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42-51195

B-24 Liberator

B-24 # 42-51195 "Belle Ringer" is listed as having been first in the 493rd Bomb Group at Debach. Transferred to the 491st Bomb Group / 852nd Bomb Squadron, it was hit by Flak on the way to the target, the Gütersloh marshalling yards in Germany on 14 March 1945 with a 854th Squadron crew. Despite one engine out, the crew decided to go on with the mission and dropped their bomb load. On the return flight, another engine quit and Belle Ringer was rapidly losing altitude. It seemed impossible to fly back to England and the crew agreed with Pilot Robert Heichel's decision to try to land the plane on an airfield in liberated Belgium. Navigator Seymour Eisenstat located one near the city of Namur, but as another engine had quit also, probably due to lack of fuel, the pilot finally had to aim for a field and began a wheels-down approach. On the downturn, the B-24 hit the roof of a combo-farm with its left wing. The wing and engines 1 and 2 were found in the remains of the farm, while the rest of the plane crashed in an adjacent field in Florée, about 10km NW of Ciney (SE of Namur), Belgium. No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR). Engineer Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland died after the crash; the 8 other crew members safe, some wounded : Pilot Robert E. Heichel; Co-Pilot Thomas J. Alexander; Navigator Seymour Eisenstat; Radio Operator Anthony P. Turco; Gunner Rheudolph W. Cain; Gunner Lacy C. Gilliam; Gunner Glen C. LeBleu and Gunner Philip E. Trimmer Jr. No civilian victims. Salvaged 23 March 1945, 42-51195 never flew again.
The exact location of the crash could be determined in 2013 with the help of Belgians Amand Collard and Denis Abel (who found the place). During a ceremony at the edge of the field where the Liberator crashed, a ceremony took place on 12 March 2016 to inaugurate a plaque
dedicated to Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland and the crew of "Belle Ringer". See details and photos on Sgt Kingsland's page at http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/140382

Service

Units

  • 491st Bomb Group

    491st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 491st Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators in bombing missions over northern France and Germany from June 1944 until April 1945. Missions over Germany included bombing the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen. The Group was awarded a DUC...

  • 493rd Bomb Group

    493rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 493rd Bomb Group was the last Eighth Air Force Group to become operational, flying their first combat mission from Debach, Suffolk, on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The Group was known as "the Fighting 493rd", named by their Commanding Officer Colonel Elbert...

  • 852nd Bomb Squadron

People

  • Thomas Alexander

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Thomas Alexander’s older brother, Marston Alexander Jr, born in 1917, died in October 1929. Thomas enlisted in the Air Corps and was trained as a pilot. Sent overseas, he was assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on...

  • Rheudolph Cain

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Rheudolph Cain was the youngest of Anna S. Cain's three sons (the others : Walter and Hubert). He enlisted at the end of 1943 in the Air Corps after two years at Parkersburgh High School in West Virginia. Trained as a gunner, he was sent overseas and...

  • Seymour Eisenstat

    Military | Flight Officer | Navigator | 491st Bomb Group
    Seymour Eisenstat grew up in Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn Technical High School before entering the service in 1943. He followed initial training at a mechanics school in Biloxi, Mississippi then, having had an opportunity to be an Aviation Cadet, he...

  • Lacy Gilliam

    Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Enlisting in the Air Corps in August 1943, Lacy Gilliam trained as a gunner and was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash-landed in Belgium on...

  • Robert Heichel

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Robert Heichel attended the Windber High School during four years (his description in the Class of 1942 Yearbook : “He hath a stern look, but a merry heart.”) Before his enlistment in the Air Corps in 1942, he helped to build B-24 Liberators at the...

  • Kenneth Kingsland

    Military | Sergeant | Flight Engineer / Top Turret Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    After finishing his studies, Kenneth Kingsland was employed as an assembler at the Pratt & Whitney United Aircraft Corporation's engine factory in East Hartford, Connecticut. Married to Dorothy, he decided to volunteer like younger men and enlisted in...

  • Glen LeBleu

    Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Barely 18, Glen LeBleu enlisted in the Air Corps in July 1943. Trained as a gunner, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash-landed in...

  • Philip Trimmer

    Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Barely 18, Philip Trimmer enlisted in the Air Corps in April 1944. Trained as a gunner, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash-landed in...

  • Anthony Turco

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 491st Bomb Group
    Enlisting in the Air Corps in January 1944, Anthony Turco trained as a Radio Operator / gunner. He was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash...

Missions

  • 886

    14 March 1945
    "1,250 Heavies Strike Tanks, Gun Factories Near Hanover" ...

Places

  • Debach

    Military site : airfield
    Debach was one of the last Eighth Air Force heavy bomber bases to be completed. It was built by the 820th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) between late '43 and early '44. Pronounced locally as 'Deb-idge', the base was built to a class A standard with...

  • North Pickenham

    Military site : airfield
    Built comparatively late during 1943-44 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, North Pickenham was rather cramped as an airfield site so the main runway was shorter than typical. It had three concrete runways, 50 loop hardstandings and two dispersed T2...

Events

Event Location Date
Crashed Florée, Belgium 14 March 1945

Hit by Flak, low on fuel on the flight back from the mission to the Gütersloh marshalling yards, Germany; crash-landed in a field in Florée, between the Chaussée de Dinant and the Rue de Wagnée.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
18 March 2016 13:57:04 ED-BB Changes to description
Sources

Added details about the 12 March 2016 ceremony at the crash location in Florée,

Date Contributor Update
30 January 2016 14:11:00 ED-BB Changes to description
Sources

Added photos from http://www.inexpensiveflighttraining.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8801344
Corrected typos and added details

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2016 15:05:49 ED-BB Changes to description
Sources

Added names of crew and photo of nose art

Date Contributor Update
30 December 2015 15:16:26 ED-BB Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, markings, description, events, unit associations, person associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Photos of crashed plane at http://www.inexpensiveflighttraining.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8801344 (website of Pilot Robert Heichel's nephew Jay Heichel)
Personal research on the crew members on board
ABMC page for the sole KIA, Engineer Kenneth S. Kingsland
Contacts with Kenneth Kingsland family

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