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US Air Force

The bomber of Rettigny, Belgium

 

Unveiling of the memorial to the memory of the crew of the B-24 42-95220 crashed in Rettigny on Christmas Day 1944

April 28th, 2012

 
On December 25, 1944, the bomber B-24 42-95220 takes off for a 57th mission
with the 1Lt William W. Truxes Jr crew aboard.
 
Target: Railway communication center, Musch, Germany. Group mission N° 147.
 
Source: http://www.the467tharchive.org/frame.html
 

The B-24 42-95220 was not the usual aircraft of the Lt Truxes crew. This picture shows a
similar B-24, belonging to the same Bomb Group and Bomb Squadron as the bomber of Rettigny.
 
The ship was attacked by enemy aircrafts in the vicinity of St. Vith, Belgium. No.3 engine on fire, spread through the wing and fuselage and aircraft exploded.  Three crewmen successfully bailed out, remaining seven either crashed with the ship or were blown out at time of explosion.
 
The three survivors were taken POW:
 
1st Lt. William W. Truxes (Pilot).  He survived the war.  He passed away in April 2007.
 
2nd Lt. John E. Sullivan (Co-pilot).  He survived the war.  We have no additional information.
 
S/Sgt. Burton Hurwitz (RCM op.)  He survived the war.  He passed away in February 1993.
 
The seven others were KIA:
 
F/O David J. COUNTEY, Navigator.  Buried at Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale N.J. USA
S/Sgt. John N. ELLEFSON, Radio-oper.  Buried at American Cemetery Henri-Chapelle, Belgium G-12-40
S/Sgt. Peter HARDICK, Eng.  Buried at St John’s Cemetery , Alpha, Philipsburg N.J. USA
Sgt. Alek ONISCHUK, Tail gunner.  Buried at American Cemetery Henri-Chapelle, Belgium G-1-1
Sgt. Roland L. MOREHOUSE, Gunner.  Buried at Woodland Cemetery, Jackson, MI, USA
Sgt. Stanley P. KOLY, Gunner.  Buried at American Cemetery Henri-Chapelle, Belgium G-16-67
Sgt. Walter WALINSKI, Gunner.  Buried at Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale N.J. USA
 

 

John Ellefson

 

Alek Onischuk

 

Stanley Koly

 

 
The 3 graves in Henri-Chapelle
 
The 1Lt Truxes crew.
 
(Photo: Family Truxes)
Photo taken in Long Island before the transfer of the crew in Europe.
 
Standing, from the left to the right: Roland Morehouse, Alek Onischuk, Stanley Koly, John Ellefson, Peter Hardick, Walter Walinski.
 
Sitting, from the left to the right: Charles Fiedler , David Countey, William Truxes, John Sullivan.
Burton Hurwitz, a survivor of Rettigny, is not on the picture.
 
 
The Lt Fiedler was a current member of the crew, but he flew not on Christmas Day 1944, he was in the bombardier school.
 
He was shot down one week later, on January the 1st. He was in the B-24 n° 42-50614 “Massachusetts Gal” with the Lt Holter crew aboard.
 
 
Statement of S/Sgt Mason (copy of MACR 11122)
 

 
 
Statement of S/Sgt Simmerly (copy of MACR 11122)
 

 
 
Statement of 2Lt Sullivan, survivor of the crash (copy of MACR 11122)
 
 
Other comments of 2Lt Sullivan (Source: MACR 11122)
 
The plane exploded and I was blown out. Two others blown out safely.
 
The pilot, Lt Truxes and radar jammer, Sgt Burton Hurwitz, blown out safely at same time as myself.
 
The remaining seven (7) either crashed with the plane or were blown out at time of explosion.
 
Ellefson and Koly were behind my seat apparently uninjured at time of explosion.
 
The following additional information’s have been found in the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) of Peter Hardick, David Countey and Roland Morehouse.
 
“Information given by curate of church of Rettigny. Belgium.
 
Five Americans buried in common grave by Germans – Two of the men were burned in the plane – Walter Walinski ASN 32939214 & Peter Hardick ASN 13098304.  Three fell to earth near the plane.  One was Alek Onischuk ASN 31409559 & two unknown men.  Plane number 295220 was taken off tail.”
 
Since we know all the names, we can say that the two unknown were John Ellefson and Stanley Koly.
 
Roland Morehouse was found in the forward part of the badly battered remains of the plane, on top of Unknown X33 who could only be identified later: he was David Countey.
 
One of the eyewitnesses of the crash was the owner of the wooded area where the nose of the B-24 crashed.  He told that this part of the plane was found by the Americans on January 16 1945, or later, after the liberation of the village.
 
The wreckage was invisible because of the woods and the snow.  It is why Roland Morehouse and David Countey were found after the others and they were buried directly in Foy.(Near Bastogne)
 
The exact crash locations of the two main parts of the wreckage are indicated on the following picture.
 
 
The US coordinates indicates locations distant of approximately700 meterfrom the exact locations.  This is due to the inaccuracy of the maps in 1944, and to the errors in the coordinates conversion programs.
 
One can see that crash area of the forward part is today a meadow.
 
The facts have been collected by Mr Paul Remy.