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Old 2nd March 2016, 13:37
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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83rd FS losses on 26 February 1945

Hello

On 26 February 1945, 71 years ago, two pilots of 83rd FS, 78th FG, did not come back from an escort mission over Germany. Below is what I have about these losses.

On 26 February 1945, during Eighth Air Force Mission 849, 1,207 bombers and 726 fighters were dispatched to make H2X radar attacks on three Berlin rail stations:
1. 377 B-17s were sent to hit the Schlesischer rail station. 363 bombed it and 1 hit Osnabruck, a target of opportunity; 2 B-17s were lost and 21 damaged; 1 airman
was WIA and 18 MIA. 214 of 244 P-51s escorted and claimed 4-0-0 aircraft in the air.
2. 446 B-17s set out to hit the Alexanderplatz rail station. 418 bombed it and 4 others hit a target of opportunity; 1 B-17s was lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 43
damaged; 8 airmen were KIA, 2 WIA and 9 MIA. Escorting were 232 of 240 P-51s; they claimed 2-0-0 aircraft on the ground; 3 P-51s were lost (2 pilots MIA).
3. 361 B-24s were dispatched to hit the North rail station. 285 bombed it, 37 hit Eberswalde, the secondary target, and 4 hit a target of opportunity; 2 B-24s were
damaged beyond repair and 26 damaged; 3 airmen were WIA and 3 MIA. The escort was 20 P-47s and 190 P-51s.
4. 17 B-17s and 6 B-24s flew screening missions.
5. 31 of 32 P-51 flew a scouting mission.
____________________________

That day the P-51s of 78th FG were giving support to the bombers on their withdrawal from Berlin when, in the vicinity of Hannover, F/O Charles R O達rien, Jr. of the 83rd FS rocked his wings. His element leader and squadronmate, 1st Lt Leonard Stanley Olson, attempted to contact him on the radio but failed to establish communication. F/O O達rien aircraft apparently had an electrical failure. Olson called his squadron leader, Capt Harold Barbaby, and said he thought O達iren wanted to go home. Barnaby told fim to give him escort. The two P-51s peeled off and headed on a course of 250 degrees, at around 1350 hrs. No further transmissions were heard from them and they did not return to England.

What happened was that O達rien finally force-landed his failing P-51K 44-11627 "Green Eyes" at Oldebroek, near Zwolle, Netherlands, at 1455 hrs (local time). Olson tried to land and pick him up but was shot down minutes later. His P-51K 44-11655 "Poop Shooter II" crashed 2 km south of Oldebroek and Olson was wounded. Both pilots were captured but O達rien was shot and killed later the same day trying to escape.

A Dutch boy helped one of these two pilots and pickep up the parachute, that the Germans found while searching the area. The boy was interrogated but his father, Gerrit Blaauw, a member of the Dutch resistance, requested the Germans to release his son and take him instead. The Germans agreed and brought him to the prison of Deventer. It was hoped he would soon be liberated, but sadly he was among the men shot on 8 March 1945 as a reprisal for an ambush against the car of the SS general Hanns Albin Rauter the night before.

Source:
MACR 12762 (available online at https://www.fold3.com/image/28830442)
"Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 115: Aces of the 78th Fighter Group", by Thomas Cleaver. ISBN 978-1-78096-715-8
http://www.8thafhs.com/old/get_mia_a...ate=1945-02-26
http://www.verliesregister.studiegro...php?SGLO=T5324
http://www.verliesregister.studiegro...php?SGLO=T5325
http://paul.rutgers.edu/~mcgrew/wwii...ml/Feb.45.html
http://www.stamboomonderzoek.com/joo...personID=I4087
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanns_Albin_Rauter
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldebroek_%28gemeente%29
http://www.maplandia.com/netherlands...and/oldebroek/

I have not been able to find what happened to O'Brien, and how, when or where he was shot "trying to escape", such declaration sometimes hiding an execution. In my text above, I said he was killed the same day because his death date is listed as 26 February 1945 in the available databases, but I would like to confirm it also.

By the way the MACR 12761 covering O'Brien loss is not available on the fold3 website, or at least I have been unable to find it (I have checked the 'Blank' file for 1945 too).

Thanks in advance
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Old 2nd March 2016, 18:39
Horst Weber Horst Weber is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 559
Horst Weber
Re: 83rd FS losses on 26 February 1945

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurent Rizzotti View Post
Hello

On 26 February 1945, 71 years ago, two pilots of 83rd FS, 78th FG, did not come back from an escort mission over Germany. Below is what I have about these losses.

On 26 February 1945, during Eighth Air Force Mission 849, 1,207 bombers and 726 fighters were dispatched to make H2X radar attacks on three Berlin rail stations:
1. 377 B-17s were sent to hit the Schlesischer rail station. 363 bombed it and 1 hit Osnabruck, a target of opportunity; 2 B-17s were lost and 21 damaged; 1 airman
was WIA and 18 MIA. 214 of 244 P-51s escorted and claimed 4-0-0 aircraft in the air.
2. 446 B-17s set out to hit the Alexanderplatz rail station. 418 bombed it and 4 others hit a target of opportunity; 1 B-17s was lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 43
damaged; 8 airmen were KIA, 2 WIA and 9 MIA. Escorting were 232 of 240 P-51s; they claimed 2-0-0 aircraft on the ground; 3 P-51s were lost (2 pilots MIA).
3. 361 B-24s were dispatched to hit the North rail station. 285 bombed it, 37 hit Eberswalde, the secondary target, and 4 hit a target of opportunity; 2 B-24s were
damaged beyond repair and 26 damaged; 3 airmen were WIA and 3 MIA. The escort was 20 P-47s and 190 P-51s.
4. 17 B-17s and 6 B-24s flew screening missions.
5. 31 of 32 P-51 flew a scouting mission.
____________________________

That day the P-51s of 78th FG were giving support to the bombers on their withdrawal from Berlin when, in the vicinity of Hannover, F/O Charles R O達rien, Jr. of the 83rd FS rocked his wings. His element leader and squadronmate, 1st Lt Leonard Stanley Olson, attempted to contact him on the radio but failed to establish communication. F/O O達rien aircraft apparently had an electrical failure. Olson called his squadron leader, Capt Harold Barbaby, and said he thought O達iren wanted to go home. Barnaby told fim to give him escort. The two P-51s peeled off and headed on a course of 250 degrees, at around 1350 hrs. No further transmissions were heard from them and they did not return to England.

What happened was that O達rien finally force-landed his failing P-51K 44-11627 "Green Eyes" at Oldebroek, near Zwolle, Netherlands, at 1455 hrs (local time). Olson tried to land and pick him up but was shot down minutes later. His P-51K 44-11655 "Poop Shooter II" crashed 2 km south of Oldebroek and Olson was wounded. Both pilots were captured but O達rien was shot and killed later the same day trying to escape.

A Dutch boy helped one of these two pilots and pickep up the parachute, that the Germans found while searching the area. The boy was interrogated but his father, Gerrit Blaauw, a member of the Dutch resistance, requested the Germans to release his son and take him instead. The Germans agreed and brought him to the prison of Deventer. It was hoped he would soon be liberated, but sadly he was among the men shot on 8 March 1945 as a reprisal for an ambush against the car of the SS general Hanns Albin Rauter the night before.

Source:
MACR 12762 (available online at https://www.fold3.com/image/28830442)
"Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 115: Aces of the 78th Fighter Group", by Thomas Cleaver. ISBN 978-1-78096-715-8
http://www.8thafhs.com/old/get_mia_a...ate=1945-02-26
http://www.verliesregister.studiegro...php?SGLO=T5324
http://www.verliesregister.studiegro...php?SGLO=T5325
http://paul.rutgers.edu/~mcgrew/wwii...ml/Feb.45.html
http://www.stamboomonderzoek.com/joo...personID=I4087
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanns_Albin_Rauter
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldebroek_%28gemeente%29
http://www.maplandia.com/netherlands...and/oldebroek/

I have not been able to find what happened to O'Brien, and how, when or where he was shot "trying to escape", such declaration sometimes hiding an execution. In my text above, I said he was killed the same day because his death date is listed as 26 February 1945 in the available databases, but I would like to confirm it also.

By the way the MACR 12761 covering O'Brien loss is not available on the fold3 website, or at least I have been unable to find it (I have checked the 'Blank' file for 1945 too).

Thanks in advance
Good evening Laurent !

The German J-Report # 3128 says:

26 Feb 45 1455 hrs Mustang 411627 A Oldebrock, SW of Zwolle J 3128

Good luck !

Horst Weber
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Old 2nd March 2016, 23:15
Col Bruggy Col Bruggy is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1,082
Col Bruggy will become famous soon enough
Re: 83rd FS losses on 26 February 1945

Hello,

Garry Fry, in his "Eagles of Duxford The 78th Fighter Group in World War II", Phalanx,1991 (p.99 & 139), mentions the following:

Marvin Bigelow: "I was on the February 26th mission when Charles O'Brien and Leonard Olson were lost. O'Brien developed electrical trouble near Berlin and started home with Olson escorting him. I got the full story several years later when I ran into Olson as I was leaving the dormitory at the University of Colorado. O'Brien had to belly land his P-51 in Germany and Olsen crashed his Mustang in an attempt to land and pick him up. Both were captured. In his belly-in, O'Brien had hit his head bad and was at times violent. Olson and the German guard aboard the train taking them to POW camp could not control O'Brien. O'Brien was worrying so much about his wife and her reaction to his loss and capture that he leaped from the train to escape and broke his leg in the process. He was forced to turn himself in to the Germans to get it reset. Several days later he escaped again and was shot to death about sixty miles behind the German lines." (p.99)

Personnel Losses:
2-26-1945

O'Brien, Charles R. F/O 83FS KIA. He had electrical trouble at the target and started home escorted by Lt L. Olson. A forced belly landing behind enemy lines ensued and he was taken POW to gain medical help. Later shot to death while attempting escape. P-51 44-11627:HL-J. (p.139).

See:
Eagles of Duxford The 78th Fighter Group in World War II.
Fry,Garry L.
St. Paul:Phalanx Publishing,1991.
pp.99 & 139

Col.
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Old 3rd March 2016, 10:21
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: 83rd FS losses on 26 February 1945

Thanks Col,

Very interesting story, with two main differences with what I have collected before:
1) Orson crashed attempting to land and was not shot down.
2) O'Brien was killed several days later, not on the 26th.
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