24.06.1944 418th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G 42-97065 ‘Return Ticket’ 1st Lt. George L. Roth
Operation: Rouen (Mission #438), France
Date: 24th June 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: 100th Bombardment Group (H), 418th Bombardment Squadron (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-17G Return Ticket
Serial No: 42-97065
Location: Ferme du Haut Bois west of Longueil, France
Base: Temporary airbase Framlingham (Station #153), Suffolk, England
Pilot: 1st Lt. George L. Roth O-813064 AAF Age? Murdered (1)
Co Pilot: 1st Lt. Warren F. Le Baron O-817469 AAF Age? Murdered (1)
Navigator: 2nd.Lt. David Shoss O-684993 AAF Age 21. Evaded (2)
Togglier: S/Sgt. Joseph W. Schultz 36167336 AAF Age 25. Evaded (3)
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Willie B. Yates 18034475 AAF Age 25. Evaded (4)
Engineer: T/Sgt. Burl L. Reynolds 37663328 AAF Age 20. PoW unknown camp
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. Paul E. Hunter 33758244 AAF Age 34. PoW unknown camp
Right Waist: S/Sgt. Carl R. Carlson 18067567 AAF Age 22. PoW * (5)
Left Waist: Sgt Glen J. Allen 34729804 AAF Age 20. PoW **
Tail: S/Sgt. Harry E. Rulong 33438883 AAF Age 21. PoW ***
Togglier: When it was required for all aircraft in a Squadron formation to drop their bombs simultaneously, the designated Bombardier was on the lead aircraft. The task of the Bombardiers in the rest of the formation was to drop their bombs when the lead aircraft dropped theirs. When there were personnel shortages the role of Bombardier was carried out by an enlisted crew member and was designated as the Togglier.
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
** Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).
*** Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
REASON FOR LOSS:
This was 1st Lt. Roth’s 27th Mission and his first aboard the Return Ticket having completed 13 of his missions aboard B-17G 42-30152 Messie Bessie.
The Return Ticket took off from the temporary airbase at Framlingham in Suffolk at 08:00 hrs on a mission to attack the Crossbow (V1 launcher) site at Crepeuil in France. However, because of cloud cover the formation went on to attack the designated secondary targets, the oil depot at Grand Couronne. Shortly before noon and about 30 seconds after bombs away Return Ticket was hit by flak which set fire to #3 engine which subsequently fell off the wing taking with it the starboard landing gear.
Eight of the crew bailed out of the aircraft. S/Sgt. Rulong and S/Sgt. Hunter, who were the last to leave the aircraft, speculated that 1st Lt. Roth and 1st Lt. Le Baron were attempting to reach the English channel to ditch the aircraft but died when they attempted to crash land the aircraft. There was speculation that the flak that hit the #3 engine also injured 1st Lt. Le Baron.
Six of the crew were captured and became PoWs. T/Sgt. Reynolds suffered a broken leg and was admitted to a German hospital. S/Sgt. Carlson suffered a broken ankle. 1st Lt. Roth and 1st Lt. Le Baron were not seen again by any of the crew.
German documents recorded that the Return Ticket crashed at Ferme du Haut Bois west of Longueil, 9½ km SW of Dieppe at about 12:25 hrs.
(1) The fates of 1st Lt. Roth and 1st Lt. Le Baron were unknown until a court of enquiry was convened in Dieppe to determine the circumstances of the deaths of two American airmen who had been shot by German troops shortly after the crash of their aircraft.
The circumstances of the deaths of 1st Lt. Roth and 1st Lt. Le Baron are detailed in Reference 1, pages 260-261.
In summary, both airmen survived the crash of the Return Ticket. 1st Lt. Roth was shot by a Gefreiter (Pvt 1st. Class) Fritz Aschmitat and 10 minutes later by an Oberleutnant (1st Lt) Schröer with his side-arm. The shootings were witness by several French nationals. 1st Lt. Le Baron was discovered later and it was believed that he had been shot by either Schröer or Aschmitat. Several others from Aschmitat’s Grenadier Company were also implicated in the deaths of the two airmen and of the looting of their personal possessions and clothing. It is not known if any of the identified perpetrators were located, arrested or brought before a court to answer for their crimes
(2) After 2nd Lt. Shoss bailed out he was captured by two Wehrmacht soldiers. En route aboard the truck in which he was being transported he attacked and battered his guard rendering him unconscious. He then escaped from the back of the truck without the driver being aware of what had transpired. He eventually made contact with the French résistance and after an eventful period of time with them he made contact with units of the US 28th Division and was repatriated by air to the UK to rejoin his unit.
(3) S/Sgt. Schultz was either wounded in the aircraft or during the parachute jump and upon landing he was captured by German troops. He suffered further injury when he made his escape from the train in which he was being transported. He made contact with the French résistance and with their assistance evaded capture and crossed into Allied lines on the 2nd September 1944.
(4) T/Sgt. Yates bailed out and landed in a forest about 3 miles from Oissel and was picked up by the French résistance. With their assistance he evaded capture until he made contact with units of the Canadian Army on the 1st September 1944. He returned to England the following day.
(5) In his mission memories S/Sgt. Carlson recalled that he was interrogated in Erreux and was then sent to Stalag Luft 4 and then to Stalag Luft 1. He was not on the forced march to Mooseburg but was transported by rail due to the injuries he had suffered from bailing out of the aircraft. (Reference: 100th Bomb Group foundation site)
1st Lt. Roth and 1st.Lt. Le Baron were initially buried in the French Cemetery at Longueil, some 9 km WSW of Dieppe and later reinterred at the temporary US Military Cemetery at St. André de l’Epine situated between Evreux and Dreux and finally relocated to the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.
Above: (Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune, October 22, 1944).
1st Lt. George L. Roth. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, Block E, Row 7, Grave 122. Relocated to Plot B, Row 5, Grave 32. Son to Esther B. Roth of Tampa, Florida, USA.
Above: (Courtesy of The Boston Globe, November 10, 1945)
1st Lt. Warren F. LeBaron. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, Block E, Row 7, Grave 121. Relocated to Plot A, Row 9, Grave 41. Son to Lola N. LeBaron of Arlington, Massachusetts, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
1. “War Crimes of the Third Reich” by Philip D. Chinnery