one story of many

The WWII Service of
SSgt. WILLIAM F. MCMYNE
US 8th Air Force
466 Bombardment Group (Heavy)
784th Squadron - Crew 413

HIS STORY - GETTING THERE

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Getting There

 

At War 

 

POW 

 

Freedom


The last word my Grandmother had received from her son said that "Nothing new or startling has happened lately", even though he had just completed his first combat mission, and a mission that was one the most daring bombing missions in Europe to date.  He could have bragged to her of his accomplishment.  He could have cried to her of the horrors he may have witnessed.  But he did not.  Despite what he had just been through, this eighteen year old had one thing in mind, trying his best to ensure his mother did not worry about him. 

Now, for the time being, there was nothing he could do to reassure her.   My Grandmother received this telegram 14 days after my father was shot down over Brunswick Germany, and now she would certainly worry about her last born, her "baby".   She received a letter from the War Department Adjutant Generals Office confirming his MIA status and attempting to reassure her:

"The term 'missing in action' is used only to indicate that the whereabouts or status of an individual is not immediately known.  It is not intended to convey the impression that the case is closed.  I wish to emphasize that every effort is exerted continuously to clear up the status of our personnel.  Under war conditions this is a difficult task as you must readily realize.  Experience has shown that many persons reported missing in action are subsequently reported as prisoners of war, but as this information is furnished by countries with which we are at war, the War Department is helpless to expedite such reports."

My father's status was reported in the local paper and kept by my Grandmother:

My Grandmother had already lived through waiting to hear the status of her oldest son James, who was in the Navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack.  It would be 64 long days from the day she received the first telegram before my Grandmother heard any more news about my father.  That telegram came on June 25th, and was worth the wait:

"REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS
STATES THAT YOUR SON STAFF SERGEANT WILLIAM F MCMYNE IS A
PRISONER OF WAR OF THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT LETTER OF
INFORMATION FOLLOWS FROM PROVOST MARSHAL GENERAL"

My father was German POW number 53116 as stamped on the POW bracelet given to him by the Germans at Stalag IX C. 

.

STALAG IX C
Nr.  53116

 

My father's dog tags.
 

On May 5th, my father wrote to his mother for the first time as a POW:

"Dear Mother,

Just a  line to let you know alls well & that Iím still kicking, well, with one foot anyway.  I wounded slightly in the left foot.  Nothing serious just two cuts from flak so donít worry about it.  Iím in  a hospital and getting treated well.  The foodís good & we get lots of rest here. 

 I canít send any address now but when I get to a permanent place Iíll have one & will send it.  That wonít be long.

 I guess you received quite a shock but you ought to know Iíd get out.  I sure hope you received my flowers for mothers day on time.  It sure would be to bad to miss just because of a war.  Be sure not to worry for Iím o.k. & the Germans treat us well.

 Tell everyone I said hello and the kids my love.  Be sure and tell Mrs. Boyle when you get this & of course Ag and Jim.  Youíll still get my allotment so thatís o.kÖTell Mick his son is doing o.k. and is still a better man then his other son.  Be sure and tell Jim that.  Well, so long & be patient till I get to write again.

 Love, Bill."

Once again, all my father was concerned about was putting his mother's mind at ease.  After what he had just been through, it is remarkable how well he was able to craft this note to seem as nonchalant and carefree as if he had just been on vacation in Europe and had a minor accident.

Along the way my Grandmother received a heart wrenching letter.   It is with great sadness that I post this letter.  

Mrs. Euphria H. Somerville
1610 Walnut Street
Saginaw, Michigan 

September 3, 1944

 Dear Mrs. McMyne:-

I have just learned that our sonís were on the same ship, and I am wondering if you have heard anything from him, or anything through any of his friends?  If you have or receive any information I would appreciate it so much.

 I havenít heard anything except that my son is missing.

                                    Very Truly,

                                    Euphria Somerville

Radio Operator David G. Somerville did not survive.  Nor did  Pilot Harry E. Sturdevant, Co-Pilot William E. Williams, Navigator  Raymond Zielinski, Engineer Noble F. Garner, Left Waist Gunner, Harry R. Rohne, Right Waist Gunner Perry J. Snyder, or Tail Gunner Gene Gardner.  All were lost.  Only Bombardier Thomas M. Twisdale survived with my father.

I have transcribed all of my father's correspondence home while he was a POW (click here to view them).  They are a remarkable record of a young man's courage and devotion, throughout which his main concern is to reassure his mother and keep her from knowing how bad things were.  Although you can sense his growing frustration and concern near the end of the war when conditions became even worse, he never let on how bad they truly were.  

He began his stay in Lazarette IX C, a hospital near Obermassfeld in central Germany.  He was transferred to Luft III, a camp for airmen on July 1 of 1944.  His last note before being liberated is addressed from Luft I, an airmen camp near Barth in the far North of Germany:

Stalag Luft - 1
March 25, 1944

Dear Mother;- Just a line to say alls well.  I hope to be seeing you before too long.  As yet Iíve never received any of the parcels youíve sent.  I guess they wonít never get here now.  I sure wish they would I could sure use them.  Not starving but sure could use more.  Well, give my regards to all & tell Mick heís going to lose chickens when I get there. 

 Love, William.

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO 'HIS STORY - AT WAR'

If you have any further information regarding my father or any comments or questions please contact me at bmcmyne@embarqmail.com

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