Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
SteveLohr

Good Story of Honor in Warfare

Recommended Posts


ndicki over at sim-outhouse actually created a skin for Stigler's Bf-109. He has good records of squadron markings, etc. I owe him a writeup of the incident for the download package. I'd corresponded with John Shaw (of Valor Studios, who created the painting in the linked article), who sent us a better picture of Stigler's "Eva" personal artwork so that Nigel could replicate it for the skin.

 

I don't know if Nigel ever uploaded those or not, like I said, I never did my part (blush). He also did a "quick'n'dirty" skin for Charlie Brown's B-17 "Ye Olde Pub", but I'm ashamed I've never gotten back with him. Real life's a bear... anyway, if you fly CFS3 ETO, you should be able to fly Stigler's Bf-109, if he's uploaded the skin. My understanding is that he has a very good BF-109 aircraft that the skin works with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, that's nice - a lot of good biographical info on Lt. Stigler. I may just have another book on my Christmas list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, please: "These were men who fought by a code, who would look each other in the eye mid-air, who would never strafe an enemy plane that was already going down." What a bunch of pulp malarky. :rolleyes: This writer and anyone who believes that obviously does not know their history about Manfred von Richthofen--and a zillion other pilots.

 

The story of that event makes for good reading--except what I referenced above--but I always wonder how many hundreds of German civilians died as a result of this crew being allowed to fly home and live on or not be captured, enabling them to fly more bombing missions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jim, you are arguing rational. But man is not always simply rational.

We sometimes act emotionally.

It may not seem to make sense, but we feel we cannot do it any other way.

We're only human after all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Olham, Jim is right about the line of malarkey, I'll give him that - writers are given to sentamentalism, and we are all given to making the past better than it was! And yes indeed, they were able to wreak more havoc, perhaps even, as Jim says, kill many more people because of Herr Stigler's honorable decision. Still, in my mind, you do what is right. Stigler's words will speak for themseves, plenty have been recorded.

 

Lt. Stigler was acting more than emotionally - he was indeed acting as a human being in the term's fullest sense, both emotionally and rationally - trained to be honorable by his upbringing and even so ordered by his commander, who told his men "You are fighter pilots. If I ever see you shoot a man in a parachute, I will shoot you myself." His rosary beads, that he carried with him when he flew, had the paint worn off of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the smart thing to do is not always the right thing to do, JFM.

Edited by JonathanRL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess one only knows how one would act in such a situation, if one ever got into it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's one thing I like about this group. We're not a bunch of "Internet tough guys." You're right of course. We only hope we'd obey the better part of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

I respectfully disagree it was the right thing to do. The relatives of those Germans subsequently killed by this crew certaintly wouldn't think so. "My daughter just died but, that's okay, at least our Luftwaffe pilot, who is trained and paid to protect us, let that damaged bomber escape so the crew could come back in another plane and blow up our house." But, I understand war is dichotomous, people buy up these sorts of Waldo Pepper stories, and this guy has a book to sell so they're hitting the preconceived "chivalry" aspect of WW1 hard at Christmas. They know what they're doing.

 

I guess the paint hadn't yet worn off Stigler's rosary beads while he shot down those other 11 bombers to his credit, but It's interesting to me how war revels in contradiction. It's the "right thing" to let enemies fly away in a damaged plane, but if the same plane were undamaged it'd be "okay" to shoot it down. Or, as regards that malarky about no strafing. To name a few of the famous, Voss, Richthofen, and Ball all strafed downed machines. None of these strafings resulted in injury, but there is outrage against it. But it's okay--even celebrated--that these men killed many, many men while shooting airplanes in the air. So, it's "okay" to shoot machinegun bullets through a man's head or cause him to burn to death while he's flying an airplane in the air, but it's "not okay" to shoot at this airplane while it's on the ground, even though no injury resulted. "But, the men on the ground were defenseless." Really? The attack methodology of both sides was to strike an enemy unawares. So, again, it's acceptable to kill a man before he's even aware he's being attacked, but outrageous to shoot at him on the ground but not injure him. :crazy:

 

Please note I'm just rambling on, not trying to dissuade you guys from your take on Stigler letting this plane go. I understand it. Who knows what I would do in that situation. A war with a country we didn't want to fight in the first place? With Lebensraum, Hitler's aims were east, not west, and after Munich he didn't expect England to uphold its treaty with Poland and declare war on Germany (whoops). So, I can see that sort of thing happening. However, there are many countries right now I can think of who, if they flew planes to attack the US and I were a defending pilot, those planes would be a burning patch of gasoline on the Gulf, no matter how damaged they were before I arrived. So I type; fortunately, I'll never know.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The man purpose of chivalry in Warfare is to make sure you do not come out of it insane; to make sure you retain some of your humanity. While cold, efficient killers are good at wars, they are quite terrible to have in Peace, especially if you have loads of them. A good comparison is the Vietnam War where little if any chivalry was present. See what that did to the soldiers who fought in it !

 

To let go of the hatred that must be present in a pilot who rise to defend his country from armadas of Bombers is quite a extraordinary character feat as well. That he continued to do is duty afterwards have no bearing on that particular action. Also, I find that shooting at downed pilots who are _no longer a threat_ is a horrible thing to do. They had their chance, they lost honourably. Do not think that is the same as a masterfully executed sneak attack like Toranto or Pearl Harbour where the entire point is to never give the enemy the chance in the first place - a smart strategy I admit; and with no loss of honour since it is the defender who needs to be vigilant !

 

War is horrible, and all find ways to try and preserve a sense of right and wrong. It is not for you to judge a man who decided to show mercy when there was no reason to kill.

 

A war with a country we didn't want to fight in the first place? With Lebensraum, Hitler's aims were east, not west, and after Munich he didn't expect England to uphold its treaty with Poland and declare war on Germany (whoops)

 

But you did not join the war when England did. You joined the war late 1941, when Hitler declared war on you, after Pearl Harbour. While you did pick up the glove, there was no reason for you to do so. It would have been easy for you to ignore the declaration. That your country decided to get involved anyway is to its highest credit.

Edited by JonathanRL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just listened to an interview with the author of the book, who wrote about the incident based upon interviews he had with both 2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown and German BF-109 pilot Franz Stigler, who finally met and talked face to face about their encounter on December 20, 1943 above northern Germany.

 

Here is a video which tells some of the story of their encounter and their "reunion" almost 50 years later in Seattle, Washington.

 

 

I found some other interesting info about Stigler, which may help explain his actions on that day: before the war, Stigler was a professional, civilian pilot with Lufthansa. He had grown up flying gliders. Perhaps significantly, he had considered becoming a Monk before deciding to become a pilot. His family was also anti-Nazi and did not vote for the National Socialists before they seized power in 1933. When the war began, Stigler was in his mid-twenties, so he began the war as a flight-instructor. Ironically, he helped train his brother as a night-fighter pilot. When his brother was shot down and killed on his first mission, Stigler, seeking revenge, immediately sought transfer to a fighter squadron. By the end of the war, Stigler had flown 487 missions, had 28 confirmed victories and had been shot down 17 times! His decorations include the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Iron Cross 1st Class, and the German Cross in Gold. Franz was nominated for the “Knight’s Cross”, but the war ended before he received it.

 

Stigler and Brown both had heart attacks and died in 2008, six months apart. Stigler was 92; Brown, 87. In their obituaries, each was listed to the other as “a special brother.” They also refer to each other as brothers in the video.

 

The author also discussed a few other incidents of chivalry which occurred during the war, including two separate incidents where the captain of one Japanese sub refused to torpedo a "training ship" and another captain who discovered, just before firing his torpedo, that he was aiming at a hospital ship. Of course, for each incident such as this or Stigler and Lt. Brown's, there are probably hundreds of examples of atrocities that were committed by all sides during the war. The author's point is that even in war, where horrible things happen to thousands of people, there is still room for human compassion and that good men do not have to be corrupted by the horror of war. Another point he made is that even in war, for some it is important that they fight with honor and as much humanity as possible. It's the only way they can live with themselves if they survive. Notably, Stigler continued to fly up until the end of the war, ending up as a jet fighter pilot in the Me-262.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Morality in war is a tricky thing...considering war's primary activity (killing people and breaking things) goes directly against most moral codes.

 

It's easy to define at the ends (utter annihilation or complete surrender) but gets murky in the middle. There are so many situations that one can come up with where the 'right' answer depends on the people involved, the circumstances leading up the situation, and the possible fallout...or all the answers suck. Some just suck less than others.

 

FC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first Warbirds Convention I attended was at Raliegh, NC in 1999. The two guest speakers of honor were, interestingly enough, none other than Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler. The experience was fascinating to say the least. Really an honor to meet those two men. I wish I'd asked more questions but I was a bit awestruck at the time and was cripplingly hungover from the previous night's ingestion of dreaded FlakPanzerOil. Fortunately my fellow convention goers brought up all the topics that interested me and more.

 

The facts about the fateful encounter are pretty much out there, among them that Stigler already had two victories that day and had he shot Brown down it would have meant the Knight's Cross. What I remember vividly about the conversation with those two men was Stigler recounting that "there was blood everywhere" and that he just couldn't do it.

 

To address some of JFM's points I saw an interview with Bob Doe DSO, DFC (14 kills) recounting how he allowed Rolf Pingel of 1/JG26 109 to escape him in a similar way during the Battle of Britain. Wish I had the Youtube link handy because it's a great interview, anyway... Doe had shot up Pingel's 109 and it was clear the latter was going down in the Channel. So Doe pulled alongside, watched Pingel fighting for control of his plane and let him go. He said, "I just couldn't do it. Turns out I should have because he came back and shot more of our chaps down but it just wasn't in me."

 

epower

Edited by epower

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Jonathan when he says you don't want to come out of it insane... or perhpas psychopathic! Though I've never been in such a situation, and God help us all, hope we never are. I do understand JFM's points - we are at the extremeties of human cruelty here, and it just isn't easy to say what we'd do.

 

Another interesting tidbit is that Stigler, when flting the Me-262, was flying with the noted ace Galland - they often flew in each other's aircraft, by my understanding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..