On 8 May 1945 the war in Europe was nearly over. American
forces had liberated the concentration/labour camp at Ebensee
three days earlier. Twenty P47's (five flights of four aircraft)
embarked on an aerial demonstration/morale boosting flight
over the POW/concentration camp at Ebensee. (Ebensee was
an ancillary camp to Mauthausen Concentration Camp –
the labour was used to build tunnels in the mountains and
8500 inmates died there). All aircraft were fully armed but
no bombs were being carried. Yellow Flight consisted of
Yellow Leader Lt Eastman (K4-C) with Lt Mohr (K4-S) wing-
man and Element Leader Lt Cecil (K4-A) with Lt Olthoff
Doug Eastman remembers the trip well.
"We left Kitzingen around 9:00 am and maintained approx
220mph on our flight to Ebensee. The later portion of the
flight through the Austrian Alps was uncommonly beautiful.
As we approached Ebensee, I noticed a few tall stacks within
the town. These stacks and the fact Henry (Mohr) elected to
fly lower than the rest of the flight made 'buzzing' the town
at very low altitude unsafe – so we maintained a couple of
hundred feet until over the lake. After crossing the shoreline
and moving out over the lake we, as had been planned,
broke formation, fanned out then dropped down to within a
few feet of the water. A small sailboat was in view a bit to the
right of my intended flight path. The boats occupants
apparently thought they were about to be run over and
proceeded to jump overboard. It was, at the time, somewhat comical. I then saw out the corner of my eye a commotion to
my right so I pulled up a little and looked over. I saw Mohr's aircraft bounce up from the water and come down again, hit
the water and begin to sink. We circled the crash site and saw
Mohr thrashing about in the water and watched the plane sink
out of sight. We headed home to Kitzingen and reported the
crash at the debriefing".
It seems Yellow 2 had to go wide to miss a chimneystack over
the town of Ebensee. With the other three heading across
the lake, Mohr was trying to catch up and return to his position
when disaster struck. Flying at 230mph, the propeller touched
the water and was wrecked. The P47 hit the water in a cloud
of steam and spray, becoming airborne again before coming
down onto the lake surface. There was little time for '29150 to
float, she was already on her way down as Mohr was trying to
get out. In the water, he did not have a Mae West or a
dinghy but the parachute pack initially kept him afloat.
Gradually this became waterlogged and he began struggling
to stay afloat.
Two girls broke into a boat shed and procured a rowing boat
and proceeded to row to the crash site.
A boy in another boat followed. By this time Mohr was at the
point of drowning, his parachute pack had sunk and he was
going under with it. At the same time his young rescuers
arrived and thrust an oar into the water, which Mohr immediately
clung to before losing consciousness. It is not clear whether
the three pulled him into the boat or held him on the side,
but Mohr remained unconscious. On the shore we was taken
to a German hospital where he became the last MIA of the
9AF, at least for a few hours. He was liberated later and sent
to an American military hospital as the war in Europe ended.
History is Made
'29150 became the last P47 combat mission loss in the ETO
and this ironically led to its survival. During the summer of
1945, a large part of the surviving P47's were unceremonious-
ly scrapped, although the surviving nineteen P47's from the
511FS were flown to an airfield near Paris and delivered to
the French. Its loss on 8 May has meant '29150 is
undoubtedly one of the most historic P47's in existence.