447th Bomb Group Association
Picture and information courtesy of George Wolters and Rolland Swank
The Schreiner crew was shot down on their 13th mission, on June 18, 1944. MACR 5903.
Kneeling from left to right:
Bomb: Eugene H Richardson
CoPilot: Carroll F Knutson
Pilot: Kenneth C Schreiner
Nav: Clifford H Kulenburg
Standing from left to right:
George A Wolters
Leon M Swift
John E Hall
Herbert B Ruggles
Jacob O Long, Jr
James R Jones
Combat training for the crew took place in
Dalhart, Texas during February/March of 1944 The crew then ferried
a new B-17 G from Kearney, Nebraska to Ireland via Gander,
Newfoundland at the beginning of April, 1944. They were then
assigned to the 447th Bomb Group. During April they
flew a lot, checking out repaired planes for the bomb group while
waiting for a squadron slot to “open.” The heavy losses the group
suffered toward the end of April gave them their chance and they
flew for the 711 squadron. Their first mission as a full crew was
to Berlin, probably May 7 or 8, 1944. A first mission was usually
a “milk run” so going to Berlin as a first mission was unexpected,
to say the least.
Their final mission was June 18. This was George's 13th misson. The target was the synthetic fuel refinery at Misberg (Hannover) Germany.
From the 447th Misson Logs:
Briefing was at 0230 hours and the target was an oil refinery at Misberg. The aircraft were loaded with 500 pound GP bombs and take off started at 0450 hours. A bad weather assembly was made over the field at 8,000 feet, and the formation reached 19,000 feet as they crossed the Dutch coast. Due to weather conditions the PFF bombing altitude was dropped by 2,000 feet, flak was heavy.
George watched the flak bursts starting from behind the plane, and then they kept getting closer and closer. The plane was hit by flak bursting above the plane during the final run into the target. Engines two and four were damaged, and the plane was set on fire. The bombs were salvoed and the plane headed southwest. The MACR report states the plane was last observed on fire and in a long glide at 9:27 a.m. Nine or ten parachutes were seen. The newly discovered German documents, KU 2248, state the plane crashed at 9:35 in a forest by Wennigsen-Mark southeast of Egestorf A Deister. If you look at Google maps, it appears that the little forest is still in existence. The plane crashed into “a tree” in the forest and was totally destroyed by conflagration, according to the report. It is of interest that the plane was misidentified as a Liberator (B-24) by the Germans. The salvage report states the plane was 99% destroyed. The Germans did observe the square K symbol on the tail.
Regarding the bail-out, George tells of a struggle to get the door free after pulling the hinge pins. He ended up kicking the door out. He had a difficult time getting his parachute clipped on, and one crew member got hung up momentarily on the tail of the plane after prematurely pulling his parachute open. All ten crew members parachuted out and landed in open farm fields. George said he landed in a rye field and and managed to remain hidden for a while. His regular army boots (which he had tied to the parachute) had been torn off during the jump, as had the flight boots he had been wearing. All of the crew had been issued 45s, but he (and most of the others) didn't carry them on the flights. George watched as other crew members were rounded up, and he was the last one captured. The KU 2248 report states that all 10 members of the crew were sent on to West Oberursel Interrogation Center on June 20th.
All six NCOs, George Wolters, Herbert Ruggles, James Jones, John Hall, Leon Swift and Jacob Long, were sent on to Stalag Luft 4 after a brief interrogation. The officers, Kenneth Schreiner, Carroll Knutson, Eugene Richardson and possibly Clifford Kulenburg, were sent to Stalag Luft 3. Later some of the officers probably went to Stalag 7a. (The AAF POW records only show Schreiner at Stalag Luft 3 and the three other officers at Stalag 7a. )
McCright, a POW
captured in 1943, tried to list all the prisoners in the South
Compound of Stalag Luft 3 and give a brief summary of their
stories. The 100thbg.com website has (or had) an extract of three
pages from that book. Amazingly, three of the crew are listed on
one of those pages. I don't have a copy of the book so I can't
check if Kulenberg is also listed. These book excerpts are on the
1419. SCHREINER, KENNETH C 2LT USAAF 135/14 PILOT
ARTISIAN AVE. 6169 B-17 6-18-44
DULAG LUFT 6-21 TO 6-24 STALAG LUFT 6-28-44
FLAK HIT NO. 2 DESTROYED OIL PRESSURE GAGES, NO. 4 SET
ON FIRE. BAILED OUT AT 12,000 FEET- LANDED 15M FROM
HANOVER, GERMANY. CAPT IMM BY CIVILIANS.
P.F.F., HANOVER, GERMANY
AIR MEDAL-M-C- 3-14-19 16
1422. KNUTSON, CARROL F 2LT 0818694 USAAF 135/14 PILOT
LOS ANGLES, CALIF. 6135 B-17 6-18-44
DULAG LUFT 6-21 TO 6-24 STALAG LUFT 3 6-26-44
FLAK DESTROYED NO. 2-4 ENGS. RIGHT WING SET ON FIRE.
BAILED OUT- LANDED 10M SOUTH OF HANOVER. CAPT IMM BY CIVILIANS.
P.F.F. HANOVER, GERMANY
SNAC 4220148 S-P- 3-14-24 14
1421. RICHARDSON, EUGENE 2LT 757921 USAAF 135/7 BOMBARDIER.
DAVENPORT, IOWA 6166 B-17 6-18-44
DULAG LUFT 6-22 TO 6-25 STALAG LUFT 3 6-27-44
FLAK HIT NO. 2-4 ENG. DESTROYED RIGHT WING. SHIP SET
ON FIRE. BAILED OUT- LANDED 15M FROM HANOVER, GERMANY.
ANKLE SPRAINED ON LANDING. CAPT IMM BY CIVILIANS. ALL
CREW MEMBERS CAUGHT, PUT FIELD, KEPT 5 HOURS
OIL REFINERY, HANOVER, GERMANY
AIR MEDAL-M-C- 8-27-20 13
The NCOs were on the “Death March” from Stalag Luft IV in 1945, although George told me that James Jones was ill and was evacuated by train. All 10 crew members survived the war.