From Willem de Jong: About USAAF Sgt. (Radio Operator) Kenneth LeRoy Petersen (‘Pete’) – from Racine city, Wisconsin (USA) – killed 3rd Febr. 1945 in Holland
– We’re doing research about 9 airmen of 334th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 95th ‘Red Feather’ Bomb Group (of 2nd A.D., 8th A.F. ‘Eightballs’), serving at US air station 119 Horham, in Suffolk (Britain), since Dec. 1944. This bomber team, flying in B-17F ‘Flying Fortress’ #42-102951 (call sign BG-‘Q’), made a successful emergency landing in the North Sea, off Texel island, in the Netherlands (NW Europe), after their 3rd operational flight over Nazi-Germany, and while their ‘ship’ was hit / damaged earlier by German flak over Berlin city. At least 7 men of the 9 crew climbed as survivors (!) on the wings of the slowly sinking bomber; however, they all came under deadly gunfire of local stationed German navy soldiers (coastguards) in their ‘Atlantikwall’ defense line. One by one the US airmen were hit then, wounded of killed right away, slipping away in the cold waters of the North Sea, about 250 meters in front of the beach, nearby shore marker 26 km. (which nearby the ‘Slufter’ natural reserve area today). Later most dead bodies were found washed up at the island beach, after the first high tide; and those men were buried later in the General Cemetery of Den Burg village, on Texel island (the Netherlands). One of them was the Radio Operator of the airplane, 24 year old Kenneth LeRoy Petersen (nicknamed ‘Pete’ by the other members). He came from Racine city, on Lake Michigan, in Wisconsin (USA), lived ever at 1834 Blake Avenue (and earlier at Ward 15 ?). He was a graduate of William Horlick High School (June 1941) and later, till his enlistment etc., he was employed at ‘Eisendrath Tanning Company’, in Racine too. He was a son of Simon Petersen (1891-1951) and of Alma J. Petersen (1893-1988), and he was a brother of Lester S. Petersen (1912-1937) and of Virginia L. Petersen (1918-1999); most of them rests today in the Graceland Cemetery (Section 10) in Racine city. And last of all: ‘Pete’ was engaged to be married with a local woman, named Ann Parish.
– Today we’re are looking for next of kin, descendants of his nearest family members ever, and as named before in this text, and/or for local people, who are able to tell us more about him, maybe as a school boy, a sports club member, a ‘swimming mate’, or whatever. Because, maybe we can share (much more) information, images, etc., via email exchange.
– Please, if is known more about him via your address, let us know (!) We have collected many maps, pictures, images, texts, and even war diary fragments, all related to this story !
Regards, greetings from Friesland / NL, Willem de Jong (volunteer WW2 air combat research).
In the meanwhile I will send up some useful items / images already, related to that story and to ‘Pete’ in particular. Perhaps a little part can be added already somehow ? And in a similar message later on – in this same day – more of such collected ‘stuff’ is also following. And further, I give you a Youtube video link, for watching a short time movie with (general) island views and drone camera scenes, of Texel Isle, surrounded by waters of North Sea, ‘Marsdiep’, ‘Wadden Sea’ and ‘Eierlandse Gat’, laying on the NW coastline of Europe, thus about the spot, where ever the aircrew made its emergency landing, in which at least 7 men survived, till …….. the dramatic shootings started ! Texel island / Holland – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOoP7wwXD48
– More attachments indeed, images etc., and related to him as well; and renewed a Youtube video link, this time about the annual ‘Christmas Eve Candle Lighting’ ceremonies etc., every year in many cemeteries, gravesites and churchyards, all around in the Netherlands, on 24th of December, in the afternoon / early evening. But such a short movie about the ceremony in the Texel island cemetery (Den Burg village), I couldn’t trace alas, thus therefore you’ll find a similar ceremony in a nearby coastal cemetery with a large war graves plot: this is about Bergen Cemetery, on the mainland of Holland, close to Alkmaar city (and NW of Amsterdam).Bergen Cemetery / Xmas Candles – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxZ9UZXSync
– By the way, the Netherlands American War Cemetery at Margraten village, in the Prov. of Zuid-Limburg (the Netherlands), and where ‘Pete’ was reburied later, in December 1945, and where he still rests now (in grave H.6.2), it has its own ceremonies and remembrance services, in relation to the USA calendar of course (and therefore not such a Xmas Candles ceremony, as far as known to us).
– In the meanwhile I send you now the texts (photocopied), however in the Dutch language (!), from the war diary fragments of islander (Mr.) Piet Bremer, and ever digitized by (Mrs.) Irene Maas, a local (family) historian and artist, making pottery, ceramics, etc; it’s about Sat. 3rd and Sun. 4th of Febr. 1945 in particular, which was a calm and rather nice wintertime weekend in NW Europe then, however, the same weekend of a large-scale US air raid on the ‘Big Target’, Berlin city, with almost 1.000 bombers ! And of course, also my own translation / explanation of it (via a Word-file).
– As soon as possible later – after translation also – I send you a ‘witness – report’ of another Dutchman, who was working on Texel island as an agricultural labourer / farmhand then, although he was originally a ‘portrait-frame-worker’ etc., as far as known to us, coming from Utrecht city (but there was no work and food in the city anymore !). His texts are published earlier inside NL, via a ‘Bulletin – magazine’ and in a hist. book of researcher + author Ab A. Jansen.
– First a correction: ‘We do NOT KNOW till yet who is adopting grave H.6.3, the grave of ‘Pete’ (and as you already understood, I guess).
– And some more news / images here also now; because, we had an email exchange with (Mrs.) Angela Ress Apmann, of the William Horlick High School (office) at Racine; and she is also a member of the Racine Unified School District (RUSD) likely. And the result of this action isas follows (since Friday last):A.) she found via the old school administration the correct birth date of ‘Pete’ – Friday 13th July 1923 (born at Saints Croix Falls town indeed).B.) she also checked the names of the fiancee of ‘Pete’ – she was only a classmate of him first, at the same high school – Anna ‘Annie’ ParishC.) most important of all – she found the portrait photos of the ‘fresh young couple’, pictured in the 1941 yearbook of their high school; and she forwarded us a photocopy of it ! And you’ll find here the images of that ‘successful action of her’.
– While we’re doing intense research about the 9 aircrew of the B-17G ‘Fortress’ #42-102951 indeed – a ‘ship’ without nickname by the way – and which aircraft was lonesome struggling back home (!), on Sat. 3rd Febr. 1945, thus trying to reach the home station in Britain, and after a large-scale and successful air raid on Berlin city then, we found in a digital way a portrait photo – very surprising ! – on your website, and from the pilot of that ‘ship’. Because, this is about 2nd. Lt. Richard Philip ‘Dick’ Morris, killed (likely murdered !) during this 3rd air mission of him and his crew.
– Born on 2nd Oct. 1922, in California (USA), he was a son of Bert DeWayne Morris Sr. (1887-1944), and of Anna Loren (c.q. Lorea) Morris nee Fitzgerald (1889-1966); and before his enlistment etc., he lived at North Hollywood, Los Angeles, in California (USA). And he had an older brother too, Bert DeWayne Morris Jr. (1914-1959), who was a survivor of WW2, of the ‘Pacific Theater’ (fighting against the Japanese enemy), and as a decorated Grumman F6F ‘Hellcat’ (navy) pilot ! And after the war, his brother became more well known as a movie actor, under the name ‘Wayne Morris’ (acting in westerns etc.).
– As well as his brother later, his father died from a heart attack; and it happened to his brother – who was married then – aboard the aircraft carrier USS ‘Bonhomme Richard’ (CV-31), during an airshow / reunion.
– No crew of the 9 brave airmen of the B-17G ‘Fortress’ #42-102951 had survived the dramatic happenings, on Sat. 3rd Febr. 1945; thus there was no US witness who could later explain what was really happening then, on their final route Westwards, all the way from Berlin, but in particular over and nearby Texel island (NW part of the Netherlands). But their ‘ship’ flew all alone, very slow, and with ‘screaming’ engines – and not all of them were under power, because they had likely lost one propeller also ! – over the ‘Marsdiep’ inlet, the waterway between Den Helder harbour city and Texel island. And while the nearby German anti-aircraft batteries (Flak-guns) were heavily firing ! The ‘ship’ turned from east-west into a more south-north direction, following in fact the outlines of the island of Texel, into the direction of the island lighthouse ‘Eierland’, but then it even turned back later, flying towards the village of De Cocksdorp. and then Soutwards, etc. etc. !! And during their last fly past, the crew was shooting red flares, more than once and in pairs, giving the ‘Jerries’ a clear sign to hold their gunfire, and also, making clear that the crew was trying to make an emergency landing offshore ……. into the shallow waters near the ‘Slufter’ area, close to the beachmarker (paal) 26 km.
– Their terribly holed ‘ship’ – almost no inch was free from bullet and scrap damage ! – landed about 250 – 500 meters in front of the shore, and was seen ‘floating’ for a longer period, in a rather calm sea, after the white water splashes from the belly landing had fallen down. And very surprising then, at least 7 survivors were seen, by Germans and islanders on the beach, bomber crew climbing out of the fuselage and on the wings ! But then – and very shocking for the islander workers / labourers, who were doing forced work on German beach obstacles there – these ‘bloody Krauts’ were shooting with all kinds of (hand) weapons, upon the defenseless US airmen at the wings. One by one the airmen were hit and wounded, or killed right away, slipping off the plane, falling in the cold (winter time) sea water !! They were simply murdered !!! And no any local CO gave the order to stop the fire, or was listening to the begging of the local people, who witnessed this dramatic happenings, and who ask to stop it and to launch a lifeboat ………
– Most likely brave captain ‘Dick’ Morris, and with help of his 2nd dickey, had landed his wrecked ‘bird’ in an almost perfect emergency landing, into open sea, and certainly not far offshore, with in his thoughts a ‘rescue plan’, for saving his still living crewmates ………. But these stupid Nazi-occupiers of Texel island, most navy soldiers of the Kriegsmarine, and stationed in their local ‘Atlantikwall’ defense line, they had complete other thoughts.
– Much more is known here about this 9 aircrew, from an island war diary, etc. etc.; but most important for the moment – watch attached portrait photos – Richard Philip ‘Dick’ Morris, is pictures here indeed (and one image is from your own website). And also attached to this message, a picture of his older fighter-pilot-brother and movie actor, ‘Wayne Morris’. By the way, both brothers are (re)buried in Arlington National Cemetery, at Fort Myer, in Virginia (USA).
With best regards,Willem de Jong, Menaam village, Friesland / the Netherlands,volunteered for WW2 air combat research.