WILLIAM F. MORRIS|
World War II
Memories and Biography
Transcribed from his tape January 1985.
1 December 1943 - Taylor's Crew
264 Bristol Street
Canandiagua, NY 14424
POW No. 100432
Trained in 1942 and early 1943 in states. Came over via Gander, Newfoundland, Scotland. Was assigned to the 44th BG and 67th Squadron in May-June. Practiced low-level flying in preparation for Ploesti.
Took off with 67th/44th to Lands End, stayed overnight. But when other planes took off, their plane was grounded with petrol leaks. Had to wait for approximately two weeks for replacement ship; took off for Africa, but developed fuel shortages and landed in Portugal; interned in Lisbon. Was interned about a month or so with the assistance of the American Attache's office. Arrangements were made to "escape," straws were drawn as only three men could go with each plane out - Bill lost and was one of the first three to leave. They waited at night in an open field, signaling down a C-47 (?) for a landing. He and two others got in and the plane immediately taxied back and took off. This crew had a new navigator to go with the crew of Stamos, Metts, (was it Byers (?), Kowalski, Autry, Wojcik, Kinder, Millerbus (?) and Morris. Other personnel.
The plane flew from England to Africa fairly often, diverting to Portugal in secret to pick up these internees. Then to Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca. However, by this time the first African tour by the 44th was over and this crew saw stragglers from the 67th and 44th on the way back to England.
On arriving back in England they were sent to London interrogation for two to three weeks and then back to the 67th. There was consideration to return them to another Theatre of Ops due to internment, but then not done. International law for combatments was not followed (??)
Again assigned to 67th after the counter interrogation, and participated in diversionary flights to assist the B-17s in their raids. They were attacked by fighters on 4 October, plane damaged and went into a spin when both the navigator and bombardier, Must and Campbell, bailed out, and apparently drowned, both names on Wall of Missing.
The 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen, in Ruhr Valley. Ship appeared hit by flak in area of target, problems developed and men started abandoning ship. Not many fighters in the area so damaged thought to be flak. Bill surprised to learn that Taylor was KIA. He thought that all bailed out okay as all in the rear of the ship did so. Miles McCue's harness caught on the escape hatch and Bill managed to work him free with much difficulty and strength. Bill was last from rear of plane to bail out. Altitude was thought to be 15 to 20,000 feet and over Belgium. "I could see the Channel on the way down."
Upon landing, I was free for about one hour after meeting up with Wojcik, and we headed south through several dykes or canals where we got soaking wet. But a party of German soldiers came over a rise and gave us the usual, "For you, the war is over," bit. Went to jail overnight, then to Frankfurt Dulag Luft, arriving the day after a night bombing raid by the RAF and the citizens were trying to lynch these men. The soldiers kept the citizens away. Then to Stalag 17 and Barracks 18A.
Then, at near war's end, they headed towards western front along the Danube, western cities of Austria, Black Forest, Branau and was in the same field with Eddie Tesinski (?) who wrote the play Stalag 17B. He was next to Bill's. They were liberated one day, and then the next day they were liberated again by another army.
I ran into Tom Kinder, from Statton Island, once in New York, visited with Kowalski in Reading, PA once.
Went to college in 1945 to become a pharmacist. Located in same town as he is now after graduating and now owns two drug stores there, assisted by three of his five children.
He is a member of POW organizations and hopes to get to Cleveland next year. Went to several 17B reunions but did not recognize too many. Did not know Foard or Dolgin. Nor did he know Knoll except in POW camp. Wojcik was bed partner. Dzwonkowski came in several months later, but not to Stalag 17. McCue, Bayer, and Knoll in same camp with him.
Knoll called once for help with VA claim but no word since. Kowalski went to Stalag 17B, but had a bad time before he was shot down with crash-landings, etc. - landed in Channel.
He heard that Stamos was shot down over France - direct hit and blew up.
The day they arrived there had been an aborted attempt to escape but the Germans had been tipped and three had been gunned down.
A man by the name of Brooks got stir happy and ran to the fence and was gunned down but left to hang for days as a lesson to others.
Family got two telegrams:
1. Secretary of War - Son MIA 1 December 1943
2. Provost Marshall General - Son interned in neutral country, etc. But not to tell anyone as it will jeopardize his chances of getting out. This was dated 14 August 1943.