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RAF74_Buzzsaw
11-05-04, 22:31
Salute All

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I do not speak German, but perhaps those of you who speak english can translate.

Those of you who may remember Franz Stigler, the WWII German Fighter Ace who spared the lives of a B-17 crew when he came across their bomber in the last days of WWII will be sad to hear that Franz is going through some rough times now.

He is 88, and has a persistent infection in his lung which has required him to be committed to hospital in Vancouver British Columbia Canada, where he lives now. He is undergoing a long series of anti-biotic treatments in the hospital. Of course this is very tiring and depressing to have to go through this and stay in the hospital enviroment.

He would be happy to receive cards and greetings from those who respect his deeds and actions during the War.

The address is:

Franz Stigler
Room 48, Unit 43
Surrey Memorial Hospital
13750 96th Ave
Surrey Canada
V3V 1Z2

It is not possible to phone. Where he is, in the Cardiac ward, there are no phones allowed.

Franz moved to British Columbia after the war, and ran a very successful business here before retiring. He is a respected and admired member of the WWII Veterans community here. It is hoped that he can visit the site of of a Spitfire restoration on Vancouver Island later this summer to take part in a dedication.

RAF74_Buzzsaw
11-05-04, 22:31
Salute All

http://www.vancourier.com/112102/photos/top1anchor.jpg

I do not speak German, but perhaps those of you who speak english can translate.

Those of you who may remember Franz Stigler, the WWII German Fighter Ace who spared the lives of a B-17 crew when he came across their bomber in the last days of WWII will be sad to hear that Franz is going through some rough times now.

He is 88, and has a persistent infection in his lung which has required him to be committed to hospital in Vancouver British Columbia Canada, where he lives now. He is undergoing a long series of anti-biotic treatments in the hospital. Of course this is very tiring and depressing to have to go through this and stay in the hospital enviroment.

He would be happy to receive cards and greetings from those who respect his deeds and actions during the War.

The address is:

Franz Stigler
Room 48, Unit 43
Surrey Memorial Hospital
13750 96th Ave
Surrey Canada
V3V 1Z2

It is not possible to phone. Where he is, in the Cardiac ward, there are no phones allowed.

Franz moved to British Columbia after the war, and ran a very successful business here before retiring. He is a respected and admired member of the WWII Veterans community here. It is hoped that he can visit the site of of a Spitfire restoration on Vancouver Island later this summer to take part in a dedication.

RAF74_Buzzsaw
11-05-04, 22:32
Here is the transcript of a local article which was written on Canada's Remembrance Day about Franz. (Remembrance Day is Canada's version of Memorial Day)

MERCIFUL ENEMY

By Lisa Smedman-staff writer

Sitting in the den of his Surrey home, surrounded by mementoes of World War II, 87-year-old Franz Stigler slowly turns the pages of his photo album. He stops at a black-and-white picture of a crashed B-17 bomber, its broken fuselage blackened by fire.

"I shot this one down," says the former Luftwaffe fighter pilot. "It's a B-17, a four-motor bomber plane."

In fact, Stigler shot down 11 bombers and 17 fighter planes during the war, for a total of 28 kills. For his bravery, he received the Iron Cross 2nd Class, Iron Cross 1st Class and the Cross in Gold.

But one of his most memorable encounters is illustrated in a different kind of picture, a painting of an American bomber and German fighter flying next to each other.

It was Dec. 20, 1943, and Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant) Stigler and the other pilots of Jagdgeschwader 27 were defending their homeland against waves of American and British bombers pounding German factories and cities.

Stigler, a veteran of the air war in Africa, Sicily and Italy, had landed to refuel his Messerschmitt Bf 109. Looking up, he spotted an Allied bomber. He got back into his plane and took off to attack.

The four-engine bomber, a badly shot up American B-17 of the 379th Bomber Group limping home alone from a raid on factories at Bremen, Germany, had only one engine at full power and a shattered nose. It had lost its oxygen and hydraulic systems and was full of holes. Of its 11 guns, only three were working.

Stigler had already shot down two bombers that day: a third kill would have earned him the Knight's Cross. The B-17 looked like an easy target, but as he approached from the rear, he braced himself for the tail gunner to open up. Then he noticed the blood.

"I saw [the gunner] lying there, bleeding profusely. I couldn't shoot," he said. "I thought, 'I cannot kill these half-dead people. It would be like shooting at a parachute.'"

Stigler maneuvered near the cockpit of the B-17 and motioned for its pilot, 21-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown, to land. Brown refused. Stigler now had a choice: shoot down the crippled bomber, or let it go. If anyone found out he had failed in his duty to kill the enemy, he would be stripped of his rank at best. At worst, he might face execution by firing squad.

Stigler saluted the American pilot, rolled his plane and flew away.

"We were at the point where we thought, 'To hell with decorations, as long as we make it home,'" says Stigler. "I just hoped it was worth it, that he made it back."

It wasn't the first time Stigler had spared an enemy pilot. He recalls getting close enough to a Spitfire once to see the pilot. "He looked at me and I saw his wide eyes and his mouth wide open. So I couldn't shoot."

In battle, Stigler says he always thought of himself as aiming at the airplane, rather than the man inside, hoping the pilot and crew would survive. "When you shot a bomber down, you counted the parachutes. The more that came out the happier we were."

Brutal though the war was, for Stigler-and many other fighter pilots on both sides of the combat-it was a gentleman's war. Like the pilots who flew before them in World War I, they respected each other.

Stigler tells the story of the first plane he shot down, a Spitfire in Africa. He came from the rear and shot part of the Spitfire's wing off. The pilot abandoned the plane and was able to parachute to the ground a few kilometres from Stigler's base. Captured by the Germans, he was brought back to Stigler's squadron and remained there overnight until he could be transported to a prison camp. Stigler, who had learned English as a school boy, invited the man into the pilots' mess for a coffee.

"We were two fighter pilots-it was the same as talking to one of our own," Stigler recalls. "A fighter pilot is a fighter pilot, regardless of which side they are on. A gentleman."

Stigler, whose father flew as an observer in World War I, grew up imagining how exciting it would be to fly. When his Grade 5 teacher, who served as a fighter pilot during World War I, formed a glider club, Stigler and his brother immediately signed up. The club built its own planes and Stigler made his first solo flight in a glider in 1927, at the age of 12.

The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, banned Germany from possessing military aircraft, which was why the Germans concentrated on gliders. Not until 1926 did the Allies allow Germany to produce multi-engine aircraft. Germany created Lufthansa, a national airline that would serve as a training ground for the pilots who would later fly in World War II.

Stigler learned to fly motorized aircraft through this "shadow air force," which paid for his flying lessons. His first solo flight was in 1933, at the age of 17, in a Focke Wulf 44 biplane. A photo taken immediately after the flight shows Stigler seated in the open cockpit, grinning despite the splatter of black oil that covers his face.

The plane was primitive by the standards of World War II, says Stigler. "No brakes, no tail wheel, no nothing."

RAF74_Buzzsaw
11-05-04, 22:33
Stigler flew for Lufthansa out of Berlin, delivering mail to cities across Europe. During the Spanish Civil War, he flew supplies to Spain for the German Condor Legion, which was fighting on the Nationalist side.

When World War II began, Stigler was already in uniform, working as an instructor at pilot training school in Dresden. Stigler's brother August, who was four years older, was a high school teacher and a pilot in the reserves. He was called up to active service and trained as a night fighter.

Stigler still remembers receiving the wire containing the news that his brother had been shot down over the North Sea. It was 1940. "They found him on the beach in France," says Stigler. "I tried to get him and take him home, but they wouldn't let me have [his body]. They had to bury it where they found it. If he had been killed in Germany, then I could have taken him."

His brother's death motivated Stigler to abandon the safety and "boredom" of his teaching position for service on the front lines. He asked to be trained as a fighter pilot and was transferred in 1942 to Jagdgeschwader 27, which was fighting the British over Africa.

Stigler, who was promoted to officer while serving near Tobruk, Libya, still recalls the hardships of the desert-including the flies that constantly settled on his food. "For the first six weeks, I hardly could eat. Every time I put something in my mouth, there was flies in the corner of the mouth. Later we didn't give a heck. You've got to eat-you get used to it."

As tanks waged war on the desert below, Stigler scanned the skies for enemy planes. His Bf 109 single-seater could fly for about an hour before needing to be refueled. It was hot, grueling work-some days, he flew up to five missions.

"We were flying seven days a week," he recalls. "We started when the sun came out and sundown, we still were in the air."

Stigler's final 16 combat missions were flown in the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first operational jet fighter. The jet squadron, Jagdverband 44, was formed early in 1945 under the command of General Adolph Galland. "'Galland's Circus' they called it," says Stigler.

The pilots chosen to fly the Me 262 were all experienced flyers-experten, in German-with at least 800 hours of flying time. They were expected to pick up on the intricacies of flying a jet quickly. The jet was fast-cruising speed was 850 kilometres per hour-so pilots had to learn how to attack the much slower conventional fighters and bombers that were their targets. The nose of the plane contained three-centimetre cannons. "You really could shoot the wing off [an enemy plane]."

The den of Stigler's home is a memorial to his wartime service. Original paintings and prints of the planes he flew are hung in wingtip-to-wingtip formation on the walls, together with photos of Stigler in uniform. On one wall is a humanitarian award presented by the U.S. 31st Fighter Wing, praising his "outstanding chivalry and concern for his fellow human beings demonstrated during aerial combat on Dec. 20, 1943."

Of the 28,000 men who served as fighter pilots in the Luftwaffe, only about 1,400 survived. Pointing to a photo of pilots from his squadron, taken in the spring of 1944 at an airfield in Austria, Stigler shakes his head. Of the 12-man squadron, only two were alive at the end of the war.

"When someone died, we had a drink on him," says Stigler. "Then I sat down and wrote the letter to the wife or the parents, what kind of hero he was. I drank a half a bottle of cognac to do that."

Stigler was lucky-out of 487 combat missions, he was wounded only four times, taking bullets in each leg, and one in the head that left a deep dent in his forehead over his left eye. He no longer remembers where he was flying when he was hit, but the other details are still sharp.

"I came from the rear on the B-17 and the tail gunner shot at me. One bullet went through my windshield, which was about that thick," he says, holding thumb and finger about five centimetres apart. "It had just enough power to break the bone. I didn't really feel very much, only the blood was running down. I flew home, my doctor bandaged it, and then I flew again."

B-17s were difficult to attack because they flew in large formations of almost 30 planes, each armed with 10 to 13 guns, enabling the bomber to return fire from whichever direction a fighter attacked. "You fly through [the formation], then up on the other side and do the same thing again, and they all shoot at you. I never came home without a hole in my airplane."

Stigler was shot down a total of 17 times. Six times, he bailed out in a parachute; the rest, he was able to land the plane. Sometimes the cockpit hood jammed, which happened once to Stigler when a bullet stuck in the hood, locking it shut. "Then you get really strong," he says, pantomiming pounding on the cockpit hood with both fists.

The final time Stigler was forced to bail out of his plane was late in 1944, over western Germany. Unable to see the ground but knowing the altitude of the cloud cover he had fallen into, he waited for the best moment to open his parachute, not realizing there was a mountain under him.

"About five seconds later, I was standing on the ground. I looked around and there came a girl with a rifle in her hands, [saying], 'Hands up!' Then she said, 'Oh. You are a German.' She was so disappointed."

About eight young women and a sergeant were stationed in a hut, watching for airplanes. When Stigler went inside, the women descended on the parachute, which was pure silk-coveted for stockings and dresses. One said, "Franz?" It turned out to be an old schoolmate.

"While I was waiting for transportation, she said, 'You're not going to take the parachute are you?' I said I had to, and she said, 'Oh for heaven's sake. You lost the airplane, might as well lose the parachute, too.' So I 'lost' it."

Recently, the plane Stigler was flying that day was found in the swamp where it crashed, and there are plans to restore it. Stigler hopes to travel to Germany next year to see the work in progress.

At the close of the war, Stigler was in Salzburg, which had been surrounded by the American army. The reluctant pilots were forced to blow their airplanes up so they wouldn't fall into enemy hands. "We almost cried," remembers Stigler, who escaped by motorcycle into the mountains.

After hearing about Canada from Canadian friends, Stigler immigrated in 1954. Although he earned his commercial pilot's licence, the only flying he did was recreational, since his wife didn't want to face the long weeks alone that being married to a commercial pilot would entail. For a time, he owned and flew a Messerschmitt 108 painted with Luftwaffe markings that had been used in the making of the 1969 film Battle of Britain, keeping it for 16 years. Meanwhile he worked as a mechanic for a logging company in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and later ran a truck rental business.

For years, Stigler wondered whether the pilot of the shot-up American B-17 he'd encountered had survived the war. He kept asking former Allied pilots if they knew the fate of the bomber he allowed to get away, with no success.

Several thousand kilometres to the southeast, Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown was also drawing blanks in his efforts to learn if the German who had spared his life was still alive. In the late 1980s, Brown learned of J¬Ąger Blatt, a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots. He placed an ad asking if anyone knew the name of the German pilot. Stigler saw the ad and wrote to Brown, who then telephoned him.

To confirm that he had the right man, Brown asked Stigler if he could recall what was written on the nose of his bomber. Stigler immediately replied, "Ye Olde Pub" and described the white triangle with a K on the bomber's tail.

"He said, 'It has to be you. Why did you let me get away?' At that time, I told him it was because I saw how much damaged his airplane was," Stigler says, laughing. "Today I say it's because I didn't know him as well as I do now."

That was in 1990. Today, the pair are good friends. They get together twice a year, either at Brown's home in Miami or in Canada. What do they talk about?

"Ah, two old soldiers," Stigler says. "We are like two brothers. [We talk about] whatever comes up."

It's been about 10 years since Stigler last piloted an aircraft, but friends still take him up as a passenger. "I miss it quite a bit," he says. "Flying was my life."

The battles of his years as a fighter pilot also continue to haunt his dreams. "When I was in the Queen Charlottes, my wife said that every night, I was still fighting. Still, sometimes, I dream [of it]."

Here also is a site of an interview done with Franz recently:

http://109lair.hobbyvista.com/articles/pilots/stigler/stigler.htm


RAF74 Buzzsaw

Boandlgramer
11-05-04, 23:58
Thank you Buzzsaw for the info.

Salute

Boandlgramer
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The first Time i saw Chuck Yeager, i shot him down. Petrosillius Zwacklmann ( WW2 Hero ).
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Somebody asked me, what i liked most, my chromium-plated Colt or my Helmet with the 4 Stars. I said : you damn Bastard, none of them, the most important thing in my life is my pink underwear.... a well know WW2 General http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
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Kozhedub: In combat potential, the Yak-3, La-7 and La-9 fighters were indisputably worse to the Uhu Segelflieger aus Balsaholz. But, as they say, no matter how good the violin may be, much depends on the violinist. I always felt respect for an Uhu Balsaholzflieger pilot whose plane I failed to down.

Leckomio
12-05-04, 02:21
Thank you Buzzsaw!

Send Mr. Stigler please the Best recovery wishes from the German IL2-Community!
It would be nice if we meet Mr. Stigler when he comes to Germany!

I thing he is a really Gentlemen and Hero!

(Sorry for my bad English)

cu Balti

Pardauz
12-05-04, 07:10
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