Franke, Douglas N., 2nd Lt

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Last Rank
Second Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1034-Navigator
Last AFSC Group
Air Crew (Officer)
Primary Unit
1944-1944, 392nd Bombardment Group, Heavy
Service Years
1941 - 1944
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
Second Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Franke, Douglas N., 2nd Lt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Wendling Air Station, England

Casualty Date
Apr 29, 1944
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
World War II
Location of Interment
Hillside Cemetery - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  2014, World War II Fallen

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Navigator Badge

 Unit Assignments
US Air ForceAdvancement Schools and Courses579th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy392nd Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1941-1942, Air Force Reserve Command
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 188, Aviation Cadet Navigator Training Course
  1944-1944, 579th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1944-1944, 392nd Bombardment Group, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
 Colleges Attended 
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  1941-1941, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-24 Liberator  
  1943-1944, B-24 Liberator
 Additional Information

Last Known Activity
Douglas N. Franke was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 1, 1923. He grew up in the area known as Coon Rapids, Minnesota. He was an Eagle Scout, and lettered in 4 sports in high school. He played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. He also played trumpet in the school band. Franke graduated in 1941 as co-valedictorian.

He enrolled in the University of Minnesota, but dropped out after Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve.
Called to active duty in June, 1942, he was assigned to the Navigator Training School at San Marcos, Texas. On September 16, 1943, he was commisioned a 2nd Lieutenant and awarded Navigator wings. He underwent further training at Blythville AAFB, Arkansas; Davis-Monathon AAFB, Arizona; and in Northern Ireland.

Franke was assigned to the 579th Bomb Squadron of the 392nd Bomb Group at Wendling Air Station, England. He became a part of the crew of 2Lt Bert Wyatt. He arrived from Ireland on April 11, 1944, and flew his first mission on April 20. He then flew 7 additional missions in the next 9 days. This hectic pace was caused by preparations for D-Day.

On April 29, 1944, the 8th Air Force put up 751 bombers in a raid on Berlin, to knock out the intricate system of railway lines and yards within the city. The Germans engaged in an intensive defensive effort. The Luftwaffe managed to get some 350 fighters in the air, with many making double sorties. With the confusion caused by loss of Pathfinder aircraft, heavy flak, and the non-appearance of friendly fighters, the 392nd Group suffered terribly. Of the 18 aircraft launched, 9 were lost over the target, and 2 more were lost on the return trip.

Wyatt's crew supposedly bombed the primary, but the aircraft was lost to sight just before the bomb run, and no one saw what happened. It is supposed they bombed and made the turn off target. It is known that with high winds, excess fuel consumption, and the subsequent loss of speed, the friendly fighters never made the hook-up, and the bomber stream was subjected to constant attack from target to the Dutch coast.

At approximately 1300 hours, the towns people of Dinklage, Germany heard the sound of anti-aircraft guns and the slow, popping sounds of a German fighter's 20-mm cannon. A B-24, with both starboard engines not working, and heavy smoke pouring from the fuselage front, appeared from the clouds and crashed near the town. One airman, supposedly the tail gunner, was observed to leap from the aircraft without a parachute before impact . One airman was found dead, hanging in his partially-opened chute from a tree. This man was identified as Lt. Franke.

All 10 airmen were retrieved from the wreckage and taken to the village of Vechta. There, they were placed in individual coffins and buried in individual graves in the Waldfreidhof or Forest Cemetery. After the war, Graves Registration exhumed the bodies and re-buried them in the American Military Cemetery at Nuepre, Belgium. Later, 5 of the bodies, including Lt. Franke, were removed and returned to families for reburial in the U.S. The 5 others remained at Nuepre.

The Germans of Dinklage built a memorial to the 10 men who died in the crash, and each year, hold a remembrance ceremony.



The aircraft in which Lt. Franke met his death was B-24H #42-7510, nicknamed "El Lobo." The entire crew, all of which perished that day, were;

2Lt Bert W. Wyatt       c
2Lt Aubert M. Tufts    c-p
2Lt Walker W. Gichen  bomb
2Lt Douglas N. Franke   nav
SSgt David E. Harbaugh   btg
SSgt Jack Gootz    eng
SSgt Robert W. Monroe    ro
Sgt Robert E. Thompson   lwg
Sgt John F. Sorrells   rwg
Sgt Alfred E. Archambeau  tg

Missing Air Crew Report 4461 applies.

According to German reports, soldiers returned to the wreckage a few days later, and detonated the bombs that remained in the aircraft. A document of Luftgankommando XI shows the aircraft crashed at 1345 hours, credited to both a flak battery and a German fighter. The aircraft is described as "99% destroyed."

2Lt Douglas N. Franke had been assigned to the unit for 18 days, and was on his 10th mission, when he was killed.

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