Date: 1944 Jul 07/07 A/C Type: B-17G  Fortress SN: 42-107070 Code: FC-A A/C Nickname: North Star
 File: 159 Airforce: USAAF Sqn/Unit: 390 BG - 571 BS Mission/Raid: Merseburg
1 Pilot 1Lt. Lawrence J. Gregor   8 men this crew KIA           9 RWG S/Sgt. Clyde O. Matlock      POW
2 Co-pilot 1Lt. James R. Wicker          POW 10 TG S/Sgt. Harry F. Sherman 
3 Nav. 1Lt. Harold F. Raab 11    
4 B 1Lt. William J. Martin 12    
5 E T/Sgt. Harlan B. Scholl 13    
6 RO T/Sgt. Marion D. Wolfe 14    
7 BTG S/Sgt. John E. DiTrapani 15    
8 LWG S/Sgt. Clayton M. Croft 16                    

On route to target, early in the morning 07:55 at high altitude, two 390 Bomb Group B-17s (42-97983 Lt. Cribbs & 42-107070 Lt. Gregor) came in the formation hard in contact with each other. Both aircraft went down in flames and broke up in large pieces in the air over Hoorn, a harbor town on the western shore line of Lake IJsselmeer (Old Zuyder Sea. 13 KIA buried Hoorn, 6 POW, 1 evaded (Sgt. Arthur F. Brown).

Image shows B-17G 42-107070 in better days, on base in England, not long before in came down at Hoorn, Holland. The J in square in the symbol of the USAAF 390 Bomb Group. FC is the code for the 571 Bomb Squadron. Aircraft letter within the Squadron is A, which is painted on the fuselage (not visible here) and on the tail. Nose-art with aircraft name 'North Star' was on the other side of the nose.

Map 7 July 1944 with the tracks to the target Merseburg, southwest of Leipzig. As base an outdated map was used from year 1928. The map does not show the Dutch Wieringermeer Polder (1930), does not show the Afsluitdike (1932, the dike that closed-off the Zuyder Sea) and not the Northeast Polder (1939). As usual the Southern dike of the Northeast Polder was used as waypoint because it runs 90° in a strait line between Great Yarmouth and Berlin. Early in the raid, on the route to Germany, two B-17 (Cribb's 97983 and Gregor's 107070) collided 08:00h west of Hoorn at very high altitude (red dot). Both aircraft broke up in the air, falling down.    

Below. Lt. Larue F. Gribb's '97983' aircraft came down in pieces at hamlet Keern at Farm 'De Gare Goedsbogert', address Keern no. 217. In the cabbage fields west of Keern and the road to Den Oever (today highway A7, north of todays ice skating stadium, Roskam street). Lt. Lawrence J. Gregor's aircraft '107070' fell on the Western outskirts of Hoorn, on the lawns of Westersingel and Pelmolen street. Close to the entrance of the shopping streets, opposite to the new theater Schouwburg 'het Park'. Both bomb loads were not armed yet and all bombs went unexploded deep in the soft ground.

Tail section of Gregor's '107070' at Westersingel street no. 6. First civilians and minutes later German soldiers arrived on the scene.

Photo right shows a wing with broken loose fuel tanks spread over the field.

Above photos Oud Hoorn Historical Society and Air War Museums in North Holland.

Of this crew, eight men could not use their parachute, or their parachutes burned in the air, they fell dead on the ground around these houses. Only co-pilot 1Lt. James R. Wicker and Right Waist Gunner S/Sgt. Clyde O. Matlock were to survive the mayhem and were taken POW.

Image below. We have several reasons to believe that this unknown photo is part of the above series of photographs. Witnesses observed this day how a tail gunner jumped from his tail hatch high in the sky, but got entangled with his parachute. He tried to kick himself free, but to no avail. Possibly this is tail gunner S/Sgt. Harry F. Sherman. His M1 helmet sub type USAAF M3 'Flak Helmet' with ear shell protection is laying next to him, back of the helmet pressed into the clay. He was buried initially in Hoorn in grave 1042. Today he rests in American War Cemetery 'Netherlands' in Margraten.   

Crew photo

The other B-17 (42-97983 crew Cribbs) in the Hoorn collision:

File Cemetery Hoorn 1945:

© ZZairwar (Zuyder Zee Air War)