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Legacy Of:

Charles  E.  Taylor

 

Personal Legacy
CHARLES "CHICK" E. TAYLOR
World War II
History and Biography

On December 22, 1943, our group bombed Muenster, Germany. We were flying on Oakley's wing and after leaving the target realized we were both losing the formation. Flak had damaged three of our engines and when we realized we would never make it back to England, Miller gave the order to bail out. Four of the crew did bail out in the rear, but when we opened the bomb bay doors, there was a break in the clouds and we saw we were over water, so the order was changed to prepare for ditching, which six of us did.

We hit the water at over 100-mph and submerged immediately. When I released my seat belt, I floated free of the plane. No one else appeared in the water, which I have never understood! I swam around for a few minutes, thinking the plane would sink, but it never did, so I released one of the dinghies, which floated away from me. I caught up with it but with my wet winter flying suit, flak jacket and Mae West on, I could not climb into it, but just put my arm over the side and passed out.

Obviously, it was not long before a German patrol boat picked me up or I would have died from hypothermia within 15 or 20 minutes, I am quite sure. I was taken to jail in Amsterdam, awaiting transfer to Frankfurt for interrogation and where I saw that Doug Powers from Oakley's crew was also there. We chatted for a few moments, until the Germans broke it up. After interrogation, we were sent to Stalag Luft I.

The war in Europe ended on May 8th and on May 13th, we were flown to France in B-17s. In June we sailed home, and in September I was "separated" from the service. The next month, I went back to my old job with AT&T long distance lines department.

Thirty years later, the Westfield police called me and informed me that the Royal Dutch Air Force had found my plane, after draining a large area of the Zuyder Zee. My wife and I were invited over to Holland to take part in a TV documentary NCRV was planning to make. They eventually recovered the remains of the five missing crewmembers and sent them back to their families for burial. It took the Dutch over four months and many dollars and manpower to accomplish that feat, but they were are still very grateful for our entry into the war which released them from German occupation. As a matter of fact, they still conduct an annual memorial service at Gronkin, on that reclaimed land, in memory of all airmen who perished on their behalf.

On page 25 of that same issue was a letter supposedly from me giving my old address here at Carolina Trace. I was not looking for Louis Obus, since I knew what had happened to Don Shaffer, our bombardier.

I attended the 44th Reunion in Colorado Springs in 1986, but did not know anyone there with the exception of Gen. Leon Johnson. If you were there, I was unaware of it, since you might have been associated with the 506th Squadron. While in prison camp we were told that the 44th lost 72 crews between Christmas 1943 and Easter 1944, which was the first time we saw the Eighth Air Force coming in to bomb Germany. What a thrill!!

That's about it for now, except to say that I retired from AT&T in 1982 and moved from Westfield, N.J. to North Carolina. We love it here. Plenty of golf, bridge, little theater, concerts, and other wonderful retirees.

I can't believe you survived for a second tour. I've often wondered about Pinder and two of the other crews from Casper that year. If you get a chance, please write me a note or call me on 919--499-6117.

Best regards, Charlie l(Chick) Taylor




CHARLES E. TAYLOR
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

2120 Detroit Blvd.
Sanford, NC 27330-8563

26 August 1994

Dear Will:

Enclosed is my check to join the 44th Veterans Association. I am happy to support you, Pete Henry, et al., for several reasons.

I was provided with information on how to contact Sgt. Al Fleischman, my crewmember who was shot down on the same mission, about flying with Oakley that day, when I tried to "resign" from the 44th HMG. It was great to phone him after 40 years and share all of our experiences.

Also, Pete Henry lives in my home state of New Jersey and was responsible for my joining up originally.

And you, Will, were responsible for putting Jim Reynolds in touch with me last year. Jim is the nephew of Kent Miller, my first pilot. We've corresponded and talked on the phone. I also sent him a video tape of my short Air Force film, a copy of the Dutch Documentary on recovering our B-24, and a copy of "Some of Our Airmen are no longer Missing," which had some of my story in it as well as his surviving uncle, Eugene, about learning that Kent's remains had been recovered and sent home for burial.

Lastly, the Confederate Air Force flew Fifi, the B-29, along with a B-24 and a C-46 into Pinehurst airport; and reliving those experiences again, made me realize that it'' still great to be associated with the 44th Veterans, even though none of my personal acquaintances are still around.

I'm not sure at this time whether I'll be available at the time of the San Antonio Convention next Fall. I lost my wife four months ago, and although I'm hangin' in there. A lot can happen in the next year. However, I'm glad to be back in the fold and wish you success.

Sincerely,

Charles B. Taylor




CHARLES E. TAYLOR
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

2120 Detroit Blvd.
Carolina Trace
Sanford, NC 27330

23 April 1992

Sorry it took so long for me to respond to your letter of 27 March, but we've been going through some medical problems which keep us busy with exercises and running down to Pinehurst to see doctors.

I didn't mean that I wanted you to drop me from your membership rolls, but that I had read seven years of the 44th Logbook as well as well as the 2nd Air Division Journal, and felt that I wasn't enjoying them as much anymore.

However, I did just recently read "Zemke's Stalag," which covered the last six months of my stay in Stalag Luft 1. It was very interesting, and filled me in on many of the negotiations he had to deal with on our behalf, with both the Germans and the Russians.

Also, within this past week, I had a call from Jim Bolger of the 506th, a flight engineer who moved from Connecticut to Pinehurst last year. I'm sure we'll get together before long to talk over old times, though we never knew each other in Shipdham.

I did appreciate that print of the Muenster raid formation. It recalled to mind many of the other crew. Actually, the only one I had really remembered was the Oakley crew, and for two good reasons: Frank D. Powers, the navigator was in the same jail in Amsterdam with me before we went to Dulag Luft for interrogation. Also, late in the war they brought in a group of Sergeants from Heidekrug Prison Camp in East Prussia, and Al Fleishman, formerly of our crew arrived and said he had flown with Oakley that same day.

My wife and I both did enjoy the reunion in 1986 in Colorado Springs, even though I didn't know anyone there except for having talked to Pete Henry on the phone and, of course, General Leon Johnson, who was never a real buddy of mine. We did obtain a copy of the Ploesti raid survivors' videotape, which was made at that reunion: and, of course, the memorial plaque dedication at the Air Force Cemetery was very moving.

Six months after Gerry Zwanenburg spearheaded the recovery of our plane, and the recovery of the five crewmembers still on board, the Air Force came to our home in Scotch Plains, NJ and interviewed me for almost an hour. From that visit and official film footage, produced a 12-minute 16mm film of our mission, the ditching, and the ultimate recovery of the plane. Before I retired from AT&T, I had it put on a videotape, so it is easier to show at service club or veterans club meetings.

I will write to Art Hand today and later on, send him a copy of this letter.

I'm sorry if I sounded like I wanted to get out of the 44th HMG. Not so!!

It was nice hearing from you.

Cordially,

Charlie Taylor




CHARLES W. TAYLOR, JR.
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

101 Savaria Drive
Syracuse, NY 13209

12 May 1991

Dear Will:

Thank you so much for your efforts in getting the copy of our crew's missions. Another favor - please thank Major Brad Durning for his help. I do not have his address and his efforts are just so appreciated.

I got your second letter first. Getting the mission list first was so great.

As the years go by and now I am going to steal someone else's thoughts. I remember at Shipdham Air Base all of the people stationed there would inquire as to when the plane would be returning to the base and line up along the flight line to watch and count. At that time, I was too young to realize that all of the base personnel were covered and felt love for their fellowmen. Now as I am much older and have seen these men at a couple of reunions, I find that love for each other has not stopped and is just as vibrant as it was way back when.

As for the later missions, I told Les Wilkerson, our flight engineer and Bill Paulson, copilot that we could get a copy of them that our navigator, Larry Peterson, had made and I had copied from him. I was disappointed when we were unable to get copies. I am sending a copy to Les Wilkerson and Bill Paul. I am sure they will be delighted and another job well done.

The list brings one's memory back on the list. Thomas went to Switzerland. N was the plane. From what I remember, it was about the 13th or 14th N in the squadron at that time. It was a hard luck plane I.D. according to the scuttlebutt around me. I had forgotten about his crew as we all had trained together at Westover Field, Mass.

Just a little nostalgia coming back.

I thank you again for all of your help and interest.

Best wishes,

Chuck Taylor
 
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