Sheffield WW2 crashed bomber fly-past campaign starts

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Featured on the BBC Breakfast show this morning;

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-englan...shire-46738576

on Twitter;

https://twitter.com/mrdanwalker

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Profile picture for user Moggy C

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Surely Sally B would be more appropriate than the Red Arrows? EDIT: In deep maintenance - scrub that idea

Perhaps a Mildenhall C130?

Moggy

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I know she is in deep maintenance at Duxford now but when is her scheduled post maintenance first flight, if not her then what about Beech 18 or Harvard to keep the US angle going. Seeing this man's dedication we need to recognise it somehow.

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USAAF B-17 42-31322 ‘Mi Amigo’, Endcliffe Park, Sheffield

On 22 February 1944 Flying Fortress ‘Mi Amigo’ crashed in this public park in Sheffield with the loss of all 10 crew men on board.

The B-17 had been on a raid on the German airfield at Ålborg in occupied Denmark (apparently Ålborg has the unwanted distinction of being the first city in the world to be taken by paratroopers). The airfield was home to Fw 190s and Bf 109s.

These attacked the B-17s overhead, and pursued ‘Mi Amigo’ as bombardier Second Lt Hernandez, aware of the Danish civilians below, was unable to release the bombs due to cloud cover obscuring the target.

Pilot First Lt Krieghauser’s aircraft was badly damaged by the attacking fighters. The bombs were released harmlessly over the North Sea as the B-17 limped back towards base in Northamptonshire.

It is probable the navigation and communication equipment was out of service, and that some of the crew were dead or wounded from the attack. For whatever reasons, ‘Mi Amigo’ ended up 80 miles off course and circling low over the city of Sheffield.

In Endcliffe Park, kids playing football watched as an engine finally cut, a wing dipped and the aircraft spiralled down into a wooded knoll next to the playing field. It is possible First Lieutenant Krieghauser was considering a crash landing on the playing field. This might also account for why some of the crew at least didn’t bail out. Eye witness accounts at the time (and there were many) are extremely harrowing and there seems no point in repeating them here.

The memorial is surrounded by 10 American oaks planted in 1969, one for each crew member.

Cunningham notes that day, 22 Feb 1944, 43 American bombers were lost on operations with the deaths of 430 men.

http://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-crash-sites-5/usaaf-b-17-42-31322-mi-amigo-endcliffe-park-sheffield-2/

The story, from there, is taken up by the United States Air Force historical records kept in Montgomery, Alabama. They recall the “extraordinary achievement” of pilot Lieutenant John Kriegshauser who was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for minimising loss of life. “Displaying consummate skill, he piloted the aircraft back to England,” the official records state. “Although unfavourable weather conditions were prevalent, Lt Kriegshauser attempted to locate a field in which to land.

“Engines became inoperative over a heavily built up area (Sheffield) and he was forced to crash-land.

“An English home was directly in the path of the bomber but Lt Kriegshauser, exhibiting an exemplary devotion to duty, manoeuvred the crippled aeroplane over the dwelling. It crashed in a wood approximately 100 yards away. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by Lt Kriegshauser reflect the highest credit on himself and the armed forces of the US.” One eyewitness to the incident was Brian Jackson, formerly of Redmires Road, Fulwood. He had been standing in nearby Manchester Road when he saw the plane fall from the sky. He ran immediately to the scene.

“The tail plane was jammed vertically upright between two trees; the plane was in two halves having slid down the bank,” he recalled. “The forward section was blazing fiercely.”

As it turned out, it was just one of 43 downed American bombers that day. A massive offensive against German lines had been a relative success but it had come at the loss of 430 young lives.

The first - and perhaps most unusual - memorial service for the crew of Mi Amigo was held that summer, according to Brian.

Another Flying Fortress passed low over Greystones one Sunday evening. “It transpired afterwards,” he said, “that a wreath had been dropped on the site of the crash.”

The men who died:

Lt John Kriegshauser

John Humphrey

Robert Mayfield

Charles Tuttle

Vito Ambrosio

George Williams

Lyle Curtis

Melchor Hernandex

Harry Estabrooks

Maurice Robbins

Memorial for fallen heroes

A memorial service has been held at the site of the Mi Amigo crash since 1970.

That year, the Sheffield branch of the Royal Air Force Association installed a memorial stone in Endcliffe Park honouring the dead. It was funded with donations from Sheffield people.

“We want to provide a plaque in memory of these men who gave their lives so that other people in Sheffield might not die,” said Bert Cruse, the then chairman of the branch.

Wreaths have been laid on the Sunday closest to the anniversary by representatives from the United States Air Force, Royal Air Force and the local community ever since.

This year, the ceremony will take place this Sunday at 1.15pm followed by a service at St Augustine’s Church in Brocco Bank, from 2pm.

https://www.thestar.co.uk/retro/retro-the-10-amigos-who-fell-from-the-sky-1-6448835

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Cunningham notes that day, 22 Feb 1944, 43 American bombers were lost on operations with the deaths of 430 men.

Not one survivor? Is that credible?

Moggy

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My father was one of the kids playing in the park, he was 14.
The fate of at least two aircrew on board was, as noted previously, harrowing.
Typical of the time, my fathers memories included fishing spent cartridge cases from Mi Amigo from a nearby pond and using them as swops for the other commonly traded ‘booty’ of bomb or shell shrapnel....

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Might

No survivors from 43 lost aircraft seems hard to believe.
It looks like a writer equates "lost" bombers with "lost"/killed crew.

One reason I take aviation writings by non-aviation familiar writers with a grain of salt.

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I replied to the BBC guy earlier and suggested he look at Sally B! It would be far more fitting than the Red Arrows in my humble opinion! I've read that Peter Teichmann will listen to flypast requests and his mustang would be nice too!
I hope it happens as his dedication and the memory of the men on board Mi Amigo needs commemorating!

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I'm glad it wasn't just me that thought that 430 aircrew killed from 43 aircraft lost sounded just too startling (and 'convenient')!

There have been RAF operations where not a single crew member survived from any of the shot-down bombers but it would be extremely unusual for the USAAF, especially for a large B-17 force; more likely 'lost' crew means killed and taken POW (including wounded / injured POWs)...

...effectively 'lost to future (wartime) service'.

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Could mean something like 43 planes lost with 400 crew killed on those with an additional 30 died on other aircraft? There would very likely have been deaths on a/c not shot down.

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No, the crew losses for a B-17 daylight operation are just too high; with ten crew per B-17 that would effectively still mean 40 aircraft where every crew member was killed. Plus 30 crew killed on other aircraft (that returned to base) is just too high.

It surely cannot be a coincidence that the ten man crew for a B-17 would produce exactly 430 crew 'lost' for 43 aircraft lost?

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A bit of digging on the internet produced this website:

http://www.445bg.org/feb,-1944.html

The 22nd February 1944 was in the middle of the 'Big Week' of maximum effort by the USAAF against Luftwaffe airfields and German aircraft plants.

If you scroll down to 22/02/1944 and 'Mission 230' (for the 8th Air Force) you get a breakdown for the 799 dispatched that day and a partial breakdown of the aircraft and crew losses:

Thirty-eight B-17 bombers are 'lost' resulting in 35 crew 'killed in action', 30 crew 'wounded in action' and 367 crew 'missing in action' (presumably all taken POW). Three B-24 bombers are also 'lost' resulting in 30 crew 'missing in action' (also presumably all taken POW).

So 35 KIA, plus 367 MIA, plus another 30 MIA, equals 432 'lost' bomber crew on 22/02/1944.

Four B-17 bombers are 'damaged beyond repair' and a staggering one hundred and forty one B-17 bombers are 'damaged' out of a mission comprising two hundred and eighty nine bombers...

...or, put another way, that is a 14.5% loss-rate and a 48.8% damaged-rate; only 36.7% of the original force returned from the mission undamaged!

Staggering losses, but at least we now know that 430 bomber crew were not killed on the 22nd February 1944!

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I don't think you can safely assume that "Missing In Action" equates to 'taken prisoner'. That would put the death rate far too low.

Moggy

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No, I agree.....in my defence it was very late last night when I wrote that!

I had actually already looked up the mission against Aalborg airfield from which B-17 'Mi Amigo' was lost and discovered that three other B-17 bombers were lost on the same mission and, unusually, two of these were lost with their entire crews (many of them after bailing-out over the sea) but I maintain that, overall, that is far from representative of average B-17 crew losses.

I'm not sure where the figures I've quoted were derived from; the very fact that such a high proportion were listed as 'missing' and none were listed as POW must mean that these are directly quoted wartime figures, however the numbers listed as 'killed in action' and 'wounded in action' are also very definite...

...so are these only the figures for those killed and wounded who were back on 'friendly' territory (like the crew of 'Mi Amigo')?

I still maintain that there is no way that 430 airmen were killed on 22nd February 1944.

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[QUOTE}that would effectively still mean 40 aircraft where every crew member was killed[/QUOTE]. No those KIA are over 43 aircraft. So 43 A/C where NEARLY every crew member was killed.

Look at second Schweinfurt raid. 60 b17s shot down. 17 returned damaged beyond repair and 121 lesser damaged.

590 aircrew KIA, 43 WIA and 65 POW.

Assuming most POW came from shot-downs. That means the remainder of those 540 aircrew from the 60 shot-downs were either KIA or WIA.

That puts the remaining 93 KIA/MIA in those returned planes. So somewhere between 50 and 93 aircrew were killed in those planes that returned?

Looking like the odds of surviving a shot-down not good. Around 10% POW, less than 10% WIA and rest dead?

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It will take me a while to digest those figures but those survival figures quoted look shockingly low for shot-down B-17 bombers; if there is one quality that the B-17 is undisputed for, it is its toughness as an airframe and that, together with other factors, led to the best crew survival rate of any four-engined Allied bomber.

I think I'm right in saying that the overall survival-rate for shot-down Lancaster crew was one-in-seven (about 14%) and was the worst of the Allied heavy-bomber.

I seem to remember that the overall survival-rate for shot-down B-17 crew was almost exactly the reciprocal with six-in-seven (about 85%) surviving!

Don't quote me! It's been a while since I looked into it!

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Roger Freeman and “Mighty Eighth War Diary” for 22 February 1944, says 38 B-17s lost from 1st BD and 3 B-24s from 2nd BD. Total 41.

35 KIA, 30 WIA and 397 MIA.

However, this does not include those B-17s lost over the U.K.

These are listed separately. So there was additionally this one, the “Mi Amigo”, plus two more that collided on take off (killing 18), one ditched in sea, one abandoned over U.K. and one crashing on landing. So 47 aircraft in total were lost that day.

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Look at second Schweinfurt raid. 60 b17s shot down...

590 aircrew KIA, 43 WIA and 65 POW.

I'm far more familiar with the first Schweinfurt mission so I looked those figures up on Wikipedia but the figures quoted there are a mistake in that they quote ~590 KIA. Later on the article states:

Some 229 of 291 B-17s hit the city area and ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany in two groups: the first group bombed at 1439–-1445 hours, the second group at 1451-–1457 hours. 60 B-17s were lost, two damaged beyond repair and 13 damaged (what???); casualties amounted to five KIA, 40 WIA and 594 MIA.

Of 2,900 crewmen, about 254 men did not return (what???) (65 survived as prisoners-of-war), while five killed-in-action and 43 wounded were in the damaged aircraft that returned (594 were listed as missing-in-action).

Among the most seriously affected American units was the 306th Bomb Group. It lost 100 men: 35 died on the mission or of wounds and 65 were captured.

So 291 B-17 bombers would have nominally 2910 crew aboard, fair enough, but I don't understand the reference to '254 men did not return' (from 60 shot-down B-17 bombers?) nor the '65 survived as prisoners-of-war' because looking at just the figures for the 306th Bomb Group quoted immediately below it states that the 306th 'lost' 100 men (ten B-17 bombers) and of these 100 men 35 died on the mission or of wounds and 65 were captured.

So if these 65 POW were all the total of 65 POW on the mission did no other crew member from any of the other 50 shot-down B-17 bombers, from any other Bomb Group, survive to become a POW? No, surely that is not credible!

Another case of people writing on Wikipedia and quoting fragments of information and conflating immediate post-mission reports with post-war statistics!

This is October 1943 and the Luftwaffe are defending against unescorted B-17 formations deep inside Germany and the worst affected unit, the 306th Bomb Group, still has a survival-rate of 65% for crew becoming POW from shot-down bombers...

...extrapolate that for approximately 600 crew 'missing in action', that would give you a better estimate for the POW total.

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Looking at overall losses for 8th AF. The total number KIA is equivalent to the number POW. Suggests that the rate is around 50% POW to KIA in shot downs. Ignores those cases of later dying of wounds, in captivity, and those killed on returned a/c but gives a rough reliable figure? The more I delve the more unreliable the figures are! I give up.

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Roger Freeman again (I tend to avoid the Internet.....)
14 October 1943 Schwienfurt. 320 B-17s despatached, 229 Effective. 60 B-17s MIA.
This does not include those lost over the U.K..
From the 60 were 5 KIA, 40 WIA and 594 MIA (not KIA) (remember these are the returns from the following day).
Extra to this was another 7 lost over the U.K. It would be months before it was known how many of the 594 MIA were dead, POWs or evaders. The trouble with some internet pages is that they mix the “next day returns” with later records. And often make wrong assertions.

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The trouble with some internet pages is that they mix the “next day returns” with later records. And often make wrong assertions.

Yes, exactly!

Didn't see your post above until now; I was busy responding to your earlier post.

Roger Freeman and “Mighty Eighth War Diary” for 22 February 1944, says 38 B-17s lost from 1st BD and 3 B-17s from 2nd BD. Total 41.

For propaganda or morale reasons wartime figures often seem to quote 'lost', 'missing' or 'failed-to-return' aircraft; they must have thought the figures sounded better than quoting the actual totals including the 'damaged-beyond-repair' (although these wouldn't be assessed for days later probably).

I stumbled across this interesting (if rather confusing!) website last night that details some of the losses from the mission that the crew of 'Mi Amigo' were on:

https://www.airmen.dk/p271operation.htm

Interestingly it was a 'diversionary raid' and especially interesting for myself as last night I was only a few miles away from Podington (or 'Santa Pod' as it is better known these days!) where the crew of 'Mi Amigo' seem to have taken-off from on that fateful day in 1944.

The only thing the website doesn't seem to mention is how many aircraft took part in this 'diversionary raid'?