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S/SGT  Bernard V. BAUMGARTEN

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: WG
SERIAL #: 32930626 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 07815 CR: 07815

Comments1: 29 JUL 44 MERSEBERG (EAC)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2ND LT JAMES D. COCCIA  P POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG
2ND LT STANLEY S. DIAMOND  CP KIA 28 JUL 44 MERSEBURG (while flying with the Albert S. Spear Crew)
2ND LT ROBERT D. FULKERSON NAV POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG       SN# 0-713164
2ND LT ROBERT E. MARSHO  BOM POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG
S/SGT HARRY E. WHITFORD  ROG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG
S/SGT JOHN R. VUCHETICH  TTE POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG
   SGT BERNARD V. BAUMGARTEN WG KIA 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG
   SGT HARRY G. FELDKAMP  WG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG
   SGT JAMES A. HOOTS  TG NOC 
   SGT FRANK MADRID  BTG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG

MACR #7815, Microfiche #2862   A/C #42-107007  "SHE HASTA"

351st Sqdn.. This crew joined the 100th on 17 Jul 44

29 Jul 44 this crew suffered flak damage over the target (Merseburg) and was forced to ditch in the North Sea off the coast of Ameland.  Made it to shore & immediately captured.  Baumgarten severly wounded and went down with the A/C.  William L. Greiner was flying as  pilot to break in a new crew and became a POW. Lt Stanley Diamond asked for a transfer from this Crew because he was fearful of Coccia's flying ability.  He was sent to the Crew of Lt Albert S. Spear an was KIA on 28 Ju 44 over Merseburg. 

CREW
DATE: 29 July 1944  351st Sqdn.                 A/C #42-107007 "SHE HASTA"

MISSION: Merseburg                             MACR #7815lMicro-fiche #2862

1st Lt William L.Greiner,Jr.    P          POW
2nd Lt James D.Coccia          CP        POW
2nd Lt Robert D.Fulkerson       NAV      POW
2nd Lt Robert E.Marsho         BOM     POW
 S/Sgt Harry E.Whitford,Jr.     ROG     POW
 S/Sgt John R.Vuchetich        TTE       POW
   Sgt Frank Madrid             BTG      POW
   Sgt Bernard V.Baumgarten     WG        KIA
   Sgt Harry G.Feldkamp         TG         POW

All of the above except for William Greiner were members of the James D.Coccia
crew which had joined the 100th Gp. on 17/7/44. Greiner was flying as pilot
on 29/7/44 "to break in a new crew".

EYEWITNESS: " A/C #007 was observed to have one engine smoking as it went over
            the target. It dropped back and took over the lead of the second
            element of the low squadron and gradually lagged further and fur-
            ther behind. Friendly fighters were all around and when last seen
            the A/C was under control and appeared to be in good condition.
            This A/C later was seen over Wesermunde by a flight of P-38s from
            Station 337,479th Fighter Group. A jet propelled E/A was attacking
            and was driven off by the P-38's. The B-17 was escorted until it
            reached the Frisian Islands where the P-38's were forced to return
            to England becauce of a shortage of gasoline. When last seen all
            engines were operating and the A/C was headed for home at 10,000 feet."

The A/C ditched in the North sea a few miles off the island of Ameland and
all save Baumgarten made it to shore in the rafts. They were immediately taken
prisoner.

Sgt.Baumgarten had been badly eniured by flak (Left leg nearly torn off &
wounds in abdomen) and was unconscious in radio room when plane ditched.
Attempts by Sgt,Vuchetich & another to get him to a raft were not success-
ful. Ship stayed afloat only about 30/45 seconds.
This was the 2nd mission for the Coccia crew,

MISSIONS FLOWN BY LT ROBERT FULKERSON (mpf 2001)

1. 24/7/44 ST LO (with Lt E.J. Simmons Crew)Replacement Nav.
2. 25/7/44 ST LO (with Lt E.J. Simmons Crew)Replacement Nav.
3. 28/7/44 MERSEBURG
4. 29/7/44 MERSEBURG-Flak damage

"I was the navigator on the James Coccia's crew in the 351st Squadron, 100th Bomb Group and arrived at Thorpe Abbotts on July 17, 1944.  July 24 & 25 I flew as a replacement Navigator with the EJ  Simmons Crew on the two St Lo Missions.  July 28 & 29th, Coccia's crew flew on the Merseburg Missions.  William Greiner, whose crew finished all their missions, flew with Coccia's crew on the July 29th Mission to "help break them in" and to fly his "last mission".  On the July 29th mission, my fourth mission, as a result of losing one engine over the target, subsequent loss of a second engine by more flak and a brief encounter wiht  a ME 262 German Jet fighter, our crew ditched our B-17 "SheHasta" in the North Sea.  After four days at sea, having been spurned by a Danish ship on our second day at sea, we landed on Ameland, one of the Frisian Islands North of Holland.  We were captured by the Germans as we landed on the beach.

After a few days in Holland, we were taken to Germany.  At Stalag Luft III, located southeast of BERLIN.  I lived in a room across the hall from where the tunnel began in the Great Escape which occurred before I arrived.  Fifty of the POW's that had escaped and had been re-captured were murdered by the German by orders from Hitler.  Another Tunnel was ready to break out at the time the Russians were advancing in our direction.  Hitler, not wishing to allow the Russians to liberate us, wanting to keep us as hostages, ordered us to evacuate the camp and march 56 miles in blizzard conditions before packing us into boxcars and shipping us to Stalag XIII D at Nurnburg.  After two months at Stalag XIII D, American Forces began advancing in our direction.  We were evacuated and forced to march approx 100 miles to StalagVII A at Mooseburg Germany.   April 29, 1945, we were liberated by Gereral Pattons Third Army."
   (Lt Robert Fulkerson, Jan 2001  mpf)

MEMO 2:

Killed by FLAK

Bernard Victor Baumgarten was born in 1924 in Buffalo, New York, first son of Victor H. and Elizabeth Louise Hattinger Baumgarten. Both US Censuses 1930 and 1940 lists the family as residing in Buffalo. Baumgarten graduated from Fosdick-Masten High School in 1940.

He was drafted, and inducted into military service on April 8, 1943 in Buffalo. According to his enlistment file, he had completed 4 years of high school, and was working as a file clerk. He was noted as single, without dependents.
He was assigned to the Army Air Forces, and trained as an aerial gunner. He was sent for crew training, with a crew led by Lt. James Coccia. This crew went overseas to England, arriving there on July 17, 1944. The crew was dispatched on two missions.

On July 29, 1944 (one source states 27), the crew was part of a bombing raid on the oil fields located at Merseberg, Germany. Over the target, the aircraft was hit by flak, disabling one engine and severely wounding Baumgarten at station. The aircraft dropped out of formation, to return home. It was attacked by enemy aircraft that were driven off by the fighter escort. The aircraft evidently became unstable, and ditched near one of the Frisian Islands, off the Dutch Coast. Baumgarten was unconscious in the radio room, with one leg partially severed, and wounds in the abdomen. After ditching, two crew members attempted to get him into a life raft, but failed. They made their way out of the rapidly-sinking aircraft, and Baumgarten went down with the aircraft. The survivors floated at sea for four days, then landed on Ameland Island, where they were all captured.

Baumgrten was never recovered, and is today remembered on the Walls of the Missing in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Holland.

Sgt Bernard V. Baumgarten was acting as a waist gunner on B-17G # 42-107007, named "She Hasta," assigned to the 351st Bomb Squadron.

Missing Air Crew Report 7815 was issued to account for this loss. Crew rosters show the crew on board was:

1 Lt William L. Greiner, Jr.  p
2 Lt James D. Coccia  c-p
2 Lt Robert D. Fulkerson  nav
2 Lt Robert E. Marsho  bomb
SSgt John R. Vuchetich  eng/tt gun
SSgt Harry E. Whitford  r/o
Sgt  Frank Madrid  btg
Sgt  Bernard V. Baumgarten  wg
Sgt  Harry G. Feldkamp  tail gun

Sgt Baumgarten was the only crew member killed.  Lt Greiner was flying as pilot to check out the new crew that arrived July 17, 1944. The original crew's Lt Stanley Diamond requested a transfer because he "doubted Lt Coccia's flying ability." He was killed later that month while flying with the crew to which he had transferred.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Merseburg DATE: 1944-07-29  
AIRCRAFT: "She-Has ta" (42-107007) CAUSE: FLAK - Ditched in Sea  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: Wall/Misng CEMETERY: Netherlands Cemetery/Margraten  
ID: 269