Crash of B-24 Liberator 44-49858   MACR 12554

Crash of B-24 Liberator 44-49858 MACR 12554


Mission to Vienna rail yards

  • Neukirchen, Austria

The 484th Bomb Group of the Fifteenth Air Force was stationed at Torretto Airfield, Italy in the winter of 1945.  Torretto was located on the Foggia plain in Southern Italy.  The field was located approximately 8 miles from the town of Cerignola.  The runway was constructed of compacted clay gravel with pierced steel planking at the touchdown points.  The taxiways and hardstands were also compacted gravel.  There were no hangers and the control tower was a temporary scaffold structure.  Most of operational facilities were in tents.  The crew also lived in tents with officers four to a tent and enlisted men six to a tent.  The tent floors were dirt with no electricity or running water.  Meals were taken in the mess tent, but airmen were required to provide their own mess kit and cutlery.  This was a much harder life than the other bomb crew facilities of the Eighth Air Force in England.  At times the area was sunny and dry, but when it rained the living areas could become a muddy quagmire.

From the 825th Bomb Squadron, Captain Percy H. Kramer was the pilot of B-24 L Marauder 44-49858 “Belle of St. Jo”.  He and the crew were on their twenty third mission on 21 February 1945 to the railroad marshalling yards at Vienna, Austria. While making a radar run over the target, Kramer and his crew were hit by flak at 13:26 hours.  From the Missing Air Crew Report 12454, Co-pilot 1st Lt. Palmer stated that all eleven of the crew members bailed out at approximately 22,000 feet and landed in the area SSW of Wiener Neustad to Neukirchen, Austria.  He also stated that most received injuries as a result but none were serious.  After about 14 hours after the crash, all of the crew had been captured and were gathered to be sent to Stalag Luft West – Oberusal for interrogation.  The aircraft was said to have landed near Baden, Austria.

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