An Interview with a WWII POW PT2

An Interview with a WWII POW PT2

B-17 WWII

CL Whetstone at the Memphis Belle

Dad was trained to be a gunner on a B-17, just like the Memphis Belle. At some point he had flown 5 missions as a belly gunner before the fateful day his plane was shot down over Germany. But, before this day happened in February, 1944, he had been hospitalized due to an injury he suffered on a bicycle he was riding on the air base in England. His first crew (Lt. Tattershall) found a replacement for him and took off on another mission. He waited in the hospital bed watching all the planes coming back in the evening. His plane and crew never returned.

 

An Interview with a WWII POW

Once he was well enough to fly again they reassigned him to Lt. Wong’s crew as a belly gunner. Dad said he was a little tall for that small position, but he only weighed 140 pounds and was able to get into the belly gunner position, or as he said, suicide seat. You see, if the plane’s hydraulics was damaged you could not escape if the plane had to do a belly landing.

His plane was shot down on February 3, 1944. They started losing their 4 engines one at a time due the heavy flak that the Germans would shoot up into the sky. Finally, Lt. Wong called for Abandon Ship. Dad was able to get out of his turret position and get a parachute on. He was a little nervous, so he asked one of his friends to give him a little push. He did. He kicked him out.

Dad said you are supposed to count to 10 and then pull the rip cord to open the chute. Well, dad counted to five. He tried to direct his chute to land away from the towns. He ended up landing in water about waist high. He said hitting the water was like hitting a brick wall. He passed out.

An Interview with a WWII POW

When he came to he was able to cut himself out of the chute. He had been issued a gun and shoulder holster, but he chose to throw it into the water. He said he couldn’t win the war all by himself.

He could see some people on the shore. When he met them they took him prisoner. He was only 19 years of age.

Sometime after this my mom got a letter that he was killed in action. But she never believed it. She never gave up hope. Here is a picture of her at Barksdale Field at a ceremony where she was probably given the Purple Heart. She is in the dark outfit next to the woman with the hat. A little while later she got a letter from dad saying he was a POW.

Rosalie_Whetstone_BarksdaleAFB

Stay tuned for PT 3 in this special interview with my dad, a WWII POW.

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