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B-17 found in germany, do you know the pilots name?

Discussion in 'Heavy & Very Heavy Bombers' started by chris1, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    Has anybody involved in researching this wreck site in Germany checked the local police office for the AV report -- Generally when there was a aircraft wreck involving a death, the local undertaker / doctor etc.. would examine the body and generate a AV report stating cause of death and a copy would be place on file locally.
  2. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Yes, this is somewhat covered back on thread page 4; no joy on record recovery from Schutterwald.
  3. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    Kingman - not talking about the French connections, I am talking about the AV reports (German Amerikaner Vorgaenge (AV) Reports)

    1945 kinda is hit an miss should be in the records marked /45 - but all police stations were required to have a copy (and still do today)


    These records are coroner reports and a lot of graphic photos and descriptions can be found in these records...

    https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&rows=100&tabType=all&facet=true&facet.fields=oldScope,level,materialsType,fileFormat,locationIds,dateRangeFacet&highlight=true&f.ancestorNaIds=6922023&sort=naIdSort asc

    Not sure if I want these records searched -- if too many people find out what is available, the National Archives might pull because of there graphic content (and historic records become locked away) -- Scott, your decision.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
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  4. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    terverun...Thanks Dave, so few call me Kingman. This is a most interesting NARA resource "my decision seems moot, not relevant" as the cat is out of the bag here with your open NARA link https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&rows=100&tabType=all&facet=true&facet.fields=oldScope,level,materialsType,fileFormat,locationIds,dateRangeFacet&highlight=true&f.ancestorNaIds=6922023&sort=naIdSort asc . Literally translated Amerikaner Vorgaenge = American events. As you are familiar with these records might you be willing to search for Captain John Thomas McErlane, ASN O-447141 to discover what might be archived.

    As to graphic content I believe most involved here with this thread have read the graphic content of Capt. McErlane's body description after the crash as described by Eugen Hansmann in his chapter 17 (Swank translation attached). This I believe has been shared by Rolland with all family members via the Google Drive he set up for document sharing with crew member family and researchers. As such I believe the graphic content risk is low. This has been such a long thread I can't remember if anyone has requested Capt. McErlane's IDPF but I certainly hope so as this is a long recovery process (NOT meant to distract from your alternate method of AV record recovery).

    Would you be willing to research/recover/share records found with Captain John Thomas McErlane content? Thank you for your consideration.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
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  5. chris1

    chris1 Active Member

    jaap attempted to find out something (#57)
    unfortunately not successful

    "He is not mentioned in the ABMC records."
  6. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Yes, both Jaap and Rolland investigated burials in Germany, Europe, and the United States with nothing found as best as I recall including Capt. McErlane's current grave site (cremation was a possible speculated reason). I believe Rolland has made contact with the McErlane family but results of what may have been learned from this contact are not known to me.

    Correction: Rolland post #177 "all families have been contacted" I don't believe the McErlane family has replied to date.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  7. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    I was told by a McErlane relative that he believed John was buried in Calvary Cemetery, St Paul with his parents. Calvary is on findagrave but no McErlane's come up via a web search. It would be possible to contact the cemetery directly if this needs to be pursued as there is a cemetery website.
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  8. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Rolland.
    The majority of the McErlane family detail you provided is back on page 3, post #55. I have taken the liberty to contact The Calvary Cemetery, St Paul MN and had a fruitful conversation with their representative named Linda. Capt. John Thomas McErlane is in fact interred in the family plot with his mother Katherine and father John Joseph.

    Capt. McErlane's details are as follows: Section 49, Block 13, Lot 55, Grave #4. John was interred at Calvary Cemetery on 8 August 1949, so it took a considerable amount of time for John to find his way home, however he is home. I asked Linda if she would be so kind to email me a photo of John's head stone and she willingly agreed. In addition Linda also offered to send with the photo a more complete map of the cemetery than available on their website. On email receipt all to be posted here. I will also create a proper findagrave page for Capt. McErlane and post the link here when complete.

    Generic Cemetery map
    GEarth aerial view Calvary Cemetery, St Paul MN section 49 highlighted
    Calvary Cemetery section 49.jpg

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  9. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    Scott, thank you for the McErlane grave followup. I had intended to followup but got much more involved in working on the crash narrative. Wonderful that you will be able to get it on findagrave.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  10. chris1

    chris1 Active Member

    @scott, many thanks you found the grave
  11. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    With much gratitude to Linda K Radtke, Office Manager, Calvary and St. Mary's Cemeteries who provided a photo of Capt McErlane's grave marker as promised and more, allowing me to establish a Find-A-Grave page for Captain John Thomas McErlane. I hope this is satisfactory to all, please see http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=173567748

    I am always open to edit suggestions from all involved with this study, particularly any McErlane crew family members, and the new found German family members of Schutterwald. I hope I've done justice here for the memory of Mac for all, both Germans on the ground and his crew who became POW's after his death.

  12. chris1

    chris1 Active Member

    dear scott, you created a dignified memorial site.
    many thanks to you and Linda K Radtke.

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  13. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Greetings to all, dedicated to the research of the Capt. John T. McErlane crew and events of 21 January 1945.

    In conversation with Chris about resent findagrave postings, now might be a good time to review how this relates to members of this crew and their individual findagrave pages. Dave Dennard, along with Chris and Reiner have added most welcome photo content to Mac's findagrave page. I have reorganized the photo content to keep Mac's images and data on top.

    The big picture here for findagrave content; all crew members now have a findagrave page listed as follows; listed in order as pictured in the crew image with aircraft:

    John T McErlane (P)...(new posting)
    Earl H Hansen (CP)
    Paul J. Manouvrier (B)
    James S Pillsbury (N)…(new posting)
    J Lorin Pence (ETTG)
    Robert Edwin Dennard (TG)
    William E. Rambo, Jr. (RO)
    Michael Rappolo (BTG)
    Hunter H. Dunn (WG)

    Here are my thoughts on this topic and these findagrave pages as shared with Chris:
    "I should probably add a post on this topic to Mac's forum thread so the families know how this is done - if they wish to participate, some may not. For now I will keep control of Mac's page until I am absolutely sure a family member wishes to take on this responsibility keeping this page in order.

    I have thought about adding the crew with plane photo and cropped image of each member of the crew to their own findagrave page, but I think this not right. All of these men survived the war and being a POW going on to live their lives. For the rest of the crew who lived this war experience was a short part of their life where these findagrave pages should honor that whole life, not just the war years; in my opinion.

    This is why I think it not proper to add any 'war' photos to any of these pages unless the individual families wish it to be so. And It would be best for each to request control of their own family members findagrave page."

    I hope this makes my objectives here clearer. There are a couple of out layers here primarily Paul J. Manouvrier where I broke my own rule adding the crew and cropped image of Paul to his page. If this is not wanted by the family please advise and it will be deleted, also in either even would a family member please provide the proper spelling of your last name, if you please. Also understand I do not control this Paul J. Manouvrier page, something for the family members to consider.

    Additionally brought to my attention by Chris is that there is a "second" page http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=95902980 for Paul J. Manouvrier with a different creator Ron Manley a matter for the Manouvrier family to deal with if they choose.

    Another example is James S Pillsbury who had no findagrave page so I created one. Obviously back to my initial thought this does not offer a complete celebration of his life postwar. I am extremely willing to turn this page over to family members who have already voiced their historical interest via this thread.

    As to the remainder of the crews findagrave pages they were created by someone else, this is the way of findagrave where their members create these pages. Generally speaking these F.A.G. members are happy to relinquish page control to immediate next of kin family members. what follows is the proper method to request control:
    1) Go to the findagrave page for your family member
    2) on that page top (right) tool bar select edit
    3) on this page drop down to and select "Suggest any other correction or addition", Here explain your relationship to your family member and respectfully request control of the page. In most instances a reply should be received shortly within hours or days at the latest. This request will be directed to the F.A.G. member in control and perhaps creator of this page.
    4) Be patient, it has been my experience that these requests are replied to rapidly and in most instances control change granted.

    I have no way of knowing which crew family members wish to participate, your reply to this thread would be helpful but not required (only for a head count of those wishing to participate) in the findagrave family control of these findagrave pages. I am always happy to help in any way I can.

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
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  14. chris1

    chris1 Active Member

    @ scott,
    thanks for your many effords to look up the findagrave sites.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  15. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    All of the original seven "known" findagrave sites were mentioned back on pages 3 and 4 of this thread and they were also given to the families on the associated Google Drive for families. One other thing Chris mentioned is that the Schutterwald memorial plans are changing (along with the associated cost).

    Apparently there is more local interest with regards to exactly what the memorial will look like. It is becoming more than just a cross with the name of McErlane. It may evolve into a style that exists at many crash sites in Europe, such as this one (or perhaps something even more elaborate.)


    All this will probably put off any “dedication” until next summer.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  16. Norden B.S.

    Norden B.S. New Member

    My Father had mentioned that he'd corresponded with Mac's widow and he believed that they were trying to move Mac's body back to St. Paul. He assumed but wasn't sure that it ever happened because he wasn't sure that the body was ever found. It's good to know. My Father would have been happy to hear it.

    From what I remember, My Father had been in contact with Mac's widow and a couple of the gunner's when he returned to the states.
    But, the remaining crew had years taken out of their lives, and had more pressing concerns. In my Father's case, it was getting married, finishing college, 5 back surgeries (crews who flew in '44 & '45 reported a lot of back injuries from flying in turbulent weather) probably caused by his rough landing, and finding a job. There was a lot to catch-up on and a lot that was probably bottled-up. When I asked my Father about post traumatic stress, he laughed and said the red cross gave him a candy bar and that was it.

    My Father had a by-pass in '88. He was more willing to talk about what happened. But, I always thought that there was some survivor's guilt on the part of his friends who survived the war. They knew how lucky they were and "that there for the grace of God...."
    and you can finish the sentence. But, he was more interested in finding out where he'd been and what happened. After his death, I found a list of the missions that he could remember, there were 23. I found a few more thanks to a data base. He had a map w/Offenburg circled. As I said before, he thought the Honey Chile was hit around Mainz by a lucky shot which would put him further north than the diagram. But, he couldn't see the ground on 1/21/45 and it had been a lot of years when we had that conversation. I don't think my Father knew that their B-17 could be tracked by " those 88's," as he called them. He'd have been fascinated by Rolland's research. His response, to Rolland's conclusions would have been, " I'll have to think about that." Things were all happening fast that day."

    Although after my Father's death, there were a million questions I forgot to ask, in the last years of his life, he was willing and able to talk about his time over-seas. As I've said, he was worried that he "arrived at the dance too late," as he wanted to serve and wanted to be part of the fight. He wasn't unusual in that regard.

    He was acutely aware of how lucky he was to have made it home and that made me realize how lucky I was. I'm married to a woman who never knew her Father. He was a test pilot killed 6 months before she was born. My wife probably has no bigger wish than for someone to walk-up to her and say, "I knew your Dad. We saved together. Let me tell you about him."

    Speaking for myself, this is a Godsend. It brought my Father's memory back to life. He'd have loved to have known the details about Mac, the crash, and what happened to the crew. Increasingly, since I read the posts in this thread, I've had the feeling he was reading over my shoulder. Rolland's research is something of a time machine.
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  17. chris1

    chris1 Active Member

    clemens from the historic society of schutterwald wrote:

    the bomberreport will be in the newspaper next week, and

    the letter for permission to the memory plate was sent to mayor
  18. Severin

    Severin New Member

    Hey Guys,

    My grandparents also live in Schutterwald and have been really interested in this topic. I spoke to my grandfather for about 2 hours about it yesterday.

    @chris1 I believe I know one of the people you (or your father-in-law) was corresponding with. Intials are C.H. if that matters :)

    So I'm just commenting in here to let you know I'm interested in this too and would love to be involved in any interesting discoveries so I can relay them to my grandparents.
    chris1 likes this.
  19. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    Severin, welcome to the discussion. I will send you a PM (conversation) concerning the Google Drive we are using which contains more information about this crash. You might find some of the material of interest.
    (PS --when were you at St Peter's? ;-)
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  20. Severin

    Severin New Member

    Hey RSwank, thanks for the welcome!

    Clemens already forwarded me some information but I'd be happy to see what else you guys have uncovered, this is really interesting stuff, piecing together a story from what information there is.

    I was in St. Peter's late summer of 2015 with a friend of mine, we did a trip around Europe starting in Germany (where I visited my family, alone) and then meeting up in Amsterdam and continuing to Madrid, Rome, Naples, Athens and Munich (for Oktoberfest!) The photo is a bit outdatted as my hair is much shorter now, but still a fantastic experience and I'm a big fan of that photo.
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