Download Introduction 1 - The StillWater Club

Survey
yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Transcript
From a 2005 10-part series in the Main Post, (a German Newspaper), detailing the second raid by the US 8th Air Force on
Schweinfurt in October 1943. It uses the downing of the B-17 “Iron Maiden” and the capture of it’s crew as the central
theme. The Iron Maiden was piloted by Roland Martin, now of Carmel Valley, CA.
SPECTACULAR ARRIVAL OF AN “IRON MAIDEN” NEAR
GEROLZHOFEN
On 14 October 1943 the sky over Schweinfurt is black with roaring Bombers. This is the story of an emergency landing of a
four engine Bomber and the capture of its crew.
By our Editorial Board Member Norbert Vollman
despite all the hardships, the crew completes its
October 14th 1943 is a beautiful fall day under brilliant
bombing run. No sooner has she finished her real
blue skies in the region around Schweinfurt. It is the
mission, the "lron Maiden" was struck again, this time
midst of Germany's harvest season. But the idyll is
from a Ju-88, destroying the last two functioning motors
deceptive. About 14.30 hours, suddenly the first B-17
on the left wing.
Bombers appear over Schweinfurt along with the
intercepting German fighters. Soon the sky is so black
It's all about surviving
with planes, as if the starlings gathered for the return
flight to their winter quarters. The Americans have
The pilot, who now lives in California, Roland H.
started the second air attack by the 8th U.S. Air Force
Martin: At this moment it was as if we had dropped a
on the ball bearing factories in Schweinfurt.
ship’s anchor, as the rest of the bomber group pulled
away from us.” In addition, other important functions
On the long journey to southern Germany their combat
such as the intercom failed. The situation on board now
units were met with fierce resistance from the German
came to a head.
air defenses in the region around Aachen, where the last
fighter escorts must start to return home because of
Martin, co-pilot Linden Price, and flight engineer
their limited fuel supply. Then the "Iron Maiden" of the
Nicholas Macri in the partially destroyed upper gun
th
379 Bomber Squadron appears, originating from
turret behind the cockpit, have no idea who apart from
Kimbolton. She flies in the formation of first bomber
them, is still alive. It's her tenth deployment in WW2,
division in the first major wave of the attack, which
the heavily damaged plane handles like a disabled tanker
lasted from 14.39 to 14.45 hours. An additional 228 of the
in the sea as it heads toward Gerolzhofen, a city south of
291 B-17 Bombers, including the third Bomber Division,
Schweinfurt. In addition, they are now in the clutches of
arrived over Schweinfurt at 14.51 hours
German fighters, like a Shark holding its defenseless
victim between its teeth. On board it's all about survival.
Added to the incessant attacks by German fighters over
Radioman Edwin Mattern (22) is in the compartment
the target is the massive artillery fire of the dreaded
behind the bomb rack.
Flakartilierie. An explosion destroyed the two engines in
the right wing of the heavily armed "Iron Maiden". But
Part 1
page 1 of 3
Photo of author Norbert Vollmann, the waist
gunner of lron Maiden, Daniel Sirianni (with
daughter Ellen), and the pilot, Roland H. Martin
Jr. (right).
A piece of shrapnel, from a German artillery shell which
had exploded in the cabin, drills into his right eye, and
balls from a MG pierces his right leg. In some places,
the bomber is riddled like a sieve. Roland Martin, at this
time has his hands full in evasive maneuvering trying to
prevent the destruction of the B-17.
The bomber continues to lose altitude. The flying
fortress flying threatens to become a flying coffin.
Approaching Gerolzhofen, the crew is signaled by a
siren, to make ready to jump. Tail gunner Adam Janik,
the Benjamin on board, and waist gunner Daniel Sirianni
help the heavily bleeding Mattern, in the center of the
plane, into his parachute.
While approaching Gerolzhofen from the direction of
Vognitz /Bischwind, the plane banks left towards Neuen
See. Navigator Daniel Maher jumps from the hatch
below the cockpit and in quick succession Edwin
Mattern and gunner Adam Janik, Daniel Siriannl, Elihu
Peacock and John Cihonski parachute from the hatch in
the middle.
Bombardier lrvin Rlttenberg, normally alongside Maher
in the bow, has problems with his parachute and
therefore remain on board with Martin, Price, and
Macri.
To find out what is happening, Martin Macri is sent to
the rear, while the six parachutists drift downwards over
the
woods
in
the
vicinity
of
WiebeIsberg/Oberschwarzach/Handthal. When Macri
returns, the plane is only at an altitude of 600 meters –
Too low for jumping and abandoning the bomber to
crash. It is fortunate that Martin, already on the lookout
for a suitable place for a belly landing, finds an
appropriate area on the ground below. Now is the
moment for a last loop around Neuen See before going
down. At about 1500 hours, the very heavy plane lands in
an open field. The monster (plane) plows forward about
250 meters past the corn, potatoes, clover and cabbage
fields. Before coming to a halt, the aircraft spins 90
degrees.
The “Maiden“ with the enormous wingspan, despite
failed engines and damaged landing gear and
undercarriage, manages a landing on difficult terrain
adjacent to a forested area. Only the right wheel is
demolished, and the propellers are bent. Roland H.
Martin, the youngest pilot of a four-engined bomber in
the Air Force succeeds in a masterly performance. Price
and Rittenberg, a Jew, immediately flee into the forest.
Martin together with Macri try to set fire to the spilled
fuel with a flare gun, and also to set fire to an extended
parachute in the bow and cockpit. After both attempts
fail, they too try to flee.
Lower Franconia onlookers with the “Iron Maiden”
Part 1
The pin-up girl
Due to the presence of German field workers, hurrying
men and women, the German aircraft circling above
cease firing at the Americans.
The news of the emergency landing of American
splendor bomber is spreading like wildfire in the city
and surrounding areas. The People flock to the scene by
the thousands on foot or by wagon. Many are even
allowed by the guards, to explore the interior.
It is still a life-threatening situation. The machine guns
are still armed/loaded. Bullets are whizzing over the
heads of the people outside. A bullet grazes the ear of a
boy. Many also admire the painting of well-endowed,
brunette, long-legged “Iron Lady” in a sexy swimsuit,
underneath the cockpit. A British artist in Kimbolton
has painted the Pinup Model on the Aluminum, paid for
by the crew.
It takes days for soldiers in the Luftwaffe to start the
disassembly of the bomber and the loading of the parts
on large trucks. Meanwhile, the manhunt is on for the
missing crew members, with the police and Home
Guard in full swing. The majority are arrested on the
same or next day. Martin and Macri, are escaping toward
Switzerland and it is almost two weeks before they are
picked up. Elihu Peacock even manages to hide for four
weeks. All of them are brought first to the interrogation
center of the Air Force in Oberursel. They are then
distributed to prison camps. Stalag Luft (Stalag is an
abbreviation for the main camp), Barth (on the Baltic
Sea), Sagan (in Silesia), and Krems (in Lower Austria).
Edwin Mattern loses his eye from gangrene and then his
right leg. But all survive and return home after the
liberation by the Allied and Russian forces in 1945.
Mattern is first.
62 years is a long time in the life of Roland Martin (82).
The research by the author enables the pilot and Daniel
Sirianni (83) to meet this year in Buffalo, New York for
the first time since 1943. Together with Daniel Maher
(86) and Adam Janik (81) they are the last survivors of
the crew.
Schweinfurt, Germany paid a high price
in blood
The first bombing of Schweinfurt in World War II was
on the 17th of August 1943 and quite a few planes never
returned home. The second air attack on the ballbearing center of Germany ended in a fiasco for the 8th
US Air Force, the suicide squad of the U.S. Air Force.
The 14th of October 1943 will be remembered as "Black
Thursday" in the American history books. About 60
bombers and around 600 men are still missing. 17 more
bombers made it home but had to be scrapped.
The air battle over Germany in this phase of the war had
long since become a religious war between the
Americans and British on the right strategy. England
relied on the night attack, which provides more
protection and coverage. America, however, considers
daylight bombing more effective, particularly in the case
page 2 of 3
of important targets. The Americans were convinced the
heavily armed daylight bomber could make it here
without the protection of long range fighter escorts and
withstand the enemy air defense. This misconception
cost the US Air Force dearly. The loss of life and
equipment was colossal.
October 14, 1943 marks a turning point in the Air
Battles. The bloodletting and loss of aircraft was not
that great considering the resources committed by the
German Luftwaffe. But never again in the war would
the Americans use as many aircraft and suffer as many
losses as they did in the two attacks on Schweinfurt.
The 14th of October 1943 is also a "black day" for the
then 510,000 inhabitants of Schweinfurt. About 300
people died in the fiery hell or succumbed later from
their injuries. The city paid a heavy toll for its strategic
importance as the center of ball bearing manufacturing
in the Germany, and was left in ruins. Hitler's war
machine needed the precision parts made here for the
construction of planes, tanks and submarines.
Part 1
page 3 of 3