Elmer J. Costales Updated: 30 OCT 2014
Airman: o888123.htm Surname: Costales Init: E J Rank: 1stLt Service: USAAF Sqdn: 335
P_link: p273.htm Plane: B17 42-31561 Operation: Bomb G Crash_site: Near Øster Højst
Crash_d: d240244 Buried_d: o888 C_link: o888.htm At_Next: POW
Den korte version: ”Efter et bombetogt til Poznan i Polen nødlandede kl. 16.20 24. februar 1944 et B-17 fly (Flyvende Fæstning) ved Øster Højst, syd for Løgumkloster. 2 omkomne besætningsmedlemmer, C.D. Sahner og G.F. Pechachek, blev begravet den 2. marts 1944 i Aabenraa.
Resten af besætningen, 8 mand, overlevede i mere eller mindre såret
tilstand. Værnemagten forhindrede i flere timer, at selv hårdt sårede flyvere
kunne komme under lægebehandling.” (FAF) Se den lange version.
Uddrag, her om 1stLt (Pilot) Elmer J. Costales: (Se besætningen på
Så kom skæbnedagen den 24. februar 1944. I første omgang skulle de udgøre
et af flere reservefly. Vækningen skete kl. 02.00, og de var klar over, at det
ville blive en lang tur. Efterhånden som flere fly faldt fra, kom reserverne
ind. Costales og hans mandskab fik tildelt den øverste og bagerste plads i
formationen – den absolut mest sårbare plads.
I flyet var Cliff Sahner i frontpartiet alvorligt såret. Han kunne ikke flytte sig selv, og det fik Costales til at beslutte sig for en nødlanding i stedet for at alle sprang ud. Costales kastede nu sin faldskærm fra sig og bad Kish om at springe ud. Kish havde i mellemtiden taget sin lommekniv og begyndte at skære buksebenet op på sin flyverdragt. Først nu opdagede Costales, at hans 2. pilot havde åbent benbrud. Costales overtog igen styringen af flyet – til han pludseligt faldt forover mod instrumentpanelet, så Kish måtte skubbe ham væk og lande flyet. Et projektil fra den første træfning havde gennemboret brystkassen, og blodtabet fik Costales til at besvime. Mens flyet halvvejs mavelandede – det ene hjul blev revet af – kom Costales igen til bevidsthed, og han beordrede Kish ud. Selv prøvede han flere gange at få Cliff fri ved at åbne en anden dør – dog uden held. Cliff rakte sin 45 pistol til Costales og bad ham om, at han ville skyde ham. Costales sagde: ”Nej!” Og mens han gjorde et nyt forsøg eksploderede benzintanken. Costales blev svært forbrændt og alvorligt såret. Fortumlet søgte han ud af sidedøren og trillede ned i en lille grøft. (Nedstyrtningen var her.)
Landbetjent E. Johansen i Løgumkloster kom hurtigt til stedet og fik tilkaldt mere hjælp. Læge Glaven ville have Costales af sted til Tønder Sygehus som den første, da muligheden for at redde hans liv afhang af en blodtransfusion.
Næste dag på Tønder Sygehus fortalte overlægen Costales, at to af hans kammerater var døde, men resten af mandskabet overlevede. Skoug, Kish og McCulloch skulle transporteres til et hospital i Slesvig, og Hays, Joyce, Seelig og Carnie skulle sendes til forhørscentret i Frankfurt. Nogle måneder senere kom Costales også til Frankfurt. Det var hårdt at være krigsfange!
Nødlandingen med denne
her - set fra større højde
The short version: ”After a bombing raid to Poznan in Poland a B-17 (Flying Fortress) crash landed at 16.20 on 24 February, 1944 at Øster Højst, south of Løgumkloster. 2 perished members of the crew, C.D. Sahner and G.F. Pechachek, were buried on 2 March, 1944 in Aabenraa.
The rest of the crew, 8 men, survived in a condition more or less wounded. The Wehrmacht for several hours prevented that even severely wounded airmen could get medical treatment.” (FAF) See the long version. Excerpts, here about 1stLt (Pilot) Elmer J. Costales, (See the crew of a B-17)
This crew came from the USA to Scotland on 18 October, 1943 and flew fra Hornham Airfield on their first mission to Ludwigshafen on 30 December. They were on a number of bombing raids. In February they got a new B-17G plane, which the crew called ”Elmer´s Tune” to honour their Pilot, Elmer Costales.
Then came the fatal day 24 February, 1944. At first they were to be one of a number of planes in the reserve. The wake up call was at 02:00, and they realized it would be a long mission. As several planes dropped out, the reserves replaced them. Costales and his crew were assigned to the upper place at the rear of the formation – absolutely the most dangerous position.
The route was up along the west coast of Jutland and across Denmark. The Baltic Sea was hidden under clouds. Northeast of Berlin the course was changed to the southeast. The target was Poznan once again. The result was the same as the last time. The target was covered by dense clouds. They flew to the secondary target, Rostock. Fighters attacked violently. The group lost a few planes, but after the bombing they were able to increase their speed considerably. The bombload was nearly 5 tons.
Then they headed northwest, and they were to have fighter cover over the North Sea. “I asked George to open a carton of pineapple juice when hell broke out,” Costales tells. The plane took a number of hits, in the left engine which started smoking, in the instrument panel and other places. The Pilot and the Co-Pilot were severely wounded, as well as Navigator Sahner.
In the plane Cliff Sahner at the front end was severely wounded. He could not move himself, and that made Costales decide to make a crash landing rather than telling all to bail out. Costales tossed his parachute away and asked Kish to bail out. In the meantime Kish had taken his pocket knife and had started cutting up a trouser leg of his suit. Costales did not until then realize that his Copilot had an open fracture of the leg. Costales again took control of steering the plane – till he suddenly fell forward on the instrument panel, so Kish had to push him away and land the plane. A bullet from the first engagement had passed through his chest and the loss of blood made Costales lose consciousness.
While the plane took a rough belly landing – one wheel was torn off – Costales regained consciousness, and he ordered Kish out. Costales tried several times to get Cliff out by opening another door – but in vain. Cliff handed his 45 gun to Costales and asked him to shoot him. Costales said, “No!” And while he was trying once more the fuel tank exploded. Costales was severely burnt and seriously wounded. Dazed he got out of the side door and tumbled down into a little ditch. (The crash was here.)
Village constable E. Johansen, Løgumkloster, quickly came to the spot and called more help. Doctor Glaven would have Costales off to tønder Hospital as the first one, since the chance for saving his life depended on a blood transfusion.
Next day at Tønder Hospital the consultant told Costales that two of his mates were dead, but rest of the crew survived. Skoug, Kish and McCulloch were to be taken to a hospital in Schleswig, and Hays, Joyce, Seelig and Carnie were to be sent to the interrogation centre in Frankfurt. Some months later Costales too came to Frankfurt. It was hard to be a prisoner of war!
The crash landing with this
here - seen from a greater altitude
B-17 belonged to
335th Bomb Squadron, 95th Bombardment Group, 13th Combat Bombardment Wing, 3rd Bombardment
Division, 8th Air Force, USAAF.