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Donald  L.  Perry

 

Personal Legacy
DONALD L. PERRY
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

153 Schwitter Ave., Apt. 2108
Pittsburgh, West View, PA 15229

April 22, 1988

Dear Will:

In letters to the editor of The fighting 44th Logbook, I noticed that John L. Whitworth wrote to congratulate you on your book. I wish to order a copy. I'm sure I will enjoy it as much as John did. He was in my crew on the "Tootie Belle." We have been in touch with each other.

Yours truly,

Don Perry





DONALD L. PERRY
World War II
Memories and Biography

Lincolnville resident taken prisoner in 1944
By Germans and held at Stalag 17

On April 8, 1944, the Bad Luck Crew took a hit over Germany while on a strategic bombing mission and bailed out of their plane into enemy territory.

Donald L. Perry, a man with Bangor roots, was one of those men. He lives today in Lincolnville Beach, where he watches the boats and tries to forget what happened to him in World War II.

Perry spent a year with surviving crewmembers at Stalag 17B, a prisoner of war camp at Krems, Austria, about 85 miles from Vienna and participated in a 281-mile forced march before they were liberated.

Perry, now 73, enlisted in the Air Force in 1941 and was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 44th Bomb Group, 48th Squadron.

Bad luck stalked Perry's crew on its first mission out together from a base in England. The crew received orders to bomb the ball-bearing factories at Brausweig, Germany.

We never got there," said Perry. The plane, the Tootie Belle, with four lieutenants and three sergeants aboard and Perry as ball turret gunner, was attacked by German 109s and 190s. "We flew tailend Charlie, outside on the last end of the V, with no guns firing from that side. We were attacked all the way up the line.

We were shot down over a German town on April 8, two months before the Normandy invasion occurred," he recalled.

The crew bailed out at 21,000 feet and Perry free fell through the clouds 10,000 feet before opening his chute. He landed alone in a tilled field of about three a crew with no buddies in sight and only a lone manure pile for cover. Frantically, he stuffed the parachute, which measured 24 feet in diameter, into a hole he hollowed in the mound. A piece of the B24 and an engine dropped into the field nearby.

Perry was equipped with a meager survivor's kit - water in a rubber bottle, tablets, and a candy bar. None of the three compasses he was issued pointed to the same north. Perry ran first toward the pieces of plane and the toward the woods beyond. "We'd received no training on what to do after you hit the ground," he remembered.

In the woods, he stripped the patches off his uniform. Grabbing cutters from a pants pocket, he cut away his earphones, casting each part in different directions. He retraced his steps and went the opposite way, so as not to leave a trail.

Walking through the cold night, Perry heard the sound of young voices. He hid under a covering of pine branches and escaped detection by a band of teenagers hunting downed fliers with .22-caliber rifles and two dogs. One dog sniffed near Perry's head, but failed to signal the teens, who moved on into the forest.

Skirting little town, Perry sloshed through slush until early morning, looking for clothes hanging on lines in backyards of farms. He found none and crawled into a surprisingly warm haystack where he spent the day curled up.

When it was dark, Perry chanced walking through a town toward a church where people were leaving from an Easter Mass. His plan to ask the priest to hide him was foiled when he found the church door shut tight. Perry headed out of town, following the railroad tracks.

Hungry as the devil," he walked the rails his third night. He happened to kick a sizable piece of stone, which hit the rail and produced a loud ringing sound. It led to his capture by a rifle-toting guard who took him to the station beyond, held him at gun point and dialed the Gestapo. Later banked on the head by his captors, Perry was taken to Dulag Luft Interrogation Center for Allied fliers and then was sent to Stalag 17B by crowded cattle car.

We traveled with other prisoners in those cars, with no food for three days and nights, and only one bathroom stop," said Perry. One bright spot lay ahead: Perry was reunited with several of his crewmates at Stalag 17B. He was quartered in rambling barracks with other sergeants from America, Russia, France, and Britain.

Cold was the men's worst enemy. They each were issue one blanket, but no fuel to burn in the stoves. They pulled rafters off the ceiling where it wouldn't show, shaved wood from beams and burned soap from Red Cross parcels during the freezing months. "Treatment by guards and administration personnel . . . is harsh and restrictions are oppressive," wrote a POW later in a report to military intelligence.

Besides Red Cross parcels, which were delivered one to a man at first and later rationed between groups of prisoners, the Yanks were presented by the Red Cross with wartime logbooks the size of cookbooks. In them, they collected drawings by prison artists, wrote diary entries, gathered autographs and addresses, wrote poems and pasted in souvenirs of flak, German newspaper clippings and camp memorabilia - even pressed flowers which they occasionally found on the grounds.

The "menu of the day" in Perry's 150-page log begins: "Breakfast - hot water." No night meal was served on weekends. Perry went from 147 pounds to 123 during his experience in Austria. The English occasionally bombed at night, knowing Germans were in the area. Once a bomb landed in their compound.

At Christmas, the men of Stalag 17B were allowed to leave lights on later than usual and were allowed to hear music on the camp's public address system. They starved themselves to save food for Christmas dinner. Perry baked a cake with items from Red Cross parcels using the following recipe, which he recorded in his log book: two boxes ground up C-rations; 1 D?bars; pinch of salt; eight blocks of sugar; five spoons of powdered milk; two spoons of butter; 14 vitamin C pills, crushed; seven soda pills, crushed.

Perry's days at Stalag 17B ended when his captors announced a 281-mile evacuation march across Austria. His log entries reveal the hardship and deprivation as they marched in groups under guard. He had picked up a discarded log book on the trail, which was in a sling pouch made from coat lining, and was able to keep his own log on his back in the pouch during the rest of the time.

On April 8, 1945, Perry wrote: "First anniversary as a prisoner. Russians 20 kilometers from our camp. Ordered to evacuate . . . destination unknown . . . traveling west the first day 25 klm. Very hard ... over mountains. Slept in a barn. No food.

April 10: 18 klm. Still in mountains. Rationed piece of bread. Knee giving me great pain. Can't give up. Those who can't make it will be turned over to SS, or storm troopers. Drank bad water. Twenty percent of our group sick.

April 13-18: Traveling southwest and hit Danube Valley. Camped 13 klm from Linz. Tomorrow we must get through Linz before bombers hit. Men all in nervous state of mind, Linz being a major target and hit continuously.

April 19: What a relieve. Now 18 klm west of Linz. Air Raid sounded but we beat the bombers.

April 22: 26 klm. Rain, hail all day, everyone wet through. No chow. 103 klm from Linz. Russians took Linz.

April 23: Lay over. Weather still bad. Slept with four horses . . . Told our destination is 17 klm west of our present position. Other American POWs supposed to be there . . . Patton not far from us . . . Supposed to be shelling Munich, Regensburg, and near Passvor. We are trapped between the Russians and French and Americans. Still dreaming of home - shows, good food, warmth, shelter and no guards threatening us with their guns. Several boys are still with us who should be in a hospital.

April 28: Morale very low . . . Stayed up all night. No place to sleep. Everything we own wet. Rumor that war is over.

April 30: All day we heard American shellfire. Bombing and strafing all about us. Saw a P-51 go down.,

FLASH: Yanks 15 klm from us. Mussolini is executed. Rumors galore. Boys are on the 'bugs' constantly for news.

May 1: Rain and snow . . Our boys are near us. Took Branau; fell at night 11 klm from us. We expect a scouting party here today. They must get here soon. No food, shelter or medical care. Over 400 sick. Praying constantly . . . We could hear the artillery fire there. The explosion, as it hit.

May 2, 1945: 6;40 p.m. American captain entered our area and the German colonel surrendered the 17,000 POW (4,139 Americans) - 13th Armored Division, 3rd Army, General Patton. What a Wonderful Feeling. I Thank God. The end.

Soon after, the remaining members of the Bad Luck Crew came home.

In retirement with his wife, Laura, Perry keeps up with ex-POW organizations through veterans' magazines. He awaits a specially minted medal for ex-POWs which is 43 years late in coming. This is the first time he has shared his story outside the family.


**********************************************


DONALD L. PERRY
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from an article sent to Will Lundy)

by: Lauralee Clayton (Special to the NEWS)
(Newspaper or magazine not identified)

On April 8, 1944, the Bad Luck Crew took a hit over Germany while on a strategic bombing mission and bailed out of their plane into enemy territory.

Donald L. Perry, a man with Bangor roots, was one of those men. He lives today in Lincolnville Beach, where he watches the boats and tries to forget what happened to him in World War II.

Perry spent a year with surviving crewmembers at Stalag 17B, a prisoner of war camp at Krems, Austria, about 85 miles from Vienna, and participated in a 281-mile forced march before they were liberated.

Perry, now 73, enlisted in the Air Force in 1941 and was assigned to the 8th Air Force 44th Bomb Group, 68th Squadron.

Bad luck stalked Perry's crew on its first mission out together from a base in England. The crew received orders to bomb the ball-bearing factories at Braunsweig, Germany.

"We never got there," said Perry. The plane, the Tootie Belle, with four lieutenants and three sergeants aboard, and Perry as ball turret gunner, was attacked by German 109s and 190s. "We flew tailend Charlie, outside on the last end of the "V," with no guns firing from that side. We were attacked all the way up the line.

"We were shot down over a German town on April 8, two months before the Normandy invasion occurred," he recalled.

The crew bailed out at 21,000 feet and Perry free fell through the clouds 10,000 feet before opening his chute. He landed alone in a tilled field of about three acres with no buddies in sight and only a lone manure pile for cover. Frantically, he stuffed the parachute, which measured 24 feet in diameter, into a hole he hollowed in the mound. A piece of the B24 and an engine dropped into the field nearby.

Perry was equipped with a meager survivor's kit - water in a rubber bottle, tablets, and a candy bar. None of the three compasses he was issued pointed to the same north. Perry ran first toward the pieces of the plane and then toward the woods beyond. "We'd received no training on what to do after you hit the ground," he remembered.

In the woods, he stripped the patches off his uniform. Grabbing cutters from a pants pocket, he cut away his earphones, casting each part in different directions. He retraced his steps and went the opposite way, so as not to leave a trail.

Walking through the cold night, Perry heard the sound of young voices. He hid under a covering of pine branches and escaped detection by a band of teenagers hunting downed fliers with .22-caliber rifles and two dogs. One dog sniffed near Perry's head, but failed to signal the teens, who moved on into the forest.

Skirting little town, Perry sloshed through slush until early morning, looking for clothes hanging on lines in backyards of farms. He found none and crawled into a surprisingly warm haystack where he spent the day curled up.

When it was dark, Perry chanced walking through a town toward a church where people were laving from an Easter Mass. His plan to ask the priest to hide him was foiled when he found the church door shut tight. Perry headed out of town, following the railroad tracks.

"Hungry as the devil," he walked the rails his third night. He happened to kick a sizable piece of stone which hit the rail and produced a loud ringing sound. It led to his capture by a rifle-toting guard who took him to the station beyond, held him at gunpoint and dialed the Gestapo. Later banged on the head by his captors, Perry was taken to Dulag Luft Interrogation Center for Allied Fliers and then was sent to Stalag 17B by crowded cattle car.

"We traveled with other prisoners in those cars, with no food for three days and nights, and only one bathroom stop," said Perry. One bright spot lay ahead: Perry was reunited with several of his crewmates at Stalag 17B. He was quartered in rambling barracks with other sergeants from America, Russia, France, and Britain.

Cold was the men's worst enemy. They each were issued one blanket, but no fuel to burn in the stoves. They pulled rafters off the ceiling where it wouldn't show, shaved wood from beams and burned soap from Red Cross parcels during the freezing months. "Treatment by guards and administrative personnel is harsh and restrictions are oppressive," wrote a POW later in a report to military intelligence.

Besides Red Cross parcels, which were delivered one to a man at first and later rationed between groups of prisoners, the Yanks were presented by the YMCA with wartime logbooks the size of cookbooks. In them, they collected drawings by prison artists, wrote diary entries, gathered autographs and addresses, wrote poems and pasted in souvenirs of flak, German newspaper clippings and camp memorabilia - even pressed flowers whey they occasionally found on the grounds.

The "menu of the day" in 150-page log begins: "Bread, hot water." No night meal served on weekends. Perry went from 147 pounds to 123 during his experience in Austria. They occasionally bombed at night indicating Germans were in the area. A bomb landed in their compound.

(Part of this report is difficult to read) .. At Christmas, the men on 17B were allowed to leave . . . later than usual and were allowed to hear music on the camp's . . . address system. They starved themselves to save food for Christmas dinner. Perry baked a cake and items from Red Cross parcels, which he recorded in his logbook. . . . ground-up C-rations: 1 . . . pinch of salt; 8 blocks of . . . spoons of powdered milk . . . tablespoons of butter; 14 vitamin C pills crushed; 7 soda pills crushed.

Perry's days at Stalag 17B . . . when his captors announced that a mile evacuation march across Austria. His log entries revealed hardship and deprivation and . . . they marched in groups under guard and had picked up a discarded . . . on the trail, which was in . . . pouch made from coat linings and was able to keep his own logbook back in the pouch during the whole time.

On April 8, 1945, Perry . . . "First anniversary as a prisoner . . . Russians 20 kilometers from the camp. Ordered to evacuate . . . nation unknown...traveling . . . first day 25 klm. Very hard . . . mountains. Slept in barn. No . . . .

"April 10: 18 klrn. Still in . . . . Rationed piece of brad . . . giving me great pain. Can't . . . . Those who can't make it . . . turned over to SS, or storm troopers. Drank bad water. 20 percent of the group sick."

"April 13-18: Traveling south . . . and hit Danube Valley. Came . . . klm. from Linz. Tomorrow we . . . get through Linz before bombing . . . . Men all in nervous state of . . . . Linz being a major target and . . . continuously."

"April 19: What a relief. . . . klm. west of Linz. Air Raid so . . . but we beat the bombers.
 
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