Lancaster ED 366 AC Report 2018/19

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In October 2018 the "Local history research team Obermeiser" celebrated a little exhibition in its home village, near Kassel airport, according to 75. anniversary of Lancaster ED 366 AS-C 166. squadron, crash. 

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German architect and researcher Reinhard Saalfeld visited the crash site again and found some more relics, mainly melted aluminum.

The "Frühjahrsausstellung Kassel 2019" invited to reflect the bombing of Kassel in 1943. 

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On Saturday 10th of August 2019, sunny weather touched the meeting of Reinhard Saalfeld with Ailsa and Gareth Rees from Wales in Finland. They started their trip into the dark WWII heritage at the Helsinki marketplace due to Lancaster ED 366 crash in 1943.

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They were eating typical Finnish "Piirakka", drinking coffee and tea of course. The pleasant couple and their Internet contact prepared a memorial trip to Obermeiser and Westuffeln, small villages near Kassel town. In an atmosphere of friendship, they continued in the new central library "Oodi". After sharing documents and information they fixed their next meeting on the 14th of September same year at the Lancaster in Obermeiser, 20 km westward Kassel, where the researcher was born and spent his youth.

A few days before related family members from flight-engineer David Rees arrived to visit the crash site named "Oppermannsberg" in Obermeiser, Reinhard Saalfeld detected some more Lancaster relics, where"Dawi" from Wales died in this Northern-Hessen landscape on his 19th birthday while his first flight at the "Kassel raid 22th October 1943. The pictures show probably a fuel pipe,

an injection tube 0,6 mm,

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 a pocket knife, a handle,

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 a harness clip,

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a part of a pneu rubber 

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and an electric switch [Bild 08].

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Furthermore, Saalfeld detected surprisingly a "Stabbrandbombe/Elektron incendiary bomb"

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which should be determined by a special mining unit. Police, Kampfmittelräumdienst/bomb disposal team, Gemeindeverwaltung/municipal administration, landowner and local press had been involved at once. After the dangerous area was locked up, excavations showed a horrible result. Almost 500 brand bombs, partly of them explosive equipped. [Bild 10]

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"They had been buried in a dug-out next day after the crash," told the still living eyewitness Georg Kraft from the neighbor village Westuffeln.

On Saturday morning 14th of September, the guests from Wales arrived at Kassel/Wilhelmshöhe Intercity Railway Station. Holger Neumeyer and Reinhard Saalfeld from their local research team picked up the family and coached them despite language barriers as far as possible. First, they visited the cemetery of village Westuffeln, where the Lancaster crew was buried immediately after the failed emergency crash. Six aircraft soldiers were killed, the pilot Kenneth Hurst survived by parachute jumping. Mrs. Hilleburg Brede from "Westuffelner Geschichtsverein" explained history facts according to the cemetery in fluent English. Next family Rees took the chance to say "Farewell" after 75 years at the former graves locality.

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Following stations had been the "Steinerne Brücke", where the pilot hide his parachute and further the crash site between forest and agriculture fields. The eyewitnesses Harald Leck, Georg Kraft, and Dora von Starck reported their events, which touch them still today. The audience listened to how the burning Lancaster was attacked by two night fighters and how the hurt pilot was picked up Sunday morning deep in the forest. Shake hands between generations at the crash site of Lancaster AC ED 366. Tommy Rees and eyewitness Georg Kraft. 

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In the early afternoon, Family Rees presented gifts after coffee and cake in the "Heimatstube/village museum" of Obermeiser. Members of the local "Arbeitskreis Ortsgeschichte Obermeiser" and their wonderful guests from Wales celebrated an emotional and deeply touched meeting with traveling in the terrible past of flight engineer David Rees, his other crew members and many thousands of civilian victims in the nearby industrial town Kassel. [Bild 13, 14, 15]

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Gareth Rees closed his speech in german and in his ethnic language from Wales. After this impressing autumnal day Gareth, Ailsa and her son Tommy left for Hannover to honor the whole Lancaster crew from ED 366 at the British Soldiers Cemetery. 

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Reinhard Saalfeld and all members of the local history group was very grateful for this extremely difficult but turned out very well meet. As a gift for all this detailed research and this day of hospitality, the community of Obermeiser got an original uniform button of flight-engineer David Rees.

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Altogether it has been confirmed, that "We are very proud and happy for living in peace for 75 years. In that sense, we are looking forward to forever." 76 years ago British Royal Airforce Bombers attached Kassel town by "morale bombing". Due to this one of the heaviest raids, a report in the local newspaper HNA explained a letter, which the survived pilot wrote post-war. In possession of family Rees, Reinhard Saalfeld got a copy of this important document for his own use. 

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Lyrics: Sky Pilot
How high can you fly?
You'll never, never, never, reach the sky
He blesses the boys as they stand in line
The smell of gun grease and the bayonets they shine
He's there to help them all that he can
To make them feel wanted he's a good holy man
He smiles at the young soldiers
Tells them its all right
He knows of their fear in the forthcoming fight
Soon there'll be blood and many will die
Mothers and fathers back home they will cry
He mumbles a prayer and it ends with a smile
The order is given, they move down the line
But he'll stay behind, and he'll meditate
But it won't stop the bleeding or ease the hate
As the young men move out into the battle zone
He feels good, with God you're never alone
He feels so tired as he lays on his bed
Hopes the men will find courage in the words that he said
n the morning they return with tears in their eyes
The stench of death lifts up to the skies
A young soldier so ill looks at the Sky Pilot
Remembers the words 'Thou shalt not kill'.

[Sky pilot, Eric Burdon & Animals, 1968]

Basic Lancaster ED366 report: Leseprobe Flugzeugabsturz 1943

Report: Reinhard Saalfeld, April 2020. Photographers: Reinhard Saalfeld, Wolfgang Friedrich, Tommy Rees.

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