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Aviation Cadet Charles R. Thompsen, CP on Lt Henry Shotland Crew . Shot down Aug 17,1943 and POW at Stalag Luft III. Photo courtesy of son Tom Thompsen

Photo takes after return to States from POW camp. Courtesy oh Son Tom Thompsen

MACR: 00680 CR: 00680

Comments1: 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG



                                A/C 42-3002 "THE WAAC HUNTER"
                               MACR # 680, Microfiche # 224

SHOTLAND HENRY P. LT                          P POW 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG TAPS: 16 MAR 1989
DORAN   THOMAS J. LT                      NAV POW 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
FIELD LLOYD. E. T/SGT                        TTE POW 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG TAPS: 24 JAN 1982
BULTER ROY. L. S/SGT                           WG POW 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
KEEGAN JOHN J. S/SGT                          WG POW 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG TAPS: 11 AUG 1964
COMPTON FOSTER. S/SGT                       TG KIA   17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG

349th Sqdn.  This crew was on it's first mission and joined the 100th on July 24, 1943.

Eyewitness report: A/C #002, on our right wing hit by enemy A/C at Nuernburg, dropped wheels. Four chutes seen. Big strip out of vertical stablizer. Three enemy aircraft last seen attacking……...Lt. J.K. Justice

Sgt Compton, on his first mission, was proably severely wounded or killed by fighter attack. Germans told Capdeville that Compton's body was found in the plane wreckage..

In an email to Ron Leigh from Glen Van Noy regarding A/C 42-30002 WAAC Hunter (Oct. 2000 mpf)
From: Glen Van Noy 
To: Ron Leigh 
Sent: 29 10 2000 05:24
Subject: WAAC HUNTER 230002

      230002 was the number of the B-17 I flew to England in June of 1943,
landing at Thorpe Abbotts. I was one of the first pilots in the 349 th
Squadron. I didn't have a name on the airplane. I flew seven  missions ( the first
seven the 100th made) and on my eigth, 002 was out of commission, so I
flew another.
We had three engines shot out over Regansburg on August 17, 1943, lost a
lot of fuel, and ran out of gas about 70 miles  north of Sicily trying to make
it to Africa. The Mediteranian is a not recomended for landing B-17s. They
sink.  So sombody else inherited 002 and gave it the WAAC HUNTER name. I
have no idea who. Since all the other origional 349th pilots except one named
Sammy Barr and the squadron commander went down before the Regansburg
mission, I hardly knew the new replacement crews .I appreciate your interest in things of that era .
     Glen S. Van Noy                        

From: Charles R. Thompsen 
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 7:41 PM

RON & ROY, Seeing the whole picture puts a new chilling light on the event and in my evaluation establishes positive identification, time, and place. A careful look at the highest airplane in the picture you can make out behind the left waist gunners window the letter F which was positively the WAAC HUNTER. now look down to a point just behind the tail of the closer plane and you see a man and the pilot chute above him has  just opened and pulling out the main parachute, this could be Lloyd Fields since he was first out of the front of the plane.  Further down and behind is another body, that could be me since I delayed opening my parachute till close to the ground, now a little further behind is a prominent black dot, this could be the forward hatch door that was kicked off by Sgt. Fields who looked down and turned to me and said "Is This Trip Necessary" so I slapped him on his butt and told him to get out then I followed him.    
    I believe that the dark streak under the engines is a fire. Also why would anyone take a picture like this if something interesting and unusual wasn't happening ? Take a good look just behind our plane is a light streak that seems to be a fort on fire going down with two fighters following him. Can you believe that this picture could tell such a story ? You had better take another good look, and let me know if you agree  Happy New Year,  Charles Thompsen

It is a pleasure to hear to hear from you and add facts to the picture, Thanks.  Re: John Justice's report, I have no idea where we were at this time when we were hit by enemy fire, it could well been in the vicinity of Nuernburg, I know that while I was in the cockpit we were too busy trying to keep control of the plane to do such a stupid thing as lower the landing gear. I don't believe that the gear was ever lowered or the gear was ever down. I had a clear view of the underside of the plane as I was falling until it exploded in a big ball of fire.  Until I read Justice’s report I was going by what Lloyd Fields, our flight engineer and top turret gunner reported, shouting from his position that the vertical tail was shot off, I again met him in the Obermassfeld P O W  hospital,  and he again said that it was shot off. I wish that I had been more specific about the details since reading Justice’s report that  “ a big strip out of the vertical stabilizer”   Shotland and I were busy fighting to recover from a peel off to the right and being knocked out of our formation position by a Me 109 cannon shell that hit this tail position.  We did recover and by the use of throttles were able to keep the plane level and get back in position when we were hit again, the top turret elevating mechanism was jammed, smoke filled the cockpit and bomb bay and in # 2 engine, interphone and radios out, we tried to salvo our bombs but couldn’t open the bomb bay doors or release the bombs, it was time to get out. Shotland held the plane while I notified the crew to bail out, We were just approaching the Rhine River south of Manheim, the men in the rear of the plane went out through the right gunners window and landed west of the river while the four of us in the front section bailed out through the front hatch and landed east of the Rhine river.

After about a week of getting acquainted with new maps and procedures at Bovingdon our crew arrived at Diss by train and then trucked to the 100th Bomb Group on July 24th 1943, the same day the 100th  bombed Trondheim in Norway.

Lt Charles R ThompsEn

Subj: Aug. 17, 1943  
Date: 1/11/2005 8:53:27 PM Pacific Standard Time 

I would like you to know more about the situation of Interphone and what I remember, On this mission Lt. Shotland was on interphone and for crew control and coordination I was to stay on the radio in case we were recalled or any other message, we wore our head phones with the ear toward each other uncovered so we could talk to each other. Except for talking to Shotland and Fields I never heard a word of what went on during this mission. I heard Shotland try to get Lt. Harrison to open the bomb bay doors and get rid of our incendiary bombs as we had a fire some where and wanted to dump our fire bombs, he couldn't make contact or drop the bombs any other way, so we decided to bail out, I gave Shotland his chute and he snapped it on and told me to inform the crew since he had no contact.  I alerted Sgt Fields and we threw a hand full of shells back through the bomb bay hitting Sgt Kussman on the leg and when he looked our way I motioned to dive, he gave me the OK sign then he calmly stowed his gun and started back, then I crawled through the tunnel to the nose section and interrupted their shooting to tell them to bail out.
    I well remember the jolt we took when Sgt. Fields shouted down to us that the vertical tail was shot off. I have describ
ed it like driving down the highway then running off the road and through a ditch.
    About Capdeville claim to having shot down a fighter, either you, Roy, or Sgt Fields told me about it, and I remember Fields shouting to me that he had shot down one  and wanted me to confirm his claim, I did see the plane fall and nearly go through our group formation, but I can't say I saw his firing hit the plane and I am sure others were also shooting at it but I would back  his claim. Then later in the POW hospital He told me about some twin engine planes following our group and shooting rockets at us and he was convinced that it was a rocket that hit our plane and got the tail.  I never seen any evidence of rocket firing but from my seat I couldn't see anything to the rear.

Lt Charles R Thompsen

1/10/2005 Aug 17, 1943 Recollections S/Sgt Roy Butler WG. 
 There are things we will never know, but I think our plane was hit by something bigger than a twenty mm shell  because I was jolted almost off my feet. I don't know if the tail moved up, then down  violently, or down and then up. I remember hearing Field say he thought it may have been a rocket shell from one of the twin fighters. By the way, Charles, did you know that Capdeville claimed a fighter? He said that he was firing as the pilot bailed out and he might have killed him before he could stop firing.
                                           S/Sgt RoyButler

From Roy Butler
Subj: Fw: Aug 17th   
Original Message ----- 
To: (Ron Leigh)
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2005 2:09 PM
Subject: Re: Aug 17th 

Ron, I could not see any details in the photo which would help me to understand anything. But number 2 engine was leaking oil rather heavily not long, at least as I remember it, after we crossed onto the continent. I remember Shotland wondering if we should abort, but about that time the fighters came at us. Field, who had a clear view from the top turret, told me that 'the vertical stabilizer was shot off'. He thought it might have been a rocket shell from a twin engine fighter. I clearly recall the plane bucking so that I almost could not keep balanced on my feet. I don't think a twenty millimeter shell would have that force. It seems there was some distant flak, but not much as I recall….Roy Butler


Courtesy of Tom Thompsen, Son of Lt Charles Thompsen:

On this date in 1943 my father, Charles Thompsen, co-pilot of the WAAC Hunter (Shotland crew of the 349th BS)) was shot down on the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission.  Tail gunner Foster Compton was killed, the others were captured. The plane crashed just west of the Rhine River across from Worms,  Germany near a small village named Boxheimerhof. There is an article in Splasher 6 Newsletter, ‘With Help, WAAC Hunter Comes Home’. We are grateful for all the help Ron Leigh has provided.  Last year I spent some time researching the crash site and in that process was introduced to several German researchers and historians who have been a great help in discovering more information.  One researcher took part in a “dig” which located the crash site as well as finding many miscellaneous parts. Another gave me information which credits the shoot down to  Lt. Hans Ehlers who is credited with shooting down 2 B-17’s that day and credited with 55 victories before being killed in December of 1944.
This is from my father:

„After two weeks of practice missions we were finally selected and were assigned our first mission on Aug 17 1943. We were to bomb Regensburg’s ME 109 aircraft factory then continue over the Alps and across the Mediterranean Sea and land at one of our bases in Africa. We were up at 3:am a breakfast then to our\plane for a scheduled 5am take off but dense fog delayed T.O, till 7am. We climbed up and joined our group circling until reaching 18,000 feet then joining our position in the Wing, about the fifth and last group to bomb, we were loaded with 4,000 lbs of incendiary bombs to set fire to the mess the previous groups had made. 

We were expecting a fighter escort till we crossed the channel, but the only planes we saw were German fighters. I counted 48 fighters in a line flying just out of range of our guns to get ahead of us then turning to come head on firing their guns and 30mm cannon at us then roll over and dive down for the fastest exit from our guns then to loop around and do it again. One plane came from the right about 90 degrees from our direction of flight, he got my attention when I saw directly in front of us what looked like a red hot barbed wire fence about 10 feet in front of us and realized that that were tracers fired between every five steel bullets, looking to my right I saw a fighter in a vertical bank shooting as he tried to turn with our direction of flight still shooting, I took a deep breath and knew in a few seconds I would feel bullets tearing me apart, fortunately for me he broke and went down stopping the shooting.

One time when we took a hit on the right wing that jammed our ailerons and it sounded like being in s big metal grain bin and taking a hand full of wheat and throwing it on the side I was sure that it was machine gun bullets going through the plane but I couldn’t see any damage but the right aileron, this hit knocked us out of formation so without any aileron control we used the engines to level our wings and power us back into formation. Another attack hit us that I felt was like driving off the road and through a ditch, Our top turret operator and flight engineer reported that the hit had shot the rudder off. and his guns had been hit and locked in an elevated position rendering them useless. Another hit as we tried to rejoin the formation caused our flight area to be filled with smoke and #3 engine was on fire our interphone was out, radio dead, we tried to open the Bombay doors and get rid of our load of incendiary bombs but the doors were jammed, we tried to drop the bombs through the doors but that also failed. Henry Shotland our pilot and I agreed it was time to get out, I motioned to our engineer to bail out, he took a hand full of spent shells and threw them through the Bombay getting the attention of the radio operator who motioned the side gunners to alert the others and bail out. I gave the pilot his parachute and he snapped it on then held the plane steady while I crawled through the tunnel and get the Navigator and bombardier alerted to jump, then back through the tunnel to find our engineer Lloyd Fields trying to open the hatch door by pulling the hinge pins he finally made it by kicking the door off. We looked down 18,000 feet when Lloyd turned to me and said, IS THIS TRIP NECESSARY, That took the tension out of us and he jumped with me following him. 

I hit the slipstream at over 160 mph going end over end and spinning , I straightened my legs accidentally and my tumbling stopped I let my legs bend at the hips and my spinning stopped, I was on my back just floating down, I looked up to see our airplane explode in one big ball of fire, a flaming wing falling like a leaf looked to be falling on me then I realized that there was 4 big engines also coming down somewhere near then I accidentally let one of my elbows get caught in the wind as I fell and it spun me like a top I put my other elbow out just enough to stop spinning, wow, I’ll never have another chance like this so I tried it again. Then I realized I was getting closer to the ground, when I judged to be under 1,000 feet I opened my parachute, I must have been about 300 ft as it swung me about three times and I hit the ground over a plowed ditch braking my right leg in the ankle. “
    He was quickly captured and taken to the Rathaus (Town Hall) in Lampertheim, at some point moved to the hospital at Obermasfeld, then on to Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, Poland. In January 1945 they were moved to Stalag Luft 7 in Moosburg until the end of the war.


TARGET: Regensburg DATE: 1943-08-17  
AIRCRAFT: "The WAAC Hunter" (42-3002) CAUSE: EAC-EXP  




 The Henry Shotland Crew photographed in Casper, Wyoming - no knows why they are posed with a B-24. Crew from left: Foster Compton, John Keegan, Edward Kussman, Tom Doran, Baum, Henry Shotland the pilot, Charles Thompsen, Roy Bulter, Lawrence Capdeville, and Lloyd Field. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

On April 29, 1945, my Dad, Charles Thompsen ( on left), and thousands of other POW’s were liberated from Stalag VIIA. Courtesy of son Tom Thompsen. 

POW dogtag 

The GPS map of the crash site of The Waac Hunter courtesy of Tom Thompsen



Crew 1

ID: 5153