Robert Blaine's Crew March 8, 1943
Locate survivors, Duane Devars (died 1979), I. C. Wyer (could not locate), K. L. Erhart, Texas.
Blaine - no survivors at first.
Frazier, Leo O (Blaine crew)
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
LEO O. FRAZIER
P. O. Box 128 (work)
Coalville, Utah 84017
May 9, 1983
You are right. I am Leo Frazier, who was the navigator on Robert Blaine's plane that was shot down March 8, 1943 on a bombing raid over Rouen, France.
Due to the fact we did not have a full crew at the morning briefing, we were not scheduled to go on this mission. However, we finally made up a crew and were assigned to go.
As we were a make up crew, we did not fly our regular position and were assigned to the fourth ship in the last formation. This was, at that time, called "Coffin Corner," but it did not bother us as it looked like an easy mission with fighter protection. However, as you mentioned, this did not turn out to be correct and we were not met by our fighters, but the fighters of Goering's Flying Circus.
On their initial attack, they shot down the lead plane and then came on through and got our plane. I was the only survivor from our plane and when I landed on the ground, I was met by a group of German soldiers and was captured. I served the duration in Stalag Luft 3 POW camp.
I returned to the states in June 1945 and was sent to an Army hospital in Spokane, Washington, where I was promoted to Captain and given a disability retirement in November 1945.
Happy to say, I am very much alive and in reasonably good health and am about ready to retire from my political position and really join the ranks of the retired.
Leo O. Frazier
Oakley, Utah l84055
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
Dear Mr. Lundy:
I hope you had a good trip back to jolly old England. I hope to go there again in the near future to see the changes from the war days.
We were hit by fighters from about 3 o'clock high, with a cannon shell exploding in the cockpit. I am sure the copilot was killed instantly, but the pilot lived long enough to press the alarm button.
I was the only one that bailed out. What happened to the others I am not sure, but I was told that the plane went into a flat spin that caused centrifugal force that prevented the others, if any alive, from jumping. I saw the plane after I left the hospital and it had not exploded.
Yes, I have a sister named Irene who sent the pictures and info for the article that was printed in the paper.
March 8, 1943, Mission to bomb the marshalling yards at Rouen, France. The regular crew was not available, as the co-pilot and three gunners were missing. A make-up crew was put together, but the plane was assigned the number four spot. This was not the usual position the crew got. Fighter Cover failed to show up. German fighters found the bombers easy targets without the Fighter Cover. Leo's plane was hit on the first pass. The bail-out alarm was sounded. Another plane scored a direct cannon hit in the cockput. Leo bailed out the nose-wheel door. As Leo floated to the ground, two German fighters circled him, following him down. A truck load of German soldiers met him on the ground. Leo was taken to a hospital for two days, he had an injured arm and a cut over his right eye. While at the hospital, Leo was contacted by the Red Cross and they notified his parents that he was a German P.O.W. After two days at the hospital, Leo was put on a train that travelled from Rouen, through Paris to Frankfurt, Germany. This is where the interrogations occurred. Leo gave them nothing, but name, rank and serial number. The Germans possess much more information anyway. They knew where he had gone to school, his parents names, dates he was inducted and where he was trained. After ten days of questioning, Leo was trucked off to Stalag Luft III, near Dresden. This camp was set up to house American and British Officers from the Air Corps.
Stalag Luft III consisted of 30 barracks. Each barrack was divided into 12 rooms and each room housed 4 men. It was in this P.O.W. camp that the airmen attempted the "Great Escape." Three tunnels were dug for the men to escape through. Two of the tunnels were discovered before completion. In November of 1943 the third tunnel broke through outside the compound fence. In late October, the Americans had been moved to Stalag Luft III South Compound. Therefore, only British Airmen attempted to escape through tunnel three. Thirty-three of them attempted to escape, but 30 were recaptured. These men were shot and buried near the camp.
In February of 1945, word was given that the camp would be moved in light of the oncoming Russians. After walking for four nights and three days, the P.O.Ws arrived arrived at a railroad station. After many days travelling in cattle cars, the train stopped in Southern Germany. The Airmen were put in a hugh prisoner of war camp at Moosberg. On April 28th, General Patton's Third Army liberated Stalag Luft VII-A. The former P.O.Ws were flown to France where they boarded a "Liberty" Ship for home.
A telegram from Western Union:
KH 40 Govt
Washington DC 155 PM Mar 15
Robert V. Frazier
The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son, First Lt. Leo O. Frazier, has been reported missing in action in European area since March period, additional information will be sent you when received.
Ulio The Adjutant General 145 PM
A telegram from Western Union:
KH K 18 Govt
WMU Washington DC 1146 AM Mar 23
Robert V. Frazier
Your son, First Lt. Leo O. Frazier, reported a prisoner of war of the German government letter follows.
Ulio The Adjutant General 1009 AM
A Newspaper clipping from Stars and Stripes, London, England...dated Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1942:
Toll of Enemy Fighters Rises As U.S. Bomber Crews Check Tally of War's Fiercest Raid.
German Aair Depot Is Shattered By Forts, Libs.
The Eighth Air Force last night was still computing the devastating total of German planes shot down by American Flying Fortresses and Liberators in Sunday's fierce air duel over France.
Unofficial reports from crews of the bombers which smashed a Nazi air park and repair center at Romilly-sur-Seine, 75 miles southeast of Paris, Sunday, placed the total of enemy fighters destroyed near 40.
Eighth Air Force admitted the loss of six bombers.
While intelligence officers were studying the reports of the crews and ground crews were patching and repairing the battered bombers, it became evident that Sunday's raid...deep into France...had brought about the most bitter fighting of the European air war. For the loss of six American planes, the Luftwaffe had been given a brutal beating.
.....Allied Fighter Support.....
Over 300 Allied fighters supported the huge American bomber force and, meanwhile, twin-engined Mosquitoes of Bomber Command made a telling diversionary sweep over Western Germany.
A heavy British night bomber assault followed over Duisburg, important northwest German port. Loss of 11 RAF bombers was admitted.
The air war over Europe reached climatic fierceness in raiding that continued through afternoon and night Sunday. It was unoffically estimated that between 500 and 600 fighters and bombers took part in the Sunday afternoon ooperation, believed one of the largest of the war and certainly the deepest U.S. bombing thrust into Europe so far.
Bombers fought their way through veritable clouds of enemy fighters to make the round trip.
Crewmen yesterday said they encountered Luftwaffe fighters shortly after reacing the French coast and fought them all the way to the target and back to the Channel. Weather was clear.
Bombing from 20,000 feet, crews said they saw huge columns of smoke and debris flying in all directions from hangars, repair shops and the airfield just outside Romilly.
Enemy fighters, gaudily decorated with blue and red war paint, attacked some "Forts" simultaneously from all sides, coming in head-on with guns blazing.
"Our tail gunner counted 106 Germans around us in about two hours," said 2nd Lt. James C. Brown, navigator, of Minneapolis, Minn. "For a while we were attacked every 50 seconds."
"I must say those blankety blanks got plenty of guts. They would come right on through our formation head on. Some of them showed off by doing low rolls as they came in."
.....'Right on the Nose'.....
"From 20 to 30 Germans were on us nearly all the time," chimed in 2nd Lt. Gustaves Holmstrom, co-pilot, from Brooklyn. "We were in the second group to get over Romilly. We went in at 20,000 feet and hit the taget right on the nose. Our sticks of bombs made a swell pattern on the target.
A newspaper clipping from: The Salt Lake Tribune, dated Tuesday, May 15, 1945
Son Freed, Mother Overjoyed.
A dream of mothers throughout the nation who have sons in enemy prison camps came true on Mother's day for Mrs. Robert Frazier, Oakley, Sumit County, when she received word her son, First Lt. Leo O. Frazier, had been released from the German prison camp where he had been held since March, 1943.
A navigator on a B-17, Lt. Frazier was shot down in March, 1943, and had not been heard from since December, 1944. He enlisted in the army in October, 1941, and had been overseas since October 1942.
Lt. Frazier was graduated from South Summit High School in Kamas and Brigham Yound Univesity.
No more black bread for Lt. Frazier...he is ready for some of mother's home cooking after being liberated from German prisoner of war camps.