The city of Muenster in North Rhine-Westfalia was heavily garrisoned during World War II, and five large complexes of barracks are still a feature of the city. Furthermore, Muenster was the mainline railroad center between the Ruhr Area and North-West Germany. Muenster was also the headquarters for the 6th Military District of the German “Wehrmacht”. The headquarters controlled military operations in the whole Ruhr area. Muenster was bombed on 25 October 1944 by 34 diverted B-24 Liberator bombers. About 91 % of the Old City and 63 % of the entire city was destroyed by Allied air raids. The US 17th Airborne Division attacked Muenster with the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade on 2 April 1945 in a ground assault, and fought its way into the contested city center, which was cleared in urban combat on the following day.
This free video presents motion pictures and aerial views showing the Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany, at the end of the European War (Second World War). The Dachau Concentration Camp is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km or ten miles northwest of Munich. The concentration camp was liberated by U.S. forces on 29 April 1945. At that time, more than 30,000 Jews and political prisoners were freed.
This photo was taken by airmen of the 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in May 1945. The 306th Bombardment Group was stationed at Thurleigh Airfield in World War II. It was the first US bomber group to bomb Germany after the United States of America joined the war in 1942. The group flew the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft. From 1942 to 1944 the B-17s stationed there, flew 10,000 sorties, dropping 23,000 tonnes of explosives on enemy targets. Thurleigh Airfield was very important, it was the first to be handed over to the US Air Force. The 306 Bomb Group and Thurleigh Airfield played a pivotal role in the war effort. The aerial photo should be taken shortly after take-off or before landing during the airfield traffic pattern, also known as circuit. At the top of the photo - unfortunately overexposed - Thurleigh Airfield is located, approximately five miles north of Bedford. On the lower, left side of the photo there is the Church of the Holy Trinity. This church is located on the north east side of Bromham Road in the grounds of the Bedford Sixth Form College. Since 1980 the building is used as dining room for the college.
In May 1945, only 6 of 19 passengers were recovered. There are still mortal remains somewhere in the river Rhine. Therefore, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in the United States of America, which is responsible for this air crash today, was informed of the discovery of the wreckage on July 5, 2019.
The crew decided to circle the Cathedral in Koblenz. Presumably the airplane unfortunately flew much too low and collided with supply lines, which were stretched over the river Rhine. Due to the low altitude an evasive maneuver of the airplane was not possible any more. The plane with the name “The Falcon Returns” (SN 44-10620, B-24 J) crashed into one of the bridge piers. Pilot, copilot, crew members and passengers died: George Saunderson, Cornelius Adkins, Stephen Curtis, John Kunkel, Chester Conrad, William Riser, Raymond Ruth, Thomas Evans, Gordon Thomas, Stanley Anderson, Elbert Ravenscraft, Ronald Maier, Fredrick Selk, Lilburn Daly, Alfred Odegard, John Dunnings, William Emery, Gildo Uliana and Abe Becker. What a useless loss!
During the Trolley Mission, a tragic plane crash occurred on the first flight day (May 7, 1945), in which all 19 crew members and passengers were killed. Although the pilots were instructed to maintain a minimum safety altitude during the flights, one of the planes flew much too low over the Urmitz railway bridge, which is also known as the “Rheinbrücke Engers-Urmitz” or originally as the “Kronprinz-Wilhelm-Brücke”. At that time, eyewitnesses reported that the Allied troops had stretched telephone, power and supply lines over the river Rhine at a height of approx. 30 meters. They reported that the B24 aircraft, which was flying far too low, probably collided with these supply lines. During the Trolley Mission usually four to six airplanes flew in the convoy, so this crash was photographed by crew members from the other airplanes. The aircraft was named “The Falcon Returns” with the serial number 44-10620, which belonged to the 564th bomb squadron and the 398th bomb group of the US Air Force.
Raymond Ruth - Non Battle Casualty Report - May 1945. Trolley missions were flown in early May 1945, the purpose being to provide all crew and ground personnel the opportunity to see the results of their contribution in the strategic air war against Germany. Many precautions were taken on these missions, and the most responsible and experienced pilots were chosen to fly. Despite such precautions, an accident occurred on May 7, 1945. All nineteen men aboard were killed, and only six of them were recovered, when the plane crashed into Engers Bridge on the Rhine River. Sgt. Ruths remains were never recovered.
Stanley Andersen - Non Battle Casualty Report - May 1945. Trolley missions were flown in early May 1945, the purpose being to provide all crew and ground personnel the opportunity to see the results of their contribution in the strategic air war against Germany. Many precautions were taken on these missions, and the most responsible and experienced pilots were chosen to fly. Despite such precautions, an accident occurred on May 7, 1945. All nineteen men aboard were killed, and only six of them were recovered, when the plane crashed into Engers Bridge on the Rhine River. Sgt. Andersen remains were never recovered.