Date: 1944 Nov 20/20 A/C Type: P-51D Mustang SN: 44-13411 Code: QP-Q A/C Nickname: Frankie
 File: 166 Airforce:  USAAF Sqn/Unit: 4 FG - 334 FS Mission/Raid: Bomber support/strafing Koblenz area.
1 Pilot 1Lt. Leonard R. Werner       MIA 9 RWG  
2 Co-pilot   10 TG  
3 Nav.   11    
4 B   12    
5 E   13    
6 RO   14    
7 BTG   15    
8 LWG   16                    

Returning from Germany, Koblenz. Collided in clouds with P-51D 44-13615 of 1Lt. Donald L. Bennett (WIA/POW). Both went down in Lake IJsselmeer west of Harderwijk. Lt. Werner flew 44-13411 which was the personal aircraft of Major Shelton W. Monroe.  

Returning from Koblenz, course was set for direction Den Helder in the Netherlands. Over midst Zuider Sea (Lake IJsselmeer) the flight of P-51s would turn west, back to their base (Debden) in England. However, thick overcast was encountered and they all lost visibility in the heavy clouds. Flying on instruments was necessary. The aircraft that had returned safely to Debden, first came out of the clouds over the Dutch North Sea coastline at IJmuiden. But Lt. Werner and also Lt. Bennett were not there. Their colleagues on base made a quite accurate drawing (map below) of where they last saw Lt. Bennet in 44-13615 and Lt. Werner in 44-13411. Only a few miles from the marked 'X' both had crashed (not unseen, see below) in water in the South-East corner of the Zuider Zee at 13:00h. Lt. Bennet landed by parachute on the shoreline, on a rooftop in Harderwijk, wounded. He was arrested and brought to a hospital (POW). Lt. Leonard R. Werner was never found and is MIA to this day. Only his shoe was found (see photo further below), next to the wreck of his P-51 when this part of the Lake was drained in 1968-1970.

We found an eyewitness: in 1986 Dutch policeman Henk Kraaijenbrink, chief of police in Harderwijk, wrote his memoires: "20 November 1944, 12:50h. With unharmonic running engines, an Allied twin-engined fighter appears over the town, losing height fast and trailing smoke. Quite some distance from shore, over sea, flames poure out and the machine crashes down. The pilot drifts with his parachute towards our town". In fact the two P-51 had run into each other in the clouds. The policeman saw the two fighters entangled coming down. 'A Tommy' (Lt. Bennett) drifted towards him.  

Photo 1Lt. Leonard R. Werner, MIA:
The whereabouts of his remains are researched upon this day.

Map below.  
Before dikes were laid to pump dry future South-Flevoland, parts of a unknown Allied aircraft were found in sea off Harderwijk on position 72 and 73. A few years later in 1970, on this position the wreck of Werner's Mustang 44-13411 was discovered in the new land.
Today the name of the street is Ossenkampweg in Zeewolde

Recovery 1970. 

Lt. Leonard Werner's shoe. Next to the wreck, on the former seabed in 1970. He was not found.  

Wing flap with three .50 caliber Brownings, laid on top by the recovery team in 1970. 

The 4th Fighter Group memorial in Dayton, United States

Below: on May 5 2019, a monument and a commemoration pole were reveiled in Dutch community Zeewolde in memory of 1Lt. Leonard R. Werner. 

Left to right: Mayor Gerrit-Jan Gorter, relatives of Lt. Werner, Mr. Cees Steijger, USAAF air attaché Colonel Fisher.


© ZZairwar (Zuyder Zee Air War)