Captain Raymond Henry Gansberg
US Air Force - WW II
Service number: O-2044887
361st Fighter Squadron - 356th Fighter Group
Born: 28 March 1920
Date of death: 5 December 1944 - Age 24 - Loppin, Germany
Buried: Plot B Row 41 Grave 48 - Ardennes American Cemetery
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters
Raymond was the son of John L. Gansberg and Anna Hahnsdorf, he had a brother Edward and a sister Ruth A.
Raymond did 4 years of high school, Downers Grove Community High School and was a machinist prior to enlisting.
Entered service on October 21st, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 21.
He was 71 inch (1,80m), weight 150 lbs (68 kg), shoe size 9 ½, blond hair and blue eyes. Religion was protestant.
Raymond spoke German (he was from German descent). He always said "They'll never capture me, I'll walk out if I get shot down."
356th deployed to England in August 1943. Entered active service on November 21st, 1943, European area.
Missions from Marthlesham Air Base in England.
In July 1944 Raymond got an offer for a 30 day leave in the States, he left Liverpool on the Passenger ship "Mauretania" (employed as a troop ship during the war) for New York with group E-15-7 and arrived July 19th, 1944, reported in Ft Hamilton, NY. After a night in the city he went by train to Chicago to visit his family, reported in Ft Sheridan, IL on July 22nd, 1944. On August 27th, 1944 he reported back at the AAF Base Atlantic City, NJ. He was offered to stay in the US because he had enough flying time and missions and to train new pilots, prepare them for their deployment to Europe. But he refused, he wanted the action, got permission to fly operationally as long as desired and got back to England, to Marthlesham Air Base.
December 5th, 1944, escorting bombers on a mission to Berlin and while on the return flight Raymond crashed with his plane at 11.45h in Loppin, 8 KM north east of Malchow in Germany, plane was shot down, statement of witness. Plane crashed one mile north-west of Loppin at the hedge of a very small lake.
8th AF, 1st Bomb Div., 356th Fighter Group, 361st Fighter Squadron.
Plane: P-51 D15 NA, 44-15118
Eye witness statement by Robert L. Wallace, 2nd Lt, AC, Pilot:
“During the mission of Dec. 5th, 1944, while flying Red #2, in the flight led by Capt Gansberg, we were attacked by e/a. After shaking several 190’s, Capt Gansberg went in for a bounce. We split "S2 from about 26,000 ft to the left. In the dive Capt Gansberg half rolled to the right and started his pull out. I followed example but blacked out. In this dive I went into compressibility and buckled my wings. When I came to, I managed to recover at 9,000 feet, just in the clouds. I pulled back up and could not see or find Capt Gansberg."
Dead on impact, pilot hit instrument panel, head was bleeding and crushed. His remains were found by the German Military, the body was recovered from the cockpit, wrapped and put in a coffin, he was still in uniform. He was buried in a wooden casket marked “unknown AAF” in Jabel Communal Cemetery, Row 1, BTB Grave 3 on December 7th, 1944. Missing in action status from December 5th, 1944 until such absence was terminated on February 26th, 1945, when evidence considered sufficient to establish the fact of death was received by the Secretary of War from the German Government through the International Red Cross. Raymond's mother was notified of his death on December 27th, 1944.
February 7th, 1945: DULAG-LUFT N° 2842/45 filed info about pilot and place of burial. Map coordinates: JABEL-N54 (U15) GER
Personal belongings send to his mother in a flight bag type B4 on September 20th, 1945.
- a check for $ 332,23
- 2 billfolds
- souvenir coins (one 1/2 crown, two 1 penny) damaged
- 2 pair of footwear
- 1 pair of gloves
- 8 handkerchiefs
- 2 shirts
- 1 pair of cotton socks and 1 pair of wool socks
- 2 trousers
- 1 pair of truncks
- 1 pair of cotton drawers
- 1 robe
- decoration ribbons
Information about burial place is obtained through captured German records, N° J 2554. German dead list of American Casualties N° 66 / 177.
A letter was send to the mother of Raymond on March 22nd, 1946 informing her that the translation of the German Records had been done and that place of burial was Jabel Communal Cemetery in Germany.
Letter from September 18th, 1946 from Headquarters AGRC: “As teams working in the Russian Occupied Zone of Germany were limited in number, the time a particular area will be searched cannot be forecast.”
Disinterrement in Jabel, Germany July 16th, 1947. Remains were badly decomposed, smashed head and burned, contradictory to former statement, buried without coffin!! Body was dressed in an OD uniform with leather jacket and shoes. No markings were on the grave and no positive means of identification. On August 28th, 1947 Raymond was officially listed as “Unknown X-6202 AAF”. But it was assumed that the remains belonged to Gansberg Raymond as he was the only American listed and basic documents showed Jabel as his place of burial. Remains transferred from Jabel Communal Cemetery, Germany, to the Ardennes Cemetery and reburied on September 4th, 1947 at 15.00h. Plot Z, Row 11, Grave 256. Marked with a temporary wooden cross.
Identification of “Unknown X-6202” on December 15th, 1947 through:
- Favourable comparison of the dental charts.
- Laundry mark found in clothing “GANSBE”
- Date and place of death in agreement with MACR #10811 for P-51 D15 NA, 44-15118.
- German Dulag report stating that on Dec 5th, 1944 a Mustang crashed at Loppin.
- Numbers found on the plane and machine gun numbers in agreement with Mustang P-51 AC-44-15118 of which Capt Gansberg was the pilot and sole occupant.
- X-6202 was the only American interred in the community cemetery in Jabel
The change of the grave marker is requested.
On January 12th, 1948 a letter was send to his mother to inform that her son Raymond was temporarily buried in the Ardennes Cemetery, his parents were asked to decide were to bury him permanently. On July 9th, 1948 his father requested a permanent burial in the Ardennes Cemetery. Disinterred in the Ardennes Cemetery December 6tth, 1948 and placed in a transfer case December 22nd, 1948, casket boxed and marked December 27th, 1948.
Final burial in the Ardennes Cemetery, March 29th, 1949 and the flag was sent to his father on April 1st, 1949.
In 2014 I contacted Major General Donald Strait, Ace Fighter and best friend of Raymond, and he send me a very nice letter and card, sadly he died a few months later, March 30, 2015 at the age of 96.