|From: "Joseph Connaughton" <email@example.com>|
|To: "webmaster" <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Subject: McAllister Case|
|Date: Sat, 15 Apr 2000 19:39:03 -0700|
I'm going to work on that Chat room idea as soon as I get a chance. Until then here's the article for everyone to read.
|From: "Joseph Connaughton" <email@example.com>|
|Subject: Fw: McAllister Case|
|Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 15:05:48 -0700|
Missing in action
The " McAllister" Case
The reconstruction of the death of Lt.Lee Anthony
Mc.Allister Jr., who survived after the shooting of his B-25, and was eventually
executed as "criminal" by the Germans not far from Valdagno (Vicenza,
By Maurizio dal Lago and Giuseppe Versolato
the 2nd. W.W.a large number of allied aircrafts was shot down by the flak or in
dogfights by German and Italian fighters. Many others were shot down while
attacking bridges and roads along the river Adige's valley or the Brennero Pass
railroad where the Wehrmacht was particularly efficient.
of the crewmen who parachuted were captured by German troops; some others were
"rescued" by the partisans operating there and were helped to cross
back the lines and join their comrades, also with the support of allied
organizations, such as S.O.E. (Special
Operation Executive) and O.S.S.
(Office of Strategic Service).
following pages analyse an American bombing mission, run on Dec.10th.1944, over
Dolce' (a small village in Veneto region, Italy) and tell the story of two of
their crews who parachuted over the Lessini mountains, between the Chiampo and Agno Valley, after their aircrafts were shot down
by German flak.
On Dec.10th. 1944 at dawn, 22 B-25J aircrafts of the 310th.BG.-12th.A.F. took off from their base close to Ghisonaccia village, on the eastern coast of Corsica Island, and proceeded N-E direction towards Liguria, (an Italian region).
716 had just started. Its target was a bridge on the river Adige, not far from
Dolce', in Lagarina Valley.
the aircrafts were part of the 380 Sqd. and twelve of the 428 Sqd. Four other
"anti-flak" aircrafts were in the formation, being the target
"hot-one" very dangerous.
bridge was in fact the most important link between Germany and Italy through
which all troops, supplies and Italian industrial products were carried.
area was heavily protected by German flak and therefore feared by allied
"anti-flak" aircraft was loaded with 1000 LB-M65 and 22-100 LB WP
(white phosphorus) bombs.
formation was over Levanto (Liguria) and proceeded to Garda Lake.
I.P. (initial point) was over Gardone on the western coast of the lake. The
"anti-flak" aircrafts were leading, followed by the bombers.
"anti-flak" aircrafts were conceived to destroy the flak sitings and
therefore had to precede the bombers, especially medium bombers such as B-25J.
almost the whole of 1944 the "anti-flak"B-25 used 128 LB-M1 frag
bombs, obtaining poor results, because, as they were approaching the target, the
artillerymen took cover under shelter, leaving the guns silent and therefore
difficult to be spotted.Then, as soon as the frag bombs burst, they jumped at
the guns ready to shoot at the incoming bombers. To avoid this"
inconvenience”, at the end of 1944 the "anti-flak" aircrafts were
loaded with phosphorus bombs. Their fuses were differently timed in order to
explode a 100 yards above the gun sitings; others exploded just hitting the
ground. The mid-air explosions caused the falling of thousands of burning
fragments over the enemy troops; the same happened for ground explosions, this
time against the flak sitings.
doing so, they succeeded in keeping the artillerymen under cover for a longer
time, enabling the bomber formation to drop their bombs in an easier way.
But during the bombing run at the Dolce' bridge something did not work as planned.
The "Donna Marie II " B-25J
428th Sqd. reported " excellent bomb concentration on RR tracks slightly north of target,
other bombs cut tracks to the south and some direct hits on the RR fill. The
"anti-flak" aircrafts reported some hit over the gun siting"
(but without knocking them down).
over the target: moderate to heavy, accurate. Two aircrafts lost, four aircrafts
hit and one man wounded."
the two aircrafts shot down was the "anti-flak" B-25J formation
leader. The aircraft, whose name was "Donna Marie II" serial 44-29937,
was hit just prior to bomb drop; however it managed to complete the bombing run.
Minutes later it lost an engine and fell on the Lessini mountains. Its pilot was
Lt. Lee Anthony McAllister Jr. His crew was formed by 2nd.Lt. Derrill C.McMorris,
copilot; Cap.Jerry M.Baraniuk, bombardier; Master Sergeant Robert E.Baccus,
gunner-radio operator; Master Sergeant Ernest C.Thompson, dorsal turret gunner.
pointed out that his plane left the formation just over the I.P. to drop the
bombs singly, then, after being hit and with the interphone unserviceable there
was no way to communicate with his own crew. Some hits went directly into the
bomb bay igniting the phosphorus bombs, which released soon after a dense smoke,
also preventing the crew to see each other.
they managed to open the rear escape hatch and the gunners bailed out.
signed to McMorris to abandon the ship, then he and Baraniuk went out through
the front hatch.
as we'll see further on, was the last one to leave the plane.
"Donna Marie II"'s drama was observed by
other crews of the formation. They saw at 11.06 AM the flaming plane
falling and crashing against a side slope of the mountain, S-E of Recoaro
village. This was also the plane seen by Mr.Candiago, an Altissimo (another
small village in the area on the border of Vicenza and Verona provinces) city
hall staff member.
"At 11.30 AM an allied airplane went down in
location Campanella. At first it seemed to fall right over our houses... and it
was very scaring to see the flaming plane leaving a sickle-like trail of smoke,
turn around the mountain, then suddenly point towards us.
A big flame, a blast, the fall and a black cloud of
smoke raising from Campanella."
Giacomo Tonin, parson of Castelvecchio parish, recorded in his register the same
"Today a section of American aircrafts flies over us. Above in the sky one airplane catches fire and falls at Campanella. The airmen descend with parachute over Campofontana."
landed in the Chiampo Valley and the Germans captured all but McAllister.
was captured the day after at 08.00 AM two km. N-E of Selva di Progno near Durlo village.
Baraniuk was hurt on landing, he was captured and soon hospitalised in a German
field hospital. On the 13th. of December he was taken to the Mantova hospital.
Later he was transferred to Neurnberg-Landwasser concentration camp. Between 11
and 13 December 1944, McMorris was reported in Verona allied prisoner’s camp
together with his three companions Baccus, Raple and Thompson. From subsequent
documents dated January 11th.1945, they were reported in “Dula-Luft
West”concentration camp in Germany.
instead was rescued by Italian patrolling troops (“Stella” Brigade).
Partisan “Tigre” (code name “Tiger”) recalls: “ The pilot was not in good condition; he had inhaled smoke from the fire, he could not even speak”; while “Catone”, code name for the political member of the brigade refers that he could not walk because he hurt his right foot. He was carried on a kind of sledge and taken to Molino di Altissimo. He spent his first night hidden under the wine barrels of Mr. Antonio Cavaliere’s cellar. After a medical exam by the local doctor Mr. Cavaliere took him to his house. On Dec.19th. “Catone” sent his superior “Jura” dog tag and I.D. of the American pilot to forward to the allied Headquarters, pointing out that Lee Anthony McAllister and the other guys took of from a B-25 base right from Corsica island.
The “El Lobo III”
other downed plane, a B-25J serial 43-27693, was “El Lobo III” of the 380th.
Sqd. and one of the bombers formation. The group’s report read: “ Lt. William B.Berry’s aircraft was hit by flak over the target just
after bombs away. It was hit at bombing altitude and momentarily out of control,
but was eventually able to level around 5000 Ft. on 094° track. Last seen by
Vestenanuova village. No chutes
had in his crew Lt. Philip W. Newhouse (co-pilot), flight officer William C.
Hunt Jr. (bombardier), private Ernest Young Jr. (tail gunner), corporal James
Noaker (radio-gunner), sergeant William H.Krob (turret gunner).
“El Lobo” had dropped its bombs over Dolcè and had just started the
evasive actions because of the flak, when Newhouse saw another B-25
(McAllister’s plane), some distance ahead with lots of black smoke coming from
one of his engines. The co-pilot called the crew to watch for parachutes but
suddenly his plane was bounced around by three distinct jolts, and then dropped
his right wing.
Once again the flak hit the bull’s eye!
Nevertheless the aircraft managed to fly for another 5-6 minutes, the
same time as for “Donna Marie II”, then was definitely out of control and
Berry shouted “BAIL OUT”.
First to go, at time 11.04, was Sgt. Krob then FO. Hunt and Lt. Newhouse.
The last one was Lt. Berry. Before bailing out Newhouse watched Noaker and
Young’s positions, but didn’t see anyone; he thought that they had already
bailed out. They were instead both dead, killed by the flak on their first and
only combat mission.
Their bodies were found by the Germans among the aircraft’s wreckage on
the top of the Marana hill, as reported by the Recoaro mayor on June 24th1945,
and were buried on Dec.15th1944 at Longara location.
Krob, the other gunner was captured by the Germans and was reported at
Verona’s allied prisoners camp on Dec.12th1944. Later, on Jan.24th1945
he stayed at “Dula-Luft West” camp in Germany.
Berry, Hunt and Newhouse were rescued by the partisans. Hunt’s rescue
procedure is still unknown; what we know for sure is that he was rescued by the
partisans and taken singly to the English mission “Freccia”.
Berry and Newhouse in fact stated to have seen him by that mission “up
on the hills close to Schio” only ten days after, on Dec.20th1944.
Berry’s rescue is also not clear, but as we’ll see, he was able to
join Newhouse soon afterwards. About Newhouse we know that he landed in a
location along the Chiampo valley. As soon as he touched the ground he was
surrounded by a dozen people. A woman approached him indicating that he was
bleeding from his head and hand. She took him into her house and treated his
wounds. Some time later two partisans came and took him into the woods,
preceding the Germans for just a few minutes.
“Catone” was soon notified about the three American airmen’s rescue
and tried to contact them “to send them
the English mission Dardo from where he would be sent to the Freccia mission. As
I arrived at the “Giorgio Veronese” battalion, two of them had already been
sent to their proper destination, while the third one Lt.McAllister was kept by
a family because of his sprained ankle.”
As above written, the two airmen staying with English Maj.Wilkinson,
joined their friend Hunt. But soon after their roads divided again.
Hunt managed to join his unit in March 1945 after crossing Switzerland.
Berry and Newhouse went to the east, trying to reach Yugoslavia, but
couldn’t go further than Friuli (Italian region), where they got in touch with
Paul Newton Brietsche’s English mission, where they stayed until the end of
the war. On May 17th1945 Brietsche suggested a decoration for Berry.
If this was the fate of 11
men, what was the fate of the 12th?
Towards the end of December Catone told Jura “ the American pilot has recovered. He will soon be taken to that location
(very near Recoaro Terme), so that he might reach the English mission.”
This time, however, Catone couldn’t count on mission Dardo’s support, but
only on brigade commander Jura’s help to transfer Berry and Newhouse, because
he was forced by a German round up to leave the Agno valley.
in these days Jura stayed with his unit “Romeo” in Recoaro Terme area, where
from September 1944 the O.B.S.W. (Oberbefehl Süd West /S-W High Command) was
based, together with Kesserling’s Army Corps Headquarters.
All prepared, on December 28th.McAllister departed from Molino
di Altissimo escorted by Catone and Amleto (Mr.Cavaliere’s son). He was
wearing a civilian suit and coat over his uniform. On December 31st. They
arrived at the meeting point near Recoaro, but nobody was there. Jura and his
unit had to leave the area because of a sudden round up. So they spent 1944 New
Year’s Eve hidden in the woods.
The following morning Catone finally spotted the three men. To get there
unfortunately they had to cross the main road Recoaro-Valdagno during daylight.
This road was often used by O.B.S.W.trucks and cars and it was there that
McAllister’s good luck abandoned him.
This is how Catone informed Jura about what happened:
“ dear Jura, I think this morning
you heard some shots along the Agno valley, fired from an armoured truck. It was
all because of us, Amleto, McAllister and me (…)”.
We were about to cross the
main road, taking extreme care and were about to succeed, when a German car
suddenly appeared. As we approached the river they started shooting at us; our
life was in danger so we all started running except McAllister. Inexplicably he
stopped and ran back towards the Germans, perhaps scared because of the
shooting, but aware at the same time that he might be taken prisoner by them. We
could have saved him just answering the German fire, but this might have
endangered the entire area….”
The Germans, however, took McAllister to the Valdagno prison rather than
to their Headquarters, since they considered him simply a criminal, not a P.O.W.
And this is how “the McAllister Case” started.
Catone in fact, declares that McAllister was wearing a coat and a suit
over the uniform. Moreover we know that he signed in, because on the prison’s
records he was listed (not quite correctly) as “Amo or Max Allisberg-airman”.
this situation it should have been obvious for him to appeal to the Geneva
Convention, nevertheless he was treated until the very end as a “criminal”.
Only suppositions can be made on this matter. First, the Germans actually
might have thought to deal with a real criminal, because of his civilian clothes
and his escape attempt. Second, after having checked his identity, they might
have put him in connection with the two B-25 crews shot down 20 days before. But
differently from the other guys who died or were taken prisoners or who
immediately joined the Freccia mission, McAllister was physically in contact
with the partisans for nearly three weeks. Therefore he was supposed to be a
useful source of information about the partisans and their bases.
Third, we must keep in mind that McAllister, while being transferred to
the Freccia mission, passed very near to the O.B.S.W., which was at that moment
the most important strategic point of the German defensive chain on the Italian
The American airman therefore, might have been considered a spy. For all
these reasons the German police ran with unusual cruelty the
Mc.Allister’s detention lasted eight days, during which he was probably
brutally interrogated or even tortured.
We do not know whether he revealed something of the little he knew
(surely he did not betray Cavaliere’s family); however his fate was marked
because the Germans could not acknowledge him as POW without being accused
of international laws violation. McAllister could not stay alive as an American
officer; he could only die as a criminal. This was what happened.
At 3.30 PM Jan.9th.1945 two German MP came at Mr.Alfonso
Maroso’s city hall office, stating, “We
have killed a criminal, who was trying to run away along the main road”.
Mr. Maroso went right there “exactly on
the riverbed of Agno torrent” he
wrote in his records “I found the body
of a man in his thirties, brown hair, well cut beard, a goatee, brown eye lashes
and eyebrows, regular face, nose, mouth and chin, no peculiar marks, 67 inches
height, wearing long military trousers, cotton underwear, military rubber sole
shoes, no documents. The post mortem examination, made by the local doctor, gave
as result that the unidentified person died around 3 PM due to bullet wounds,
which entered the cervical area and went through the right eye and the left
was a real execution indeed!
location (the same of his capture) and the time were accurately chosen on
purpose, so that the partisans, which the Germans knew to be in the mountains
nearby, could see by themselves what they might expect. The body was carried to
the Recoaro Basilica and stayed there for two days. Some people felt pity for
him. One was Don Giovanni Dall’Armellina, the parson, who gave his Christian
absolution. Then other unknown people put three little bunches of snowdrop
between the bars of the small windows and on the doorstep of the improvised
mortuary room, without being seen.
The Germans disapproved.
Lt.Pilot Lee Anthony McAllister Jr., Salem, Oregon, was buried at the
Recoaro Cemetery the 11thJan.1945 with no ceremony or religious
service at all.
MACR n.10387 (B-25 “El Lobo III”), from the Air Force Historical
MACR n.10777 (B-25 “Donna Marie II”), AFHRA, Maxwell.
Roll Microfilm n.229 DOD Dir.5200.9, History 310th BG, AFHRA.
“Stella” Archive, c/o Giancarlo Zorzanello, Montecchio Maggiore, VI.
Recoaro Terme City Hall Archive.
for the precious collaboration to: Frank Dean, 310th
BG.Historian, Dominique Taddei,Dante e Maria Cavaliere, Dr.Gelindo
Pianalto,Pietro Benetti e Angela Cornale. A special thank to
Ferdinando D’Amico for his accurate advise.
A 380th Sqd. B-25 at Ghisonaccia, Corsica Island, home base of
Mitchells under German-Italian flak over Northern Italy plain.
379th and 380th B-25 on bombing run over
Fontaniva’s (Padua) RR bridge
alternate target. The RR connects Vicenza and Treviso.Also vivible the
river (left) and Cittadella (right).
A well preserved B-25J at Robins AFB-Georgia Aviation Museum. It is
310th BG colours and 380th Sqd A/C serial 43-27676 “Nose Art”.
380th Sqd./310th BG B-25 Mitchell.
map of the area where the events of Lt.McAllister and his B-25
“Donna-Marie II” took place, from Dec.10th.1944 to Jan.11th.1945.
Cavaliere’s (Amleto) house at Molino di Altissimo (Vicenza), where
McAllister was kept hidden after his downing.
Agno’s river bed where McAllister was esecuted, at Contra’ Focchini
di Destra , Recoaro Terme (Vicenza).
(Alfredo Bigonzo, right on the picture) the political
representative of the
“Stella” Brigade and McAllister’s companion during his
Partisan “Amleto”-“Stella” Brigade, who took McAllister to the
where his return to the Allied front was to be arranged. The rendezvous
missed because of a German round up.
If you've had problems getting the images to
download drop me an Email and I'll cut them down in size. BW
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