43-15179 - Luftkriegsarchiv Köln

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Crashes > of the USAAF

C-47 43-15179 was on a supply flight from Cottesmoore in England to Steinbach near Limburg.  
It was carrying 110 5-gallon canisters of petrol for the advancing American troops in Germany. The given flight route was to take them via Folkestone on the British coast via Boulogne on to Koblenz and then to the airfield at Steinbach. This entire route took them over territory that had already been liberated, but they deviated from this safe route and came to the right side of the Rhine near Cologne, which was still held by German troops at this point. And so a German flak unit caught them, the aircraft received a direct hit in the left engine and caught fire. The pilot landed the C-47 on a ploughed field near Cologne Porz-Lind, whereupon it immediately caught fire.  
The crew was able to escape from the burning aircraft, only the co-pilot, Colonel Harvey Berger, was trapped behind the control spar. Rescue attempts by the crew failed, especially as they were taken into custody by German soldiers and thus prevented from attempting to extinguish or rescue the aircraft. Col. Berger burned to death in the aircraft, which burned out completely.

The German soldiers recovered the few remains of Col. Berger and buried him immediately next to the wreckage of the plane.
The remaining crew was taken to the Hoffnungsthal prison camp near Rösrath.

Many weeks later, the war had ended in the meantime, an American salvage team appeared and, after questioning witnesses at the former crash site, found, among other things, Col. Berger's dog tags and, at a depth of about one metre, a skull and some burnt bones. Based on the dental status, these were identified as those of Col. Harvey Berger. He was laid to rest in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.


Col. Harvey Arthur Berger
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