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William John Doherty

Military

Shot down on B-17 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron. MACR 1018. Navigator William Doherty landed in parachute near Erp, Holland. He quickly reunited with his Engineer Frank Killarney and both were helped by Dutch underground member Richard van Nunen. He brought the two airmen to Zijtaart and made them hide in some bushes until evening. Later that day, other people came to fetch the airmen who were first sheltered by Harry Otten, in the village of Erp. On 23 October, they were guided to Sevenum and then to Maasniel where they were helped by Mathieu Pollaert and were sheltered by the family of Gerard ("Sjra") Gorris. From there, helped by J.F. van Eerdewijk, they arrived in Tilburg where they stayed at the home of Jacoba (“Coba”) Pulskens, Diepestraat 49. After a few days there, they had to leave hurriedly as the Germans were on the trail. They were on their way to Antwerp, Belgium when they were both arrested in Tilburg on 5 November 1943.
Note :
About midday on 7 July 1944, Jacoba Pulskens, aged 60, was arrested at her home by a commando group of the Gestapo (German Secret State Police). She was then sheltering 3 RAF airmen who were having a meal with her. Dressed in civilian clothes, the three airmen rushed to the back door, but a German soldier shot them on the spot with his machine gun. They were F/O Jack S. Nott, from New South Wales, Australia; F/L Ronald A. Walker from Lancashire, England and F/O Roy E. Carter, from Ontario, Canada. Their bodies were cremated 3 days later in the concentration camp at Vught, 20km NE of Tilburg. They have thus no grave and are memorialized at the Runnymede Memorial near Windsor, Surrey, England.
Jacoba Pulskens was deported to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women. In February 1945, she died in the gas chamber. According to survivors she voluntarily took the place of a mother with children hoping that her gesture would have saved their lives.
A stone memorial to Coba was unveiled on 6 February 1947 on the façade of her house at the corner of the Diepenstraat and the Jan Steenstraat in Tilburg. A video (in Dutch) of the 1947 ceremony at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O_7dpBJvsE
The block of houses there was later demolished and the memorial, although in bad shape, was conserved by a Tilburg historical association. After the new buildings had been constructed, a replica of the memorial was placed at the same spot in 1989. Additional details about Coba and the circumstances of her arrest and the murder of the three airmen at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/dutch-heroine-coba-pulsken...

Service

People

  • Aaron Becker

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator / Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Shot down 20 October 1943 in B-17 #42-3439. Killed in Action (KIA). Aaron Becker was a susbstitute for Pilot Charles F. Geyer's regular Radio Operator, Melvin H. Litke.

  • Charles Geyer

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Lt Charles Geyer was Pilot on B-17 # 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018. Lt Geyer landed in parachute near Dinther in the Netherlands and was soon joined by his Co-Pilot...

  • Alexander Guilianelli

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Alexander was Left Waist Gunner on B-17 # 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Frank Killarney

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Engineer / Top Turret Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Shot down on B-17 # 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron. MACR 1018. Engineer Frank Killarney landed in parachute near Erp, Holland. He quickly reunited with his Navigator William Doherty and both were helped by Dutch underground member...

  • Edward Lantron

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Edward Lantron was Ball Turret Gunner on B-17 # 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. (KIA) Killed in Action. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018.

  • Melvin Litke

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator / Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Melvin Litke served as a Radio Operator/Gunner in the 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron. A member of the original Charles F. Geyer crew he was not on board Geyer's B-17 Serial 42-3439 when it was shot down on 20 October 1943, having been...

  • Donald Mills

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 96th Bomb Group
    Bombardier on B-17 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018. Evaded capture - Escape & Evasion Report E&E 279. ...

  • James Parker

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    James Parker was Tail Gunner on B-17 # 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Charles Randel

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Charles Randel was Right Waist Gunner on B-17 # 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. (KIA) Killed in Action. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018. He was a substitute on that mission for Pilot Geyer's regular...

  • Robert Surdez

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Robert Surdez was Co-Pilot on B-17 42-3439 of 96th Bomber Group / 413th Bomber Squadron, shot down 20 October 1943. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1018. Lt Surdez landed in parachute near Dinther in the Netherlands and was soon joined by his Pilot...

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Units served with

Aircraft

  • 42-3439

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 21/6/43; Redmond 14/8/43; Assigned 413BS/96BG [MZ-V] Snetterton 15/8/43; ...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 116

    20 October 1943
    The primary target for this mission is the industrial areas of Duren, Germany. The mission is composed of three elements. The first element is a combined formation of 103 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division that includes: 91BG (3); 92BG (14); 303BG (19);...

Associated Place

  • Snetterton Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Intended to be an RAF bomber base, construction of Snetterton Heath started in Autumn 1942 but continued until mid-1943, because it was extended after allocation as an Eighth Air Force bomber base. It had eventually three concrete runways, 50...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Massachusetts, United States 15 April 1919
Enlisted Boston, Massachusetts, United States 19 February 1941
Prisoner of War (POW) Barth, Germany 5 November 1943 – 1 June 1945

Initially evaded; arrested; NARA WWII POW database : "Stalag Luft 1 Barth - Returned to military control 1/6/45"

Died Massachusetts, United States July 1978
Lived in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
12 May 2015 11:12:22 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography
Sources

Merged with duplicate record to include details from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 1018; Snetterton Falcons pg 76

Date Contributor Update
23 April 2015 13:22:40 ED-BB Changes to biography and events
Sources

Additional details about Doherty's initial evasion and about Dutch Helper Jacoba Pulskens.

Date Contributor Update
22 April 2015 16:15:08 ED-BB Changes to middlename, nickname, service number, biography, events, person associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

NARA WWII Enlistment records
NARA WWII POW records
MACR 1018

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:28:16 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Combat Chronology; Snetterton Falcons pg 60 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

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