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Old 16th December 2019, 15:17
manniw manniw is offline
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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)
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  #2  
Old 17th December 2019, 15:13
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B-26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Lidicker was John E Lidicker. This appears to be a reference to the crash:

https://books.google.com/books?id=4f...dicker&f=false

And his obit: https://www.meaningfulfunerals.net/o...69?fh_id=12328

Note it was the 322nd BG, 450th BS (not the 332nd BG).

"Dyer" was actually Warren J Dwyer. Here is his grave. He was from New Orleans, LA:

https://www.abmc.gov/node/531539

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/...n-joseph-dwyer

Last edited by RSwank; 17th December 2019 at 20:34.
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Old 18th December 2019, 11:45
Leendert Leendert is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Manni,

Somehow B-26 42-96030 reportedly flew with 394 BG/585 BS?

See http://www.ww2buddies.com/BG394.html

Regards,

Leendert

Last edited by Leendert; 18th December 2019 at 11:46. Reason: Typo
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Old 18th December 2019, 11:54
Leendert Leendert is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Manni,

Lt Lidicker (322nd BG) and his crash are mentioned in the online book "The Flying Prostitute" (p. 176) by Lawrence J. Hunter.

It is written there that German medics took him to the front line "and left him for dead".

Regards,
Leendert
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Old 18th December 2019, 12:48
manniw manniw is offline
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Re: Crash B-26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Hello RSwank,
thank you very much for the great information!
I've been researching this story for almost two years now, your answer is the solution to the story.
Of course it was the 322nd BG, the mistake was mine! Do you have any more information about the rest of the crew ? I will now try to find the descendants of Dwyer and Lidicker, maybe they will give me more information about the crash and the history of their rescue.
Thanks again, you helped me a lot!
Best regards
manni
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Old 18th December 2019, 21:58
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B-26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Nick, not sure about the dates you give. Here is an interesting account of the PIR patrols crossing the Rhine at/near Cologne in the early April time frame. I was hoping the account might mention the rescue but it stops on April 9, two days before the 11th.

The co-ordinates they are giving are in the Nord de Guerre, wF map square. (see http://www.echodelta.net/mbs/eng-welcome.php )

The PIR account:

http://ww2tribute.blogspot.com/2014/03/

(NOTE: the patrol reports in the link above were retrieved apparently from an on-line "virtual" Fort Benning library which contained a large pdf file called D97_I2031.pdf.
Unfortunately, the link addresses given for that file no-longer seem to work. That file "may" have information on the rescue. I will try to contact the library and also the author of the blog.)

Here are some maps which shows the front on April 1, 1945 and April 15, 1945. Note that Cologne (east bank side) was in a "pocket" (the Ruhr pocket) with Rhine crossings both to the north and south.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...frontAtlas.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...frontAtlas.jpg

Last edited by RSwank; 20th December 2019 at 21:55.
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Old 19th December 2019, 05:02
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B-26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

I believe this man is another possibility for the crew, Donald M Wolberg.

Search for Wolberg on this link: https://wwiiflighttraining.org/?page_id=596

I have found another articles that mention he was in the 322nd BG and was in action in April, 1945. Several articles mention he was wounded, apparently in April and was "released", with some confusion as whether he was a POW.

This next link, (search for Wolberg) shows him on crew #39D in the 322nd. Interesting that none of the crew listed seem to have been with Wolberg at Cologne.

https://www.391bombgroup.org.uk/docu...ript_fold3.txt

Donald Merle Wolberg was born 18 March 1923 in Chicago, IL and died 8 January 1994 in PA.

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/4079...ald_m_wolberg/

Last edited by RSwank; 19th December 2019 at 14:49.
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Old 19th December 2019, 10:17
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

NOTE: I’ve edited two threads on the same subject into one. I hope that what remains removes the duplication and still makes sense.
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Old 19th December 2019, 16:03
manniw manniw is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

Hello, RSwank,

thanks for the further information about the crew. The second link to the 391th BG is from 11.09.1944......I spoke with the Brtitisch Air Museum months ago and they explained to me that it happened very often that crews were exchanged among themselves or individual members were transferred to other BGs or Sq.

To the 505Th PIR I also tried to get information about the 11.04.1945, until today without any result. I have the daily reports until 10.04 and then again from 13.04.1945, in which the handing over of the places by the mayors is mentioned......It is amazing that the crash and the rescue of the crew is not mentioned anywhere officially. But even Martha Gellhorn described this story in her book.....Is it possible that the story of the "good German civilian" who rescues American soldiers did not fit into the time? Everything that was published had to be censored by the press.....it is just a consideration.

I am thrilled that you are so committed to my questions, I am curious what else you have for me.

Greeting
Manni
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Old 20th December 2019, 15:29
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: Crash B26 on 11.April 1945 near Cologne

It was mentioned in the first post that Martha Gellhorn described the incident in her book.

Starting here and on the following page is that description:

https://books.google.com/books?id=wk...gne%22&f=false


UPDATE: It looks like Google has decided to block some of the book pages. This morning you could see both of the pages where Gellhorn fully described the incident but when I checked this afternoon, you are only allowed to see the first page. Apparently, if too many people look at a page in a short period of time, Google will block viewing of the page.

Here is what it said.

"“Yesterday it (ack-ack) operated effectively and a B-26 was shot down and a column of black smoke rose straight and mountain-high. It looked like a funeral pyre to all of us. Tanks of the Thirteenth Armored Division were moving up across the river, behind the burning plane, but the crew was there in a belt of Germans, and no one could reach them. From a 505th Regimental observation post, some paratroopers had seen four men get out of the plane. That was at about one o’clock on a soft clear day. At six o’clock began one of the strangest episodes anyone had yet seen in this war—and there were a few men present who had survived all four 82nd Airborne missions and the Battle of the Bulge and could be expected to have seen everything.
Across the Rhine on the green bank someone started waving a white flag. This was ignored, because it does not necessarily mean anything. Then a procession came down to a landing pier. They carried a Red Cross flag. Through binoculars, we could see a medic, a priest, and two German soldiers carrying a stretcher. A landing craft put out from our bank, well covered by our machine guns in case this was all a sinister joke. Presently on both banks of the Rhine there was an audience; normally no one would move in this area in daylight, and even at night you would be careful. Now we stood in the sun and gaped. Slowly three more stretchers were carried down to our boat. We could see civilians over there, children, German soldiers; everyone was out staring at everyone else. We could not quite believe it and were still prepared to dive for cover quickly. The little boat was launched into the current, but it drifted farther downstream and we followed it on our side, like people streaming along a racecourse to watch the horses come in. The boat landed and our medic, who had gone over to get these four wounded men, the survivors of the B-26 crew, shouted to clear the banks because the Krauts said they’d give the ambulance time to load them then they would open up. The war had stopped for approximately and hour on a hundred-yard front.
“I never saw the Krauts act so nice,” one soldier said, as we wandered back to the buildings where we would not make such tasty targets.
“They know our tanks are coming up,” another soldier said. “Krauts don’t act nice for nothing.”"

A couple of observations. I don't think the tanks of the 13th Armored Division would have been "in sight" at this time. They were moving up from the south on the east bank of the Rhine, but they would probably have been still miles away on April 11th. Gellhorn may just mean that she "knew" American tanks were moving from the south to cut off this part of the "pocket".

I read Gellhorn's description to mean that the plane actually crash landed and the 505th soldiers saw men "get out" of the plane after it had crashed and started to burn. I don't think the crew parachuted out. If they had, I think she would have used phrases such as "bail out" or "jumped out", etc. A crash landing would also possibly account for the serious injuries (and burns) of the crew.

This B-26 supposedly had a crew of six men. We know that Dwyer died (possible in the plane before it crashed or at the crash site). Gellhorn describes four injured men on stretchers. Was the final (sixth) crewman able to walk and he was also on the boat?

Last edited by RSwank; 27th December 2019 at 15:23.
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