The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market Garden
An American ‘Kampina soldier’
Narratieve of Cristopher S. Dimitrovich, a ‘Kampina soldier’.
T/Sgt, Cristopher S. Dimitrovich, 36054843, 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 434th Troop
Carrier Group, APO 133, U.S. Army.
On 17 September 1944 at 10.20 hours I took off on a Paratroop Drop to be near Schijndel,
Holland. The route over the “DZ” was uneventful. The “Drop” was made perfectly, all
troopers leaving the plane uninjured. Coming out of the “DZ” near Boxtel, Holland
my plane, which was No. 316033, Pilot Donald A. Pahlow, 1st Lt., co-pilot, William
F. Baker, 2nd Lt., radio operator, Rollin D. Ellis, S/Sgt; I was the crew chief,
passengers being, William Wade, Capt., and Tom Hoge, Cpl, Correspondent; was hit
by intense flak and all sorts of small arms fire. The flak hit the rear gas tanks
which immediately caught fire. Smoke was suddenly noticed in the cabin of the plane,
time was approximately 13.05 hours 17 September 1944. Other planes in our element
radioed to bail out as we were on fire.
Within three minutes, Lt Pahlow, the pilot, gave the order to bail out. Capt. Wade
had been tied in the ship to steady him while taking pictures of the mission. At
the time the plane was first hit, Capt. Wade was released from his steadying position
and had all adjustments on to the chute except one leg strap, when I bailed out.
I was the fourth man out of the ship and Capt. Wade and Lt. Pahlow were ready to
follow me at that time. I was armed with a Thompson Sub-Machine gun. After bailing
out, I did not see another chute open from my plane. The plane was in trim and it
vanished from my vision. The co-pilot, radio operator and the correspondent and I
landed uninjured near Oirschot, Holland. That night I was by myself. I located S/Sgt
Ellis trough the underground, about 09.00 hours 18 September 1944. We stayed together
that day and until the following Friday, 22 September 1944.
We hid in a place that was once a pig pen. It was well hidden. Late in the evening
on 19 September 1944 about 30 German soldiers came to the farm house, about 25 feet
from our hiding. They stayed there all night. On 20 September 1944 Cpl. Hoge was
send to this house and walked into the hands of the enemy billeted there. There was
no gun fire and he was taken prisoner. This was told me by a civilian who had talked
to Cpl. Hoge after he was made a prisoner. On 22 September 1944 late in the evening,
we located Lt. Baker’s whereabouts trough the underground. That night we three got
together and moved through the woods to a straw shack where we stayed hidden from
the enemy for ten days. Black bread and potatoes were given us by farmers. On 2 October
1944 the Germans began closing in so we had to leave our hiding place and find another.
Moving at night, we found our second straw shack about 5 miles from our first. It
was deeper in the woods. We stayed in this place for eleven day’s. Bread and potatoes
were again, sparingly, supplied. We purified most of our own drinking water.
The Germans began patrolling a bridge near us, and getting ready to blow it up. This
would make contact with farmers impossible so we were compelled to take another move.
This time we moved near a farmhouse a short distance away. We stayed here for seven
days and were able to contact area farmers during this period. Again the Germans
moved all area civilians and we were forced to move. This was on 20 October 1944.
We were dressed in civilian clothes, given to us by the farmers we had come in contact
with. We went from this point in daylight to Moergestel, by way of the main road
to Tilburg. Lt. Baker and S/Sgt. Ellis were going to swim the canal, and as I couldn’t
swim, farmers were taking me to locate the underground so I could use other means
of escape. We encountered German soldiers all along this road but we were not picket
up or questioned. Reaching the underground, I received a complete change of clothes.
The information received from the underground at Moergestel revealed that the canal
was too well guarded to attempt swimming.
The farmers went back to where Lt. Baker and S/Sgt. Ellis were and brought them to
the farmers house where I was, and were also given a complete change of clothes.
We remained there all night, and learned that there were about 100 British and American
Airborne troops hidden in the woods about 5 miles from this house. We left on 21
October 1944 with the aid of the underground, to join the British and American Airborne
men hidden in the woods. We stood with them until 24 October 1944 when all of us,
well-armed, went with five Germans, deserters, who were aiding us to reach Boxtel.
The British tanks moved into Boxtel before we arrived that night. The tanks then
moved out and we occupied the town. That night the underground contacted the British,
and we went to their command post the following morning. We turned our ten German
prisoners over to the British in Boxtel. We were evacuated by truck on 24 October
1944 at 12.00 hours, to Eindhoven.
That night the British gave us transportation to Brussels. I was interrogated at
Brussels by a RAF Flt/Lt. American eyewitnesses of the downing of C-47, 43-16033
saw the plane go down about one and a half minute after the return flight from Market-Garden
drop-zone A-4. It was set on fire by enemy Flak near Boxtel. The aircraft on fire
crashed approximately 10 miles south of the “DZ” in Oostelbeers at de Maneschijn
around 13.05 hrs on 17 September 1944. Before the aircraft crashed, four or five
men were able to bail out of which one chute didn’t open. Another one had a streamer
and fell to his dead.
C-47A-90-DL “Skytrain” C/N 20499 S/N 43-16033 (CU-B) was operating that 17 September
from Aldermaston Airfield, England also known as USAAF Station 467. The aircraft
was from the 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 434th Troop Carrier Group. Their mission
was a Paratroop Drop on Drop-Zone A-4 near Veghel. The Airborne troops were 1st battalion,
501st PIR, 101st Airborne Division.
Crew members onboard this C-47 were:
Pilot 1st Lt. Donald A. Pahlow O-678318
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. William F. Baker O-2059885
Engineer S/Sgt Christopher S. Domitrovich 36054843
Radio Operator S/Sgt Rollin D. Ellis 16088020
Intelligence Officer Captain William F. Wade O-902714
War Correspondent Corporal Thomas A. Hoge
Pilot Donald A. Pahlow and William F. Wade were buried on the Oostelbeers churchyard
after the crash and later were relocated to the American military cemetery in Margraten.