Alvin G. Millspaugh
It was Nov. 6, 1944 on a milk run over Sarajevo,
Yugoslavia when the fun really started for the young Alvin. Our flight
leader ( I can't remember his name) took us over the target 3 times before
"Bombs away". After each run over the target those funny little black
puffs of smoke got closer and closer. The third time was the charm.
That's when one of Adolph's sharp shooters got one more for the Fuhrer.
Number 3 engine got hit and started burning. Radio's out, intercom
out, and we could not feather the engine. Number 4 engine started
running rough so we figured that it had also been hit. With the
aircraft on fire, the decision was made to get out. This was my first
sky diving experience, and I might add my last... All the Army ever
taught me about the parachute was to putt the "D-ring" and hope for the
best. It worked. That beautiful while canopy blossomed forth
like a white California daffodil. I must admit sky diving can be fun but I
never was taught how to hit the ground. With the wind blowing like
hell I flew out from under the parachute and hit head first on a rock.
The Army always said "use your head" and I did!
Shortly after, a German Captain in
a Volkswagen Jeep drove up and said, "For you the war is over". He got
no argument from me as he and his men had those ugly looking machine
pistols. Nine of us made it. Our tail gunner was killed. I
was taken to a German field hospital and was patched up. The German
doctor must have felt sorry for me as he let me spend the night in the
hospital. That was the last time I slept in a bed until we got to our
P.O.W. camp. Would you believe many years later I received the purple
heart for that bump on my head?
This was the beginning of phase one
of my travels into the Heartland of scenic Europe. I was soon to find
out there were a lot more interesting phases about to take place. Any
my mama never told me there would be times like this.. As we had bailed out
near the town of Mostar, the Germans interned us in the local jail house.
Four walls and a dirt floor. This was it. This was a learning
experience for us...how to survive in this "Arctic cold" climate. IT
was a little hard to stay warm.
The days were a little on the dull
side, but the activity picked up at night. Lots of "fireworks".
We never figured out who won the shoot-outs, the Partisans or the Germans.
We were in those comfortable quarters for about two weeks.
From Mostar to our P.O.W. camp we
really had a "ball". The scenic mountains of Yugoslavia and Austria
covered with beautiful white snow, brisk clear cold air filling our lungs.
The wonderful transportation of the manicured box cars all "cozy" and warm.
There were nine of us to a car. Truly the Germans thought of our
comfort and well being. Riding atop the open air flat cars one could
really observe the beauty of the mountains and valleys.
Our next stop after Mostar was
Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. We were put up on the second floor of a warehouse next
to the marshalling yards. The same marshalling wards we had bombed a
couple of weeks before. The timing was perfect. Our friends of the
15th Air Force paid us a visit to help us on our way. They gave us one
hell of a send-off by dropping a big bunch of 500 pounders. That
bombardier had some good training somewhere. Not one of those "eggs"
came near our "penthouse", but he sure bent up a lot of railroad tracks.
If I knew who he was I would have given him my P.O.W. medal.
After Sarajevo came Vienna,
Austria. On this trip we rode in "air conditioned" flat cars. Fun was
had by all including the Germans! Rain, snow, wind, ice.... you name
it... we had it. The partisans helped us along the way by taking pot
shots at us. I do not know where they learned how to shoot, but no one
was hit....and they did scare the hell out of me! When we got to
Vienna, the Germans found a comfortable box car to spend the night in.
I do not remember how long we stayed there but I do remember we went through
one big air raid and wouldn't you know it was the marshalling yards.
And as for our protection while sitting in the marshalling yards in Vienna
and later in Frankfurt we were allowed to stay in the "bomb-proof" box cars.
Then came the streets of Vienna.
Our guards marched us from one marshalling yard to another. Via --the center
of town. You would be surprised at the number of unfriendly people in
Vienna, who wanted to work us over just because we busted up their town.
I can't say that I blame them, even the bricks were destroyed. I flew
on mission over Vienna and it was much more relaxing in the sky than in the
streets of Vienna. Just another little interlude in my "travels"
Next stop.....Germany. From
Austria into Germany there were lots of friendly fighter aircraft.
There was only one problem; they were shooting at us!! Sure enough our
train was hit but some good came out of it. I was too scared to be
cold anymore. Seeing as the engine had some holes punched in it the
Germans took us to a garden spot known as Austerestelle-west. To those
of us known as "kriegies", Austerestelle-west was the interrogation center
(thought you might appreciate a little German lingo). We were assigned
comfortable little rooms, 5 ft. by 5 ft by 5 ft. high. Just a little
psychological and mental manipulation to help us to remember little details
of our other life. It was a big improvements over the manicured box
Then came Frankfurt-am-Main.
From the nice warm 5 by 5 interrogation room tot he beautiful snow covered
city of Frankfurt, we stood pacing 3 days and 3 nights in the blowing snow
trying to keep warm. But thanks to our friends from the 8th Air Force,
the temperature not only warmed up it got d*mned hot. With the bombs
dropping all around us the guards took us to an air raid shelter (d*mn nice
of them!) I do believe they did not want to get knocked off any more
than we did. The good people of Frankfurt did not seem too happy to
see us. H*ll, it was the 8th Air Force keeping them awake at
night...not any of us nice guys from the 15th!
In now appears that we are coming
to the end of my world travels over Continental Europe. Only one stop
to go: Stalag Luft I. All I can say is "it was one H*ll of a
ride while it lasted". Thanks to the Army I did not need to go to
college to further my education. They paid me quite well for this
hands on experience and would you believe I also got my flight pay...