Lt. Emil Ostrowski was the B26 Marauder copilot of the 42-96263 crew that crashed on June 6, 1944 after a mid air collision with another B26 over Gillingham Kent England.
Emil served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the US Army enlising on April 30 of 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His civil occupation was as a semi skilled mechanic and repairman. He was single with no dependents at the time of his enlistment.
He had trained at the Maxwell Field, Alt, Bennettsville and Shaw Fields, S. C. Emil was commissioned the November prior to his death at Turner Field, Albany, G.A.
Emil was born in South River and graduated from the Plainfield High School, moving to Belleville five years prior to his death. His parents were living on Union Avenue there in 1944. Emil had been gone oversea's just three months before his death.
On June 6, 1944 Lieut Emil was the co-pilot of the 42-96263 of the 587th Bomber Squadron, 394th Bomber Group Medium, IX BC Ninth AF. They were stationed out of Station No.161 located in Boreham, Essex. On D-Day, June 6, 1944 while on route to a mission the 263 was involved in a mid air collision with the 42-96050 of the 587th Bomber Squadron, 394th Bomber Group Medium, IX BC Ninth AF over Gillingham, Kent, England at 5:05 am. The planes were part of a larger group also flying that D-Day on a mission. Poor weather was said to have been the cause of the accident. Weather at the time of the accident was reported as: Vis 7 mi, wind 8 mph, 7/10, light rain. The pilot of the 263 was not flying on instruments at the time of the crash. Heresay testimony of civilians in the vicinity on Gillingham, Kent - as noted on the accident report - indicates that one aircraft was flying around beneath the overcast. The other aircraft came down out of a large black cloud and the two collided. No actual eyewitnesses were found.
The 42-96050 jettisoned some of its bombs then crashed into homes on Corporation Road in Gillingham, killing the entire crew and four civilians. Six homes were demolished. The 42-96263 crashed into an orchard at the East Court Farm in Gillingham, Kent also killing all the crew.
The crew of the 42-96050 was:
-Witcher Terrell Berger
-Ltd Warren D Rodgers
-Sgt Edward H Monaghan
-Sgt George S Knight
-Sgt Alfred M Zussa
-Cpl Forrest W Pafenbery
The 42-96263 Crew was:
-Lt Claude Wallace Kline
-Lt Emil F Ostowsky
-Sgt George S. Rogers
-Raymond F Sablatura
-Sgt Joseph Amato
-Sgt James F Bechtler
The civilians killed in Gillingham were:
Fanny F Whittingham
Joan Beatrice Ada Taylor Neice of Fanny
Percy Montague Williams
George Thomas William Gandon
At 6am that very same morning of the Gillingham crash two other B26's of the 394th Bomb Squadron also based out of Station No.161 located in Boreham, Essex, were a involved in a mid air collision over Battle, Sussex England.
The 42-107592 of the 584th Squadron collided with the 42-96249 587th Squardon over Battle, Sussex in bad weather which caused icing up on the planes. It was mission # 58 for the Group. The group was on a mission to bomb gun emplacements in Varreville, France on D-Day.
The pilot of the 592 B26 Marauder was the only man to survive -Lt Tommie J Potts. He managed to bail out and his parachute was seen coming down from the direction of Whatlington.
Pilots of both the 592 & the 249 were flying on instruments at the time of the accident. Weather at the time was noted to be: Vis 7mi, wind 8 mi, 7/10 Strata Cumulus. Tommy Potts, who survived the crash after bailing out states he lost control of his aircraft while in the overcast. He had felt no distinct jar, as would be in a collision, but that his aircraft kept veering to the left and at one point was on its back. He instructed the Bombardier to jettison bonbs and then gave the signal to abandon the aircraft. The crew had gone to the bomb bay and Tommy, assuming that the Bombardier had left the doors open, waited for a minute, lowered the nose wheel and bailed out. The crew had worked feverishly to dump the high altitude bombs so that they would fall unexploded as the plane neared its crash landing. The 592 crashed at Whatlingon Level and the 249 crashed at Ashburnham Place. They crew had saved many lives by their quick actions to jettison their bomb load.
Below was a young teenage, Ian Cheveralls, a messenger for the Civil Defense Air Warden. He was watching the planes flying through the clouds above when the crash occurred. Upon the crash he ran towards the planes and could hear Tommy calling out for his crew. Tommy was the lone surviver, the bodies of the rest of the crew were found in the bomb bay.
Tommie retired following the crash, sent home with a Distinguished Flying Cross. He would marry and begin to raise a family. Tommie passed away in 1971. This crash has been memorilized by a plaque put up in Battle at the Royal Legion hall, the dedication reading "THESE AMERICAN AIRMEN GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR OUR FREEDOM"
Members of the 42-107592 crew were:
-Lt Tommie Potts
-Sgt George J Kyle
-Lt Christian Burger
-Lt LeRoy A Dyer
-Sgt James M Long
-Sgt George W Williams
The crew of the 42-96249 was:
-Lt Thomas Jenkins
-Lt. Walter S Winter
-William C Hoeb
-Sgt Ralph D Parker
-Sgt Boris R. Selinsky
-Sgt Edward F Bailey
For more information please see:
Photo of Emil contributed by his family
2LT, US ARMY AIR FORCES WORLD WAR II
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