Luxembourg / Museum

The 385th US-Bomb Group Museum, Perlé




This unique museum mainly deals with the tragic crash of two B-17 United States Amry Air Force (USAAF) bombers which collided over Perlé on 12 July 1944. Eighteen crew members were killed in the mid-air collision which happened whilst they were flying in formation. With many wreckage parts, documents and equipment, the aerial warfare, and the occupation period 1940-45 are thematised.

On 12 July 1944, at about 02:30 , the 28 bombers of the 385th Bomber Group took off from Great Ashfield,  England to begin a  bombing raid on Munich, Germany.

Shortly after reaching the prescribed altitude of 28,000 feet, all the aircrafts had taken up their assigned positions. Several squadrons presumed to gather over the English Channel to form an impressive bomber group. The outside temperature at this altitude was minus 35 degrees Celsius and all bombers were now flying roaringly with their distinctive vapour trails towards the target area.

Flying beyond Brussels, the next checkpoint was Saarbrücken. Whilst  flying over Arlon, the radio silence was suddenly interrupted by the distress call of a ‘mid-air crash’.

Captain White's B-17 bomber ’Off Spring’ had flew  too close to 1st  Lt McDonald's aircraft and was sucked upwards (propwash) by its engines. A collision was inevitable.

Struck  from below with all its force, McDonald's B-17 broke into two large pieces. Accompanied quickly by the heart breaking cries of panic of the desperate bomber crew.  The bomber plunged into the depths. Only Sergeant Larry Atiych managed to free himself from the wreckage and landed with his parachute in Wolflingen.  He would be  captured shortly afterwards. All his comrades had fallen to their deaths without parachutes and the front part of the B-17 had hit the open field near Perlé.

Captain White's B-17 crashed near Wolflingen at the same time.  Of the crew members, only Robert P McPherson survived who later managed to escape to Belgium through the village of Holtz.

To commemorate the 18 young Americans, a dignified monument was inaugurated at the church in Perlé in 1998. A short time later, thanks to the many researched documents, collected wreckage and personal donations, the 385th Bomb Group Museum was established in the retired village school.

Among the material found are two US jeeps, three Wright Cyclone aircraft engines, a variety of uniform parts, a Norden Bomb Sight and a very rare 1943 flight simulator.

In addition, a Harley Davidson, a Cushman scooter as well as US guns and on-board weapons can be viewed.

Although the museum's main emphasis is on the USAAF, it also covers today's US Air Force at Spangdahlem, military archaeology and the 1940-1945 Perlé occupation.

6, rue de l’église, L-8826, Perlé, Luxembourg