The sky was clear , the morning of 5 September 1944. The sergeant major Maximilian Volke (29) as he had always obeyed orders . 'Nine bombers B - 25 Americans are flying over the Po valley to go to destroy the bridge over the Po at Polegate . Bring them down.'
Maximilian Volke, in the base of Ghedi , started the engine of his Messerschmitt BF 109G6/U4 and in a few minutes he was on objective. Maybe it was not even excited. At nearly 30 years was a veteran : the Luftwaffe was considered a .Red Baron' because he had shot down 37 Allied planes : many fighters and even some bombers.
On the sky of Mirandola, along with another 3 Messerschmitt , he saw the planes 321esimo group of U.S. bombers . He shot with the 30 mm cannon , as he bursts from the two 13 mm machine guns . One of the B -25 defenses. He was 11 machine guns with 7 gunners . A gust struck the fighter of Maximilian Volke .
A fall of three thousand feet , the crash between the rows of vines ripe . His was the ' last German fighter shot down in the Italian sky .
His flock - Jagdgeschwader / 77 - was recalled to Germany a few days later , on September 15 . How crest had an Ace of hearts.
The child Gianfranco Comini, in the morning of September 5, 1944 , he was playing in the courtyard of the elementary school in the center of Mirandola was the ' hour of recreation. Everyone stopped to play with the ball, when they heard the explosions in the sky of a battle. "I saw a great American plane , had around three or four smaller planes . You could hear the machine guns . Then , one of the smaller planes began to fall . I still remember coming down strong and had the engine at full throttle . " The outbreak among the rows , the smoke and the flames . " We ran all of them away from school , see. We children were kept away . Soon after came the Germans who sent them all away . " After 63 years, the tomb of Maximilian Volke , born in Monaco May 23, 1915 , was found and the German driver will have his funeral.
Volke are preparing for the funeral. We'll do it in September, Mirandola , hoping to be able to contact some family members .
" The " Red Baron " of Monaco has been found in a July afternoon , after a long process of research of documents and testimonies.
"From the German cards - says Michele Becchi, researcher and collaborator of the RAF ' historical institute of Resistance of Reggio Emilia - we knew that what fell to a mile and a half from the center of Mirandola could be your hunt for Volke . But rest assured we 've only had it when we found his plate . " The German pilots , towards the end of '44 , they knew that most likely would have found the victory instead of death. 'C ' is a detail that struck us and moved. The Allied pilots , like all soldiers , carried the dog tag around his neck. Those Germans held her in his pants pocket , inside a leather bag .
They had seen colleagues die , they knew that in the ' impact with the ground that it was armored bulkhead behind the pilot would have crashed into the engine , destroying the upper part of the body of the pilot. Volke also had the plate in his pocket. He wanted to be identified , in the case of killing.
Perhaps also asked that funeral we can do just now. " A Mirandola Ugo Tassinari , municipal employee , he sought the testimony of those who saw then , and has passed all ' Association Raf. " Cavicchioli Attilio , who was also a child, was among those who ran away in here after the fall of the Imperial hunting.
She was able to indicate the precise point of the ' impact' . The old also recall other stories. "At the end of '46 , or '47 , an elderly gentleman came in Mirandola . He was looking for his son fell right here . Also paid some laborers , because dug between the rows of vines .
A year later he also introduced a young German who said he was the brother of the pilot. But with spades and shovels laborers made a hole two or three feet and found nothing . " They were 40 feet deep, the remnants of the Luftwaffe pilot ." Fortunately, there 's still some who remember. " In San Bernardino Lugo - was March 22, 1944 , is the testimony of Dina Bagnara - while we were behind the house to clean the grain, there was a battle in the air because there ' was the Germans who fought with the British.
We looked : all those planes seemed swallows up there , they were so high. Then a German plane crashed in front of our house ' . " The Germans took skilled workers for the drilling of wells to recover the remains of Allied planes , especially to study the weapons and techniques of construction.
The craters caused by their aircraft were instead covered with earth.
Maximilian Volke for more than sixty years' was only a memory, to the children playing in the schoolyard . After the funeral in September, will be buried in the German cemetery at the Futa Pass . On the marble, next to the name , an Ace of hearts.
Maximilian Volke (Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, 1915 – Modena, Italy, 9 September 1944) was a Luftwaffe Oberfeldwebel (flight sergeant) and 37-victory fighter ace of the Jagdgeschwader 77.
A veteran of the campaigns in Russia and Africa, he was shot down in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter over Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, during the Gothic Line operations, on 9 September 1944, by a gunner in an American B-25 Mitchell bomber. Volke was 29 years and was decorated with the German Cross in Gold, received as Feldwebel in the II./JG 77 on July 12, 1943.
Ofw. Volke's remains and parts of his aircraft were located and dug out of a farmer's field just north of Modena by an Italian amateur war history research team (the Romagna Air Finders) in July 2007, nearly 63 years after he was shot down.
Remains of German WWII Ace Found
Associated Press | August 15, 2007
ROME - Italian volunteers located the plane of a German ace shot down during World War II as well as the pilot's remains, including the dog tag and good luck charms he carried into combat, they said Tuesday.
The volunteers found the plane flown by Flight Sgt. Maximilian Volke - a Munich-born pilot credited with shooting down 37 enemy planes - near the site of the German defensive line that witnessed months of bloody battles as the Allies fought to liberate northern Italy.
The amateur researchers narrowed down their search area based on information from state archives and accounts of those who witnessed the ace's final air battle in 1944, said Leo Venieri, the president of Romagna Air Finders, a group that scours the countryside for missing World War II pilots around the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna.
Volke's Messerschmitt Bf 109 was dug out of a farmer's field just north of Modena in July. The pilot's remains, which had sunk to a depth of 11 meters (36 feet) in the soft terrain, were well preserved, Venieri said.
The dig yielded artifacts including the plane's engine and the pilot's radio microphone, as well as a wallet with money, documents and images of the Virgin Mary and an African elephant.
"He probably carried the images for good luck," Venieri told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The positive identification came from the dog tag we found in his pocket."
Volke, a veteran of campaigns in Russia and Africa, was 29 when he took off from a northern Italian air base on Sept. 5, 1944, with three other fighters to intercept a group of nine American B-25 bombers. He was shot down by gunners in one of the U.S. planes, Venieri said, citing witness accounts and the bomber squadron's logs.
The pilot's remains have been sent to the University of Modena for an autopsy and Venieri's group plans to bury him in September at the German war cemetery of Passo della Futa, between Bologna and Florence.
Venieri said he has been in contact with one of Volke's cousins in Munich and plans to ask the family to attend the funeral.
Gerhard Bletschacher, whose wife is Volke's cousin, told the AP the family was surprised to hear of the find earlier this year - particularly since they had been informed in 1944 that Volke's body had been found and properly buried.
"It is naturally a surprise - on one hand we have this notice that he was buried and now on the other this that he's been found after 60 years - we don't know what is right," Bletschacher said from his home in Munich.
He said the original letter could have been just an attempt to make the family feel better, however, and that maybe modern techniques like DNA matching could help put the matter to rest.
"It's great what they are doing there," he said of the Air Finders group.
World War II finds remain common in areas of Europe that saw fierce fighting, including the Italian regions of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, where Nazi troops held the "Gothic Line" in 1944 and 1945 to try to stop allied forces from breaking through to northern Italy.
Dictator Benito Mussolini had set up a puppet state in the north after Italy ousted the fascist regime and sided with the Allies against its former German allies. Nazi troops committed atrocities, killing thousands of civilians, as they retreated across central and northern Italy.
The 60 volunteers of Romagna Air Finders have located the remains of 19 planes as well as four German pilots, two Britons, two Italians and one Brazilian since the group was founded in 2000. The pilots are usually given a funeral and their personal effects and planes are put on display at a museum set up by the group in the town of Fusignano, east of Bologna.
'There is a humanitarian value to giving a burial to missing soldiers and there is a message of peace that we send when young people come to our museum and see the effects of war,' Venieri said.
Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert and Maximilian Volke stand by Hans-Joachim Marseille's Kübelwagen 'Otto' in April 1943
Romagna Air Finders, Italy
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