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Kenneth Sage Kingsland

Military

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 the Air Corps. After training, he was sent overseas as a member of the 491st Bomber Group / 854th Bomber Squadron.

An Engineer / Top Turret gunner, he was crushed under the weight of the Top Turret that had come loose on impact when his Liberator B-24 # 42-51195 "Belle Ringer" crash-landed in a field near Florée, Belgium on 14 March 1945.

Ken Kingsland's body protected, and saved the life of, Navigator F/O Seymour Eisenstat lying wounded under him inside the fuselage of the plane. One of the first to arrive on the spot was Doctor Camille Bothy, who was visiting patients in Florée. He gave first aid to all the wounded, injecting morphine to calm the pain.

According to Marcel Lamy, who was 17 at the time of the crash, a crew member ran to the house of his parents nearby to ask for a pillow to put under Kingsland’s head. USAAF member Roland Harper, a Sergent in the 5SAD (5th Strategic Air Depot) salvage unit crew that was living nearby and who had been working on the débris of a B-17 shot down a few days before in the area, came on the site and reported that he saw a crew member whose head was gently resting in the lap of a young unidentified Belgian woman. It was the body of Ken Kingsland who had been taken out of the crashed airplane and had just died of his wounds, the sole casualty. His eight other comrades, safe and rather dazed, some of them wounded, were quickly driven to a small hospital in the nearby village of Florée.

At the initiative of Raphaël Marchal, whose family adopted Kenneth’s grave in Belgium, a plaque in honor of Sgt Kingsland and the crew of the “Belle Ringer” was inaugurated on the wall of a chapel (the Chapelle de la Salette) on private land near the crash location in Florée on 12 March 2016. From the start, the local authorities had lent their support to the project and the owner of the land on which the chapel stands, Count Joseph van der Stegen, had immediately agreed when asked for permission.

Marcel Dauwen, a member of the APPEL association in Assesse, who had taken all the official contacts, organized the ceremony with other volunteers. Among those, Frédéric Hermant cared for putting up panels and glass cases for an adjoining 3-day exhibition about the plane, its crew and the sad fate of Sgt Kenneth Kingsland. With more than 200 people attending, speeches were made explaining the events of 71 years before almost to the day.

The plaque was unveiled by Mr Dauwen and Ms Pamela Kemp, niece of Sgt Kingsland, who had made the trip from the United States with her husband Randy. Wreaths were laid by Mr Pierre Tasiaux, Burgomaster of Assesse (an entity of seven villages, including Florée); Colonel Scott Shepard, USAF, Air Attaché, representing the United States Embassy in Brussels; Mr Michael S. Yasenchak, Superintendent of the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz, near Liège, Belgium (where Sgt Kingsland is buried) and Mr Raphael Dyckmans, a member of the Dutch association Stichting Verenigde Adoptanten Amerikaanse Oorlogsgraven which oversees the adoptions of the graves of US war dead in the Netherlands and in Belgium, together with the Belgian association “Le Briscard” and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

A band played both the American and the Belgian national anthems. A group of local schoolchildren recited a poem they had composed with the help of their teacher in honor of "the fallen angel". After the ceremony proper, many local people exchanged their recollections, some of watching the plane coming slowly down before it crashed, others telling they had later come to the crash scene, many evoking stories about the locals scavenging parts of the plane, recuperating pieces of parachutes, etc.

Marcel Lamy attended the ceremony as well as Jean-Marie Bothy, who was 7 at the time, the son of the doctor who administered to the wounded. A lady, Ms Vause, aged 12 in 1945, told how she too had seen the crashed Liberator and proudly showed a medallion made from parts of the B-24’s Plexiglass cockpit.

A reception was offered by the municipality at the Salle Magimpré in Florée, a few hundred meters away from the crash location. In a friendly atmosphere, people visited the exhibition and could enjoy a short music show by a trio of women in vintage uniforms who performed excellent renditions of popular wartime songs. Photos of the ceremony are included in the series of pictures on this page.

Service

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...

  • 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...

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Units served with

  • 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...

  • 854th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-51195 Belle Ringer

    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...

Missions

  • 886

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

Associated Place

  • 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
Born Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States 29 May 1917

the son of Harold C. and Lucy (Koch) Kingsland

Lived in Glastonbury, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States 1942
Enlisted 1944

in the Air Corps

Killed In Action Florée, Belgium 14 March 1945

Severely wounded in the crash-landing of B-24 #42-51195 "Belle Ringer", he died shortly afterwards in the field where the Liberator ended its course.

Buried

Kenneth Kingsland rests at the Ardennes Cemetery, Plot B, Row 34, Grave 4.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
20 December 2017 08:31:25 ED-BB Changes to middlename
Sources

Added middle name

Date Contributor Update
29 April 2016 15:41:40 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected a typo and added a detail in the Biography

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2016 08:11:12 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected typo in Mr Dyckmans' name

Date Contributor Update
18 March 2016 14:25:36 ED-BB Changes to biography and events
Sources

Added details to BIO about the 12 March 2016 ceremony

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2016 14:52:18 ED-BB Changes to role, biography, awards, events, person associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

ABMC website
Data from http://www.491st.org/
Contacts with niece Gigi Kemp

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:18:00 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Combat Chronology; family / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

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