Lenard Leroy Bryant, Update
A new search has provided me with some new information regarding one of the original waist gunners, Lenard Leroy Bryant, of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group in World War II.
To view my original post and other information about Lenard Leroy Bryant, please see the links at the end of this post.
Lenard Leroy Bryant was born 7 March 1919 in Alex, Grady County, Oklahoma. Lenard was the youngest of the ten children of Fannie Lenora Drake (1879 – 1961) and John Gilbert Bryant (1878 – 1938).
According to the 1930 Federal census, the Bryant family lived in Justice Precinct 6 of Hockley County, Texas. Nine members of the extended family were listed at the family’s address. Along with John and Fannie were four of their children including Jewel, John, Lester, and Lenard, and Fannie’s mother (Florence Drake), sister (Birdie Wadkins), and sister’s daughter (Daisey Wadkins).
John Bryant was born in Georgia, as were both of his parents. Fannie Drake Bryant was born in Texas, her father was born in Tennessee, and her mother was born in Alabama. John’s occupation was farmer.
The ten children of John and Fannie Bryant were:
- James Clyde Bryant (1900 – 1986)
- Ralph Hubert Bryant (1901 – 1989)
- Earl Alfred Bryant (1903 – 1991)
- William Marion Bryant (1906 – 1975)
- Jewel L. Bryant (1908 – 1978)
- Letha Murel Bryant (1910 – 1994)
- Lettie Mae Bryant (1912 – 1982)
- John Bryant (1914 – 1969)
- Lester Marvin Bryant (1917 – 1968)
- Lenard Leroy Bryant (1919 – 1944)
Lenard Leroy Bryant married Ruby Maudene Baisden on 21 October 1939. Maudine was born 2 June 1923 in Gasoline, Briscoe County, Texas to Ottie and Virgie Baisden, and died 16 February 2004 in Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas.
The 1940 census records Lenard (age 21) and Maudene (age 16) as living as a married couple in Justice Precinct 4 of Hockley County, Texas. Lenard’s occupation was laborer and Maudene’s occupation was housewife.
Entry into WWII
Lenard registered for the draft on 16 October 1940. He was 21 years old, born on 7 March 1919 in Grady County, Oklahoma, and currently lived at Route 2, Littlefield, Hockley County, Texas.
The name of the person who would always know his address was his wife, Mrs. Ruby Maudene Bryant of the same address.
His employer’s name was Otte Baisden (which I believe was his father-in-law) of the same address.
Lenard listed his height as 5 ft. 10 in. and his weight as 145 pounds. He had blue eyes, blonde hair and a light complexion.
I do not find an enlistment record for Lenard in the NARA online files, but did find a form titled “Certification by Uniformed Services” of the Department of Health and Human Services SSA in his NPRC record which notes Lenard’s Date of Entry into Active Service as 18 May 1943.
WWII Service – Morning Reports and other military documents of the 384th Bombardment Group indicate the following for Lenard Leroy Bryant:
- On 22 JULY 1944, Lenard Leroy Bryant was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944 as a waist gunner (classification AAEG, Aerial Gunner, with the MOS, military occupational specialty, of 611), for the John Oliver Buslee crew. His pay per month was $140.40. His rank when assigned was Corporal. He listed his home address as Mrs. Ruby Maudene Bryant, Rt #2, Littlefield, Tex.
- On 6 AUGUST 1944, Lenard Bryant was promoted to Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #158.
- On the 9 AUGUST 1944 mission to Erding, Germany, Lenard Bryant was reassigned to the position of Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the Buslee crew. Clarence Seeley, the crew’s original Engineer, was seriously wounded on the 5 AUGUST mission and did not return to duty for two months. This enabled both of the waist gunners of the Buslee crew, Lenard Bryant and George Farrar, to remain with their original crew. Farrar remained the crew’s waist gunner while Bryant took over the top turret position. If Seeley had not been seriously wounded and unable to participate in combat missions, either Bryant or Farrar would have been moved to another crew, or possibly even another bombardment group.
- On 9 SEPTEMBER 1944, Lenard Bryant was promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #180.
- On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, Lenard Bryant went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared KIA (Killed in Action) on that date.
Lenard Bryant was credited with 16 completed combat missions with the 384th Bomb Group.
Medals and Decorations
Lenard Leroy Bryant earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and also received the Purple Heart.
Casualty of War
Lenard Leroy Bryant died 28 September 1944 at the age of 25, leaving his young wife, Ruby Maudene, a widow at the age of 21. Lenard is buried at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot G, Row 7, Grave 22. Maudene lived to the age of 80 and never remarried.
Previous post, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Top Turret Gunner for the Buslee Crew
Lenard Leroy Bryant’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
MOS means Military Occupational Specialty
Previous post, Assigned Military Occupational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews
Previous post, Timeline for Buslee Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron
Thank you to the 384th Bomb Group and especially Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for their research and obtaining and presenting records of the servicemen of the Group.
Thank you to Derral Bryant, Lenard’s great-nephew, for family information and photos.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022
George Hawkins’ Account of his Internment and Hospitalization
A continuation of last week’s post, George Hawkins’ Account of the Buslee-Brodie Mid-air Collision, as written in a letter to Frank Furiga, “an account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” some time after Christmas 1983.
George Hawkins continued his letter to Frank Furiga with information about his hospitalization and internment following his capture by the Germans after the mid-air collision.
I remained here in the city for the remainder of the year  … in the prison ward at the hospital while undergoing surgery and in the balcony of an old theatre where they housed several hundred injured from many nations. On October 6th they attempted to set my broken leg but an air raid interrupted their efforts and I came out of the anesthetic in the basement air raid shelter … the leg still not set. They finally got the job done on the 12th … and that deserves a little comment.
A Colonel, the chief of Surgery, at the hospital returned from leave the day before my second attempt at leg repair … he had just buried his wife and children who had been killed in an air raid. He needed to get back to work following his tragic experience and he found me. He decided he would perform the operation himself and did so … without anesthesia. I filed charges against him with the War Crimes Commission at a later date but nothing ever came of it. Magdeburg is still in the Russian zone. But, needless to say, POW time from that point on was a piece of cake.
In late November, I was returned to the hospital with a knee infection. The plaster cast was removed and they found a real mess. The leg would probably have to come off. But a young captain took charge and did a beautiful job. I’ve never been able to bend my knee since then but the leg is still there.
DULOG LUFT & HALL MARK
I departed from Magdeburg on January 12th and arrived in Frankfort two days later. I spent the night at the railroad station in a dungeon-like room about forty feet under ground and rode in a trolley car and a truck to Dulog Luft. A very short interrogation then up to Hall Mark the following day. I remember my interrogator who once worked for Western Electric and took bus 18 out of Newark each morning on his way to work. I had to admit that I didn’t know very much about Newark, New Jersey. I guess he just wanted to be friendly … right? One day later and we were on a hospital train to Obermassfeld.
Arrived here on the 18th of January. The British doctors took xrays and I finally got a full understanding of my physical condition … for the first time. Here I met a number of people who I’m sure you knew also … Irving Metzger (no fingers) and T.S. McGee from Mississippi … the chaplain. McGee, George Brandon and I came out together … we toured Paris together. One week later, on January 25th, I was moved over to Meiningen.
Here we joined forces, Frank … so there is little I can tell you that you don’t already know. I do have a few dates noted so I will jot them down and see if they ring any bells:
[Dates are in 1945]
- February 23, Bombing by USAF
- March 2, Bombing by RAF
- March 24, US fighter planes overhead
- March 26, Group of ambulatory POWs moved out of camp to the East, away from approaching allied troops. Group included Marty Horwitz and William Griffin.
- March 30, Shelling
- April 1, Guards gone. We have taken over the camp
- April 2, Obermassfeld liberated
- April 4, German guards returned by order of local commander
- April 5, LIBERATED by 11th Armored
- April 10, Departed camp
The ambulance convoy out of Meiningen took us to Hanau (94th Medical), then 58th Field hospital (?) and then it was a C47 to Paris (48th General) on April 12th … then back to the U.S. on April 23rd.
Thank you to Paul Furiga, son of Frank Furiga, for sharing George Hawkins’ letters with me. More information about George Hawkins courtesy of Frank Furiga to come soon…
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022
George Hawkins’ Account of the Buslee-Brodie Mid-air Collision
George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. and Frank Dominic Furiga, both airmen of the 384th Bomb Group in World War II, met not at Grafton Underwood, the 384th Bomb Group’s airbase in the Midlands of England, but in a POW hospital after both were injured when bailing out of their respective aircraft during bombing missions to Germany.
The two men, George of the 545th Bomb Squadron and Frank of the 547th Bomb Squadron, became friends during their captivity and remained friends after the war.
George Hawkins was the navigator of the James Joseph Brodie crew and was involved in the crew’s mid-air collision with the Buslee crew’s B-17 on 28 September 1944. Frank Furiga, a bombardier-turned-navigator, was also on that mission and witnessed the collision.
George and Frank wrote letters back and forth to each other after the war and Frank urged George to write up his recollection of the collision. Frank kept George’s letters, and Frank’s son, Paul Furiga, discovered them in his father’s wartime mementos and shared them with me.
The following is what George Hawkins wrote in a letter to Frank Furiga, “an account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” some time after Christmas 1983.
September 28, 1944
Following ‘Bombs away’ and while making a shallow formation turn to starboard, our lead ship suddenly racked up into a tight right turn … so abrupt that my pilot(s) were forced to increase the bank of the turn and pull up over the lead ship to avoid a collision. Ship #3 (flying the lead ship’s left wing) increased its bank and, riding high in turn, probably went to ‘full throttle’ in an attempt to catch up to the lead ship. Unfortunately, we were also high, in a tight turn, and playing catch up.
Standing at my position, I watched as #3 came right down our flight path and we had impact … their pilot compartment coming right up into our ship’s belly. I’m sure they had the lead ship in sight but never saw us at all. We must have been just above the co-pilot’s view through his starboard window. As soon as I spotted them coming in I hit the mike button and yelled to Brodie and Vevle to pull up, but as I talked the nose cabin deck buckled up under me, and I was pinned to the starboard side of the ship just forward of the inboard engine. On impact, our togglier and the Plexiglas nose disappeared.
I fought to free myself but to no avail … the wreckage and the air pouring into the opening in the nose made any movement impossible. Shortly thereafter the ship fell off into a spin and we started down. I can only assume that my body weight increased due to the centrifugal force build up … and this coupled with the structural damage suffered by the nose section led to a rupture of the air frame … and I was sucked out of the ship and was able to make use of my chute. I landed at Erxleben, a small town northwest of Magdeburg.
One added note: I flew all my missions using a chest chute. I wore the harness and hung the chute pack on the fire wall near my station. A day or two prior to the Magdeburg flight I had myself fitted for a back pack … one that fitted so tightly and was very uncomfortable to wear during a long flight. Well, I had it on that day. I have never been able to remember why I made the change, but I will always be thankful that I did.
The next day I was reunited with Miller (tail gunner) and Liniger (waist gunner) and we were driven by truck to the German hospital in Magdeburg where I was dropped off. They then went on to a camp.
George Hawkins continued his story with information about his hospitalization and imprisonment until the end of the war, which I will report in my next post.
Thank you to Paul Furiga, son of Frank Furiga, for sharing George Hawkins’ letters with me.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022
American POW Camps for Axis Prisoners
In the spring and early summer of 1944, Harry Allen Liniger, with his newly awarded WWII silver gunner’s wings, participated in his final phase of training as an aerial gunner on an aerial combat team of a heavy bombardment unit at the 222nd Combat Crew Training Station, Ardmore Army Airfield, Ardmore, Oklahoma.
While Harry was in this final phase of his training before being shipped overseas for combat duty, his future wife, Carrie Belle Carter, was contributing to the war effort at home. During that time, Carrie lived with her brother, Benjamin Franklin Carter, and his wife in Newport News, Virginia.
In his later years, Benjamin Carter told Harry’s son, Harry Liniger, Jr., about his mother Carrie’s role during World War II, checking in German POW’s in Newport News. In an effort to learn more about Carrie’s work, an internet search of POW camps in the U.S., as well as those in Virginia, and Newport News specifically, turned up some interesting information.
My focus has always been on the Nazi’s POW camp, Stalag Luft IV, in which my father and Harry Jr.’s father were held, as well as other camps for allied prisoners of war of the Axis powers. I had not considered where the Allies held their prisoners of war, thinking that they would all have been housed in camps overseas.
However, I find there were a large number of camps here in the states. Author and researcher Kathy Kirkpatrick presents a comprehensive list of POW Camps in the USA and also a map of the camps on Gentracer.org.
Kathy’s color-coded map distinguishes between Base Camps, Branch Camps, Cemeteries, and Hospitals.
Kathy’s alphabetical list of Prisoner of War Camps, Italian Service Unit Camps, and Prisoner of War Hospitals is “based on weekly reports located on NARA microfilm #66-538 (population lists June 1942-June 1946). Additional locations based on newspapers, interviews, and other NARA records (at College Park and Regional Archives).”
According to Kathy Kirkpatrick’s information regarding POW camps in Virginia shared on Gentracer.org, there were eighteen base camps, twenty-two branch camps, and 3 internment locations in Virginia alone, including two POW camps in Norfolk (Allen Naval Operating Base and Norfolk Army Base), four in Newport News (Eustis – Fort Abraham, Eustis – Fort Eustis, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, and Camp Patrick Henry), and two in Virginia Beach (Camp Pendleton and Fort Story).
Not certain of where exactly Carrie Belle Carter performed her duties of checking in German POW’s in Newport News, I reviewed some internet resources for information. I found details about the prisoners and the camps and think I can get a clearer idea of Carrie’s responsibilities.
For starters, the Newport News High School Class of 1965 website has a page with a lengthy discussion about the Newport News WWII POW Camps. The page header notes,
- Camp Patrick Henry, the German POW Camp, morphed into Patrick Henry Field, now Newport News Williamsburg International Airport.
- Another German POW Camp was located at the continuation of the James River Bridge crossover from Virginia Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, below the bridge.
- More still were housed at Fort Eustis.
- The Italian POW camp was on the Old Casino Grounds which was on the hill behind the Victory Arch.
- Camp Hill, also used for the Italian POWs, was bounded to the south by the temporary wooden railroad overpass at 58th Street, the James River Bridge/Military Highway railroad overpass to the north, Jefferson Avenue to the east, and the railroad yards to the west.
Many former and long time Newport News residents recorded their memories, including seeing the barbed wire of the camps, and where the camps were located in the discussion.
Contributor Joe Madagan noted,
The German Army Prisoners of War were brought to the United States on ships like the USS West Point (AP-23), the converted SS America, on their return voyage from delivering troops to Europe. She had a special Marine Detachment equipped to guard the POWs, including the wounded and ill prisoners.
The German Prisoners of War were transported from the Port north on Roanoke Avenue past our house so I had a good reason to sit on the front porch and observe the troop movements along the avenue.
There was a hospital for the wounded and ill Prisoners of War at Camp Patrick Henry, and Italian and German soldiers were treated at that facility.
If my memory serves me, the Italian Army Prisoners of War were confined to the camp near the Port, which would have terminated near the 25th Street Bridge…
Contributor Bill Lee shared,
Between 9/16/42 and 5/13/45, 134,292 POWs (88% German – the rest Italian) were disembarked at the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (the Army’s name for the C&O piers). Most of them were sent to inland POW camps in the Southwest. But a fairly large number stayed in Hampton Roads and were put to work doing such things as KP, laundry and other chores. The first POW work camp in this country to be located at a port of embarkation was in Newport News.
Unseen, at one time, there were as many as 6,000 German POWs at Fort Eustis. Another 2,300 Germans (and 185 Italians) were a permanent part of the service workforce at Camp Patrick Henry.
After Italy switched sides in the war, more than a thousand Italian POWs, housed in Camp Hill – not to be confused with much larger Camp A. P. Hill, near Fredericksburg … were re-designated as ‘Italian Service Unit Personnel’ and employed in the port area. Hundreds more worked on farms in Warwick County, and in 46 businesses (not identified) on the Peninsula.
Camp Hill and associated military facilities were bounded to the south by the temporary wooden railroad overpass at 58th Street, the James River Bridge/Military Highway railroad overpass to the north, Jefferson Avenue to the east, and the railroad yards to the west. The most visible, to the public, of the prisoner enclosures was a barbed wire enclosed area on the north side. Although isolated from the rest of the military complex, anyone riding over the railroad overpass could literally look down into that encampment and ‘see the enemy’.
Camp Hill also included barracks for Military Police, a training facility for stevedore trainees and had a number of service-related facilities there, including a laundry … Some [of] his ’employees’ were Italian POWs. There was also a chapel, USO, theatre and gym at Camp Hill. Some of the Camp Hill structures remained in place and were put to local civilian use long after the war ended.
At the end of the war, there were still 4,100 Germans and 1,300 Italians on the Peninsula. Almost totally forgotten is the fact that a secret experiment took place at Fort Eustis in 1945/1946 to re-educate Nazi prisoners. The purpose of this was to create a core of cooperative and pro-American Germans to be repatriated and then help rebuild in the American zone of occupied Germany. In all, 20,000 POWs from all over the United States were processed through a six-day course at Fort Eustis before returning home!
Norm Covert added this information from the “Newport News WWII history book,”
A total of 134,293 German and Italian prisoners of war arrived via the Chesapeake and Ohio terminal.
The Port became the first to establish German prisoners of war work camps.
On June 13, 1945, 2,903 German prisoners and 1,419 members of the Italian Service Unit were engaged at the Port … Sept. 18, 1945, there were 4,077 German prisoners and 1,300 of the Italian Service Unit ….
Prisoners were quartered at Camp Patrick Henry and in the area adjacent to the overpass leading to the James River Bridge. Italian Service Units were quartered at Camp Patrick Henry and in barracks adjacent to the Chesapeake and Ohio piers.
It should be noted that Camp Patrick Henry included 1,700 acres activated Dec. 2, 1942. Nearly 750,000 men and women passed through the camp during 1943-1944.
As of Jan. 31, 1946, a total of 1,412,107 persons passed in and out of the camp.
Dale Parsons noted,
The Italian POW camp was on the Old Casino Grounds which was on the hill behind the Old Victory Arch. There was a movie theater built for the army (which later became The Jewish Community Center), and beside it was a gymnasium for army personal as quite a lot of troops were assigned to the port area. AA guns mounted on the roof of the Warwick Hotel, guards with dogs patrolling all the piers and the rail road storage area which contained ammunition, vehicles, food, etc. for the war. The Italian Camp was an open camp; they were allowed to roam in the Casino Ground area and lived in tents. This area was called the Hill. I remember talking to the prisoners as they had books to try to translate with me.
The German POW Camp was located at the continuation of the James River Bridge crossover from Virginia Avenue to Jefferson Avenue. It was located below the bridge. It had barbed wire above the fence, and had barracks with towers at each corner, and spotlights with armed guards manning each one. You could see the prisoners walking around the fenced in area.
The 58th Street overpass from Virginia Avenue to 58th Street was built for two reasons – to give the army better access to the HRPE Laundry, and for the new homes at Betsy Lee Gardens and new homes that had been built on Briarfield Road and Copeland and Newsome Park.
Camp Patrick Henry was a distribution point for the HRPE holding troops until ships were available to load them and equipment.
Fred Field added information “About Our Wartime Guests,”
I have been reading in recent issues the many recollections about Prisoner of War Camps on the Peninsula. I only remember the one near the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Military Highway. My family were lunch guests at that camp one Sunday in late 1943.
During the war local residents were asked to rent rooms for local Army officers. As a result we had two officers living with us for about two years during the war. One officer was stationed at the Jefferson Avenue prison camp. We were pleased about the lunch invitation, although the destination was kept secret from my brother and me until we arrived at the camp.
Our lunch was with the Camp’s several U.S. Army officers. We were served by Germans who spoke English surprisingly well. The food was wonderful and we were told that the prisoners did all the cooking.
After lunch we were taken on a brief tour. Although the camp facilities were very basic, many improvements had been designed and added by the prisoners. I was very impressed by the theater which had been extensively upgraded from a simple meeting hall. Our German guide for the theater identified himself as an electrician in civilian life. He proudly showed us the light dimmer arrangement he had made out of simple materials.
In my 1943 summer job as messenger for the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, I did see German prisoners disembarking from a ship and being assembled on the pier in preparation for loading on busses. They were all from the Afrika Korps and appeared tan and healthy.
After Italy’s capitulation, Italian prisoners were somewhat emancipated. They were given more freedom of movement and were assigned jobs around the Army bases. They soon earned recognition as wonderful cooks and there was much talk about the great improvement in Army food. I remember some soldiers at the message center saying that the Italians were doing all the mess hall work and the regular Army cooks were trying to look busy to avoid being declared surplus and shipped overseas.
Fred Field was not the only American to notice the appearance of the German prisoners. Carrie Belle Carter, who, according to her son, did not talk much about the German POW’s, described them as “tall, lean, blonde, and pleasant to look at.”
In addition to the Newport News POW Camps discussion page, an online article, “HAMPTON ROADS HISTORY – World War II POWs poured through Hampton Roads,” shed some light on this aspect of our World War II history.
The article explains why so many German and Italian prisoners of war were sent here to the States and explains the procedures followed for processing the prisoners once they arrived on our shores.
In August 1942, some 273,000 captured German and Italian soldiers overwhelmed Great Britain’s North Africa holding pens. The United States was urged to take as many as 150,000 prisoners on one to three months notice.
First the U.S. government sent many of the POW’s to compounds in Canada, and then to camps in isolated areas of the Southwestern United States. But within a month of the Allies’ agreement, Hampton Roads, as the U.S. Army’s Port of Embarkation for North Africa and the Mediterranean, processed its first group of German POW’s.
In the article, author Mark St. John Erickson noted that “Wehrmacht soldiers” … “guarded by MPs wielding submachine guns, … filled out paperwork aboard the transport ships with the aid of port interpreters, then filed down the gangways to be searched and questioned at stations set up inside the warehouses on the piers.”
I believe this is how Carrie Belle Carter contributed to the war effort in Newport News, by being a part of the continual processing of arriving German prisoners. I think it is likely that her work involved checking in the German POW’s at one of these stations in the warehouses set up on the piers.
How do you think Carrie and other Americans felt about, as discussion page contributor Bill Lee noted, seeing “the enemy” among them on a daily basis? And would it be more difficult for Carrie to continue her work after her future husband, Harry Allen Liniger, went missing on a heavy bomber mission over Germany, and she eventually learned he was a prisoner of war?
Thank you to Harry Liniger, Jr., son of Harry Allen Liniger and Carrie Belle Carter Liniger, for sharing his family stories from WWII
Author and researcher Kathy Kirkpatrick and her POW publications
POW Camps in the USA courtesy of Kathy Kirkpatrick and GenTracer
POW Camps Map courtesy of Kathy Kirkpatrick and GenTracer
POW Camps in Virginia courtesy of Kathy Kirkpatrick and GenTracer
The Newport News WWII POW Camps courtesy of the Newport News High School Class of 1965
Article “HAMPTON ROADS HISTORY – World War II POWs poured through Hampton Roads” by author Mark St. John Erickson
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022
Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 4
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 is the last part of my Harry Allen Liniger, Update article and will cover Harry’s return home, release from military service, and post WWII life.
For a recap of the story of the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision between the Buslee crew and Brodie crew B-17’s in which Harry Liniger was one of only four survivors, read 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey’s account here.
On 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered to the western Allies at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Reims, France. German Chief-of-Staff, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, to take effect the following day.
On 8 May 1945, V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe.
Harry Allen Liniger’s Return Home from World War II Military Service
According to Harry’s Honorable Discharge and Separation Record, he departed the European Theater on 27 May 1945, destination US, and arrived back on U.S. soil on 9 June 1945.
Harry’s POW Story in his Own Words
Shortly after his arrival home, the Gates County [North Carolina] Index newspaper interviewed Harry about his POW experience and published the following article in the 13 June 1945 edition of the paper.
Liniger Home; Lost 60 Pounds As War Prisoner in Germany
Gatesville. – Having gained back the 60 pounds he lost as a German prisoner of war, Sgt. Harry Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger of Gatesville, is back in town on a 60-day recuperation furlough. At the expiration of his furlough he will report to Miami for further assignment.
Sgt. Liniger, waist gunner aboard a Flying Fortress, parachuted to earth in Germany last September when his Fortress was in [a] collision with another Fortress which had been riddled by anti-aircraft fire. Of the 20 men aboard the two Fortresses, only Harry and three others survived.
The navigator [Brodie crew airman George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.] suffered fractures of both legs, but more than ten days elapsed before he could get medical attention. Harry suffered a back injury and various cuts and bruises. He was in jail within four hours after landing, he said.
He would not have escaped from the crippled plane had it not exploded, the sergeant added. The blast blew him out of the turret and he retained consciousness long enough to open his parachute.
He landed without shoes, was given one issue of clothing which he wore for the next several months and subsided on three potatoes a day and half a loaf of bread per week supplemented by occasional Red Cross supplies. Diseases, dysentery and marching during the evacuation when Russia started its drive, took its toll of American prisoners, Harry said.
While they were marched in an effort to keep out of reach of Russian liberators, 500 or more would go to sleep in a barn and leave 50 or 60 who could not go on the next morning. The Germans said the disabled men would be hospitalized. Harry could not say whether they were or not.
Harry weighed only 98 pounds when he again reached Allied military control. He regained his normal weight within 30 days at a French rest camp.
Harry and thousands of others escaped when the collapse of Nazi Germany appeared eminent, but he was in a group recaptured by German troops who were scheduled to surrender the following day. But on the following day, the regiment got orders to continue fighting at the Elbe River.
At one time, the American escapees were within sound of front line gun fire but German machine guns drove them back to cover.
As prisoners, the men were permitted to write a letter a month. He did not receive a letter during the whole time he was imprisoned, and Red Cross supplies did not come through with regularity, he said.
Harry holds the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Good Conduct Ribbon, American theatre of operations Ribbon, and the European theatre of operations ribbon with four campaign stars, representing the Air War, the battles of Norway and Southern France and the battle of Germany.
Article courtesy of the Gates County Index newspaper online archives and contributed by the Albemarle Regional Library System, Gates County Public Library
This newspaper article was a great find. It confirms many things I have believed to be true and many things I can conclude about my own father’s POW experience that I have only assumed. My father, George Edwin Farrar, who was one of the other three survivors Harry mentions, was held in the same POW camp and forced on the same march. Dad likely was fed the same diet and suffered a similar loss of weight.
However, I don’t believe Dad was part of the group of American escapees Harry mentions. I would like to learn more about Harry’s escape and recapture experience, though. I imagine I can find similar stories from other Stalag Luft IV prisoners in some of their books and diaries. As often happens in my research, one find triggers a new search, and I’ll keep looking.
Just a couple of minor corrections to the article:
- Eighteen men were aboard the two fortresses, not twenty
- Harry was in the waist of the plane, not one of the turrets
One thing I must comment on, though, is regarding Harry’s mention that he did not receive a letter during his imprisonment. Don’t think his parents, sister, or future wife didn’t write to him. I am quite certain they wrote as soon as they received an address for him. They wouldn’t have learned he was a prisoner of war, or where he was held captive, or obtain an address to write to him until late December 1944.
Under normal circumstances, letters between families and prisoners took months to deliver. But Harry was marched out of the POW camp on February 6, 1945. Letters were probably on their way to him, but never made it into his hands. By the time a letter would have arrived at Stalag Luft IV, Harry was no longer held there. And mail certainly wasn’t delivered to the prisoners on the road during their 500-mile 86-day long march.
Seven weeks after returning home, Harry married his sweetheart, Carrie Bell Carter. The Gates County Index newspaper published an article upon the news of their marriage.
On 1 August 1945, Dillon, South Carolina: “Mr. and Mrs. L.S. Carter of Gatesville, N.C. announce the marriage of their daughter, Carrie Belle, to Staff Sergeant Harry A. Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger, also of Gatesville. The wedding took place in Dillon on July 26. … They will leave Gatesville on August 11 for Miami Beach when Sgt. Liniger is scheduled to report for duty.”
Just days before Harry and Carrie were to leave for Miami, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan, on Hiroshima on 6 August and on Nagasaki on 9 August. On 14 August, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender. Surrender documents would not be signed until 2 September. Some consider the 14 August 1945 date to be V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, but others consider 2 September 1945, when the surrender document was signed, to be V-J Day.
According to the 1 August newspaper article, Harry Liniger left home on 11 August. He and his new wife Carrie traveled to Miami Beach for his reassignment processing. Their son, Harry Jr., shared this photo with me.
I am uncertain of their arrival date in Miami, but the Gates County Index published another article reporting Harry’s arrival.
On 22 August 1945, Miami Beach, Florida: “S/Sgt. Harry A. Liniger, 21, of Gatesville, N.C. has arrived at Army Air Forces Redistribution Station No. 2 in Miami Beach for reassignment processing after completing a tour of duty outside the continental United States. During his processing, he is housed in an ocean-front hotel and enjoys abundant facilities for rest and recreation in this year-round beneficial climate.”
Release from Military Service
With the war with Germany and Japan over, I am not sure how long Harry and Carrie remained in Miami, but according to his separation document, Harry Liniger was honorably discharged from military service on 31 October 1945 (his Date of Separation) at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina.
Some of the notable information on Harry’s Honorable Discharge includes:
- His Military Occupational Specialty and No. as Airplane Armorer Gunner 612.
- His Military Qualification as AAF Air Crew Member Badge (Wings)
- His Battles and Campaigns as Southern France, Normandy, Northern France, and Rhineland
- His Decorations and Citations as European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars, 1 Overseas Service Bar, Good Conduct Medal, and Air Medal. (Not listed on his Honorable Discharge are his Purple Heart, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, and Prisoner of War Medal).
- His Total Length of Continental Service was 1 year, 7 months, and 22 days.
- His Total Length of Foreign Service was 11 months and 9 days.
- For his Service outside the Continental U.S., he departed the U.S. on 1 July 1944, Destination European Theater, arriving 5 July 1944. He departed the European Theater on 27 May 1945, Destination US, arriving 9 June 1945.
- He attended Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois, and Gunnery School at Harlingen, Texas.
Post-World War II Life
On his Honorable Discharge/Separation document, I found another piece of interesting information. Harry’s permanent address for mailing purposes was listed as Box 251 Gatesville, NC, but handwritten beside that was the address “Municipal Trailer Park Ocala, Fla.”
Harry’s parents, Paul and Estella Liniger, lived for a time in Ocala and Harry and Carrie spent time there with them, enough so that Harry included the address on his Honorable Discharge/Separation document.
I have been living in Ocala for the past ten years and was curious if the trailer park still existed and where it is/was located.
I found that the Ocala Municipal Trailer Park no longer exists, but that it was formerly located at 517 Northeast 9th Street, Ocala, FL, directly north of Ocala’s Tuscawilla Park, near where one of the city’s premier entertainment venues, the Reilly Arts Center, is located today.
The trailer park opened in 1937 to house WPA (Works Progress Administration) workers. The WPA was an American New Deal agency that employed millions of jobseekers to carry out public works projects. The trailer park was also reported to be intended for visitors to the area who were expected to stay on a short-term basis, but became very popular with longer-term visitors and residents.
Closing and eventually demolishing the park stretched over a three-year period beginning in 2007, displacing the ninety people who lived there.
The property is currently divided into two uses: one, a parking lot for The Reilly Arts Center, and two, the home of the Ocala Skate Park (for skateboarding, in-line skating, and freestyle bicycling).
I had never been aware that the parking lot where my husband and I park when we attend shows at the Reilly are at the very spot where Harry and Carrie Liniger stayed with his parents after World War II.
While in Ocala, Harry worked at an alligator farm. The name of the gator farm is unknown, but perhaps Harry worked for Ross Allen, the noted herpetologist, at the Ross Allen Reptile Institute on land near the head of Silver Springs. The reptile institute attracted thousands of tourists to Silver Springs for many decades.
Harry and Carrie’s son, Harry Liniger, Jr., visited his grandparents in Ocala when he was twelve years old. He said, “When I was 12 years old my mother put me on a train by myself to visit my grandparents in Ocala. They took me to Silver Springs for a visit. It may have been special to them. They lived in a trailer park and I remember playing shuffleboard every day.”
Post-World War II
Harry and Carrie Liniger later moved to Portsmouth, Virginia and in 1946, Harry and Carrie were blessed with a son, Harry Jr.
Still in the early years of his marriage, and when Harry Jr. was only fourteen months old, Harry Liniger died in an accident in Portsmouth on 8 October 1947 at the age of 23.
He is buried in the Powells Point Christian Church Cemetery in Harbinger, Currituck County, North Carolina, along with his parents and sister.
Carrie passed away October 5, 2011, and is buried in the Carter family plot in Gatesville, NC, less than 100 yards from the house in which she was born.
Thank you to Harry Liniger, Jr. for sharing these stories from his family history.
Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1
Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2
Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 3
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
MOS means Military Occupational Specialty
Previous post, Assigned Military Occupational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews
Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron
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
Harry Allen Liniger on Find a Grave
Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers
13 June 1945 edition of the Gates County [North Carolina] Index newspaper
Several articles in the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper covered the trailer park over several years:
- 12 December 2005 – City’s choice, Officials to decide whether to repair or close park
- 25 October 2006 – City weighs pros, cons of saving auditorium
- 27 September 2011 – Ocala wants ideas on redesigning Tuscawilla Park
- 30 January 2015 – City’s transient trailer park called ‘one of the best’
Excluding the Gates County Index newspaper article, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022