Flight Officer Ralph E. Hamilton: 8th Air Force, 78th Fighter Group, 83rd Squadron (P-51, “Debra Del“) EscortingÂ B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers on a mission to NÃ¼rnberg, Germany, Hamilton’s P-51 Mustang was shot down by anti-aircraft fire while strafing a train near Crailsheim on FebruaryÂ 22, 1945 at 12:15 hours.Â His engine lost coolant, and he decided toÂ bailÂ out five minutes south of the town. He popped the canopy and pushed off after slowing the plane down, but he clipped his ankle onÂ a rear stabilizer and tried to escape to the Swiss border with thisÂ injury. He wasÂ captured and taken prisoner,Â initially taken to Dulag Luft West at Wetzlar, aÂ transit camp near Frankfurt. Before he was taken to Dulag Luft West, his captor, a Luftwaffe airman, took him drinking and even home to meet his parents! Hanns-Claudius Scharff, son of Auswertestelle West’s “master interrogator” Hanns Scharff, said he thinksÂ Ralph’s captor was an interrogatorÂ using techniques common to his father to get information.Â After his visit at Oberursel, Ralph eventually transferred toÂ Stalag 7A near Moosburg, which was eventually liberated by Patton’s 3rd Army at the end of April, 1945.
MISSING AIR CREW REPORT (MACR) for F/O Ralph Hamilton:Â 12681
MISSING AIR CREW REPORT (MACR) for F/O Charles R. O’Brien Jr, who filed the report on Ralph and was kind enough to provide coordinates in his handwritten notesÂ that don’t appear in the officialÂ report. O’Brien’s P-51, “Green Eyes,” was shot down four days after Ralph was shot down.Â He apparently survived the landing but wasÂ killed for unknown reasons whileÂ German custody:Â 12761
O’Brien’sÂ notes:Â observer field notes. I plugged these coordinates (49Â°S, 10Â°12â€™E) into Google Earth and found theÂ marshalling yards Ralph was shooting at when he was hit and the area in which he is likely to have bailed out.Â Crailsheim marshalling yards. (Note: The correct longitude is 49Â° N)
O’Brien went down near the village of Oldebrook, Netherlands–about 14 km SW of Zwolle:
Ralph’sÂ report on the downing of Lt. Jack LaGrangeÂ is included in LaGrange’s MACR.
“A KRIEGIE’S PRAYER (Written while a POW)
Lloyd Eadline was Ralph’s roomate at Duxford. Eadline was killed two daysÂ after RalphÂ lost his P-51 in Germany:
Accident Report for Lt. Lloyd EadlineÂ (MACR) Eadline was thought to have bailed out over the Zuider ZeeÂ andÂ probably drowned.
- Ralph drew this cartoon of Lloyd on the back of thisÂ photo. The swastike represent a kill Eadline made in Sept. 1944
* F/O= Flight Officer
List of 78th Fighter Wing losses
(Photo) After training at Strother Field, Kansas, 1944
(Photo) Ralph with his daughter, Debra Dell, for whom he named his plane)