Arthur E Linrud - engineer/top turret gunner

Engineer Arthur Linrud was born on a farm north of Velva, North Dakota on November 23, 1920. He graduated from high school in 1939. Art was drafted in the army and reported for basic training on October 8th 1942. Art ended up in the Army Air Corp and after training and passing many physicals he ended as a heavy bomber flight engineer, top turret gunner. 
In the summer of 1943 Art was shipped to England as a replacement. Art ended up on a B-17(S/N 42-3436, WF R) with the Dennis McDarby crew, 305th Bomb Group, 364th Squadron.

Art started flying missions with this crew in October of 1943. Most of Arts missions were flown during the infamous Hell Week where the Eighth Air Force went all out to try to destroy the German military infrastructure.

The first day of Hell Week was Oct. 8, 1943, Bremen. The next mission, Oct 9, was to the ports at Danzig, Poland, this was the longest mission of the war to date. The next day, Oct. 10, was to Munster, Germany. After these missions the McDarby crew was allowed to stand down for rest and repairs for several days.

Early in the morning of October 14th Art was awakened for a mission. It was a lousy morning, cold, foggy, raining, the air field was socked in. Art was sure the mission would be scrubbed but he and the others went to breakfast anyway. After breakfast the weather was still terrible but the order to stand down did not come. Art went to the briefing and found out the target was the Schweinfurt ball bearing plants deep in the heart of Germany. No matter, Art thought, we won’t be going anyway. No one would send hundreds of bombers up in this soup, Art waited for the mission to be cancelled.  Art and the rest of the crew went out to the plane, it was still raining and foggy, soon the order to stand down would come but instead came the order to start engines. Art thought the mission would still be scrubbed but soon they were rolling down the runway and taking off. Art realized they were going to Schweinfurt, the mission was not cancelled. The target was (six) hundreds of miles into Germany with no friendly fighter escort. This was going to be a rough one.

They didn’t break out of the overcast till 8000ft and then things started to go wrong.  Arts bomb group, the 305th failed to find its combat wing with the 92nd and 306th Bomb Groups. The 305th fell in behind the 351st and 381st Bomb Groups but in doing so ended up in a very vulnerable position. All the time it had taken the bombers to form up had used up fuel reserves and the extra time it had taken meant the friendly fighters had to leave soon after the bombers crossed over the coast into France and many fighters didn’t even find the bomber formations. Things were going from bad to worse.

Before the bombers even reached the coast of France they were attacked by single and twin engine German fighters, some of which had under wing slung rockets that they could fire into the bomber formations, safely out of range of the bombers 50 cal. defensive fire.

When the bomber formations were crossing from the Netherlands into Germany, Arts plane received a direct hit in the #2 engine (left wing) with a rocket or large caliber cannon shell, pieces of the engine and cowling were blown away and fire erupted from what was left of the engine. The plane dropped from formation and went into a dive. Lt. McDarby ordered everyone to bail out. Art dropped out of the top turret and got down in the nose with his parachute on, he opened the nose hatch and the bombardier and navigator said they were going to follow right behind him, but Art never saw them again. Art dropped through the hatch and after falling several seconds, pulled his rip cord. The chute opened and Art found himself in a slow descent over the Dutch and German border.

Off in the distance, Art saw two German fighters turn toward him, he had heard about enemy fighters strafing airmen hanging in their chutes and this is what it looked like they were going to do, one fighter headed right for him and Art waited for the bullets, none came. When the fighter reached Art it suddenly pulled up and over the chute, missing it by mere feet. The prop wash really jerked the chute around but the fighters flew off and did not come back. Art wondered if the German pilot was trying to spill the air out of his chute or if he was just having a little fun, we will never know.

Art reached the ground and was surrounded by German soldiers and civilians. He had come down near the tail gunner Dominic Lepore who had a quite severe wound to the head. A German Doctor came and took care of him.

Drawing by Scott Nelson Art from Oswald Ortmanns PowerPoint-presentation.
The twin engine Me-110 probably is an ‘artist freedom’.

Arts friend Benjamin Roberts was the ball turret gunner on the McDarby plane. When the plane was hit, one of the waist gunners, Bob Wells cranked the turret back up into the plane and helped Ben out and into his chute. About this time the plane was again hit by German fighters, riddling the fuselage with holes and then the wings tore off. Ben pulled himself out the waist window and his head glanced off the tail causing him to be knocked out momentarily. When Ben came to, he realized what was happening and quickly pulled the rip cord, the chute had just opened when Ben hit the ground. Ben looked up to see the fuselage of the plane coming down and it landed not more then a hundred feet away. Ben crawled over to the wreckage and found the man who had just helped him, Bob Wells, dead in the rear of the plane. Both waist gunners, copilot, navigator and bombardier died in the plane. (The co pilot Donald P Breeden is stated as MIA). The plane crashed near a coal mine on the boarder of Belgium (In fact it was the pre war Dutch-German border) and the Netherlands near Maastricht. The pilot, radio operator and tail gunner along with Art and Ben became POWs and spent the next 18 months in prison camps. Art Linrud, Ben Roberts and Dominic Lepore ended up in the German-Austrian Stalag 17B near Krems.

After the war Art Linrud returned to North Dakota to work the family farm north of Velva and raised his family. Art retired and lived in Minot ND where he died on September 1st 2012.

Sources: Personal interview with Art Linrud and Ben Roberts, Missing air crew report - USAF.


Information from Mrs. JoAnn Linrud, daughter – November 2016
In my father's box of materials from the war are letters his parents received from him written from prison camp. The first communication they received about him was a postcard from a ham radio operator in New York that Dad's name was listed among those shot down.

From F.W.C. Dannemann, 5815 Sixth Ave., Brooklyn, NY.  “Dear Folks on 12/17/43 At 9:45AM thru Berlin short wave 19M. I listed the names of 3 American aviators shot down and are now P.O.W. in Germany. Including this one reported lucky to be alive – no other message was given – I do hope this much news will bring you a word of cheer comfort and happiness – a merry Xmas plus a happy New Year – Join me in hope and Prayer for a safe speedy victory – Peace & home coming – I sent a card to Edmore, ND, so I am try Velva, ND also hope one is right. Very sincerly yours F.W.C. Dannemann.”

In his first letter to his parents, written on November 7, 1943 and received by them sometime well into 1944, he wrote....”By the time this reaches you, you should have been notified of me being a prisoner of war being held by Germany. I am feeling fine and getting along same here in prison camp of American Airmen. I was very fortunate to receive no injuries whatsoever when our plane was shot down and I was forced to parachute to safety, being captured immediately upon landing in Germany on October 14th.”

There were more listeners to radio Berlin like Mr Sanford Lowe who also wrote a card after hearing this message. His 3.645th card in 1943...

Stolen: High school ring and watch

Mrs. JoAnn Linrud: “I learned from other documents that when he was captured, the Germans who interrogated him took his high school class ring  for which he'd paid $9.25 in 1939 and an Elgin wrist watch for which he'd paid about $25 in California in 1942.”....

”I prepared the military history of my father as an electronic document after my father passed away, so that it could be shared. The book he mentions, Kriegies Memories, was written and photographed by Ben Phelper, who somehow managed to have a camera in the prison camp, and who later developed the photos and made the book. Following the war, he offered Dad a chance to have a copy.”

Connection to Aachen (G)
Mrs. Martina Offermanns from Würselen (G) reacted after she read
the article in the Aachener Zeitung.
Mrs. JoAnn Linrud: “Martina is a relative on my mother's side; my maternal grandparents were Germans who emigrated to the U.S. independently (Grandmother Marie Schoenwald at age 10 in 1898; Grandfather Christian Gliege at age 20 in 1902). They both eventually came to North Dakota, where they met and married in 1907; their daughter Adela married Arthur Linrud (my parents) in 1946, following his return from the war. It is an amazing coincidence that Martina lives near to where my father was shot down. Now both sides of the family have a connection to Aachen.”

Read Mr. Linrud’s military history.
Read how Mr Linrud became a member of the crew of A/C 42-3436.


From mr Linrud’s obituary in Minot Daily News - 4 Sept 2012

After base training at St. Petersburg, Fla., he was assigned to Air Force Mechanic School in Keesler Field, Miss., in November 1942. He graduated from advanced training in aircraft maintenance on B-17 Boeing Aircraft at Lockheed-Vega Aircraft Corp., Burbank, Calif., on May 4, 1943. He was sent to air gunnery training at Army Aerial Gunnery School in Las Vegas, Nev. He also had additional training at Johnson Field in Goldsboro, N.C., and from there was sent to Camp Kilmer, N.J., for an overseas assignment on July 28, 1943.

Arthur was assigned to the 305th Bomb Group 364th Squadron, 8th Air Force, Chelveston, North Hampton County, England. He took part in bombing missions during World War II over Europe as a flight engineer top turret gunner on a B-17 bomber until the plane was destroyed by enemy aircraft on Oct. 14, 1943 (Black Thursday-Schweinfurt Mission). After parachuting to the ground, he was taken prisoner, interrogated at Dulag Luft (Frankfurt), and transferred to Stalag XVII B, Krems, Austria, where he spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. He was liberated by the U.S. Army on May 3, 1945, at Braunau, Austria, after a 100-mile forced march. He was discharged as a technical sergeant in November 1945.

Mr Linrud is interred in the Veterans Section in Rosehill Memorial Park of Minot (ND).


Back to the biographies of all of the crew members of B-17 # 42-3436.
A story I started to find out why and how
Donald Paul Breeden could get missing.