CLARENCE JAY BUCKMAN JUNIOR, known by his family as "Buck", was born on 24 December 1920 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was the only son of Clarence Jay Buckman Senior and Ada (Luedinghaus) Buckman. Clarence Buckman Senior was a state senator in Pennsylvania and respected Philadelphia lawyer. Clarence Buckman Junior was following the footsteps of his father by studying the law until the war came along. He eagerly suspended his law studies to join the U. S. Army Air Corps. Clarence married Ann Greenwood on 16 May 1942 in Scarsdale, New York and they had no children. Clarence Jay Buckman JR was a B-17 bombardier, assigned to the 92nd Bomber Group, 327th Squadron, based at Alconbury Airfield, England. He was listed as missing in action during a raid on the 22nd of March 1943 to Wilhelmshaven Germany. His B-17 went down while returning from the Wilhelmshaven raid and was never located. Other crew members on his missing aircraft were: Cpt. McClellan, P, Lt Glenn U. Brooks, 1st Lt Claude Green, T/Sgt Ed Trelawney, Samuel Williams, S/Sgt Felix Makela, Sgt Charles Shapiro and S/Sgt Wallace Max (Bob) Roberts who was the tail-gunner. This Wilhelmshaven raid was on one of the earliest 8th Bomber Command "deep penetration" raids into Germany. Lt Brooks had piloted aircraft on the then famous non-stop Atlantic crossing of a flight of B-17's in August 1942. He is remembered on the "WALL OF MISSING" at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery and Memorial, England.
The family tried to obtain more details about his death but the circumstances concerning his mission were classified even long after the war.
Details of Clarence Buckman's tragic loss are now known. They are from official USAAF and German mission after action reports as follows :
COMBAT CHRONOLOGY OF THE US ARMY AIR FORCES, 22 March 1943 EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force).
"VIII Bomber Command Mission No. 46: 76 B-17's and 26 B-24's are dispatched against the U-boat yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany; 69 B-17's and 15 B-24's drop 224 tons of bombs on the target at 1501-1510 hours local. The USAAF claimed the loss of: 1 B-17 and 2 B-24's; 12 B-17's and 10 B-24's are damaged; casualties are 1 KIA, 18 WIA and 32 MIA."
The aircraft that Clarence Buckman was flying on when he was lost was aircraft serial number 42-29659, a B-17F-65-BO, nicknamed named "Liberty Bell". This aircraft was assigned to the 91st Bomber Group 324th Bomber Squadron. Note: Clarence Buckman was assigned to the 92nd Bomber Group, 327th Squadron, however he was flying a mission for the a 91st Bomber Group 324th Bomber Squadron aircraft when he was lost.
His aircraft was probably lost when a bomb launched by a German Me 109 fighter aircraft, dropped on a formation of B-17 bombers returning from a raid on Wilhelmshaven. The Crash Location was the North Sea.
The "Liberty Bell" is very likely the B-17 bombarded by German fighter pilot Heinz KNOKE. Knoke was indeed the only Me 109 to have had a bomb load on his plane on March 22, 1943. The following is an after action report by Heinz Knoke, his information and personal comments:
Date: March 22, 1943.
Type of claimed plane: B-17 Flying Fortress
Place of the interception: Above Helgoland in 10000m (30,000 feet)
Crash Location: In sea 32km (20 miles) in West of Helgoland, SquareUP-3/6
Presumed USAAF Mission: Bombing Wilhemshaven
Presumed route of USAAF: On the way home after bombing Wilhemshaven
Schedule: KNOKE's takeoff round 15.00
Weather report: Sky without clouds
Knoke's Unit: 2./JG1 KNOKE's Bf 109G, aircraft is slung with a 500-lb. high-explosive bomb equipped with a fifteen-second time fuse.
Knoke's description of the fight: "Iedge forward slowly until I am over the tip of the enemy formation, which consists entirely of Fortresses. For several minutes I am under fire from below, while I take a very rough sort of aim on my target, weaving and dipping each wing-tip alternately in order to see the formation Below two or three holes appear in my left wing.I fuse the bomb, take final aim, and press the release button on my stick. My bomb goes hurtling down. I watch it fall, and bank steeply as I break away.Then it explodes, exactly in the centre of a row of Fortresses. A wing breaks off one of them, and two others plunge away in alarm.Twenty miles west of Heligoland my third heavy bomber crashes into the sea. There is no sign of fire. It is followed by the torn wing fluttering down like an autumn leaf." WENNECHERS is leader of the squadron as a replacement of KNOKE who was delayed to end the load of the bomb under his plane, then victim of one flat.So KNOKE intercepts B-17 on the way back in a height of 10000m. He needs 25 minutes to reach there and fly over B-17s to bomb them. So It's about 15.30.
Detai 1: The B-17 lost a wing. A sure victory.
Detail 2: Knoke does not mention parachutes. Probably no survivors.
-------------------------------------------The German Pilot likely responsible for the downing of Clarence Buckman's aircraft was Heinz Knoke. Heinz Knoke was one of the outstanding German fighter pilots of World War II and his vivid first-hand record of his experiences has become a classic book among aviation memoirs, a best-selling counter-balance to the numerous accounts written by Allied pilots. In his book, "I flew for the Fuhrer", Heinz Knoke reveals his intense patriotism and discipline. He describes being brought up in the strict Prussian tradition, the impact of the coming of the Nazi regime, and his own wartime career set against a fascinating study of everyday life in the Luftwaffe, and of the high morale of the force until its disintegration. He joined the Luftwaffe on the outbreak of war, and eventually became commanding officer of a fighter wing. An outstandingly brave and skillful fighter, he logged over two thousand flights, and shot down fifty-two enemy aircraft. He had flown over four hundred operational missions before being crippled by wounds in an astonishing 'last stand' towards the end of the war. He was awarded the Knight's Cross for his achievements.
The book: "I Flew For The Fürher".
Author : Heinz Knoke (translated by John Ewing).
Publisher : Evans Bros. Ltd., London.
"Buck" was a wonderfully popular person and a true American hero. His memory is still alive in the hearts of surviving family members and in his hometown of Longhorn, Pennsylvania. I recall going to a Christmas Eve service at the Longhorn Episcopal Church in 1965 and they still burned a candle in memory of his birthday on Christmas Eve.