LT Miller was able to select his crew of 10 before phase training began at Dill AAB. The crew was trained to fly and operate a pathfinder crew. LT Miller christened their ship "White Horse" for a brand of scotch whiskey. One airman, whose last name was Huggins, failed a physical prior to deployment and was removed from the crew.
LT Miller's crew flew the north atlantic route and was forced to land in Nutts Corner, Ireland, due to low fuel. The crew worried that the ship would be impounded by the Irish since they were ostensibly a neutral country. To avoid any problems the crew threw their guns and ammo overboard before landing. The Irish, however, weren't overly concerned and treated the crew well, giving them fuel to continue their flight, and feeding the crew some irish stew.
The crew finally made it to England. The aircraft had a radar in its bomb bay that was capable of responding to transponders.
The 422nd Bomb Group dropped Agents behind enemy lines where they set up transponders to identify targets. The H2X radar was able to pick out the transponders on the ground, which aided mickey operators and bombardiers during the bombing run.
On December 6, 1944 the crew was flying Mr. Takoma (2S:944:R) because their ship was being repaired after being damaged during an earlier mission (with another crew aboard). According to MACR 11047:
Mr. Takoma was performing chaff duties for the mission to Merseburg, Ger. It was positioned 2,000 ft below and behind the lead ship. It was observed to drop behind the formation, not to return. No visible damage to the aircraft was noted.
Bill Effinger continues the story:
We were on a mission to bomb rail yards in Merseburg, Germany. While flying at an altitude of twenty-one thousand feet, our B-17 bomber Mr. Tacoma was hit by flak at 12:18 p.m. The plane went into a dive as we lost two engines. Our pilot pulled us out of the dive at five thousand feet. Our hydraulics, electrical and radio were destroyed. We flew for three hours or more at about two hundred feet above ground. We lost the third engine after being hit by German rifle fire. We crashed at Ouddorp in northern Holland about 3:17 p.m. The plane broke in half as it hit the ground, and as it slid we were covered up to our shoulders in dirt. All nine crew members survived.
We were captured immediately by the Germans and started our walk through Holland for eighteen days. The only clothing that we had on was our electric flight suits, no shoes. The Germans enjoyed showing us off as "killer criminals". We were roughed up several times. They spit in our faces and threw rocks at us. It was a long cold walk and we had our hands and feet frostbitten. We arrived at Dulag Luft (interrogation prison camp) at Frankfurt-on-the-Main on December 24, 1944. We were moved on to Stalag Luft One (Barth) on December 31. It certainly wasn't any country club. Food was in short supply and we all lost about fifty pounds.
The Russian Army liberated Stalag Luft One at Barth, Germany, on May 1, 1945. They put their guards on the gates and the tower. The camp was on a peninsula on the Baltic Sea in Germany but right on the Russian border. We broke in and got our records before the Russians destroyed them. Stan Pavlic, Frank Ward, Arvid Johnson, Lou Smith and myself: Bill Effinger, all escaped in an old rowboat. We met up with the Red Army. We were on the front line for nine days. They fed us chopped pork and potatoes cooked together. We avoided going into Rostock and Wismar, Germany. Russia had set up occupied forces there. Our goal was to reach Löbeck, a sea port on the Baltic in Germany.
We stayed with the Red Army on the front line until we got just outside of Löbeck. At that point, we said good-bye, crossed the bridge into Löbeck, and met up with Canadian Paratroopers who had parachuted in the night before. They greeted us with open arms. We told them the conditions back at the camp and they informed the American intelligence. Food was then dropped into the camp by parachute and all ten thousand plus men were flown out to Kieppe, France (Camp Lucky Strike) within ten days. We arrived at Camp Lucky Strike on May 23, 1945. At this time, the five of us were split up. Frank Ward, Lou Smith, and Arvid Johnson went back to England to their air base there. Stan Pavlic went back to the States on a freighter. It took him ten days on the sea. I went on a converted luxury liner back to the States in six days, and arrived back on June 12, 1945 . We never had any contact with each other after that for almost forty-six years. On September 14, 1991, all five of us met for the first time after forty-sIx years in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
|Name||Rank||Position||First Mission||Last Mission||Status|
|Robert C. Miller||2nd LT||Pilot||06/NOV/44||12/06/44||POW|
|Edmund T. Barcikowski||2nd LT||Co-pilot||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||POW|
|Frederick C. Kinsler||F/O||Navigator||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||POW|
|Richard M. Hobgood||TSGT||Engineer/Top||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||2nd tour. POW|
|Marion W. Taylor||TSGT||Radio/Chaff||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||2nd tour. POW|
|Frank Ward||SGT||Waist Gunner||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||POW|
|William F. Effinger||SGT||Ball Gunner||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||3 missions. POW|
|James H. Mathis||SGT||Waist Gunner||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||POW|
|Stanley Pavlic||SGT||Tail Gunner||21/NOV/44||12/06/44||POW|
|James Williams||Crew Chief||Completed Tour|
|111||12/04/44||The Worry Bird||DN||43-37973||B17G|
|Created 06/01/99||Modified 12/23/16|
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