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Old 17th December 2016, 13:23
Leendert Leendert is offline
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1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

1st Louis Werfel (O-501739) got killed when the 'small airplane' he was traveling in crashed due to bad weather in the Algerian mountains on 24 Dec 1943

I have no info about number or fate of other occupants.

Lt Werfel was a chaplain attached to the 12th AF Service Command and was en route from Casablanca.
He was nicknamed the 'Flying Rabbi' because of his numerous flights to outlying posts.

Some websites say 24 Dec 1944 as date of death, but 1943 is correct.

Info welcome about names/fates of other people on board and the aircraft involved, thanks.

Regards,

Leendert
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Old 21st December 2016, 02:02
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Interesting question. It appears most on-line sources are just quoting each other regarding Werfel.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Werfel
"On December 25, 1943, the State Department sent a telegram informing Adina Werfel that, while returning from conducting a Hanukah service for American soldiers in Casablanca, the small plane carrying her husband had crashed into the Algerian mountains due to limited visibility caused by bad weather. As a young soldier serving in the American army in Oran, Algeria, Donald B. Butler was one of the soldiers who buried Chaplain Louis Werfel in North Africa with a proper Jewish burial." (The crash occurred on 24 December, 1943.)
Aviationarchaeology.com does not have any crashes in Algeria on December 24th.
Now I was able to find the crash of a plane in Algeria on the 24th. A B-25 from the 321st BG, 446th BS crashed into the Lion Mountain just outside of Oran. The five crewmen on board were killed. The plane was apparently trying to get into La Senia airfield in bad weather. The pilot was Irving E Klang. Search for Klang on the following links:
http://57thbombwing.com/321stHistory/321_BG_1943-12.pdf
http://www.warwingsart.com/12thAirForce/3210144.html

At this time the 321st was based in Italy, so this plane had made a flight from Italy to Africa (and possibly to more than one location in North Africa). So suppose it had flown to Casablanca and was flying back to Italy by way of Oran. Did Werfel hitch a ride on it? I found one Werfel reference that said he was trying to get to an airfield (possible in Oran?) to hold another service. There is no mention of Werfel in the 321st reports of the crash, but I wonder if the 321st would have been informed if Werfel was just hitching a ride on their plane. They certainly did not seem to be involved in the crash investigation.
Note also that Donald Butler, one of the men involved with the burial of Werfel was based in Oran. So another clue pointing to the crash occurring at/near Oran.
The distance from Casablanca ( Morocco ) to Oran (Algeria) is 422 miles, which would take quite a while in something like an L-4, so maybe a B-25 would be a more likely plane. (A B-25, however, would not be a "small" plane so perhaps one "strike" against this theory.)

There does not seem to be a serial number recorded for the B-25, so possibly it was a squadron hack.

I find it hard to believe that their were TWO different weather related crashes into mountains in Algeria on 24 December, 1943 and NEITHER one is recorded in the accident files, but a single missing crash..... might be possible.


The five 321st BG men reported killed were:
Bonacich, Matthew G., Sgt, gunner
Carnes, James B., Sgt, engineering (buried in North Africa American Cemetery)
Graham, Robert W., 2Lt, engineering
Henson, Gerald J., 2Lt, co-pilot (buried in North Africa American Cemetery)
Klang, Irving E., 2Lt, pilot (buried in North Africa American Cemetery).

Last edited by RSwank; 21st December 2016 at 21:13.
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Old 21st December 2016, 13:07
Alex Smart Alex Smart is online now
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Hello,
Try this crew.
They are listed in the "air force history index"
But under date : 43-11-25.
SEAWELL,C.H; WERFEL, B; BOYKO, S; WILiAMS, M; FARBER, M.W ;

Alex
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Old 21st December 2016, 13:54
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Alex, Charles H Seawell was involved in a crash of a B-26 in Alabama, USA on that date, so not the Werfel we seek.

421125
B-26A, 41-7449, 474BS,, 335BG
Based at: Barksdale Field, LA Landing Accident, Class 4
Pilot: Seawell, Charles H ,
Crash at Brookley Field, AL
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Old 21st December 2016, 20:04
Alex Smart Alex Smart is online now
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Hello Roland,
That must be the one, as those dates are 1 year behind the date given in the lists , am I correct in thinking that ?
That was the only Werfel "B" and not an "L" that came up in that site as far as I could find.
Perhaps he was an unofficial passenger (?) in the Earlier loss you gave and therefore would not appear in the "official" crew list ?

Alex
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Old 21st December 2016, 21:17
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Alex, There does not seem to be an official accident report available for this B-25 loss as, for example, Irving Klang can't be found either.


I did find a reference in a soldier's diary (Ray Sherman) about the crash. This man was stationed on the East side of Oran, near the Lion Mountain. The reference is from 24 December 1943 and can be found here:

http://www.45thdivision.org/Veterans/Sherman179K.htm

"December 24, 1943

After I returned from personnel this noon, a B-25 flew over the area quite low. I went outside the tent when I heard a dull puff and the engine stopped. Through the clouds, I could see the flames and smoke where he hit. Rain and low clouds obscured the mountain until about five minutes after the accident, it cleared up. "

Last edited by RSwank; 22nd December 2016 at 13:53.
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Old 21st December 2016, 22:44
Alex Smart Alex Smart is online now
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Hello Roland,
The Soldiers report speaks of only one engine ?

RITGER, Frederic C with SACKER, John R. and YOUNGBLOOD, Woodrow were the crew in 42-95776.
No other name given.
Same refs as earlier.

How about the UC-61 43-14527, Whitlatch, Clarence.
One site says Tunisia while another says Lekhroub, Algeria a third just has Africa ?
One a/c at each end of Algeria.

Alex

Last edited by Alex Smart; 22nd December 2016 at 02:16.
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Old 22nd December 2016, 02:23
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

The UC-61 incident's date is Nov 24, 1943 not Dec 24.

Aviation Archaeology records it as a TAC (taxiing accident and blames the ground crew).

Does not seem to fit.
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Old 22nd December 2016, 08:25
Leendert Leendert is offline
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Thanks for the input so far.

I had come across the otherwise unrecorded B-25 crash on Lion Mountain outside Oran on 24 Dec 1943, but online 321st BG and 446th BS reports only mention Lt Klang, his CP Lt Henson and 3 x PAX, all of the squadron (Lt Graham, Sgt Carnes and Sgt Bonacich).

Is it possible that the BG/BS accounts only have listed their own lost men?

Perhaps Chaplain Werfel and others had hitched a ride. In an article World War II Chaplain Program I received, there's talk that Werfel was killed in a plane crash on Iron Mountain, Oran, Algeria, 24 December 1943.....

Iron Mountain a mistake for Lion Mountain? Didn't find the former on the map....

Will certainly look further.

Regards,

Leendert
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Old 22nd December 2016, 13:21
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: 1st Lt Louis Werfel - DNB 24 Dec 1943 - N. Africa

Leendert,

Very interesting. From the account of Ray Sherman who saw (or heard) the crash, he was located about 6 miles from St Cloud. He talks about walking to St Cloud from camp. Today St Cloud is called Gdyel. On Google maps there is also a "Foret des Lions" between Gdyel and Oran and also La Montagne des Lions.

I suspect that this the crash site.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Dj...1!1e4?hl=en-US

Also a reference here to Lion Mountain as Djebel Khar.


I am thinking it is now quite possible Werfel was on the B-25, perhaps with some other non-321st BG passengers.

https://books.google.com/books?id=sM...untain&f=false


Possibly Werfel's IDPF file would hold the answers, but it would take almost a year to get it.
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