Canadians are just British leftovers
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Finally certainty: Canadian visits Hagen on the trail of his brother
The mystery of the PD 268 bomber has been solved and with it the fate of its crew after 70 years
Hagen. (lwl) "Missing. Nothing heard after": That was the last reference to his brother. Ernest Mahr had to live with this uncertainty. Until local researcher Horst Klötzer followed up on the indications of the historical center of the city of Hagen and the regional association Westphalia-Lippe (LWL) and discovered the remains of a previously unknown British bomber in Hagen's Nimmertal. Since then it has been certain: Rudolf W. Mahr was shot down and perished 70 years ago in one of the last dogfights of the Second World War, together with seven other crew members of the Lancaster bomber. His brother visits the location of the dramatic events seven decades later - also to finally be able to say goodbye.
The LWL archeology specialists for Westphalia, the city of Hagen, their historical center and local history researcher Horst Klötzer have been working for years to document, among other things, the crash sites of warplanes and thus the traces of the fighting during the Second World War.
Already in 2013, the information led Horst Klötzer to the widely scattered remains of a bomber crash with the metal probe, which was previously unknown. "Among the finds were tiny metal parts that were often smaller than two centimeters, British coins and, most recently, massive aircraft parts with inscriptions as well as remains of the landing gear lock," explains Klötzer. Within two years, he put the finds together with the support of LWL archeology for Westphalia and the city of Hagen, but also with other helpers, to form a giant puzzle. After interviewing local residents and contemporary witnesses, extensive research into war documents and records followed.
. "On the night of March 7th to 8th 1945, 526 British Lancaster and five Mosquito bombers were supposed to carry out an attack on the East German city of Dessau. They took off in the afternoon from Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire in East England," says Dr. Ralf Blank from the Science, Museums & Archives department of the City of Hagen. "At that time the Ruhr area was still strongly secured and the planes avoided the direct course, flew south over the Bergisches Land and over the Sauerland." So did the PD 268 SR-O machine of the 101st Squadron. There were eight crew members on board. The youngest was Rudolf Mahr when he was just 19 years old. As the son of an immigrant from Germany, the young Canadian mastered the German language and was supposed to use special transmitters to disrupt the radio communications of the enemy night fighters. The German opponents nevertheless had the British attackers in their sights: five machines were shot down.
The British authorities did not know anything about the whereabouts of the PD 268 SR-O. It remained missing. Until the researchers took action. Not only the crew members could be identified in the course of the research - also the surviving dependents who were still alive. Klötzer finally got in touch with them. For Ernest Mahr, the brother of the youngest crew member Rudolf W. Mahr, it was clear after this surprising information: He wants to see the place of the crash with his own eyes - the place where his brother lost his life. The residents apparently buried the remains in the cemetery in Hagen-Dahl after a while - without official registration.
Ernest Mahr is now visiting Hagen with his wife Pat. Despite his 86 years of age, he is making the long journey from Canada and visiting other relatives of the deceased crew members on the way in France. Hagen's Lord Mayor Erik O. Schulz exchanged views with him on what happened 70 years ago during a visit to the Werdringen moated castle. During a visit to the crash site, the historical background of the events in 1945 was also discussed: At that time, the bomber, loaded with a 1.8 tonne mine bomb and dropping containers with stick bombs, crashed and exploded in the Nimmertal between Hohenlimburg and Dahl. "That such discoveries are still being made so long after the events that finally mean certainty, especially for the relatives, is something special for everyone involved," emphasizes LWL archaeologist Dr. Michael Baales.
A detailed documentation will appear at the end of the year in the publication "Archeology in Westphalia-Lippe 2014" by LWL-Archäologie für Westfalen.
Frank Tafertshofer, LWL press office, phone: 0251 591-235 and Katja Burgemeister, LWL archeology for Westphalia, phone: 0251 591-8921.
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The LWL at a glance:
The Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) works as a municipal association with more than 18,000 employees for the 8.3 million people in the region. The LWL operates 35 special schools, 21 hospitals, 18 museums and two visitor centers and is one of the largest German donors of aid for people with disabilities. It thus fulfills tasks in the social field, in the disabled and youth welfare, in psychiatry and in culture, which are sensibly perceived throughout Westphalia. He is also committed to an inclusive society in all areas of life. The nine independent cities and 18 districts in Westphalia-Lippe are the members of the LWL. They support and finance the regional association, whose tasks are shaped by a parliament with 125 members from the Westphalian municipalities.
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