Kassel Mission of 27 September 1944
Testing the water to check interest in a book we are writing on the World War II's Kassel Mission, the air battle between the 445th BG and the entire Luftwaffe. More planes were lost from one field in one days battle on that day than ever in Air Force history.
Does anyone have an idea why this would have been covered up? Is there anyone out there with information on this mission? We have a lot on the Kassel Mission website. But there must be more. We have lots of famlies and veterans still not heard from. 118 Americans died that day. 1/4 of the bases losses of men and machine were on that day.
Anybody have info or interest in such a book?
Theres always interest on that fateful day over Kassel, but its been done again and again.... The only thing that could make ur book out of the ordinary would be some new info or recently discovered pics....
That being said, I would buy it, cause that day will go down in history.......
the old Sage
welcome Linda I still await ............... you have the info on the LW side of things from me and Neil. I still do not believe there was a cover up at all except for moral reasons, it was bad enough the whole month of September and October till the 2 November 44 when the 3 LW SturmFw units gave it their all on the US Air Forces, and still suffered horrid casualties in the process of their rear facing attacks
I would - it certainly was the blackest day for any single BG in the USAAF, but putting it in perspective September 27 was not in the top ten of 8th AF losses in a day.
Originally Posted by Linda
I do have some info from the fighter escort side of the mission as the 4th FG, 355th and 361st were all assigned escort to various Bomb Wings in the 2nd Division.
the old Sage
the 361st history book has a write up on the mission as they seem to be the first on the scene as IV.Sturm/JG 3 got through and dived off-smartly but the JG 4 and JG 300 109's and 190's got it in the shorts as they came through the B-24's. I think the 352nd may have been also in the neighborhood.
with so many LW claims for B-24's an almost insane number equivalent to at least 2 US bomb groups it is no wonder hardly any particular B-24 can be ascertained to any LW fighter pilot
It was 'complicated'.
Originally Posted by Erich
The 2CW in lead with 445BG plus 389 and 453 was escorted by 355th when strangely the 445th 'went astray' to the sse heading for Gottingen while the rest of the 2nd BD continued (including 389 and 453 which did not follow 445) on a SE heading to bomb Kassel, then headed to rally point near Eschwege. As all this was happening the 445 is tracking east to Gottingen which it bombed, then turned south toward Eschwege but now 40miles behind the trail wings.
BTW - Erich - I just got an in depth briefing from Mike Simpson regarding the possible special nature of the real reason fro the 445 departure from 2 CBW and why it is still Classified. Interesting to say the least.
The 355th breaks up the first attack by 10+ Fw 190's near Eschwege at 1000 getting three.
at ~ 1003 way north, the 445th is headed south and gets hit with first wave and hollers for help. The 361st in trail with rear boxes heads north and intercepts the Fw 190s ~ 1015 at Eisenach south of Eschwege.
The 355th holds lead and sends two squadrons back to fill the hole left by 361st and as the lead elements of the 2nd AD nears Giessen, the 4th FG hits another force of Fw 190s sw of Kassel at 1230. By this time the lead elements of the 2nd AD, with the 355th, are near Frankfurt
Bad day on IP to target route for 445th, great day for patient LW, and really bad cloud cover and cumulous towers masking the 445th from the rest of the force from just nw of Kassel all the way over, down, and wsw from Eisenach.
The 352nd got into yet another batch northwest of Frankfurt in the 1005 timeframe while covering B-17s headed home.
Last edited by drgondog; 04-04-2009 at 09:20 PM.
the old Sage
thanks for the fill in Bill except for one very important factor IV.Sturm/JG 3's Sturm Fw's were not intercepted by any US P-51's but what got them shot up was the defensive.50's of the B-24's. Second wave was a mix of JG 4 and JG 300 Sturms along with I./JG 300's Bf 109G-6's, and this is the complicated part. this wave came in a matter of some seconds with a passing third wave of the mix again right on their heels, the German reports were that they did indeed come through the bombers but on banking and trying to form up again got popped by P-51's, am assuming this is when the 355th interfered along with the 361st fg which make some bold and very fat claims of Fw's shot down
The 355th claims were entirely part of the routine escort of the 389 and 453 after 445 went their separate way. The 445 was way north of the main bomber stream when it was hit by IV./JG3
Originally Posted by Erich
The 361st engagement was entirely about trying to save the 445 after they left the main stream of the 2nd Div B-24 Force - whatevere they were supposed to accomplish at Gottingen. The LW forces attacking 445 were ultimately met by 361st near Eisenach 40 miles behing the rest of the B-24 Force that day.
The 355th only met a relatively small force of Fw 190s and Henry Brown/Deac Priest got the three in the air fro the 355th. One flight chasing 10 Fw's to the deck.
the old Sage
understood, I was thinking the 355th fg witnessed the 445bg getting their guts ripped out and went to assist, I see that is not the case, will look for the other Fw units for you to confirm the 355th fg scores.
Erich - hard to say. The '10' that the one flight of 354FS ships jumped were in the area of the huge concentrations. at ~1000 the Eschwege area would have been close to the main event at Eisenach just a few miles further south.
Originally Posted by Erich
They might have hit a separate staffel on the way to the 445 party
This flight (as usual for the aggressive Henry Brown) would have been pretty far behind the main 355th force. At 1000 the leading elements of the returning Second Division would have been SW of Kassel and maybe 30-40 miles to the west - which is where the 355th would have been. The trail of the 2AD (absent 445) would have been due south of Kassel (with the 339th) - which is why it took ~8 minutes to get back to the 445 returning from the separate Gottingen strike.
The 4th was sweeping to the south on a east to west axis and sent one squadron back to help but they only caught the scattered remnants 20-25 minutes after the slaughter began. By the time they engaged the 'cloud' had driftered west from Eisenach to south and southwest of Kassel.
Do you communicate with Mike Simpson - 445th historian? he offered a theory close to one you postulated which explains the mystery of why the lead 2CW split up at the IP, and why the 389 and 453 (and 355th) did not go to Gottingen.
Last edited by drgondog; 04-05-2009 at 10:37 AM.
the old Sage
the JG 3 Fw component claimed 17 B-24's before they ran off and away but losing 6 190's
I./JG 300 claimed 2 P-51's.....doubtful but lost 5 Bf 109G-6's
II.Sturm/JG 4 came into the fray as a mix withing II.Sturm/JG 300's ranks of Fw's and lost 10 Fw's and the JG 300 Fw component lost 11 but both came up with ridiculous scoring, JG 4 claimed 25 B-24's and the JG 300 Fw's unit claimed 10.
now as to where all the losses were sustained I will have to dig into the books and docs.
there were not other LW Fw units involved on this date for scores or losses. So it was the 3 Sturmgruppen, and the 355th probably got into the JG 4/JG 300 boyz before they mounted their wild attack. there is no doubt in my mind with the crazy claims of JG 4/300 that the pilots were firing at the same B-24's with in 1-2 seconds and they had flown through banked away and pursued hotly by P-51's.
As to Mike we have chatted by emails many times as well with Linda D, whose Father was a pilot from one of the returning B-24's of the 445th bg this date.
Erich - I just re read Brown's Encounter Report. He was covering the rear of the first box bombing Kassel past the Rally point near Eschwege heading south toward Eisenach when one of the B-24's broke north appearing to head for Sweden.
Originally Posted by Erich
He turned northbound to pick it up (with Priest) when he looked out in front and above and saw a lot of what he thought was flak but realized it was 20mm stuff and saw four B-24s falling out with about 10 Fw 190s continuing forward. These Fw 190s may have been the first to hit the 445th as they were trying to catch up with tail end of the 2BD. He shot down one immediately, the rest broke for the deck and Brown and Priest shot down two more on the deck.
I am speculating but it seems that this engagement was 1000 in Eschwege area.
read this, its a first hand account from my grandfather
My grandfather, Wilbur E. Brown was apart of this mission and a paper was written just yesterday by my 15 year old cousin. I hope it is enjoyed and what he did for his country lives on even after his death.
Wilbur E. Brown
Feb 1925-April 2003
Wilbur E. Brown: WWII Survivor
Brianna Glase, an American teenager, wrote the history of her great uncle Wilbur E. Brown and his time in the United States Air Force, beginning at the time when he was drafted at 18 years old, believing that his story would be very worthy of relation to future generations. This belief has been proven true. Indeed this event was one of the greatest in United States history, not only of the Glase family, but a large part of the world over fifty years ago.
For instance, despite the fact that World War II is now over, it had a very prominent effect on many people while it was still occurring, changing many families and their histories, including the aforementioned Glase family, because of the fact that it involved more than just a few countries, but the majority of the world at that time.
For in those earlier times, Wilbur E. Brown and many people like him had enlisted or been drafted in the United States military, as was common at that time. He would become part of the Ace Air Force, and then later a top gunner in the 702nd bomb squadron, flying in a B-24 bomber aircraft, whose serial number was 100308 and whose nickname was “Our Gal.” This would be the main source of his and his family’s livelihood, no disgrace being attached to such an achievement, but even some glory. An illustration of this honor was displayed when Wilbur Brown became one of few survivors of the Kassel Mission in Germany.
The United States had good pilots, but the Germans, too, had great flyers, as was proved by the following fact. During this 169th mission of the 445th bomb group, a fleet of German planes overtook 35 American planes. Indeed, 31 of these American planes were shot down, and thus the majority of the flyers were killed, having only a few survivors, one of them being Wilbur Brown the gunner.
Now Wilbur Brown was a lucky man; and he could not have survived this ordeal, but through the possession of this luck.
From this flight expedition we may infer a number of things. Now the plane that Wilbur Brown had been flying in had caught on fire, starting at the number 3 engine, and all members were advised to get out of the plane; but this is easier said than done. Indeed, the smoke was so thick and black that Wilbur Brown could not see and was struck unconscious. And yet, somehow, whether he had fallen or had been pushed, Wilbur Brown had gotten out of the combusting aircraft. I suppose if Wilbur Brown had not gotten out of the aircraft, he would have been killed in the fire or in the later crash, as was the case for nearly all of his companions in “Our Gal,” aside from him and two other survivors of that crew. Difficulty of employing the parachute led to Wilbur Brown being in danger yet again. Even after he had managed to utilize the parachute, Wilbur Brown fell into an unconscious state once more. In short, Wilbur Brown eventually landed safely in a German field, his parachute only hanging on by one single strap, and was greeted by a group of unwelcoming local Germans carrying a variety of guns and pitchforks.
Even after the success of his safe landing, Wilbur Brown was still a soldier in a war fighting against the country he had landed in, so consequently he was taken by a German soldier on a motorcycle to a local hospital for treatment of the burns on his face. This led to Wilbur Brown’s discovery of the fact that he had been struck mostly blind and the realization of the terrible burns on his face as a result of engine number 3.
Even after the trip to the hospital, Wilbur Brown was taken to a camp for Prisoners of War, and thus could not return to his family back in America. It was there that he was treated by a British doctor who changed his facial bandages and did anything else necessary to Wilbur Brown’s health. Four weeks later, the bandages could be removed from his face. One month later, his vision was restored; this led to Wilbur Brown’s discovery of the terrible conditions in which he was living.
But as Wilbur Brown’s vision came back and his burns kept healing, he contracted an infection because of them and had to be quarantined in isolation for one week before being transferred to another German camp where it is said that he was held there without any medical attention.
But at last came a time where Wilbur Brown was sent to yet another German camp; this one specifically for Prisoners of War who had developed eye related injuries and burns, and Wilbur Brown was treated by yet another British doctor. During his time at this camp, Wilbur Brown received much attention to his wounds, including various skin grafts to replace the eyelids and eyebrows that had been burned off by the fire in engine number 3.
A year after the unsuccessful Kassel Mission had gone wrong, Wilbur Brown was released from his German captors and allowed to return to the United States, where much medical attention was given to the injuries that had still not cleared up. I grant that there had been much celebration for his return, likewise all of the other Prisoners of War who had been joyfully reunited with their loved ones at the end of World War II.
Now, in the year of 1944, the Second World War was in full swing, and the affects of this war and is numerous battles, I say, changed the outcome of many a family at that time. Now, Wilbur Ernest Brown, being the son of Ernest Sylvester Brown and Eleanora Mary Hall, was of eighteen years at the time of WWII, and I shall say that it was customary of his time to have been drafted in the United States military, which is precisely what Wilbur Brown did. This thing Wilbur Brown did later resulted in his institution into the United States Air Force.
Now, in this time of crisis for, not only America but the whole world, Wilbur Brown happened to be one of the young men who was drafted into the military when he was but an 11th grader, though he was 18 at the time, according to Jane Brown, so, consequently he was not able to graduate.
It came to pass that I heard from Stephanie Brown and Diane Glase that Wilbur Brown became the top gunner for his aircraft; but Donna Jeppi relates that he was the flight engineer. With regard to this discrepancy, it is accepted by all parties that in the year of 1944, Wilbur Brown’s plane was shot down in the Kassel Mission in Germany – the 9th mission of his flight crew, and the 169th mission of his 445th bomb group -- with him being one of very few survivors.
Now Wilbur Brown had many difficulties in his descent from 31000 feet, as Stephanie Brown relays; he was struck unconscious before jumping out of his plane, and discovered he was mostly blind from the excess smoke from engine number three which had caught on fire, but not before there were difficulties in opening his parachute, which, in turn, was only hanging on by a single strap. It was said that after being captured by the German enemies in whose country Wilbur Brown had landed, he spent over a year in Prisoner of War camps, most of his time being in the hospital and under intense medical care for his various facial burns and blindness, both of which were cured for the most part under the supervision of very competent doctors. In one of these hospitals was where he was reunited by one of his crewmates, Raymond Wayne Ray, as Ray recorded in his own personal journals, which were consequently told to me by Dorothy Wickman. Raymond Ray had also been a gunner in their plane, and, suffering from a shattered shoulder blade, was also taken as a Prisoner of War by the German people.
Now, it is agreed upon by all relatives of Wilbur Brown that he returned from Germany at the end of the Second World War and was treated for any remainder of his physical ailments, but no attention was given to the mental and emotional trauma that Wilbur Brown had been exposed to. It is said by Stephanie Brown that Wilbur Brown had nightmares about his time in the camps, and it was very difficult for him to sit still for long periods of time, and nervous tension was still sometimes apparent in his demeanor. Dorothy Wickman also communicated that Wilbur Brown’s face was much scarred from his burns, and signs of his struggles would remain written on his face for years after his ordeal had ended.
If it was not for the time in which he was a Prisoner of War, Wilbur Brown never would have reconnected with his future wife, Jane Wickman at the time, had it not been for the block party in celebration of his return, according to Jane herself; from this chance reuniting stemmed many relatives of the Glase family.
Then secondly as a positive consequence of Wilbur Brown’s time spent overseas in Germany, he received the coveted high school diploma that he had not had the chance to obtain before he was drafted into the service. A fellow war veteran contacted Wilbur Brown and 13 other veterans, I was told by Jane Brown, who all consequently took classes until they were all able to receive their General Equivalency Diplomas from Century High School in Westminster.
Now, Wilbur Brown was a lucky man, and though he suffered many hardships, it was very good fortune that got him out of said situations, I say, and there was much good that resulted from them, including his diploma and later his family, which, I say, indeed outweighed the bad.
Kassel Mission Book
As far as we're aware in the Kassel Mission organization, a book has never been dedicated solely to telling the story of the Kassel Mission. It wasn't even mentioned in history books, since it was covered up, until 1986, and that was a passing mention. Then it began to appear, slowly. Now, there might be a chapter or two. There are several unpublished or self-published accounts from which I will draw and cite as sources.
Originally Posted by lesofprimus
To what books might you be referring, when you say it's been done over and over again? We do need to know.
Kassel Mission Book
Originally Posted by Erich
They said at the time that the cover-up was for morale reasons. You are right in that. The book will not focus on the cover-up, although we now have information that the 445th may have turned deliberately to bomb Goettingen, rather than it being a navigational error that separated them from the rest of the division. There are arguments for and against this, but out of 20 chapters, only the last two really will delve into this possibility. I won't theorize as to why, just present what we have and the readers can do with it what they will. We want the emphasis to be on the stories of the men, many of which have never been told. Most people still do not know about this battle.
In 2008, General P.X. Kelley, 28th Commandant of the US Marine Corps said, "Why haven't I heard about this battle before?"