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Wartime Log of Jame Harper “High Life Crew”




Published by

The War Prisoners’ Aid of the Y.M.C.A.

Geneva – Switzerland





July 7, 1943

Dear Friend,

As its title-page indicates, this “War-time Log” is aprt of a special remembrance from the folks at home. The other articles in the packet are more or less perishable, but this is intended to be kept as a permanent souvenir of the present unpleasantness.

If you do not want to keep a regular diary or even occasional notes on wartime experiences, thes pages offer many other possibilities. If you are a writer, here is space for a short story. If you are an artist (some people are) you may want to cover these pages with sketches of your camp, caricatures of its important personalities, whether residences or authorities. If you are a poet, major or minor, confde your lyrics on these pages. If you feel that circumstances cramp your style in correspondence you might write letters unmailable now, but safely kept to be carried with you on your return. This book might serve to list the most striking concoctions of the camp kitchen, the records of a camp olympic, or a selection of the best jokes cracked in camp. One man has suggested using the autograph of one of his companions (plus his fingerprints?) to head each page followed by free and frank remarks about the man himself. The written text might be a commentary on such photographs as you may have to mount on the special pages for that purpose.

The mounting corners are in an envelope in the pocket of the back cover. Incidentally, this pocket might be used for clipping you want to preserve, or, together with the small envelopes on the last page, to contain authentic souvenirs of life in camp.

Perhaps you will discover some quite different use for this book. Whatever you do, let it be a visable link between yourself and the folks at home, one more reminder that their thoughts are with you constantly. If it does no more than bring you this assurance, the “Log” will have served its purpose.

Yours very sincerely,





G E N È V E (Suisse)


37, Quai Wilson

Adresse Télégraph. : FLEMGO-GENÈVE

Compte de Chèques postaux : I. 331


Joe C. Harper

1217 Ave. A

Brownwood, Texas



Date of Landing and Place 1

Notes on stay at Hotel Bellvue Biel 2

Remarks on Raids, etc. 3

Typical Meals 4

Swiss Soldiers 5

The Swiss Farm and Farmer 13

Move from Biel to Bern 14

Some European Customs 21

F/O Joseph C. Harper Co-Pilot

351st Squadron, 100th Bomb Group

B17F 42-30080 “High Life”


We crashed landed “ High Life” on August 17, 1943. After a little circling we picked out a

military air base about 12:30 and crashed. No one was injured. The name of the city we landed near

was Dubendorff. The landing was very smooth. All the Swiss were very nice to us. We spent our

frst day in separate rooms until the Swiss interrogated us. The frst meal we had was very good. It

included Swiss cheese. Our crew was the second crew of Americans to land in Switzerland. I got my

last look of the ship(High Life) on the 19th. It had quite a few holes in it. (Reason we landed was

because we had one engine knocked out with 20mm hit and the second was hit in the oil tank. We

lost no. 2 and no. 3 engines. Our no. 2 engine would not feather. On our way to Switzerland after

we left the formation we had a Me 110 (Messerschmitt Bf 110) attack about three times but he did

not press his attack. Too hard. We got one incendiary in the ship that started a fre in the nose. My

fur pants and jacket were thrown out by the bombardier.


We passed over Friedrichshafen, a fak experimental base and really caught hell, but no one

was hit. (Lloyd A.) Hammarlund was bombardier in place of Ball. Outside of this we had our

regular crew. We left Dubendorff on August 20, for Biel/Bienne. We had a hotel on the hill

overlooking the city. Our battle with enemy fighters was nearly two hours, I later learned that we

lost a lot of our group on one battle run. To be exact four out of twenty-one got home.

There is only one bath in the hotel of some 150 rooms. So we go to town once each week to

take showers. The rooms are very nice. The only complaint is toilet facilities.

The frst month in Switzerland we went to the beach for a swim nearly every day.

The tennis court in front of the hotel was my principle hang out. The other exercises included

softball(on the side of a mountain) and hiking.

The whole camp is in a bad humor to-day because of the Swiss Lt. He is just making it hard

on himself – September 23, 1943.


The crew completed 12 raids and unlucky 13, was when we were knocked down. We also

had two diversion raids. My pay in Switzerland was $150 base, $75 fying, $21 substance, $45

rental, $6 per day per dem., 5% longevity & 20% foreign service.

Ball and Harris had been awarded “Purple Hearts” . The rest of the crew had been awarded

air medals and had been entitled to an Oak Leaf Cluster to go on air medal except for Ball who had

been on six raids with us.

Sam Turner and his crew arrived in Switzerland, they were our roommates in England.

When they arrived, they told us George Brykalski, Vic Finup, and a lot of my classmates were now


I saw a bunch of grape vineyards today. They cover the whole sides of the mountains right

down to the edge of the railroad tracks.

Lost all my money in a poker game. First time I have been broke in over a year. September

21, 1943.


I want to remember to thank the German broadcasting system for the good american music

they play each day. Tokyo has a few good programs that we are able to pick up over here.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner

Cheese or Jam Potatoes Soup every night

Bread and butter Vegetables Potatoes

Coffee with hot milk Meat – 4 days each week Vegetables

Fish – 2 days each week Spaghetti and Cheese

One meatless day or

Soup every day Toasted Cheese on Bread

* All bread is dark.

According to Swiss rules for Internees, we are not allowed to speak to civilians. ( Women in


All Soup has parsley in it. We are served hot soup for lunch and dinner every day. Parsley

also appears on potatoes and other dishes. Caulifower is good fxed with cheese. For desert we

usually have fruit. Pears, apples, and prunes are usual routine.

The 24, September was a very foggy morning so we spent much of our time in the

restaurants. We got the cooks to fx toasted cheese sandwiches. Something they have never heard of

before. We could only get them part of the time because there was no heat in kitchen certain parts of

the day.


We can step out the front door anytime now and step into a cloud. They have been hanging

on for nearly a week. September 23, 1943.

The Swiss Soldier

Every able bodied male in Switzerland is in the army during a certain span of his life. He

becomes a soldier as a very early age and is subject to call until he is quite old. When a Swiss is frst

called to service he is issued a uniform, rife, pack, and all the rest of his equipment. These he never

turns back.

If he is to become an offcer or non-commissioned offcer, he is picked when frst called up.

To become an offcer requires extensive study. A non-commissioned offcer aplies for rank and if

accepted, is required to attend more school than a private. After you once decide, there is no

changing. Every one else is a soldier and so remains all his life.



Each year every male must do a certain amount of active duty. He receives pay from the

government and also a percent from his employer.

He receives very good equipment, but compared to American supplies, not near enough.

They have some wagons and hand carts that may be very useful here, but are very obsolete

compared with the modern army equipment. They also have some modern motorized vehicles.

Their Air Force is composed of very well educated men. All pilots nad engineers. They use

mostly German and Italian plane design. Some of the French designs are built in Switzerland and

used for trainers. I notice most [unreadable] are M.E. 109, purchased from Germany.

The observer is a commissioned offcer. He is bombardier, navigator, radio operator, and

gunner. I have seen no Swiss heavy bombers.


Capt. Woodward [418th Squadron] came in today. He bailed out over Germany and coasted

into Switzerland. Being the last man to leave the ship, he managed to hit in Switzerlad. The

navigator thought they were all ready here when the frst man left the ship. Thompson, better

known as “Sweeck” was his co-pilot. September. 23, 1943. (Complete crew German PW)

Steve and Scott were pretty lucky in some poker games so they invested in some champagne.

We used 14 bottles among the crew and two Swiss guards. The two Swiss guards came up to our

room to quiet us down, but before they left they were making more noise than the any of us. Scott

spent part of the night in a overhand near the hotel. We were showing the Swiss how to chug-a-lug

champagne. Cost 15 francs a bottle which was about 3 bucks. George elder broke down and gave us

a little inside dope on his early life.


I have noticed one of the hardest things to get in either England or Switzerland is a glass of

water. To be continued….


October 5, 1943. The Americans interned in Switzerland went to the city of Bad Ragaz

[Ragaz-les-Bains], where we buried fourteen American airmen. Out of two cres, seven survived.

One of the fourteen was Joseph Maloney, ball turrett operator on Sam Turner’s crew. He was still

in the ball turrett when the ship landed in Lake Geneva. He was dead at the time of landing. They

were unable to get him out. The men were given a complete military funeral with the Swiss giving a

“Guard of Honor”. To be continued….





When you try to do business with the Swiss on a large scale, they don’t understand giving a

reduction in pride. They seem to think it is (unreadable) that much more trouble. Any transaction of

over 30 francs is a big business deal.

The Swiss Farm and Farmer

The Swiss farms are small, well cared for pieces of land. To be continued…


On Monday, October 25, 1943, after waiting for a long time, I left Hotel Bel…., Biel, and

moved to Bern to work in the American legation [United States Embassy of Bern]. To be






Green over red indicates same traget twice. On the Le Bourget [Paris Airport] raid, Ball our

bombardier, was wounded by fghters. That was the last raid he few with us.

July 4, 1943 we went to La Pallice [Commercial deep-water port of La Rochelle, France].

July 10, 1943 – date Ball was wounded. Harris hit same time.






A few things to remember when in Europeare to tip your waiter. Tips they receive make up

…. of their wage. To be continued…


New Years Eve 1944, I spent with a group of Americans. To be continued…


On Sunday November 7, 1943, we helped the escaped Russians celebrate 26 anniversary of

their revolution. They gave the party. Plenty of wine, but vodka gave out early.

Living Cost in Bern

We stayed in a pretty nice hotel. The third best in Bern. In order to live there for a month it

would cost about $130.00. Items like a pop cost 15 cents. Coffee 10 cents. Picture show 60 cents.

To be continued…


During the day it was plenty warm to run around with just a sport coat on. While skiing, I

worked up a good sweat. Every thing is beautiful covered with snow. When the sun shines, every

thing sparkles. To be continued…


Liberator Crew #1




April 10, 1944,…. To be continued…


July 26, I have been away from home well over a year… To be continued…


Holiday Season 1944

December 23, 1944. My best Christmas present. War Department (unreadable) a mutual

exchange of U.S. interned personnell so I was told. (Hope its no rumor)


Every meal eaten in a Swiss cafe required two coupons if you hand only the menu. If you

order a la carte it takes three coupons.


Depart Switzerland

February 16, 1945 we had our farewell meal at the National Hotel in Bern. There were many

tender farewells. We left Bern on the 0230 train for Geneva. We passed throug hGeneva before the

city was up. We crossed the Swiss border and entered France.

February 17, 1945. One year six months after our hot August arrival. We began to see the

wrecked and abandon equipment. Our route out: Geneva, Bonneville, Annuy, Chambery, Genoble,

Romans, Volance, Marseilles.

35 – 69



Books Studied While in Switzerland

To be continued…


Books Read While in Switzerland





Donald K. Oakes 1st Lt.

3545 Beechwood Pl.

Riverside, California

George W. Elder T/Sgt.

Buffalo Mills, Pa.

Leslie Nadeau

50 Stone St.

Kennebunk, Maine

Lloyd A. Hammarlund

Manursing Is.

Rye, New York

James Patrick Scott, Jr.

Box 147

Wise, Virginia

Hiram E. Harris, Jr.

712 Wedgewood Ave.

Nashville, Tenn.

Nolan D. Stevens

Wabash, Indiana


Leonard P. Goyer

Custer City, Oklahoma

Vincent E. McGrath

12 Coomb St.

Ramford, Rhode Island

Ernst Woodtli

Marschlied von Konsum

Russell P. Liscomb

178 Cobat St.

Newton, Maine

F/O Joseph C. Harper Co-Pilot

351st Squadron, 100th Bomb Group

B17F 42-30080 “High Life”