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Group History

Captured Airmen

 

 

by John P. Hunter

 

Letter to William A. Carleton from John P. Hunter (351st ROG) dated 30 Jun 1996 detailing action of Germans in regard to captured US Airmen.

Hi Bill;

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is John Hunter, Radio Operator with the crew of Robert Schomp (Robert J. Schomp) on B-17 #667. Our ship was named “Super Rabbit” assigned to hardstand 13.

After flying 30 missions, including the “Frantic” mission to Russia, we were given a ten day leave, arriving back at the base on the 28th of July. While away another crew used our plane, returning with a wheels up landing – scratch #662.

At briefing the next day, July 29th, our crew was alerted to return to Merseberg. The mission on the 28th had met with poor results.

The flak at Leuna was intense resulting in the loss of 8 B-17s, including ours. We had flown with a nine man crew with one waist gunner left behind, and in the event of a fighter attack the Radio Operator went to man the other waist gun.

Out of the seventy-two airmen, twenty-nine were killed (murdered) and many more wounded. Four of the Morris Clark (Morris E. Clark of the 349th) were slain by the Germans using clubs and rifle butts. I had the misfortune of being captured by two soldiers, with a third soldier running toward me, shouting something in German, taking out his pistol and shooting me in the groin area – the bullet ending up in my left buttock. The force of the bullet was like being hit with a baseball bat, doubling me up and driving me backward landing me on my back. He then ordered the other two to beat me with their rifle butts but I warded off most of the blows with my arms and elbows. While this was going on a group of French prisoners working on this farm nearby came on the scene jabbering in French and German. The beating abruptly stopped. They helped me to my feet – I was bleeding profusely from a few belts that got me on my left cheek and the back of the head. The two guards then took me to a small barn nearby, pushed me against the wall – taking all my heavy flying clothes, leaving me with a blood soaked summer uniform.

I sat down on the floor in a pool of blood, the bullet had severed an artery and I quickly took my pants and shorts off, tearing off a small swatch of cloth and pushing it into the hole were the bullet entered, using my belt as a tourniquet.

I am writing a book about this and many other stressful accounts while a P.O.W.

Hope this letter sheds a little more light about the people of the 100th, and wish you and your family the very best. 

John P. Hunter/351st