Crew # 555

Crew # 555
Crew # 555 - planes flown: DAMIFINO , DIXIE, LET ER RIP, TIMES A WASTIN

1st. LT. J. William Smith

1st. LT. J. William Smith

Monday, September 5, 2016

S/Sgt. Roland Magee - Tail Gunner - 306th. Bomb Group - 368th. Squadron

My Wife recently received an old photo album of her late Father, 
J. Udall Magee.
He was a U.S. Navy Medic on Saipan and then Tinian
We knew his Brother Roland Magee tradically died in
 a motorcycle wreck in the 40's but knew nothing much more 
about his Brother Roland. 

This newpaper clipping was in the photo album revealed he 
was an 8th. Air Corps Gunner on a B-17. 
This knowledge got my interest so the afternoon 
was spent digging into archives and data bases.

With only his name and the date he was shot down
I started my search to find out more about Roland.
I began my search by looking for B-17's shot down on the
 given date of April 5, 1943.
Numerous data bases are available. Finding numerous B-17's
lost in april 1943
I recorded each aircraft serial # and then researched the
U.S. Air Forces Aircraft Serial Number data bases.
 Every aircraft designated for Military use is logged
on the data base...
sometimes some are not listed, or listed incorrectly.
Eventually I found he was a member of the 308th. Bomb Group.
With this finding I searched the "MACR"'s
(Missing Air Crew Reports) for the Group.
Eventually the "MACR" was located and more
details began to emerge.

The earliest MACR listed S/Sgt. Magee as "Dead", but that was later
 amended as "Wounded" after he was captured and interned
as a POW.
The newspaper article listed him as a "Ball Turret Gunner",
 but other documents listed him as the "Tail Gunner".
The "MACR" listed the B-17 Aircraft Serial Number as "42-24465".
Searching the Air Force Data Base I found that Aircraft # 42-24465
was not delivered to the Air Corps until after April 5th. 1943
so something was awry.....looking at the data base again
I checked Aircraft # 41-24465 and found the proper aircraft.
 I've found conflicting information in the past so this didn't
surprise me. 

Assigned 368BS/306BG [BO- ] Westover 17/8/42; Thurleigh
Missing in Action to the ERLA works in Antwerp 5 April 1943 
 with Pilot Robert W. Seelos (POW).
 Co-pilot: Alexander Kramarinko (Evaded - POW)
Navigator: William W. Saunders (POW);
Ball turret gunner: William H. Keskey (Evaded - POW);
Left Waist gunner: William E. Baker (Evaded - POW);
Right Waist gunner: Raymond E. Walls (Evaded);
Tail gunner: Roland Magee (POW);
Bombardier: James E. Murray (KIA);
Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Stanley P. Stemkoski (KIA); 
Radio Operator: Fred R. Hampton (KIA).
 Hit by Flak and shot down by Oblt Otto Stammberger (4/JG26),
 lost #1 engine and unable to feather, crashed in the Heikant
hamlet, 4km South West of Kalmthout,
North of Antwerp, Belgium. 
Missing Air Crew Report 15534

Boeing B-17F-10-BO Fortress
B-17E 41-24465 (306th BG, 368th BS, "Montana Power")
damaged by AAA, shot down
by Maj. Josef Priller in Fw 190A-5 of JG 26/Stab and crashed
at West Kapelle, Belgium Apr 5, 1943.
MACR 15534.  3 KIA, 7 POW                                

The Target on April 5th., 1943:  "ERLA Aircraft Works"
The industrial area of Antwerp, Belgium is the primary target
of this mission. More specifically the Erla 
aircraft and engine factories are the highest priority.
79 B-17s are depatched: 91BG (20); 303BG (21); 
305BG (18); 306BG (20). 64 of the 79 are effective on the target.
 The fighter opposition is fierce, 
especially on 306BG which loses 4 aircraft MIA.
It so happens that Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong 
has tagged along as an observer on the lead B-17 from 306BG.
The aircraft is damaged and several of 
the crew are wounded, but the aircraft manages to make it back
to England. BrigGen Armstrong later 
recounted the lead aircraft was attacked from head-on at least
25 times by the German fighters.

Early 1943 Group Photo so Wife's Uncle Roland is likely in there

Also found this little content on a 306th. Bomb Group Site:

"Roland Magee was Tail Gunner on B-17 #41-24465
 'Montana Power', shot down 5 April 1943 in Belgium. 
Prisoner of War (POW). He had lost his eye to a Flak fragment
during the attack. 
After landing in parachute, he was hidden by a farmer near
Loenhout (12km East of the crash place in Kalmthout, Belgium), 
where the Germans brought his Pilot Robert Seelos
to identify him. 
Also captured, he was sent to a German field hospital,
 from where he left around the end of April 1943 
to the Luftwaffe Interrogation Center at Dulag Luft, Oberursel.
From there, he was sent to Stalag 17B, in Braunau Gneikendorf,
near Krems, Austria, where he was in Barrack 36B. 
NARA POW records : “Returned to Military control 27 01 1945”. 
As many other wounded POWs, he was part of a prisoner
exchange program. 
Sent to Stockholm, Sweden, he boarded the “Gripsholm”,
a Swedish liner  transformed into a hospital ship and
arrived in New York on 16 February 1945 as one of 463 US, 
70 Canadian and more than 600 civilians repatriated from Europe. 
After being transferred to the Halloran Hospital,
Staten Island, New York, 
he got a furlough and was ultimately honorably discharged. 
Sadly, he died a few months later, apparently in a motorcycle
accident in California."

Sad to think he survived such a deadly situation in the Air Corps,
make it home from a POW Camp
only to die in a motorcycle accident as a civilian.
Interestly, his Brother J.Udall Magee repaired the
motorcycle and was involved in an accident soon after
getting it repaired.
 He gave the old Harley away.

Some 306th. Bomb Group Photos:


A flight of B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 306th Bomb Group
leave contrails behind as they fly in 
formation. B-17 (serial number 42-31539) is visible in the foreground.
Printed caption on reverse: 
'27814 USAF - with their contrails blending into the clouds below them,
these Flying Fortresses of the 
U.S. Army 8th Ari Force head out over Europe to blast
Nazi installations deep inside Germany. The large 
black burst in the centre of the photo is thought to be a ground fired
enemy rocket.
 Handwritten caption on reverse: '306th BG Thurleigh.'
(Roger Freeman Collection)
Two 306th Bomb Group B-17 Flying Fortresses collided 
in mid-air in heavy fog over Thurleigh airbase 
after returning from a mission; both were destroyed with all hands lost.