Around noon on November 26, 1944, 1Lt. David Bennett's crew of nine were in their bomber B24-"Ark Angel" on their way to attack the synthetic oil plant in Hannover-Misburg.

Shortly afterwards the heavy bomber crashed in a field between the woods of Oerie and Jeinsen

The last mission - November 1944

Around noon on November 26, 1944, 1Lt. David Bennett's crew of nine were in their bomber B24-"Ark Angel" on their way to attack the synthetic oil plant in Hannover-Misburg.

The American Air Forces flew their missions to nazi-Germany during the day while the British allies bombed after dark. Flying by day-light offered better possibilities to identify the targets but the Americans had to pay the price of heavy losses.

The B-24, with the serial number 44-40073, belonged to the 491st Bombing Group (BG), 853rd Bombing Squadron (BS). At the end of the war it was learned that among all B-24 Groups the 491st Bombing Group had flown most missions had flown most missions.

Together with the 492nd the 491st BG was based at North-Pickenham. Until August 1944 their air base had been Metfield.

This November 26 would bring the Group the heaviest losses sustained during the whole war, for which after the war they were awarded with the "Distinguished Unit Citation

On the day of the attack to whole crew was hoping that that the mission could be flown without problems. The "Ark Angel" in flight Over the target the Ark Angel encountered heavy flak and was attacked by German fighters.

The "Ark Angel" was probably attacked by FW-190 fighters, the pilot was unable to maintain altitude and the aircraft went down.

A pilot in the bomber stream who witnessed that Ark Angel was losing altitude and was leaving the formation later reported:

"Bennett (the Pilot) managed to link up with us but drifted down under our aircraft. The top-turret was completely gone and the right wing showed an enormous hole. She could not keep up with us and was last seen at 12.58 hours. She was continuously losing altitude. Nobody saw what happened afterwards to Ark Angel ..."

Shortly afterwards the heavy bomber crashed in a field between the woods of Oerie and Jeinsen.

Some of the crew members managed to bail-out but were too low for their chutes to break their fall.

All nine crew members lost their lives:

Position Name Begraben in:
Pilot David N. Bennett Ardennes American Cemetery, Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgien
Co-Pilot Jessie F. Blount Gainesville, Texas
Navigator George H. Engel Pennsylvania

Nose-Turret

Raymond O. McKee Baton Rouge National Cemetery, Louisiana
Top-Turret Irving B. Star State of New York
Radio Pete Patrick Jr. Ardennes American Cemetery, Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgien
Left waist Normann Warford Ardennes American Cemetery, Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgien
Right waist Charles E. Hixson Tennesse
Tailgunner Henry P. Stovall Beckley, West-Virginia

 

List of names of the killed crew.

 

 

Original documents concerning the crash

 

Some of the inhabitants of Oerie, frightfully disturbed by the crash of the heavy bomber, ran to the site. Some of the dead were burned and still in their seats.

Those who had tried to jump were hanging in the trees nearby. The people of Oerie collected the bodies and buried them in the cemetery in Oerie.

That day 96 men of the 491st Group lost their lives, 94 became prisoners of war. The losses on the German side (fighter pilots) were also very high.

Note: When a B-24 ("The Unlimited") crashed on Hüpede some inhabitants were killed and some buildings burnt down.