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Thread: Possible murder of downed airman

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    Default Possible murder of downed airman

    Good evening all,

    I am currently researching 1339173 Sgt Terence William Richards RAFVR who served with 78 Squadron before transferring to 51 Squadron. He was shot down by flak on the 06/01/45 whilst on ops to Hanau. It is believed that he survived his parachute descent but was murdered by civilians. Does anyone have any further information on him or a photo of him? Was the claim of murder ever investigated/proven?

    I have now seen the thread on Hanau 6/7 Jan 45, which seems to indicate that TW Richards death wasn't investigated, so would be terested in any new information and any info relating to his time with 78 Sqn.

    thanks

    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 1st August 2020 at 19:59.

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Daz,

    Pg 212 of "Footprints" has what little is known.

    Oliver used http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ails/r/C172900 as the basis of his text.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Footprints on the Sands of Time - Oliver Clutton Brock, very good section on warcrimes/murders of allied airmen, very good book. I was just about to suggest it, and you beat me to it Dave. There is a copy at TNA library were I got to see it and copy a few pages, but not the section on warcrimes.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    As the book is getting harder to find, and the binding on mine is starting to give out, I was surprised to find it mostly online.

    The section Daz is interested in: https://books.google.ca/books?id=sQX...chards&f=false

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Alex Smart (1st August 2020)

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Daz: concerning your request, there is a historian with the Museum in Hagen by the name of Ralf Blank who has done some considerable research of the air war in the Ruhr in late 1944 and in 1945. He has several books out, including a recent one on a raid to Hagen, March 15, 1945 after which a RCAF airman was murdered by the Gestapo. Here's a link to his website. I have an email for him but have not yet contacted him, but intend to do so. He has also written a book called "Bitter Ends" Die letzten Monate des Zweiten Weltkriegs im Ruhrgebiet 1944/45, that I am quite interested in, but only if I can get a digital copy for translation.

    He may be of assistance to you.

    http://www.ralf-blank.de/publikationen.html

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Thank you all for your comments, much appreciated. I have a copy of footprints on the sands of time and have now reread the section relating to War Crimes.

    I will drop Dr Ralf Blank an email and see what information he has. I also found a newspaper article asking for information about him from returning POWs.

    Thanks once again to everyone who has posted

    Daz

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Hi Daz,

    In April 1947, the British War Crimes Group drafted an investigation brief about the alleged murder of an Allied airman in the Hanau Lamboywald on 7 January 1945, based on a case handed over to them by the Americans. On 7 May 1947, the Air Ministry Casualty Branch replied to a request from the WCG about the possible identity of the airman. They'd scrutinised their files and reported they had information on only one missing airman confirmed to have baled out uninjured - F/S Terence William Richards.

    Unfortunately, the Air Ministry failed to take into account the aircraft and crews still missing from the 6-7 January 1945 raid for which they had no information (as at May 1947), including 431 Sqn Lancaster KB821 with its seven crew.

    It turned out beyond reasonable doubt that the murdered airman was P/O William Gerald Gillissie RCAF from KB821. The authorities only confirmed his identity in May 1950 when a personal bracelet taken from his body as a trophy after the shooting was recovered in Bauernheim. A jilted mistress of the alleged murderer stole the bracelet from him in late March 1945, and buried it in the garden of a friend in Bauernheim. The body of Gillissie and another unidentified airman from KB821 were buried in the Lamboywald and never recovered.

    Thus, the information concerning Richards in Footprints in the Sands of Time actually has nothing to do with him. Terence Richards' fate and circumstances of death remain unresolved...

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Oddly I received a copy of "Footprints" this morning, so there are still some out there.Price around £50.

    Re Richards, seems an eye witness saw a man being shot at whilst Decending by parachute, by a soldier near Hessen Homburg Kaserne (Barracks) at Hanau. . No trace of Richards has ever been found. He is commemorated on panel 272 of the Runnymede Memorial,
    Member of Halifax MZ811, 51 Sqn.

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    Default Re: Possible murder of downed airman

    Hi Alex,

    the witness (Jakob Hoffmann) described seeing two airmen shot by two Wehrmacht Officers while descending by parachute. Hoffmann made his statement to American investigators in June 1946, as they collected evidence against Lt. Oswald Schnautz, who was accused of murder by one of the soldiers in his Regiment in April 1945.

    Hoffmann stated that on the afternoon of 16 January 1944 (sic), four airmen were seen (from the Hessen-Homburg Kaserne in Hanau) descending by parachute. Two of the airmen came down toward the Kaserne and Hoffmann alleged Schnautz and another Wehrmacht Officer each killed an airmen with pistols before they reached the ground. Hoffmann stated the other two airmen seen descending were captured and taken to the Kaserne. From Hoffmann's affidavit, it seems the incident happened during daylight. In the subsequent investigations, no other evidence was found to support Hoffmann's particular allegations. All the other testimony concerned the allegation that Lt. Schnautz murdered P/O Gillissie in the Lamboywald on 7 January 1945 as he escorted him from the Hessen-Homburg Kaserne toward Langendiebach airfield.

    On 12 December 1944, two B-24 Liberators crashed in Hanau during a daytime raid upon the city.

    B-24 # 44-10493 crashed on the rifle range not far from the Hessen-Homburg Kaserne and the Huitier Kaserne. A Witness statement in the MACR simply states a wing came off the aircraft causing it to go into a flat spin and one parachute was observed. The Luftwaffe recorded nine dead in the crash while the tenth crew member parachuted to safety near Rücklingen but was murdered on the ground.

    B-24 # 42-50662 crashed near Rücklingen. A Witness statement in the MACR states the aircraft broke up in mid-air and no parachutes were seen. An initial Luftwaffe report stated four dead, later amended to seven, with another man transferred to a hospital in Hanau (this probably refers to the murdered airman from 44-10493). As far as I'm aware, the Americans only recovered and identified six of the ten-man crew. The remaining four were declared dead.

    On 17 February 1945, two B-17 Fortresses crashed in Hanau during a daytime raid upon the city.

    B-17 # 44-8437 crashed on the old freight station in Hanau. A Witness statement in the MACR states the aircraft was seen to leave its formation under control before entering cloud. At least four airmen parachuted to safety and captivity but members of the Gestapo in Hanau murdered three of them and the then deliberately took the bodies to the B-17 crash site and scattered them with the dead bodies to hide the crime. However, the Luftwaffe recorded that three charred bodies were found in the crash, three men were shot by the Police "while trying to escape" and four men were captured. Only one of the ten crew became a PoW.

    B-17 # 43-38623 crashed on Hafen-strasse in Hanau. A Witness statement in the MACR states the aircraft broke up in mid-air and possibly three parachutes from this aircraft were seen. The Luftwaffe reported seven men dead and assumed three other men were on the run. All ten crew died.

    The Hanau Police had the medical detachment of the Han Concentration Camp examine seventeen bodies (out of nineteen men who died in the two B-17s) on 19 February 1945. Eight bodies were from the crew of # 44-8437, seven bodies were from the crew of # 43-38623, and two bodies were unidentified. After examination, the bodies were buried in a cemetery in Hanau. A few months after the war an American pathologist examined ten of the bodies in the Hanau cemetery and found three exhibited bullet wounds to the head.

    As can be seen, there was opportunity for foul play in these cases beyond what investigators discovered after the war. However, the allegation against Schnautz and the other officer murdering two parachuting airmen is only contained in one of many witness statements.

    Cheers

    Rod

    PS - whatever happened to F/S Richards, it likely occurred in or around Weiskirchen or Jugesheim, several kilometres south of Hanau.
    Last edited by RodM; 7th August 2020 at 17:30.

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