Crash site C-46 Commando Operation Varsity?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Captain Roel, May 31, 2020.

  1. Alex,
    So if I'm understanding correctly the reason for thinking this is the crash site is based on the location of the German aid station and Sgt Williams assistance there? It all seems logical to me, but more importantly does it seem logical to the experts on this forum? Do you know has there ever been any artifacts found there? Are there any actual photos of the crash? Maybe that sounds a little morbid?
    I look forward to all of the responses.
    Thank you all,
    Karen
     
  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Karen, you are right - that is a major point of his reasoning. The German medics were based in Weißenstein and in the farm buildings nearby (visible at the bottom of the top-most photo in my previous posting).

    Also please bear in mind that most other crashes of specific C-46 can be attributed to specific locations - so by way of excluding other aircraft he narrowed down the possibilities.

    To my knowledge there are no photos of the wreckage. And I am afraid there is no physical evidence to prove that it was 44-77602 which crashed there - one would have to find a piece with the serial number on it. The aluminum of the aircraft was collected by scrap merchants some time after the war.
     
  3. Alex,
    Do you know why other crash sites were more well documented than his?
     
  4. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    I looked at the Missing Air Crew Reports for all crashes. Almost all reports include a sketch - some are very detailed, some are not so good. I think it all depended on the eye witnesses that were available for interrogation. If there were few eyewitnesses, or witnesses that just saw something in the corner of one eye the report will be more unspecific. Plus, in this particular case the sketch is almost useless - it is is based on map that shows large parts of western Germany, Holland an Belgium... on that scale everything has to remain vague...
    course 2.png

    As a contrast, here's an example of a useful sketch for a lost C-46 (serial numner 44-77525):
    C-46_44-77525-map.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  5. I see. The only eyewitness account I have ever seen is a report that he was last seen with an engine on fire heading back towards the Rhine River.
     
  6. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    .. at an altitude of 100 feet... the aircraft was extremely low at the time the eyewitness last saw it.
     
  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Just a quick explanation why the German medics had time to approach the crashed US aircraft: At the time it crashed - which would have been between 10.15 an 10.20 AM - the Germans at Weissenstein were not under fire or direct threat yet. The US paratroops had landed about 2 kilometers northwest from them and were still assembling and dealing with the resistance on the drop zone. At Weissenstein there were no enemy troops yet - they started landing in gliders further to the southeast at 10.35 AM. In the immediate vicinity of Weissenstein US gliders came down about an hour later. So, curious German soldiers approaching the crashed aircraft in theory had a short time window to explore what had happened nearby. They apparently looked after the injured crew member - only to take off shortly afterwards when the situation became more dangerous...
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
  8. I had wondered about why the Germans would help him instead of either doing nothing or shooting him. For some reason, and I'm not sure why, I thought it was later in the day when he was shot down. Was his plane one of the later ones to take off? I also had that understanding.
     
  9. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Good morning Karen,

    the MACR informs us that his aircraft was last seen at 10.20 AM:
    MACR p 2_44-77602.png


    His aircraft took serial A-6 to the drop zone in Hamminkeln - the drop began at 10.12 AM
    serials_513 PIR.png

    Your uncle flew in tight formation with other aircraft:
    48th TCS_formation planes.png
     
  10. Captain Roel

    Captain Roel Junior Member

    Hello Albert,

    Thank you for taking the trouble to ask your connection in Germany about the location of the crashed C-46.
    I had put this question here before but did not get a clear answer.
    I want to thank you again for this info.
     
    alberk likes this.
  11. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello Captain Roel,
    I am currently piecing together the crash sites for all C-46 aircraft invoved in Varsity... detective work but I am getting ahead.
    44-77602 is the one with practically no useful info in the MACR - so, for now, Ortwin's answer is the best we can get.
     
  12. Thank you all for your interest and taking the time to research this. It means so much that after 76 years that there is still this much interest and gratitude from the people of Europe.
     
    alberk likes this.
  13. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello Karen - I recall that you asked whether there are photos of the crashed aircraft. I do not have one für 44-77602 but I found two that show other crashed C-46 on the battlefield.
    44-77512_Foto.jpeg

    44-77582-Foto.jpeg
    These photos suggest that around 6 April 1945 Troop Carrier Command (or some other USAAF-unit) systematically recorded the crashes that occurred. The writing at the bottom seems to be GAO 22-2-82 "A" (or perhaps F2"A"), followed by date and serial number. Does anyone have an idea what GAO and the digite could stand for?

    Many years ago I looked for photos in The National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The ones I found (also relating to aircraft involved in Varsity) had similar writing at the bottom - so maybe NASM/Smithsonian could be the archive where to find more of these. On those photos I researched 25 years ago it said GPR-162-HQIXTCC followed by a date and a brief description of what is shown... It is actually done in the same handwriting! I do not know what GPR and 162 stands for, HQIXTCC is Headquarters IX Troop Carrier Command.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021 at 5:34 PM
  14. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    C-46_44-77548_313rd_TCG_2.jpg
    A good shot of C-46 and paras in action - probably taken during exercises in France in March 1945.
     
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  15. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    C-46 flying Kopie.jpg
    I am nor sure whether these are C-46 or C-47 aircraft - difficult to tell. But this gives a good impression of the tight formation they had to keep.
     
  16. It must have been quite a site to see all of the paratroopers in the air at once.
    In the pictures of the crashes, on the tail of the first plane, is that marks from the flak?
    Those crashes are more horrific than others I had seen.
     
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  17. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The above photo shows 32 aircraft - if these are indeed C-46 the image represents almost half of the 72 Curtiss Commandos that were used in Operation Varsity.

    As to the wrecks further above - the two aircraft continued to burn after crashing, which explains the degree of destruction.
     
  18. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello Karen,
    I found an account by 1st Lt. Emmanuel Cherkasky who piloted the C-46 next to (and to the left of) your uncle. He wrote in a report in April 1945:
    Account Lt. Cherkasky.png

    1st Lt. Glen H. Smith flew to the right of James Claussen's aircraft - this is what he recalled a few days later:
    Account Lt Glen H Smith.png

    These two accounts will give you an idea what happened on that day at the time your uncle's aircraft went down.
    Just as a reminder - here's the formation again - of the nine aircraft five were lost on that day:
    Musall Formation_24.03.1945 Kopie.jpg
     

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