Marion L. Bell

Marion L. Bell
Sergeant – 95th Bomber Group

Shot after an emergency landing on Texel

Marion L. Bell was born on April 23, 1918, and was born and raised in the village of Lyle in Mower County, Minnesota.

After high school he worked for Hormel Co. in Austin, Minnesota, one of the major food suppliers for the US Army, known from the Spam cans.
He married Mary Jane and together they had a daughter Lynda.
He was drafted for the military service in September 1943 and after completing his training with the US Air Force as Ball Turret Gunner he received his “wings”.
In December 1944, he was transferred to the 95th Bomber Group’s 334th Bomber Squadron as a sergeant and was stationed at Station 119 in Horham, Suffolk UK.

On 3 February 1945 an armada of American bombers took off from various English airports for a major bomb attack on the German capital Berlin. One of these aircraft was the four-engine Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” with number 42-102951, which was led by Second Lieutenant Richard P. Morris.

In addition to Morris as a pilot, eight other crew members were on board. One of them was Marion. He was the ball turret gunner and had to protect the bottom of the aircraft against attacks by the German enemy.  It was his 3rd mission. Nobody would come home from this mission anymore, because after dropping the bombs over Berlin, the plane was hit by Flak. One of the wings caught fire because of this.  Still, pilot Morris managed to keep the aircraft under control for considerable time during the return flight. But when they flew over Friesland in the afternoon, the aircraft lost height and had to leave formation to make an emergency landing.

Not much later, the decreasing flying bomber from Texel was heavily attacked by German troops with anti-aircraft guns. Flak shells exploded next to the aircraft and produced black clouds. The B-17 turned north and as a sign of surrender, the crew fired a few red flares. Nevertheless, the German Flak guns continued to fire. In addition, the aircraft was now also shot at by guns and machine guns from German positions in the dunes.

Shortly thereafter, the heavily damaged B-17 made a belly landing in the sea at a few hundred meters from the beach of pole 26.  The crew members had survived and climbed on the wings, but were then according to eyewitnesses shot from the wings by German soldiers. It was later assumed that this was out of pure revenge. The Germans on Texel had little to do and felt useless. Perhaps they had heard of the bombing of Berlin and were therefore looking for retribution, as it turned out to be a war crime.

Marion was only 26 years old and left a 2 year old woman and daughter behind.  His remains were buried a few days later at Den Burg, but his family did not receive confirmation of his death until 7 July 1945.

In December 1945 he was brought to Margraten where he was given his final resting place in section H, row 6, grave 2.