The 447th Bomber Group, 709th Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 126, Rattlesden, England. Rattlesden was located 9 miles southeast of Bury St. Emunds in the Suffolk countryside. With its three intersecting concrete runways, fifty hardstands and two large hangers, Rattlesden became home to the B-17 Flying Fortress’ of the 447th in late November 1943. The group’s tail code was a “Square K.” The first mission was flown on Christmas Eve 1943.
1st Lt. Thomas G. DeDiemar and his nine man crew had trained together and can be seen in this undated crew photo above. The photo was taken during training in Drew, FL. Richard J. Glynn is in the back row, second from the right. This crew was assigned to the 709th Bomb Squadron in late October 1944.
Mission number 30 occurred on Friday, 9 February 1945, was to the primary target at the Bohlen oil refinery and the secondary target of the Weimar munitions plant. A total of 311 B-17s took off that morning but only 198 hit the secondary target and 3 aircraft were lost. One of the aircraft lost was the DeDiemar crew. They were flying the new B-17G-20-VE, serial number 42-97624, nicknamed “Devil’s Mate II.” After hitting the munitions plant and turning to head home, the plane experienced engine trouble. The pilot reported to the leader at approximately 13:30 hours that he had feathered one engine but was still able to keep the aircraft under control. There was no flak in the area. The problem was mechanical failure. The aircraft continued losing altitude and pilot DeDiemar ordered the crew to bail out. They were low to the ground and only one airman was able to successfully bail out. The rest of the crew remained with the plane as it belly crashed landed on an exercise field for German troops near Ohrdruf which is located southwest of Erfurt, Germany. The eight crewmen were captured and taken prisoner-of-war.
When the crew failed to return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12241 was sent to headquarters.