16 February 1945 — North Sea near Ijmuiden, Holland
The 401st Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 128, Deenethorpe, England. Deenethorpe was located east of Corby on high ground south of the village of Deenethorpe. The 6,000 foot runway and two 5,200 foot cross runways, two T2 type hangers and fifty hardstands was home of the B-17 Flying Fortress’ of the 401st Bomb Group. The group flew 255 missions during the seventeen months they were at Deenethorpe. The 401st had the distinctive “Triangle S” code markings on the tail of their aircraft.
Mission 209 took place on 16 February 1945 to the railroad marshaling yards at Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Thirty-seven crews plus one lead aircraft crew from Kimbolton were briefed in the early morning. The assembly point was to be over the Kingscliffe Buncher at 10,000 feet. All operational aircraft were airborne by 1054 hours, but the airfield was closed shortly thereafter by low visibility (ceiling 400 feet, visibility 1,000 yards). One aircraft was forced to abort and another was diverted to Ridgewell. The railroad marshaling yards at Glesenkirchen, which were of great tactical importance to the Wehrmacht, were bombed through much smoke and haze. The results were poor to fair but much damage was done to the city.
From the 613th Bomb Squadron, pilot 1st Lt. Jeff H. Donaldson and his crew of the B-17 aircraft 43-38187 “Carrie B III” were part of the three squadrons which comprised the 94th Combat Wing “B” group. Sometime around 1200 hours, their aircraft was hit by flak over the target and they lost an engine. Lt. Donaldson feathered that engine and tried to return home. Unable to do so, he called for the crew to bailout before the aircraft crashed into the North Sea near the town on Ijmuiden, Holland. The entire crew parachuted into the North Sea and all managed to climb aboard a single raft. The crew floated for over twelve hours before drifting ashore and being captured as POWs.