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Old 28 December 2006, 06:46 AM
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Military "Save one for Mainz"

Comment: "Save one for Mainz"

I've heard different versions of this story for years, but haven't been
able to find out anything about it on the internet or in any number of
WWII references, so I thought I'd ask.

The story goes that after being being shot down near the town of Mainz
during WWII, a bomber crew was captured by the german military, but were
then taken by force by the local townspeople and subsequently stoned to
death. After the story made it back to the allies, the word among the
Bomber Command was to "save one for mainz", i.e., each aircraft save one
bomb to drop on the good people of Mainz on the way back to England.

Any truth to this one?
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  #2  
Old 30 December 2006, 06:23 PM
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Hmm, I used to live near Mainz (one of my fave cities, but I digress), and I heard that UL a little differently. There is a bridge in Mainz that goes over the Rhein River, the Theodor-Heuss Brücke. It's one of those lovely old world bridges with wrought iron trim. There are tall street lamps along the sides. I heard that an American parachuted from his disabled plane and landed in or near Mainz. According to this version "the Nazis" (party members, SS, or something else--wasn't specific) hung him from one of the street lamps on the bridge. After the news reached the Allies, all bombers saved one bomb from whatever mission they were on, and dropped it on Mainz after completion of the mission. For more info about Mainz, www.mainz.de, although, I doubt you'll find this UL repeated there

Thorny "Mainz fan club prez" Rose
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  #3  
Old 31 December 2006, 12:27 AM
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Hum... I've never heard of this. There's one thing that makes me wonder though. Mind you, I know next to nothing about military procedure -- but when bombers are sent out to bomb a target, wouldn't it be against some sort of regulation for crews to take things into their own hands and drop a single bomb on whatever target they have a personal grudge against? Wouldn't they get a bit of a talking to if they're told to bomb, say, Dresden and then decide not to drop all they're meant to drop because they want to take a personal detour and use military resources for something other than planned?

Plus, if the personal stories I've heard can be believed, lynchmobs going after pilots/aircraft crew who were shot down were not all that extraordinary (Emphasis on "going after". I don't know how often they actually managed to kill someone). In fact, I'm pretty sure that if every incident similar to the one described in the OP caused an extra-special act of revenge, they'd have to have saved a bomb for so many places in Germany that the sheer number of detours would have resulted in self-sabotage for the Allies.
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Old 01 January 2007, 12:35 AM
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I haven't read it but I'm going to wager that this story originated in the short story of the same name, "Save One for Mainz" by David Huddle. (I couldn't find any references prior to the short story yet.)
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  #5  
Old 01 January 2007, 04:56 PM
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I have no idea how the technics worked on the bombers, but from what I understood, the bomb bay doors were opened and the bombardier used the bomb sight to aim for the target. When he had everything set the "computer" calculated the moment of the bomb release and the racks started to release the bombs one after the other with a certain amount of time between them.
This made sure that the bombs spread in a carpet, "walking" towards and over the target.
How easy would it have been for a crewmember of a bomber to prevent one bomb from being dropped in the automatic process?


Gavida
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  #6  
Old 02 January 2007, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavida View Post
I have no idea how the technics worked on the bombers, but from what I understood, the bomb bay doors were opened and the bombardier used the bomb sight to aim for the target. When he had everything set the "computer" calculated the moment of the bomb release and the racks started to release the bombs one after the other with a certain amount of time between them.
This made sure that the bombs spread in a carpet, "walking" towards and over the target.
How easy would it have been for a crewmember of a bomber to prevent one bomb from being dropped in the automatic process?
I think the release interval was more to insure the bomb didn't hit the one below it if it released slow or not at all. The B-17's bombs were clipped to a single rack, so if one didn't release, the next one above would bounce off it and onto the catwalk between. But I agree, I don't think the bombadier could drop a partial bomb load. The other issue would be diverting your bomber over what must have been a fairly heavy concentration of FlaK just to drop a single bomb, which I doubt the crews would do. On the other hand, if they were unable to drop their bomb load on their primary target (due to cloud cover, etc), they might be tempted...

The other problem is how would the US/UK bomber crews know what happened? Not much information was flowing out of Germany at the time.
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Old 02 January 2007, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta-V View Post
I think the release interval was more to insure the bomb didn't hit the one below it if it released slow or not at all.
From what I read the release interval was adjustable, so that the bombs would fall out in a longer "train", thus spreading the bomb damage best for the lbs they had. (or the different kind of bombs, like blast, incendiary etc)

Gavida

PS: Good point about the little information that would actually leave Germany at that time.
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  #8  
Old 04 January 2007, 01:00 PM
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Bomber operations were very carefully organized and precise routes laid out to and from the target of the day. For protection, bombers stayed in formation the entire trip unless forced out of formation by damage or mechanical problems. The entire formation would not divert to one city on the return trip, set up a bomb run and then drop a single bomb per aircraft on the city. Also, the Luftwaffe would notice such behavior and quickly exploit it by placing heavy flak in the area, as well as having fighters in the air waiting.
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Old 04 January 2007, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta-V View Post
The other issue would be diverting your bomber over what must have been a fairly heavy concentration of FlaK just to drop a single bomb, which I doubt the crews would do. On the other hand, if they were unable to drop their bomb load on their primary target (due to cloud cover, etc), they might be tempted...
From what I know, allied bombers (and probably German ones, too) had a set of secondary targets in case the primary target couldn't be reached or couldn't be hit or was hit already by another crew. Even though, I think there have been cases of bombers dropping their load on a self-choosen target in cases where they couldn't reach any of their set targets and didn't want to return with their bomb load.

Dropping the load on Mainz specifically would be difficult for bombers returning from raids on Munich or Hamburg, though, while it would be easily possible for those retuning from Frankfurt.

I've never heard either the story of the Mainz lynchmob or the "Save one for Mainz" saying. Nevertheless, ther could have been information about incidents like that (from undercover intelligence / spies in Germany) that could have originated a saying like that. That doesn't necessarily mean the crews actually did "save one for Mainz" - it could have been more along the lines of "We're right in what we're doing - remember Mainz".

Don Enrico
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  #10  
Old 04 January 2007, 01:45 PM
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Bomber formations had secondary targets in case the primary could not be bombed. The decision to strike a secondary was made by the commander and bombadier in the lead aircraft. If there were problems with the secondary, they had several targets of opportunity to choose from.

Only aircraft separated from the formation would be able to make individual runs, though more commonly, they'd simply jettison the load as soon as possible to reduce aircraft weight, hence increasing speed and reducing strain on the engines.
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  #11  
Old 04 January 2007, 02:36 PM
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Dad was a B-24 pilot in WW-II. He says it wasn't meant to be taken literally, it was more a comradery thing, a way of reminding each other of what they were fighting for.
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  #12  
Old 04 January 2007, 03:34 PM
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Save one for the Mainz = Remember the Alamo.

That makes sense!
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  #13  
Old 05 January 2007, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sly Dog View Post
Dad was a B-24 pilot in WW-II. He says it wasn't meant to be taken literally, it was more a comradery thing, a way of reminding each other of what they were fighting for.
That certainly makes much more sense than a literal interpretation. Even if they sometimes did save a few bombs for later targets the idea that they would head back to the same spot after every run is simply ridiculous.

But I wonder why there seems to be absolutely no mention of this phrase in contemporary accounts. Did your father say he remembered people using it? Does anyone he knows write about the phrase or its use? That kind of information would be very helpful.
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  #14  
Old 13 December 2012, 01:36 AM
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I was TDY at Wackernheim in 1983 near Mainz and the story I was told was That a flyer was shot down and hanged.And the bomber crews were told to "Save one for Alzey" But the town was Alzey not Mainz , and was warned not to go there as Americans were unpopular there. I find it an interesting story.
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  #15  
Old 23 July 2013, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightflyer View Post
I was TDY at Wackernheim in 1983 near Mainz and the story I was told was That a flyer was shot down and hanged.And the bomber crews were told to "Save one for Alzey" But the town was Alzey not Mainz , and was warned not to go there as Americans were unpopular there. I find it an interesting story.
I was stationed is Wiesbaden, across the river from Mainz, for most of the 80's (we also had one of our MP Platoons over there in Mainz) and I also heard the story as being "Save one of Alzey". That was after I had already heard the story as "Save one for Mainz". I'm pretty sure that no matter where you go around that area, you'd hear the same story with a different town's name depending on where you were at and how much the area had been bombed during WWII.
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