information about identification buried airmen Netherlands post wo11

Dear Mrs/mR.

As an amateur historian I should like to have more information about the identification and reburrial of 2Lt. A. Galle whot was killed by the Germans on November 21st 1944 near by Enschede in the eastern part of the Netherlands.

kind regards

Benno van Helden

  • per   The link includes pictures of him,  He was from the state of  New York and given his mane I'd guess he was a first generation American. 

    2Lt Americo S Galle VETERAN

    Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, USA
    21 Nov 1944 (aged 20)
    Enschede, Enschede Municipality, Overijssel, Netherlands
    Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium Add to Map
    Plot B Row 38 Grave 34
    56358289 · View Source   

    He was a copilot on a B-24 Liberator.  He survived being shot down but was executed shorty after his capture.  The following is from the wiki of the senior officer convicted of his murder.  (öngarth )   Four others were also sentenced to death for his murder. 

    Trial and execution

    Schöngarth was captured by the Allies at the end of the war in Europe. After an investigation, British occupation authorities charged him with the murder of Americo S. Galle, an American pilot. The charge came after several Dutch people came forward and told British investigators that they had seen Galle's plane being shot down. Galle had been captured alive, but was later escorted into the woods, after which the witnesses said they heard a gunshot.[6]

    On 21 November 1944, Galle's plane had been shot down in Enschede. He was captured by German soldiers, taken to a villa which the SD was using in Enschede, and had his army clothes changed out for civilian clothes. Schöngarth issued an order to kill Galle.[6]

    Several hours later, a car was driven to the area. Erwin Knop (born 16 August 1905), the commander of the local SiPo and the head of a local Einsatzkommando in Enschede, emerged. He was accompanied by Untersturmführer Wilhelm Hadler (born 14 February 1898) and Unterscharführer Herbert Gernoth (born 12 January 1906), both of whom were subordinates to Knop.[6]

    Knop took Galle into the car. He was followed by Scharführer Erich Lebing, 56, and Waffen-SS Oberscharführer Fritz Boehm, 28, both of whom were attached to the local SD. Obersturmführer Friederich Beeck (born 5 August 1886), the head of the Enschede villa, supervised the execution, choosing a burial site and ordering a grave to be dug. Lebing drove the car into the woods and kept watch as the others prepared to carry out the execution. Knop told Galle in English what was happening, to which the airman responded by being "very downhearted." Hadler and Gernoth dug a shallow grave, after which the rest of the group arrived. Hadler and Gernoth then escorted Galle from the car to the grave, where Gernoth shot him in the back of the neck.[6]

    Schöngarth, Beeck, Knop, Gernoth, Hadler, Knop, Lebing, and Boehm were tried by a British military court in Burgsteinfurt in February 1946. At the time, neither Galle's identity nor his nationality were known, so the defendants were charged with murdering an "unknown Allied airman." During his trial, Schöngarth's crimes in Poland were never mentioned, while his crimes in the Netherlands were only briefly discussed.[6]

    • "During your period in Holland, how many executions in all did you have to order or sanction?"
    • "At the time of that interrogation I thought it would be about 150 to 200 cases, but they were all executions after proper sentences; they were only civilians who were sentenced to death on account of their disturbing order; and that was an order from the Reichskommissar."

    Schöngarth denied any involvement in Galle's death. However, all of Schöngarth's codefendants said they had been following his orders. The lawyer for Schöngarth's codefendants accused him of trying to force the blame onto his men.[6]

    • "I put it to you that the real truth of what happened on the 21st November is this: a British or American airman landed in the grounds of the Villa and was captured by your men. You yourself decided that he was to be shot. You yourself ordered Knop to have him shot. You then went away in your car leaving your men to take the responsibility, and now that they stand in peril you, their commander, are trying to save your life at their expense."
    • "No."

    On 11 February 1946, all of the defendants were found guilty. The defense of superior orders was rejected, with five of those convicted being sentenced to death, including Schöngarth. Lebing and Boehm avoided death sentences after using different defenses. Lebing claimed he hadn't realized that Galle was a POW until it was too late since he was wearing civilian clothing. Boehm claimed ignorance and disgust over the execution, and said he'd tried to stop it from happening. Lebing was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Boehm was sentenced to 10 years in prison.[6] After the trial was over, two Dutchmen found Galle's notebook, which showed that he was an American.[9]

    Schöngarth and his condemned accomplices were all executed by hanging by Albert Pierrepoint at Hamelin Prison on 16 May 1946. Also hanged on the same day for unrelated crimes at Hamelin were Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher.[10]

    While awaiting execution, Schöngarth was interviewed by a Dutch investigator. He was asked about suspected war criminal Pieter Menten and atrocities in which he was suspected of involvement. At the end of the interview, the investigator asked Schöngarth if he was telling the truth, he replied "You know, I have only three weeks to live. That's the whole truth." Shortly before his execution, Schöngarth was visited by Menten; the two turned out to be close friends. Schöngarth told Menten he'd done him many favours in the past. He made Menten promise to look out for his family, after which he gave him legal advice.[6]

  • Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your quick answer to my question regarding the identification of an allied airman.

    As I wrote, my questions are about the identification of an airman who was killed by the German "Sicherheitsdienst" on November 21st 1944 on the estate 'het Hoge Boekel", near Enschede. I know the complete story you gave me.

    In the national Archives at Kew in the UK there are eight files WO 309 and WO311 section about the killing of an allied airman in Enschede.

    From 1945 to 1947 the investigators did not know whether it was an American or a crew member of the Commonwealth forces.

    My question is about this period of the identification proces. Are there files at Nara Washington where the identification of A.S,  Galle is described.

    Greetings an thank you so much


  • Interesting that Pieter Menten is also involved in this tragedy. After the war, this man would develop as a successful businessman. But was eventually exposed as an SS officer and sentenced to 10 years in prison.



    Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!

    For information about the identification and reburial of 2Lt. A. Galle we suggest that you request a copy of his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). These files were NOT affected by the 1973 fire. IDPFs from 1940-1976 for U.S. Army personnel with surnames that begin with A-L are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RRPO). For more information about these records, please contact RRPO via email at

    We invite you to continue the conversation with community members on History Hub, but should you have follow up questions for the staff at Archives II, please email us at so that we can assist you further. 

    We hope this assists you with your research! 


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