5 Replies Latest reply on Jan 31, 2020 1:21 PM by Ed Cornelia

    Seeking aerial reconnaissance photos of Blechhammer South


      Grateful for any assistance. Seeking high-res reconn photos of the base of Blechhammer South (present-day Grabowka, Poland area) between the period December 1944 - February 1945. Our uncle and his crew were shot down here. They crashed into the electric tower, knocking Blechhammer South off-line forever. They remain MIA. One possibility is that the Germans had British POWs from BAB20 sub-camp bury them nearby. The 15th AAF kept flying reconnaissance overhead for a month thereafter to make sure that the factory hadn't restarted. Perhaps these pictures may reveal the presence of fresh graves in the areas next to their crash site.

        • Re: Seeking aerial reconnaissance photos of Blechhammer South

          Dear Mr. Cornelia,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a series titled  World War II Combat Operations Reports, 1941-1946 in the Records of the Army Air Forces (Record Group 18) that includes 8 file units pertaining to the 15th Air Force/Fifteenth Air Force. We also located the series Damage Assessment Reports, 1942-1945 for Europe in the Records of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (Record Group 243) that contains Interpretation Report No. DB. 289 for 27 December 1944 (Box 16). Pages 3 and 4 of the report indicate Blechhammer South was attacked on 26 December 1944, and includes a reference to photographic prints 4038-4048, and 3038-3048. Furthermore, we located the series Military Intelligence Photographic Interpretation (MIPI) Reports, 8/1942 - 3/1956 in the Records of Headquarters U.S. Air Force (Air Staff) (Record Group 341) that includes additional photographic prints 4084-4090 for Blechhammer South in MIPI #43919 dated 4 January 1945 (Box 464). For access to all these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Many of the historical and operational records of the Fifteenth Air Force have been microfilmed by the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA). The National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) has a copy of the microfilm. For access to the microfilm, please use the index to the Air Force History microfilm available at http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/


          To use the index, please enter FORCE/0015/AIR in the search window and narrow your search by including 12/01/1944 in the Start Date and 03/01/1945 in the End Date before clicking the Search button. The results should be 114 records. Read the brief Abstract to determine which records you are interested in and click on the specific PDF icon. In the PDF listing, the IRISREF is the microfilm reel number and note the FRAME and FRAMELST numbers for the location on the reel. If the reel number begins with A, B or C, please contact RDT2 via email at archives2reference@nara.gov for access to them. If the reel number begins with D - Z, the microfilm is still security classified and RDT2 will not be able to make the reel available to you. The original paper copy from which the film was created is still in the custody of the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) and has been declassified. For access to these records, please contact AFHRA, 600 Chennault Circle, Building 1405, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL  36112-6424. The web site is https://www.afhra.af.mil/.


          Additionally, we suggest contacting the National Archives at College Park - Cartographic (RDSC) via email at carto@nara.gov, as they may have the photos you seek.


          Because your uncle is still MIA, we suggest you contact the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Public Affairs Office, 2300 Defense Pentagon, ATTN: External Affairs, Washington DC 20301-2300. The web site is https://www.dpaa.mil/


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


          2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking aerial reconnaissance photos of Blechhammer South



              Thank you very much for providing this roadmap into the NARA archives. We will be sure to follow this guidance.


              For more information for your community, we are working closely with Polish amateur historians who live in the Kedzeirzyn-Kozle area (formerly Cosel - Blechhammer). Mr. Marcin Kopytko had visited with NARA in College Park in the summer of 2018 and conducted a preliminary search. We will now return to NARA with more focus.


              Over the last several years, we have been able to piece together much of the story of the Lindell crew. Unlike air crews lost over the Pacific or remote areas of Czechoslovakia, with few eyewitnesses and little ensuing documentation, the Lindell crew flew into Germany's heart of darkness -- the epicenter of the Holocaust -- and bombed its most infamous (and the world's largest) chemical company, I.G. Farben. There are vast collections of remembrance and research -- and photos -- of this strategic epicenter of Nazi Germany.


              We have managed to put together ~ 90% of their story and have created a website to tell it: www.lindell-crew.com.


              All losses in battle are tragic. All who served and died are truly heroes. The Lindell crew belongs to this group, and with special distinction -- their mission and sacrifice knocked Blechhammer South out of the war, and with it the Luftwaffe's largest source of aviation fuel, and led to the shutdown of the slave labor ecosystem (including Auschwitz) that surrounded the factory.


              All that remains to our search is find our boys and bring them home. Our research suggests that due to the large events occurring in this county (the German evacuation; the Russian onslaught in their rush to Berlin; the post-war ethnic cleansing; the Iron Curtain falling over the region) that the Lindell crew has been "left behind" on the field of battle. For these 9 boys, American heroes who accomplished one of the war's most important missions, that can't stand.


              Bring them home.   See: www.lindell-crew.com



              Ed Cornelia

              1 person found this helpful
                • Re: Seeking aerial reconnaissance photos of Blechhammer South

                  p.s. and yes, we have been working with DPAA. In 2017, we even convinced them to return to Kozle for the first time since 1947 !


                  Unfortunately, all that we have learned does not seem to be enough to trigger an active search by them. It seems (?) that official American search and recovery efforts must have to be triggered by locating a bone fragment from a suspected grave site. Upon which time, DPAA acts with purpose and precision and dignity and honor (and <sigh> years of procedure) and repatriates our heroes.


                  Our focus now is to provide Poland and America (DPAA) with suspected grave site coordinates.

                  1 person found this helpful
              • Re: Seeking aerial reconnaissance photos of Blechhammer South



                Research into Cosel county burials now incorporated into website

                Chapters 9 and 10 rewritten  -- www.lindell-crew.com

                Our search narrows to 3 local cemeteries

                Anybody know the Polish president or other "make it happen" officials ?

                • Re: Seeking aerial reconnaissance photos of Blechhammer South



                  We have passed our research up to U.S. Department of Defense. Hopefully it will be enough to mobilize DPAA to "Bring Them Home ..."



                  75 years ago, British prisoners of war held in Silesia were forced onto the frozen roads to begin their "Long Marches."


                  75 years ago, KL Auschwitz prisoners were also forced onto their "Death March." Then, Auschwitz was liberated.


                  75 years ago, Michael and the Lindell crew flew their B-24 "Butch" to the epicenter of the Holocaust -- and disappeared.


                  We now know that their mission helped to unravel that whole ecosystem. And we know that Auschwitz and, particularly, the British played major roles in their story.


                  Here is their story: www.lindell-crew.com. Please take 20 minutes to meet the crew and learn about their mission. Then, help us to find them!  Bring them home ...