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42-31612

B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered MidContinental Airways Modification Center, Denver 28/11/43; Kearney 17/12/43; Syracuse 2/1/44; Presque Is 4/1/44;

Assigned 510BS/351BG [TU-B] Polebrook 30/1/44;
Missing in Action 8m Oschersleben 22/2/44
Crew as follows. Pilot: Bill Ritzema, Co-pilot: Paul Straw, Navigator: Bob Shuss Wounded in Action, Bombardier: Lorin Wolfe Wounded in Action, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Rich Stewart, Ball turret gunner: Bill Leach, Waist gunner: John Zundel Wounded in Action-lost leg, Waist gunner: Octavio Duran,Tail gunner: Don Pearson (9 Prisoner of War);
Radio Operator: Frank DeMarco (Killed in Action);

Severe flak damage, bellied on Gut Muthagen near Gelsenkirchen-Aachen Road (L164), near Uebach-Palenberg, nine miles north of Aachen, Germany; Missing Air Crew Report 2657.

Service

Units

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 510th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Frank DeMarco

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Killed in Action (KIA). 5th mission over Germany-destination-Bernberg to attack airfield....

  • Octavio Duran

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • William Leach

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Donald Pearson

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • William Ritzema

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Robert Shuss

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Richard Stewart

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Paul Straw

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Lorin Wolfe

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • John Zundel

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down by flak on return from a mission to Bernburg, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-31612. Crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

Places

  • Polebrook

    Military site : airfield
    Polebrook was laid down for RAF Bomber Command use in 1940-1941. Built by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, it had short runways which were lengthened for USAAF heavy bomber use. The RAF used the base for operational trials - including of B-17 Flying...

  • Presque Isle Army Airfield

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Git Muthagen near 52531 Übach-Palenberg, Germany 22 February 1944

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
25 October 2020 15:33:43 CWilkinson Changes to description
Sources

Addition of word "Pilot" in reference to Bill Ritzema, for clarity, for the crew description.

Date Contributor Update
22 May 2019 11:19:18 phil marchese Changes to production block number, markings and description
Sources

AAM image: camouflage & markings

Date Contributor Update
05 January 2018 21:38:06 wimhm.slangen Changes to description
Sources

Wim Slangen

Date Contributor Update
23 August 2016 12:24:22 Lucy May Changes to description
Sources

Removed the names of Lieutenants John Jonaitis and David Van De Walle from the crew list.
Missing Air Crew Report 2657 does not list them as part of the crew for this aircraft on 22 February 1944.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:39 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 2657 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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