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2nd Bomb Group, USAAF in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- 2nd Bomb Group, USAAF during the Second World War -

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2nd Bomb Group, USAAF

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

2nd Bomb Group, USAAF

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • McVey Charles Howard. 1st Lt.

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1st Lt. Charles Howard "Chuck" McVey 20th Bomber Squadron 2nd Bombardment Group

My father Charles H. McVey, Sr., was a navigator in a B-17 shot down on the way to the Ploesti Oil Fields (Romania) on 29th of August 1944 on 20th Bomber Squadron, Mission No. 263. It was my father's 25th mission. He was flying in 'tail end Charlie', the very last B-17 in a large formation. He was flying as a substitute navigator that day with a crew whose navigator was sick. His was among many planes shot down that day*. Once the plane was hit by fire from Fockwulf 109 German fighters, the pilot gave the order to bail out; the normal doors were jammed, most tried to then get out the bomb bay door, but it would not open either. My father remembered that most of the plexiglas navigator bubble on the nose of the B-17 had been shot off so he made his way back there, bailed out, blacked out; when he came to, he saw his plane falling with no one else bailing out.

His chute was caught a bit in a tree and he had to cut himself down. The next couple of days/nights he did E & E (escape and evasion), eating what he could from farmers' plots; the 2nd or 3rd night, he encountered a British flyer who had also been shot down and they teamed up. Within a day a Czech patrol, ostensibly working for the occupying Germans, took my father and the Brit and added them to a group of 7 other Allied flyers they had 'captured'. They assured the Allied flyers that they would help them reach Allied lines. On that or a subsequent evening, the Czechs took the 9 Allies to a tavern to eat; a German patrol suddenly came in saying they wanted the 9 Allies. The Czechs turned over the 8 in the tavern; when the German commander asked about the 9th one, he was not there (he had gone outside just before this to the outhouse; the Germans didn't bother to look there - I understand that he made it back to Allied territory).

*About the raid during which my father was shot down: in the 1990s, a young Czech studying in the US, called my parents' home in Chattanooga TN and wanted to speak to someone in the family of Charles McVey. My dad said that he was Charles McVey. The young Czech was incredulous as his father, Jan Chovanick had been a young boy out in the fields working that August day of 1944 and had witnessed the many US B-17s that were shot down over his area. The day was then known in that area of Czechoslovakia as the "Day of the Falling Birds". The inhabitants of that area found the list of airmen in the wreckage of the plane that my dad had been flying in; they took a propeller blade and inscribed the names of the 11 airmen, all thought to have died in the crash, on the blade and mounted it atop a stone pillar (I have seen a picture of it that Jan Chovanic's son later sent my father). That is why the young Czech was so surprised that my father was living.

Once captured, my father and many other POWs were taken first to Vienna for interrogation, then on to Frankfurt (am Main); after that, he was sent on with others to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth on the Baltic seacoast.

Dad said that they were treated fairly well and ate as well as their German guards. They even got their care packages with most of the contents still in them. Since all of the POWs were flying officers and almost all of the Germans were non-coms, the guards saluted the Allied officers and treated them with military respect of rank. Dad said that only two men were shot by the Germans, both during nearby fighting or air raids - the Germans had told them on pain of death not to come out of the barracks at all when the alarm sirens were sounding. On one such occasion two men stuck their heads out and were immediately shot dead.

Dad said that one morning (May 1945) they got up, and all the Germans were gone; within a day the Russian troops arrived. Dad said there was much partying and then the Russians put the Allies on trains and sent them back to the American/British lines. From there he was brought back to the States.

During the late 1940s Dad wrote out on long yellow legal pads a lot of his recollections of that experience. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find those among his things (Dad died in August, 2003, age 85). My niece did have my dad come to a show and tell day and I have a VHS tape of his interview with the students. Also, in 2014, Jim L. Noles Sr. & Jr. published a book about that particular bombing raid (mission 263) and stories of many of the flyers involved on that raid in August, 1944, Mighty by Sacrifice: The Destruction of an American Bomber Squadron, August 29, 1944

I will add more should we ever find that yellow legal pad with my dad's memories written in it. I would love to hear more from anyone with information about that day and the living in Stalag Luft 1 at Barth.

Charles H. McVey, Jr.

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Mighty by Sacrifice: The Destruction of an American Bomber Squadron, August 29, 1944

Jim L. Noles Sr. & Jr.

On August 29, 1944, the 15th U.S. Army Air Force unleashed 500 bombers against oil and rail targets throughout central Europe. It dispatched the 20th Squadron of the 2nd Bombardment Group on what they regarded as an easy assignment: attack the Privoser Oil Refinery and associated railroad yards at Moravska Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. This "milk run" deteriorated into the bloodiest day in the 2nd Bombardment Group's history: not a single one of the 20th Squadron's B-17 Flying Fortress bombers returned from the mission. Forty airmen were killed, another 46 spent the rest of the war as POWs, and only four, with the aid of the OSS and anti-German partisans, and sympathetic Czech civilians managed to evade capture. The ninety airmen on the mission to Moravska Ostrava provide a remarkable personal window into the Allies' Combined Bomber Offensive at its height during WWII. In a microcosm, their stories encapsulate how the U.S. Army Air Forces built, trained, and employed one of the mightiest


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