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Death in the Flying fortress

thousands of Commuters on the way to Zurich drive past every day on the small forest in the vicinity of Baltenswil. He is in a Spickel between two railway lines, the airport and those to Dietlikon, and right next to the highway rest stop Baltenswil-Nord.

What is now hardly known: In this piece of forest in the municipality of Bassersdorf crashed on 24. April 1944, an American Bomber. All ten crew members of B-17 Flying Fortress lost in this accident in the Second world war, her life.

"About to 13.50 flew on that day, a "Flying fortress," the airfield Dübendorf", reported the "Tages-Anzeiger" on 25. April 1944, "where you could perceive on the right wing, a strong smoke development. In any case, the Bomber was at this time no place to be able to at the airfield go down, which is why he continued his flight, and a loop is pulled against Effretikon. The plane disappeared behind the trees, and soon after, you could perceive from his direction of two stronger explosions."

"Nothing but a vast sea of flames"

A forest worker who was at the time of the crash in the forest, reported to the TA-journalists: "Presumably, this machine had to have received some good hits. In rapid course, I went from my workplace, because it seemed as if it would plunge directly down on me. And really, as I had reached my first cover, shaking the ground beneath a deafening roar. The Bomber had about 70 feet away from me in the forest floor and dug in and threw a huge column of smoke against the sky. Then the flames of out hissed, and exploded the still carried ammunition. As I ventured out of my cover, all you could see was a huge sea of flames."

Today, every couple of minutes rushes by on the a train to the scene of the accident. There's nothing more on the crash of 1944. Photo: Urs Jaudas

The crash of Baltenswil is also found in the new book "Foreign aircraft in Switzerland, 1939-1945, landings, and crashes" by the St. St. gall historian Dani Egger, the war bird of the operates. Accordingly, it was between 1939 and 1945, at least 56 crashes of foreign aircraft in Switzerland, 185 landings or emergency landings.

According to Egger, the Bomber from the top came Pfaffenhofen, when he crashed in Baltenswil. Two engines were apparently of German fighters shot to pieces, in addition, the Crew still had to struggle with other problems. The funeral for the crew was held three days after the accident, on the American cemetery in Münsingen. The crashed machine was scrapped in Switzerland.

In the Zurich state archives, a Dossier on the crash of US bomber in Baltenswil is available, in the inventory of the cantonal building insurance. Because the Dossier is available until 2024 under the protection, not, however, it is accessible to the public.

"The crash is known to me and in our family was always on the agenda," says Karin Müller-Wettstein from the Lindenhof Baltenswil, which is located in the vicinity of the crash. Her father was Born in 1929, I can still well recall the incident, however, he passed away in the meantime. "It is moving that in our immediate environment, people in the struggle for the freedom of Europe, lost their lives," says Karin Müller-Wettstein.

veterans felt graves

A black and white photo in Baltenswil accident Crew can be found on the Website that deals with the fates of American soldiers who were in the Second world war in Europe service. On the image of an unknown photographer, the ten men posing shortly before the fateful flight, the Flying Fortress, with a dog.

user on a other site ( have been detected also in true detective work, where the ten killed crew members are buried. Pilot James E. King, for example, is buried in the Memphis National Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.

The crash and the resulting damage to employees, the Swiss military justice and the command of the pilot and Flabtruppen. Because the rudder of the bomber was brought down on the transmission line Seebach-Grüze of SBB, there was a major disruption of the rail traffic, which is what the SBB reimbursed to display. "As the culprits for rail hazards only, the flight crew is out of the question", say it in a Letter to the military justice system, June 1944.

"but Since all of the members were killed, is excluded the implementation of criminal proceedings. By the way, such would not be out of the question, if the members of the crew were still alive, since this obviously was not a fault." With the damages question did not deal with the present method.

Near-disaster in Winterthur

Also on 24. April 1944 overthrew another US aircraft in the Greifensee. It had previously been mistakenly shot down by the Swiss air force. Five soldiers were killed. According to the "Tages-Anzeiger" landed on this day, a total of twelve American bombers in Switzerland, eight of them in dübendorf. In the city of Zurich twice a plane has triggered alarm because foreign bombers flew over the city.

the cold is ended on this day, an emergency landing of a US bomber in Neftenbach near Winterthur. Because a German fighter had shot up two engines of the plane, and he was also of the Swiss anti-aircraft fired, had to land the machine in the Tössebene. "All of a sudden, the city of Winterthur appeared in front of us," says the surviving Co-Pilot on the the events of the time.

"With my last strength, I managed to keep the plane in the air and thus to prevent a disastrous crash in the densely populated area. After we had dragged over the last of the houses, opened before us a vast plain, on which our bird is put on with great violence. Although the rear was demolished, we remained all alive and well. We can all thank God that we are still alive!"

In the forest at Baltenswil remembers nothing of the crash. It should stay that way, if it goes according to the will of the community. Bassersdorf waived, a memorial stone and a plaque to be affixed, such as community President, Doris Meier says Kobler on request.

There is no appropriate requests from the population, and until now, no memorial had been set in the municipality of stones, or boards to a historic anniversary from the earlier past. With one exception: the memorial of the Crossair crash of 2001 with two benches and a large stone with the names of the 24 victims. As Meier-Kobler said, according to your Knowledge never been members of the then-casualties of soldiers in bassersdorf and after the scene of the crash asked.


Created: 22.04.2019, 21:09 PM

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