BATTLEFIELD RESEARCH AND PRESERVATION GROUP - MIA Search Project Part-1

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Project #BRPG201704-1; Author WWIIBRPG

US Army Air Forces bomber shot down 

Project: MIA search

Date: Started April 2017 – current date
Location: Benelux


Four seasons into the project, an update of progress. As mentioned with the security of the location and certain details concerning the case, some information will be limited or sanitized.

HUMANITARIAN MISSION - United States Army Air Force B-17G 43-38911 "Bull Session"
Location of the crash site and credible location of missing Airmen

A search began in 2017 with goals of establishing the wreck site/sites for the aircraft USAAF, B-17 43-38911, “Bull Session”. This aircraft shot down on 14 January 1945 as it entered the West Luxembourg border area. It belonged to the 91st Bomber Group, 323rd Bomber Squadron of Bassingborn UK, AAF Station- 121. The 323rd was on a mission to Koln Germany to bomb a bridge and rail yards. Testament based on the only living witness, bombardier, Lt. James E. Buescher states that the aircraft took flak direct in mid-ship instantly exploding and descended until hitting the ground.

The bombardier James D. Buescher was thrown clear. He managed to open his chute and was soon captured, later being liberated in April 1945.
 

The Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) indicates this aircraft crashed to the ground in the vicinity 50, 02’05.23 N, 6.10’28.13” E. The MACR also claims the aircraft suffered a direct hit in the nose, peeling it from the front back to bulkhead #6. This is disputed by the bombardier and is justified, if it was a direct frontal nose hit he would not have been pushed through the nose and survived the fall.
 

There are several different theories on what exactly happened to the aircraft and the location it crashed at, none as yet is correct. Two crew members, remain to this day missing. The ultimate goal is to discover the wreck site, verify the site, and try to discover any evidence of the remains of the two missing airmen. Recovery will be carried out by the US government.
 

The search of Bull Session began 4 years ago in a dense 4.5 square kilometer forest area of a combination of pine, oak, beech, and birch trees, inhabited by loads of deer, both large and small varieties, raccoons, wild boar, fox, badgers, wild cats, and other small animals. The search began on what very little to be known at the time about its crash location. Information only based on a couple of photos and local accounts after the war while salvaging pieces of the plane from the forest. The recovered remains of the Pilot, Co-Pilot, and Navigator were found near and in the area in 1945/46. In summer 2017, 70% of the forest had been searched, as much of the 4.5 square km area as possible, only turning up a few small aluminum pieces and a half dozen rivets. Once the primary location/s of wreckage found, a focused search for the two MIA would pursue.

Some aircraft debris landed in a wooded area as well as the body of the pilot, buried in a shallow grave, discovered in 1946. Also found was the co-pilot and navigator that were buried temporarily in the village cemetery by Germans. The sole survivor was captured near a village closest to the wreck site. This area between the wreck site and remains recovered is highly suspected to be the place of MIA-1. Ongoing interviews in the area are being conducted to narrow down the area where the crew was found.
 
A second debris area is near two different villages, of which four remains in all (one, X-19, 30 days later identified) by village #1 were found, 2 positively identified crew were near village #2 with an unidentified X-15. In all, aircraft wreckage is spread over a 15 km distance SW-NE. The trail of debris and direction are giving good indicators for area and direction to search.

SUMMARY OF 2017 ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

In 2017 a goal of establishing the wreck site/sites of aircraft was initiated. Once the location of the wreckage is found and verified as the serial numbered aircraft, a focused search for the two MIA crew will pursue on-site as well as in a designated debris zone. A 2Km radius area was granted by a Government permit, compiling a 4.5Km area square of dense forest and open fields.  By end of summer 2017, 70% of the area has been covered extensively while some less due to thick in-accessible area of growth till winter and second season.
 

Some aircraft debris was found, but not in quantities to indicate aircraft wreckage primary impacting sites. The following is a list of finds for 2017.
Aircraft evidence found and recovered:
- 8 aircraft rivets (AN426AD4) -pic
-Three pieces of aircraft aluminum siding, from the airframe.- pic
- Fragments of an electronic box from onboard.-pic
- Two pieces of aluminum from servo motor cover? This area is under thick vegetation and needs to be
   investigated further.
- Winter 2017- Recent information with a possible wreckage location and debris has been reported. Several significant fragments of aircraft debris have been recovered, all parts suggest to be the engine, wing
sections, and possible cabin. An in-depth search is to be done to establish aircraft identity and revile clues as to crew. 

2017 Closing

​Over winter 2017-2018, as stated before, several mistakes in past US Government reports were discovered concerning locations of debris/remains found in 1945. There was confusion about village names and Latitude/Longitude coordinates of the last known position. To further complicate the case, it is said that there is a second aircraft crash in the same area, and is the same type of plane. Ongoing research into archives and US army reports are not producing any evidence at this time of any such event, nor are there any MACR available, no crew names, and no aircraft serial number. One example of the confusion put forth is that the aircraft in site A was said to have been an earlier model "F" aircraft due to a data plate of the exhaust collector. This was later debunked in the summer of 2018 when a data plate of the port wing was found showing it to be late model "G" aircraft, as well as debris that would only be of a later model aircraft. Engine swaps with cannibalization of older models on the flight-line were very common. 

In these pictures, you can see that the wing tag was originally pre-stamped for the fabrication on an "F" model, later after manufacturing the new "G" models, Boeing used up the old tags and stamped a "G" over the "F".  They sure would not have made a brand new model and then stamp it as an old no longer built type.

Maintenance personnel of the 92 BG, swapp out engines of B-17s on the filed. National Archives, USAAF

Final Thought

​To be perfectly clear to the public and people who use detectors, this is a scientific approached project. As a recognized partner and supported by the governing officials as well as all commune authorities. We are not trinket hunting, military artifact hunting, or doing this for personal gain. When munitions are found the ordinance disposal teams and police are informed for public safety, exact locations are not divulged. All site discovery of Archaeological value is recorded and reported to the state. Remains will be reported to authorities of the state and US government.

 

The integrity of Scientific research
 

We are clearly aware and do not support trespassing without permission, or conducting illegal activities for monetary enrichment, non-historically motivated, or extraction of unexploded ordinance. There are always those out there that spoil it for all, leaving open holes, trash, or live ordnance laying around, not contacting the authorities.  We are in it for historical, heritage, and educational purposes, building on history, following scientific and operational protocols.
 

We look to the host government for scientific guidelines and advice. We would also, as in the past cooperate with, landowners, the Department of Forestry, Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and Police. We are also aware that others may take to jealous measurements to exploit the work we do for what they would like to be doing, this comes with the territory. We will do everything possible to ensure a modest profile and all work is treated sensitive/confidential. When munitions are discovered EOD, police/ community leadership-property owners are contacted, we will have a discreet approach to public information getting out in respect for family, our research, and owners.

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