The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden

De crash of the American Liberator 44-40210

On 18 September this B-24J was leading a formation of B-24 bombers on their journey back to England after successfully dropping supplies.

The American Liberator 44-40210 belonged to the 491st Bombardment Group (H), 854th Squadron and was on the return flight from a supply mission over the drop-zones at Eindhoven for Operation Market-Garden.

When at 16:34hrs the formation came over Oisterwijk all hell broke lose when German anti-aircraft guns came in to action blasting away at the overpassing bombers.

The aircraft that slowly flew in formation at a height of approximately one hundered meters were easy targets for the German anti-aircraft guns.

The B-24J piloted by Capt. James "Jim" K. Hunter was hit in the right wing and immidiatly created a small fire.

With one wing on fire Hunters Liberator slowly fell out of formation to the right followed by a trail of thick black smoke.

The aircraft lost altitude quickly finnaly ending up crashlanding hard on its belly in a field between the villages Udenhout and Biezenmortel in the hamlet called ‘t Winkel.

During the crashlanding one wing dropped and hit the ground first making the aircraft slide into a haystack and some farm buildings.

What followed was a big explosion which destroyed the aircraft killing nine of the ten crew members.

The only crew member that would survive the crash was tail/waistgunner S/Sgt. F. Di Palma.

Di Palma was blown out of the aircraft during the explosion and was found along the side the road with severe burns.

The people that found him brought him to the nearby insane asylum ‘Huize Assisië’ in Biezenmortel were he was hidden and were his wounds would be treated.

The nine dead crew members were buried at the Catholic cemetery in Biezenmortel until after the war when they were relocated to the American cemetery in Magraten, Holland.

Three crew members were brought home to the United States on request by their families and buried in their hometowns.

When the area was liberated by the British they found Frank Di Palma, he survived the war.

The names of the crew members that lost their lives in this tragic crash are engraved in a plaque that hangs on a wall in a little chapel dedicated to the Holy Marie in the village Udenhout.

 

The crew members onboard the American B-24J Liberator where:

 

Capt. James K. Hunter,  pilot/captain

Capt. Anthony Baird. Mitchell, co-pilot

1st Lt. Harry B. Parker, navigator

1st Lt. John R. Granat, bomb aimer

1st Lt. William H. Byrne, nose gunner

T/Sgt. Cecil E. Hutson, engineer

T/Sgt. Barto J. Moltanbano, radio operator

S/Sgt. James L. Evers, right waist gunner

S/Sgt. Frank DiPalma, tail/left waist gunner

PFC. George E. Parrish, drop master

 

 

 

 

 

This picture shows the moment of impact of B-24J, 44-40210 with its right wing hitting the ground first. Note the flames near the fusalage under the right wing.
This picture was taken from another aircraft in the formation returning from the dropzones.
James K. Hunter, ‘Jim’
Captain, 8th U.S. Army Air Force
491st Bombardment Group, 854th Squadron
World War II B-24 Pilot
American B-24 Liberator bombers of the 491st BG on 18 September 1944 inbound Holland for Operation Market-Garden.
Because of the extremely narrow catwalk between the front and rear compartments the aircraft was sometimes referred to as the "The Flying Coffin" because it was almost impossible for the flight crew and nose gunner to get from  the flightdeck to the rear when wearing parachutes.
491st
854th
USAAF Eighth Air Force
De crash van de Amerikaanse Liberator, 44-40210