68 – John D. Petrus age 27 (December 30, 1915 – November 11, 1943)
Sgt. J. D. Petrus.
December 30, 1915 – November 11, 1943
John David Petrus was born on December 30,1915 at Slatington, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. His parents were John Lawrence Petrus and Sarah Margaret Mclaughlan. He also had two sisters Lucille (Daffner) and Alice (Prokop). His wife was Enid Elizabeth Beahm, born in Ohio, and died on November 11 (!!) 2000.
In 1928 he left primary school and attended Slatington high school which he completed in 1933. He joined the American Oil Company in his hometown. In 1941 he married Emid Elisabeth Beahm and lived at 922 Turret Street in Slatington. He was home for the last time in July 1943. In October 1943 his son David Allen was born, who has never seen his father. At the end of 1942 he enlisted the American Air Force (AAF) and followed various training courses and early September 1943 he went to England where he was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 94th Bomber Group (Heavy), 331st Bomber Squadron. He was assigned as a ball gunner, turret at the bottom of the aircraftright, to a B-17 Flying Fortress. On November 11, 1943, the crew of the B-17 with registration number 42-39868, including sgt. Petrus, was ordered to launch an attack on the city of Munster in Germany with 560 more American bombers. After the briefing, the plane took off from the R.A.F. base Bury St. Edmunds towards Germany. They arrived at the goal via the North Sea and the middle of Germany. They dropped their bombs and returned to home base. However, above the Hoeksche Waard the aircraft was attacked by three German fighter planes. The plane was hit and the left engine failed. Moments later, the entire plane was riddled. The pilot gave the order to abandon the plane, but it broke into two pieces and the front part was on fire. The pieces of the aircraft landed in the Molenpolder close to the old harbor in Numansdorp. Four crew members had left the aircraft, three of which were captured by the Germans. The fourth, Combs, came down in the Hollandsch Diep and is still missing. The other six were unable to leave the plane in time and died. Likewise Sgt. John D. Petrus. He was buried on November 15, 1943 at the Crooswijk cemetery in Rotterdam and on August 17, 1945 transferred to the American war cemetery in Margraten Limburg. In 1949, at the request of both sisters, his body was transferred to the Odd Fellows cemetery, Tamaqua, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania. His grave can still be visited there.