Crash of B-17 44-6831  MACR 12437

Crash of B-17 44-6831 MACR 12437


Mission 188 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany

The 457th Bomber Group, 748th Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 130, Glatton, England.  This airfield was located just north of the village of Conmington in the county of Huntingdonshire.  In between the three runways was a working farm called the Rose Court Farm.  This farm continued in operation during the operations of the 457th Bomber Group missions.

Mission 188 took place on Friday 16 February 1945 with the target to be the synthetic oil refinery at Gelsenkirchen, Germany.  The group and wing assembly were accomplished without difficulty and the bomb run was in squadron formation.  Haze, low fog and contrails made visual bombing impossible so bombs were dropped using G-H equipment.

1st Lt. Roland Hoyt Brazier and his crew of nine were flying the deputy lead of the low box.  Their aircraft was a B-17 Flying Fortress with serial number 44-6831.  Their route to the target was to be at 22,000 feet altitude by way of Holland and Belgium.  At about noon and over the target, the aircraft was hit with intense, accurate and continuously pointed and barrage flak.  Their plane took a direct hit to the wing near the number 3 engine.  See right hand corner of photo below as the damaged aircraft falls from the formation.

The right wing then folded up, broke off and crashed to the ground.  Brazier struggled to gain control of the aircraft.  The burning plane turned over on its back and continued to roll, completing two slow rolls.  It then went down into a spin which was followed by a large explosion.  Eyewitnesses saw the aircraft until it was about 3,000 to 4,000 feet below the formation when it was lost from sight by the contrails.  Four crewmembers were able to parachute to safety.  The six other crewmen were killed.  The wreckage crashed near Castrop-Rauxel near what Brazier described as “a group of trees near an old castle looking building surrounded by a mote.  The place was near several railroad tracks and about 3 kilometers from a town.”

When the men failed to return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12437 was filed.  The other aircraft in the squadron had to land at another airfield because of bad weather at Glatton.

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