28.10.1944 644th Bomb Squadron (L) A-20G Havoc 43-10170 ‘Sad Sack’, 1st Lt. Frank Braisted
Operation: Ahrweiler, Germany
Date: 28th October 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: 410th Bombardment Group (L), 644th Bombardment Squadron (L), 9th Air Force
Type: A-20G Havoc Sad Sack
Serial No: 43-10170
Location: Scheuren near Schleiden, Germany
Base: Coulommiers (ALG A-58), France
Pilot: 1st Lt. Frank Braisted O-803768 AAF Age 25. Killed
Armourer Gnr: S/Sgt. John ‘Jack’ Henry Deuitch 35095260 AAF Age 20. PoW *
Mechanic Gnr: S/Sgt. Bernard ‘Barney’ McKendree Craig 39412786 AAF Age 19. Killed
* Stalag Luft 4 Groß-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug on 28th May 1944. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
REASON FOR LOSS:
The Sad Sack took off from Coulommiers (ALG A-58), France, as a part of a four flight formation, on a mission to bomb a railroad highway bridge at Ahrweiler, Germany. This mission was part of approximately 170 B-26s and A-20s attacking five railroad bridges in the Netherlands and western Germany.
The Sad Sack was last seen at 15:07 hrs about 8 km north of Schleiden.
The circumstances leading to the loss of the Sad Sack were reported by pilots from the 644th Bomb Squadron (L) in the following after mission reports:
Capt. David D. Munro III, O-26129.
“I was leading the third flight flying slightly to the rear and from one-half to one mile to the left of the flight in which Lt. Frank Braisted was flying. I was looking off my right wing at that particular flight and saw first two parachutes pop open immediately to the rear of the flight. Then as the number two ship started to turn to the right out of the formation a third parachute opened. The plane continued banking to the right and went into a steep dive. I watched it down to where it entered the clouds and at that point it was trailing white smoke. All three chutes opened quite close to the tail of the plane at about 11,500 feet. The time was 1507Z”.
Capt. Robert F. Valtr, O-674874.
“Lt. Frank Braisted was flying on my right wing. After we left the target and were on course to base is when he left formation, We were not getting any flak at the time. I glanced at Lt. Braisted just in time to see one gunner bail out. Lt. Braisted then peeled away from me and that is the last I saw of him”.
1st Lt. Louis Newmark O-749045.
“I was flying on Capt. Valtr's wing, no. three (3) position. After leaving the flak concentrations I noticed A-20G J-Jig drop back slightly in the formation. I kept an eye on this ship from then until it peeled off. About 1505 hours; A-20G J-Jig still in loose formation; I positively saw two of the crew bail out. I think but I am not certain I saw a third leave the aeroplane. A-20G J-Jig stayed in loose formation for, from thirty (30) seconds to a minute and a half after the crew bailed out. The ship then peeled off the the right in a steep dive. Just before peeling off I noticed the right engine was smoking slightly and it was not turning over although the propeller was not feathered. When I last saw A-20G J-Jig, the aeroplane was in a vertical dive about four thousand (4,000) feet below me”.
The aircraft crashed at Scheuren (now Kreis Euskirchen) near Schleiden, 45 km west of Ahrweiler.
Col. Mario Cremer’s research has determined that the Vogelsang airfield flak batteries were responsible for shooting down the ‘Sad Sack’. Eyewitness reports stated that there were also flak batteries located on the heights above Schleiden and Scheuren which may have contributed to the shooting down.
Col. Cremer believes that these flak positions were also responsible for shooting down 84th Fighter Squadron P-47D 44-19569 ‘Okie II’ flown by Maj. Quince Lucien Brown Jr.
The flak guns, believed to be 20mm triplet guns (originally intended for submarines), were manned by very keen Flakhelfer (part-time soldiers).
1st Lt. Braisted gave the order to bail out because the aircraft was on fire. S/Sgt. Deuitch spoke with 1st Lt. Braisted who said he was not injured. He believed that 1st Lt. Braisted had not bailed out but did not know why. After returning to the United States he had received a letter from S/Sgt. John DaVecka, who was a gunner from the aircraft flying as 1st Lt. Braisted’s wingman, which informed him that the Sad Sack was seen entering a spin with all its nose guns firing, which he surmised was as a result of the fire in the nose of the aircraft.
S/Sgt. Deuitch reported that S/Sgt. Craig was uninjured when he bailed out. He also noted that S/Sgt. Craig was wearing a British type harness which was not fitted correctly and believed that he slipped though it to his death when his parachute opened.
S/Sgt. Craig body was was not found immediately and it was not until the 31st November 1944 that he was initially buried in the Gemünd Civil Cemetery Plot XVI, Grave 10. He was later reinterred in the American Netherlands Cemetery, Plot LL, Row 1, Grave 21.
Gemünd is some 5 km north of Scheuren
1st Lt. Braisted was initially buried in the local cemetery in Scheuren on the 29th October 1944 and then in 1949 reinterred in the American Ardennes Cemetery Plot II, Row 5, Grave 112.
Above: 1st Lt. Braisted, Photo: Credit patootie - FindAGrave, Grave marker: Credit PIN - FindAGrave
1st Lt. Frank Braisted. Air Medal (7 Oak Leaf Clusters). Repatriated on the 9th May 1950 and interred at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California, Section I, Grave 107. Born on the 29th May 1919 in San Diego, California. Son of Peter and Margaret Braisted of San Diego, California. Husband to Nancy May Braisted of San Diego, California, USA.
S/Sgt. Bernard ‘Barney’ McKendree Craig. Air Medal (7 Oak Leaf Clusters). Repatriated and interred at the Masonic Cemetery, Modesto, Stanislaus, California. Born on the 28th November 1924 in Stanislaus, California. Son of Edwin Alfred and Esther Elizabeth (née Gustafson) Craig of Modesto, Stanislaus, California, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Col. Mario Cremer for sharing his information and expertise.