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Ralph E Maier

Military

Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed at Wenden on 8/24/44 in B-24 Pistol Packin Bomma II #42-51278. On his 24th mission, 1/Lt Ralph Maier was flying Deputy Lead of the 446th BG. When the lead B-24's bombsight malfunctioned, he became the group lead. After bombing, first the flak hit one engine, then the nose, and lastly the fuel tank above the bomb bay. The squadron reported that it exploded and immediately dived, and that no parachutes were seen. To rescue his crew, Ralph started to climb up the catwalk through the burning fuel, until Lt. Lester Trump, co-pilot, threw him out of the open bomb bay. "The ripcord in my chute jammed and I fell for a while before I could reach behind my back and pull a pin so the reserve chute would open. It was a fight for life, but it was then I noticed that my hands were nothing but shreds of blackened skin. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever use them again. All the time I was falling, some farmers were firing bullets at me. When I landed, they started coming at me with pitchforks. A German soldier chased them away and actually rescued me, offering me a Camel cigarette, besides. And then, after hearing my name, which is German, he said 'Oberleutnant Maier, I think you are on the wrong side.'"

Service

Units served with

  • 446th Bomb Group

    446th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...

  • 707th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

Missions

  • 394

    6 June 1944
    D-Day. Start of Operation Overlord.

  • 395

    6 June 1944
    D-Day. Start of Operation Overlord.

  • 403

    10 June 1944

  • 405

    11 June 1944
    Flew a sortie flight to the French Coast at 24,000 feet. 8th Combat Flight. No flak.

  • 407

    12 June 1944
    Willie Hussong got his arm caught in the door of the lower ball turret. Palmer and Rollinger pried him out with a gun barrel. Bombed an airfield. Hussong hospitalized.

  • 414

    15 June 1944

  • 416

    16 June 1944

  • 421

    18 June 1944

  • 425

    20 June 1944
    Bombed an airfield. We were hit by flak; a piece hit Palmer's armor plate and another hit a gas tank. Probriefed in the evening for a big secret mission.

  • 428

    21 June 1944
    Ruhland, Germany - The target, south of Berlin, bombed by 114 fortresses with an escort of 70 Mustangs went off as planned but not before the Germans destroyed 43 B-17's and damaged 26. Landed in Russia.

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Associated Place

  • Bungay

    Military site : airfield
    From late November 1943, the three bases of Bungay, Seething and Hardwick were the stations of the 20th Combat Wing of the Eighth Air Force. The base had previously housed individual squadrons of the 310th Bomb Group (Twelfth Air Force) and of the 93rd...

  • Flixton, Suffolk

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date
Born St. Johns Michigan

Ralph Maier grew up in a small farming town. He had never flown in a plane until enlisting in the Army Air Force in early 1942.

POW Bad Soden, Germany 24 August 1944 – 31 March 1945

First, Luftwaffen-lazarett 1/XI in Braunschweig, where he was treated for a gunshot to his calf while parachuting.
Then, Reserve-lazarett IX-A/H in Haina, where he was left with the dead for three days until treated for gangrene.
Then, Reserve-lazarett IX-C(a) in Obermabfeld, where he was treated for a shattered left fibula and shrapnel in his legs and feet.
Then, recovering in Reserve-lazarett IX-C(b) in Meiningen.
Lastly, Lazarett for Stalag IX-B in Bad Soden, where Dr. Major David Charters, RAMC, performed plastic surgery to his eyelid. Also treated for third degree burns to his hands and face.
The above is documented in German medical records.
As the ranking American officer, he performed burial services for Wiseman, Licht/Lichee, Hodges, Stratham, Masay, Anderson, Corporal Charles Hayes, McHead/McHed, Butz, and one other; all recorded in his Bible.
Photographs and the original program (dated 26th Dec. 1944) show him in the theater production of "Yankee Doodle" by Geoffrey Bedding and Forrest W. Howell.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2020 03:44:03 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Added a "-" to the A/C serial number in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity & consistency.

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2017 21:02:23 Ed Pachota Changes to highest rank, events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Service records: Individual Flight Records for June, July, and August. They were signed by Capt. Oscar F Fowler the operations officer for the 707th Bomb Squadron. These records list flight date, aircraft type, and first pilot's flying time.
Ed Pachota

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2017 19:51:30 Ed Pachota Changes to biography and events
Sources

Ralph Maier's quote from the Lansing State Journal,"WWII: 40 years of freedom" by Karen Douglas, January 27, 1985, page 1-D.

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2017 19:40:03 Ed Pachota Changes to biography and events
Sources

Ed Pachota, author of MISSION 24 and his son-in-law, has 1/Lt Maier's service records and family memorabilia.

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2017 18:41:06 Ed Pachota Changes to nickname, service number and highest rank
Sources

Army service records on file with Ed Pachota

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2017 17:32:20 Ed Pachota Changes to awards
Sources

Mary Maier, Ralph Maier's wife. Medals on his uniform.
Army Service Records:
Air Medal awarded on June 29, 1944.
Unit Citation dated July 9, 1944.
1st Oak Leaf Cluster dated July 16, 1944.
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster dated August 28, 1944; but not awarded until December 17, 1945.
Purple Heart awarded April 18, 1945 at 179th Genera Hospital, Normandy Base Section

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:21:47 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 8289 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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