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Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland Coastal Command

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Home | RAF Coastal Command | RAF 201 Squadron | RAF 280 Squadron | The RCAF | RCAF 422 Squadron | RCAF 423 Squadron | No12 (Operational) Flying Instructors School St. Angelo | No 4 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit | Beginning | WW 2 Castle Archdale. | 201 Faces | 280 Faces | 422 Faces | 423 Faces | Archdale Faces /Places /Photos | 422 Captains & Crews | 423 Captains & Crews | 201/422/423 SQN Crests | Hard Times | Castle Archdale Successes | The Sunderland | Amazing Coastal Command Videos | The Donegal Corridor | Wartime Documents | ORB'S and Squadron Reports | Killed In Action | 423 Move From Castle 1945 | 423 Squadron Now | Archdale Hangar 2010 | Final Flight | Guestbook | RCAF 446 SAM Squadron (Post WW2) | Robert "Bob" Alexander Smith Flight Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr.) 226 Squadron R.A.F. | Links To Other WW2 Related Sites | Contact Me

Royal Canadian Legion

Joe O'Loughlin Home Page / An excellent resource

Juno Beach Center


422 Squadron

U-Boat.Net Kriegsmarine and U-Boat history

ShearWater Aviation Museum

World War 2 Talk

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Coastal Command RAF 95 Squadron in The Gambia

Robert Quirk's Home Page

SS City Of Cairo

                                                                         A Truly Amazing Story
Look carefully at the B-17 and note how shot up it is - one engine dead, tail, horizontal stabilizer and nose shot up.. It was ready to fall out of the sky. (This is a painting done by an artist from the description of both pilots many years later.) Then realize that there is a German ME-109 fighter flying next to it. Now read the story below. I think you'll be surprised.....


Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the  379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton , England . His B-17 was called 'Ye Old  Pub' and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters.  The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory  instead of heading home to Kimbolton.
After flying over an enemy  airfield, a German pilot named Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and  shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his  eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The  tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded.  The top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose was smashed  and there were holes everywhere .
Despite having ammunition, Franz  flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown  was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane. 
Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at  Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane  to, and slightly over, the North Sea towards England.   He then saluted Charlie  Brown and turned away, back to Europe.
When Franz landed he told  the C/O that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the  truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at  their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.
More than  40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved  the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked  about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.
They met in the USA at a 379th. Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are  alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that  day.



B-17 pilot Charlie Brown and German Ace Franz Stigler


When asked why he didn t shoot them down, Stigler later said, I didn t have the heart to finish those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute.

Research shows that Charlie Brown lived in Seattle and  Franz Steigler had moved to Vancouver, BC after the war. When they finally  met, they discovered they had lived less than 200 miles apart for the past  50 years!

Brown and Stigler did finally find each other in 1989 (and eventually met) after Brown placed an advertisement in a newsletter and discovered that Stigler was living in Canada near Vancouver. However, every news article we've found describing the reunion mentioned that since his retirement from the Air Force in 1972, Brown had been living in Miami, not Seattle (which would have put him about 3,500 miles away from Stigler's home):

After the war, Brown remained in the Air Force, serving in many capacities until he retired in 1972 as a lieutenant colonel and settled in Miami as head of a combustion research company. But the episode of the German who refused to attack a beaten foe haunted him. He was determined to find the enemy pilot who spared him and his crew.

He wrote numerous letters of inquiry to German military sources, with little success. Finally, a notice in a newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots elicited a response from Franz Stigler, a German fighter ace credited with destroying more than two dozen Allied planes. He, it turned out, was the angel of mercy in the skies over Germany on that fateful day just before Christmas 1943.

It had taken 46 years, but in 1989 Brown found the mysterious man in the ME-109. Careful questioning of Stigler about details of the incident removed any doubt.

Stigler, now 80, had emigrated to Canada and was living near Vancouver. After an exchange of letters, Brown flew there for a reunion. The two men have visited each other frequently since that time and have appeared jointly before Canadian and American military audiences. The most recent appearance was at the annual Air Force Ball in Miami in September [1995], where the former foes were honored.

In his first letter to Brown, Stigler had written: "All these years, I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?"

She made it, just barely. But why did the German not destroy his virtually defenseless enemy?

"I didn't have the heart to finish off those brave men," Stigler later said. "I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do it. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute."

Franz Stigler passed away on 22 March 2008. Charlie Brown passed away on 24 November 2008


(L-R) German Ace Franz Stigler, artist Ernie Boyett, and

B-17 pilot Charlie Brown.

Canada's Snowbirds 2009
Here are some photos and videos taken by me at Simcoe Airport in Ontario, June 2009 of the Snowbirds

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Special thanks to:
 James Stewart     N.Ireland 
Joe O'Loughlin     N.Ireland
    Breege Mc Cusker  N.Ireland 
John Newall         Canada
                               Richard Lebek  Canada ( crew member U-672)
Norman Lebek   Canada
 Roland Berr      Germany
                                Harry Lorkin   U.K. (RAF 226 Squadron)          
     John Rogers          UK            
                                    N.Jack Logan       Canada   (RCAF 422 Squadron)
              Les and Maureen Ingram  Scotland
   Bill Barber            Canada    
  Robert Walsh        N.Ireland  
                         Capt. Jerry Mason USN (ret.)  Canada         
             Blake Wimperis      Canada              
                                   Robert Quirk     Canada                                          
                                    Norm Muffitt          Canada                                      
                         Lt/Col S. Beaton     Canada  (Camp Borden)
       Stephanie Pinder     USA            
    Alec (Johnny) Johnston    N.Z.
                 Stephen Kerr           N.Ireland             
                                   Reg Firby               Canada (RCAF 423 Squadron)
         Maurice Duffill         Australia     
                   John Hartshorn              UK                     
                                  Don Macfie      Canada ( RCAF 422/423 Squadron)
                               Frank Cauley   Canada  ( RCAF 422 Squadron)
                                Harold O'Brien  Canada  ( RCAF 423 Squadron)
                                   James Newall          UK        ( RAF 423 Squadron)
      Ian Meadows                    UK
                     Bill Baker                 Canada               
John Taylor      Canada
            Gordon Burke              Canada
          Carol Whittle                    U.K.

Last Update on Dec 07 , 2010