Prisoners of War of the 44th Bomb Group at Stalag Luft III with a USAAF insginia made of stones. Left to right : Bob Walker, Wayne Gotke, Bob McPhillamey, Bill Wockenfuss, Leo Frazier, John Mooney.
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).
Journalist Robert Post was a journalist passenger on this flight. Gotke wrote a letter about being shot down to the father of Robert Post, after 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. However, I'm reasonably sure no one was injured up to this point, except Sgt. Welsh the belly gunner who had passed out from lack of oxygen and as far as I know never regained his senses. 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 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. The Germans asked questions about Bowie and Hannan and from that I believe those two men could not be identified. They asked questions about Johnson, because they could not find any information on him. My belief is that your son was wearing his Mae West and perhaps through that lead you may get some information. I'm under the impression all bodies were not found and if found they could not identify them.
I regret this is all I can say which I have made clear in my own mind. Rest assured anything I feel in the future more clearly and of some help to you I will forward the information to you. 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. I'm sorry I can't give you more information. I hope this information will help.'
POW/ AM/ PH
Civilian | War Correspondent
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...
Units served with
The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...
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...
||San Antonio, Texas
||1 June 1905
|Prisoner of War
||26 February 1943 – 1 June 1945
Held at Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia (now Poland) moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser. Officially Returned to Military Control (RMC) 1-Jun-45.