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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Charles W. Anderson and the 15th Air Force - Oct. 8th, 2003 ^ | Leslie VanderMeulen

Posted on 10/07/2003 11:59:56 PM PDT by SAMWolf


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy...

Grant them a safe and swift return...

Bless those who mourn the lost.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.

...................................................................................... ...........................................

U.S. Military History, Current Events and Veterans Issues

Where Duty, Honor and Country
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.

Our Mission:

The FReeper Foxhole is dedicated to Veterans of our Nation's military forces and to others who are affected in their relationships with Veterans.

Welcome to "Warrior Wednesday"

Where the Freeper Foxhole introduces a different veteran each Wednesday. The "ordinary" Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine who participated in the events in our Country's history. We hope to present events as seen through their eyes. To give you a glimpse into the life of those who sacrificed for all of us - Our Veterans.

To read previous Foxhole threads or
to add the Foxhole to your sidebar,
click on the books below.

My Grandfather's Story
by Leslie VanderMeulen

Leslie VanderMeulen is a student at Grand Valley State University. For a semester project, she chose to research her grandfather's military career.

Charles Waldo Anderson, my grandfather, served in World War II, a war that altered his life forever. I have never had the privilege of meeting this man, but have been told his story many times. Gentle, shy, intelligent, fun loving, easy-going, a good sense of humor are words and phrases that characterized my grandfather’s personality before the war. Unfortunately, his experiences during the war had lasting effects, and after returning home he was not the same. I am not at all surprised that he changed in light of his time in war; many men with many different stories changed after they faced war.

Charles Anderson served as a tail gunner in the 15th Army Air Force, 463rd Bomb Group, 772nd Bomb Squadron during World War II. On February 13, 1945 his plane was shot down, and he spent the rest of the war as a POW in several camps.

A young Charles planned to enlist in the Army on a Monday in 1942. It is fortunate that he wanted to join, because he received enlistment papers before he went down to sign up. He departed for St. Louis, Missouri, only twenty-one and recently married. For six months he went through basic training in St. Louis, then (in February 1943) he went to Las Vegas, Nevada for gunnery training. In May of that year he joined his flight crew and departed for Sioux City, Iowa where they underwent combat training. After graduating from combat training, his flight crew picked up their plane in Nebraska and proceeded to their final destination: Foggia, Italy, which remained their home for the duration of the war.

In Foggia, and anywhere troops are stationed during wartime, the soldiers lived in humble quarters, to say the least. All soldiers of every rank slept in tents on the ground at camp. However, my grandfather’s crew used their ingenuity and made their stay as comfortable as possible. One night they took the rations of whiskey, which they received periodically, into town where they sold it and bought basic building supplies. When they returned to camp they built a small house, and when everyone woke up in the morning, they saw this little building in the middle of camp. Simply built of brick with a roof on top, it was a humble house. Nevertheless, my grandfather and his crew had the best sleeping quarters of any of the soldiers.

Camp in Foggia, Italy.

Though the crews tried to make the best out of life in the camp, wartime certainly did not consist of fun and games. My grandfather’s flight crew performed many missions during their time in Foggia. The crew was part of the15th Army Air Corps, specifically in the 463rd Bomb Group, 772nd Bomb Squadron, where my grandfather did his job as a tail gunner on their B-17. A tail gunner’s job is to shoot from the rear of the plane. Their final mission took place on February 13, 1945. This mission included bombing Vienna, Austria, and proved to be quite unsuccessful. The plane received a shot in the fourth engine, causing the third engine to catch on fire. This sent the plane crashing down in flames, and the entire crew bailed out at 15,000 feet. The report sent to my grandmother regarding the crash stated “plane sighted going down in flames – no parachutes sighted”.

My grandfather experienced a stroke of luck that day which saved his life. After he bailed out of the plane he landed in a tree, while his crewmembers landed on the ground. When Viennese civilians found six of the crew members, my grandfather watched them lynch his friends right there. The civilians took this action because German soldiers had convinced them that the Air Corps planned to bomb their villages and homes, thus they were very angry at these soldiers. German soldiers did find my grandfather’s extra pair of shoes that had fallen off his belt when they went to look for survivors. However, seeing no footprints in the snow, they concluded that this man must be dead. Lucky for my grandfather, they did not look up to see him sitting there in a bare tree.

Tail Gunner position on a B-17

In a report taken after the war, my grandfather stated that he evaded capture for three days, but a farmer turned him in, and he was then taken to Weiner Neustadt Airfield, Austria. Held there from February 16 to March 5, he then encountered interrogation for two days (March 8-10). After the interrogation, he was transported to three more camps. From March 12 through 16 he stayed at Dulagluft, March 18 through April 4 held at Nuremberg, and from April 4 to 29 at Moosburg.

My grandfather never spoke to his children about the treatment at the camps. All that he did say is that they were given very little to eat, so that they would be too weak to fight back. Most imprisoned soldiers involuntarily participated in prison detail, which consisted of any hard labor that could be found to keep the prisoners occupied. Most of this work done outside the camps, thus the Army Air Corps could not participate. Airmen could not perform prison detail because of the angry civilians, who attempted to harm them. If the men in the Air Corps attempted to work outside the prison, civilians tried to throw stones and such at them.

Civilians also abused soldiers during their marches between camps by throwing stones and rocks at them. The walked to and from camps or railcars must have been terrifying. Not only targeted by civilians, my grandfather and fellow soldiers incurred bombing by their own men in a few instances. While on a 100-mile march to Munich, they feared for their lives as their own planes dropped bombs on them. The soldiers faced more bombing by American planes when held locked in boxcars for three days in the Nuremberg Rail Yards. In this situation, the men stood cramped in the small cars with no room to sit, no food, water, or sanitation. The soldiers probably faced more danger between camps, whether walking or on trains, than actually in the camps.

The treatment that my grandfather and his fellow prisoners received was certainly inhumane. The situation did improve in a few instances, however, and that is how they knew the end of the war neared. Food rations increased, and the prisoners began to receive better treatment from the guards. The prisons also removed some guards from their posts who previously mistreated prisoners. This occurred because when the war ended and U.S. troops came in, they asked the soldiers who had mistreated them. These guards got taken out and immediately shot.

Charles W. Anderson

Luckily for my grandfather, his plane was shot down towards the end of the war, therefore was only held as a prisoner of war for a short time. After the war ended, he headed for Camp Lucky Strike in France, where he would be sent to London, and then home. However, he caught the mumps in France, hence he was detained in the hospital for three weeks. By the time he was on the way home, my grandmother finally received word that he had been accounted for. On July 11, 1945 he returned home for good.

Honorably discharged from the Army on September 25, 1945, my grandfather received several medals including a Prisoner of War Medal, an American Campaign Medal, a World War II Victory Medal, and a Purple Heart. Hearing all of this, I wonder how he felt about his experience in the war and how it ended. Since he rarely talked to his kids about it, all I can guess from is the ways in which his personality changed after he returned. Instead of easy-going and gentle, he became a man with an unpredictable temper, not much respect for authority, and a bitterness about him. Obviously this change stemmed from his time during the war, perhaps as a result of seeing and enduring too much in not very many years.

KEYWORDS: 15thairforce; b17; charlesanderson; freeperfoxhole; italy; pow; veterans; warriorwednesday; wwii
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; Victoria Delsoul; E.G.C.; colorado tanker; Light Speed


B-17G, serial #44-85784 "Sally B"

B-17G, serial #44-85829 "Yankee Lady"

Original tail configuration (left) next to the Cheyenne Tail modification (right)

B-17G, serial #44-85829 "Yankee Lady"

B-17G, serial #44-85740 "Aluminum Overcast"

From Update History of Tony's B-17 Pages



385TH - Tail Gunner - "DON"

Don shown cleaning glass about his Tail Gunner position. This photo taken in 1944 is on a B-17 of the "F" series model bombers.The small dark rod to the left of the photo is the gun sight for the gunner's two 50 cal. machine guns located in the extream tail end of the airplane located to the left of the photo.

To get a comparable size of this position look at a full size B-17 photo.

The Tail Gunner had an escape hatch just out of sight to the right of the photo. The hatch door was about 20 inches square - just big enought for the Airman to slip through with a parachute.

It would have been impossible for a man with a parachute to get out of the bomber through the window Don is shown in.

The vertical rudder is just above Don's head - and - the smaller part on the lower rear edge of the rudder is a trim tab the pilot used to correct trim of the B-17. Sort of gives you an idea of compartive size of man and machine !

From B-17G Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby

Crowds of revelers flock to Monument Circle to celebrate the end of World War II. Star file photo.

Allison was manufacturing airplane engines. RCA was improving proximity fuses. And at the Naval Avionics center on Arlington Street, one of the most important inventions of the war was in development – the Norden bombsight.

Later on Arlington Street the city would build my high school, Arlington, where I would graduate the same year David Lick-Hitlery's-Boots Letterman graduated Broad Ripple.

My friend Bob's dad worked at Naval Avionics, and he brought home a very neat viewer with a 90-degree prism and crosshairs that fascinated us fourth-graders.

The paper I carried in junior high was the Indianapolis News which Dan Quayle's family owned. He would graduate from Depauw the year I graduated from Wabash (college rivals separated by some twenty miles of two-lane blacktop).

The editor was M. Stanton Evans who wrote the strongest of defenses of Ann Coulter's Treason and whom she acknowledges first in the book as "the world's leading authority on Senator Joseph McCarthy".

I saw Evans debate Dr. Robert Risk president of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union in 1964 with my Young American for Freedom friends. It was an up close and personal look at the rabid bearded Marxists spewing embarrassing cliches--satires of themselves who have morphed into the staff of the New York and Los Angeles Times newspapers.

I see in Coulter's coverage of McCarthy that the man and his work are as different from the leftist myth as Bush is from the DU caricature: in short, a determined campaign of hateful lies has, after fifty years, made one embarrassed to mention the name McCarthy.

But, Venona proved him right: the government was riddled with real Soviet spies, not pink little old ladies, not indiscrete professors, spies.

And he served as a tailgunner on combat missions though he needn't have.

The history of the bomber crews is pure courage: to have gone up where ice forms and oxygen is unknown to carry explosives in aluminum cans vibrating with hellish noise as enemy gunners sent streams of murderous lead to rip open your life like a zipper.

Then to come back to a nation where Edward R. Murrow and Harry Truman would defend Soviet spies and slander the man who sought to remove them from government.

Bulletin: Bush in 2000, Schwarzenegger in 2003, and the rise of the dangerous vast right-wing conspiracy with such websites as Free Republic have come like daybreak for vampires to the Left.

And the Foxhole has America's six.

81 posted on 10/08/2003 10:42:49 PM PDT by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: PhilDragoo
Evening PhilDragoo.

Great pictures and info on the tailgunner postion.

The history of the bomber crews is pure courage: to have gone up where ice forms and oxygen is unknown to carry explosives in aluminum cans vibrating with hellish noise as enemy gunners sent streams of murderous lead to rip open your life like a zipper.

Excellent commentary. Beautiful description of bomber crews.

82 posted on 10/08/2003 11:53:55 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Practiss makes perfict.)
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To: PhilDragoo
83 posted on 10/09/2003 3:07:03 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it
Thanks again Sam and snippy. You know how I love the airpower threads. I was the Deputy Surgeon for 15th AF at one point in my career. cj
84 posted on 10/09/2003 3:54:26 AM PDT by CholeraJoe (No animals or longshoremen were harmed during the fabrication of this tagline)
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To: CholeraJoe
Hey there cj, good to see you, we know you've been busy so thanks for dropping in, glad you liked the thread.
85 posted on 10/09/2003 4:26:05 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: PhilDragoo
And the Foxhole has America's six.

Thanks Phil!!

86 posted on 10/09/2003 5:56:20 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: CholeraJoe
Hi Cholera Joe.

Just finished a thread on a B-24 Group in the 15th AF. Coming soon to a Foxhole near you. :-)
87 posted on 10/09/2003 8:04:45 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Blame Saint Andreas - it's all his fault.)
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To: PhilDragoo
Well, Phil, I'm just in awe of your tribute to B-17 tailgunners and Tailgunner Joe. He was right as was Whittaker Chambers. The left has been spewing lies about "McCarthyism" for fifty years. I was disgusted when Elia Kazan, a great film director, died recently and most of the obits were full of leftist crap dumping on him for testifying truthfully before Congress about commies in Hollywood.
88 posted on 10/09/2003 9:35:17 AM PDT by colorado tanker (Oddball: "A . . . tank can give you an . . . edge.")
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To: Samwise
Ooooh my! I hate it when this happens! I was going back through "pings" in search of something when I ran across your post. I'm sorry I missed it before. Please accept my apologies.

Love your graphic!

That's one of my favorites, too. I can't remember where I found it but go ahead and snag it from the thread. It's a good one to keep in the "closet" for posting from time to time. That's what I've done.

Pleased to meet you, BTW.

89 posted on 10/10/2003 10:19:54 PM PDT by radu (May God watch over our troops and keep them safe)
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To: radu
It's a good one to keep in the "closet" for posting from time to time.

Thanks! Not only did I save it, but I added it to my homepage. Glad to meet you too.

90 posted on 10/11/2003 4:44:20 AM PDT by Samwise (There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.)
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To: Samwise
Not only did I save it, but I added it to my homepage.

DUUUUUUUH! Now why didn't I think of that? LOL! It's perfect!! On my way to add it to mine, too. It'll fit right in. I really need to spend time on the 'puter in the day time. My brain doesn't seem to function well late at night. LOL! Otherwise, I'd have thought of it sooner.

91 posted on 10/12/2003 1:15:05 AM PDT by radu (May God watch over our troops and keep them safe)
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