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B-24 Crash Site

Article about: Moderators feel free to move this thread if you feel it is in the wrong place. A week ago I went out metal detecting with a long time German buddy of mine and one of my American buddies. We

  1. #1

    Default B-24 Crash Site

    Moderators feel free to move this thread if you feel it is in the wrong place. A week ago I went out metal detecting with a long time German buddy of mine and one of my American buddies. We found some awesome stuff but it is not form WWII so I will not post pictures. We were hunting in the area around Boblingen near Stuttgart Germany. On the last day of my trip I talked my German buddy into detecting and old aircraft crash site that he had found back in the 90's. We drove over to the forest where the crash site was and detected about 200 meters into the forest. The crash site still shows remnants of the carnage that took place on July 21, 1944.
    To better convey my story I will take a step back in time and fill you in on the bomber...its crew.... and how it crashed. As we all know in 1944 the battle for Europe was in full swing. Across the channel on an airfield in England known as "Old Buc" the crew of the "Diana-Mite" and "Our Baby" were gearing up for a bomb run into German territory. Their target was the Bavarian town of Munich. The crew of the "Diana-Mite" was 20 missions into their tour. As most of you know the flight crew usually takes the name of the senior officer in charge of the aircraft so they were known as the Gengler crew after their Pilot 1st Lt. Frank T. Gengler. On July 21, 1944 the Gengler crew loaded up their gear and piled into the Diana-Mite and did pre flight checks and a routine weather check. The weather for the day was slightly cloudy but otherwise clear. Their intended target was Munich and the alternate was the marshaling yards at Saarbrucken. The "The Diana-Mite" slowly crept out of its hardstand and took the number 3 position in bombing formation. The planes took flight and were headed to Munich when they encountered heavy cloud cover near they target so they switched targets to Saarbrucken. At approx. 0945 the lead plane "Our Baby" was either hit by flak or had severe mechanical issues and started to bank hard to the right. The "Diana-Mite" was on its right side. The pilot 1st Lt. Frank T. Gengler was focused on flying the plane but the co-pilot 2nd Lt John P.Cowger saw "Our Baby" coming right for them and tried his best to grab the controls to get out of the aircrafts way but there was nothing he could do. The plane slammed into the "Diana-Mite with such force it ripped it apart throwing 2nd Lt. John Cowger out of the plane. John was free falling at 24,600 feet he was able to gain his bearing and pulled his chute at around 14,000 feet. He could see the wreckage of the 2 planes but could not see any chutes. John swung his self away from a couple of powerlines as he was about to land and in the process broke his back. He had also fractured his collar bone when his chute had deployed. John was captured as soon as he landed and was sent to Frankfurt to heal up and was traded to the U.S in a prisoner exchange in 1945. The only reason John is alive to day is because he never wore his seatbelt while he flew and this allowed him to be flung from the wreckage. The entire crew of the "Diana-Mite" minus John was killed. On "Our Baby" three crew members were able to make it out but were captured by German forces.
    Now all of that leads up to my metal detecting hunt last Saturday. We were detecting the area of the crash site and there was so much debrees we stopped detecting and just started digging. We were finding lots of canopy glass and .50 cal round and other misc. parts. When my buddy looks at me and says "does this look like bones to you?" sure enough in his hand was a piece of skull! We found about 6 pieces in all and I made the decision to take them with me to my house. Normally I would have left the bones where I found them but I thought that if I left them there wild hogs or some other animal might get to them so I used gloves and we placed the bones in a cardboard box I had. I contacted the German graves commission and JPAC to let them know what we found. I am meeting with them and the German police on thursday to show them the site and to hand over the remains we found. After the German police determine that the site is not a crime scene the JPAC crew will come in and start excavating. We are not sure which bomber we have found but the bones are the main clue. If they can get a good DNA sample from them we can determine which bomber we found and lay to rest some of the thoughts that the families have had since the planes went down all those years ago. I am sorry this was so long but I am determined to tell their story. Thanks for reading!
    * The first picture is of the "Diana-Mite" crew in the U.S during their 6 months of training... second from the left in the first pic, and in the middle in the second pic is 2nd Lt. Cowger the lone survivor of the "Diana-Mite".

    *The second pic is the "Diana-Mite" crew again but this time they are in front of the "Crows Nest" this is the same plane that the War hero and movie star Jimmy Stewart flew.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture B-24 Crash Site   B-24 Crash Site  

    B-24 Crash Site   B-24 Crash Site  

    B-24 Crash Site   B-24 Crash Site  

    B-24 Crash Site  
    Attached Images Attached Images B-24 Crash Site 
    Last edited by Kolby72; 04-02-2012 at 01:47 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site

    Thanks for posting. Please keep us updated.

    Cheers, Ade.
    Had good advice? Saved money? Why not become a Gold Club Member, just hit the green "Join WRF Club" tab at the top of the page and help support the forum!

  3. #3

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site

    Very interesting! What was the name of the airfield referred to as 'Old Buc' ?

    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  4. #4

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site


  5. #5

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site

    It is old Buckenham Airfield in Norfolk
    Attached Images Attached Images B-24 Crash Site 

  6. #6

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site

    Great bit of research you have done. I hope the families of these airmen can be found. Please keep us informed with any updates. It would be interesting if they let you photograph any further excavations of the aircraft at this site.


  7. #7

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site

    Hello everyone,

    I'm John "Flip" Cowger's grandson. I stumbled across this site and was so amazed by what you found, even after all these years. I remember him telling me about the parachute flight down that he was going to light a cigarette, but dropped his lighter. So if you stumble across one with the metal detector, it could possible be his. If you happen to find anything else, my family would love to see more pictures.

    Alan Cowger

  8. #8

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site


    I'm the great-nephew of SGT Donald W. Sang who was the tail gunner aboard "Our Baby" on 21 July 1944. The remains of the 15 airmen who were KIA from both crews have been positively identified and accounted for. However, after looking over the Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPFs) in my possession for all of these airmen, there are a three individuals who only had their partial remains recovered for in a forest. 12 were buried in two nearby cemeteries. The other three in the woods.

    This forum was brought to my attention today. I'm actually in the U.S. Army myself and I will be requesting to be apart of this JPAC excavation team. My email address is Please email me with anything further that you may have to share.

    Robert M. Rumsby

  9. #9

    Default Re: B-24 Crash Site

    Hey Alan I am not sure how I missed your post but I was busy moving from Germany back to the states. Anyways I have a lot of info on the crash and the remains we found. Please contact me at kolby_72@ so we can talk more! thanks!

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