101st POW's killed by friendly fire on way to Stalag 221?

WWIIBuff
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Joined: 11 Dec 2007, 13:49

16 Jan 2008, 06:17 #1

Does anyone have information on a friendly fire incident that happened in Normany to some 101st & 82nd airborne POW's who were marching on their way to Frontstalag 221 at St. Medard, France?
I've been contacted by someone trying to help one of the killed POW's family gather details. The incident sounds familiar to me, but I cannot recall the details or where I may have read about it.
ThanksJohn Klein
www.ww2airborne.com
John Klein
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Airchallenged
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Joined: 18 Dec 2007, 11:46

16 Jan 2008, 06:48 #2

John,
I know the train that Joe, Bernie, and James Sheeran were in was strafed by allied pilots at some point. I think it was after Bernie and James escaped.
And the soldier says to St. Peter, "One more soldier reporting in, I've already done my time in hell."




-Unknown Soldier, Omaha Beach
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doug wilber
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Joined: 29 Dec 2007, 19:50

16 Jan 2008, 12:40 #3

I went to a reunion of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion (WWII) in Frankenmuth, Michigan in 2006. Of the seven vets to attend, three were former POWs including two, Wally Karrenberg and Skip Smith who were captured on D-Day when their stick landed directly on a German position. Both told of being strafed by Allied planes which caused great delays in the transportation to Germany. In one case Wally talked about being attacked by Allied fighter bombers in which he stopped the aerial assualt after he waved a Red Cross flag causing the planes to break off their attack. I soon realized that being held captive had the large factor of being killed or wounded by your own friendly air forces. I also remember my late Dad, also a member of the 326th, telling me about 101st soldiers being captured and having to endure these strafing runs. I guess there is nothing worse than being attacked with great effect by your own people.
doug wilber
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M Bando
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Joined: 12 Oct 2007, 23:34

16 Jan 2008, 16:39 #4

Frontstalag 221 at Rennes, France was intended only for PWs who were wounded too badly to be taken all the way into Germany. But all of the prisoners named in the postings above did not fall into that category.
Sure it was common for ALL POWs to experience strafing from Allied aircraft while enroute to German Stalags. Their trains took healthy POWs to Limburg along a different axis of approach, after leaving Starvation Hill near Tessy and passing near Alencon, enroute to Stalag XII-A at Limburg.

Since most all of the prisoners (except medics like Johnny Gibson of 3/506th who did end up at 221)
going to 221 were hurt too badly to 'march', they mostly RODE on German vehicles, because Rennes is a long walk from Carentan-even for a healthy prisoner.
Bob Sechrist a 501st Pathfinder did ride to Rennes and even then, it took several days to get there. His column moved in darkness and hid under trees in daylight.
If they did get strafed, he did not tell me about it.
221 was situated in the Jean Mace girls' school in Rennes and I went back there with Mr. Sechrist in 2004.
It is probable that other columns of vehicles dropped-off POWs at Rennes between Bob's arrival and 4 August 1944, when Patton's Army liberated the place. Possibly some of those columns did get strafed enroute.
Gibson was pressed into service as a medic for the German Army after his capture on D-day. He receeded south with them as German 7th Army retreated and was detached from them near Mortain a week before the Luttich counter-offensive there. He arrived at 221 to assist as a medic there only a few days before Patton arrived.
I introduced Gibson to Bob S. about 5 years ago and although they are friends, they did not have sufficient time to meet at 221. Major Phil Gage, XO of 1/501 PIR was the ranking Allied officer at 221 and he lost his hand in the fighting near St Georges de Bohon on D-day morning. I last saw Mr Gage at the 2006 501st reunion, at which time he was 96 years old and still getting around.
Mrs Gage was a member of the OSS in Europe and she showed me her OSS ID card, which bears a color photo of Wild Bill Donovan.
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gennaker
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Joined: 24 Dec 2007, 06:08

16 Jan 2008, 18:01 #5

Bob Bearden, H/507 tells of similar straffing experiences by allied fighters on the way to Alenon as a Krieges. He was also put to work to fix the damages done by allied bombers. His stories about how they tricked the german guards in slowing down by any means these repairs works are funy as hell..

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DaveInMaine
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Joined: 17 Jan 2008, 01:41

16 Jan 2008, 18:41 #6

Stories like this haunted my father to his dying day. He was a P-47 pilot and always told me how much fun it was to shoot up a train or convoy.
In later years, when he realized that he may very well have been shooting up trains or convoys of POWs, he became very bitter about his wartime experiences.
FWIW, he was stationed at Mourmelon with the 101st, and traded a lot of whiskey and cigarettes to paratroopers for captured rifles and pistols. His plane was badly shot up outside Bastogne, and he had to belly land it back at base.
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WWIIBuff
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Joined: 11 Dec 2007, 13:49

16 Jan 2008, 18:56 #7

Thanks for all the information guys. Great details Mark, thanks.
My son and I just spent last weekend at Johnny Gbson's house in Arizona. We naturally spoke a lot about his experiences, but I did not know the girls school he was imprisioned at was Frontstalag 221. I guess this post will help me out in more ways than I thought.John Klein
www.ww2airborne.com
John Klein
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turnie307
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Joined: 19 Jan 2008, 01:26

18 Jan 2008, 18:38 #8

On June 6th/7th just near Le Mesnil-Vigot a convoy of 101st and 82nd POW's was shot up by allied planes killing 18 troopers and wounding several more. A Co-pilot from a C-47 that towed 101st Glider troops was killed also. The plane strafed the convoy for 20 minutes dispite red cross flags being put out.
Of interest to for people on this site is that the senior officer present in the convoy was LtCol Hoskot of the 101st who stayed behind with the wounded while the others were marched off towards StLo
Hope that's of some use to you.
Peter.
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