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Crash of B-17 44-6831 MACR 12437


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Mission 188 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany

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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.

  • 16 February 1945

Roland Hoyt Brazier

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1st Lt. Roland Hoyt Brazier (O-774504) was the pilot.  He was born on 25 January 1922 in Fort Worth, TX son of Grover C. Brazier (1891-1973) and Georgia Brazier.  He piloted 37 missions over Germany and was captured when his plane went down.  After his liberation, he returned home on 3 June 1945 aboard the Liberty ship USS Monticello.  He lived in Houston, TX.   Roland got a job with the newly organized KGUL, Channel 11 televsion in Galveston.  He later served for 35 years as an executive with Taft Broadcasting Company where he consistently inspired all those around him with his loylaty, commitment, generosity and dignity.

Alvin Guy Hazlett

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2nd Lt. Alvin Guy Hazlett (O-778798) was the co-pilot.  He was born on 18 July 1923 in Glazier, TX son of Howard A. and Lydia A. Hazlett.  He received a bachelor’s degree in 1947 from West Texas State Teachers College and earned his law degree in 1949 from Baylor University.  He maintained a law practice in Borger, TX from 1950 through 1962.  In 1953, he served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives for the 86th District.  In 1990, he ran for a seat in the Texas House for the 88th District but lost that election. Hazlett served as judge of the Court of Domestic Relations in Hutchinson County from 1963 to 1967, a court he helped create while serving the Texas House. He became judge of the 316th Judicial District, Hutchinson County, in 1977, retiring in 1990.

He was a member of the Texas Bar Association and past president of the Borger Bar Association. He had been chairman of the Hutchinson County Juvenile Board. He was past president of the Kiwanis Club and Gateway PTA in Borger. He was a past vice president of the Jaycees and past vice president of District 19 PTA.

He was a Mason and past master of Adobe Walls Masonic Lodge No. 1355.  He was also a member of the El Paso Scottish Rite Bodies, the Order of the Eastern Star and former district Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. He was a member of the Royal Order of Ducks, Khiva Temple and Borger Shrine Association.  He was also a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and American Ex-POWs.

He died on 1 June 1994 in Borger, TX at age 70 years and is buried in Westlawn Cemetery, Borger, TX.

William Jacob Diehl

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2nd Lt. William Jacob Diehl (O-2065521) was the navigator.  He was born on 17 August 1918 in Aurora, IL son of Jacob J. and Clara I. (Ernst) Diehl.  After he graduated from high school, he was employed at Richards-Wilcox.  He then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Camp Grant, IL. After his liberation, Diehl was later recalled to fly a C-47 gunship tour in Korea. He owned and operated Ron-Wil Company for several years.  Later he was employed at Chicago Bridge and Iron as an engineer for over 20 years until his retirement in 1982. He was a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church where he taught Sunday school and was a Boy Scout leader. He died on his 81st birthday, 17 August 1999 in Aurora, IL and is buried in Lincoln Memorial Park in Aurora.

Contributor: jkurtspence
Created: March 2, 2012 · Modified: April 25, 2014

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