My Cousin

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Dear Erich,

your cousin may be gone but not forgotten like all the other young comrades from both sides who gave the best.

Ich hatt' einen Kameraden

Ich hatt' einen Kameraden,
Einen bessern findst du nit.
Die Trommel schlug zum Streite,
Er ging an meiner Seite
Im gleichen Schritt und Tritt.
Im gleichen Schritt und Tritt.
Eine Kugel kam geflogen:
Gilt's mir oder gilt es dir?
Ihn hat es weggerissen,
Er liegt mir vor den Füßen
Als wär's ein Stück von mir.
Als wär's ein Stück von mir.

Will mir die Hand noch reichen,
Derweil ich eben lad'.
"Kann dir die Hand nicht geben,
Bleib du im ew'gen Leben
Mein guter Kamerad!
Mein guter Kamerad!

greets from Hannover

Vielen Dank Thomas.

and to know someone in Germany now living right in the area of the tremendous 26 November 44 battle............

Hello Erich, what is this area of Germany like today?

plese look at my above posting November 1944 ops and scroll downward as there are two pics showing the area around Holtensen fields
Merseburg, November 21, 1944 by Pilot Staver Hyndman of the 603 squadron, 39th bomb group as he remembers.........

The German city of Merseberg lies about 100 air miles SW of Berlin. In 1944, this city was the home of one of the most sinister targets in Nazi Germany, as far as US 8th A/F bomber crews were concerned. The Leuna synthetic oil refinery was located here, and US bomber crews were pounding German oil production wherever it copuld be found. But a mission to Merseberg often spelled disasteer to the attacking US forces, as this was one of the most heavily defended targets in all of the Recih. Hundreds of AA gunse ringed the refinery, and some of the Luftwaffe's best piston-engined fighter units were nearby. It was into this mael;storm that First Lt. Hyndman and crew aboard the B-17G "Ole Blood N Guts", N7*U would find themselves on the afternoon of 11-21-44.

Thirteen a/c made up the high squadron, B Group. Of these 13 a/c that departed England 3 would return.

As the B-17 formation approached Osnabruck the lead a/c VHF radio went out, limiting the groups contact with wing and division. Weather was also becoming a factor, as clouds and contrails were becoming thick and persistent. And it was here that the German AA claimed it's first victim. One B-17 was hit in the engines and damaged, feathering the prop the B-17 turned and struggled for home.....

Wingmen were now finding it impossible to see not finding the lead squadron. Orders from major R. Templeman (lead ship) said to keep climbing. Some daylight found at 28,000ft. But unknownst to the 603sq the rest of the wing had been ordered to approach the target at low altitude. Now the low squadron of the 398th, the 601st was completely scattered. All opportunity was lost for this squadron and they bombed individually with three B-17's making forced landing in Belgium.

As the squadron/ group approached the IP at Nordhausen, the lead planes were at 29,500ft. One more B-17 departed, and this a/c joined the 601st heading for home. German AA fire reamined fierce, Iz Rovinsky tried to attract some friendly fighter support while pilot Stevens tried to keep his flak hit B-17 in the air. What fighter support in the area was invloved with a large group of Fw 190's(JG 301), soon to meet head-to-head with Hyndman and the rest of the squadron/group.
Fortunately for Stevens he was able to jettison anything extra including the belly turret and he was able to belly in on a field 30 miles SE of Paris.

Barely within sight of the lead squadron at the IP, the 603rd was soon to be on it's own. Ready to turn for the taarget at the IP, there suddenly appeared out of the cloud an of-course group of B-17's flying at the same altitude. Banking hard the B-17's turned with the lead squadron leader blowing his radar fuse, so PPF was now impossible.

The decision now was to abandon Merseberg as the 603rd was well above the other three squadrons of B-17's so the bombs were dropped well off course.

Fighter activity had been reported off and on for about 30 minutes, first at 8 o'clock low and now at 2 o'clock high. The sky, murky as it was at 30,000ft, was filled with criss-cross vapor trails, the unique signature of high-altitude combat: _-51's had tangled with a group of Fw 190's.........

Suddenly two waves of 5-6 Fw 190's each roared head-on through the B-17 formation (III./JG 301). Staver recalls that the fighter and bomber wings almost overlapped in the split-second attack. he recalls seeing the faces of the Luftwaffe pilots as they reaced through the unit.

All three panes in the leaad element were hit by 20mm(30mm) fire. Lt. Buzza, his plane falling off to the right with one engine afire and Lt. Hastings fatally wounded beside him, ordered his crew to jump. Hastings was found in the plane where it crashed near Eisenach. the rest of the crew was captured and sent to POW camps. The deputy lead a/c took cannon shell hits in the right wing, sending the B-17 into a tight spin and ultimate explosion. the third a/c of the lead element, flown by Lt. charles Howell, also went into a violent spin with his left wing on fire. Three men managed to bail out from the sticken Fort.
The second wave of Fw's took out three engines on Fred Wismers B-17, the only remaining one in Hyndman's flight. With no chance of survival in the air, a;; 9 men took to their parachutes and were captured.

Lt. Hyndman's B-17 got more than her fair share of attention from the German fighters too. An exploding cannon shell ripped into navigator Lt. Ken Carlson's groin, injuring him severly. Other cannon hits shot out # 1 and # 2 engines completely, and did some minor damage to # 4. The Forts entire hydraulic sysstem was shredded, and the electrical system had been hit as well. 2nd Lt. E.D. Ebbeson, bombardier, and top turret gunner/engineer C.F. Gray immediately treated Carlson with first aid and tended to him as the wounded B-17 limped westward. Carlson never lost consciousness from his wounds, and lay on the catwalk below the pilot on the trip home. Hyndman said that his oxygen mask had a longer than normal hose, and that Carlson would tug on it once and awhile to let him know that he was still with them........

Realizing that he was never going to make England, Staver crash-landed at an RAF field at Bruges, Belgium. He attempted a wheels-down landing with no brakes but once the Fort settled down on the muddy field, her landing gear folded. Staver had to spin the a/c around to bring it to a stop before he would crash into a pillared and cordoned off area at the far end of the runway where there was a construction sight. No one was injured in the landing, and Lt. Carlsonwas taken to a British hospital. later he was sent to a US hospital in Great Britain and fully recovered. He would, however, never fly combat again.

Staver Hyndman received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the disasterous Merseberg mission. He was also awarded the US Air Medal with 6 clusters, and the WW2 Victory and European Theateer of Ops medals.

Discharged in October of 1945 after 35 missions, Hyndman returned to his pre-war job at Caswell's. Shortly thereafter, he began working for the US postal service, a job from which he retired in 1984..........

As I write this I have been notified that Mr. Hyndman is declining quickly in health and remains in a nursing home. A standing salute to a very brave man and crew.


I realize this reply is many yrs after your post. Staver Hyndman is my father. I've been researching info on his flying career. Dad didn't talk about his experiences until later in his life. After interviewing him about his experiences and reading other stories about life during World War 2, I realize how truly frightening the experience was for all involved. Dad was proud of his service and kept in touch with his crew. Thank you for posting this story. Dad passed away Oct.1, 2007. I will be traveling to Germany in September 2015. While I am there I will travel to Bruges,Belgium, hoping to visit the site where Dad crash landed on the way back to his home base in England.
Jane Hyndman Klein

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