World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I


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Lt. Richard Roper -  WWII B-17 Pilot and POW at Stalag Luft I

Lt Richard Milton Roper of Olympia, Washington
Pilot - B-17
100th Bomb Group


Stalag Luft I Prisoner of War


Click here to email his family


Richard Milton Roper- Truck driver to Air Force Major

In 1939, truck driver Richard M Roper enlisted in the Army as a Private with the 11th Signal Company, Schofield Barracks, T.H.. His outstanding qualities were soon acknowledged by his rapid promotion to Staff Sergeant by January 1941. He had a love of flying and wanted to join a unit associated with air services, and so was successful in joining the 502nd Parachute Infantry, again as Private, around July 1942.  His superiors could not help but notice his energetic leadership characteristics, and just a few months later Major J D Rosenberger of Fort Benning, Georgia appointed Pvt Richard M Roper, 6567096 as Aviation Cadet. He was trained at Freeman Army Airfield, and received a special commendation from his Commander, Major Albert Hughes. He got his ‘wings’ on May 28 1943, and was commissioned as 2nd Lt, O - 804508, Pilot, multiple engine bombers. He was assigned immediately to 350th Squadron, 100th Bomb Group, and in October was sent to England. Thorpe Abbotts was a state-of-the-art Air Base, custom built for the Boeing B17 Flying Fortress four engined bombers, in which he would fly. His B-17G, with the new swivel nose turret, was named ‘Fletchers Castoria’ in honour of the plane’s Pilot William H Fletcher. Richard was designated Co-pilot. Their first aircraft, 42-39791 was totally destroyed in a landing accident on December 4th 1943, and the machine was replaced by B-17G, 42-37796.

On 21st February, 1944, this aircraft was damaged, after a raid in which the 100th Group suffered severe casualties. Although wheels were lowered, and the craft was flying at low altitude, this did not prevent further attacks which crippled the bomber. The two pilots nursed the plane, with great difficulty, to a flat area near Halfweg, Holland and managed to crash land it without any crew injuries. Roper was promoted , in his absence, to 1st Lt., and was awarded the Air Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters for his part in this action. His Mother, Bessie Roper received the award, in his behalf, from Colonel Theodore M Bolen, at McCord Field Air Force Base, USA.

All the crew were eventually captured and became Prisoners Of War. Lt Roper was sent to Stalag Luft 1, at Barth, Northern Prussia. He remained there until Russian troops liberated the camp on May 1st 1945. After liberation, the POW’s were assigned to various Billets in France, and Roper was sent to Paris. He stayed there until he was transferred to LeHavre, at the end of May 1945, to be shipped back to Olympia, Washington, where he lived.

Typical of his determination to continue serving his country, was when he again enlisted as a Private, immediately after his commission ceased in June 1947. He was subsequently promoted to Master Sergeant. In May 1948, he received his second commission and was posted to Manila with 141st Air and Airways Communications Service Squadron, ranked Captain.

His final posting was at Pepperrell Air Force Base, AFO 862, Newfoundland. He was ranked Major and designated as Reserve Pilot, B52. Sadly, he died at his quarters, on 12 February, 1955, due to a heart attack. He was buried at Fort Rosencrans National Military Cemetery, California.


Kriegie Kraft Karnival pass signed by Zemke and Greening

Kriegie Kraft Karnival document signed by Lt. Col. C. R. Greening and Col. Hub Zemke while they were held in Stalag Luft I dated April 11, 1945.  They were already making plans for the Karnival to take place when the war was over.

Newpaper articles report of MIA status and arrival home.

Articles that appeared in Lt. Roper's hometown newspaper  one reporting him as missing and possibly a POW and the other is about his return home.

Presentation of Lt. Roper's air medal to his mother in his absence

The Air Medal being presented to Lt. Roper's mother in his absence.
Lt. Roper's Air Medal w/2 oak leaf clusters  Lt. Roper's Air Medal -  back Front and back of Lt. Roper's Air Medal w/2 oak leaf clusters


Photos and information on Lt. Roper provided by Bob Dye.

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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.