SSGT Edward B Coleman

SSGT Edward B Coleman

Death 15 Apr 1945
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Memorial ID 113398797 · View Source
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Volunteer's Profile (49431740)
Gunner S/Sgt. Edward B. Coleman, Died as POW
Home: Brooklyn, New York
Squadron: 578th Bomb Sq 392th Bomb Gp
Service# 12083473
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart.
Pilot 1st/Lt. Gilbert 0. Eisermann POW

Target: POLITZ Germany
Date Lost: 29-May-44
Serial Number: #42-52604
Aircraft Model B-24
Aircraft Letter: "Y-Bar"
Aircraft Name: (NO NICKNAME) 12th Mission
Location: Baltic Sea
Cause: German fighters Crew of 10, 10 POW

This mission would be the first to this tough and heavily defended target - the oil refineries at Politz. The 392nd would suffer high casualties on this raid. The 578th and 577th were assigned lead with Bombardiers, Lieutenant Joachim and Captain Colburn, respectively. At 0430 and 0500 hours, (27) crews were briefed and at 0749 take-offs began. A total of (26) ships bombed the target area, releasing (260) 500# GP weapons, but good bombing was hampered by an effective smoke screen over the target and the ensuing fighter encounters. An estimated 75-100 enemy fighters attacked the Group comprised of about (75) single-engine ME-109s and FW-190s and (25) JU-88s and at least (1) twin-engine ME-410. The severe fighter attacks were encountered for about thirty-five minutes near the target between 1150 and 1225 hours. The Group lost (6) aircraft on this mission with many casualties.

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: Returning aircrew members gave the following eye-witness accounts, that the Eiserman plane turned and headed out over the bay, seemingly under control, after having dropped bombs and (8) chutes were seen. One wing appeared to be damaged, and a life raft was also seen to come out. A German Report at Anklam reported this plane crashing at 1210 hours, 2.2 kilometers from Altwerp on 29 May and that all (10) crew men were taken prisoner, as follows: Eiserman at 1410 hours at Hoff-Altwerp; Fothergill at Rieth at 1220 hours (Fothergill was wounded with a broken upper arm having been beaten by local civilians and later taken to a Luftwaffe hospital at Greifwald according to this reporting); McGlinn at Ahlbeck at 1229 hours; Hull at 1310 hours in Altwerp; Jenkins at Rieth at 1225 hours; Coleman at 1241 hours at Rieth; Davis at Rieth at 1240 hours, Yacavone, 1235 hours at Ahlbeck; and Smith was captured the next day, 30 May, near Altwerp having given himself up after an exhausting track down. Cook was taken prisoner near Altwerp at 1220 hours on the 29th.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: Pilot Eiserman, later after POW release, gave this report. They were flying in the ‘Purple Heart Corner' of the Lead, Low Box element and were hit by enemy fighters after friendly escort fighters had left, and were badly damaged about one minute away from the bomb release point to the extent that he had to order crew bail out. All members managed to abandon the plane within two minutes afterwards. He indicated that he had seen all members except the Navigator (Smith, who was captured the next day from the German report), all within five hours after bail out. He stated further that the Co-pilot, Fothergill, had been pretty badly beaten up by local civilians and was suffering a broken left arm. The Bombardier, Lt. Yacavone, reported that the plane had spun into the Baltic Sea and on fire after the crew abandoned ship. He also noted that he had seen Lt. Smith, the Navigator, later in the POW camp at Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Germany. Fothergill's report noted that he had been injured by his parachute harness during the jump, and further by civilians later. Other reports centered on one of the members and his ultimate fate much later - that of S/Sgt. Coleman, who also had been taken prisoner. S/Sgt. Jenkin's after-POW status account stated that Sgts. Coleman, Cook, McGlinn and Davis were last seen at Stalag Luft IV in good condition on 30 January 1945. He continued further in this account that he (Jenkins) was told that Sgt. Coleman had left that POW camp on foot with other POWs on a forced march by the Germans during the first week of February 1945, when this camp was abandoned by the enemy. He conjectured in this report that Sgt. Coleman either became ill on the march and died or attempted to escape and was killed by the German military or civilians. Another crew member's later report concerning the possible fate of Sgt. Coleman was that it was heard "he died from exposure during a forced march, but doubt this; believe he tried to escape and was shot by SS troops". Pilot Eiserman in his later casualty-questionnaire reporting stated that he had received "a letter from his Coleman's mother on my return to the States and she stated that he (Sgt. Coleman) had died of pneumonia while on a forced POW march". Other survivor crew member accounts noted that this crew was on their 22nd combat mission, having flown their first on 10 April 1944 to Pas De Calais, France.

T/Sgt Davis later recounted this story about S/Sgt Coleman: EB (as he was called) was a tall, good-looking man with dark curly hair. He had a great gift of gab. EB was an Irishman from Brooklyn and was not one to let you forget those points. He was the epitome of a city kid. He was always the last one to return from passes to town and no matter what time of the early morning it was, he would always wake up his crewmates and regale them with his adventures. After we were shot down, the Germans gathered most of the crew at an airbase in Anklam, Germany. Naturally EB was the last one to be brought in. We looked out the window and here came EB between two German soldiers, with his arms draped over their shoulders like they were the best buddies. When they arrived, the German officer in charge really gave those two soldiers a loud and long lecture.

BURIAL RECORDS: While a POW on the Death March in April 1945, S/Sgt Coleman became violently ill. Army Air Corps doctor Capt. Leslie Caplan persuaded the Germans to admit S/Sgt Coleman to a hospital. S/Sgt Coleman, accompanied by Dr. Caplan, was taken by tractor-drawn trailer to the hospital in Ebbsdorf, Germany, where Coleman died on April 15, 1945. He was buried in a field near the hospital.



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  • Created by: John Dowdy
  • Added: 6 Jul 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 113398797
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for SSGT Edward B Coleman (unknown–15 Apr 1945), Find A Grave Memorial no. 113398797, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by John Dowdy (contributor 47791572) .