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 Operational 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