News From Camp Lucky Strike
"Im Going To Give You A Concise
Summary of What Happened To Me"
By Paul Krup, Radio Operator,
McAfee Crew, 600th Squadron
May 21, 1945. Im in a little camp on the west coast of France called, Camp Lucky Strike. I have a nice, 60-day furlough coming to me as soon as I am shipped back to the States. This camp is about 42 miles from the port of LeHarve. I have been here going on 11 days, and I have been unfortunate to be in the wrong block. It seems that some of the fellows have been getting out of here in less than four days. Hopefully, I should be processed and on a ship in three or four days. Censoring has been lifted, so Im going to give you a concise summary of what happened to me the last two months.
On April 10, we were setting out on our 16th mission. Phil Krieg, our co-pilot, flew with another crew and their co-pilot, Donald Jones, flew with us. It was his first and last mission.
Our target that day was the SS Barracks in Oranienberg, near Berlin. The Russians were moving towards Berlin and they wanted this place taken out. We were on the bomb run when a German jet called ME-262 attacked us. His cannon shells hit us in the left waist, opening a hole big enough to drive a truck through. Felix Tichenor got his left leg and arm shot off by the exploding projectiles. The oxygen and electrical systems were both shot out. We were at 25,000 feet when our togglier, Frank Lewis, unloaded our bombs. I made my way to the cockpit to tell our pilot, Jim McAfee, what happened in the waist. I tried to arrange an emergency intercom, but it didnt work, so I started back to the radio room.
While still on the catwalk in the bomb bay we were hit again. No. 3 engine was on fire and flames were pouring into the bomb bay. When I got into the radio room there was another explosion and the ship went into a dive. The walls caved in and the floor gave way and I was underneath it all. I thought, this is it and started to pray. I couldnt move. Not at all. Then all of a sudden the plane leveled off and I got up and found my chute. I ripped off my flak suit and put the chute on.
It was then I noticed Haskell Boyes, our ball turret gunner, diving out of the waist door. He and Robert Engard, the spot jammer, apparently had tried giving Tichenor first aid before jumping themselves.
I looked for Tishs chute, but apparently it had been blown out of the ship at the first hit. I then went out the waist door, and none too soon. In just a few seconds the plane exploded. I look around and saw four other chutes. These would have belonged to Engard, Boyes, Lewis and Max Paxton, tail gunner. I believe Paxton was killed on the ground. McAfee, Jones, Tichenor and engineer Art Roit never got out before the plane blew up.
I landed in a tree, in a stumpy clearing that once was woods. I climbed up the tree, unbuckled my chute and slid to the ground. I crawled on the ground to some marsh grass and lay there for a few minutes before heading deeper into the swamp. I could hear voices and see civilians and soldiers with guns all around. One guy almost stepped on me, but didnt see me. I then crawled to a brook and followed it to a bridge over a road. On the other side of the bridge I ran into a German lieutenant from the Wehrmacht. He asked me if I was armed. I shook my head and said, no.
Then a lot of angry civilians came at me, but this lieutenant chased them away. He took me to a first-aid station where my face was bandaged. The left side of my face, forehead, nose, lips and eyebrows were burned and I had a nosebleed. I looked pretty messy but the burns were only second degree and some of the blisters were broken. Anyway, they are all healed now and my eyelashes are growing in again. I have a skin discoloration over my left eye, which will soon go away.
At the aid station I ran across Boyes. His left arm was blown off above the elbow. I found out from a kid who was evacuated from the hospital in Berlin to our Stalag (PW Camp) that Boyes couldnt be moved because he was too weak from loss of blood.
I was taken to a German airfield at Finow. I was there for three days and taken to Staaken, an airfield in the suburbs of Berlin. We stayed there for a few days and then taken to a PW camp at Luckenwalde. This is where I saw our first American prisoners. The Russian Army came on April 22 and the camp was liberated.
After five days I took off from camp with five other guys; two fighter pilots, two fellows who had been prisoners for 27 months and Lewis, our togglier. I acted as interpreter as we walked, hitchhiked and ate with the Russians for the next two days. We crossed the bridge at the Elbe River at Wittenberg and were on our way towards the American lines when a Russian boy on a bike told us that an American mechanized scouting patrol had entered the last village. We hotfooted back to the village and joined up with them. They gave us guns and ammunition. Soon we had captured over 100 German soldiers. They surrendered without a fight.
Finally, we ended up in Halle, home of Goerings famous air school. From there we went to Merseburg by truck and then we were flown here to Camp Lucky Strike. They are six days late in processing us. Normal Army SNAFU, I guess. However, its the best and most efficient army over here and none can compare with it. We are getting good food, like fresh eggs, chicken and steak. We are on a hospital diet plus 10% extra food while here.
Printed in Flak News Volume 10, Number 4, Page(s) 8, October 1995