|"I Always Felt a Connection..."
Jan Loftis always felt her life was
strangely intertwined with her uncle
Anthony Burroughs, who died when his
B17 crashed near Kusel 9 Aug 1944.
"He died two years before I was born
but I always wondered about him. Back
then you didn't ask, no one really talked
about it. I think all that grief that wasn't
expressed somehow went into me." And
on 15 Apr 2009, Jan finally stood on the
site where her uncle died 64 years ago.
The 22 year old staff SGT, a top turret
gunner, was on his fifth mission when
flak near Kindsbach wiped out an
engine and put the plane into a spin. Six
of the crew survived, but three did not.
"Now I can let him go", she said with a
WWII Crash Recovery leader Uwe
Benkel presents Jan with the buckle
from her uncle's parachute harness,
found where his body landed in 1944.
Also found were a spark plug, gun sight,
plexiglass, shells, and metal fragments.
Bravo to the Arbeitsgruppe
Vermisstenforschung for the
latest in their recovery of US,
British, and German WWII
crashes in our area. Their
ongoing research and recovery
efforts since 1988 have
provided closure to
innumerable families like
Jan's. The group also provides
educational programs and
displays in the area.
Uwe Benkel and his daughter Georgina (named after the first pilot recovered by his
group), Jan Loftis (niece of the top turret gunner), Klaus Zimmer (primary researcher
on this site), and Richard Graff, who witnessed the crash as a boy and helped
pinpoint locations in the forest above Kusel.
Jan spoke briefly, and read Psalm
46 (which Anthony's mother had
recited daily), the poem "High
Flight" which was read at his
funeral, and a heartbreaking letter
to Anthony's mother from Pilot Lt.
Sterling Bristol's mother on the
one year anniversary of their sons'
deaths. While she spoke, a ray of
sun illuminated her uncle's photo
for a minute or two.
The Working Group for Crash Recoveries is
always looking for helpers, and you won't find a
nicer group of people. Contact Uwe Benkel at
06333-602570 (perfect English) or at
email@example.com. The excellent website
for the group has comprehensive lists of all
crashes in this area with photos, reports, and
statistics. Anyone interested in getting involved in
local WWII history is welcome.
Anthony and his crew. The plane was so new it
hadn't even been named yet.