My name is René Bosma en I live in the little Dutch town of Oosterwolde. Since 4 years I have been investigating the Air war over the Northern part of the Netherlands. It is my main objective to gather as much information as possible about the aircraft and the airmen which came down over the province of
Friesland during the Second World War. We consider it very important to keep the memory of the Air war alive, especially the many flyers paid with their lives for our Freedom.
One of the aircraft I research is a American B-17 heavy Bomber (serial: 42-31113 Nickname “Zilch”) of 96 Bomb Group/339 Bomb Squadron. The plane crashed on the 16th of December 1943In the Waddensea in the North of The Netherlands. The B-17 came back from a bombing mission on the harbour installations in the German city of Bremen. But when they flown The North of the Dutch Mainland the group of Bombers where attached by German Fighter. The Zilch was hit en 1 of the 4 engines ripped of the bomber. The B-17 tumbled toward earth en smashed into the sea. But because the bombers flown in a tight formation the engine smashed through a wing of another B-17 of 96 bomb group. One of the wings was ripped of en that B-17 (42-30872 Nickname “Blonde Bomber”) crashed in the same area. It was a big tragedy because al the 20 airman of the 2 plans lost their life. After the crash all the 20 crewmembers from the Zilch & Blonde Bomber where lost en still missing till today. Their names on the Wall of the Missing at the American War Cemetery at Margraten, The Netherlands.
The Waist Gunner of the 42-31113 crew was Staff Sergeant Leonard Melvin Branam. He was born in 1914 in Oklahoma. sadly i don’t have a specific birth date for him. His parents Stephan Melvern Branam Steve (1882 – 1946) & Eula B. Mae Kight Branam (1895 – 1952). Leonard has a brother en a sister: Lawrence Hubert Branam (1917 – 1960) & Lucile Branam (1921 – 1972). In 1940 the family lives on Tejon Road at Kern County, California.
On the 16th Of November 1935 Leonard married at Canton, Lincoln, South Dakota, USA with Golde Mae Butler (1906 - 1989). Together they get two children Richard Lee Branam (1930 – 1983) en Elnor Mae Branam (1933 – 2010). In 1935 they lived at Sioux Falls, Minneyaha County, South Dakota. In 1940 they lived at Lloyd, Dickinson County, Iowa.
At the moment I research this crash en I was hoping that there are someone who could en will help me with some additional information about Leonard:
• his military career
• his family
• his life before he sight in for service
• his repatriation
I also hope someone could help me to get in contact with some relatives or Ancestors of Leonard.
My goal with the information I try to collect is to make a as precise as possible reconstruction about the crew en their mission on that day. So the story of the brave man who gave their live for our freedom never will be forgotten.
Thank you in advance en hope you could en will help me.
René Bosma, Oosterwolde, The Netherlands
My home address: Laak 33, 8431 SC Oosterwolde, The Netherlands
My email address: firstname.lastname@example.org