Crash Site - Erkrath, Germany
Finding the Crash Site
Albert I. Pierce is survived by his son Terry, who has hosted a website memoralizing his father for years. In summer of 2014, Terry was contacted out of the blue by an amateur historian named Markus Weyer. Markus Weyer is a German lawyer practicing out of his own firm and the father of two. Markus' father was just a young boy in Erkrath when Albert Pierce and his crew crashed into the valley. Markus' father could even recall floating down the small Düssel river on one of the aircraft's tires. After his father passed away, Markus began to investigate the details of this story to learn more about his father. He stumbled across the missing aircrew report for Albert Pierce and his crew, which led Markus to Terry's website. Markus reached out to Terry and two men were brought together across thousands of miles by the memories of their fathers. After piecing together more parts of the story, the two men met in person on Terry's pilgrimage back to the site of his father's plane crash.
The crash site is located in Northeast Erkarth near a mill called the "Stindermühle". Today it is a small farm with a small inn, which is open on Sundays. The mill is still run by the Ortwein family and Mrs. Ortwein was one of the eye-witnesses to the crash. The Stephans have run the mill for generations and her father, Mr. Stephan, was the first to see the plane coming in. He stood from his doorway and used the his roof as a spotting line to see if the smoking plane might crash into the mill. Mrs. Ortwein was only fourteen and she was standing in the kitchen with her mother when her father told them to take cover in the cellar. They all took cover and after a few short seconds they heard the incredible explosion of the impact. Fortunately, the plane did not crash into the mill and slammed into the valley just 300 meters away. According to Mrs. Ortwein, the plane burned all night and was still smoking the next day too. Mr. Stephans had reported seeing two crew members bail out of the plane, but had not seen their parachutes deploy. Local Luftwaffe personnel arrived at the mill shortly after and warned the villagers to stay away from the plane due to the risk of explosion. According to eyewitnesses, the bodies of Sgt. Nemes and 2nd Lt. Hampton were found on the fields Northeast of the mill. The bodies of Sgt. Warren and Tsgt. Siudeikis were buried in the Erkrath Cemetery before being reinterred at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Liège, Belgium after the war.
Erkrath After the War
During the first few months after the war, there were abandoned flak-positions, blown 88-guns, scattered ammunition everywhere, and bands of released POW's running rampant throughout the countryside. The houses were old and many were destroyed. Refugees from former Eastern Germany overcrowded the delapidated homes and Markus' father had to endure extreme living conditions as a child. In his home, 20+ people lived in a 1,600 sq ft home that was built in 1888. With no men, no police, and no authority; the German children were left unsupervized to play with war relics that scattered the area while the women struggled to feed their families. Since then, the village has been rebuilt and the crash site has become overgrown with trees and bushes. Cattle graze in the valley, unaware that a barren patch of ground where "nothing has grown since the war" is the only scar left of the plane crash all those decades ago. In the Erkrath town records, one can still see the entry of Sgt. Warren and Tsgt. Siudeikis all these years later. Perhaps the most impressive relic retrieved from the crash site was a crash ax, which had sat in Mr. Gumpertz barn until Terry's journey.