A new search and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the crew and on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg.
To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.
Harry Allen Liniger, Update continued…
This part will cover Harry Allen Liniger’s MIA (Missing in Action) and POW (Prisoner of War) experience.
The Mid-air Collision
On 28 September 1944, the B-17’s of the John Buslee crew and the James Brodie crew collided over Magdeburg, Germany. Rather than repeat the story of the collision, I will direct those who would like to read it to 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey’s account here.
Missing in Action
Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group note the following for Harry Allen Liniger: On 28 September 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Harry Allen Liniger, flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action).
Harry and the other airmen involved in the collision would remain missing until some word was heard, typically relayed from the Red Cross to the military, and from the military to the families, or next of kin, of the missing. Word did not travel quickly outside of wartime Germany to families waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones.
The Gates County Index newspaper published two articles in the month of October with the only information available at the time.
On 18 October 1944: “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger of Gatesville have been advised by the War Department that their son, Sgt. Harry Liniger, turret gunner on a Liberator bomber [correction: waist gunner on a Flying Fortress/B-17 bomber] is missing following a flight over Germany on September 28.”
On 25 October 1944: “Sgt. Harry A. Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul W. Liniger of Gatesville, waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress and recently awarded the Air Medal, is missing following a flight over Germany on September 28.”
A follow-up article in the same issue noted: “Award of the Air Medal for ‘exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in sustained bomber combat operations over enemy occupied Continental Europe’ to Sgt. Liniger was announced by an Eighth Air Force bomber station in England soon after news that he was missing reached Gatesville.
Waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, Sgt. Liniger was taking part in attacks being carried out against targets in Germany and the occupied areas by the American Air Forces. He was serving with a Fortress group that is a veteran unit on the European aerial front. Sgt. Liniger is 20 and was a student at Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg prior to entering the service.”
Prisoner of War
By December 1944, the Liniger family had received word that Harry was alive and a prisoner of war. The Germans allowed the POWs to write a limited number of postcards and letters home, but the mail could take several months to arrive.
For example, I have a letter my father wrote as a POW he dated 9 November 1944. Someone, probably my grandmother, noted on the letter that she received it over four months later on 23 March 1945.
Initial postcards the POWs sent home within a short time after capture looked like this postcard of my father’s.
Harry Liniger wrote his card just two days before my dad, who was hospitalized following capture, on 3 October. (I don’t believe POW’s were allowed to tell their families they were not in good health, hence unable to note he was seriously wounded and could not walk).
The Gates County Index newspaper published an article on 20 December 1944, so these first post cards likely took two months to reach the families.
On 20 December 1944: “Mrs. Paul W. Liniger of Gatesville recently received another card from her son, S/Sgt. Harry Liniger, prisoner of war of the German government. The sergeant said that he was in good health and was being moved to another prison camp. The card was dated October 3, five days after the Flying Fortress of which he was a crew member, was forced down into Nazi occupied Europe.”
In Nazi Germany, Allied prisoners of war were confined to separate prison camps based on at least two criteria. Those held captive from various nationality air forces, airmen were kept in “Luft” stalags. Officers and enlisted men were also separated into different camps. Of the four survivors of the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision between the Buslee and Brodie B-17’s, one was an officer and three were enlisted.
The officer, George Marshall Hawkins, Brodie crew navigator, was seriously injured and served his entire POW internment in a POW hospital. If he had not been injured, he would have been assigned to an officer’s POW camp. The three enlisted men, George Farrar of the Buslee crew, and Wilfred Miller and Harry Liniger of the Brodie crew, were all assigned to Stalag Luft IV. Farrar spent the first two months of captivity in a hospital, but was then placed in the camp in late November 1944.
I discovered George Farrar and Wilfred Miller on the same camp roster, a Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster, placing both of them in the same Lager of the camp. I have been unable to find Harry Liniger’s name on any of the available rosters, though. It is possible that he was held in Lager A, B, or C, but looking through the Lager D roster more closely, I believe a page could be missing between scanned pages 37 (which ends with Lewis) and 38 (which begins with Lissendrello) where Harry Liniger possibly could be included alphabetically in this list.
Harry Allen Liniger’s POW number was #3818. His son, Harry, Jr., found the number in his grandmother’s war time diary along with her son’s POW address. Harry, Jr. says Estella Liniger’s diary was pretty simple, but held a lot of valuable information. “It had the addresses from all my dad’s duty stations, the address for the Red Cross in Switzerland and a few others. One entry said she received my dad’s Air Medal in the mail. It mentioned receiving a couple of letters from dad saying he was ok. She also wrote out her prayerful thoughts on some days.”
Harry Allen Liniger was one of the Stalag Luft IV POW’s marched out of the prison camp on February 6, 1945 to begin the 500-day 86-mile march of prisoners across Germany. One day, Harry Liniger, Jr., opened his father’s New Testament and found a note his dad had written on cigarette paper.
Harry had recorded a horrific train ride to which the prisoners were subjected on their journey. This note confirms an event in the historical record of the march, the memory of which likely haunted the men on the train for the rest of their lives.
On another day, Harry Jr. showed the note to his daughter and she decided to look through the book. She found a list on the inside cover that looked like Harry was adding up his back pay while in captivity. There was also a man’s name, Charles Gleason, ASN 32718483, and a New York address of 200 E. 81st St., printed in the back.
Charles Gleason’s POW record in the online National Archives notes that he was held in Stalag Luft IV. Charles was a left waist gunner with the 97th Bomb Group, 340th Bomb Squadron, of the 15th AF based in Amendola, Italy in the Province of Foggia. [Note: Between 17 August 1942 and 21 October 1942, the 97th Bomb Group flew from Polebrook and Grafton Underwood with the 8th Air Force].
Charles Albert Gleason was 5’8″ tall, weighed 145 pounds, had gray eyes, blonde hair, and a light complexion. He registered for the draft on 15 February 1942. His place of residence was 200 E. 81 St., New York, NY and he was born on 29 June 1921 in New York, NY.
Federal Census records from 1930 and 1940 note that Charles’ father was Charles A. Gleason, Sr., his mother was Katherine (or Catherine, possibly with the maiden name of Kelly). He had two older sisters, Dorothy and Rita. His father died in 1936, leaving Charles’ mother a widow.
Charles Gleason went MIA on the 97th Bomb Group’s 23 October 1944 mission to the Pilsen, Czechoslovakia Skoda Works in B-17 42-31709. The missing air crew report, MACR9513, notes the cause as flak.
Ten men of the Josie Francis Flotz (Durham, NC) crew – Paul Eugene Rominger (Ohio), Leon Joseph Cooning, Jr., Wallace John Lameweaver, Robert T. Oakes, Dalton John Cormier, Charles Albert Gleason, Clifton Edward Huffman (or Hoffman of Palestine, WV), John David Lawson (Osborne, KS), and Richard Arthur Leonard (Dayton, OH) – all were captured and became prisoners of war.
MACR9513 notes that at a location of 4915N/1257E, the Flotz crew’s B-17 was observed “Straggling after target run. Result of enemy aircraft and damaged by flak or defect in oxygen.”
An airman who was an eyewitness, Sgt. Glenn W. Troutman, reported, “After completing the target run, I saw aircraft #709 straggling, because of a hit by flak or some other damage to aircraft.” Crew member Clifton E. Huffman reported: “All ten [crew] members bailed out shortly after losing three engines over target. Saw all crew members at Frankfort interrogation center.” The pilot, Josie F. Foltz, Jr., reported that they were over the target (just after Rally) when they left the formation. He added “All crew members bailed out approx. the same time & about 50 to 100 mi. SE of target near Eger, Germany.”
Charles Gleason was able to evade for a day, but was captured on 24 October 1944 at 17:30 (5:30 in the evening) near Maerzdorf dist. in Kaaden (Kadaň), a town in the Chomutov District in the Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czechoslovakia.
I expected to find Harry Liniger and Charles Gleason on the same POW roster from Stalag Luft IV. Coming from bomb groups that were not based even in the same country, Liniger in England and Gleason in Italy, I can’t imagine where they would have met if not in the prison camp or on the march.
However, I do not find their names in any list together. I do find Charles Gleason listed in the roster on page 74 of the POW book “Barbed Boredom – A Souvenir Book of Stalag Luft IV” by Charles G. Janis. He is listed as “Gleason C 200 E 81st St New York N.Y.” Harry is not found in this list. The author of “Barbed Boredom,” Charles Janis, was held POW in Lager D, the lager where I know George Farrar and Wilfred Miller were both held. However, neither of their names appear on Janis’ list either. And in the roster where I do find Farrar’s and Miller’s names on, the Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster, I do not find Charles Gleason, Harry Liniger, or Charles Janis.
Charles Gleason’s POW record indicates his last report date was 9 July 1945. Harry Liniger’s last report date was 31 May 1945. George Farrar’s last report date was closer to Gleason’s. Farrar’s was 13 July 1945. Farrar had an extended hospital stay following his liberation and perhaps Gleason did as well as both returned home much later than Harry Liniger.
Charles Albert Gleason died April 20, 2001 at the age of 79.
I have shared this information about Charles Albert Gleason because he must have been important to Harry Liniger during their confinement as POW’s during World War II. If any family members of Charles Gleason have any information about this time in his life, please contact me.
The Gates County Index newspaper published several articles upon the news of Harry Liniger’s liberation.
On 30 May 1945: “Sgt. Harry Liniger, waist gunner on a Flying Fortress shot down over enemy occupied Europe many months ago, has been liberated from a German prison camp, according to information reaching his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger, through the Red Cross.”
On 6 June 1945, Gatesville: “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger have received an Army Signal Corps message from their son, Sgt. Harry Liniger, liberated prisoner in Europe, telling them, ‘At the rate I am moving, I will be home in a few months.’ They also received a telegram from the War Department saying that Sgt. Liniger was returned to military control on May 2.”
On 28 May 1945, upon the receipt of the telegram of her son’s liberation and return to military control, Estella Liniger recorded her last prayerful thoughts in her diary, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.
Thank you to Keith Ellefson for obtaining Charles Gleason’s missing air crew report for me.
Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1
Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2
Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew
Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War
Previous post, Boarding a Train
Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives
Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives
Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster
Dave Osborne’s Fortlog
Charles Gleason’s POW record in the National Archives
Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
Missing Air Crew Report 9753 for the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers
97th Bomb Group courtesy of the American Air Museum in Britain
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022