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Crash of 43-38958
Green Hill Belle
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Crash of B-17G #43-38958 Green Hill Belle (427BS) GN-H

Mission No. 353
6 April 1945 to the Main Marshalling Yard at Leipzig, Germany

Two aircraft were missing as a result of a mid-air collision shortly before reaching the target at Leipzig — #43-38958 Green Hill Belle, 427BS, and #44-8647 (No Name), 360BS. The dense contrails appeared to contribute directly to the collision. No parachutes were observed leaving either B-17 and both aircraft crashed at Loessnitz, Germany, approximately 50 km south of Leipzig.

Green Hill Belle, piloted by 2Lt. Melvin Alderman, exploded in the air after the collision and broke up into small parts–some were on fire. The crewmen were assigned to the 2Lt Roman M. Ley Crew on 27 March 1945. They were flying their initial mission with pilot 2Lt Melvin Alderman, an experienced pilot who had flown 34 previous missions, most of them as copilot with the Grafton N. Smith Crew. Also killed in the crash were 2Lt. Roman M. Ley, F/O George S. Thomas, 2Lt. Howard G. Weinberg, Cpl. Roaul R. Prieto, Sgt. Don M. Beebe, Cpl. William M. Toler and Cpl. Jesse M. Moore. F/O Thomas, 2Lt. Weinberg and Sgt. Prieto are buried in Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium.

The tail assembly broke and the No. 3 engine caved in with the propeller off on #44- 8647, piloted by 2Lt. Howard C. Lacker. Other crews spotted the aircraft going down in a flat spin. It appeared that the engines had been out because the propellers turned slowly. Also killed in the crash were 2Lt. Alexander Kacus, 2Lt. James B. O'Neil, S/Sgt. Clarence Mooneyham, S/Sgt. Francis E. Bratcher, S/Sgt. Lane Foster, Sgt. Robert R. Reynolds, Sgt. Louis V. Garbarino, Jr. and Sgt. Oscar F. Bonner. 2Lt. O'Neil, S/Sgt. Mooneyham, S/Sgt. Bratcher and Sgt. Garbarino are buried in Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium. Six members of the two crews are buried in a common grave at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. Interred there are: 2Lt Melvin Alderman, Sgt Oscar F. Bonner, Jr., T/Sgt Lane Foster, 2Lt Howard C. Lacker, 2Lt Roman M. Ley and Sgt Robert R. Reynolds.

[crashsite photos courtesy of Guenter Bier]