My Trip to Battle England and The Crash Site’s
of B-26 42-107592 and B-26 42-96249
19 – 21 September 2011
|I would like to start by saying that Ian Cheveralls is the most
gracious host I’ve ever met. Ian also provided the majority of the
information on the crash sites. David Amos, present owner of the crash
site property, also provided information on the site.
My father, 1st Lt Christian Douglas Burger, was flying as the co-pilot on
42-107592, D-Day, 6 June 1944, and lost his life in this crash. I was
born on the 26th of August 1944 and never knew my father. For 64 years of
my life all I knew was that my father had been killed on D-Day and that
his plane had crashed. I also knew that his body had been returned to
Oklahoma and buried in Thomas Oklahoma, later to be moved to Pryor
Oklahoma with his father (Christian Darrell), mother (Katie), and brother
(Jack). My older sister (Sheila Burger) passed away February 10, 2011 and
she will be buried with our father. My father was trying to complete as
many mission as required, to enable him to be home before my birth. He
volunteered to fly that day and was not flying with his regular crew.
Ian, Chris, and I then traveled to Battle England and had dinner is a beautiful English Pup. The people we met in the Pub were all very happy to meet us and treated us very special. I didn’t feel like a tourist but like a special guest. That night Ian had arranged for us to stay in The Abby Inn a very old Inn with a lot of personality. I got a good nights rest for the day ahead.
On the 20th of September 2011 we started the day with a wonderful English
breakfast and met Ian around 9am. Ian then drove us to the crash site of
B-26 tail number 42-96249. I was surprised at how hilly the site was and
the number of trees. For some reason I always had a vision of the terrain
being more flat. It was amazing to see that after sixty seven years there
were no trees growing there and you could clearly see where the plane had
crashed (this is the aircraft the collided with my fathers). Both B-26’s
were loaded with sixteen 250 lbs. Aircraft 42-96249 had all the bombs
aboard. The bombs exploded and there still are no trees there. If this
plane had crashed in a populated area it would have caused great damage.
The crew of B-26 42-96249:
Ian, Chris and I then visited the crash site of B-26 42-107592, my father’s plane. The terrain was not as steep as the site of 42-96249 but, had more of a gradual hillside. I stood on the spot where the B-26 crashed and it was a very special moment for me. David Amos gave me a spark plug from my father’s plane and I will keep it forever. David and Joan Amos own the home where my father’s plane crashed in the backyard. I am very grateful that they allowed me to access the exact spot the plane crashed. I plan on having a plaque made to display with the spark plug. Chris, Ian, and I spent a couple hours talking with David and had a cup of tea with David. Ian also answered a question my family has had for many years, “Is that really my father buried in the grave site?” and the answer was “Yes”. My father’s crew jettisoned all but one of the 250 lbs bombs prior to the crash. At the time of the crash my father Co-Pilot 1st Lt Christian D. Burger, Navigator/Bombardier: 1st Lt LeRoy A. Dyer, Radio Operator: T/SGT George J. Kyle, Engineer: S/Sgt James M. Long, and Tail Gunner: S/Sgt George W. Williams were in the bomb bay jettisoning the bombs. Pilot 1st Lt Tommy J. Potts had given the signal to bailout, after waiting for a minute Lt Potts bailed out of the B-26. Lt Potts survived the bailout. If my father’s crew had not jettisoned the bombs many homes would have been damaged and there could have been lost of human life. These men were heroes.
I’ve waited a few days to document this trip and experience to evaluate my
feelings. It was such an emotional experience that it had taken some time
to put it in words. If someone told me ten years ago that I would visit
the site of my father’s death and meet the people that were there, I
wouldn’t have believed them. I always felt that my father was a hero and
now I know he truly was. There was and is still an empty place in my heart
for my father, but knowing what I know now has brought me peace.