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The St. Louis Post Dispatch

St. Louis, Missouri, POST DISPATCH, 2 January 1945, page

Mysterious 'Foo Fighters,' Balls Of Fire, Trail U.S. Night Flyers
Thought at First to Be Explosive, but None as Yet Has Damaged a Plane

A UNITED STATES NIGHT FIGHTER BASE, France, Jan. 2 (AP) - American fighter pilots engaged in night missions over Germany report the Nazis have come up with a new "secret weapon" - mysterious balls of fire which race along beside their planes for miles.

Yank pilots have dubbed them "foo fighters," and at first thought they might explode, but so far there is no indication that any planes have been damaged by them.

Some pilots have expressed belief that the "foo fighter" was designed strictly as a psychological weapon. Intelligence reports seem to indicate that it is radio-controlled and can keep pace with planes flying 300 miles an hour.

Lt. Donald Meiers of Chicago, said there are three types of "foo fighters" - red balls of fire that fly along at wing tip; a vertical row of three balls of fire which fly in front of the planes, and a group of about 15 lights which appear off in the distance - like a Christmas tree up in the air - and flicker on and off.

The pilots of this Beaufighter squadron - in operation since September, 1943 - find these fiery balls the weirdest thing they have as yet encountered.

"A 'foo fighter' picked me up recently at 700 feet and chased me 20 miles down the Rhine Valley," Meiers said. "I turned to starboard and two balls of fire turned with me. I turned to the port side and they turned with me. We were going 260 miles an hour and the balls were keeping right up with us."

"On another occasion when a 'Foo-Fighter' picked us up, I dived at 360 miles an hour. It kept right off our wing tips for awhile and then zoomed into the sky."

"When I first saw the things, I had the horrible thought that a German on the ground was ready to press a button and explode them. But they didn't explode or attack us. They just seem to follow us like will-o-the-wisps."

(An Associated Press report from Paris Dec. 18 said the Germans had thrown silvery balls into the air against day raiders. Pilots then reported they had seen these objects, both individually and in clusters, during forays over the Reich. There was no indication whether the "foo-fighters" and the silvery balls were the same.)

Lt. Wallace Gould of Silver Creek, N. Y., said the lights followed his wing tips for a while and then, in a few seconds, zoomed 20,000 feet into the air and out of sight.

Numerous Over Big Cities

The pilots agreed that the balls of fire were more numerous over large German cities.

Of his first experience with them, Gould said, "I thought it was some new form of jet propulsion plane after us. But we were very close to them and none of us saw any structure on the fire balls."

Capt. Fritz Ringwald, staff officer from East St. Louis, Ill., went along on a flight after hearing the numerous reports of the "foo-fighters."

"I saw lights off the right and told the pilot, who said, 'Oh, those are lights on a hill'", Ringwald reported, adding, "I looked in that direction a few minutes later and then told him, "Well, that hill is considerably closer to us now."

_______

Capt. Ringwald, 33 years old, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred F. Ringwald, Woodcrest, East St. Louis. Before entering the Army in September, 1942, he was a filling station operator. His wife, Mrs. Emily Ringwald, is a seaman second class in the Waves and is stationed at Stillwater, Ok.

 
 
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