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Post Info TOPIC: WWI tank in Berlin - No, not those.


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WWI tank in Berlin - No, not those.

Thanks to Charlie's helpful information, I have managed to access parts of the site.

If you're not familiar, it's a site devoted to captured tanks used by Germany, mostly in WWII, but there are two pages of photos of the British Mark Vs that ended up in Berlin from 1943.

Accompanying the photos is a quote from the Northwest Florida Daily News of January 2003:

"Sometimes I wonder if it was a dream” he muses recalling that fateful flight. The last time he and Navigator George Compton saw each other prior to this meeting they were bailing out of a burning B-17 over Berlin. Compton was suffering extensive injuries that included the loss of an eye. Schrimsher came away almost unscratched. Bombardier James Conway also escaped unhurt. Shells were literally exploding within feet of him and bullets were whizzing every which way and yet he was not touched. He parachuted and was captured by what looked to him like a group of Hitler Youth. They stripped him of his outer flight suit but left him wearing his (no longer) electrically heated flight suit. He was then loaded on a turretless World War One tank for a trip thru Berlin's streets. "There I am standing in this old tank in this bright blue suit going through the Berlin suburbs.” He had become a war trophy.

This mention of a "turretless World War One tank" taking a trip through the streets of Berlin has been used by some to argue that this is a reference to a Mark V; that at least one of the two Mk Vs must have been mobile and it/they could therefore have been used by the Germans in the Battle of Berlin. But let us not get bogged down in how preposterous that is. What about the "unknown source" and what is the relevance of the quote?

This looked to me like a syndicated newspaper report of a reunion between Schrimsher and Compton, two members of the crew of a B-17 that was shot down in 1944. Conway is referred to but doesn't seem to have been present at the reunion. Then a bit of hopeful googling in an idle moment revealed this:, a site dedicated to U.S Air Forces in Britain during WWII, with lists of aircrat and their crews. Putting the names of the 3 crewmen mentioned into the search revealed this:

Flying Fortress B-17G#42-97135 Nickname 'Hey Mabel!'

Shot down 29 April, 1944


Robert B. Schrimsher Jr. Gadsden, Alabama. Top turret gunner.
George K. Compton. Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Navigator.
James J. Conway. Springfield, Massachusetts. Bombadier
Abe Farah. Portland Oregon. Radio Operator
James J. Isherwood. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ball turret gunner.
Jesse B. Kendler. New York State Co-pilot
Edward W. Perkins. Detroit, Michigan. Waist gunner
Charles H. Marcy. Conneaut, Ohio. Pilot
William Nicholas. Newark, New Jersey. Waist gunner
James P. Scully. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tail gunner.

All survived and were taken prisoner.

A little more on Mr. Schrimsher:

 EIGHTH AAF BOMBER STATION, England—Staff Sergeant Robert B. Schrimsher,
19, of Gadsden, Alabama, has been awarded the Air Medal. The presentation
was made by his group commander Colonel Hunter, Harris,, Jr. He is the top
turret gunner on the ship "Hey Mabel" at this Eighth AAP Flying Fortress base
in England. Sgt, Schrimsher is the son of Mr. and, Mrs. R. B. Schrimsher of 1001 Chestnut
St.. Gadsden.

Sadly, and agonisingly, we are not able to ask Mr. Schrimsher to clear the matter up; he died in 2006, at age 82. So frustrating to think that he was there all the time and  we didn't know.

So what was the tank he was placed in? Would a 20 year old from Alabama be able to identify a tank from 25 years ago? Was it one of the two Mark Vs? Was he mistaken in his identification?

How about this? Was it a Renault FT which he mistook for a WWI tank he had seen, and of which there were plenty in use with the Germans: an M1917? There were plenty of those in the USA, and there are photos of an FT in Berlin after the war. Is that what he thought he was riding in?

It seems we are unlikely to know the identity of the vehicle, but at least we can put a name to the US airman who became a war trophy.


"Sometimes things that are not true are included in Wikipedia. While at first glance that may appear like a very great problem for Wikipedia, in reality is it not. In fact, it's a good thing." - Wikipedia.

Field Marshal

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Berlin - Mark en pot de fleurs 1945 (12).jpg

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