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In and About Brummen

Inside This Site
WWII: Saving the World
The Face of Adversity
Bail Out over Brummen
Mission #266
Death of The 8 Ball
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Bail Out Over Brummen

In and About Bremmen

Fifteen year old Bennie Bieleman got the surprise of his life. He lived with his parents in the Zutphensestraat in Rhienderen, a hamlet just north of Brummen.

"I saw an airplane approaching, very low. Then I saw a man jump out. The parachute unfolded and the man drifted in my direction. He landed about 150 metres behind our house. Five or six German soldiers who were quartered in our house made up his reception committee. The airman was then escorted away. When the first man landed I saw at least five or six others still in the air."

What had happened aboard the B-17 is described by Rex Lewnfield, the radio-operator:
        "Our pilot, Jack Davis, gave the crew orders to bail out! We were lined up at the opened hatch in the back of the plane, waiting for this order. Our tail gunner was waiting to jump, but said he wanted to see a chute open before he went out! In the meantime none of the others had made a move to jump. At that moment I yelled 'I am going out' and 'that they had better follow me as we were losing altitude fast'!"

It is, therefore, possible that Lewnfield was the man who Bieleman saw coming down. However, both navigator Hellesvig and bombardier Guiciardi left through their own hatch in the front of the plane. It is not known whether they 'up front' left first and in what sequence the rest of the crew bailed out. It is true that the men came down within hundreds of feet from each other; the time in between their bailing out must have been very, very short.

Diligent research by Jan de Lange from Eerbeek shows that most of the crewmembers came down in a straight line, running from the railway line at Rhienderen, along the Rhienderense straat in the direction of Eerbeek. Seven or eight of the ten crew members left "the 8 Ball" in rapid succession and drifted down into German captivity.

Some events, as recalled by American and Dutch eyewitnesses bear a great similarity. Tail gunner Marvin Brown recalls:
      "I landed in a school yard with a fence around it. I hit the fence with both knees. I couldn't walk afterwards, so the rest of the crew wheeled me around. "

And Dutch eyewitness E.J. Arends:
    "One of the Americans went through some branches of an apple tree, next to Wolters' farm. He then struck a fence and hurt himself in the process. He could hardly walk. Together with several of his mates he was escorted away by the Germans. "

After seven crew members had bailed out, three men were still aboard the plane. They were 'Y-operator Alvin Bader and the two pilots, Donald Kohistedt and Jack Davis.

Arie van der Velde, then six years old, has the following recollection:
    "I saw a man, standing in an opening in the waist of the plane. I saw him jump out and his parachute didn't open. He came down between Peters' farm at Den Broekweg 1 and a shed. Blood came from his mouth and nose: he was dead!

Another six-year old, Frits Bleumink, lived at the Rhien derense straat, next to the farm where the unfortunate man came down;   
"The body was brought to the Peters' farm. The man bled from mouth. nose and ears. His boots were taken off and given to Peters. Then a ring, watch, pistol and some papers were taken from his body. In the late afternoon or early evening the body was wrapped in the partly opened parachute and put upon a horse drawn cart and then transported to Brummen. "

The unfortunate airman was T/Sgt Alvin G. Bader, who had only joined the crew at the very last moment before departure. Why he fell to his death is unknown. Other crew members suggested that he was afraid to jump and waited too long. He may also have had problems with his parachute. In order to open the parachute a rip cord had to be pulled. At the height from which they were jumping, somewhere between 500 to 1,000 feet, any delay was fatal. Whatever the cause, Alvin Bader was killed. On November 3 he was buried in then Brummen Roman Catholic Cemetery in grave number 17. After the war his remains were transferred to the American Military War Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands, where they still rest.

In all, the Germans quickly rounded up eight crew members and found Bader's body. Most of the prisoners were taken to a farm, next to the school, in the center of the hamlet of Oeken. Then they were transported to Zutphen and then again to the German interrogation center at Oberursel near Frankfurt. One man they did not manage to find: Pilot Jack T. Davis.

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