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Legacy Of:

James  A.  Wilson

 

Personal Legacy

The third and last 68th aircraft lost on the 7th was that piloted by 1st Lt. James A. Wilson.

68th Squadron A/C #42-100170G Patsy Ann II MACR #7354 (borrowed from the 506th Squadron?)

68 Squadron Crew:
WILSON, JAMES A. Pilot 1st Lt. Cushing,
ASN 0-690017 POW Oklahoma
MURPHY, CHARLES B. Copilot 1st Lt. Ft. Smith,
ASN 0-755594 POW Arkansas
WHOLLEY, FRANCIS G. Navigator 1st Lt. Malden,
ASN 0-814470 POW Massachusetts
MOOS, JAMES D. Bombardier 1st Lt. Shreveport
ASN 0-752892 POW Louisiana
RAUSCH, WILLIAM H. Engineer T/Sgt. Troy,
ASN 12170970 POW New York
YOCCO, DOMINIC P. Radio Oper. S/Sgt. Niagara Falls,
ASN 12024064 KIA New York
STEELE, CHAUNCEY H. JR. RW Gunner S/Sgt. Pittsburgh,
ASN 33289520 POW Pennsylvania
WILLEMS, FRANK J. LW Gunner S/Sgt. Kenosha,
ASN 15060809 POW Wisconsin
HOM, JIM Y. Nose Tur. S/Sgt. New York City
ASN 12188925 POW New York
SCHNEIDER, ALLEN P. Tail Tur. S/Sgt. Evansville,
ASN 35720564 POW Indiana

The MACR for this aircraft reads almost the same as for 966 W above. It was damaged at the IP, fell behind and joined up with 966 W, and was escorted by the two P-38s. The Germans reported that this plane was shot down 7 km southeast of Halberstadt by fighter pilot 1st Lt. Gabler.

Lt. Al Jones, a bombardier in another aircraft wrote, "I was just swinging the sight on the target when I chanced to look up. Just at that moment about 75 to 100 ME 410s hit the squadron ahead of us. I shut my eyes, expecting all of the 24s to be knocked down. However, they only got one (Steinke's or Wilson's). I thought we were next to get an attack, but because of our position, high and to the right, and with a good for



@@Arlo: it ended abruptly...

Morrison had finished his tour on July 4, 1944, and Shanley, who was in the base hospital, did not make the mission of July 7th. Another 68th pilot, Arnold Larson, had completed his tour about the same time as Morrison, so his copilot, James A. Wilson was assigned to our crew as pilot for this last mission. Larson's tail gunner, Jim Y. Hom, also filled in for Shanley.

With a new pilot, I suppose we were considered a "new" crew and were assigned a position in the low element at the end of the squadron's formation for the trip to Bernberg on July 7, 1944. The aircraft we flew was #42-100170G, Patsy Ann II.

Between the IP and the target, our group and squadron sustained a frontal attack by several ME 210s, resulting in the loss of our number 1 engine. Out of formation as we crossed the target, in trail of our squadron, we dropped our bombs on the target, then tried to close the interval with a reduced load after bombs away. Before rejoining the formation, however, several ME 109s began attacks from the rear. Evading their fire as much as possible, our gunners later reported they succeeded in destroying two of the attacking fighters. As a fire in the forward waist section became uncontrollable, crew members in the rear bailed out. Seconds later, when the rudder controls went out and the plane fell off in a spin, the rest of us abandoned the aircraft. This action occurred between Bernberg and Halberstadt. Though several crewmen were slightly injured in the encounter, all left the plane and were picked up by Germans upon hitting the ground. The radio operator was later reported killed. Details are not known. Four of the crew, including myself, fell on the edge of the Halberstadt fighter base and were captured immediately by members of the Luftwaffe attached to the station.

As Luftwaffe personnel at this base were relieving me of all personal effects except shirt, pants, shoes, socks, and underwear, a very excited young pilot came up to me and, through sign language, let me know that he was the one who had shot me down. (Apparently, this was documented elsewhere as, Will Lundy's book "44th Bomb Group Roll of honor and Casualties" carries an account of this loss and identifies the German fighter pilot as a 1st Lt. Gabler. The same account stated that eyewitnesses reported that our aircraft joined up with one of the other damaged 68th planes and both were seen being escorted by two P-38s. I don't recall this).

We were never able to determine what happened to the radio operator, Yocco. I did not see him as I exited the plane through the bomb bay.

Eventually, the officers of the crew were sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan (90 miles SE of Berlin) and the other crewmen to other camps in, I believe, northern Germany. Wholly, our navigator, was met at the front gate of Center Compound, Stalag Luft III, by his brother, who had been shot down about a year earlier.

We were kept at this camp until late January 1945, when the Russians advanced their front to within 18-20 miles of Sagan. The Germans surprised all of us and marched the entire camp out across the countryside with about a foot of snow on the ground. We were marched to the west for about a week (about a hundred kilometers), placed on small box cars (WWI type), and transported to Stalag VII B at Moosburg, (not far from Munich). Here, we remained under much worse conditions than at Sagan, until liberated by the 14th Armored Division of Patton's Third Army on 20 April 1945.
 
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Last modified: 01/26/14