Well I never knew it but but My beloved Uncle Dick (shaddup!) had a very storied past. Im working on my house with my dad all week long and we were talking about him. He is my fathers uncle and he asked me if I knew what had happened to him in WWII. Well lo and behold, he was part of a B-24 crew that was shot down somewhere over Russia and he walked back!!! Details are few and far between and everyone from that generation has passed on. My fathers isnt 100% sure but he says he believed him based on the man and his desire to not talk about it much. Do you guys know (other than google of course) any good sources to maybe find some info? Here is what we know. Richard (Dick) Humphrey born in Maine. Lived in Warrington PA and Richboro PA. We dont even know his role on the plane! I know this isnt much to go on but Id love to find out more.
You should be able to go to veteran's affairs or such and have them pull his service records.
Hey Stylie, Good luck with your efforts, I suggest here to start: eVetRecs: Request Copies of Veterans Military Personnel Records I much prefer the Canadian online system which is much more up to date and less restrictive but at least you have some research options at hand. Once you have a copy of his service records, try to find a copy of his official unit history. I am not familiar firsthand with the American effort but most Canadian and British regiments, battalions, etc. wrote their own individual histories after the war. (some are online, most are not but you can sometimes strike it lucky with either online booksellers, or try the Library of Congress, related archives, or the respective service museum, which in his case would be whomever records the US Army Air Force particpation in WW2) It is going to be tough for you to find much information about him, so you should relish anything that you do learn of your Great-uncles service.
Was he 8th AF (in England), or 15th (in Italy)? I don't think any of the 8th AF planes could make it to Russia - it was just too far. I've forgotten the route taken to fly American aircraft in to Russia (the ones that weren't sent by ship that is), but I think they came from Italy across the Balkans.
There were a good handful of cases where American bombers couldn't make it back to their bases (or the crew had simply had enough of the war) and so touched down in Switzerland or Sweden. In accordance with treaty requirements (I assume Geneva Convention) had to be interned for the rest of the war. This wasn't as fantastic a deal as it might seem, particularly if the planes came down in Switzerland. Switzerland, which was neutral in name only and was a very active trading and banking partner of the Third Reich throughout the war, treated the American air crews as little more than criminals. In several cases young American crewmen were actually put in Swiss prisons with the very worst dregs (where they underwent all kinds of physical and emotional abuse, including constant homosexual rape).
There were a few instances of US bombers landing in Russia, and even though the Russians were supposed to be allies, it was not a pleasant experience. Seems the Russians assumed it was a spy deal, and they refused to repatriate the flyers. The walking out of Russia thing strikes a faint chord. What did your uncle do (pilot, waist gunner, etc.)?
The story is probably 50 years old so Im sure it has changed, Belgiam was mentioned too. But with that maybe I can narrow it down. All I need to do id find his name serving on a plane somewhere and see if I can dig a little deeper.
I guess no pictures of his plane with unit identifiers or that kind of thing?
No Im not sure I have any pictures of any kind :(.
The USAAF also flew B-24's from Alaska to bomb northern Japan. planes that were damaged sometimes diverted to eastern Soviet Union rather than be captured by Japanese. Pilots shot down were interred til end of war but seem to have been treated well and fed well.