17.03.1945 489th Bomb Squadron (M) B-25J 43-27489 ‘Ooh Brother’, 2nd Lt. Charles C. Parker
Operation: Aldeno Fill (Middle), Italy
Date: 17th March 1945 (Saturday)
Unit No: 340th Bombardment Group (M), 489th Bombardment (M) Squadron, 12th Air Force
Type: B-25J Ooh Brother
Serial No: 43-27489
Location: About 8 km SE of Aldeno, Italy
Base: Alesan airfield, Corsica
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Charles Clark Parker O-784340 AAF Age 23. Murdered (2)
Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Lawrence Edwin Proffitt O-784769 AAF Age 27. PoW *
Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Howard R. Bradley Jr. O-2068006 AAF Age 20. PoW *
Radio Op/Gunner: S/Sgt. William Henry MacEachon 12098734 AAF Age 28. Evaded (1)
Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Kenneth Eugene Lower 37512165 AAF Age 21. Evaded, no further details
Tail Gunner: Sgt. James Raymond Ehrsam 35892387 AAF Age 20. PoW *
* Stalag 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camp 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse and Work Camp 3368 Munich)
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the 17th March 1945 Ooh Brother took off from the Alesan airfield on Corsica to bomb the railway line at Aldeno. After leaving the target area the aircraft was hit by flak and crashed about 8 km SE of Aldeno at about 12:10 hrs.
The after mission report by S/Sgt. Alphonse S. Lauria described the events surrounding the loss of Ooh Brother:
“I was flying as turret gunner in aircraft #43-27638-9-D. As we started to leave the target after dropping bombs I heard four close bursts of flak. Looking out, I noticed ship #43-27489 9-P pull underneath the plane in which I was flying. The plane was still under control at this time. I saw no fire at any time. When the falling plane had reached a distance of approximately eight hundred yards from my plane I saw two bottom hatches drop out of the plane. Four of the crew members bailed out at this time. As the plane started to dive, two more jumped clear. The last person to leave bailed at an altitude of about 1000 feet. The plane went into a spin and crashed into the mountains about 25 miles west of the target”
In his Casualty Questionnaire (ICQ) 2nd Lt. Bradley Jr. confirmed that all six of the crew had bailed out of the aircraft over a several mile area between Trento (some 9½ km NNE of the target) and Rovereto (some 11 km SSW of the target). He had suffered a broken ankle on landing. He, 2nd Lt. Parker, 2nd Lt. Proffitt and Sgt. Ehrsam were captured that day and held at the Belzona prison camp. He had heard that S/Sgt. MacEachon and S/Sgt. Lower had escaped with the aid of the local partisans. He last saw 2nd Lt. Parker at the Belzona prison camp on the 19th March. He was removed to a hospital the following day on the 20th March for treatment to his broken ankle. He believed that 2nd Lt. Parker had been murdered and that his broken ankle saved him from the same fate.
(1) S/Sgt. MacEachon evaded capture with the aid of three brothers, who were formerly in the Italian army and then partisans in Folgaria, and also with the help of a priest and a school teacher in Mezzomonte di Sopra. They drew a map of the area noting where each of the crew had landed. He was also informed that 2nd Lt. Bradley Jr. had broken his ankle and had been taken to hospital in Rovereto. Additionally that 2nd Lt. Parker had landed in the courtyard of an SS barracks and taken prisoner.
(2) The fate of 2nd Lt. Parker was unknown until a Military Commission was convened in Naples, Italy during the period of the 9th to 15th January 1946.
Three German nationals were charged (Specification 2 of 3) that they, acting jointly, and in pursuance of a common intent, did, at or near Bolzano, Italy, on or about the 19th March 1945, wrongfully, and contrary to the law of war kill summarily Maj. R. Ruger Littlejohn, an officer in the British Army, Second Lieutenant Charles Parker, an officer of the Army of the United States, and Corporal Joseph David Crawley, a non-commissioned officer in the British Army, each of whom had then recently been captured and were PoWs, by causing each of them to be shot to death with a gun.
Those charged were August Schiffer, who was a former SS (Schutzstaffel)-Sturmbannführer (Equates to a Maj) and the Chief of Abteilung IV (Gestapo Section) under the Sicherheitspolizei (Security police) and SD (Sicherheitsdienst=Security service of the SS) Command of Bolzano; Albert Storz who was a former SS-Oberscharführer (Equates to Sgt) and attached to Abteilung IV under Schiffer whose duties were chiefly in connection with Gestapo prisoners and Heinrich ‘Heinz’ Andergassen who was a former SS-Untersturmführer (Equates to 2nd Lt) and also attached to Abteilung IV under Schiffer with similar duties as Storz. All three were members of the Nazi party.
During the interrogation and torture of a Maj. Ross Ruger Littlejohn and a Cpl. Joseph P. Crawley from the 2nd Special Air service (SAS) Regiment Schiffer was made aware of the capture of 2nd Lt. Parker and three of his crew after being shot down whilst returning from a mission over Italy. It appeared that Schiffer did not like American airmen because of the damage the Allied air forces were inflicting on Germany and decided that he would be shot along with Maj. Littlejohn and Cpl. Crawley on the pretext that they were trying to escape, a typical tactic of the Gestapo in an attempt to cover up murder.
Schiffer contacted Storz and Andergassen on the evening of the 19th March and ordered them to kill 2nd Lt. Parker, Maj. Littlejohn and Cpl. Crawley. A car was sent to pick them up from police transient camp on the pretence that they were to be transported to a PoW camp at the nearby Luftwaffe airbase.
They contrived a vehicle break-down en route to the airbase but it transpired that the car suffered an actual flat tyre shortly after leaving the police transient camp. They made the three prisoners exit the car and walk in front of them and down a side street. It was then that Storz and Andergassen opened fire with their Italian machine pistols and killed the three prisoners. Andergassen then shot each of the victims in the head to ensure that they were dead.
The three murdered victims were collected by a Josef Heufler the Gräberoffizier (Burial officer) and buried at the Cemetery of the Resurrection in Bolzano on the 21st March 1945 at 0915 hours. 2nd.Lt. Parker was buried in Row 2, Grave 9. His remains were exhumed on the 23rd July 1945.
Cpl. Joseph P. Crawley and Maj. Ross Ruger Littlejohn were buried in Row 2, Grave 10 & Grave 11 respectively.
The court found Schiffer, Storz and Andergassen guilty of the charge and sentenced them to be hanged by the neck until dead. The sentences were carried out at Livorno on the 26th July 1946.
Above: 2nd Lt. Parker (Credit:Jennifer Peterson - FindAGrave)
2nd Lt. Charles Clark Parker. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Repatriated and buried at the South End Burying Ground, Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut. Born on the 28th December 1922. Son to Allan Price and Celia (née Singleton) Parker of Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA.
Researched by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.