Purple Heart
Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster

2nd Lieutenant
Stephen Peter Judd

March 8, 1944

Cannonsville, New York - Eernewoude


(picture via Joyce Reidinger)


Stephen Peter Judd was from Cannonsville, New York. He was one of five brothers who joined the US Armed forces to fight in the war. The youngest, Corporal Richard Judd, was in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was granted a medical discharge. He had been in the marines two years and saw combat service in the Pacific area.

Lieutenant George Judd, was a navigator with the 392nd Bomb Group, based in England. Sergeant Joe T. Judd was in the US Army in Europe and Gleason Judd was also in the USAAF.

Stephen became a co-pilot with the 389th Bomb Group, operating out of Hethel. They were a replacement crew, arriving in january 1944 and started flying missions as of 6 February 1944.




564th Bomb Squadron

389th Bomb Group
 

The crew consisted of:
 

Flight Officer John Kendrick        Pilot

2nd Lt. Stephen Judd                Co-Pilot

2nd Lt. Allen Seamans               Navigator

2nd Lt. Robert Owen                 Bombardier

S/Sgt. John Owens                   Engineer & Top Turret Gunner

S/Sgt. Stanley Stanckiewicz       Radio Operator

Sgt. William Mineer                   Waist Gunner

Sgt. James Graham                   Waist Gunner

S/Sgt. Robert Sherman              Ball Turret Gunner.

S/Sgt. Frank Kettner                 Tail Gunner

 

The navigator, Al Seamans, told his story in Pueblo Army Air Base - A Chronological History 1942-1946:

 

Allen Seamans joined the U.S. Army Air Corps 10 April 1942 at San Antonio, Texas. Initially intent on becoming a pilot, he found that the needs of the Air Corps dictated he would become a Navigator instead. While waiting for a new class to begin he was assigned to gunnery training at Tyndall Field, Florida. Upon completion of Navigator Training at Hondo, Texas, 24 June 1943, he was transferred to Clovis Army Air Base, New Mexico where he joined up with a unit that would soon be moved to PAAB. Upon arrival this unit was designated the Shea Provisional Group, so named after Major Shea, Commanding Officer of the Group. The training format at the base was intended to meld the crew into a cohesive unit, wherein each member learned his individual role and developed proficiency in such standard functions as formation flying, bombing, gunnery, and cross country navigation. On one night training exercise, the crew became a bit nervous when the co-pilot forgot to close the cowl flaps. This increases aerodynamic drag, thus reducing the rate of climb, while providing a pyrotechnic display which would appear to a ground observer to indicate that the ship was on fire. That is certainly what the folks at the Whitman Hotel thought when they passed over, just barely above the roof top.

 

When not involved with his training regiment, 2nd Lt. Seamans joined the hundreds of other airmen who sought a change of scenery and some entertainment in town. While Pueblo wasn't exactly a booming metropolis, it was the second largest city in Colorado, and there were things to do. He recalls that gambling, particularly numerous slot machines, were evident throughout the city. When not involved with training activity at night, he usually went in to town, occasionally to the Silver Moon Night Club, during periods when it was not on the "off limits" listing at the base. On one outing Al was introduced to Miss Helen M. Zabukovec, his future wife, by a common friend, Toni Pullaro. They dated and enjoyed each others company.

 

The "Shea" Group completed its training at the Pueblo Army Airbase in late October 1943. Among those bound in November overseas duty was their crew.

 

They traveled to England aboard a B-17. There they were based at Norwich, East Anglia, at Hethel, England. In January 1944 the crew was assigned to the 564 Bomb Squadron of the 389th Bomb Group (Heavy). They flew practice missions around England until 6 February, when they flew their first combat mission.

 

As a replacement crew, they did not have one single aircraft that they would fly on all missions. It was the luck of the draw. The planes were mostly B-24D models which had no nose turret and no ball turret. Defense from head on attack consisted of three single .50 caliber machine guns used by the navigator and bombardier. They flew several missions over France, Holland, and Germany before the crew finally got its own airplane, a shiny new B-24J (42-100375). They named it "YANKEE-REBEL-HARMONY" in recognition of the North-South makeup of the crew. Painting the name on the ship and some appropriate nose-art would have to wait for awhile. Another change was necessary since the "J" model had a nose turret and a ball turret. S/Sgt. Anthony DeBenedictus, a veteran nose gunner was added to the crew as nose turret gunner. Robert Sherman, already qualified for the ball turret, took over that position.

 

Their 10th mission was a success on March 6, 1944, with Berlin as the target. Al Seamans quipped that they were about to discover a means of getting around the 50 mission requirement (needed before they could go back home). "All we had to do was not return to England and with the cooperation of the German anti-aircraft fire, it succeeded."

 

March 8, 1944, their 11th mission was again to Berlin. This was anything but a "milk run". Berlin was noted for its extremely heavy concentration of around 900 anti-aircraft guns, thus providing both flak and a strong fighter defense. They had P-47, P-38, and then P-51 fighter escorts to the target. The flak they encountered over the target was both heavy and accurate. Shortly after Robert Owen released their bombs, No.3 engine was hit by flak. This knocked out the electrical system, including the intercom. John Kendrick feathered the engine. They were still able to stay pretty much with the formation which provided much needed protection. However this would change when the No.2 engine was hit and it too had to be feathered. Kendrick went into a dive in the hope of making it more difficult for German fighters to spot them. In the dive Al noted that their speed reached 355 mph, faster, he thought, than a B-24 can go. On leveling off however, their speed dropped, and soon they were left behind by the departing formation. It was a terribly lonely feeling to see the others moving away as a group, and with the certain knowledge that "Yankee-Rebel-Harmony" was now a much easier target for both fighters and ground fire.

 

They were flying low. How low were they flying? "Many times we were so low we could see the faces of the enemy and the level of their guns were parallel to ours" according to Al Seamans. 1 Their course took them directly over a German airfield. It came up so fast and they were at such a low altitude that the crew, the German fighter pilots in the process of landing, and the ground defense units, were all taken by surprise at the suddenness of the encounter as they flew directly through the landing pattern. They were receiving rifle fire from German soldiers on the ground.

 

Al Seamans was standing between the pilot and co-pilot, facing forward, and saw them approaching a flak tower at the edge of the field. The lone German gunner was firing at them point blank. Seamans noted, "As we approached one tower, the gunner ducked to make sure his head wouldn't be separated from the rest of his body. Now that's flying low!" The B-24 roared over the gunners head, missing the tower by inches. Shells from the tower ripped through the left side of the instrument panel, fortunately, missing the pilot. Other towers were also firing at them and Bob Sherman in the waist watched as holes were punched through the skin of the ship. Ground fire hit an ammunition box in the waist and caused several rounds to pop off. A piece of shrapnel gave Robert Owens a minor cut.

 

Their flight path crossed the width of Germany. It was a long way to The Netherlands and the North Sea and home. Their fuel supply was low, and they remained an easy target. They jettisoned everything they could, including radios, ammunition and even their machine guns. They continued to be fired upon by antiaircraft, including cannon fire from a train mounted turret. It wouldn't be enough to just reach the Sea. No one wanted to bailout over the water, even if they could get enough altitude to do so. The water temperature was just too cold. The idea of ditching, i.e. crash landing at sea, in a B-24 was something that might be attempted given no other choice, but not something one would do if another option existed.

 

Around 16:00 hours, as they approached Eernewoude, in German occupied Holland, about nine miles southeast of Leeuwarden, and considered the alternatives open to them; the pilot John Kendrick made the decision to make an emergency landing.

 

Under the best of conditions, an emergency landing includes so many risks that the outcome can never be certain. These weren't the best of conditions. The terrain, while appearing flat from the air, actually was flooded fields and canals. For the best approach, Kendrick needed to make a 360 degree turn, which he did. At the low speed and with two engines out, control of the ship was difficult. They struck one of the windmills of Holland's fame, glanced off the watery surface and skidded onto dry land. The nose section was severely damaged and the plane stopped, facing 180 degrees from its previous direction. On the flight deck, Kendrick and Judd were both badly injured. Kendrick's legs were crushed, and Judd suffered severe face and head injuries. The upper turret came loose on impact and was pinned against navigator Seamans' right leg. Trapped and unable to move, he became aware that the No.1 engine, its propeller now gone, was still running, and stalling, and running again. The engine was on fire. The thought of being trapped there was not comforting to say the least. With a rush of adrenaline, Seamans pulled his leg from his boot and finally was able to get out of the plane (he still doesn't know by what exit). Fortunately, the fire went out.
 

The crew had to dig their way through the rubble in order to remove Kendrick and Judd from the plane. Kendrick was unconscious, his legs mangled, with one of them hanging over his shoulder from behind. He came to long enough to express his concern that he had let them down, none of the crew felt that he had done so. Seamans gave him morphine to relieve his pain. After some discussion they concluded that they should try to escape rather than wait with the injured men for the Germans to take them prisoners. Co-pilot Judd was unconscious and barely alive.

 

A crowd of men, women and children soon gathered around the plane. Al dispatched a youngster to seek a doctor for the injured men. Assured that the Dutch would see to getting medical attention for the pilot and co-pilot, the rest of the crew broke into three groups of three men each and left the scene of the crash in different directions, each group accompanied, they hoped, by Dutch underground members. Al took two men with him. Bombardier Owen took two and the engineer, Owens took two.

 

Seamans' group went by boat about a half mile down a canal to a hotel where they were given food and drink. Soon they were joined by the other two groups who had made their way by different routes. They learned that the Germans had taken the pilot to a hospital and that the copilot had died. They would learn later that Kendrick had both legs amputated.

 

Leaving the hotel, the other two groups were accompanied by a Dutchman, assumed to be with the underground. Seamans' group was able to avoid both the Germans and the underground for two nights and one day. The first night was spent in a fisherman's shack, amidst fishing nets and other fishing gear. The second night they hid out in a hay stack. The following morning, tired and hungry they decided to seek help from the farmer as he approached their hiding place. He spoke English very well and rushed them into the house. Here they would meet a twenty-three year old lady, "Tiny"(pronounced Teena) Mulder, a grade school teacher, who was fluent in English and a member of the Friesen Resistance Movement of the Dutch underground. Her cell, referred to as the "Allied Airmen's Assisting Division" assisted many airmen who found themselves in the situation of this crew. 2

 

They spent the next few days traveling by night in a car, then spent another night in a haystack although this one had the hay stack configured to form a comfortable room. They rowed across a large lake where they were housed in a houseboat. Neighbors provided them with three meals a day. One night they walked to another house where they traveled by car with two Dutchmen dressed as Germans. After a flat tire and running out of gas, they were stopped by real German soldiers, but the Dutchmen talked their way through. The underground then dropped each American off at a different location. AI's destination was Workum, a small town near the Zuider Zee, which is now known as "IJsselmeer." It was here that Seamans met the Bonnema family who risked their lives by taking American fliers into their hotel and hiding them from the Germans. They treated the fliers just like family. 3

 

This young couple owned the hotel and a brother owned another hotel across the street. Al would spend his days helping out in the kitchen, peeling potatoes and preparing other vegetables; and he read quite a bit. There was a boy hiding out from the Germans at the brother’s hotel across the street. At night they would sometimes go for a walk. Seamans passed as a member of the Bonnema family who had been injured in the war and could neither speak nor communicate because of his injuries.

 

The underground worked extremely hard as a network. Their elaborate planning kept the Americans safe from the Germans, and Dutch clothing was provided to them. In the hotel there was a closet with a false floor where one could escape if the Germans got too close.

 

Later, he would go out during the daytime, riding a bicycle down the coast of the Zuider Zee to swim at the beach. Passing by a German guard tower, he would wave to the guard on duty, who would then wave back to him. There were also times when he would act as a waiter in the tavern located on the ground floor of the hotel. The tavern was one where the German soldiers paid a cover charge on entrance that included the cost of their beer, thus, Al didn't have to communicate with them, just keep their steins full 4. There were also occasions when he would get to talk to other American flyers located nearby. It was great to find an opportunity to speak English.

 

Herr Bonnema developed TB and was very ill so it was decided to move AI to the hotel across the street. Shortly after that the underground decided to try to get AI back to England using a route that had worked before. After three months evading the Germans he and bombardier Bob Owen started out. The first day of travel, June 5, 1944, included travel by train, car, bicycle, even walking.

 

Their second day of travel was June 6th D-Day, which made movement impossible. Once again, they were forced into hiding. This time as guests of a farmer who was also a member of the underground. The airmen became farmers for a couple of weeks until, on June 25, it once again appeared safe to move. The destination this time was Brussels. Here they were on an electric trolley. A female passenger on the trolley led them off and handed them over to another person in a car. They stopped to get something to eat and got back into the car. The driver turned into a building of the side of a street and they observed several men dressed in German uniforms. AI was impressed that the underground would have access to so many German uniforms. He needn't have been. These were real German soldiers. The pretty girl on the trolley was actually a spy who had infiltrated that segment of the underground. The war was over for AI Seamans and Bob Owen. Following a series of prisons and jails and interrogations, they were taken to Stalag Luft III Prisoner Of War Camp on July 15, 1944.

 

It was here that Bob Owen picked up the nickname "The Head". Since there were no barbers in camp, AI tried to cut Bob's hair but made such a mess that the result was his new moniker. The camp pretty much complied with the rules of the Geneva Convention governing treatment of war prisoners, so it wasn't as bad as some that you may have heard of previously. (If you saw the movie "The Great Escape", then you saw where they had stayed and what it was like.)

 

In January, 1945, the Germans marched all prisoners out of the camp and into a blizzard for a 100 mile hike. Ten thousand prisoners were marched west toward Munich to keep them from being liberated by the Russians. At night the prisoners slept in old barns, shacks and finally a 40-8 rail car (so designated since it would carry 40 men or 8 horses) until they reached their destination - another prison camp.

 

Stalag 7A at Mooseburg included prisoners from every nation and every branch of the various services. Living conditions were poor and there was very little food. On April 29th, Patton's 3rd Army - 14th Armored Division - liberated the prisoners and immediately set up a field kitchen to nurture their emaciated Allies back to health. For two weeks they were given boiled food only, because their digestive systems were in such disarray from being underfed for so long. Two more weeks still at the camp, then after a week of travel, the men arrived at Le Havre. France and boarded ship for their trip to America. Seamans arrived home on June 3, 1945.

 

AI Seamans went on to receive his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado, be recalled to active duty for the Korean War, serve in the Pentagon, retire as a Major, and work at the Pueblo Army Depot until 1978. He then became heavily involved with the International B-24 Museum effort of the Pueblo Historical Aircraft Society.

 

In 1945 the following newspaper article appeared in a local Cannonsville, NY newspaper:

"Repatriated Pilot Tells Judds of Son's Death

Lieutenant Stephen Peter Judd of Cannonsville army air forces, was killed in action on March 8, 1944. He was at first reported as missing and a later message based on information received through the International Red Cross stated that he had been killed on the date mentioned.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Judd of Cannonsville, had little information regarding their son's death, except that his plane had been crippled and forced out of formation and then attacked by German fighter planes.

They have just received a letter from Flight Officer John Kendrick, pilot of the B-24 bomber on which "Pete" was co-pilot on the fatal day, giving them details. Lieutenant Judd was leaning forward turning off the ignition switches as the bomber crash landed, and due to this position received injuries which caused his death. Flight Officer Kendrick was recently repatriated on the Gripsholm, reaching the United States on Feb. 22, and is a patient at Lawson General hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. As a result of the crash landing he had both legs amputated. The letter follows:

March 5, 1945
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Judd:
This is not a very easy letter to write, yet still one that I very much want to write. You see, I feel that I know you both and I did know Pete so very well that - sell, I just want you to be as proud of your son as I am of my co-pilot. I have not, and I do not intend, to tell what happened to anyone else, but I feel that you should know. Here goes.

It was just another mission - except that it was Berlin, our second (to Berlin), and the second for the American air force. We had been there on the 6th, on the first daylight Berlin raid, and we were, if possible, even more scared on the 8th. Stemoris, the navigator, said that Pete never got scared - he did, he just kept it covered better than the rest of us.

It was just another mission up to the bomb run. There had been mistakes and errors, but that was usual also. We were right over the heart of Berlin. Big B had a lot of guns. I can't tell you the exact number, but I think it was the biggest concentration of flak in the world. Owens had just said, "Bombs away," when we were hit - nice and solidly in No. 3 engine. I was hit very slightly - the only person hit at the time, but we lost No. 4, our entire electrical system, including radio and interphone.

We could not keep up. We should have been able to, but we couldn't. We tried every trick in the book, but we slowly fell back. Then they jumped us. About 15 ME-109's. My tail gunner got one; Pete saw him go down and almost broke my back trying to tell me. One of the other gunners got one, but we couldn't keep it up. They were hitting us too hard and too often. So we hit the deck. I stuck the nose down and pulled out about 50 feet at about 320 miles per hour. It worked temporarily, we shook the fighters. But I guess our time was just up. We ran over an air field - were on it too fast to dodge. We shot up a hangar and a couple of airplanes, but they got No. 2 engine, among lots of other hits on the plane.

Pete and I flew for about an hour and a half longer. We only had two engines and the plane looked like a sieve - it wasn't flying, just staggering along - and we were still taking a beating. All our luck was bad. We ran past at least 12 flak towers, who depressed their 20 and 40-m.m. guns on us and did more and more damage. At last we knew we had to land. Only 20 miles from the coast we started in on a pasture, but they went through with us.

One last gun and one last hit - No. 4 engine and the rudder controls - we swerved into a windmill (comical), isn't it - a windmill). That's where Pete did his last act and died just as he lived. He leaned forward to cut the switches - we hit and didn't blow up or catch fire because the switches were cut. It wasn't what some people would call a hero - just someone doing a job only he could do - doing it because it was his job, even though he knew he was throwing away his chances to live - and saving 10 people's lives by doing just that.

It's cold comfort to you for me to say it, but he died just as he lived - clean and fine and brave. The rest of us owe our lives to him, but that could add but little to our opinion - We knew he was the kind to do that, and I never think of him without remembering the epitaph of an RAF pilot in England: "One of our pilots is safe."

I am very sincerely yours,

Johnny Kindrick.


Four other sons of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Judd have been in service but the youngest, Corporal Richard Judd, U.S. Marine corps, has just been granted a medical discharge and arrived home this week. He has been in the marines two years and saw combat service in the Pacific area. Lieutenant George Judd, a navigator in the Air Force, is based in England. Sergeant Joe T. Judd is near Strasburg in the German front, and Gleason Judd is an aviation cadet at San Antonio, Texas."


Of the remaining crew members, the following is known:

ANTHONY DE BENEDICTUS - Participated in 24 raids, shot down March 8, 1944, second daylight mission to Berlin. Crash-landed in Netherlands; lived with the Dutch Underground until July 31, 1944. Captured by Gestapo on August 12, 1944 in Antwerp Belgium and was a POW at Stalag Luft #4."

 

JOHN M. KENDRICK, JR. - Flew 11 missions to bomb the Third Reich, beginning February 6, 1944. Participated in Big Week campaign to destroy Nazi airfields and aviation-related factories. Participated in full-scale daylight attack on Berlin on March 6, 1944. On his second mission to Berlin, Kendrick’s ship was hit by flak and he was forced to crash-land in Friesland, Holland. Nine of the 11 crew members were able to exit the aircraft and pry the pilots from the mangled cockpit. A crowd of locals encouraged the crew to run before Nazi soldiers arrived, assuring them the pilots were better off in enemy hands where they could receive medical attention. Kendrick was placed in a Luftwaffe hospital at Leeuwarden, Holland where both his legs were amputated just above the knee. He was moved to a hospital in Obermassfeld, Germany in May of 1944. He returned to the States in early 1945.

 

ROBERT R. SHERMAN - On 11th mission to Berlin, Germany, March 8, 1944, plane was crippled by flak and crash-landed in German occupied Holland. Pilot Kendrick was severely injured and copilot Stephen Judd was killed. Sherman was one of five (of 11) who escaped. They were rescued by the Dutch Underground and hidden 13 months among Dutch families until freed by the Canadian Army.”

2Lt Stephen P. Judd is buried at Margraten American Military Cemetery, Plot B Row 11 Grave 26.



(picture by Robert Duijkers)

Margraten, The Netherlands

Sources:
1  “World War II Story: A Full Circle of Life”, Senior Beacon of Pueblo, by Mary Ellen Gassman, April 1990, page 22.
2
A Crash Landing in Holland, by Edward J. Chu, May 1993.
3
 “World War II Story: A Full Circle of Life”, Senior Beacon of Pueblo, by Mary Ellen Gassman, April 1990, page 22.
4
Out and About Magazine, July 1966.
Delaware County, New York History website
Roger A. Freeman, The Mighty Eight War Diary, Arms and Armour, London, 1990
Second Air Division Yearbook, Turner, 1994
Pueblo Army Air Base - A Chronological History
1942-1946, pages 123-127
"World War II Story: A Full Circle of Life”, Senior Beacon of Pueblo, by Mary Ellen Gassman, April 1990.
A Crash Landing in Holland, by Edward J. Chu, May 1993
Out and About Magazine, July 1966.

Acknowledgments:
Mrs. Joyce Riedinger
Mrs. Kelsey McMillan, Historian 389th Bomb Group Association (Also thanks for touching up the picture of Stephen!)
Mr. Christopher S. Gregg
389th BG E-mail ring
Mr. Rob Mobley's website on the Kendrick family


Directions to Margraten American Military Cemetery


If you have any suggestions, comments or additional information, please contact me.

This website is dedicated to the men and women who died and/or are buried in The Netherlands during World War II.

 

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