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Monument B-17 "The Joker"

This memorial commemorates the liberation of the area by the Allies, but especially the crash of the B-17 bomber "The Joker". This bomber crashed on the mountain "Les Crestelles". The place can still be found by following the small road opposite this monument. The view over the village of Maboge and the valley of the Ourthe is magnificent. Although that view was created by the B-17.

On April 13, 1944, "The Joker" was attacked after an attack on a ball bearing factory in Sweinfurt. Sergeant James Young was killed and the plane was badly damaged. The other crew members jumped out of the plane between Vielsalm and Bérisménil. Young is buried at Saint-Avold American Cemetery.

2nd Lieutenant Herbert Swanson, pilot, tried to escape via Spain but was arrested by the Germans. The gunners, sergeants Ralph Sack, Gordon Mcintosh and Edward Zabinski tried to reach Switzerland, but were also arrested by the Germans. Sergeant Donald Brown (gunner) and 2nd Lieutenant Charles White, the navigator, tried to escape via Cherbourg but were also arrested. 2nd Lieutenant Austin Dunning, the bomb aimer, wanted to escape via Switzerland just like the gunners, but unfortunately was also caught. They all survived the war.

2nd Lieutenant Donald Smith, co-pilot, and Sergeant Clarence Wieseckel, radio operator, both managed to reach Switzerland via a separate route where they met again.

The bomber's original propellors were still available when the monument was erected, but unfortunately were quickly stolen. The Belgian Air Force then made this propeller available, probably from a C-47 Skytrain.

In the village of Bérisménil you can also find the Museum History 44 that pays attention to the crash of this bomber. The entire Battle of the Bulge is also treated there.

Text on the monument:

A NOS ALLIES 40-45
20 MAI 84

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Source

  • Text: Jeroen Koppes, STIWOT
  • Photos: Jeroen Koppes (1,3) & Chris van Beem (2)