26.06.1944 746th Bomb Squadron (H) B-24H 41-28638 FO. George J. Gullick
Operation: Moosbierbaum, Lower Austria
Date: 26th June 1944 (Monday)
Unit: 456th Bombardment Group (H), 746th Bombardment Squadron (H), 15th Air Force
Serial No: 41-28638
Location: Unterloisdorf, Burgenland, Austria
Base: Stornara airfield, Italy
Pilot: FO. George Jesse Gullick T-190914 AAF Age 22. PoW *
Co Pilot: 2nd.Lt. Clinton Winfred “Clint” Richards O-764461 AAF Age 21. PoW **
Navigator: 2nd.Lt. James Bell Dixon O-707244 AAF Age 24. PoW **
Bombardier: 2nd.Lt. Albert Marion Haffenden O-704286 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Radio/Op: S/Sgt. Albert Arthur Wolz 35607161 AAF Age 19. PoW ***
Engineer: Sgt. Edward Walter Wenerski 13076187 AAF Age 22. PoW ***
Ball Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Don H. Richley 16014212 AAF Age 27. PoW ***
Left Waist Gunner: Sgt. Edward J. Bastian 32731911 AAF Age 21. Killed (1)
Right Waist Gunner: Sgt. Adolph Joseph Stadnicki 31346593 AAF Age 21. PoW ****
Tail Gunner: Sgt. Frank Lee Burns 19043025 AAF Age 24. PoW Unknown camp
The B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally comprised 9 personnel who were typically, but not always, Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner/Radar Operator, Waist Gunner, Tail Gunner.
* Stalag 7a Moosburg, Bavaria (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse and 3368 Munich).
** Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
*** 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 9c Bad Sulza, Saxe-Weimar, Thuringia, Germany.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 26th June 1944 41-28638 took off from Stornara airfield, located approximately 2 miles SW of the town Stornara in Italy, on a mission to bomb the oil refinery facilities at Moosbierbaum in Germany. The attack damaged oil storage tanks, fertilizer and sulphuric acid plants, and a barracks at the concentration camp in the refinery.
Moosbierbaum had one of the numerous forced labour sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen complex of Concentration camps.
41-28638 was last seen at 09:20 hrs at a Lat/Long of 48 12N, 17 18E which is the location of Školská in Slovakia. The aircraft appeared to be under control and no parachutes were seen to leave the aircraft.
An after mission statement by a Sgt. Shirley G. Wimberley Jr. reported:
“We were flying approximately 19,000 feet, about 30 miles southwest of Vienna. We had bombed the target, and we had encountered heavy flak and many fighters before and after the bomb run.
The plane piloted by FO. George J. Gullick dropped back with one engine feathered. He began to recover his position in the formation when attacked by two enemy fighters. He again fell out of formation, continue to drop back until he disappeared from view. The plane was still under control when last seen.”
German documents record that the aircraft had been shot down at 10:10 hrs about ½ km SE of Unterloisdorf, and 28 km south of Eisenstadt, Burgenland, Austria. This is some 102 km SW of Školská. The aircraft was 96% destroyed by the crash and subsequent fire.
The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) (German Air Force High Command) fighter claims for the Reich, West & Südfront on the 26th June 1944, lists a number of B-24 claims within 20 km NE of Unterloisdorf. But it has not been possible to attribute a specific claim for the loss of 41-28638.
From the various Individual Casualty Questionnaires (ICQ) it was established that all of the crew bailed out of the aircraft.
FO. Gullick, 2nd.Lt. Dixon, 2nd.Lt. Haffenden (14:00 hrs), Sgt. Stadnicki, Sgt. Wenerski, S/Sgt. Richley (15:00 hrs) and Sgt. Burns (14:20 hrs) were captured in the forest of Oberloisdorf that day. There is no information recording the capture of 2nd.Lt. Richards and S/Sgt. Wolz.
Prior to the loss of the aircraft Sgt. Stadnicki was heard to call over the interphone “I’m hit, its my leg”. He was answered and given immediate first aid. He was seen by FO. Gullick on the ground after bailing out with a severe injury just above the ankle bone which was sustained from being hit by a 20 mm cannon shell. 2nd Lt. Dixon appears to have been injured during his parachute landing as there was no report that he had been injured aboard the aircraft.
2nd.Lt. Dixon and Sgt. Stadnicki were transferred to the medical station at Oberpullersdorf for treatment to their injuries. On the 15th July both airmen were transferred to the Luftwaffe Hospital 5/XVII at Felbring, Muthmannsdorf, Austria.
Note: Sgt. Stadnicki was in the left waist gunner’s position and not in the nose turret as recorded in the MACR.
2nd.Lt. Dixon had suffered a fracture of the Malleolus (ankle) and Sgt. Stadnicki had suffered a fractured lower right leg as result of being ‘shot’, which necessitated amputation. Both airmen were assumed to require treatment for six days before being discharged for transfer to Oberursel for evaluation on the 20th July 1944.
Sgt. Stadnicki was repatriated, in an exchange of PoWs, to the United States aboard the MV Gripsholm arriving during the week of 19th February 1945. (The Boston Globe, dated Friday, 16th February, 1945).
(1) A number of the crew saw Sgt. Bastian, uninjured, aboard the aircraft and it was believed that he had bailed out. There was speculation amongst the crew that Sgt. Bastian may have perished as a result of parachute failure or by hostile action during his decent. This was based upon the experiences of other crew members who had been shot at by German civilians armed with rifles. However, no evidence has been found to support this speculation.
A second possibility which may have led to the death of Sgt. Bastian was told to FO. Gullick by 2nd.Lt. Dixon at Stalag Luft 3 after he had returned from a hospital near the scene of the crashed aircraft. During his stay at the hospital German civilians brought some burnt fragments of a parachute for him to see and was told that it belonged to a crew member caught in the crash after jumping. The supposition by FO. Gullick and 2nd.Lt. Dixon was that the story of Sgt. Bastian being caught in the explosion of the aircraft when it hit the ground, after he had bailed out and landed unscathed, was probably true.
However, the supposition raises a number of observations, not least that it would seem improbable for Sgt. Bastian under a parachute to have reached the ground unscathed before the aircraft crashed and exploded. For him to have been killed in the manner described he would had to either have bailed out late and been close to or above the aircraft when it hit the ground and exploded, or else to have parachuted into the conflagration of the explosion.
At the time of research it has not been possible to determine with any degree of certainty the circumstances leading to the death of Sgt. Bastian.
Sgt. Bastian was initially interred in the local cemetery at Unterloisdorf, Austria.
Above Sgt. Bastian (Credit: Fred - FindAGrave)
Sgt. Edward J. Bastian. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Recovered and reinterred at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Block HH, Row 10, Grave 241. Relocated to Block C, Row 9, Grave 15. Born on the 11th April 1923 in Bowmansville, Erie County, New York. Son of Edward W. and Agatha M. Bastian from Lancaster, New York, 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’.