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Skyraider

Loss of 97 Sqn HP O/400 D8304

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Skyraider

It   is 100 years ago tonight  that HP O/400 D8304 took off from   Xaffévillers  (Voges)  and crash landed at Pechelbronn behind enemy lines, all the crew survived to become  POW's

Last year I visited the area and with the help of the local people I was able to locate  the crash site and photos of the crashed aeroplane and also newspaper reports.

I am in the process of putting together  an account of the incident.

Regards Peter.

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Biggles

Thanks for posting.  I look forward to hearing your account!

 

Good luck old bean,

Caleb

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fetubi

As do I.  Should be interesting.

 

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Skyraider

My visit to Xaffévillers Aerodrome was helped very much by the Maire of the commune, he took me to the site and pointed out the items of interest, however there is Nothing left to indicate that that it was an Aerodrome in WW1 and WW2 however the boundarys  are still as they were then.  From there  I visited Pechelbronn the site of the forced landing of HP D8304. Pechelbronn was at the time an important centre of oïl production, infact the damage to the front cockpit of D8304 was caused by the tripod poles of a drilling installation (see photos of poles lying on the ground in front of the aircraft.  The Musée Français du Pétrole were most helpful and pleased to include my complete file in their archives and bibliothèque.  I also visited Charmes Military Cemetery where there are many graves of airmen from 97, 100, and 215 sqns, I took the Opportunity of photographing most of the gaves. Regards Peter.                             On the night night of the 22nd/23rd August 1918 Handley Page  O/400 D8304 of 97 Sqadron Royal Air Force Piloted by Captain Stanley Graham Gilmour  with Lt Goeorge Ernest Rochester (Observer) and Sgt John Walker Chalmers (Gunlayer/Observer) left Xaffévillers Aerodrome (Voges) together with other members of the Squadron on a bombing mission to Herzing Railway and Volspersweiler Aerodrome, however the return Journey to Xafféviiers was way of cause  being South East instead of South West. Sgt. Chalmers told his daughter many years later that  they were lost.  At the crash site (Pechelbronn) the bombay was found to be empty indicating they may have reached the target area before the return Journey. Skyraider.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English Prisoners    (taken from HP O/400 D8304.

On the night of the 22nd/23rd August 1918 an Engish twin engined bomber appeared coming from Niederbronn and steering in the direction of the Rhine. Machine gun fire from Gintersloch received no response however the brief and effective fire obliged the aircraft to carry out a forced landing. A flare was fired  which lit up the area of Diechmatten in preparation for a forced landing. After a sharp turn in the direction of Willenbach the aircraft landed at 2.30hrs 500mtrs to the west of oïl well No 2 with out very much damage, the right upper wing edge  having contacted a cherry tree and the cockpit a pumping tripod. The soldiers and gunners from the anti-aircraft battery arrived rapidly to arrest the crew of the aircraft. A Captain a Lieutenant and a Sergeant  from the aircraft surrendered but appeared happy with their succesful forced landing although not knowing of their fate. The prisoners were placed Under guard waiting for their transfer to Molsheim. The bomb-bay was found empty, a flare  and five machine guns were recuperated. The same afternoon a team of air mechanics from Haguenau commenced to strip down the aircraft and three days later a lorry from Haguenau took away the fuselage less the wings.

Translated from a French translation of the original German report.      Skyraider.

 

Xaffévillers:  Permission was given to use the the photos and prints by the Maire of Xaffévillers.

Pechelbronn:  Permission to use the photos and reports by  " Collection Musée Français du Pétrole/Merkwiller-Pechelbronn"

Regards  Peter.

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Plan of D8304 flight path.jpeg

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Garrie215

M. André Clement, the Mayor of Xaffévillers and his wife also welcomed us--and we had a memorable visit to the airfield that my relative had taken off from 100 years earlier--to the day.  Poignant memories of the pilot and his crew, who were not to return that night from a mission to Frescaty Aerodrome in HP C9732.  You'll find maps of Xaffévillers (and other WWI contemporaneous info) in the FREE eBook Handley Page O/400 Night Bomber Pilot--go to Books2Read/NightBomberPilot    Let me know if you have any WWI photos of personnel at Xaffévillers Aerodrome--I am trying to track down ones of any squadron in Xaffévillers in 1918--and 215 Squadron in particular.

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