Saturday, 03 December 2011 14:01

WW2 German fighter pilot saved U.S. bomber crew


    Franz Stigler's death in Surrey, B.C., received little notice in the local press, but friends knew a remarkable story about the man -- he had been a decorated German fighter pilot who saved the lives of a U.S. bomber crew.

    Stigler began his career as a German pilot at age 12, going on to make 28 allied kills in the Second World War.

    On Dec. 20, 1943, American pilot Charles Brown was flying his first mission in his B-17 bomber. He had just dropped his bombs on a German aircraft factory when he was attacked by fighters from above and flak from below.

    "I do remember being inverted (and then) pulling up over the trees," Brown, who now lives in Miami, told CTV's W-FIVE. "At this point (we were) totally helpless."

    Brown's four-engine bomber was badly damaged. Three engines weren't working, there was hardly anything left of the tail and seven of 10 crew member were injured. Brown had a bullet fragment lodged in his shoulder.

    That's when Stigler saw the bomber overhead, trying to limp home.

    "I went after him (to) finish him off," Stigler said.

    But when Stigler got close enough to see the American bomber, he saw Brown's bleeding wounds and realized he couldn't shoot. Instead, he did something that could have seen him court marshalled and shot for dereliction of duty -- he guided the B-17 out of Germany.

    "Then he gave me a wave salute and then he left," recounted Brown.

    All but one of Brown's crew lived to fight another day. The American pilot was left wondering what happened to the German who spared his life.

    Then, in 1990, Stigler contacted him from his new home in Surrey, B.C.

    "He almost broke my ribs, he gave me a big bear hug," said Brown.

    Once sworn enemies, the men became close friends and met almost every year until Stigler's March 22 death at age 92.

    Source


    Related World War History Online Posts

    • Coast Guard announces WWII Coast Guard Grumman Duck crash site located after 70 years
      Coast Guard announces WWII Coast Guard Grumman Duck crash site located after 70 years The Coast Guard said Monday that a private team had located a World War II rescue plane that crashed on the southeast coast of Greenland 70 years ago with three service members on board The plane, a single-engine amphibious J2F-4 Grumman Duck, disappeared near Koge Bay, Greenland, during a snowstorm in November 1942. The Coast Guard said searchers had found…
    • VERY Rare warbird gets closer to flight
      VERY Rare warbird gets closer to flight One of the country's most challenging warbird restorations is inching closer to completion. The team at Ardmore's AvSpecs has been working on the all-wood World War II de Havilland Mosquito FB 26 KA114 for almost eight years and last month wheeled the warbird outside for a glimpse of the sky its restorers hope it will fly in this year. AvSpecs…
    • Boy treads in ashes on visit to Majdanek death camp
      Boy treads in ashes on visit to Majdanek death camp Embarrassing incident occurs when Israeli High School student steps in ashes of Jews exterminated during Holocaust displayed at Nazi camp's mausoleum known as Mountain of Ashes.  An embarrassing incident occurred some 10 days ago during a High School trip to the Majdanek extermination camp mausoleum (Mountain of Ashes) in Poland. The mountain contains the ashes of tens of thousands of…
    • World War II veteran dies on Independence Day
      World War II veteran dies on Independence Day DALLAS - A North Texas World War II veteran passed away in the early morning hours of Independence Day. Conrado Mata Quiroz, better known as "Tito," died at 2 a.m. in Dallas. A Texas native, Tito fought in World War II, also driving around Gen. George Patton. The local hero was proud to be an American and proud to have…