Kenneth S. Kingsland (photo courtesy of the Kingsland family)
The plaque to the memory of Sgt Kenneth Kingsland. It reads :
TO THE MEMORY OF KENNETH KINGSLAND
Here on 14 March 1945, on return from a mission to Germany, the "BELLE RINGER", a B-24 Liberator bomber from the 854th Squadron of the 491st Bomber Group, made a forced landing. Its left wing hit the isolated house with the orange roof you can notice behind you. The aircraft ended its course in the field facing this chapel.
Sergent Kenneth Kingsland, from Connecticut and aged 27, lost his life. He is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz.
* Ayez une pensée pour Kenneth qui est mort pour notre liberté
* Have a thought for Kenneth who died for our freedom.
(The captions of the photos in the left-hand column) :
The débris of the plane facing the chapel (in the background on the photo).
An engine from the left wing in front of the small isolated house at the edge of the Chaussée de Dinant (chapel in the background)
(The captions of the photos in the right-hand column) :
Sergent Kenneth Kingsland (engineer). He had three sisters and he was married.
On the left, the insignia of the 8th Air Force to which the aircraft belonged. To the right, that of the 491st Bombardment Group.
"Belle Ringer" was the name given to the plane by its crew.
The crew of the "Belle Ringer" (photo montage) [ NOTE : this is a composite photo, where the faces of two new members of the Heichel crew in the May 1945 photo have been replaced by those of Kenneth Kingsland and Navigator Seymour Eisenstat ]
Standing from left to right : Sergent Anthony Turco, Radio; Lieutenant Seymour Eisenstat, Navigator; Lieutenant Thomas Alexander, Co-Pilot; Lieutenant Robert Heichel, Pilot; Sergent Philip Trimmer, Gunner.
Kneeling, from left to right : Sergent Glen Lebleu, Gunner; Sergent Rheudolph Cain, Gunner; Sergent Lacy Gilliam, Gunner; Sergent Kenneth Kingsland, Engineer/Gunner.
(At the bottom of the plaque, in blue, a short text in English summarizing the events and Sgt Kingsland's fate)
The glass case displaying a photo of Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland, his medals (Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal , European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Medal) and photos of Mme Vause-Hercot’s Plexiglass medallion made from pieces of the “Belle Ringer”’s cockpit (see UPL 20836 ) - ( Photo : Amand Collard )
The panel devoted to Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland, one of three that were displayed, together with wartime artifacts and pieces of the “Belle Ringer”, as well as equipment having belonged to an unidentified crew member. The two other panels showed data and photos of the crew and their mission on that fateful 14 March 1945. The panels and the installation of the glass cases were the work of volunteer Frédéric Hermant. ( Photo : Amand Collard )
Pamela Kemp, niece of Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland, being interviewed by the local TV ( www.canalc.be ) – Florée, 12 March 2016. ( Photo Ed Renière )
Ms Vause-Hercot, wearing a medallion made from pieces of Plexiglass (mica) from the cockpit of the “Belle Ringer”.
Ms Vause who was twelve at the time and lived about 500 meters from the crash location, did not see the plane crash. She came to look at the debris later, which villagers scavenged in the days following, in order to recuperate metal, pieces of parachutes, even the few gas that was left in the tanks of the aircraft. ( Photo Ed Renière – Florée, 12 March 2016 )
Raphaël Marchal, Marcel Lamy and Pamela Kemp, united in a solid friendship – Florée, 12 March 2016. ( Photo : Amand Collard )
Pupils from the Communal School of Florée pose for a group photo, 12 March 2016. After the official speeches, they had recited a poem they had written with the help of their teacher, in honor of the fallen airman, Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland. (Photo : Amand Collard )
Pamela and Randy Kemp in front of the plaque to Pamela’s uncle, Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland, on the wall of the small chapel in Florée – 12 March 2016. (Photo Raphaël Marchal)
The wreaths at the foot of the wall now bearing the plaque dedicated to Sgt Kenneth S. Kingsland – Florée, 12 March 2016. ( Photo Ed Renière )
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
Barely 18, Phil 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...
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...
Units served with
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...
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...
14 March 1945
"1,250 Heavies Strike Tanks, Gun Factories Near Hanover"
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...
||Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States
||29 May 1917
the son of Harold C. and Lucy (Koch) Kingsland
||Glastonbury, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
in the Air Corps
|Killed In Action
||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.
Kenneth Kingsland rests at the Ardennes Cemetery, Plot B, Row 34, Grave 4.