On 22nd February 289 aeroplanes took ff to bomb all sorts of companies in the Harz area a.o. the factory for spare parts for Junker planes. On the way there the weather became very bad and the planes were ordered back. Since the message was not received by all the planes the mission became chaotic. The returning planes bombed ‘random targets’ and by mistake Nijmegen was bombed and 800 lives were lost. The ‘Paper Doll’, one of the B-17s’, had already been hit by German fighter planes on the way to the bombing area.
Seven crew members jumped out of the plane with their parachutes and they were taken to a place of hiding. One man broke his lower leg which later on was amputated in the Venlo hospital. After that he was taken by members of the resistance to a hiding-place in Kroonenberg (Horst a.d. Maas). The remaining three men jumped out just before the plane crashed near Afferden. They were also hidden in Well. These nine men were later taken to a hiding-place for pilots in ‘Zwarte Plak’
(a hamlet near Horst-America) near the Peel area, a peat moor. When later on they tried to escape to a liberated area four of them were caught and taken prisoner.
Pilot Donald P. McCall USAAF POW Stalag Luft III Sagan
Copilot Charles Gurney USAAF POW Stalag Luft VII Moosburg
Bombardier Leo Williams USAAF Escaped
Flight engineer James H. Fiers USAAF POW Stalag Luft IV Groß Tychow
Navigator Thomas S. Geary USAAF Escaped
Radio operator John P. Cvitkovich USAAF Escaped
Aerial gunner Joe A. Lantigne USAAF POW Stalag Luft IV Groß Tychow
Aerial gunner George Sciligo USAAF Escaped
Aerial gunner Eugene F. Hively USAAF POW
Aerial gunner Edgar M. Taylor USAAF Escaped
The crash took place at the coordinates: 51.638410, 6.020678.
In collaboration with the municipalities of Bergen, Gennep, Mook-Middelaar and Weeze, the initiative was created for cycling routes 'Wings of Freedom' along crash locations.
In the four municipalities, 28 crash sites have been definitively confirmed. Near each crash site is a memorial sign with information about the cause of the crash. Using the network of cycling nodes, there are four routes of approximately 30 - 40 km. deployed along these places.
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