Last Known Activity
Louis N. Linhart was born in Syskton, North Dakota on June 25, 1922. His parents were Frank and Lena Linhart. The US Census 1940 shows the family residing in Bibdeau Township.
Linhart was inducted into military service on February 22, 1944 in Los Angeles, California. His enlistment record states year of birth 1921. He had completed 1 year of college (unnamed,) and was employed as a skilled welder or flame cutter.
He received training as an aerial gunner, and was assigned to the combat crew of Lt Barrat in England. He flew 20 missions, all with this crew, beginning December 9, 1944.
The designated target on February 9, 1945 was the synthetic oil plant at Lutzendorf, Germany. As the aircraft turned to the IP to ready for the bomb run, it was struck by another B-17 of the formation, slicing it into two pieces. The entire tail assembly, from the waist gunner position to the tail, was sheared off. Miraculously, the tail gunner managed to parachute down, only to be captured by civilians and turned over to the authorities.
As the front half of the aircraft was falling, it appeared to be aimed at the village of Eisenberg. Somehow, the pilot and co-pilot maneuvered the aircraft past the town, over an empty field, and salvoed the bombs. The aircraft hit the ground and exploded, killing the eight crew members still on board.
German records reveal that eight bodies (two unidentifiable) were recovered from the wreckage and buried in a local cemetery. These bodies were recovered by Allied personnel, and a contingent of them returned home to be buried. Six of the crew are buried in a common grave at Jefferson Barrack National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri at Section 82, Site 93D.
NOTE: In 1991, rings that belonged to the pilot and navigator were found at the crash site.
NOTE: In 1995, the grateful townspeople of Eisenberg erected a monument to the heroic crew that spared their town.
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
Sgt Louis N. Linhart was the assigned ball turret gunner on B-17G # 43-39149, not named nor decorated with nose art, assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron. Mission loading lists identify the crew members. Missing Air Crew Report 12229 was issued for this incident, and agrees that the crew was:
2 Lt Robert J. Barrat p
2 Lt Dean Harvey c-p
F/O Shirl P. Best nav
Sgt William T. Karp tog
Sgt Raymond F. Reiss eng/tt gun
Sgt Matthew Lazarowicz r/o
Sgt Louis N. Linhart btg
Sgt Herbert D. Link wg
Sgt George H. Emerson tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Emerson was the only survivor.
In the crew photo, Linhart is in the front row, 2nd from left.
Service photo source: