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26.04.1944 367BS/306BG Boeing B-17G 42-31469 2/Lt. Schaefer Location: Bletsoe, Bedfordshire, England.
Mission: Brunswick, Germany. (Nickel bombs leaflets)

Date: 26
th April 1944

Time: 05.40 hours.

Unit: 367
th Bomb Squadron / 306th Bomb Group (H)

Type: Boeing B-17G

Serial No. 42-31469

Coded: GY- K

Location: Near Bletsoe Castle, Bletsoe, Bedfordshire, England.

Pilot: 2/Lt. Donald J. Schaefer 0-754381 – Killed.

Co-Pilot: 2/Lt. Floyd B. Henry 0-814898 – Killed.

Navigator: 2/Lt. Willard A. Transeth 0-702985 – Killed.

Bombadier: 2/Lt. Roy A. McKinney 0-757006 – Killed.

Top Turret/Eng: T/Sgt. Charles E. Weller 15110110 – Killed.

Radio/Op: S/Sgt. Sheldon H. Kinberg 12181044 – Killed.

Ball Turret: Sgt. John C. Simons 33596385 – Killed.

Waist Gunner: T/Sgt. John W. Byrd 18170062 – Killed.

Waist Gunner: Sgt. Ronald M. Minter Jnr. 15196568 – Killed.

Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. George S. Littlefield – Survived.

REASON FOR LOSS:


At 0540 aircraft 469 was taking off on runway 24 (Thurleigh), north east to south west.
Sparks were seen coming from No.2 engine port side. Aircraft took off and started a gentle bank to port which became steeper as turn continued. A/C was last seen flying in a steep diving turn. Aircraft crashed about a mile from the airfield and was completey disintegrated and burned, killing everyone aboard except Sgt George S. Littlefield, the tail gunner.
Littlefield was operating the Aldis lamp to warn other aircraft of their position. This was the only part of the plane not consumed by fire.

During my research into this loss I was contacted by Sue Parry from Minnesota, here is her wonderful e-mail to David and I;

Hi Melvin and David ! 

Hoping all is well with you! 

Sorry about not getting back to you earlier but, I've been doing some research of my own on the crew members of the Donald J. Schaefer Crew that crashed on April 26th, 1944.  As I stated earlier, I have been contacting family members of the crew via ancestry.com documents and other sources and was able to communicate with a few of them and steer them to your web site and the information and photos that you have posted on the crew.  I was also able to share photos of the crew with them that they had never seen before which was really exciting and rewarding. 

I did ask them if it was alright to share the photos and we are in agreement with the two of you, that it would be nice if a Memorial Page could be done for this crew.  Would you be interested in doing something like this on your Aircrew Remembrance Society website? 

Some of the relatives would like to see the photos placed on different/more than one website/s having to do with the 306th Bomber Group during WWII.  However, I did state that I would be communicating with the two of you first due to your extensive research and excavation of the crash site back in June.  I was hoping, by contacting family members, that I would be able to acquire more information i.e. photos, letters, etc. from any of the crew but, I did not. I don't believe that any of the crew members had children so my contacts ,thus far, have been with nephews.  I did, however, make contact with daughters and sons of my mother's girlfriends in the photos. They had never seen these photos, either! It was so much fun! 

Our hope would be that by posting the information and photos that we could make contact with the other family members of the crew. That is why I have put my email address on a couple of the pages of photos and I would ask, that you please include it when posting the pages and should you have future contact with any relatives of these men that you please give them my name and email address.
I assume that whomever is maintaining your wonderful website has been "tagging" the names of the crew members already seeing as I did come across it quite easily when I did my initial search/research. Would it be possible to tag Lt. Schaefer's wife "June Sites" name, also?

The photographs on the pages are mixed: with some being the men with the crew and on the base and others that were taken by my grandmother that include the Lts. Transeth, Henry and McKinney.  Note: After the war was over, my grandparents took a trip out to Walla Walla, Washington to visit with Lt. Bill Transeth's parents and share memories and photos of their son and the crew with them. 

I compiled a digital photo album for my family and the pages that you see are the finals for the album. I included the information regarding the coincidence of your excavation which some of my family think was not a coincidence! LOL ! Strange things have happened to me during my extensive genealogy research but the timing of your excavation and our discovery of the photographs kind of threw-me-for-a-loop !
 
Over the last few months of researching this crew I've learned very much about our men who bravely flew the B-17 bombers with the 306th Bomber group.  The odds weren't very good for them on their missions over Germany, were they?  But, so proud of them and to be able to share some history with you.   Thank you for all you do with your Aircrew Remembrance Society.
 
Sue and Shirley Parry-Minnesota

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Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless and David King with special thanks to Sue & Shirley Parry and Mary Laws. (October 2014)
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The British Library is preserving this site for the future in the UK Web Archive at www.webarchive.org.uk All Aircrew Remembered on our Remembrance pages, are therefor not just remembered here, but also subsequently remembered and recorded as part of our nation’s history
and heritage at The British Library.