Plane Crashes in the KMC Area
Home page of the Crash Investigation Group:                 
http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/
Landstuhl, Miesenbach, Kusel, Spesbach, Niedermohr, Kaiserslautern...familiar
names to KMC military members.  But these locations are also the sites of some 400
WWII plane crashes in this area.  The link below to the Arbeitsgruppe
Vermisstenforshung (in English) will keep you busy for hours: crashes, flak sites,
bombing raids, it's all there in meticulous detail. And once you read of these crashes
and drive past the sites, knowing in some cases those men are still in the ground, the
air war over Europe takes on a new meaning.  
Please contact Uwe Benkel if you need a speaker/presentation, as the members
of the group speak English and have presentations and displays ready to go for
American audiences.
Special thanks to Martina and Uwe Benkel for their help and
the use of their photos.     
5 November 1944: Two P47s collide while escorting a
bomber over the ammunition dump northeast of Homburg
(is this the Miesau Ammunition Depot next to
Eichelscheiderhof?). Both planes go down between
Eichelscheiderhof and Bechofen with the loss of both pilots.  
The body of 2LT Warren Marsh is never recovered.
17 December 1944: LTC Richard Harbeson
takes flak over Landstuhl and crash lands his
P47 "Barbara" on the clocktower at
Eichelscheiderhof. He survives to become a
POW, and returns to the USA after the war.
The occupants of the building are in the cellar
and unaware a plane has landed on their roof!   
The KMC Crashes:  Just a Few of the 400 in This Area
Recommended Reading:
Those Who Fall by John Muirhead, a B17 pilot. Rated "One of the Ten Best WWII
Books". Our favorite.
Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi
Germany
by Donald L. Miller. A 500+ page giant on the 8th Air Force that gets the
vote from our B17 navigator buddy, COL (ret) John Parker. He also recommends the
movie "Twelve O'Clock High" as a little hokey but representative of the emotions of
bomber crews.
29 Jan 1944: "Piccadilly Queen" is hit by
flak over Ludwigshafen and then rammed by
a Me109 over Kaiserslautern. Five of the
crew are too badly wounded to bail out and
go down with the plane. Four survive the
crash and prison camp, and assist Uwe
Benkels' research on the crash decades later.
Three US B17s and two German Me109s
crash  in this area that day during air
operations.  
Current Crash Investigations/Excavations 2011
The Flugzeugabsturze Arbeitsgruppe (Airplane Crash Working Group) is constantly
researching sites and doing crash recoveries.
They are now working on excavation of a
Lancaster bomber that crashed near Laumersheim, with all crew on board.
Confirmation of the site came
in July 2010 with discovery of the plane parts.
Recovery of two German tanks in the KMC is also on the agenda - one south of
Kaiserslautern, and another (possibly a Tiger) near Schoenenberg.  A member of the
group, Martin Dziewa, is making progress on the crash of two B17s near Prittisch
(Przytoczna) Poland. I have been honored to help him contact some of the US
survivors and their families, including a P47 escort pilot who is still going strong.
Contact Uwe Benkel if you are interested in assisting with these projects.   
***New March 2011 Crash Investigation: a Ju-88 downed near Zweibruecken
14 Nov 1956:  1LT Salvatore Meli  is flying a routine mission
out of Ramstein when his SabreJet develops problems.
Searching for a landing spot over Schopp Germany, he ha
s
decide
: steer his jet away from the village and go down with
the plane, or bail out. He stayed with the plane and crashed,
leaving a wife and three young children behind. In September
2011
his daughter returned to see her father honored by a
grateful village.
9 Aug 1944: A B17 Flying Fortress slams into
a slope above Kusel
after running into flak over
Kindsbach.  Over sixty years later, Uwe
Benkels group escorted the families of two
crew members to the crash site. Niece of the
top turret gunner,
SSgt.Anthony Burroughs,
visited in April 2009, and brother of pilot
2LT
Sterling Bristol
visited in October 2010. Official
information is available here
, English on the
right side.