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  #11  
Old 20th December 2019, 19:50
Horst Weber Horst Weber is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Quote:
Originally Posted by manniw View Post
Hello, During my research I came across a story from the last days of the war in 1945, which I cannot prove 100 % historically on the basis of suitable documents, I very much hope that you and your archive can help me solve the story.

At the beginning of April 1945 American troops liberated Cologne on the left bank of the Rhine. Units of the 82th. Airborn Division, in particular the 505th PIR were located on the left bank of the Rhine in the area of Wesseling, Godorf, Sürth and Weiß.

On the other, right side of the Rhine, which was still occupied by German troops, are the villages LÜLSDORF, LANGEL and ZÜNDORF.

According to my research a B-26 bomber crashed on 11.04.1945 between Langel and Lülsdorf ( near Cologne / Bonn ). One crew member died, four crew members were wounded. All of them were rescued by the citizens of Lülsdorf and taken care of. Since there was no doctor nearby, the local priest went to the bank of the Rhine and called the American soldiers on the other side of the Rhine and asked for help. They took a boat to the right bank of the Rhine and picked up the injured soldiers.

It is very likely that these were the B-26 Bomber 42-96030, 332th BG / 450Th BS Pilot 1st Lt. Hopkins, 2nd Lt. Lidicker, 2nd Lt. Welberg ( Walberg ) , Sgt. E Koker, Sgt. Samer, Sgt. W. Dyer (KIA).

The " Group History 322nd Bombardment Group (M) AAF For the Month of April 1945 notes this crash. In the book " The Annihilators 322nd BG(M) on pages 177 and 302 the deployment and the crash is also described. Also the American war reporter Martha Gellhorn describes this crash in her book " Das deutsche Volk ". But I don't find any references to the crew or the rescue of the crew by the American units in the internet and archives. Also in the archive of the 82th Airborn Div. resp. the 505 PIR is noted a little bit above.

Can you help me with information about the crew and their rescue ? I would be infinitely grateful if you could help me bring light into this darkness. I would like to thank you and your staff in advance for your efforts.

Units of the 82th. Airborn Division, in particular the 505th PIR were located on the left bank of the Rhine in the area of Wesseling, Godorf, Sürth and Weiß. On the other, right side of the Rhine, which was still occupied by German troops, are the villages LÜLSDORF, LANGEL and ZÜNDORF.

best regards from Cologne
manni

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Good evening Manni !

There is no entrance in the MACR listings day-by-day for B-26, AAF-s/n 42-96030.

This a/c doesn't appear in the 9th AF listing of MIA a/c's for April 1945. But it appears in the following listing, named SAL BD (salvaged battle-damaged) and with the operator 322nd BG dated April 12th, 1945 (AFHRA microfilm A5686, page # 760).

My conclusions in this case are:

The crew and the mentioned a/c flew the mission as described in the 322nd book.

The a/c received Flak hits and the crew bailed out at the most southwest place of the Ruhr-pocket, just on the Rhine-river banks east of the Rhine, which were German held.

The story of Mrs Gellhorn is reliable.

Some hours later, U.S. troops entered the crash location, reported the situation and no MACR was compiled.

Best wishes !

Horst Weber
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  #12  
Old 20th December 2019, 20:56
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

I updated post #10 to include Gellhorn's description of events. The link to her book given in that post no-longer gives the full story.

While I am at it, here is some info from the book Leendert mentioned earlier:

From The Flying Prostitute, but Lawrence J Hunter (page 176)

"Later, on 11 April, 1945, Lidicker participated in a morning mission with the “Annihilators,” who sent 44 aircraft against the Aahereleben marshaling yard with poor to good results. Two aircraft of the 450th Bomb Squadron separated from the rest of the formation and, by mistake, flew over the southwest corner of the Ruhr pocket and drew light, accurate flak fire. One of the planes, that was carrying now 2nd Lieutenant John Lidicker as copilot, received a direct hit and crash landed in enemy territory. Lidicker was blinded and burned with the explosion of the 1000 gallons of 100-octane gasoline the plane carried. The German medics brought him to the front lines and left him for dead. He survived but has spent years recuperating and undergoing a multitude of operations in our hospitals."


I am going to order Dwyer's IDPF file. I am curious as to on which side of the Rhine his body was recovered.

I am also following up on some leads to contact relatives of the crew. This sometimes takes a while, we will see where it goes.

Last edited by RSwank; 21st December 2019 at 17:26.
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  #13  
Old 21st December 2019, 18:54
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

I believe that "Sgt E Koker" was Emory Jacob Koker, Jr.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/...ry-jacob-koker
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  #14  
Old 22nd December 2019, 20:44
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

The pilot of the plane was John T Hopkins, Jr. Here are some articles about him. He died in 1978.

https://books.google.com/books?id=I1...%20air&f=false

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archi...-854063a84d92/

https://virginiachronicle.com/cgi-bi...t-txIN--------

Note he received a DFC for crash landing his plane and saving wounded crewmen.

The articles state he "escaped" which we believe may not be "quite" correct.

Graves of John and his wife Helen:
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/...john-t-hopkins
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/..._irwin-hopkins

Last edited by RSwank; 23rd December 2019 at 19:51.
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  #15  
Old 22nd December 2019, 20:55
manniw manniw is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Hello, RSwank,

thank you for your comprehensive response...

I have the book by Martha Gellhorn both in the English original and in the German translation here in my bookcase.
The tanks she describes really can't belong to the 13th Armored Div., especially since they can be seen "behind the burning plane". I assume that these were tanks of the German Wehrmacht, which was already on the retreat towards Hoffnungsthal (Bergisches Land) at this time.

The plane definitely crashed in flames and exploded on the ground, according to contemporary witnesses. All five crew members were actually recovered from the debris, according to eyewitnesses from the area.

As an addendum: The B-26 crashed in close proximity to a large 8.8 Flak position. These soldiers and civilians from Lülsdorf recovered the crew. Among them was the catholic priest of the village. He insisted that the wounded were not treated as prisoners of war by the Wehrmacht soldiers, but were brought to the village and treated there with makeshift care. A German paramedic and a Belgian forced labourer paramedic treated the wounded Americans. The Catholic priest then went to the bank of the Rhine with a white flag and called the American troops of the 505th PIR on the other side of the Rhine. They then used boats to bring the four wounded and the dead Dwyer over to the left side of the Rhine...

Actually the B-26 was occupied by 7 crew members, about the whereabouts of the other two crew members nothing is known. It is also not sure whether the plane started with only 5 crew members. The crew is mentioned in all sources with only 5 crew members. An inquiry at the American-Air-Museum in England did not bring any further information, the crew is only mentioned there with five persons.
In the meantime I have found information about the pilot John T. Hopkins Jr. he was born on 20.09.1923 and died on 08.08.1978 in Virginia ( source. www.findagrave.com ).
But there are still some questions left unanswered. Unfortunately, it is not easy from Germany to research the National Archives in DC. Do you have a possibility to search for the crew there ?
Thanks again. I wish you a merry christmas already now
Greeting
Manni

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Last edited by manniw; 23rd December 2019 at 15:27.
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  #16  
Old 25th December 2019, 05:14
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

G-2 reports, 82nd Airborne Division.
This is the link to a large 1006 page report called the “G-2 Journal and Message file for 7 April 1945 to 28 May 1945”.
https://mcoepublic.blob.core.usgovcl.../D97_I2031.pdf

Regarding the B-26 crash on April 11 there are several different entries for that date. Entries for April 11 start on pdf page 325 and the first entry about the B-26 appears on pdf page 331 which is a page where messages are logged.

At 14:18, message #845 from the Division Artillery is logged. Looking at the actual complete message on pdf page 369 it states "1 B-26 crashed at 47804830. Three members of crew tried to escape and were machine gunned." (Added in parenthesis after that statement is a word in a different handwriting which appears to be the word (Erroneous)

At 14:40, message #849 from the 505th (see pdf page 370) reports the B-26 down. It states: "13:50 B-26 crashed at 480485. 3 men left plane and are lying around plane now.
1 crew member walked off with civilian in direction Lulsdorf."

Messages continue throughout the afternoon.

On pdf page 386 is a report by a Lt Novik. He states:

“Left DIV CP (Division Command Post) at 1800 with public address system for the 505 CP. Met 505 S-2 and proceeded down to I Co. (Company). Was informed at I Co CP that white flags that were displayed on E bank of River was for a boat from friendly shore to pick up 4 American members of air crew that crashed in B-26 today. Germans had no medical supplies to treat men with. Boat was dispatched and men returned to friendly shore at approx 1910. Did not use Public Address system for Germans did not want to surrender. Ey (enemy) were described as young and in good health. Returned to Div CP at 2030. 4 wounded airmen brought back. 1(one) believed left in German hands not seriously wounded.”
Several of the individual reports have other details. One airman appeared to be not as seriously injured and was seen to walk off with civilians into Lulsdorf. The men lying in the field around the plane were treated by civilians and soldiers.

Another summary appears on pdf page 420. “Ey AA fire successfully caused a B-26 to crash today vicinity 47804830. Four of the members of the crew of 6 were evacuated from the East Bank during day light by men of the 505. One crew member was killed during the crash, another taken as a PW by the enemy. The other four received injuries which were treated by our 307 Medics.”

Another account appears on pdf page 421.

“At 1350 unlocated AA gun shot down a B-26 bomber which fell E of the RHINE. Three or possibly four men were observed to get out of the crashed plane. German soldiers and civilians were observed to run to the plane and administer first aid and then take the injured Air Corps men into LULSDORF. At 1430 a 456th Prcht FA EM from Btry “B” (456th Parachute Field Artillery Enlisted Man from Battery "B") got into a kayak and crossed the RHINE of his own volition to try and get the airmen. He walked along the beach and into the town of LULSDORF. At 479479 he received rifle fire, and was seen to enter a trench and emerge with one PW. He later stated he missed another when his gun jammed. FA man went to river with PW and got into another boat and started back. Out in the river about 50 yards he turned back as the boat was about to sink, and went back along the beach about 300 yds, obtained his original boat and returned to the West Bank. He turned his PW over to the 505 at 1530.”

Last edited by RSwank; 27th December 2019 at 01:20.
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  #17  
Old 25th December 2019, 20:57
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Continuing on information in the G-2 report. This is from pdf page 504.

On April 12 at 18:20 the town of Lulsdorf surrenders. A Lt Jacques J Saunder crosses the river and talks to the town mayor. He learns that 40 Germans pulled out of the town at noon that day, taking the one airman from the B-26 with them as a PW. (There were still a few soldiers hiding in the town and Saunder and the Mayor convinced them to surrender.) The civilians in Lulsdorf had buried the 6th man in the plane who died in the crash. The 40 German soldiers who pulled out made it to Porz, where they were all captured. The airman was still with them.


I have not seen any references so far to the names of any of the airmen in the G-2 report.

I did a quick scan to the end of the file but did not see anything else on the B-26 story.

(There are some other interesting incidents and interrogation reports included toward the end of the file.)

Last edited by RSwank; 26th December 2019 at 19:22.
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  #18  
Old 26th December 2019, 15:03
manniw manniw is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Hello, RSwank,

My joy knows no bounds over this find of the G2-journal of the 82nd Airborn Div. I have searched for a long time for this, but found nothing. This was a really nice Christmas present. I thank you very much for this help, now I can finally tell the story of the crashed B-26 completely and truthfully.

Only with the crew members there are still some ambiguities, but there I will continue to research .

Is this G2-Journal also available for the month of March 1945 ? And can I also read it as a PDF ?

Thank you again for this very nice cooperation, we will certainly hear

( read ) from each other again
Best regards
Manni
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  #19  
Old 26th December 2019, 19:18
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Yes, there is a 719 page file from 9 February to 6 April 1945 here:

https://mcoepublic.blob.core.usgovcl...31_PartA-F.pdf

All these files are located on this page:

https://www.benning.army.mil/Library...ilm/index.html


Have you ever requested any CDs from AFHRA? CDs are $30 each: https://www.afhra.af.mil/

They would have files on the 322nd BG and the 450th BS. It can be a little tricky to figure out exactly what to order but I am willing to do that if you have not done so. Sending the CDs overseas may also be problematic. Hopefully we can find a complete crew list for the April 11 mission and possibly also the citation for the DFC for Hopkins.

Last edited by RSwank; 27th December 2019 at 19:08.
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  #20  
Old 27th December 2019, 15:26
manniw manniw is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Hello, Rswank,

again, I can only say thank you for your help. Very interesting, but I need some weeks to analyze all this in peace...
As for the DFC for Hopkins, I haven't found anything yet either,
It is not listed at https://dfcsociety.net.

As a further crew member I got another Sgt. Samar mentioned by the AAM, but also did not find any suitable information. Also the guys from B26 could not help me.

I have some CDs about the 82nd Airborn-Div. and yes, it is right, the transmission was not easy, but finally successful.
I would be interested in more details about the Lt. Jacques J. Saunder. He was the one who conducted the surrender negotiations with the towns of Lülsdorf and Langel. I believe that he was a native German, especially since he was an interrogation officer. I found the following on fold3:
www.fold3.com/record/86035259-jacques-j-saunder.
Only further information I have not found yet.

Thanks again for your effort, if I want to have CD's, I will contact you.

Best regards
Manni

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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