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Paul L. Kelly

 

home Twin Falls, ID

 

SSgt

Right Waist Gunner

8 AF 446 BG 704 BS

 

B-24 H # 4129137 ?Dry Rim?

target: Rostock

type bombing

04.08.1944, 1459 hrs

 

MACR 7709

KU 2656    contain dog tags

A.V. 2215/45

 

crash site Bussin 12 km southeast of Barth, Germany, planed was destroyed by hit and burned, 95 % crash

 

P        Cole    James L. 2Lt  O-699650      KIA

CP      Madland        Dallas V. 2Lt  O-764144      POW

Nav    Braeunig        Ewald C. 2Lt  O-695405      POW

Bom    Thiele  Russell J. 2Lt  O-698616      POW

Eng     Pigott  David M. SSgt         32866525      POW

ROp    Krolikowski     Henry L. SSgt 16077421      KIA ???

BT      Masters        William E. SSgt        34714083      DED

TG      Kelly   Paul L. SSgt   35760272      POW

RW     Swiczkowski   Frank S. SSgt 35545836      POW

LW     Falletta         Nicholas S. SSgt      12125982      POW

 

The crew was captured near Velgast south of Barth.

 

Summery of circumstances surrounding missing aircraft and crew:

this ac was hit by flak in #4 engine while over target area. It then peeled off and went down then leveled of below formation with #4 engine smoking. After leveling off aircraft turned north east and pessed from view.

 

No chutes were seen to come from aircraft. Ship was under control when last sighted.

 

Telegram from Oberusel to Air district Command XI Blankenese on August 5, 12.45 hrs:

 

American flyer H.L. Krolikowski. He jumped by parachute on August 4, 44, and was captured near Grossklein (Warnemuende). today he was transferred to Oberursel.

 

Questionnaire of Swiczkowski:

Target was reached after flying over the North Sea at 1430 hrs at altitude of 19,000 feet. After beeing hit RW bailed out bomb bay, LW bailed out escape hatch, Bomb, Nav and CP bailed out bomb bays. Eng, TG and he bailed out Escape hatch. No knowledge about Radio man. The bailed was aboard when the plane struck the ground. He was in the cockpit and unhurt. He saw the rest of the crew members in prison camp. He saw the pilot lying in a field where the airplane had crashed.

 

 

Masters was seen bailing out of the escape hatch. Someone talked to him just before he bailed out.

 

about Cole:

I am not positive he bailed out. In case he bailed out this happened a short way out of the village of Bussin, Germany. I bailed out of Bomb bay before I jumped I shouted for him to leave the plane. Because we were getting close to the ground. A German guard made a motion with his hand up and down his right side when asked. If the body was hit it was about four Reds in back of the wrecked plane. At Oberursel Cole's name was called and there was no anser. A guard looked at some papers and said that "He's dead".

 

Either Cole was wounded by flak or when he did decide to bail it was to late. The letter one is the best probability because if he were wounded I would have noticed it because the engineer, air gunner and I fought fire for a half hour before we jumped. Cole kept the plane under control as well as possible - when we did get the fire out we were down to three thousand - we were hit  at 23,000. I went up to take my seat when Cole called my attention to our altitude, so I rang the bail out bell and the rest bailed out.

 

about Krolikowski

he bailed out over Rostock. he was __lling the bomb bay door release to prevent from sliding. Flames cut him off when I got out of the seat. I made a notion with my hands to jump. So he dived out. I saw him last when he left the plane. I am not sure he had a chute on. When he jumped. Perhaps he landed in a restricted area which bordered the Baltic. I was told by a prisoner at Barth that anyone in this area was shot - he may have landed there. it was his 12th mission.

 

Madland also tells the positions they bailed out. "Toward evening I was taken out to the plane. From a distance of three hundred I could not positively identify the body (of Cole). The plane struck the ground about four kiloneters west of small town of Bussin, Germany.

 

about Krolikowski

he bailed out at 20,000 ft above Rostock. Saw him last after watching bombs away. He bailed out right after we were hit over the target - wer were at 22,000 ft. We were hit near where he was sitting.

 

Breunig about Krolikowski

since he baled out over traget was probably killed by civilians

 

Breunig about Masters:

we surmised he was killed by angry civilians

 

A.V. 2215/45

Post: The Amry-Garrison-Commander in Rostock on 1 Dec. 1944.

 

Certificate about deaths and internment of 1 Army-Member.

 

Name: Krolikowski

Rank:  Aviator, American Airforce

date and place of birth, date of death: unknown

place of death: dead washed ashore from Baltic Sea

 

cause of death:

dead body was washed ashore from Baltic Sea, probably crash of an enemy aircraft. Wounding taken in Germany - front-district XI by air raid.

 

Grave location (1944): New Cemetery at Warnemuende near Rostock, field C/F, row 1, grave 4, buried on 7 August 1944.

 

November 5, 1997

 

Dear Herr Geiger,

 

Please forgive for not replying to your letter and questionnaire sooner. However, I did send your letter and questionnaire to my friend Jim Kelley and he told me that he answered your questionnaire. I have answered your questionnaire, but I will elaborate so that you have a clear picture of my experiences. The experiences ares quite similar to those of Jim Kelley.

 

We were shot down by flak on a mission to Rostock. We tried to fly to Sweden but had to bail out and were captured near Stralsund. We bailed out at 3,000 feet. The pilot waited for us to bail out but did not have enough time to leave the plane and was killed in the crash. Two other crew member were killed by civilians after they landed.

 

After we were captured we were taken to a nearby airbase and interrogated. The next day or two we were transported by a regular passenger train to Dulag Luft in Oberursel. We were kept in solitary confinement and interrogated for several days. We were then moved to Wetzlar where we were given clothes and waited to be moved to a prisoner of war camp. It is my understanding that Dulag Luft was later moved to Wetzlar.

 

We were then loaded on passenger cars (the entire train was prisoners of war, there were no civilians as there were on the train from Rostock to Dulag Luft). We arrived at St. Wendel about the middle of August, and walked from the train to the camp. The camp was a single building, large, rectangular in shape and filled inside with three tier bunks, just as Jim Kelley stated in his letter to you. As Jim stated the building was enclosed by a high barb wire fence just leaving enough room for us to walk outside and walk around the building. There were poor sanitary facilities and we had very little food while we were there.

 

The building was located on a hill sloping off in three directions. In 1993 I along with another POW friend of mine from the 446th BG went back to England to visit our old airbase. We went to Otterbach, Germany, a few miles from Kaiserslautern, picked up our friend Klaus Vogel and went to St. Wendel to see if we could find out where the camp was located. I did not know until I received your letter that there were other camps in the area. Like you, we talked to several people but no one seemed to know anything about the camps. I was not surprised that the people did not want to talk to Americans about the camp and told us that they did not know anything about them. But I am surprised that they told you, a resident of St. Wendel, that they know nothing of the camp. After all we did march from the train to the camp and then walked back to the train when the camp was evacuated. After searching we finally decided on the hill where the camp was located. The area is now a residental area with beautiful homes. Klaus did talk to a lady that lived on the hill and she told him that she thought that there had been a camp at the base of the hill in a wooded area. We explored the area and did find an old foundation that appeared to have been an old barracks, but it was not the camp. I feel certain that the residental area on top of the hill was the location of the camp, but I have no proof. I did not the remember the landmarks that you mentioned in your questionnaire, but I did see them when I returned to St. Wendel, and we could have seen them from where the camp was located. I wish I could give you the location of the hill, but as I remember from my visit the hill was higher than the surrounding area. Perhaps you can pinpoint the location. As I recall the lady Klaus talked to owned a taxi company.

 

 

answer to my questionnairre:

1. August 4th, 1944 Rostock, Germany

6. About one month

7. I never knew but probably 500 or more

8. Only United States Airmen

9. one large building. I could have been a storage building enclosed by a high barb wire fence

10. I arrived there about the middle of August and left about the middle of September. We left loaded on box cars.

11. Nothing special happened while I was there

 

I would like to elaborate on what Jim Kelley told you after we left St. Wendel. About the middle of September the camp was evacuated. Again, we were marched back to the train, but this time we were loaded on box cars. Fifty men plus several guards were loaded on my car. Twenty five men were put on each end of the boxcar, wire barriers were put in place leaving the area between the doors for the guards. The doors were left open so that the guards could see out. Some of the cars may only have contained prisoners with the doors closed and locked. There was not enough room for all the prisoners to sit, so some would have to stand. There was not any food and a bucket was used for sanitary purposes. We were on the train several days before arriving at Stalag Luft IV at Kiefheide. It was a very humiliating experience, but worse was to come several months later when Stalag Luft IV was evacuated.

 

Stalag Luft IV could have been worse. Boredom and lack of food was the worst. In the morning we were given one slice of German bread per person plus some German coffee. At noon we were given a bucket of thin soup for twenty four men in each room that was built for sixteen men (each barracks contained thirteen rooms). In the evening we were given a bucket of mostly rotten potatoes. This food provided by the Germans was supplemented by some American Red Cross parcels.

 

On February 6, 1945 the camp was evacuated during on of the worst winters in recorded history. The march lasted eighty six days and covered approximately six hundred miles going as far west as Fallingbostel and then turning east across the Elbe river where we were liberated by the British May 2, 1945. Because of the severity of the weather many died and the rest suffered from everything from Amebic Dysentery to frostbite ending in loss of limbs. If there is a hell that was it. This all happened when I was nineteen years old.

 

A little about Stalag Luft VI. I have heard the camp at St. Wendel referred to as Stalag Luft VI from time to time, but Luft VI was located at Heydekrug until its evacuation to Luft IV in June or July 1944. Apparently the number VI was then transferred to the camp in St. Wendel.

 

I hope that I have provided useful information for your research on the camp at St. Wendel and information as to what happened to those prisoners at St. Wendel, and if I can be of any further service please feel free to contact me or Jim Kelley.

 

 

Datum: 18.05.00 04:57:24 (MEZ) - Mitteleurop. Sommerzeit

From: Paul Kelly to Klaus Zimmer and Roland Geiger

 

Dear Roland:

Forgive me for not answering your E-mail sooner but Peg and I have been traveling and thank you Klaus for the Easter greeting. I want to discuss three subjects: (1 the report that you sent me about our crew being shot down on the mission to Rostock (2 your trip to Barth (3 Jophn Lenburg's story about the evacuation of Stalag Luft IV and the subsequent march.

 

I see from the information that you sent to me about our final mission to Rostock that you have been exploring the National Archives about our crew. Thank you for the interest you have shown. I will give some more information and some corrections.

 

On the mission we had just dropped our bombs when we were hit, several times I expect. One of the explosions blew a hole in the side of the plane just behind the co-pilot. I am surprised that no one was wounded from the explosion but it did start a fire in the plane and this came about because our flares had been hit and caught fire. Krolikowski, the radio operator was standing on the catwalk to be sure the bombs had been released and the bomb bay doors were opened. Due to the fire the co-pilot told him to jump. I have reviewed the German documents about his death and they are conflicting as shown in the information you sent me.

 

The first German document states that he was captured and sent to Oberursel. The second document states that his body washed ashore in the Baltic sea. I don't understand the conflicting reports and I believe he was killed by civilians. After the war his body was removed from Germany and he is now buried in an American cemetery near Liege, Belgium. I visited his grave in 1993. Masters bailed out just before me and we never saw him again. He is still listed as missing in action and his name is engraved on the Wall of Missing at the American cemetery in Cambridge, England. I have no idea why he never showed up but I suspect that he was also killed by civilians. After being hit we tried to make it to Sweden but by that time we had lost three engines. When we got down to 3,000 feet we were told to bail out. Cole remained with the plane until we had all bailed out and he just did not have enough time to get out. I have believed that he gave his life so that we could live. Jim Cole was a great pilot and a wonderful man. He is now buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. I visited his grave a few years ago. Several hours after we had been captured we were taken by bus, along with four members of a B-17 crew that had been shot down in the area, out to where our plane had crashed. A man was laying beside the plane but he was to far away to see who it was. The German guards brought his parachute to the bus and Jim Cole's name was on the chute. Thiele was a replacement on the crew for that day and as I remember it was to be his last mission.

 

Except for those killed all of our original crew are still alive and I stay in touch with them. I have been to see Pigott several times and we are still great friends. I enjoyed your story about your trip to Stalag Luft I at Barth. and was glad to hear that you made the trip with another man from the 446th, George Lesko, and he was shot down about the same time I was. When he told you about the incident at the train station in Frankfurt in 1944 it brought to mind an incident that we had in Berlin on our way to Oberusel. We arrived in Berlin on one train and then had to walk to another station to take another train. While standing in the station a crowd of civilians gathered and one civilian walked up to Madland and hit him. We thought that we were going to be mobbed but the German guards moved us to another part of the station where the civilians could not get to us.

 

I am glad that you enjoyed the trip to Barth and I certainly enjoyed reading about your adventure. Thank you for sending me the account by John Lenburg. I followed his march across Poland and Germany and it pretty well follows the route that I followed. Since there were severel thousand prisoners that were spread out and all did not follow the same route but we were all headed in the same direction and his day to day report of our conditions is very accurate. As he stated the prisoners were split at Ebsdorf and some went south to Stalag XI A which he did and some went on west to Stalag XI B at Fallingbostel which is direction that I took. It is a short distance from Ebsdorf to Fallingbostel but we were put on a train for the journey. We were on the train for 36 hours and only had room to stand. A good part of the time we did not move and the cars did not have any idenification on top to show that there were prisoners aboard. We suspect that the German guards hoped that we would be strafed by allied planes. We arrived in Fallingbostel about the first of April (Easter time) and stayed there about a week. When we left the camp we headed back east again and crossed the Elbe River for the second time. We would spend several days at one farm and then move on to another, We were caught between the Russians and the British and on May 2nd we were liberated by the British near the small village of Boize. The march had lasted 86 days and covered 600 miles, but I made it along with my very good friend Jim Kelley.

 

I rarely write long letters but I thought that you and Klaus would be interested in my story.

I appreciate the information that you and Klaus send and please both of you stay in touch.

 

Paul

 

Datum:         27.02.02 06:17:17 (MEZ) Mitteleuropäische Zeit

From Paul L. Kelly to Roland Geiger:

 

Dear Roland:

I did meet Donald Dorfmeier. He and three of his crew members were captured with us. The three other members were Jaron Mckinley Axson, William Carr and Robert Raymond Dell(it might have been Doll. I can't even read my own writing). As I recall they were from a B-17 crew, but I could be wrong about that . His son may know. As I remembered it none of the four were injured and when we were taken by train to Dulag Luft they were probably with us. They probably went to St Wendel and then to Luft IV. This all happened many years ago and I have forgotten a lot of details. If his son wants to contact me that will be okay.

 

All is well here. I am still in good health and still travel stateside with Peggy when we can. We were going to spend the winter in sunny Arizona but did not make it. First it was a wedding of one of granddaughters and now Peggy is going to have an opearation next week.

If you are interested in our last mission I will tell you the story and I will send it to Klaus and a friend of mine in the United Kingdom who wants to know about it. Some events are a little foggy but most of it is very clear.

 

Take care of yourself and I really appreciate all the material that you have sent me. It has all been very interesting and some of it I have printed out.

 

Your friend,

Paul

Historische Forschungen · Roland Geiger · Alsfassener Straße 17 · 66606 St. Wendel · Telefon: 0 68 51 / 31 66
E-Mail: rolgeiger(at)aol.com · (c)2009 hfrg.de

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