1. The AAF forum will close permanently on December 1, 2017. I no longer have the time to manage a project like this, obviously, or give it the attention that it deserves. I still think fondly of the early days in 1998 when this all got started. A small, but eager group of tech savvy 1st and 2nd generation descendants made great friends with the last of the WWII veterans thru the newfangled internet. They're all gone now. It's time for me to turn the page. Thanks for being along for part of the ride. I'm sorry it got so bumpy in the end.
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B-24 K+ (K for King) #41-29306 / MACR 4172

Discussion in '445th BG - Tibenham' started by Jurgen Verstaen, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member


    Can anybody help with more information on the crew of K+, which went on Mission 311 (04/22/1944) and bailed out over Belgium on return. Crew related info would be nice. The original crew in the USA, was 120-18. A few changes occured on the day of the last mission.

    Francis C. Sneed, Mission Officer (POW)(O-449246)
    Charles L. Riddle, Pilot (POW)(O-689354)
    Ray O. Hargis, Navigator (POW)(O-702916)
    John W. Bryant, Bombardier (POW)(O-696203)
    Robert M. Varty, Radio Operator (POW-Executed in Arras) (39264256)
    John F. Mahoney, Right Waist Gunner (POW-Executed in Waregem) (31312836)
    Charles B. Coffman, Left Waist Gunner (POW)(33499388)
    Harry A. Kolinski, Top Turret Gunner (POW)(12088936)
    Harold E. White, Belly Turret Gunner (POW)(12169959)
    James R. Cockriel, Tail Gunner (POW)(17175473)

    Bob Lemon (became sick, replaced by Francis C. Sneed)
    Vincent McHugh (replaced by James R. Cockriel)

    I talked in the past with John Bryant, James Cockriel and Ray Hargis, but I am still missing background info on what happened to them when back in the USA.

    I built together with a colleague a website on "K for King" and today I am renewing this website. That is why I started looking in the documents again.

    All help is welcome!


    Jürgen Verstaen
    Former 1st Sergeant-Major
    Belgian Air Force
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  2. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

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  3. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member

    Thanks! Indeed, I work together with George Kelling since day 1 on this topic. I picked up the research again, because of the digital records that can be found today. It was more difficult in the past.
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  4. B-24 Best Web

    B-24 Best Web Member

    Info Contributor - Tom Brittan
    "Flown to England under Operations Orders dated 30 Dec 43 by Lt. Kingsley and his crew in 458th BG, 754th BS. Transferred to 445th BG, 700th BS 4 Feb 44 before flying any combat missions. Flew 23 missions with the 445th between 20 Feb 44 and 22 Apr 44 when lost on a mission to the Hamm, Germany marshaling yard (MACR #4172)."

    MAREZ-EE-DOTES is Featured on B-24 Best Web
    For More PIC(s) and Info on 445th BG's 41-29306
    Click on LINK: http://www.b24bestweb.com/Pics-M-MARA-MARH.htm

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  5. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    Information from Bishop & Hey, Vol 3. Don't know if it adds anything new to what you already have.


    I have E&E 2616 for Sgt James Cockriel but the PDF is over 5mb so can't post unless I can reduce the file size. Here is a link to the report at the Archives.

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  6. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Hal adds a very valid point here, S/Sgt Robert Morris Varty, ASN: 39264256 was not KIA, a more correct description would be POW/Executed. Unclear why Jürgen would leave this KIA description (a little offensive) given the circumstances with evidence of a war crime. The 51 Page MACR 4172 starts here on fold3 https://www.fold3.com/image/1/28652464 a few pages including two for Varty attached.

    S/Sgt Varty rests here http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=113335502 be there no mistake - murdered by the Nazis!

    Further; S/Sgt John F. Mahoney, Right Waist Gunner was not KIA. He too was murdered by the Nazis-----POW/Executed! Lined up with partisans and shot in a ditch. He rests here http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=56359555 no indication of the war crime; I'll fix that omission. There is a photo here of Mahoney (unfortunately no source by the contributor) Mahoney took the photo offered in the George Kelling article, so this might be the first look at him.

    The question is war crime or not? These men were being aided by the underground and as such had removed their uniforms, limiting their protection under the Geneva Convention. For me still a war crime just because I hate Nazis and this killing of civilians in this instance happened to including an American airman.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  7. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member

    You are right and my apologies for the wrong abbreviation. They are indeed both executed by the Nazis. They were murdered POWs. I know the story by hard, but I am now trying to find all the facts. I have a certificate from the Red Cross about the faith of Robert Varty, but one made up by the Nazis. I have also an official document from a doctor dated on the 17th of May and not the 22nd of April. I have found a source on the prison of Arras which gives a better light on things.
    There are so many story lines to this, that I have to watch out not overseeing important things.
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  8. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member

    I am rebuilding the old website on this story, that we started in 2004. Can I use the photograph and put a link on the source page to the owner?
  9. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member

    I spoke with George Kelling about this picture. When we met the survivors, they mentionned they couldn't recollect nose art on the B-24. Could it have been removed?
  10. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member

    Thanks! I had the docs already in my posession, but nice to confirm the sources.
  11. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Apologies for my initial hard line regarding Varty and Mahoney, thank you for editing your cause of death in your post #1. Given the circumstances (out of uniform) a better designation might be Evaded/Executed. I have asked Susanne Meinl our resident war crimes expert to join in this discussion. She may be able to help but I suspect no Nazis/Gestapo were ever brought to trial. Perhaps the unnamed Vichy French-Nazi collaborator who betrayed Varty was tried and hopefully executed, with proper evidence.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  12. BMBazooka

    BMBazooka Well-Known Member

    Thanks for connecting me in. There would be some more possebilities as to go on: The murder in the occupied countries have indeed been investigated. The possibly files might belong to the 600 (!) boxes in the NARA which are nearly unknown but must contain enormous details on the lynchings all over Europe. As I stated before: it would have been necessary to start a huge scholarly project as long the last airmen and the last witnesses all over Europe are still living, but I guess - nobody is really interested in this huge project, because it would cost much money and afford an international cooperation. I was asked to go through some of the NARA files but since they have no finding aid - its ridiculous to start something like that from Germany.
    Any ideas, Gentlemen? The only administration which started such a thing is the Austrian, assisting the both outstanding scholars Dr. Hoffmann and Dr. Goll with it. Germany takes a long and deep nap... And believe me, talking about the victims of the Nazi lynchings makes you a lonely person in Germany. Still today. I got my last fill last week, from educated people of my generation, not only from the old Nazi crones.
    Ok, back to the case:
    One could go through the "Amerikaner Vorgänge" in NARA. They are completely online, the link is somewhere in this forum. Unfortunaley you have to go through nearly every file because there is no real order in this dossiers. Takes a lot of time. I am not ready with it just with reading. Parts of the AV-files are in the MACRS. What is interesting is, that about 50 or 60% of the individual cases happened outside Germany (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy).
    Sometimes these lynchings were part of CIC/CIA and German files, if the Gestapo, the SD, the SS or other German Nazi authorities were involved. I have some files on the role later German Secret Service members played in the hunting and deportation of members of the dutch resistance to Mauthausen. Including that the case of 46 alliied agents and airmen (Schreieder case). I recommand as well looking for trials on the collaborators frome the late 1940ies. And if the names are known looking for files on those Nazi officers in Germany.
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  13. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Susanne.
    I can't find the forum thread where the Amerikaner Vorgänge (AV) Reports are discussed. The NARA (AV) online catalog entrance is here https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6922023 leading to
    https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&f.ancestorNaIds=6922023&sort=naIdSort asc As you suggest this is a most difficult resource to work within because of the lack of organization. This almost requires one to go thru every file one by one looking for the actual documents one seeks, time consuming and frustrating. If anyone has found an easy method to navigate this record please share.

    This may not be a priority for Jürgen in his research of this crew only effecting Varty and Mahoney with these two aviator murders/fliegermorde. Even here, if I understand the story correctly there are extreme differences. Varty appears to be an outright Gestapo execution in POW custody. Sgt Mahoney and Sgt James Cockriel, confirmed by the later E&E Report had actually become armed ground combatants working with the resistance in sabotage and other missions until 6 September 1944 when surrounded by Nazi troop with Mahoney and other partisans captured and executed in Waregem, Belgium, Cockriel was wounded but again evaded capture disguise as a German soldier treated at hospital, evacuated to the UK 11 September. Interesting days with the British advance north into Belgium, prior to the start of Market Garden. I look forward to Jürgen's renewed web site for this topic hope for a link to that site in the near future.

    A lot changed in 15 days with Waregem scene of the Mahoney, Cockriel event just 14 miles across the French border:

    1 September 1944
    15 September 1944
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  14. Jurgen Verstaen

    Jurgen Verstaen New Member

    The traitor we found, De Zitter, was executed later on. There are some discussions if he really was the guy, so more research will have to be done on this side.
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  15. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  16. BMBazooka

    BMBazooka Well-Known Member

    Who were the German officers connected to the traitors in Belgium and Paris? Could be Abwehr or Gestapo or both.
    I have something, not much, on a German agent called friedrich Berger, alias Sortorius. He worked together with Pannwitz on the Red Orchestra case, was later imprisoned in Soviet Russia, worked a an agent for the Soviets was able to return to Germany, where he started his dirty bussiness again. Have some huge files fron the archives of the German Intelligence Service.
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  17. BMBazooka

    BMBazooka Well-Known Member

    Another hint: You can try NARA RG 549, untried cases of War Crimes. There are certain Boxes on Belgium and France.
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  18. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

  19. B-24 Best Web

    B-24 Best Web Member

    Sure thing, Jurgen. Feel free to use.
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  20. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    In further hunting found this early 2003 article that might have got this whole K for King ball rolling, see page 27 http://www.heritageleague.org/files/2003iii-Fall.pdf
    so if this is accurate, no reason to believe it is not the full call sign for 41-29306 was (K*IS). That replacement crew was identified as follows:

    R E S T R I C T E D

    Ext, Par 4, SO 77, Sec I,
    Hq Eighth AFRD, 17-3-44 Cont’d
    CREW NO. 54 (APO 12832-BJ-54)
    2nd Lt. Charles L. Riddle 0689354
    2nd Lt. Robert H. Lemon 0749695
    2nd Lt. Ray O. Hargis 0702916
    2nd Lt. John W. Bryant 0696203
    S/Sgt. John F. Mahoney 31312836 (748)
    S/Sgt. Robert M. Varty 39264256 (757)
    Sgt. Charles B. Coffman 33499388 (611)
    Sgt. Harry A. Kolinski 12088936 (611)
    Sgt. Vincent T. McHugh 17019895 (611)
    Sgt. Harold E. White 12169958 (612)

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