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Stricken B-17 guided home by BF-109 pilot

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by jagdpanther44, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. jagdpanther44

    jagdpanther44 Battlefield wanderer

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    Received this interesting article in an email...

    Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton , England . His B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub' and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

    [​IMG]

    After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot named Franz Stigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. The top gunner was dead, the nose was smashed and there were holes everywhere.

    Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

    B-17 pilot Charlie Brown
    [​IMG]

    BF-109 pilot Franz Stigler
    [​IMG]

    Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane to, and slightly over, the North Sea towards England . He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe . When Franz landed he told the CO that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.

    More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.

    They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that day.


    (L-R) German Ace Franz Stigler, artist Ernie Boyett, and B-17 pilot Charlie Brown.
    [​IMG]

    When asked why he didn't shoot them down, Stigler later said, "I didn't have the heart to finish those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them but it would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute."

    Both men died in 2008.

     
    luketdrifter likes this.
  2. PizzaDevil

    PizzaDevil Member

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    Thanks for the article, I've already read it some time ago though.
     
  3. berjay

    berjay WWII Veteran

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    Who needs wars? when we,ve got people like this ?
     
  4. -tmm-

    -tmm- Member

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    I remember reading this some time ago - it's a fantastic story!
     
  5. alieneyes

    alieneyes Member

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  6. jagdpanther44

    jagdpanther44 Battlefield wanderer

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  7. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    yes I even put this up on this site once the men got together and that was some years ago. actually this happened probably at least a 1/2 dozen times in air combat,

    Franz was a very gracious man and interesting chap to be sure, his English was excellent. have a couple books about JG 27 signed by the ace.

    E ~
     
  8. luketdrifter

    luketdrifter Ace

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    Great story. Makes a person know there is good in the world.
     
  9. bf109 emil

    bf109 emil Member

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  10. bf109 emil

    bf109 emil Member

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