The Germany-England Tour
Memorable Experiences Abound For 75
By the Tour Group
Would that each of the seventy-five 398th Bomb Group members who went on last summer Germany-England Tour had the opportunity to write the "lead" story for this issue of FLAK NEWS.
No single observation from one reporter could possibly capture the essence of the 17 -day drama and put it all into a few, choice, introductory words.
If, however, one could probe the mind of each member and ask him or her to list a tour high point, it might just look something like this -
The surprising, emotional greeting of the "Friends of the 398th" as the tour busses arrived at Barkway Village Hall, there to be greeted by the "home stay" hosts.
The official greeting at Leipzig by the deputy burgermeister of Merseburg, who almost broke down in telling of Eastern Germanys 60-year suffering under two dictatorships.
The 1940s dance at High Hall Farm at Anstey, where many of the 600 who came to celebrate the return of the Yanks did so in a variety of WW II uniforms.
Roger Freeman, the 8th Air Force historian and banquet guest speaker, who had planned to leave early but stayed late to enjoy the specIal relationshIp that exIsts between the 398th and their British Friends.
Standing in awe in the Cologne Cathedral, and feeling good about not knocking it down in 1944-45 when most everything in the neighborhood was leveled.
Those private, small plane rides over the old field and looking down on the shadowy outlines of the three runways and remembering how great they looked after one of those long hauls to Merseburg 48 years before.
Singing the German National Anthem in German at the "Boothaus" restaurant in Merseburg (thanks to choir director Dick Frazier.)
Joining Joe Mansell on the stern of the Channel ferry, Prins Filip, and seeing him throw a bouquet of roses into the waters in memory of the five members of his Lyle Doerr crew that perished In those waters in 1944. James Powell also was there, as two of his crew mates also were on the Doerr craft.
Stopping for a coffee break at this quaint, little town of Cheshunt, there to find this quaint, little supermarket with 45 check-out stands!
Sharing the pride and emotions of Danny Leyva and Maurice Fletcher, who presented memorial wreaths at Ardennes American Military Cemetery and at the 398th Memorial.
Enjoying Hank Rudow tell of his private excursion to Duffell, Belgium, where he not only saw where he crash-landed his B-17, but also dug up parts of his Fortress. And where he was a celebrity at the City Hall.
The tree-planting ceremony at the Merseburg Castle, involving city officials, students, educators and a host of newspaper, radio and TV folks.
Marveling at the German-English translation ability of guest Insa Kipping, who added an extra dimension to the tour with her linguistic gifts.
Hearing about the special tour given Ben & Polly Anna Core and Phil & Mabel Arbogast. They were taken to Mucheln, near Merseburg, where their B-17 crashed in 1944,killing pilot Roger Campbell. Their host was Mucheln burgermeister Udo Werzel.
The children of Nuthampstead adding flowers to the Memorial during the inspiring ceremony, then following Dick Frazier as he asked his comrades to stand and share the name of a friend or buddy who didn't make it. "I remember ..."
The Purple Heart presented to Willis (Bill) Frazier following his encounter with a breakfast roll at Oostende, Belgium.
Hearing the members telling about "their" home during the five- day visit to Nuthampstead and the friendships that were made. One of the youngsters at Lowell & Audrey Culver's home sat on Lowell 's suitcase on the final day and insisted they stay longer:
Seeing 84-year-old Col. Earl Berryhill carry the wreath to the Madingly Memorial in the accompaniment of three of the "kids," - Randy Stange, Carolyn Wyatt and Gail Van Patten.
The presentation of a B-17 propeller; remnant of the V.A, Hansard crash at Reed Hall Farm, and kept all these years by members of the family that farmed there at the time.
The barbeque dinner in the barn at Meesden Bury, home of Friends chairman Wilfred Dimsdale. Complete with a Station 131 slide show by Vic Jenkins.
Seeing tour director Barbara Fish, tall and slender; wiggle her way into the ball turret of the Mary Alice B-17 at Duxford.
Germany-England Tour Party
- Phil & Mabel Arbogast
- Bill & Jackie Auten
- Lou & Matea Baffaro
- Earl Berryhill
- Barbara Murray
- Wally & Teedy Blackwell
- Nick Bur
- Bill & Norma Carter
- Winsor & Joyce Coleman
- Ben & Polly Anna Core
- Lowell & Audrey Culver
- Dorothy Crouch & Carolyn Wyatt
- Wayne & Ruthanna Doerstler
- David & Shirley Edwards
- Maurice & Betty Fletcher
- Dean & Ruby Foster
- Dick & Junice Frazier
- Willis & Ruby Frazier
- George & Jeanne Graham
- Ralph & Marjorie Hall
- George & Pearl Hershberger
- Maria Hunter
- Roy Hussey
- Ed & Barbara Jones
- Virgil Kramer
- Daniel Leyva
- Jack & Jean Madlung
- Joe & Willetta Mansell
- Gertrude W. Neff
- Elliott & Connie Novek
- Allen & Geg Ostrom
- James & Jaunice Powell
- Russ Reed
- Millie McMillan
- Hank & Louise Rudow
- Chuck Sasse
- Joyce Hell
- Margaret Sigsworth
- Phil & Marge Stahlman
- Ray & Jeanne Stange
- Randy Stange
- Charles Sutton
- Howard & Jane Traeder
- Les Veley
- Gail Van Patten
- Hal & Billie Weekley
- Barbara Fish, Tour Director
- Insa Kipping, Interpreter
- Kurt Kleeman, German Guide
- Christel Racy, German Guide
- Linda Ellis, English Guide
- Jim Espizel, English Guide
Moving from Western to Eastern Germany and noting the poorer condition of the roads, buildings and houses. And all of a sudden, sparkling, modern shopping center on the outskirts of Merseburg. Hearing the ancient bells of St. George's Church at Anstey and crowding into the sanctuary with the local worshippers. Closing with "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Dixie!" When the Royston Band played "Dixie" again during the luncheon on the adjoining lawn, guess who grabbed the leader's baton and took over? (Maria Hunter for North Carolina!)
Joining Gertrude Wells Neff as she raised her husband's flag on the giant pole up near the old tower, and knowing it will fly there "to destruction."
And surely, listening to Dick & Junice Frazier; Wally & Teedy Blackwell and Maria Hunter tell about their visit to St. James Palace, where they were 398th Bomb Group representatives at the "British and American Forces Dining Club" banquet. And who was there to represent the Royal family? Prince Andrew!
Representing the "Friends" at the Palace were Wilfred Dimsdale, Peggy Wells and Elaine Tyler. And most certainly these three "qualified" for the invitation for the work they did in preparing for the 398th "friendly invasion."
Missing President & Evelyn Comstock on the tour due to the press of business at Bill's firm... and the death of Evelyn's mother.
Appreciating the "substitute" role of Dick Frazier as official 398th representative. And noting that he was called on to speak at six different functions (plus leading the group singing, which included 'America the Beautiful" at the Ardennes Cemetery.)
Just being at the Leunawerke on ground level and recognizing the immensity of the plant. And not only hearing about the bomb fall during WW II, but actually seeing the statistics.
Appreciating the wit of Insa Kipping who, after listening to an extensive report by the Leuna manager, translated his message , by opening with the words, "In brief.. ."
Taking note of the many men and women who were seen looking for specific names on crosses as the group visited Margraten, Ardennes and Madingly cemeteries A special ceremony was held at the burial site of Col. Frank P. Hunter.
Enjoying another visit at Neuss, Germany, with friends made during the 1988 visit. Manfred Koning, Gertrud Peiffer and others missed Fred Gonzales, who had to cancel at the last moment due to an operation (very successful).
Trying to understand five Czechoslovakian young men who drove to Leipzig to meet with the tour members. The five are members of SLET, a group which searches for (and finds) parts of crashed WW II planes. Their story will be told in a future issue of FLAK NEWS:
Appreciating Linda Ellis, who handled the English part of the tour. And who on the final night admitted she was in a "family way." Linda, who teaches French to young kids, was responsible for ordering the three French Service dinners enjoyed in England.
Learning that Dean Foster 's health was questionable before the tour but who insisted on 'flying the mission."
Finding that many 8th Air Force buffs know about the famous mission that took out the nose of the Larry deLancey/Phil Stahlman B-17 over Cologne. Phil signed his name many times beside the photo in the REMEMBRANCES book. A post-tour task will be to attempt to find American school children who wish to correspond with the Merseburg kids who took part in the tree-planting ceremony.
And sending a "thank you" note to Lothar Pannebacker, the Merseburg tourism director who so beautifully handled the logistics for the memorable meeting between the 398th and the people of Merseburg.
And trying to understand why Bill Adams of London chose to do a special carving for the Tour Coordinator and present it on the final evening.
And... in recalling those fabulous meals aboard the SAS 767's, also remembering those 10-hour missions to Merseburg when the "menu" was one candy bar and a pack of gum.
Printed in Flak News Volume 7, Number 3, Page 4, July 1992