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CAPT  Robert M. KNOX

UNIT: 418th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P

Capt Robert Knox with Picklepuss at Wendover in May 1943 before coming overseas

SERIAL #: O-438010 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 00677 CR: 00677

Comments1: 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG (EAC - G/D RUMOR UNFOUNDED)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
            CAPT ROBERT M. KNOX

ORIGINAL 418TH CREW #36  A/C #42-30063     "PICKLEPUSS"      MACR #677

CAPT    ROBERT M. KNOX                 P       KIA  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
2ND LT  JOHN O. WHITAKER            CP     KIA  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
2ND LT  ERNEST E. WARSAW        NAV     POW  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
2ND LT  EDWIN F. TOBIN              BOM     POW  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
T/SGT   CARL T. SIMON                 TTE     POW  16 SEP 43 BORDEAUX
S/SGT   MALCOLM K. MADDRAN         WG       SEE NOTE
T/SGT   WALTER PAULSEN            ROG     POW  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   FRANK W. TYCHEWICZ      BTG      KIA    17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   JOSEPH F. LASPADA             WG      KIA    17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   HENRY A. NORTON               TG      KIA     17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG

NOTES:
MALCOLM MADDRAN WAS REPLACED ON THE CREW BY SGT ALEXANDER MARKOWSKI WHO WAS KIA ON THE 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG MISSION. THE TTE POSTION WAS FILLED BY S/SGT G. BARNEY FROM THE LT CURTIS BIDDICK CREW who became a POW.                               

SHOT DOWN BY ENEMY FIGHTERS, THE AIRCRAFT CRASHED AT "HERBESTHAL-LINTZEN-500 METERS WEST OF SCHMALGAF."  THE SIX DEAD WERE INTERRED AT THE CEMETERY OF HONOR, EUPEN IN SECTION 16, GRAVES #218, #219, #220, #221, #222 AND #232.

THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT THAT WAS LINKED TO THE "GEAR DOWN" INCIDENT AND ONE OF THE 100TH BOMB GROUPS MOST FAMOUS LEGENDS. SUPPOSELY THE LOWERING OF THE GEAR SIGNALED SURRENDER, BUT WHEN FIGHTERS APPROACHED THE AIRCRAFT TO LEAD IT TO A LANDING THEY WERE FIRED ON.  THUS THE LUFTWAFF SINGLED OUT THE SQUARE D AIRCRAFT AND ATTACKED THEM WITH GREATER INTENSITY THAN OTHER GROUPS.  THIS NEVER OCCURRED IN REGARD TO "PICKLEPUSS." MARTIN MIDDLEBROOK HAD TRACED A "WHEELS DOWN" INCIDENT TO ANOTHER GROUP B17 ON THE REGENSBURG MISSION. HE HAS INTERVIEWED THE GERMAN FIGHTER PILOTS WHO SHOT DOWN THE "PICKLEPUSS" AND THEY REFUTE THE GEAR DOWN THEME. (Adolf Galland, Commander Fighers Luftwaffe, had never heard of any special attention to any Group until after the war….PW.   (Paul West’s assessment from Adolf Galland is correct but my findings do not concur with Middlebrook’s conclusion that this incident never happen to the Knox Crew. My interviews with Ernie Warsaw, the only living survivor, suggest the opposite …Michael P. Faley-100th Bomb Group Historian)


MISSIONS OF CAPT. ROBERT KNOX CREW:

#    DATE           Target                      A/C #          A/C Name      Comment
     26/6/1943      LeMans                     230063       "Picklepuss"   abort due to weather
1   28/6/1943      St Nazaire "Flak City"   230063       "Picklepuss"   Sub Pens
2.  04/7/1943      LaPallice                    230063       "Picklepuss"   Harbor
3. 10/7/1943       LeBourget                 230063       "Picklepuss"  Air Field
4. 17/7/1943       Hamburg                   230458        No Name    Aero Engines
5  26/7/1943       Hanover                    230063       "Picklepuss"  Hit Convoy
6. 28/7/1943       OSCHERSLEBEN         230063       "Picklepuss"  A/C Factory
7. 29/7/1943       WARNEMUNDE          230063       "Picklepuss"  A/C Factory
8. 30/7/1943       Kassel                      230063       "Picklepuss"    A/C Factory
9. 12/8/1943       Bonn                       230063       "Picklepuss"    A/C Factory
10.17/8/1943      Regensburg              230063       "Picklepuss"   Me109 A/C Factory (shot down)


:::::::::::::::::: SUBMITTER :::::::::::::::::
FORM SUBMITTED BY: Lorraine Bell (lorraine_bell@hotmail.com)
FORM SUBJECT: Ask a question
SUBMITTER RELATIONSHIP: Nothing on this list applies to me
:::::::::: END OF SUBMITTER SECTION :::::::::::

:::::::::::::::::::: MESSAGE :::::::::::::::::::
Capt. Robert M. Knox in the 418 (?) Army Air Corp died on 8/17/43 when his B17 plane crashed in Belgium.  He is buried in the Henri Chapelle Cemetary there - obviously he was flying behind enemy lines as Belgium was not yet liberated.

He was married to Dorothy E. Knox whose address at the time of his death was 2926 Mapleshade Rd. in Ardmore, Pa.  His mother was Helena E. Knox and lived at 650 Loraine Dr., Ardmore, Pa.  Also have info an aunt, Mary A. Elliott, 1321 Spruce St., Philadelphia.

I believe his father was G. Mueller Knox and have information suggesting his mothers maiden name was Ingram, but this is info obtained on the net, not from Belgium.   Also found a Dorothy M. Knox born in 1920 who may be related and a Linda S. Knox born in 1943 on the net, but they live in Fairfield Pa. so I have no idea if they are related, but the birth dates seem appropriate.

The dedication of a memorial honoring Capt. Knox will be held on May 26 at the spot where his plane crashed.  This memorial has been spearheaded by Marcel and Matilde Schmetz who run the "Remember Museum" in Belgium and who have also adopted the care of his grave.  They have asked me to see if Capt. Knox has family as they would love to have them visit and participate in the ceremony.  Can you please help me find them?  Thanks for any info.

It would be awesome to give this family the opportunity to honor him.  Many Belgiums assisted me in my search after my Dad died (he came back & lived a long life) and I would be so gratified to return their kindness.

Thanks

Lorraine Bell
647 Fox Pond Dr.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
843-442-1549

***************************************************************************************************************

Hi Mike,
         The ruminations submitted below are not intended to start - or end - an argument.  I feel that I am just contributing to an ongoing 65-year discussion.  All those who know and honor the Bloody 100th will recognize it as such -- and remember that I was less than 2-years-old when the events in question took place!  So, with apologies to Harry Crosby and any other100th Hero I may have misquoted or misunderstood, I submit the following note on the "LEGEND OF THE BLOODY 100TH."  I will leave it up to you and others as to whether it ends up in "Splasher Six" or in a "circular file cabinet!"
                                         Humbly yours,
                                         Bob Venkus
                                         Nephew of SSgt. Frank Tychewicz, BTG, "Picklepuss" piloted by Capt. Robert Knox
                                         TheVenk@aol.com

To the 100th Bomb Group Foundation and especially the unit's surviving B-17 aircrewmen:
 
       I hope this brief note finds all of you in good health and spirits with many more good years still to come.  
       That appears to be the status of 1/Lt. Ernie Warsaw, the sole surviving crewmember of Capt. Robert Knox's B-17F, "Picklepuss.".  I spoke with him via telephone the other day and he is doing just great -- just turned 88.  Ernie and I met in Belgium in 2006 at the "Picklepuss" monument's unveiling (my uncle, SSgt. Frank Tychewicz, was the plane's BTG). He was KIA August 17, 1943.
       I told Ernie that I had made an attempt to research and write an article that I hoped would be definitive with regard to the "Legend of the Bloody 100th" but I had been unable to find any of the three (3) Luftwaffe crewmen mentioned by Martin Middlebrook, author of The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission.  I know that one is deceased but the other two have not surfaced despite multiple inquiries to friends and fighter pilots in Germany.  Without access to eyewitness accounts from BOTH sides of the engagement, I think it impossible to write down the "last word" about the controversial legend.
       It seems to me that the legend has two elements, only one of which causes controversy.  I think that almost everyone involved, including Ernie, recognizes the idea that, after Regensburg, somehow the Luftwaffe would skip over other B-17 groups and single out the 100th for attack is silly/ludicrous/impossible -- pick any debunking adjective!  The realities of aerial combat are such that the Germans could not possibly have pursued such a tactic even if they wanted to.
       That leaves only the second element of the legend as a cause for potential controversy.  Did or did not "Picklepuss" have its landing gear lowered and were German fighters engaged by "Picklepuss" gunners when they reached positions that looked like they intended to escort a surrendering aircraft?  Middlebrook (who never interviewed Ernie face-to-face) seems to conclude that the wheels were up and that the Luftwaffe aircraft (ME-110s primarily) made no attempt to escort the bomber; they just attacked it until it went down.  But Ernie, the last living survivor and eyewitness to the event, remains convinced that: a) the wheels were down, and; b) the Luftwaffe fighters appeared to be moving toward escort positions.
      The intent of the German fighter pilots -- escort or shoot down -- cannot be definitively determined without direct contact with them. Could Ernie have misinterpreted their goals?  Certainly!  In any case, it should be noted that Middlebrook does not, in my opinion, prove that the B-17 engaged by the three German pilots he interviewed was, in fact, "Picklepuss."  Capt. Knox's plane was the sixth Regensburg-bound bomber to leave the formation and, at least one of the other five is known to also have crashed near Aachen. 
      So, did the Germans who shot down "Picklepuss" see its wheels extended?  And, if so, did they make "escort"-like moves as they approached?  Or did they merely attack this crippled straggler intent on their kill whether or not its wheels were down?  My admittedly unsatisfactory answer to each of these questions is "maybe, maybe not."  But I can answer one final question with what I believe should be finality: did "Picklepuss" -- intentionally or unintentionally -- have its wheels down prior to being shot down? My answer is "YES" based on the facts related to me by the only man now living who was there on 17 August 1943.
      Within the close knit 100th BGp community there are others who will disagree.  James R. Brown, an original 100th navigator and its first post-war Senior Historian passed away in the early 1990s. He was among those who questioned or reinterpreted Ernie Warsaw's recollections.  I do not know how this apparent difference of opinion came about, but it seems crucial to any continuing controversy as to whether or not "Picklepuss" landing gear was down.  Why? Because: a) 1/Lt. Brown was continuing enroute to Regensburg that day and did not witness the other B-17's final moments, and; b) James Brown is credited by no less an authority than Harry Crosby as being THE primary source for Martin Middlebrook's chapter on the Legend and "Picklepuss."   (see Harry Crosby's Eulogy honoring James R. Brown on the 100th's website.)  In other words, those who maintain that "Picklepuss" wheels were up cite Middlebrook as the source supporting their conclusion but also admit that his pertinent chapter was based largely on their (Brown's) inputs.  That logic seems circular to this interested observer.
     I close this brief note with a muffled chuckle at myself: I seriously doubt that anyone will ever provide "THE LAST WORD" when it comes to "The Legend of the Bloody 100th."  Let the debate continue, knowing that those of us on one side of the friendly discussion have nothing but respect for those who disagree.  We hold them in the highest regard.  They are now and have always been my heroes.  I remain in awe of their courage and patriotism.  I did my best to live up to their lofty standards in combat during my twenty-four years as a USAF fighter pilot.  I hope that I might have made SSgt. Frank Tychewicz prouid to be my Uncle.

PS -- One final note that relates my flying career (4000+ hours primarily in F-105, F-4 and F-111 jet fighters) to Ernie Warsaw's.  I remember many vivid details about individual sorties and combat missions, but none are more clear and detailed in my aging mind than those acquired the day I ended a routine training sortie by ejecting from a fiercely burning F-4G fighter near Edwards AFB, CA.  That happened almost 28 years ago.  It is one reason why I believe in the accuracy of Ernie's longterm memory.

*************************************************************************************************************

Photo ID for Knox Crew Photo  http://www.100thbg.com/mainpages/crews/crews1/knox.htm

Kneeling L-R

2ND LT  EDWIN F. TOBIN-BOM
CAPT    ROBERT M. KNOX-PILOT
2ND LT  ERNEST E. WARSAW - NAV
2ND LT  JOHN O. WHITAKER-CP 

Standing: L-R
1  S/SGT   FRANK W. TYCHEWICZ -BTG
2   T/SGT   CARL T. SIMON-TTE 
3   T/SGT   WALTER PAULSEN-ROG 
4    ?
5  S/SGT   MALCOLM K. MADDRAN-WG
6. S/SGT   JOSEPH F. LASPADA -WG
7  S/SGT   HENRY A. NORTON-TG  
8.  ?

MEMO 2:

POW/KIA notes: Original 100th, Crew #36. : Wheels Down Incident.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Regensburg DATE: 1943-08-17  
AIRCRAFT: "Picklepuss" (42-30063) CAUSE: EAC  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: B ROW: 12  
GRAVE: 18 CEMETERY: Henri-Chapelle Am Cemetery  

PHOTOS:

Robert Knox Crew with Picklepuss.  The Legendary Wheels Down Crew. 
Kneeling L-R: 2nd Lt. Edwin F. Tobin-BOM, Capt Robert M. Knox-Pilot, 2nd Lt. Ernest E. Warsaw-Nav, 2nd Lt. John O. Whitaker-CP. Standing L-R: S/Sgt Frank W. Tychewicz-BTG, T/Sgt Carl T. Simon-TTE, T/Sgt Walter Paulsen-ROG, Unknown, S/Sgt Malcolm K. Maddran-WG, S/Sgt Joseph F. Laspada-WG, S/Sgt Henry A. Norton-TG, unknown (Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation via Michel Beckers)

Shot down Aug 17,1943 by enemy fighters (Hauptmann Von Bonin,Oberleutnant Barte and Leutnant Witzke), the aircraft crashed at Herbesthal Lontzen, 500 meters west of Schmalgraf, near Kelmis, west of Aachen, Belgium.

- See more at: http://aircrewremembered.com/knox-robert.html#sthash.INstVvHF.dpuf

Robert M. Knox   418th   P   Pennsylvania   KIA   17 Aug 43   Regensburg   Robert M. Knox Crew

Hptm. Eckart-Wilhelm Von Bonin (Courtesy Ron Putz via Michel Beckers) involved in the shootdown of Pickelpuss/ KnoxCrew - See more at: http://aircrewremembered.com/knox-robert.html#sthash.uGFPKoh9.dpuf

Officers of Lt Knox Crew (Photo Courtesy of Max Gittelson)

Left to Right:
Pilot, Navigator, and Co Pilot "Picklepuss" B-17 
100th Bomb Group 
8th Air Force in 1943
L-R
Pilot: Capt. 
Robert M Knox 
West Philadelphia Pennsylvania (KIA)

Navigator: 2Lt. 
Ernest E Warsaw 
Chicago Illinois (POW)

Co Pilot: 2Lt. 
John O Whitaker 
Wheeling West Virginia (KIA)

A photograph of me and my grandfather LT. Ernie Warsaw Navigator of the Picklepuss. This is the memorial dedicated to crew of the Picklepuss (6 KIA, 4 POW) of the 100th BG which was shot down August 17th 1943 during the Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission. The photo was taken in 2006 at the dedication of the monument in Montzen, Belgium...courtesy of Grandson Max Gittelson

The Crew: Kneeling L-R: 2nd Lt. Edwin F. Tobin-BOM, Capt Robert M. Knox-Pilot, 2nd Lt. Ernest E. Warsaw-Nav, 2nd Lt. John O. Whitaker-CP. Standing L-R: S/Sgt Frank W. Tychewicz-BTG, T/Sgt Carl T. Simon-TTE, T/Sgt Walter Paulsen-ROG, Unknown, S/Sgt Malcolm K. Maddran-WG, S/Sgt Joseph F. Laspada-WG, S/Sgt Henry A. Norton-TG, unknown (Courtesy of 100th Bomb Group Foundation via Michel Beckers)

Shot down by enemy fighters (Hauptmann Von Bonin,Oberleutnant Barte and Leutnant Witzke), the aircraft crashed at Herbesthal Lontzen, 500 meters west of Schmalgraf, near Kelmis, west of Aachen, Belgium.

- See more at: http://aircrewremembered.com/knox-robert.html#sthash.INstVvHF.dpuf

Capt Knox Memorial
B17 "Pickelpuss" Memorial in Montzen, Belgium.
The B17 “Pickelpuss” of the 100th Bomb Group, 418th Squadron, 8th Air Force was shot down on 17 August 1943.
Six crew members died and were temporary buried at Eupen, then at Henri-Chapelle and finally repatriated to the United States.
Only pilot Robert Knox is resting forever at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery.
Four of the crew survived and were prisoners of war at POW camps in Germany. 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 2861