Voices of the WW2 Veterans

Fighter pilots, crew chiefs, bombardiers, and factory workers: All had tales to tell.

A B-17 crew in England finishes its last mission. (USAF)
Air & Space Magazine

Roy McGinnis
96th Bomb Group, European theater. B-17 gunner

(German prisoner of war camp during World War 2. Source: Wikipedia)

McGinniss was shot down and taken prisoner during a bombing raid over Schweinfurt, Germany on October 14, 1943—so-called Black Thursday, when the U.S. Eighth Air Force lost 60 B-17s in one day.

During my interrogation, I was interviewed by a German that could speak perfect English. He was blond, good-looking man. And he spoke better English than I did. He started talking about my name, and said “I know a clan of McGinnises” in Scotland and so on and so forth. And he kept on talking small talk. “Where did you bomb today or yesterday? What kind of plane were you on?”

They gave us a form from the International Red Cross. They had all kinds of questions. And I knew we were supposed to fill out the name, rank, and serial number only. And he said, “Don't you want your family to know you’re a prisoner of war?” I said, “Well, they will find out one way or another.” I was scared to death, by the way.

He said, “Fill out the rest of that.” I said, “No, I'm supposed to fill out my name, rank and serial number. You probably know that.” I was wondering what he was going to say. He said, “Where did you bomb?” I said, “You know where we bombed.” He said, “Put it down.”

So I wrote it on the form: S-W-I-N-E-F-O-R-D. I didn't even know how to spell Schweinfurt, Germany. He got so mad, he broke out in German. And he couldn't hold it. He said, “You people come over here and can't even spell the name of the target you are bombing!” (Source: LOC)


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