
leave. When they were turned in, they got together with the rest of the crew members.

The sketch below shows the 10-men
in a B-17 (Flying Fortress).
-and the function they had in their location of the plane

(from left):
One Bomb Aimer, One Observer (responsible for two front hatch -MGs), Two Flight-
Captains (Pilot and Copilot), One Flight Engineer, (at the same time responsible for the
upper MG-turret), One Wireless Operator, One Belly Gunner, Two MG-Gunners, (one
for the left and one for the right side in the middle of the fuselage), One Tail Gunner
According to Kershaw: War Planes 1939-1945

Events in Heiden, Borken County

1) Eyewitness report by Alfons Brun (left) and Willi Knuewer (right), part I:

Alfons Brun, 16 years old, and Willi
Knuewer, 17, were working in the
machine shop of Kaspar Meirick in
Heiden. They were curiously watch-
ing the sky. They suddenly saw a low-
flying 4-engine bomber with
problems. His altitude was quickly
diminishing and he made a last turn
around the church steeple of Heiden
[so told by Willi Knuewer) when they
lost sight of the plane.

2) Eyewitness report by Christine Radefeld, Weseke, nee Wissing from Heiden:

Like many young women of that time I was ordered to work on a
farm. I was 24 years old and helped out on the Klein-Hoeing farm in
Heiden. On that sunny morning I was working together with a
Polish farm worker to kill weeds in a potato field. Our eyes were
occupied with killing weeds to make sure we werent hitting
potatoes. We noticed that at high altitude planes flew above us, but
we were not disturbed.

Suddenly that changed when a very strong motor noise broke the
peaceful quiet. We looked up and went into shock. At tree level a plane came closer flying
right at us. Was that an attack upon us? To escape we ran for our lives. A moment later the
plane touched the ground. The earth was thrown up and left a deep track in the potato field
and came to rest in a neighbors field. We were shocked and ran as quick as we could to the
Klein-Hoeing farm. It was an event I have never forgotten.

3) Eyewitness report by Josef Ebbing-Lohaus from Heiden:

Early in the morning on June 22 1943 it promised to be a beautiful
day I harnessed two horses to a mowing machine and went on my
way to cut grass in a meadow 1 km away. It must have been around
9 am when I looked up to the sky and observed aerial fighting. I
interrupted my work, untied the horses and watched the happenings
high in the sky from a supposedly safe distance. It was time anyhow
to give the horses a rest.
All of a sudden I became involved in the events. A 4-engine bomber
flew by at low altitude and disappeared behind the trees in the
direction of our farm. Did that plane crash into my parents house?
Terrific fear came over me. In a big hurry I jumped on the back of
one horse and rode both of them home. I left the mowing machine
behind. I couldnt let go of the fear and it was throttling my throat. My fear only left me when
I saw my parents house undamaged. The bomber in the field and the events around the plane
were of little interest to me. Important was that my house had no damage. I had a close look at
the plane during the next days until the remains were carted off.

4) Josef Ebbing-Lohaus summarizes the oral statements of his father dealing with the earlier
events as follows: His father, also named Josef, born in 1886, tragically killed by American
Troops on the 28
of March 1945, on the day of the occupation of Heiden.

My father also had observed the crash landing. At a safe distance
to the plane he walked a grassy road lined by fruit trees taking him
from the farm towards the Borken Street. Between the crashed
plane and this road lay a grain field that went up to the road.
Several crew members had crossed that field and met my father on
the road. My father was undecided what to do. He saw no
indications of anyone fleeing or any other threat and it was his
intent to take the prisoners back to the farm to make further plans
for them. Just then an armed German officer who was on furlough
and came from Borken with his bicycle turned in. He took over my
fathers responsibilities for the prisoners and led them to the

administration in Heiden. I cannot remember how many prisoners my father talked about.

Remarks by Richard Suehling:
Supposedly these were the 6 who were in the fuselage of the plane and left the plane right
after the belly landing. One of them had been found unconscious in the belly gunners
position and had been pulled up. He had been hit on the head by a fragment but even while in
the plane he regained consciousness. Because the other 5 felt responsible for this man, none
of them intended to flee or hide. The wounded ones name was Herald Kline and lives in the
U.S. in old age.

5) Eyewitness report by Alfons Brun and Willi Knuewer, part II:

At the same time we both left the spot in front of
our shop from where we had been watching the
action and ran to the suspected crash site. We ran
into other spectators but we stayed at a safe distance
of the belly landed plane. Nobody dared to get close
to the plane because of a fire in the front fuselage
and exploding munitions. At that moment we
noticed that 2 crew members left the plane in the
direction of the Borken Street. They crossed this
road in the direction of the railroad station Marbeck-Heiden and disappeared in some brush.
We followed those 2 fleeing members at a safe distance and not without fear and rapid heart
beats. As we pursued them one of us remembered that the pursuit would make a better
impression if we were armed. We quickly decided we would go to the Post family. It was
right on the road and Mr. Post was a hunter and owned some weapons. Mrs. Post handed us a
rifle and added: But you dont get any ammunition. Being armed we got a lot braver and
took up the pursuit vigorously.

The soldier on furlough, Heinz Franzen, came over from his parents house and watched what
happened not far from the Bahnhofstrasse. He had seen that the fleeing crew members had
crossed the brushy area and reached a grain field. This caused him to fire a warning shot from
his pistol above their heads. The noise of the shot scared the daylights out of us. But as a
result the two fleeing crew members with hands up in the air came out of the grain field. We
were proud of our taking prisoners. Heinz Franzen took over the responsibility of guarding
and we altogether made our way to the community administration of Heiden. We turned over
the prisoners and they were questioned. We lost all tracks until the year 2007. [Please note
the report Nr.10 by American Pilot Paul Kahl.]

6) Eyewitness report by Adolf Ebbing-Lohaus from Heiden:

Adolf Ebbing-Lohaus at that time was15 years old and was an
apprentice in a nursery business. He watched from Marbeck the last
flight maneuvers of the bomber above Heiden, but was somewhat
distant from the immediate events. He later took a few photos of this
belly- landed plane. He carried these photos during the remainder of
the war time. When he was captured by American troops near
Vienna in 1945, they took the photos away. They can possibly be
found today in some archives in the U.S.A.


B-17G [Flying Fortress]

Boeing B-17 G Flying Fortress; Length: 22,55 m, Span: 31,39 m;
Maximum Speed: 462 km/h; Rated Speed: 293 km/h;
Bomb Weight: 3629 kg (in different varieties); Crew: 10 men;
Range: 3380 km with a Bomb Weight of 2227 kg,
Weapons: 13x12,7 mm Browning MGs.

B-17G 44-83868
on its penultimate flight in October 1983
(now at the RAF Bomber Command Museum at Hendon)

In a normal procedure crashed planes were being guarded until
they could be removed. Germany at that time was suffering
from a continuous lack of resources. In addition, technical
experts of the German Secret Service investigated crashed
planes to find out if the enemy had developed new technical
secrets of importance for the German Airforce. Two guards took
turns every 2 hours at the landing place. Kaspar Meirick had
volunteered to serve as a guard. His guard duty started at 22.00
hours which was onset of darkness. He took Willi Knuewer
along. Kaspar Meirick had picked this time for a purpose. As
soon as the previous guards were out of sight both of them
worked intensively during the dark of the night. Kaspar Meirick
told Willi Knuewer to work on the propellers while he concerned himself with the tail wheel.
After a short while Willi Knuewer had dismantled two props in reasonable condition, one
each on the right and on the left side. His boss had some difficulties dismantling the tail wheel
and Willi Knuewer wanted to help him. As he climbed through the hatch into the fuselage he
stumbled on some wire ropes and suddenly a machine gun fired. Nobody was hit. Kaspar
Meirick screamed holy hell: What are you doing? [Watt maekkst Du doar?] It remained
quiet after that and soon the tail wheel was dismantled. One prop and the tail wheel they
loaded on their handcart and pushed it out of sight in case their relief arrived. The second prop
was too heavy to transport on their handcart. They therefore quickly in the darkness dug a 20-
inch deep star-shaped hole. They lowered the prop down, covered it carefully with dirt and
wiped out all tracks. As their relief arrived, they pulled the handcart with the 2 looted parts to
Kaspar Meiricks shop. After this nightly escapade the 16-year old Willi Knuewer fell into
bed dead-tired.

But the next morning he was at work at the usual time. He didnt know any different. During
the course of the day the propeller was taken apart and at a favorable point in time and
without causing any commotion Willi Knuewer started the forge to a white heat. Kaspar
Meirick placed the crucible in the middle of the heat and cleverly placed the first blade into
the crucible and both of them watched with fascination how it got shorter and only molten
aluminum remained in the pan. With a proper ladle Kaspar Meirick transferred the liquid
metal into cans. They did the same with the second and third rotor blade. Once the contents of
the cans cooled down he had obtained valuable raw material that the jack-of-all-trades Kaspar
Meirick on his lathe made into V-belt pulleys as time went on. The hub of the tail wheel was
quickly reduced by a few millimeters in the lathe and would now fit into a self-binder

What happened to the second propeller?
It rested in the ground for many years. Beginning 1944 Willi
Knuewer was drafted into the Work Service, and then into the
military. He returned from an American prison camp in the fall of
1947. Years later he remembered the funeral of the propeller in the
field way back. It was in 1974 when he got into a conversation one
day with farmer Heinrich Hellenkamp [Photo left] who was leasing
the field. The farmer was very doubtful because he had never made
any contact with foreign bodies as he was plowing his field. But he
promised to lower his plow slightly and to his big surprise he hooked
the prop and dragged it to the surface. He unloaded the propeller behind his farm. It rested in
the ground for 31 years. Only later Willi Knuewer found out about it.


One day a Raesfeld citizen working for the regional power company climbed a pylon and
discovered the propeller in the weeds behind the barn and he notified Adalbert Friedrich who
at that time was president of the Raesfeld Homeland Museum and who was at that time
involved in the preparations of the well-known exhibition in the Museum at the Castle
[Raesfeld 1939-1945]. Adalbert Friedrich contacted a colleague in Heiden who in turn
notified Willi Knuewer that his propeller had possibly shown up behind the barn of farmer

But whose property was this propeller now? The American Airforce? The German armed
forces? The long ago apprentice Willi Knuewer? His boss Kaspar Meirick? The city of
Borken who owned the parcel? The earlier lessee Klein-Hoeing? The latest lessee Heinrich

Adalbert Friedrich together with Willi Knuewer and Heinrich Hellenkamp searched for a
solution. The result was that the museum in Raesfeld received the propeller on permanent
loan to exhibit it in the museum near the castle in Raesfeld. The actual ownership could
understably not be decided on.

On the 15
of November 1982 Adalbert Friedrich
and the Raesfeld farmer Johannes Bckenhoff
brought the prop with a tractor from Heiden to
Raesfeld [Photo left]. It was temporarily stored in
Bckenhoffs barn.

As a kind of Salomonic thank-you Willi Knuewer
and Heinrich Hellenkamp, both from Heiden, were
invited to Raesfeld for the 1984 opening of the
Museum. They were seated in the front row of all
invited guests.

8) Report by Richard Suehling:

I completely dismantled the propeller in 1984 in the work space of my
house. We are talking about a so-called variable pitch propeller. I
degreased the interior of the hub and removed all rust from the steel
parts of the hub and protected it against corrosion. I welded a flange at
the right height of a solid column reaching from the floor to the ceiling
of the museum. After the column was secured, the prop was bolted on.
Ever since it has served as an a eye catcher in the exhibit Raesfeld

9) Report by Alfons Broesterhaus concerning the tail wheel:

On the 17
January I had a long talk on the Broesterhaus farm in Heiden. Alfons Broester-
haus could remember the location of taking the prisoners but he had no part in the capture. He
now reports on how the tail wheel ended up on the Broesterhaus farm. As the eyewitness
report of Willi Knuewer shows he had dismantled it from the flying fortress in a nightly

action and took it to his bosses shop.
Already early the next day his boss
tightened the wheel into an old
lathe, shortened the width a little
and fitted it into a harvester. A
farmer Brinkert was the lucky one
whose machine a few days later in
exchange for the usual steel wheel
was outfitted with this comfortable
rubber-tired wheel. It served its
purposes until farmer Brinkert
started a for-hire enterprise and no
longer needed the binder. The machine changed hands and
became property of the farmer Broesterhaus. As time for self-
binders passed and this machine was finally taken out of
commission, Alfons Broesterhaus dismantled the wheel and
stored it in the loft of his barn where it is resting to this day.

Report by the pilot Paul Kahl as found in his autobiography COTTON PICKIN PIONEER.
ps. 37 43.

Our crew had a pretty good run for seven raids. We had lost one
engine earlier. Then the trouble started. We came home from Bremen
very tired. I swung the plane around to put its tail under the tree
where we parked and felt a crunch. I had gotten too close and caught
the top of the vertical stabilizer and bent it. After getting out of the
plane feeling badly the ground crew chief took a look at me and said,
Dont worry about the tail, Lieutenant. I said, Why not? He said,
Come over here. On moving away from the airplane it was clear to
me what he meant. There was a very large hole in the centre a metre
or more, probably made by an explosive thirty seven millimeter,
leaving a third of the vertical stabilizer missing. We also had a lot of small holes along the
fuselage. No one had been hit. On the next raid a thirty seven millimeter or flak exploded in
the number three engine. I managed to get it feathered but it was close as the oil pressure
dropped rapidly. Flak fragments riddled that part of the wing, oil line, wiring and right
landing gear. We got it on the ground without further damage. I used the emergency brake on
the left wheel to compensate for a blown tire on the right. That worked well and we ran off
onto the grass. The raid after that we had an engine shot out with more fuselage damage. We
put four planes in a row into the major repair depot.

In mid June our squadron (322) commander told me that I would be a flight leader after the
next raid. That meant that in eleven missions I had moved two thirds of the way up the ladder
and only two crews in the squadron had finished their missions. An indication of the attrition
rate. He also said I was in the process of being promoted to first lieutenant. And our crew
would have a week off.

We took off on June 22 1943 for Huels [Marl-Huels], Germany, our first penetration of the
Ruhr proper [industrial area]. Our target was a synthetic rubber plant that was not in a town or
near a river. The British radar could not pick it up so we were to get it. It was a high priority.

We were flying back and outside not a good position in the next to the last group. Again,
not good. Our crew had a new navigator as ours was promoted to group navigator. He flew
only when the 91
led the raid. My roommate, who was on his last mission, was given the job
of group navigator on this day. It was a stupid decision. I was not aware of this at the time. He
was the one who was always a nervous wreck before a raid. There was nothing I could have
done about it anyway. It was his twenty fifth mission. Unfortunately the brass sometimes
made decisions on the basis of the heart response rather than using their brains. We also had a
different co-pilot, a first pilot on his first mission to observe how things were done. Unlucky

We had a fine trip until about twelve or fifteen minutes before the target when all hell broke
loose. Fighters were coming from our side in a three abreast formation. These flights of three
were flying so closely together that as soon as one fighter broke downward the next one was
close enough to start firing. Apparently some of them were green pilots flying wing to wing
and firing when the leader fired. There were Focke Wulfs and Messerschmitts. We had never
seen this before and it was causing some confusion for the gunners. They were switching
targets too rapidly from one target to another. I was taking fairly violent evasive action.

This is how it really was

Our number four engine was hit and on fire. I could not feather it. We increased power on the
other engines to stay with the other planes. The intercom system was gone and hydraulic
pressure was failing. We had some electrical problems and rapidly declining oxygen pressure.
Number three engine was hit and on fire. The co-pilot feathered it and put the fire out. We
were falling back. I restarted number three but it burst into flames and vibrated badly so
feathered it again. Number four started to disintegrate. Pieces were flying off. The wing was
vibrating s o violently the eye could not focus on it. It was just a blur. The fighters were still

boring in. Obviously, we were taking a great number of hits. I had no idea how the rest of the
crew was faring without the intercom. Just after feathering number three for the second time
we dropped our bombs on target.

We were beginning to fall behind in spite of losing some altitude. I told the co-pilot to put his
chute on. About this time I noticed that the right wing was not all there. Approximately two
meters of the outer end were missing. I grabbed the hose on my emergency oxygen bottle and
stuffed it into my mouth. Then real trouble. Number two propeller started running wild with
no pulling power. I rang the alarm bell. The navigator stuck his head through the hatch. I told
him to get out. The co-pilot had not gotten his chute on yet, a chest chute with two snaps to
clip onto the harness already being worn. He was seriously affected by oxygen starvation,
akin to being drunk. A waist gunner came forward to report that the ball turret gunner had
been hit and was unconscious and still in the turret. Events were flashing past as in a movie
film which had its speed doubled. I couldnt leave the ship with two people unable to jump
and I also didnt like staying up there like a sitting duck continuing to be shot at. I told the
gunner to go back and tell the crew to get the ball turret man out and then all of them get into
crash landing positions as I was going down and would land it. I rolled the plane onto its
back, pulled the nose down, cut the throttle on number one (the only engine that was left
running properly) and went into a tight spiral. All this was to show that the plane was out of
control and not worth shooting at. I had to hold the nose down with my feet against the wheel.
We could not use the trim tabs for if a cable were cut wed go straight in. With no trim tab
change and a cable broke we would tend to level out and give the crew time to bail out. Now
at six thousand metres and traveling at over twice our rated speed with number four engine
and wing still a blur, number two prop literally screaming we had a fair chance of not being
followed and shot at any further. We also had a good chance of living if I could just get it on
the ground in one peace.
The time span from the bomb drop to our descent was quite short. There was no time for
At three thousand metres, which the number two engine prop flattened out and running at
three times its maximum rated rpm. Its screaming was severe. It could have exploded.
Number four crankshaft broke and the prop flew off. Shortly it was followed by the rest of the
engine right back to the wing. The shortened right wing was now quiet

I leveled off at a thousand metres over generally rough terrain. There were streams, small
hills, scattered trees, wooded areas, winding roads, very small fields and small farms with
houses and barns. I picked two little postage stamp fields next to each other, ascertained the
wind direction, did a proper procedural approach, came in fairly low up wind and wheels up,
number one engine on nearly full power, cut it and settled on the top of the boundary fence.
We skidded across both fields and came to a stop with dirt piled up in front of the engines.
Some satisfaction was gained from some last minute damage to the Third Reich. The vertical
stabilizer caught a large number of wires from a cross country telephone system, pulling down
poles as well as helping to slow us down. The pilots went out their side windows. The
windows were quite small but it didnt take us long. There was still danger of an explosion.
All was quiet. The lord was still with us. The engineer and I reached back inside for our
incendiaries and planted one on each wing. The plane was soon an inferno. We didnt wait to
watch but had already taken off in pairs as per regulations. Evade if possible, do not resist and
dont carry any weapons.

The waist gunner sergeant stayed with the ball turret gunner. On the way down he had hand-
cranked the turret around, unsnapped the fasteners on the turret door and pulled the gunner

out with help from the other waist gunner. There was a big gash on the side of the gunners
head were a large shell had gone through the turret and taken a strip of hide exposing an area
of bone but not fracturing it. He was given a shot of morphine and had a very credible
bandage wrapped around his head in less than six minutes after I told the gunner we would be
going down to land. Obviously there was no panic. The bombardier and navigator were
missing. They had jumped.
Our navigator told us later that the group navigator had gotten confused and overshot the IP
(interception point). By the time our group turned back the group originally behind us had
gone across the target ahead of us leaving our plane in the worst possible of the whole one
hundred and twenty plane raid. They sustained one loss but the 91
lost five planes. The
remaining groups lost ten, one or two each.
School was let out in the nearby village and kids with rifles and old men with shotguns
appeared. There were too many people around us. We couldnt get out of their sight. They had
us rounded up within fifteen or twenty minutes. The reason for no arms was that we were
not trained for ground fighting. Generally, aircrew would have gone through a very stressful
situation just prior to landing. If we killed a couple of Germans the next crews shot down
would all be shot on sight.
The co-pilot and I, while crawling through a grain field, were met by two kids, aged
approximately eleven to thirteen [Annotation: they were sixteen and seventeen] with rifles.
Another worry our captors were extremely nervous. Then an old man with his shotgun came
and took us a kilometer to the village hall.
After some rather comical interrogation by the local Buergermeister some soldiers came along
and marched us about sixteen km to a railway station where we caught up with our navigator
and bombardier. After dark we detrained and were put in a covered wagon pulled by horses
and taken to the airfield near Muenster. By this time part of another crew from a YB 17 was
with us making the group sixteen in all. The YB 17 was not an overly successful attempt to
fool the Germans. It had about double our number of guns, was much more heavily armour-
plated and carried no bomb load but flew along in vulnerable positions. Their major problem
was getting their extra weight home in a company with unloaded airplanes.
It was past midnight when we were separated and put in two adjoining basement rooms with a
two and a half centimeter thick wrestling mats on the floor and were given one slice of sour
black bread and cold ersatz tea. A guard was posted in the doorway between the rooms. It was
very cold. We piled close together on the mats trying to gain a little warmth. About 3:00 a.m.
there was a lot of noise. Someone was talking loudly in German and then in English
demanding to know which of us was the pilot. I managed to sit up and tell him (a captain in
the German Luftwaffe) that I was. He ordered me to stand up. I was too exhausted and, after
making an attempt to get up, just sat there. He started out in German. I broke in with No
spreken ze Deutch. He then gave me a short lecture on U.S.Air Corps officers educational
shortcomings, as German pilots generally knew three or four languages. He then got down to
the real business at hand. Did I know that I had a Daniel Goldstein and an Eli Cohen on my
crew? I acknowledged that I was aware of that. He said, Oh, you were forced to take them?
I said, No. They were assigned to my crew and I accepted them.
Well! I got a five to six minute tirade the like of which Id never heard before my life. He was
livid. Really!!! I thought he was going to lose control of himself. He told me what he thought
of me personally, my ancestors, the U.S.Air Corps and, of course, the Jews who were the
scum of the earth. To bring them along to fight against Germany, to drop bombs on the true
Aryans, was the lowest of the low. He would never have any respect for U.S. flyers again.
After he stalked out, I collapsed. Never in my life had I experienced such total fatigue.

A little later and still dark, one of the sergeants from the next room was gently shaking my
arm. He told me that Cohen and Goldstein were freezing. Why? He said that they were
lying on the concrete naked. That woke me up. He then told me that the German captain had
made them take off all their clothes and get off of the mats onto the concrete floor. I asked
where their clothes were. They had been put in the closet on the other side of their room
where the toilet bucket was. I asked how he had gotten past the guard. He said he had crawled
through and the guard had done nothing. I was watching the guard during this quiet
conversation. He was looking at the floor as though he did not know anything was going on. I
said, okay. You crawl back past the guard and then get up and walk slowly across the room to
the closet. Get the clothes and help Daniel and Eli get them back on and back onto the mats
with the rest of you. Ill keep my eye on the guard and if he shows any agitation Ill call your
name. If I do that, stop what you are doing and get back on the mat. The guard never moved
a muscle. When the slight noises from movements next door ceased I was asleep immediately.
Only twice did I see the German Luftwaffe single out Jews from the US forces for special
treatment. One might question why I sent a sergeant into danger rather than doing it myself,
For an officer to do a menial job would seriously demean him in the German guards mind
with subsequent loss of respect. Also, why was an officer doing it? He must have an ulterior
motive, a cause for doubt.

The next morning a rather casual attempt was made at interrogation. I complained that the
medical orderly had done nothing for our gunner Kline. The officer said that a German
orderly had checked the gunner (I knew this). He found no temperature, a neat bandage and
no sign of infection. The captain said that the Germans only had sterile bandages for real
emergencies so he would be better left untouched.

Bombardier Corson was in considerable pain and had some difficulty in walking. The two up
front had not received the landing plan. When told to jump he had jammed the bottom escape
hatch so he sat down facing rearward and slammed his feet against it. It went and sucked
Corson out instantly. By this time we were into our dive and doing three times the speed for
safe jumping. On the way out his chest chute caught the bottom hatch door frame which
popped the chute instantly. With his flak suit, flying boots, the lot he would have weighed a
good hundred and fifteen kilograms. He did have his straps up tight. The next day he was
solid black and blue from his waist to his knees due to the straps bursting the surface blood
vessels. His genitals were over twice their normal size and very dark coloured. He was a
worried man. After he had jumped his troubles were still not over. He landed on a toolshed of
a German farm, went through the tile roof and stopped when his arms came into contact with
the roof. He was wedged tight and had to be pulled out by several civilians.
(Annotation: see also eyewitness report [11b] He was still hanging in the straps of his
parachute above a farm wagon between two main beams. His parachute was still lying on the
roof ridge. Moments later German soldiers of the searchlight position nearby arrived. They
chopped off the ropes of his parachute and laid the wounded on the ground outside of the

After the interrogations we were fed a hot meal. It was the first wed had in thirty hours. A
couple of the men grumbled about the green egg (cold storage) on top of the cabbage soup. I
told them theyd better eat everything they were given as things were only going to get worse.
How prophetic! We then entrained for Frankfort on Main where the main processing camp
was for English and American Air Corps POWs. In the German war machine there was a
great rivalry between the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe extending to the separation of
prisoner of war camps. Early in the afternoon the train stopped at a platform in Cologne. The

huge roof covering the station and trains was wrecked. Nearby buildings were badly damaged.
Repair work was in progress. We were detrained to get a bowl of soup from a soup kitchen.
Our identity was obvious. For once the guards had no worries about us wandering off. We
were sticking very close to them. The looks from the civilians were murderous.

11) Eyewitness by Ludwig Tshaus and Johannes Bing.
Memories of the last year of the war on the Tshaus farm in Dorsten- Deuten:

11a) Excerpt from the report by Ludwig Tshaus:
Even during the days we often had to run for the basement. Warning
reports by radio kept us informed in time about size and direction of
bomber squadrons.

22 June 1943
Sizable bomber squadrons over Nimwegen [NL] approaching the
Ruhr Valley was the message of this day. It was a beautiful summer
day. We could hear the roar of the airplane motors of numerous
bombers and saw in the sky the metallic shine of airplanes. The ear-
deafening fire of anti-aircraft guns started. Suddenly a giant bomber came sailing down to
earth. Two drew members jumped. Hanging by their parachutes they came down to earth. One
of them landed on the roof of the equipment shelter on our farm. Shortly afterwards German
soldiers who were stationed in the neighborhood, arrived on our farm und helped down the
unlucky one out of this miserable situation. One of the soldiers was very excited and I
expected that he might have killed the prisoner if several other persons had not arrived at the
locality. This soldier had lost his entire family a few days earlier during attack on the city of

The wounded crew member who was obviously in bad shape by hitting the roof, was laid out
on a barn door and prepared to be moved.

Note: In notes of the teacher Heinrich Borchers it was reported that the wounded man had
broken both legs. This was not the case. The pilot of this plane that came down in Marbeck in
a belly-landing with 8 crewmembers still on board reports:
William M. Corson was the name of the wounded soldier and he had severe bruises,
contusions and abrasions and could only walk with severe pain.

11b) Report by Johannes Bing*:
He was 11 years at the time and he reports: We observed with
childlike interest frequent aerial fights among German and enemy
fighters during the day. Squadrons of bombers were nothing new
for us. They frequently flew over Deuten during the night north of
the Ruhr Valley and bombed targets in that area. As soon as the
alarm was sounded we headed for the bunker near the water mill
and from a safe place watched the development in the sky. With
so-called Christmas trees the targets were marked by advance
pathfinder planes. Then the bombardment started and we could
soon watch the burning targets in the night sky. A searchlight
position was only 500 meters away and the crew could get
individual bombers of the squadron in their beams and provided


W. L. Corson landed on the roof

targets for anti-aircraft crews. Even the nearest anti-aircraft position was only 2 km away.
Within 5 minutes after the first 8.8 centimeter salvo one had to look for protection in the
bunker. That is how long it took until fragments came down to earth and were of lethal danger
to us. We later searched for those fragments and were proud of large examples.

On 22 June 1943 everything was different than usual. I was playing with the one-year
younger Ludwig Heisterkamp, a boy from a neighborhood beyond the water mill. My father
operated the mill. He was not drafted into the service because he had this very important task.
For the first time there was a daytime attack by enemy bombers on the Ruhr Valley industrial
area. Sirens sounded everywhere.

The initially weak hum of hundreds of bomber motors got louder and soon we could observe
the bombers in the cloudless sky. Never before had we seen such a large number of planes. At
high altitude one squadron after another was flying by. The target of this attack must have
been the Buna Works in Marl (synthetic rubber plant). Soon after the ear-deafening noise of
the 8.8 cm flak sounded and German fighters mixed it up with the enemy.

Suddenly one particular bomber became of interest to us for a short time because he lost
altitude continuously and was obviously barely able to fly. But he was soon out of sight and
we no longer could keep track of him. There were 2 crew members that attracted our attention
as they came down on their parachutes from high in the sky. We could not tell if they were
from the previously mentioned plane. It was too hard to tell what was happening in the sky.
One of them seemed to be landing at our immediate locality. We already believed he would
land in the dammed water of the mill but then a draft carried him at the last moment beyond
the water, the trees and our mill. He landed on the roof of the equipment shelter at Tueshaus.
We ran as fast as we could to the shelter. Would we for the first time in our life get to see a
Negro? We had heard that the British and Americans had soldiers with black skin color. The
two of us were the first ones to arrive. The parachutist had pierced the roof with his legs. He
was still hanging in the straps of his parachute above the farm wagon between two main
beams. It was no Negro. His parachute was still lying on the roof ridge. Moments later
German soldiers of the searchlight position arrived. One of the soldiers had days earlier lost
his entire family during a night attack on the city of Essen. He was still in shock after his loss
and might have executed the unlucky parachutist if it hadnt been for us children being there.
They chopped off the ropes of his parachute and laid the wounded on the ground outside of
the barn. He was apparently in big pain. In the meantime soldiers of the anti-aircraft position
arrived by car and we children were moved aside. I was sent away to bring some straw from
the barn. They laid the prisoner on the straw. We later heard that he was transported to the
railroad station in Deuten. From there he was moved by train to Borken.

I dont know what happened to the second parachutist and where he was taken prisoner. I
assume after his landing he was taken into custody and put on the same train to Borken.

Bing, American spelling: Boeing, is the name which is quite familiar to many Americans.
People with this name emigrated from Germany to the U.S. and founded Boeing Aircraft
Last names with the ending ing also like Ebbing (Ebbing-Lohaus), Siehling, name of my
brother in the States and my name Shling, can be found frequently in this region.

The picture shows the plane after it had been
blown up and the scrap could be salvaged
[taken from the book Heiden im zweiten Weltkrieg Heiden during WWII, page 27]


Model B-17-Airplane

(Assembled from a plastic kit and upgraded with 4 switchable dc-motors and position lights. The
model is shown in a simulated flight with propellers running.
The kit has been acquired by Bernard J. Siehling on the occasion of a B17-fly over
at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, [GRR] Grand Rapids, MI, USA and shipped
by snail mail to the Shlings in Raesfeld, Germany.
Assembled, equipped, wired and painted by Winfried Shling, Richards son, and photographed by
Reinhard G. Nieing, Raesfeld.)

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