MERLE G. TURLEY|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
August 22, 1991
As you probably know, we were in the 44th/506th for a very short time, as I recall, only a couple of weeks. Therefore, I met very few other airmen and have to admit that I cannot, at this time, remember any outside of my crew. We flew nine missions in the ten days that we were in the 44th, and did not return from our 9th mission.
On the morning of the 9th mission, we had breakfast very early and were briefed on the mission, then driven to our plane in a truck. Upon arriving at our plane, which was named "Old Cock," we did our walk around and other pre-flights. We were told by the ground crew chief that our fuel had just been topped out full. After takeoff and arriving at assembly area, our flight engineer, Edward Kramer, reported that we were low on fuel by the gages. After much conversation between the pilot, McGuire, and the flight engineer, the pilot made the decision that after the conversation with the ground crew chief that the gages were at fault and that we would continue on the mission.
The mission was supposedly a "milk run" to hit the runways at an airport near Paris which was really a short mission. After dropping the bombs and the squadron headed home, the fuel gages were indicating that we were very low on fuel and in a short time after this the operation of the engines indicated that we were, indeed, low on fuel.
At this time we radioed for a friendly landing strip on the peninsula taken by the recent invasion. We left the protection of the squadron and shortly were intercepted by three P51s escorting us to the friendly base. The pilot feathered the engines, we threw out all excess baggage to lighten the weight of the plane, and put the plane in a descending glide in order to conserve fuel. As we approached friendly territory, the plane was so low that ground fire was beginning to hit the plane. For fear of disabling, the pilot ordered the crew to abandon the airplane. As you probably know, seven parachuted out, two evaded, and five were captured and interned as POWs. Also, the pilot, Thomas J. McGuire, the copilot, Dudley Titus, and gunner, Carl E. Daniels, were killed in the crash of the plane. Why they did not bail out, I don't know.
Joe Hanson and I were captured together and taken to the front line POW camp where we were held for about a week. Then we were loaded into trucks headed for the interior of France. After some days in a truck, we arrived at Charlon, France. Here, again, I met with Hanson and Sgt. James Nokes. Here, the officers were separated from the enlisted men and we were put in boxcars for seven days and arrived at Frankfurt, Germany interrogation camp. After about a week there, we were loaded in trains and arrived at a permanent POW camp Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany. There, I stayed until the end of the war and was liberated by the Russians on May 2, 1945.
I was flown from Barth, Germany airport on May 12th in a B17. We arrived at Camp Lucky Strike May 15th. Sailed form Camp Lucky Strike on June 14th on the USS Admiral Mayo. Docked in Boston Harbor and arrived at Camp Miles Standish on June 21st. Left by train for Fort Chaffee in Ft. Smith, Arkansas on June 22nd.
There were many interesting happenings during all this, which I will not elaborate on as you have no doubt heard all the war stories that could possibly be told.
Again, I apologize in answering this letter so late and hope this gives you some additional information for your archives.
We lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma until I retired in 1979. At that time, we moved to our home in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, where we now live.
Merle G. Turley