Phil Jones WWII Recollections
by Philip H. Jones
Tail Gunner, Rohrer Crew – 600th Squadron
1ST PILOT--------------------1ST LT. R.L. ROHRER
CO-PILOT--------------------2ND LT. A. SISTEK
NAVIGATOR-----------------2ND LT. H.B. KRAMER
BOMBARDIER---------------2ND LT. C. FRANKS
ENGINEER-------------------SGT. D. CHISNELL
RADIO OP--------------------SGT. H. COOPER
ASST ENG--------------------SGT. R. GREEN
WAIST GUNNER------------SGT. _. MONTGOMERY
BALL TURRET--------------SGT. F. HENNING
TAIL GUNNER--------------SGT. P. JONES
SUB KEY---------------------2D LT. T. CANTRELL
Getting Into the War
I was in High School. Home was just outside Latrobe, PA. On December 7th  I was outside my home playing with my twin brother throwing football. My mother told me about Pearl Harbor being bombed. My twin brother Charles and I, after graduating High School in 1942, passed a test for enlisting in the Army Air Corp. Age 18.
Our parents approved our serving in the military. We felt excited about going on a new adventure.
We were inducted in Pittsburgh and then boarded a train for Miami Beach. Basic Training was Physical Ed, marching and KP. Was at Miami for about 5 weeks. I was sent to Springfield, Ohio to attend CDT [Cadet?] training at Wittenberg College. My brother Charles was sent to Gainesville, Fla – University of Florida. We both spent about four months attending college classes, PT [Physical Training] and marching. Food was great, housing fair and instruction excellent.
Left Boston on U.S.S. Wakefield, my twin brother was with me. England was wet and damp. The food at base was fair.
My first mission was a target in France in May 1944… air field? I flew in 10 missions. The first 5 missions were not too stressful.
The 7, 8, 9 and 10th missions were not without their fears of the outcomes. Since we were assigned to a Pathfinder Bomber we flew Lead Plane of the Wing, or Deputy Lead.
On our 10th mission over Berlin, June 21, we were the Lead. No. 3 engine was hit by flak burst and pilot Rip Rohrer could not feather the prop. He rang the bailout buzzer, a signal to ready for bailout. He rang it again. I bailed over center of Berlin, was captured immediately. I was a POW in Stalag Luft IV from July 1st, 1944 to Feb. 6, 1945.
On Feb. 6th, 1945 we were marched out of camp westward for 2-1/2 months. On April 18th was liberated by a British Armored Division in a small country village. Sent to British hospital in Brussels and then transferred to a U.S. hospital in Great Britain. Flown back to U.S. on May 30th to hospital near Pittsburgh.
I never got to the Woodman Pub. Frank Henning and I went to London and stayed overnight. We had some drinks at a bar and then went to a movie theater. Next morning we boarded a train for the base.
I received the Air Medal, European Combat Medal and of course the P.O.W. Medal.
My biggest fear was being hit by flak and then this plane explodes with no survivors.
My biggest accomplishment was surviving the prison camp and the march across Germany to the west.
I was proud of my service to my Country and to my fellow crew members
[Heard the news] … Over the radio. I felt it had to be done. Japan would resist the invasion of their homeland.
I was on a furlough, due to my service overseas, and at a local bar when someone yelled out Japan has surrendered.
On V.E. Day I was in the American Hospital in Great Britain.
I returned home by train out of Pittsburgh to Latrobe, PA. Got off the train and went to the hotel… Loyal Hotel and had a beer and then proceeded to walk to Lloydville. A friend gave me a ride to my home. I surprised my Father and Mother.
I used the G.I. Bill after I was married and a father of three children. I graduated from St. Vincent's College located near Latrobe in 1953.
My best friend on our crew was the ball turret gunner Frank Henning whose home was in Pittsburgh, only 40 miles from Latrobe.
My twin brother Charles went to a reunion of the 398th in San Antonio in 1988.
The people of yesterday - and I mean after the war, and the present should always pay honor to those who sacrificed their lives for future generations.
- Lt. Harvey B. Kramer's Diary
- Philip Jones, 398th Tail Gunner - 600th Squadron Video Interview (58m 11s)
Personal History Information
- Veteran: Philip H. Jones
- Position: Tail Gunner
- Squadron: 600th
- Date of Personal History: Unknown
- Author: Philip H. Jones
- Transcription by: Lee Anne Bradley, 398th Group Historian
- Submitted to 398th Web Pages by: Lee Anne Bradley, 398th Group Historian