Memorial near Jisp
754 Sqn 458BG B-24 Liberator 42-52450 Ballard crew #52

754 Sqn 458BG records show three casualties in the B-24 Liberator crew:

6 March 1944: t/o Horsham St Faiths: Op Berlin: a/c 42-52450 G (a/c 450)
2Lt Harry S Bengry jr (Co-Pilot) 0-811416 from Ingham, Michigan: kia*
Sgt Edwin E Sowles (TT/E) 37443523 from Mower, Minnesota: kia*
S/Sgt James Nemeth (Radio Operator) 32450063, from Middlesex, New Jersey: kia: buried at Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands

* apparently not listed by the American Battle Monuments Commission - they are among the 233,174 Americans returned to the United States for burial:

2LT Harry S. Bengry, Jr., 0811316 is interred at a private cemetery in Michigan
S/SGT Edwin E. Sowles, 37443523 is interred at a private cemetery in Iowa

There was one evader, Sgt Victor W. Krueger (BTG).

2Lt Beverly E. Ballard, Jr. (Pilot), F/O Eugene J. Singer (Nav), 2Lt Roland W. Johnson (Bomb Aimer), Sgt Raymond R. Rice (NTG), Sgt Ralph C. Kracker (WG), Sgt James N. Lewis (TG) were all taken PoW.

MACR #3350: cause of loss - fighters: it is understood that this Liberator crew were on their first combat mission.

Crew 52 2Lt Beverly E Ballard jr (including photo)

The Liberator portrayed on the memorial is not of 458BG


Beverly E Ballard, Jr (Pilot)

Sgt Victor W Krueger (BTG) on
a visit in 1993. He died 4 June 98.

Sgt Ralph C Kracker (WG) on a
visit in 1993. He died 27 Feb 2000
images: Just Kroon

Co Maarschalkerweerd found some details about the B-24 crash in a book Luchtoorlog boven de Zaanstreek (Airwar above the Zaan-region). To summarise:

At about 5.15 pm on the 6th of March 1944 Liberator B-24H 42-52450 (K + no. 75 on the fuselage) of the 754th Bomber Squadron of the 485th Bomber Group USAAF was flying over Purmerend. It was obviously in trouble, because engine no.3 was out of action. The aircraft was returning from a raid on Berlin and had (probably) been hit by Flak or fighters [the US records say fighter]. The weather on that day was reasonably clear with a low layer of clouds.

An eyewitness saw a number of crew members leave the aircraft by parachute. The aircraft went down in sort of a horizontal spin, stalled, and hit the ground nose-first. It crashed on land then owned by Mr. Bakker, Kanaaldike no.59. The engines went deep into the marshy soil of the meadow.

Some local people were right on the spot before the Germans arrived. They found three men still inside the aircraft. According to the author the three were:

1st Pilot B.E. Ballard [Ballard survived, as stated above and was a PoW: the third fatality was Edwin E. Sowles]
Co-pilot H.S. Bengry
Waist-gunner J. Nemeth.

According to the Germans the deaths were probably caused by the force of the crash. One was found sitting still in his seat behind the controls, obviously not wounded, but dead apparently because of a broken neck.

The other crew members parachuted down in an area called 'Wijde-Wormer' and were seen by two eyewitnnes to be arrested by the Germans. The ball turret-gunner Victor W. Kreuger (who was wounded) evaded capture and found shelter in the house of Mr. Wijnberg. Next day, unknown to the Germans, he took the wounded airman (on his bicycle) to the St. Lyduina hospital in Purmerend.

After Kreuger recovered he was brought to another safe-house (Schrieken-Withaar family) by two resistance members (Mr. Hobo and Mr. Stevens) and managed to keep out of sight for almost 14 months. Later he went to Wormenveer, and across the border to Belgium, where he was hidden in the woods for about 2 months until liberated by Allied troops. Victor Kreuger then returned to Purmered, fell ill, and once again was in the St. Lyduina hospital ,where he underwent an operation. In June 1945 he returned to the USA where he died in 1990.

One of the three crew members killed in the crash [presumably Bengry] found a temporary resting place in the General Cemetery of Purmerend. This was on the 8th of March 1944. Later, the bodies of Nemeth and Sowles were recovered from the aircraft and were buried there on the 16th of March 1944. After the war all three were re-interred in the American Cemetery at Margraten. Later, at the request of their families, the remains of Bengry and Sowles were taken to the USA and buried there.

458BG Casualties

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207 Squadron RAF History

page last updated 15 Aug 06: 18 Nov 17