27.05.1944 364th Fighter Squadron P-51B 42-106632 1st.Lt. Dean N. Post Jr
Operation: Escort on a Ramrod* mission to Ludwigshafen (Mission #373), Germany
Date: 27th May 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 364th Fighter Squadron (357th Fighter Group), 8th Air Force
Type: P-51B Mustang
Base: Leiston (Station #373), Suffolk, England
Location: Near Xefosse, France
Pilot: 1st.Lt. Dean N. Post Jr. O-807603 AAF Age 23. Survived
* ‘Ramrod’ was the codeword for a short range (medium) bomber mission against ground targets.
REASON FOR LOSS:
1st.Lt. Post flying as #4 of Greenhouse Blue flight which took off from Leiston on the morning of the 27th May 1944 to escort a Ramrod* mission to Ludwigshafen, Germany.
After being engaged in dogfights with Bf-109s, the aircraft of 1st.Lt Post and 1st.Lt. Harris collided in mid-air at about 1200 hrs. 1st.Lt. Post’s aircraft crashed near Xefosse on the D23 road 2 miles north of Le Valtin, 8 miles NE of Gérardmer (Vosges) in eastern France at 1213 hrs. Both pilots baled out, 1st.Lt. Post landed near Le Rudin also on the D23 road, 2 miles NNE of Le Valtin. (Based on volume 3, page 284 of Reference 1)
1st.Lt. Thomas L. Harris O-748495 was flying P-51B, 43-6653, C5:S ‘Li’l Red’s Rocket’. After the mid-air collision he bailed out and his aircraft was reported to have crashed near Le Rudlin, 12 miles south of St. Dié. 1st.Lt. Harris was captured and remained a PoW at Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria) until he was liberated.
1st.Lt. Harris shot down two Bf-109’s during this mission, making him an ‘ace’ although he was unable to claim this distinction as he became a PoW before he could report his success.
The following is the after mission statement provided by Maj. John A. Storch O-362181 on the 28th May 1944:
“I was leading Greenhouse Blue flight with 1st.Lt Post flying as #4 man when we went down on a Bf-109 that was diving away. 1st.Lt Post was in position on his #3 man when we went down. I did not see him when we were diving and turning with the Bf-109. There was a considerable number of our aircraft and aircraft from the 352nd Fighter Group, and also enemy aircraft around. There was a lot of noise on the radio/transmitter and I could not hear anyone calling. When the dogfight was finished I had my #2 man and the Green flight #1 and #2 with me.
I started spiralling for altitude, and the bombers were out of sight. I called my #3 man, 1st.Lt. Harris and after trying many times, got through to him and he said he was okay, and was hunting for me. I judged from his conversation that his #4 man, 1st.Lt Post, was with him and was okay. I told him my position as nearly as possible, my altitude and course, and stayed in the area approximately 15 mins and "s" ing to gain altitude. I was unable to contact either my #3 or #4 man again, and did not see them again. This occurred at approximately 1215 hrs on 27th May 1944, 20 miles SW of Strasbourg”.
1st.Lt. Post’s face and hands were burned and medical aid was administered by Mademoiselle (Miss) Bailly at Le Rudlin. Too many civilians were eyewitnesses to his landing so it was impossible to offer him the chance to escape.
The German Feldgendarmerie (Military police) was informed and an ambulance arrived in the late afternoon and took him to a German dispensary in the Hotel de la Poste. When it was getting dark a German Feldwebel (Sgt.) of the Feldgendarmerie, believed to be a man named Hiss, walked with him to the nearby Goering-Kaserne prison (now named Kléber barracks) in the Grand’Rue. Halfway along the road and between the Grand’Rue and the gates of the barracks Hiss fired his pistol, without any warning, into 1st.Lt. Post’s neck killing him. Hiss then ordered the guard of the barracks to remove the body which was then transferred to the local civilian hospital. The Germans claimed that 1st.Lt Post was "killed while attempting to escape" in their report on his death. In fact a witness to the shooting, a Mr George Leonard of the Hotel des Bains in Gérardmer, said that 1st.Lt. Post had his arms raised above his head when he was shot. (Based on volume 3, page 284 of Reference 1, Reference 2 & 3)
On the on 29th May 1944 1st.Lt. Post was buried in the local civilian cemetery. His funeral was attended by a number of local inhabitants who covered the grave with flowers. On the 6th November 1945 his remains were exhumed and reinterred in the US Military Cemetery, Epinal.
Although the identity of the killer appears to be known, no evidence has been found to indicate that he was arrested or brought before a court to answer for the shooting of 1st.Lt. Post.
1st.Lt Dean N. Post Jr. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Buried at the Epinal American Cemetery, Dinozé, France, Plot 3F, Row 17, Grave 7741. Relocated to Plot B, Row 28, Grave 30. Born in 1921. Son to Dean Nelson and Catharine (née Pendleton) Post of Sumter County, Florida, USA.
(Courtesy aerosteles.net - picture: Jean-Loup FROMMER)
(Grave Marker Courtesy: Dwight “Andy” Anderson)
Left: Memorial Plaque at the entrance to the Kleber barracks in Gérardmer near the spot where he was shot. It was known as Goering-Kaserne during the occupation. (Courtesy: Dwight “Andy” Anderson)
In memory of Dean N. POST Jr. American aviator murdered in May 1944 at the entrance of the Kléber district and all the French and Allied soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this Pilot. Thanks also to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
1: Losses of the 8th and 9th Air Forces: Stan D. Bishop and John A Hey MBE.
2: "Gérardmer, cité martyre" by G. Martin - Imprimerie Pierre - Gérardmer, CNH R.1730 p 14 -" Saint-Dié sous l'occupation"
3: Personal notes of M. Rousse, now deceased, held at the Société Philomatique Vosgienne (archives Robert Dodin) - Archives Départementales des Vosges du CDL N.14