Aircraft Crash Records and Crash Sites

The following sources may be of use to someone seeking to learn more about a WWII crash and crash site.  First I am listing general references, then sources specific to the countries of Belgium, France and The Netherlands.

General References

1. Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, ETO Area, by Stan D. Bishop and John A. Hey, MBE.  Three volumes already have been published, Vol. 1, June 1942-December 1943, Vol. 2,January 1944-March 1944, and Vol. 3, April 1944-June 1944.  Vol. 4 was due out in June 2013.  For more details, see their website, http://losses8.webplus.net/.  Using Tom Applewhite’s crew and plane as an example, Bishop and Hey’s Vol. 1, lists the basic information about the plane and crew and then summarizes the information from the Missing Air Crew Report:

“T/O Great Ashfield, assigned target the M/Y Munster.  Seen at 1440 hrs with the No. 3 engine on fire due to flak hit over the target, crew b/o over Holland.  The fire spread causing the a/c to explode and crash at 1440 hrs near Dussen on the border of the Maas River.  The RO, T/Sgt French b/o but died from injuries and was buried in the Reformed Cemetery at Orthen.  1 KIA 8 POW 1 EVD.”

2. A four-volume series by the 8th AF Memorial Museum Foundation, by Paul M. Andrews and William H. Adams, may be of use.  I am not sure of the volume numbers, but the titles I know of are: Heavy Bombers of the Mighty Eighth, The Mighty Eighth Combat Chronology, Fighter Losses of the Mighty Eighth, and Roll of Honor.

3. For RAF losses, see W.R. Chorley’s nine volume series, RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Vol. 1, 1939-40; Vol. 2, 1941; Vol. 3, 1942; Vol. 4, 1943; Vol. 5, 1944; Vol. 6, 1945, and three supplemental volumes, 7,8, and 9.

Vol. 4, 1943 (Midland Counties Publications, Earl Shilton, Leicester, England, 1996), was the one of interest to me, so my comments are confined to it.  However, my guess is that the other volumes are similar.  For Sgt. Stan Munns, the Englishman who accompanied Tom Applewhite across the Pyrenees, I found the following entry for his plane (I have boldfaced the “evd” notations):

“19-20 Nov 1943

“428 Sqn     Halifax V    LK956 NA-S        Op: Leverkusen

  • F/S H C Shepherd RCAF                pow
  • Sgt J M C Walker                            pow
  • F/O D R Knight RCAF                     pow
  • F/S D K MacGillivray RCAF            evd
  • Sgt S J Stevens                              pow
  • Sgt N H Michie RCAF                      evd
  • Sgt S Munns                                   evd

“T/o 1606 Middleton St. George.  While homebound encountered predicted flak in the vicinity of Bonn, sustaining very severe damage.  With great skill, F/S Shepherd RCAF drew clear of the defences, but after reaching Dutch airspace the situation was so critical that the only course of action remaining was to abandon the aircraft.”

For someone searching for information on an airman there is no single index in the volume to all the airmen.  If you know the approximate date he was shot down, you should be able to find the correct entry without much difficulty because the volume is organized by date.  But if you have reason to believe the airman evaded capture, you can go directly to Appendix 8, Escapers and Evaders.  It is only three pages long and is organized by squadron number.  For Stan Munns I found the following:

  • Sqn 428
  • Name Sgt S Munns
  • File 3317
  • Report (-)1698

Here you have your confirmation that the airman evaded and even information as to where to find his records.  The author notes that “The Escape Reports, as they are officially known, are held at the Public Record Office (now the National Archives), Kew and are grouped in a series of files under the Class heading WO208.  These files, or piece numbers, run in sequence from 3298 to 3327 inclusive.”

Other useful information in Chorley’s work is to be found in the other appendices:

  • Appendix 1 – Bomber Squadron Losses 1943 (statistical information)
  • Appendix 2 – Bomber Group Losses 1943 (statistical information)
  • Appendix 3 – Bomber Squadron Bases 1943
  • Appendix 4 – Bomber OTU (operational training unit) and Flight Losses 1943 (statistical information)
  • Appendix 5 – Bomber OTU Bases 1943
  • Appendix 6 – Conversion Unit Losses 1943
  • Appendix 7 – Conversion Unit Bases 1943
  • Appendix 9 – Prisoners of War 1943 (organized by squadron)
  • Appendix 10 – Internees 1943 (for those interned in the Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland)

Corrections and additions to the volumes, compiled by the author and Frank Haslam, are to be found at http://www.rafinfo.org.uk/BCWW2Losses/.

4. For information from Missing Air Crew Reports, the Army Air Forces of World War II website at http://www.armyairforces.com/ , may be able to help.  Click on Databases and MACR, and you get their search page.  You can search by date, A/C serial number, group, squadron, and A/C type.  The websites for individual bomb groups may have information from or actual reproduction of the MACR’s.  Go to the list of Bomb Group links and then click on the Bomb Group of your airman.

5. For an explanation of USAAF serial numbers, see Joe Baugher’s USAAS, USAAC, USAAF, USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers, 1908 to Present, which is at http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/usafserials.html.  Scrolling down the page the user comes to links to “Serial Number Listings by Fiscal Yaer: 1922-Present.”  There are several 1942 links.  Picking the one that contains the serial number 42-30795  for Applewhite’s “The Wild Hare,” takes you to the entries for each plane made during that period.  For “The Wild Hare,” Joe Baugher has the following entry:

30795 (385th BG, 548th BS, 'The Wild Hare') shot down by Hptm
Emil-Rudolf Schnoor in Fw 190A-6 of JG 1/1 Stab between
Eethen and Waspik, Netherlands Nov 11, 1943.  MACR 1161.
1 KIA, 8 POW.

6.  Another website that may prove useful is http://www.lostaircraft.com/.  Available in both English and German, it appears to be a German-run website that says it is dedicated to pilot and air-crew casualties with a database covering the period of 1935-1945.  English and German flag icons allow you to pick whichever language you prefer.  It has an active forum with members posting comments on a variety of topics.  Its database has the following column headings: LA Number; Date; Manufacturer, Model, Type; Serial Number; Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3; Pilot; Loss Location; MACR; Last Edit; and Details.  Its search field has several categories such as Serial Number; Start Airport; Destination; Name; MACR; etc.  See also below under Germany for information two other websites, one about WWII crashes in Germany and the other about Luftwaffe Fighter Claims of Downed Aircraft.

7.  For persons researching RAF crashes, not to be overlooked is Oliver Clutton-Brock’s book, RAF Evaders, The Comprehensive Story of Thousands of Escapers and Their Escape Lines, Western Europe, 1940-1945, London: Grub Street Publishing, 2009.  The book’s “Appendix I, List of RAF evaders: 1940-1945,” provides for each RAF airman shot down the following: surname, initials, rank, nationality, service number, squadron, aircraft serial number, type of aircraft, date shot down, duty/target, country in which the airman landed, countries to which he went or passed through, when he left for the UK and when he arrived, number of his report in the UK National Archives, plus comments by the author.

8.  Another potentially useful source, which I have not yet used, are the Air Ministry Squadron Operations Records of the RAF at The National Archives at Kew in the U.K.  See also their guide to Royal Air Force Operations.

Country-Specific Sources

Belgium

The primary Belgian organization focusing on WWII Belgian crash sites, both Allied and German, is the Belgian Aviation History Association (BAHA) and its Archeology Team (BAHAAT).  For the English language link to the BAHAAT website, go to http://users.telenet.be/airwareurope/en/start_e.htm.  Their contact person is Cynrik De Decker.  See also Belgian Aviation Heritage at http://www.microsofttranslator.com/BV.aspx?ref=IE8Activity&a=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aviationheritage.eu%2Fnl%2Fcontent%2Fmonument-crew-b-17-42-31499-susan-ruth.

Another group researching crash sites in Belgium is Planehunters Recovery Team, located in the town of Herentals, with its website at http://www.planehunters.be/.

To see a map of Belgian crash sites, click here.

Denmark

There are two very informative Danish websites.  One is Airwar Over Denmark, at http://www.flensted.eu.com/ which provides details on every crash of Allied and German airplanes in Denmark and the surrounding waters.  The other is Fallen Allied Airmen (Faldne Allierede Flyvere), at  http://www.airmen.dk/fafsummary.htm.  Be sure to visit http://www.airmen.dk/aboutairmendk.htm and in particular its list of 92 airmen who evaded to Sweden, http://www.airmen.dk/v999.htm, and 45 airmen who were transported to Great Britain by Danish fishing boats at http://www.airmen.dk/v997.htm.

France

1. The website of the American Memorial Association of Sainte-Nazaire, 8th USAF Aircraft Downed from 1942-1945, http://www.b17-france.org/ , provides information on each crash in France, allowing you to search by crew member, aircraft name, serial number, mission target, crash date, and crash location.  They have information on 800 crashes and 6500 crew men.  The Research button on the bottom bar brings up the Search/Research box with fields for Crew Member, Aircraft Name, Serial Number, Mission Target, Crash Date, and Crash Location.  The website itself is still having information added to it but, according to their explanation, everything has been scanned and is available in a book by Perter V. James and Martin Bennett.  I have no further information on it.

2. The website, France Crashes 39-45, http://francecrashes39-45.net/, allows searches by date, plane, location of crash,  crew members, etc.,  and provides information on technical characteristics of the planes, crash sites, escape routes, and POW camps, among other things.  It seems to be quite comprehensive.

3. If your area of interest is crashes in the French department of Eure-et Loir, another website is available to help your research: Association Forced Landing (Association pour l’histoire et le souvenir des pilotes et homes d’equipage allies) at: http://forcedlanding.pagesperso-orange.fr/8.htm .  It is designed so that you can search by town, date, nationality, and pilot.

4. There are some additional links to websites about crashes in France on the page of this website about France in WWII.

Germany

A group called “Search Group for the Missing” (Arbeitsgruppe Vermisstenforschung) has an impressive website in English and German about research on crash sites in the Saarland and other parts of Germany and about assistance to families wishing to learn about their loved ones.  You will find it at http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/html/startseite.html.  They also have links to other German websites about crash sites in Germany.  There is also a page elsewhere in this website on Luftwaffe Fighter Claims of Downed Aircraft.

Netherlands

1. Jan Nieuwenhuis at his website, http://airwar.texlaweb.nl/, provides visitors with a means to download and view his full database of World War II Allied Aircraft Crashes in The Netherlands.  Before downloading the software, you can view the complete list of airmen and aircraft (type of plane, serial number, and name) to decide if you want to go any further.  Once you download the database, there are multiple ways to search for what you want.   You can search by aircraft type, airfield, squadron, crash area, year, or a combination of these.  The “Listings” screen gives the visitor the ability to sort the database by clicking on whatever combination of the following will be most useful: date of crash, crash area, aircraft type, registration, squadron, and pilot. Then hit “Get Data” to sort.  Once you have found the plane you want, click on “More Details” to get the screen about that plane which will give you the airfield from which the plane originated, takeoff date, crash date and time, crew status (no. KIA, POW, EVD), names of crew members and links to further information on them,  location of crash site, and even a map of The Netherlands showing its general location.  Once you have the aircraft selected, a list of crewmen appears and you can click on the name of the man in whom you are interested.  Mr. Nieuwenhuis then provides a screen showing the man’s service number, rank, duty, service, awards, what happened to him, date deceased, cemetery/ memorial, location in the cemetery, remarks on his experience, crew list, personal details, age, and a photo.   A long list of WWII cemeteries grouped by province is also provided.  All in all, a very useful website for anyone researching a crash in The Netherlands and the men involved.

2. The National Institute for Military History (NIMH) of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, http://www.defensie.nl/nimh gives you access to a database of crashes, the “Loss Register 1939-1945,” (or “Verliesregister) compiled by the NIMH and the Studiegroep Luchtoorlog (SGLO).  The full title of the register is Verliesregister 1939-1945, Alle militaire vliegtuigverliezen in Nederland tijden de Tweede Wereldoorlog. By clicking on the side heading “Collecties,” then “Documentaties,” you will make your way to http://www.defensie.nl/nimh/collecties/documentatie/ where you can pick the Verliesregister for the year that interests you.  The column headings are as follows with the corresponding information for Tom Applewhite’s plane, The Wild Hare:

  • Volgnr:                              T3075
  • Datum:                              43-11-11
  • Tijd:                                  1445
  • Plaats van verlies/crash:      Eethen/Waspik
  • Vliegtuigtype:                     B-17F
  • Ser/Wrknr:                         42-30795
  • Eenheid:                            385BG/548BS
  • (1ste) Vlieger:                    1st. Lt. J.P. McGowan
  • B/O:                                  B

The “Volgnr” number is a sequential number assigned to each crash site.  “Tijd” is the time.  Most of the rest is self-explanatory.

The Verliesregister is also accessible through the Studiegroup Luchtoorlog 1939-1945 at their website, http://www.airwar39-45.nl/pages/verliesregister.php .  I found it faster to access the same “Loss Register” and was able to print out the page I wanted which I couldn’t do with the NIMH version.

3. Another source of information is the Dutch Federation for Aviation Archeology (Nederlandse Federatie voor Luchtvaart Archeologie): http://www.nfla.nl/nfla~gb.html .  According to their website, “the NFLA has compiled a list of aircraft which crashed over the Netherlands during the Second World War. Excavations conducted by private organizations as well as by the Royal Dutch Air Force Recovery Team are mentioned in the list.”  The list is 14 pages and consists of the following column headings: date, recovery, location, type, serial, markings, unit, date of crash, and recovery details.

4.  For the Achterhoek region, the AVOG’s Crash Museum at Lievelde, The Netherlands, might be a source of information.  Their website is http://www.crashmuseum.nl/uk.html/

5. For the northern province of Friesland, take a look at Luchtoorlog Friesland 1940-1945 at http://www.luchtoorlogfriesland.nl/

6. See also the website Wings to Victory, http://wingstovictory.nl/Database/index-en.php, concerned with crashes in the southwestern part of The Netherlands.

Norway

For Norway, Flyvrak, WWII Aircraft wreck sites in Norway at http://ktsorens.tihlde.org/flyvrak/, may prove useful.  It is in English.

Portugal

1. A website focusing on both Allied and Axis planes forced down in Portugal is to be found at: http://www.landinportugal.org/main+i.htm .  It is based on the research of Carlos Guerreiro, author of the book, Land in Portugal, ( Aterrem em Land in Portugal, Aviadores e aviões beligerantes em Portugal na II Guerra Mundial, 2008).  He provides the following information on each plane: date, location, air force, aircraft type, origin and destination of the flight, members of the crew, and a narrative.

Sweden

If your area of interest is crashes in Sweden, be sure to check out Forced Landing Collection-FLC at http://www.forcedlandingcollection.se/indexe.html.  It is in English and organized by category–Luftwaffe, RAF, and USAAF.  Then, within each of those categories, by year and date of crash with type of aircraft and location of crash.  For some crashes there are links to additional information.

United Kingdom and Ireland

1. The website, “Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland,” can be found at: http://www.skynet.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm.  In addition to detailed information on landings, the website has a useful list of links to other websites.  See also the websites “Aircraft Wrecks in the UK and Ireland” at http://members.multimania.co.uk/daveswrecks/index.html, and “Military Air Losses in and Around the Isle of Wight” at http://www.gdtp.freeserve.co.uk/.   For northern England and southern Scotland, the website of the ACIA (Air Crash Investigation and Archeology), http://www.acia.co.uk/, may be of value.

United States Government

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, according to its website, seeks to account for all Americans missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts, including WWII.  Its website is: http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/.  You may also want to explore the National Archives II Captured German and Related Records on Microfilm in the National Archives.

Miscellaneous List of Aircraft Crash Websites

Elsewhere in this website is a miscellaneous list of websites devoted to downed aircraft.

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