17.09.1944 49th Squadron C-47A Skytrain 43-16049 1st Lt. Norman A. Baldwin Jr., DFC
Operation: “Market Garden”, Holland
Date: 17th September 1944 (Sunday)
Unit No: 49th Squadron, 313th Troop Carrier Group, 82nd Airborne Division, 9th Air Force
Type: C-47A Skytrain
Serial No: 43-16049
Location: 6 km NE of Groesbeek, Holland
Base: Folkingham (Station #484), Lincolnshire, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. Norman A. Baldwin Jr. O-2056147 DFC AAF Age 23. Killed
Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Burton Mack Squire O-769580 AAF Age 20. PoW * (1)
Radio/Op: Cpl. William Harvelle Armstrong 38435990 AAF Age 34. Murdered (2)
Crew Chief: T/Sgt. George Thomas Harrison 15332796 AAF Age 35. Murdered (2)
* Stalag 6J Krefeld Rheinland, Prussia
REASON FOR LOSS:
C-47A Skytrain 43-16049 took off at 10:18 hrs from Folkingham as an element of Operation “Market Garden”. The aircraft was part of Serial A-5, which was one of two Serials of the 313rd Troop Carrier Group (TCG) designated to convey the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) to DZ-N (Drop Zone-N) Groesbeek, ‘Klein Amerika’. The two Serials (A-3 and A-5) and one (A-7) from the 316th TCG comprised forty-three C-47’s plus two C-53’s.
Operation “Market Garden”: The 82nd Airborne Division’s part in the operation was to seize the Bridges from Grave to Nijmegen. The 82nd was to command the Groesbeek heights overlooking Nijmegen and bordering the Reichswald in order to protect the bridges and to keep the single road open for the advance of the British XXX Corps to Arnhem.
Sixteen men of HQ Co2/505 PIR (Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th PIR) were aboard 43-16049.
Due to a marshalling error Serial A-5 exchanged positions with Serial A-3 which accidently placed Serial A-5 in the lead. They then flew north of the intended course and dropped almost all of the 505th PIR over De Kamp just west of DZ-T at Wylerbaan.
Numerous eyewitness accounts from other aircraft in the formation reported that the aircraft was hit by flak over DZ-T and set on fire underneath the main section of both wings. With its landing gear down it was gradually turning to port and slowly losing height. None of the eyewitnesses saw anyone bail out before they lost sight of the aircraft.
However, it was established that all sixteen men of HQ Co2/505 PIR had jumped from the aircraft. The following three men from HQ Company were killed on this operation:
S/Sgt. George J. Kapaciewicz Jr., 6982519 was missing in action this day. Bronze Star, Purple Heart (Oak Leaf Cluster), Netherlands American Cemetery Plot N, Row 9, Grave 9. From New Jersey, USA;
Pfc. Royce Bady Pilgrim, 38140287 was killed in action on 6th October 1944. Repatriated to Willow Oak B.V. Cemetery, Gilmer, Upshur County, Texas, USA;
Pvt. Lincoln C. Osterhoudt, 32946204 killed in action on the 28th September 1944. Purple Heart. Repatriated to Fly Creek Valley Cemetery, Otsego County, New York, USA.
The aircraft crash-landed 6 km NE of Groesbeek, near the hamlet of Kleyen in Germany. In a supplement to the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) for this aircraft it was reported that T/Sgt. Harrison followed the paratroopers out of the aircraft and that the other three crew members remained aboard as it crashed-landed. 2nd Lt. Squire crawled out of the starboard cockpit window badly bruised and burned about the arms and head. He stated later that he believed that 1st Lt. Baldwin Jr. and Cpl. Armstrong never escaped the wreckage.
(1) 2nd Lt. Squire was taken prisoner by German forces but was rescued by paratroopers from A/508 PIR (‘A’ Company, 508th PIR), under the command of Capt. Rex Combs, which had landed nearby. He was taken to a US Airborne first aid post at ‘Voxhill’ on DZ-T. He was taken prisoner again the next morning when the post was overrun by a German counter attack. He was liberated on the 29th April 1945.
(2) For many years it was reported that T/Sgt. Harrison and Cpl. Armstrong perished along with 1st.Lt. Baldwin Jr. when their C-47 crash-landed and burst into flames. However, the Dutch foundation "Our Historical Heritage Foundation WW2" in cooperation with the Defense PoW/MiA Accounting Agency (DPAA) determined that they had survived and were captured, then murdered in cold blood.
It was not until 2016 that the names of T/Sgt. Harrison and Cpl. Armstrong were to be revealed as the unknown members of the United States Army mentioned in the charge at a General Military Government Court which had been convened in Dachau, Germany on the 11th and 12th August 1947.
The court charged a German national “that he did, at or near Kranenburg, Germany on or about the 17th September 1944, wrongfully kill two members of the United States Army who were then and there PoWs in the custody of the German Reich”.
The accused was a Ludwig Klüttgen, who was a former SA-Obersturmbannführer (Lt Col.) and a member of the Nazi party. In September 1944 he was assigned to civil war service as a transport manager at the Westwall.
Sturmabteilung (SA) = Paramilitary arm of the Nazi party.
Westwall was the German name for what was known as the Siegfried Line.
The court heard that on the 17th September 1944, two Allied airmen, either British or American, were captured near Wyler, some 2½ miles NE of Groesbeek, by an armed, unnamed, customs official and taken to Kranenburg, some 4 km SE of Wyler. In front of the city hall they encountered Klüttgen, and standing nearby, the Kreisleiter (Nazi party district leader) of Kleve whose name was Fritz Albert Hartmann. Klüttgen told the customs official and his captives to halt, drew his pistol and shot the two prisoners in the head.
Edith Raim in her book (Reference 1) mentions the Klüttgen/Kranenburg case and that due to Klüttgen's execution Hartmann’s role in what had transpired could not be finally determined (a witness had stated that it was Hartmann who had ordered the murders), leaving the crime partially unsolved.
Both airmen had their hands crossed behind their heads when they were shot. One of the two died instantly, the other was mortally wounded. Both of them were then thrown over a fence/wall into a nearby garden. According to an eyewitness account another SA man, whose identity is unknown, climbed over the fence/wall and fired another shot into one of the airmen. The bodies were later buried in the garden but the next day were removed and buried in the Catholic cemetery of Kranenburg. After hostilities ceased personnel from the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) disinterred, on the 12th June 1947, three bodies from the cemetery and reinterred them at the US temporary Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz in Belgium. It was a further two years before two of them were identified as being T/Sgt. Harrison and Cpl. Armstrong.
The third was 2nd Lt. Raymond David Kunzler, O-750602, who was killed in action on the 9th March 1944, from the 384th Fighter Sqn, 364th Fighter Group, flying P-38J 42-967230.
Klüttgen admitted, when questioned, that he had killed the two airmen but attempted to justify his actions by pleading “military necessity”, claiming that he had no guards available and had therefore decided overcome the problem by shooting them.
The court was clear that Klüttgen had shot the airmen without excuse or justification and sentenced him to death. He was hanged on the 29th October 1948 at Landsberg, Bavaria.
Above: 1st Lt. Baldwin Jr., DFC (Credit: Dominique Potier - FindAGrave)
1st Lt. Norman A. Baldwin Jr., DFC, Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Block H, Row 9, Grave 217. Relocated to Plot A, Row 42, Grave 41. Born 1921 in Indiana. Son to Norman A. Baldwin and Amelia (née Behney) from Rochester, Indiana, and husband to Mrs. Baldwin of Avoca, Texas, USA.
Above: Cpl Armstrong (Credit: Dominique Potier - FindAGrave)
Cpl. William Harvelle Armstrong. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Ardennes American Cemetery, Block W, Row 12, Grave 286. Relocated to Plot C, Row 4, Grave 47. Born on the 9th March 1910, Tom Green County, Texas. Son of Minnie E. Armstrong of San Angelo, Texas, and husband to Jessica Burdohn (née Brown) Armstrong from San Angelo, Tom Green County, Texas, USA.
T/Sgt. George Thomas Harrison. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Repatriated and buried at the Greenlawn Cemetery, Section 104, Block A, Lot 48, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. Born on the 23rd November 1909 in Ohio. Son to Eulysses and Cora Mae (née Leach) Harrison both of whom predeceased him. Brother to William V. Harrison, US Coast Guard police, US Naval facility, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Note: T/Sgt. Harrison was posted as Missing in Action and the date of death was recorded 1 year 1 day later, as the 18th September 1945.
Above: Kranenburg Monument (Credit Dat Doris - Attribution)
A memorial plate bearing the image of two broken Lilies was originally erected on the fence/wall opposite the Kranenburg town hall upon the initiative of the local priest and mayor in 1994. From that time forward a ceremony has been held every year in commemoration, on the Sunday nearest to the 17th September. The plate was later relocated to a position in front of the town hall. On the 18th September 2016 a plaque with the names of T/Sgt. George Thomas Harrison and Cpl. William Harvelle Armstrong was added and unveiled.
Researched by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Our thanks go to Marco Cillessen and the Dutch “Our Historical Heritage Foundation WW2” for their valuable guidance and access to documents from their collection.
1. Edith Raim, Justiz zwischen Diktatur und Demokratie: Wiederaufbau und Ahndung von NS-Verbrechen in Westdeutschland 1945-1949, de Gruyter Oldenbourg [München (Munich)] 2013, page 504.