Monday, 15 June 2009

The Story of Frank Stigler and Charlie Brown.

Lovely day, I rampaged around the city centre basking in the sun in hope of securing interest from vacant bar tending jobs. The weekend went well with visits from the family and meeting the lady's father whom took us for a meal. Upon my return I read the papers and saw a marvellous story of wartime chivalry.

21 year old American 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 countless times. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton in Cambridgeshire

After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot named Franz Steigler 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, "it was the most heavily damaged aircraft I ever saw that was still flying" and it was inhumane to kill them "It would be like shooting at a parachute". The tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded not to mention the top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. 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. 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.

Amazing considering the situation of how essential air attacks on the outcome of the war not to mention that Stigler was one four-engine bomber strike away from a Knight's Cross which is the highest decoration for German wartime fliers. They became friends 40 years later after Brown tracked him down, they never lived more then 200 miles apart in all that time. Strigler was still flying Messerschmitt's at air shows until his death last year and Brown soon after perished when it all could of been so different.

1 comment:

Ewarwoowar said...

That's a great story, hadn't heard of that before. Thanks for sharing!