HISTORY OF THE SINKING OF DD-622
The material on this page was provided by Brian Lindner. Here, in Brian's own words, is his fascinating story of how he became interested in the history of DD-622 and how he came into possession of these incredible photos.
Over the years I have inherited the function of corporate historian for National Life Insurance Company that is headquartered in Vermont. We are a 150 year-old, 13 billion dollar life insurance company.
In researching our history with the military, I learned that one of our rising attorneys left the company to accept a direct commission in the USNR early in World War Two. On our corporate plaque honoring men and women who resigned to join the armed forces during WWII only his name has a star next to it. His was Ensign Robert A. Crathorne. Further research revealed that he was on duty in the CIC of USS MADDOX DD-622 and went down with the ship. Having undertaken many military history research projects in the past, I decided to dig further into this story since our corporate archives had very little on Crathorne and nothing on the MADDOX.
I learned of the MADDOX Association and went to the reunion in Bath, Maine where I met several survivors of DD-622. At the farewell dinner, I nervously asked the 622 vets at my table how they would feel if I tried to track down the Luftwaffe crew that sank their ship. I was surprised to get an instantaneous response that, "If you can find them, we'll invite them to a reunion." The challenge was on.
Having previously worked closely with Germany's most widely respected aviation historian, Gerhard Bracke of Braunschweig, I sent him a letter with the best information I had uncovered from USN files on the type of plane that dropped the bombs.
Veterans groups in Germany exist but, for obvious reasons, are less well known than in the U.S. It took Gerhard many months before he found the historian for KG-54 (Bomber Group 54). The historian had limited information that one of their crews had sunk the MADDOX and he contacted Adolf Knoblauch who had been the Radio Operator on the Kurt Fox bomber crew.
By cross-referencing Knoblauch's personal flight log with the known date, place and time of the sinking, it became obvious that they had been the crew who had dropped the fatal bombs. (They knew they hit a warship but had never confirmed that it was the MADDOX or that it had sunk.) Knoblauch was extremely helpful and provided Gerhard with photos and other recollections of the sinking. Gerhard passed them along to me and I to the Association. Herr Knoblauch loaned his photos without reservation and without any restriction on their use.
It is important to note that this four-man crew entered the Luftwaffe years before the war and were military professionals. None had any affiliation with the Nazi party and each served honorably as members of the German Air Force.
This crew outlived over 90 others that arrived in combat within their unit. The pilot, Dr. Kurt Fox, has said they survived for three reasons: 1) they had years of training before the war broke out. 2) luck. 3) they were well-educated. In fact, after the war, the crew accumulated a total of five (5) doctorates degrees between the four of them.
Dr. Fox has also provided a wealth of photographs of the crew but it is his wish to not have them published.
In May of 1998 a "reunion" was held in Thomasville, NC with Dr. Fox and several of the DD-622 survivors. Herr Knoblauch was unable to attend due to illness. The remaining two members of the Fox crew were deceased in recent years.
It was a remarkable event with a deep sense of history. Each veteran in attendance was video taped telling his memories of the sinking with Dr. Fox providing the story from the opposite side. Everyone parted with new friendships and mutual respect.
For me, it had been a fantastic journey from a name on a bronze plaque in our Home Office to meeting the vets from both sides that made history.
--------- Brian Lindner
Click on the pictures for enlarged view. Use back button to return to this page.
|Dr. Kurt Fox, Pilot of the JU-88 bomber #B3+GR, which sank DD-622.|
Members of the Luftwaffe bomber crew that sank
USS MADDOX DD-622
Unknown, looking away from camera (Ground Crew)
|Adolf Knoblauch in Luftwaffe uniform during World War Two. Photo taken in Catania, Italy. Knoblauch was the Radio Operator and from his position in the JU-88 saw the bombs hitting the MADDOX. Over the intercom he exclaimed to the rest of his crew, “Hit on warship! Hit on warship!”|
|Radio Operator, Adolf Knoblauch standing under his crew’s JU-88 bomber #B3+GR. It was in this plane that his crew sunk the U.S.S. MADDOX. It was Knoblauch’s flight log that provided the final proof that it was they who sank the MADDOX.|
The bomber crew of Kurt Fox at rest in Lie’sse, France
during the Spring of 1944. This was the crew from KG54
that flew B3+GR and sank the MADDOX.
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