The following sources may be of use to someone seeking to learn more about a WWII crash and crash site. They were updated in June 2015. Please notify me if you find anything that is out of date or in error. First I am listing general references, then sources specific to the countries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic. These are followed by some U.S. government links and miscellaneous crash links.
1. Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, ETO Area, by Stan D. Bishop and John A. Hey, MBE. Four volumes already have been published, Vol. 1, June 1942-December 1943, Vol. 2, January 1944-March 1944, Vol. 3, April 1944-June 1944, and Vol. 4., July 1944-September 1944. 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, An Historical Survey of the B-17s and B-24s Assigned to the Eighth United States Air Force, August 1942-June 1945
- The Mighty Eighth Combat Chronology: Heavy Bombers and Fighter Activities, 1942-1945 (there is also William H. Adams’ The Mighty Eighth Combat Chronology Supplement: Personnel Associated with Heavy Bomber and Fighter Activities, 1942-1945)
- Fighter Losses of the Mighty Eighth: A Chronological Survey of Spitfire, P-39, P-37, and P-52 Losses, Eighty United States Air Force, July 1942-April 1945
- The Mighty Eighth 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, Vol. 7, Operational Training Units 1940-1947 amendments and additions, Vol. 8, Heavy Conversion and Miscellaneous Units 1939-1947 amendments and additions, and Vol. 9, RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War Roll of Honour – 1939-1947 – amendments and additions.
Of greatest interest to me was Vol. 4, 1943 (Midland Counties Publications, Earl Shilton, Leicester, England, 1996), 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. Mission Report and the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR).
a. Mission Report. From AFRA (see below), I ordered a Mission Report for the last mission of Tom Applewhite. It included the Loading List, Group Formation Flown diagram, Take-Off and Landing Times, a map of the route from his airbase to their target and return, the Navigation Report, and a table listing the time and elevation of his plane when it was shot down. Much the same records are available at National Achives II in College Park, Maryland. Examples of these documents in the case of 2nd Lt. Tom Applewhite are shown on the page of this website entitled,Mission Report, 385th Bombardment Group, 11 Nov. 1945.
b. Missing Air Crew Report. It used to be that I could go to the Army Air Forces of World War II website at http://www.armyairforces.com/ , click on Databases and MACR, and I could get their search page and search for an MACR by date, A/C serial number, group, squadron, and A/C type. But when I last tried that website in June 2015, I was automatically diverted into either one of their online forums or having to signing up for a commercial research service. The National Archives and Records Administration website at http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/missing-air-crew-reports.html provides information on what is to be found in the MACR report and offers a way to order a copy or use one of the commercial services. You click on M1380 of their Microfilm Catalogue and that will direct you to the page listing the different microfiche that contain the MACRs. When I searched for the MACR 1161 of Tom Applewhite’s crash, I found it part of M1380B containing MACRs 597-1190. The page provides instructions for ordering a copy. Another source for MACRs is the Air Force Historical Research Agency or AFHRA (http://www.afhra.af.mil/) at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. I have found them able to find an MACR for a particular crash even without the MACR number and provide me a copy in a reasonable amount of time. Also note that the National Archives and Records Administration has a “Name Index to the Series Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), 1942-1947″ at https://research.archives.gov/id/641086.
The MACR file for 2nd Lt. Tom Applewhite’s plane included the following:
- Missing Air Crew Report which had the geographical coordinates of where the plane went down; cause of the crash; serial and model numbers of the plane, engines, and weapons; list of the crew including crew position, rank, and serial number; number of chutes seen by witnesses.
- Handwritten list of crew with rank, serial number, and status (RTD, EUS, DED, No. Rec.).
- Individual Casualty Questionnaires. One was filled out for each member of the crew, including where the airman bailed out, where last seen, explanation of his fate, total number of missions, and dates of missions. For the one member of the crew who was killed, it included a 20 mm. abdominal wound from the Germans, that he was found dead in his parachute ) or died in a Dutch house).
- Interrogation of Former Prisoners of War. The one copy of this form was signed by the captain and provided additional information on the one crew member killed, including what he was told by a Dutch policeman.
- Map showing location and geographical coordinates of where the plane was shot down.
- Handwritten list of crew showing name rank, date of birth, tag number, and status (prisoner).
Note that the MACR number is one of the items of information on Joe Baugher’s list of USAAF serial numbers (see item #6 below).
5. Bomb group websites 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.
6. 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 Year: 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.
7. Another website that may prove useful is the following: 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 for each page. 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. Note that the Details icon is off to the far right. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
There are two organizations focusing on WWII Belgian crash sites, both Allied and German. One 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.
The other is Planehunters Recovery Team, located in the town of Herentals, with its website at http://www.planehunters.be/. According to its website, it works with RAF 51 Squadron History Society to search for RAF 51 Squadron and 150 Squadron crash sites in both Belgium and The Netherlands.
To see a map of Belgian crash sites, click here.
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.
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.
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.
Another German source is the RLV Jägergradnetzkarte (Luftwaffe Map Reference System): http://don-caldwell.we.bs/jg26/gradnetz.htm . See also http://www.stormbirds.com/eagles/research/gradnetz/gradnetz.html
Also see the Search Group for the Missing (Arbeitsgruppe Vermisstenforschung): http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/html/arbeitsgruppe.html. A good website on crashes in Germany and about aid to persons seeking information about loved ones. Also has links to other German websites on crashes.
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 Verliesregister 1939-1945, Alle militaire vliegtuigverliezen in Nederland tijden de Tweede Wereldoorlog can be accessed through the Studiegroup Luchtoorlog 1939-1945 at their website, http://www.studiegroepluchtoorlog.nl/welcome/. To access their data directly, go to: http://verliesregister.studiegroepluchtoorlog.nl/zoek.php. Using their search fields, you can bring up and print out a detailed “Loss Chart” for the crash which includes, for Tom Applewhite’s B-17, the names of the closest towns to the crash site, that the B-17 disintegrated in mid-air, the airfield of origin in the UK, that Munster was the target, the bomb group and bomb squadron, and a complete list of the crew with rank, serial number, and status (whether they survived and, if so, became POW or evaded), and links to US, UK, and German cemetery databases.
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.
7. For an example of use of the Dutch Aircraft Protection Service records in researching a crash site, see http://www.escapeandevasionww2.com/escape_and_evasion_015.html.
8. The Luchtoorlog- en Verzetsmuseum (Air War and Resistance Museum) at http://www.crash40-45.nl/ might be worth contacting.
For Norway, Flyvrak, WWII Aircraft wreck sites in Norway at http://ktsorens.tihlde.org/flyvrak/, may prove useful. It is in English.
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.
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 (no longer working as of June 2015), 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/ (no longer working as of June 2015), may be of value.
United States Government
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 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.dpaa.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.