The crash of Homer L. Young in Chevremont
In the 'Kerkrade Onderweg' series, a number of crashes of allied planes in World War II have been described: the P-47 Thunderbolt in Bokstraat, which also killed residents, the Lancaster in Bleijerheide and the B-17 in Eygelshoven, where 6 respectively 5 crew members died for our freedom.
A Lancaster also crashed in Eygelshoven and another P-47 in Chevremont. The American pilot of the P-47 saved his life with his parachute. In the Lancaster in Eygelshoven, 5 Canadian and 2 British young men died.
Both machines crashed here after our liberation in the autumn of 1944; now 75 years ago.
Another P-47 crash in Kerkrade
On the sunny but fresh morning of October 28, 1944 the P-47D-27-RE (Thunderbolt) of the American 1Lt Homer Leroy (Jack) Young is ready at the airport of Sint-Truiden (B). His 493rd Fighter Squadron has been based there since the Germans were chased away in mid-September 1944. After cleaning up, the Americans use the airport again on October 5. That October 28, Young’s target lies near Geilenkirchen, north of the German Reichsstadt Aachen, recently occupied after three weeks of heavy fighting.
He starts that day from the same airport from which NJG1 pilot Hauptmann Johannes Hager started who shot the British Lancaster ME647 on 31 December 1944 that crashed in the fields close to the RC cemetery in Eygelshoven. The German NJG1 was stationed there since May 1941.
Sint-Truiden airport went from hand to hand in WWII.
P-47D # 44-33204 of 48FG/493FS. Not Lt Young’s P-47!
Source photo: USAFHRA Photo - USAF Photo from the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama From "History and Units of the United States Air Force". G.H.J Scharrings, European Aviation Historical Society, 2004.
March 1944 - USAAF Station AAF-347
Earlier, at the end of March 1944, Lt Young and his P-47 squadron mates arrived on board of the Queen Mary in Scotland. From there they went by train to Ibsley, then USAAF Station AAF-347, in the south of England. There they immediately started to prepare for the invasion. They continue the rigorous training program so that they can use their P-47s in all its qualities as fighter-bomber.
In the following months their number of flights increases steadily and on April 20, 1944 the squadron flies its first combat mission; a boring flight over the French coast that was then still occupied by the Germans.
6 June 1944 - D-day
The P-47’s of 493 FS are also present at the invasion of France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. They bomb bridges, artillery batteries and railway lines, they machine gun trains and make reconnaissance flights for the advancing infantrymen.
Lt Young manages to shoot down his first Luftwaffe plane on June 12th. He does that together with another American pilot and they are each credited a "half victory".
The Old Hickory Division - which is going to liberate Kerkrade -arrived one day earlier later in France.
That conquering Normandy from the Germans was not easy, is evident from a report in which Young on June 15, 1944. I that he describes the shooting down of his wingman in their "Blue Flight", Lt Reid on June 10th. Reid lands in occupied German territory near Bonnebosq (F).
Source map: Library of Congress - World War II Military Situation Maps - June 10th 1944
Source statement: MACR 5702 / 6672 of NARA (USA) - Jan Nieuwenhuis/Airwar4045
18 June - First continental air base: Deux Jumeaux
Shortly thereafter - on the 18th June 1944 - Young lands on the European mainland for the first time. His provisional base at Deux Jumeaux (ALG A-4) is near the famous American landing beach ‘Omaha Beach’.
Source map: Library of Congress - World War II Military Situation Maps - June 18th 1944.
The ‘propellors’ are ALG’s. In the circle ALG-4 at Deux Jumeaux.
The 1500 meter long runway is made of ‘Square-Mesh Track’, a mesh that is simply rolled over the meadows.
P-47 Thunderbolts of the 48th Fighter Group line up for take off at Deux Jumeaux Airfield.
From Deux Jumeaux they support with their Thunderbolts with the letters "I 7" the ground operations of the American 1st Army when it fights it way in our direction. To recognize each other in the air - and also from the ground - his P-47 had a red checkered cowling (color characteristic of the 48th Fighter Group) and a blue tail fin (color characteristic of the 493rd Fighter Squadron).
16 September - Niergnies
On the 29th of August the front of the American 1st Army moved so far that they can start and land in Villacoublay; an existing airport that is just south of Paris. This is followed by the airport in Niergnies near Cambrai in northern France on September 16th.
The American ground forces of the Old Hickory Division are on September 16th already in Bocholtz-Baneheide (NL). That day the men of the 3rd battalion of the 120 Infantry Regiment stop at the rail way crossing near the Scholtissenhof. And a day later they liberated Kerkrade West.
Lt Young and his squadron supported the airborne landings near Nijmegen and Arnhem in September 1944, possibly also bombed the bunkers on the Worm near Rimburg in preparation of the advance into Germany and also flew support flights during the subsequent battle for Aachen.
Source photo: Wim Slangen: plaque on the wall of the Scholtissenhof in Bocholtz (NL).
Perhaps he also saw the evacuation of the people of Kerkrade from the air and later their liberation. With all his flights, he certainly contributed to the rapid end of the war in our region. Thanks to his efforts, the Germans finally are out of the south of Limburg at the end of September 1944.
Crash on 28 October 1944
But the war continues "as usual". And that is why his P-47 is ready again on Saturday 28 October fueled and loaded with ammunition and bombs at the Sint-Truiden air base. He is going to perform a "dive bombing and strafing mission" in Germany that day; throw bombs and attack the enemy on the ground with his rockets and machine guns. For this purpose he has 3,400 rounds of ammunition for his eight machine guns, 10 rockets and 900 kg bombs on board; it all fits in and onto his very strong Thunderbolt. And it is finally good flying weather again and it is high time to get back on it and support the American ground troops.
Between Geilenkirchen and Immendorf, Young flies to a crossroads to bomb it, but things go wrong there. He gets a broadside from a German FLAK-group on the ground and then tries to fly his crippled P-47 back west to liberated territory. He barely succeeds, because his plane eventually crashes around 9.30 am in the middle of Chevremont; fortunately without any casualties.
Source map: Library of Congress - World War II Military Situation Maps - October 28th 1944.
Square = base at St-Trond/St-Truiden (B); circle = near Immendorf (G); star = Chevremont (NL).
Gregor Brokamp writes in his “liberation diary” - which is included in "Kerkrade Onderweg III" - that the plane crashed "behind the Wetzelaer shop and past the concert hall of widow Sporken”.
Brokamp also reports in his diary that the pilot had landed injured with his parachute on Olmenplein*. And also that the plane wreck burned for a while and the on-board ammunition exploded.
The American MP’s helped to get the injured Young to a lazaret and later that the burned-out wreck is cleared away.
That injury is a broken leg. Young is taken to the 15th General Hospital in Liège and on 31 October to a hospital in Paris and returns to his unit after healing. This 15th General Hospital was located in the Belgian military hospital in the former Laurentius abbey in Liège.
*) As Kerkrade was near the front line, the Olmenplein was used to park the Piper Cubs of the artillery observation pilots. Did he land with his parachute in between these ‘Cubs’?
Source photo: website Niek Brokamp: ‘Sporen in het landschap’.
On page 205, the book “Kerkrade en de tweede werelsoorlog 1937-1947”, published in 1994, lists incidents after the liberation. It says that on 28 October 1944 an American aircraft crashed in Noorderstraat and the bombing in Krichelbergsweg.
Could there be a connection with the P-47 from Young? Because Geilenkirchen-Immendorf, the crash site and the location of the bombing are nicely aligned.
The matching archive item at the Kerkrade Municipality describes the crash location (in Lückerheidestraat and partly in the garden of the Widow Wetzels’ concert hall), the time (9.40 am) and the pilot's rescue with his parachute.
In old notes, the Noorderstraat is also mentioned as a crash location. This street is a part of the current Nassaustraat; between the Toupsbergstraat and the Van Gronsveldstraat (which is called Steegstraat in October 1944).
Source plan: website KGV.nl - - Gemeentearchief Kerkrade.
NB In WWII the occupying Germans replaced street names of Dutch royal family and Dutch history.
Pilot identity not known until 2018: 1Lt Homer Leroy "Jack" Young
Arie-Jan van Hees (USAAF Class Book Project-Margraten) found the name of the pilot and also his photo in the Pilot Class Book 43-E Brooks Field, Texas. Mr. Van Hees also discovered that 1Lt Young belonged to the 493rd Fighter Squadron and the cause of his P-47 crashing.
He published that information together with Peter Grimm in the ‘Bulletin Air War 1939-1945’ of the SGLO, Issue no. 387, August-September 2018.
While working on this story and mailing with him on details of this crash Mr. Van Hees we also found looked for the s/n of Lt Homer L. Young’s P-47. In volume 5 of "Losses of the 8th and 9th USAAF" on page 409 two shot down P-47s are reported on 28-10-1944.
One is from Lt Milbern A. Quintana who’s P-47 crashed 1 km west of Schimmert. Lt Quintana died because he did not open his parachute. He probably was knocked unconscious against the vertical stabilizer of his P-47 when leaving his plane. Lt Quintana is buried on Henri-Chapelle (B).
Which s/n belongs to who’s P-47 is not yet clear.
Other researching brought this result: Mr. Homer Leroy (Jack) Young was born on August 1, 1920 in North Fox, Lincoln County, Oklahoma. His parents were William J Young and Martha J Crites. He had 3 sisters and 2 brothers.
In 1940, Homer worked from home as a surveyor at the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program to get unmarried men to work.
On January 6, 1942, he joined the Army Air Corp in Oklahoma City - gets Reg. O-676705 and his pilot training- and left the Air Force as captain pilot on April 29, 1946.
A year earlier, October 14, 1945, he married Betty Jo Mitchell in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. It is not certain whether children were born from this marriage. From the photo on "Findagrave" you could conclude that there is at least one child; because the flower arrangement on Homer Young’s grave is for "DAD". Mrs Carri Cook confirmed that.
Mr. Young died at the age of 73 on February 1, 1994 in Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma and is buried at the Black Cemetery in Stroud, Lincoln County, Oklahoma.
Source information: Mr. Phil Sutton volunteer of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Source photo: Findagrave - Mrs. Cari Cook; Homer Young is the great uncle of her husband.
The Old Hickory Division and Kerkrade
Lieutenant Young supported the soldiers of the Old Hickory Division during their march through Western Europe.
The 120th of the Old Hickory Division liberated Kerkrade West on Sunday, September 17, and entered the completely evacuated Kerkrade Center and Kerkrade East on Thursday, October 5, 1944.
The entire Kerkrade population had been evacuated on Monday 25 September to liberated territory. Only on October 23, 1944 - after the fall of Aachen - were they allowed to go home.
And on the 28th, Young probably comes closest to the soldiers of the Old Hickory, who he previously only saw and supported from the air.
The Ambachtsplein (plein = square) was renamed in the Old Hickoryplein on Sunday, 25 February 1945 to thank and honor the liberators of Kerkrade. The monument depicting an American infantryman was added to that square in September 1994.
In total, the 30th division - The Old Hickory Division - was in action on the West Front for 282 days. Soon, because of their enormous combat power, they were nicknamed "Roosevelt SS troops" by the Germans.
They fought their way from Normandy via northern France, our regions, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Alsace to Magdeburg, where they met the Russians in May 1945.
Their losses were heavy: 3,003 American boys died in the battle, 906 went missing and 13,376 were wounded, of which 506 later died.
They received 6 Medals of Honor, 5 Major Battle Stars and around 20,000 Purple Hearts for their contribution to the battle for Western Europe.
Source info: Wikipedia and KGV.nl
Source photo Hobbs: book ‘Kerkrade en Tweede Wereldoorlog 1937-1947’ - Gemeentearchief Kerkrade.
Source photo plaque under statue ‘Amerikaanse Infanterist’ Wim Slangen.
The P-47 Thunderbolt
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was a strongly built American fighter-bomber that could fly nearly 1300 km on "a tank". After the invasion in June 1944, they supported the advancing US ground forces. Before that, they mainly accompanied the large bombers when they flew to Germany to attack industries and traffic junctions. 15,500 P-47s have been built.
The P-47 in the color scheme of the 48FG/493FS: red checkered cowling and blue tail fin.
Engine: 1x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59 Double Wasp
Power: 2,535 hp
Speed: 695 km / hour
Ceiling: 12,500 meters
Range: 1.290 km
Weight: 7,940 kg (empty 4,500)
Wing width: 12.43 meters
Length: 11.02 meters
Wing area: 27.87 square meters
Armament: 8 x 12.7 mm machine guns
Bomb loading: 1,135 kg (900) Rockets: 10 x 127 mm
The 493rd fighter squadron
The American 493rd fighter squadron was founded in 1941 and still exists today.
Squadron patch in 1944 Actual squadron patch
The article that ‘ignited’ the story above
Source: Bulletin Air War 1939-1945, Edition no. 387, 44th year, August-September 2018 - SGLO.
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