Robert Perkins Post, a journalists for the New York Times who was one of eight war correspondents to fly bombing missions over Germany. He was killed in Action on 26 February 1943 when the B-24 Liberator of the 44th Bomb Group he was flying exploded in mid-air.
War correspondents of the Writing 69th during their training for bombing missions in 1943.
Left to right: Gladwin Hill, William Wade, Robert Post, Walter Cronkite, Homer Bigart, and Paul Manning.
Post was a Journalist and War Correspondent for the New York Times, he had joined the London Bureau of the New York Times in 1938 and had covered the Battle of Britain and Rudolph Hess' flight to Scotland, establishing himself as a veteran reporter by the time he was asked to join the Writing 69th in February 1943. Post was eager to fly missions, he had unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the RAF to allow him aboard a bombing mission previously. With two brothers serving in the armed forces he was keen to contribute to the war effort, but had been convinced by the New York Times that he was best serving his country with them.
In February 1943, Post was one of eight journalists known as the Writing 69th who were invited to fly bombing missions with the 8th Air Force. He underwent a week long extensive training course before being assigned to a Liberator crew B-24D 41-23777 "Maisey", 44BG/67BS at Shipdham, UK who would fly over Wilhelmshaven on 26 February 1943. Prior to the mission Post predicted that he would not return, and admitted that he thought he was going to die. Post's B-24 was shot down by German fighters over Oldenberg and exploded in mid-air, killing Post and 8 of the 10 crewmembers. Wayne Gotke, the navigator survived the explosion and described the attack in a letter to Post's Father following the war:
'Our ship was under constant fighter attack from the time we reached the Island of Texel until we were shot down. We had fought off the planes with very minor damage until we were almost to Oldenburg, then all hell broke loose. I spent most of my time with position reports trying to get short cuts filled into the flight to allow us to gain and catch the rest of the formation... When we were almost to Oldenburg fighters hit us from all sides. Sgt. Vogt the engineer and top turret operator shot the first fighter down and I shot the next down however not until he had sent 20 mms. into the nose and cockpit. Sgt. Mifflin shot down the third from his waist gun position. At this point my left gun jammed and I know at least two planes made direct hits on nose and flight deck. Someone I'm sure was hurt on the flight deck and I was hit twice in the nose of the ship operating a jammed gun. Engines #3 and #4 had been hit and were on fire. I believe fire spread to the wing tank and caused the ship to explode.
I was working on my guns when all at once it seemed someone pushed me from behind and all went black. I woke up falling through space and pulled my rip cord and no results so I reached back and tore the back of my chute out. My last look at the altimeter showed 26,000 ft. and the Germans claim they saw my chute open at 5,000 ft. They picked me up after I had sat between two trees about 20 ft. in the air for about 25 minutes and took me to a first aid station for treatment of cuts around the head and 20 mm. wounds. It was here I saw Sgt. Mifflin. The copilot of the other ship shot down the same time as us said he saw Capt. Adams leather jacket and it appeared the man had been killed. The ship's loading list was removed by the Germans from the jacket. The Germans asked me about your son [Robert Post] as they could not identify him from the loading list. I gave them no information whatsoever as my orders were to say nothing in hopes if men were at large their chances of getting home would be better....We all felt that your son was doing something beyond his call of duty to fly with us and held the highest respect for him. We knew him as a very swell person and I regret his loss greatly. I can understand how you feel as boys on a mission are like brothers...'
Post's death bought an end to the Writing 69th as it was deemed too dangerous for journalists to fly aboard bombing missions, however some of the other reporters continued to do so in following years. Post's body was recovered and buried at Ardennes American Cemetery alongside the crewmen who were killed.
Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
Shot down 26 February 1943 in B-24D 41-23777 'Maisey', 44BG/66BS while serving as Navigator. He baled out and was captured as a Prisoner of War (POW).
Units served with
In February 1943 the Eighth Air Force sponsored a group of eight civilian and military journalists to undergo training to fly missions aboard bombers for promotional purposes. A week long training session took place at Bovingdon, where the journalists...
B-24D-5-CO 41-23777 was assigned to the 44th Bomb Group/66 Bomb Squadron at Shipdham, UK. On 26-Feb-43 the aircraft was despatched to bomb the shipyards at Bremen, Germany but the target was obscured by clouds so the aircraft diverted to the secondary...
26 February 1943
After 10 days of weather related delays of the bomber offensive, a mission is organised with the port facilities of Emden, Germany as the primary target. However, Emden is obscured by cloud cover and all formations divert to attack the port facilities...
Military site : airfield
Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...
||8 September 1910
||Willbroksmoor, 26160 Bad Zwischenahn, Germany
||26 February 1943
Killed when aircraft was attacked by German fighters, exploded in mid-air and crashed near Willbroksmoor, Germany
||27 February 1943
Originally buried by the Germans in the Evangelical Parish Cemetery at Bad Zwischenahn, Germany. After the war his remains were reinterred at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Plot B, Row 33, Grave 9 alongside the crew memebers.