Sint Willebrord: May 21, 1944
On May 21, 1944, 763 fighter-bombers of the British 2nd Tactical Air Force and the US 9th AAF departed from various bases in England for an air raid over northern France and five hundred fighter-bombers of the 8th Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) for an air raid (Field Order 344) on the military infrastructure in Germany. This first ‘Chattanooga Choo-Choo’ mission aims to reduce the Germans’ ability to reinforce their armies in North West France once Operation ‘Overlord’ (the large-scale Allied landing on the Normandy coast) has begun. Participating in this operation is the 339th Fighter Group based at Fowlmere USAAF Station 378, 9 miles southwest of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. This 18th mission of the 339th Fighter Group is a so-called “fighter sweep” in which the fighters attack and destroy targets by targeting them with their machine guns. The targets of the 339th Fighter Group are located between Dresden and Leipzig.
Participating in this mission is a P-51C Mustang of the 503rd Fighter Squadron as part of the 339th Fighter Group. This “fighter-bomber” is flown by 1st Lt. Robert Francis Mulvey (service number O-754170). After completing the fighter sweep, the aircraft return to their bases in England. Due to fuel shortage, 1st Lt. Robert F. Mulvey was forced to leave his aircraft early and his aircraft crashed around 5 p.m. in the “Luienhoek” on the east side of St. Willebrord (now the Gagelvaren district). 1st Lt. Robert F. Mulvey parachutes in on the west side of St. Willebrord and is injured in his left foot. He is captured by the German army and, after being interrogated in Dulag Wetzlar, is imprisoned in Stalag Luft III. Stalag Luft III was located near Sagan, 100 miles southeast of Berlin, now Zagan in Lower Silesia, Poland. On January 27, 1945, the camp is evacuated and the prisoners of war finally end up in Stalag VII A. This camp is liberated on April 29, 1945 by the American 14th Armored Division. Robert Mulvey dies on August 6, 1958.