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CAPT  Roger L. SWAIN

UNIT: 418th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: COM

Capt. Robert Swain MIA newspaper clipping. (Courtesy of Matt Mabe)

SERIAL #: O-399681 STATUS: POW
MACR: 13142 CR: 13142

Comments1: 18 MAR 45 BERLIN (EAC) - On Deweerdt MACR and Casualty Report

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

1ST LT PAUL E. DeWEERDT P POW 18 MAR 45 BERLIN
Capt. ROGER L. SWAIN  COMD P POW 18 MAR 45 BERLIN
2ND LT BILL E. THOMPSON  CP POW   18 MAR 45 BERLIN
F/O JAMES M. CARDEN  NAV POW   18 MAR 45 BERLIN
2ND LT BERNARD F. KOZIK  BOM POW   18 MAR 45 BERLIN  (TAPS 1961)
F/O SUMNER H. WOODROW  RADAR OPR POW 18 MAR 45 BERLIN
T/SGT MORRIS O. KOLLING  TTE KIA   18 MAR 45 BERLIN
T/SGT ROBERT A. HAUSAM  ROG POW   18 MAR 45 BERLIN
S/SGT NORBERT J. DOUGHERTY BTG CPT     18 APRIL 45 STRAUBING
S/SGT PETE J. FISCHER  WG POW   18 MAR 45 BERLIN (TAPS 1961)
S/SGT HOWARD R. WHITTAKER TG POW   18 MAR 45 BERLIN (flew as a WG this day)


418th Sqdn.. Crew joined the 100th on 24 Dec 44

On the 18 Mar 44 (Berlin) mission Capt Roger L. Swain was flying as Command Pilot and became a POW. F/O Sumner H. Woodrow, a Radar Navigator, flew instead of Norbert Dougherty and became a POW.  Bill E. Thompson, the regular CP flew in the TG position for this mission.  See Thompson Memo for a discription of the attack, his bail out and POW experiences.....pw


    According to statements in the MACR, T/Sgt Morris O. Kolling  had flown a tour in the CBI (China - Burma - India) theatre and had a total of forty (40) to fifty (50) missions.  After Capt. Swain bailed out, Kolling took over his seat - DeWeerdt thought Kolling to be in dazed condition and would not bail out.  Aircraft was proabably hit again and went into a spin and DeWeerdt got out some way. (May have been blown out in an explosion) DeWeerdt was later shown Kolling's wallet by the Germans and told that a body was found in the co-pilot's seat.

(BILL THOMPSON BELIEVES MORRIS KOLLING WOULD NOT LEAVE THE AIRCRAFT
AND PAUL DeWEERDT WOULD NOT BAIL OUT WITH KOLLING STILL ABOARD AND ONLY 
SURVIVED BECAUSE HE WAS BLOWN CLEAR OF THE AIRCRAFT WHEN IT EXPLODED 
SEVERAL MINUTES AFTER THE BAIL OUT ORDER WAS ISSUED.)

               Colonel Bill E. Thompson USAF Ret.

Letter to P. West 3 Feb 1993 concerning 18 Mar 1945 mission to
Berlin and subsequent POW and liberation experiences.

     ... Since this was our first mission as lead crew (Low Box),
Capt Roger L. Swain (Command pilot) and F/O Sumner H. Woodrow
(Radar) were added.  As a result our regular Ball gunner (Norbert
J. Dougherty) went on another aircraft in the formation and it may
have been with Lt. Mashyna, with whom he finished his tour. (18 Apr
45)
     I was a little slow in getting out because I went back to my
tail position twice before jumping. Once to get some fruit drops
an orange and the last time to get my chest pack.  I delayed
opening for at least 25000 ft. because we had been told of guys
being shot at in chutes.
     I landed in pine tree top and had to unhook and drop about
twenty feet.  I spent two nights walking and finally found a rail
line -  followed it until I found a rail depot.  Hid in a haystack
until night and ran to catch a passenger car as a train was pulling
out.  Got up on top and would change sides on a walkway as
approached stations with search lights. Stopped after a bombing in
the town
of Stettin. (at night) Moved away from bystanders and made
it around town and caught a freight train on it's way out of the
station.  I rode it the rest of the night and to about noon the
next day, jumping off at an intersection near Hamburg.
     Walking south toward Patton's Third Army positions I was
caught in a large open field by a couple of Volkstrums.  They took
me through a village of jeering farmers to the Burgermeister.  Then
was locked up in a fenced inclosure with 30 or 40 rag tags -
probably prison laborers. I asked for someone to take me to a
Luftwaffe base and two days latter a kid on a bike escorted me to
a base.  Here, I was placed in very small cell and was visited by
a neatly dressed officer. I guess he was a Luftwaffe pilot.  At any
rate he just shouted and shook his fist at me. Never did find out
who he was.  After a couple of days another guard escorted me
through Hamburg on a street car.  It was here that I saw Paul (1st
Lt Paul E. DeWeerdt, the crew's pilot) sitting in railroad
passenger car.  We arrived at the interrogation center where I
spent about three or four days in solitary confinement  The
briefing officer was very courteous and spoke perfect English.  He
had been a US tour guide.  After he was sure that I would not
answer all his questions, he smiled, reached for a loose leaf
notebook and read me all there was to know about the 100th. Lots
more than I knew.
     From there went by train toward Barth (Stalag Luft 1).  We
there we went by train toward Barth (Stalag Luft I.  We made one
overnight stop in a hayloft and again loaded on another train and
headed for Barth.  Every minute on the trains we were all fearful
of a strafing run by some Allied plane - but our luck held out.
Upon arrival we went through a formal processing by US boys and
German guards.  I had hidden a small hacksaw and compass, which I
turned over to the  committee.  Next it was shower and into clean
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
clothes and barracks assignments.  I ended up in North 3 compound
Barracks 305/Rm 4.  Each room had about 25 men - beds - one small
pot-belly stove. Of course guys before us had built a counter, made
pots and pans, had spoons and even a tin shears made from a split
plank and case knife.  I became cook and used the knife to make
many pots and utensils.  I made a 10 gal pot to soak the German
potato bread in.  It was dense about 10#s per loaf - We were
allotted one eighth slice per man per day (when available).  I
found you could soak it in 1/8 cubes and pour off the water twice
and get a whole lot of residue.  To this you could add klim
(powdered milk), sugar and come up with a meat loaf by adding
potted ham or you could make a swell caramel custard by adding a
small amount of powdered coffee.  We tried all kind of things for
taste.  Heat for baking would be generated by saving charcoal
rations or trading cigarettes or hard chocolate to other rooms.
Sometimes we could get a fresh egg or onion by trading with our
guard (we called him Schultz). Big dumb guy - He would let us play
with his Mauser rifle and laugh at all our jokes.
     Each day we had underground radio reports of Allied fronts.
We kept this info published on our large map in the barracks foyer.
Daily we had many Germans visiting and checking on progress.  Other
fun we had was to get up at night and scrape boards on the outside
wall out the window behind our 55 gallon toilets.  This always
aroused the camp - lights on, dogs barking and guards running.  Of
course all of us would act asleep by then.  Other fun was had by
not covering down at check times, this prevented the guards from
counting us.  We would be protesting Col. Spivey being in the hole
or because we couldn't get a ball etc..
     Around the 7th of May 1945, we could hear the distant rumble
of artillery and we knew the Russians were coming.  On May the 9th
(1945), we awakened to a silent camp and discovered that all the
Germans were gone and that we had American MP's in the towers and
they were keeping us locked up.  A tank came up and after someone
told the driver what was up, he closed his hatch and ran down the
entire fence and guard towers.  We were free at last, except it was
smart to stay in camp.  Some guys rounded up a few cows and we had
a ball eating steak.  We later found mountains of tin cans behind
the German Command Post, they had been eating our Red Cross parcels
at will.
     Later we were airlifted to France; after the Russians had
interviewed us and recorded each man's name and serial number.  I
wouldn't be surprised if we aren't still paying for the release.
We landed in France and loaded in trucks for the long ride to Camp
Lucky Strike.  Cheers, French bread and jam all the way.
     Stayed about a week and came home on a jam packed ship.  All
the guys were really happy and I spent most of my time in the
ship's bowels listening to country and western music by the guys
that had confiscated instruments.  I expect some were the Nashville
greats later.

..Notes about the mission..
     As I recall at briefing we were told it was Max Effort - and
     we were served fried eggs for breakfast..

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
     When hit (Me 262 fighters) we were in the clear except for
     contrails.  The low clouds were estimated at 2000 ft.  Thats
     were I opened my chute..

     It is assumed that Kolling (Morris O. Kolling - Engineer)
     stayed with the aircraft..

     We have written and verbal knowledge that Dougherty (Norbert
     J. Dougherty - the crew's regular BTG) flying with another
     crew saw us hit and chutes deploying.

     I am going to drop a line to William Howard and T. Gilbert to
     say hello.  I am sure they identified the wrong plane as
     having broken into or to flip over.  According to Paul (Lt
     Paul E. DeWeerdt - crew pilot) he and Swain (Capt Roger L.
     Swain - Com Pilot on the mission) maintained control for some
     time before exploding...

     (This refers to the Missing Aircrew Report filed either the
     19th or 20th of Dec 1945 for 44-8717.  This report erroneously
     states that the aircraft was hit in the tail section, which
     subsequently broke away resulting in the 44-8717 assuming a
     severe nose down attitude.) pw  4 Feb 1993



                             LT BILL E. THOMPSON

EXCERPTS FROM A LETTER TO P.WEST  27 JAN 1993..
        When we were designated to lead the low box, I (Lt
Thompson) went to the TG.  Maj Roger L. Swain was command pilot.1st
Lt Paul E. DeWeerdt was pilot, F/O James M. Carden was Nav, 2nd Lt
Bernard F. Kozik was Bom, F/O Sumner H. Woodrow was "Mickey" or
radar opr, T\Sgt Morris O. Kolling was E, Cpl Howard R. Whittaker
 WG, Cpl Pete J. Fischer was WG and Cpl Robert A.
sam was RO.
     Our regular crew Ball Turret Opr was Cpl Norbert J.
gherty. On this mission (18 Mar 45) he flew in another plane
ed "Ginger".  On the mission he saw us being shot down and
nted the chutes as people bailed out.  He finished his tour with
ilot named Michael P. Mashyna.
     Dougherty does not remember where he was in the formation
 he is the person that wrote my wife from England saying that he
thought I was OK. Hausam (Radio Opr) followed Woodrow (Mickey Opr)
out of the aircraft and at that time the ship was still stable but
fire at the # 2 engine. Today I just called Paul (DeWeerdt,
pilot) and he said that after the first hit, he made a 180 degree
turn and was heading home and dropped from about 30,000 to 20,000
 had flown about 50 miles when he was hit again or just
exloded. He did not see any aircraft and only remembers being
outside with his chute open and hearing kids yelling and dogs
barking on the ground. He escaped and walked 20 to 30 miles before
being caught.  He had an infected foot and that explains the cast
I saw on him in Hamburg.  He really doesn't
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
know about Kolling (Engineer), but Hausam told me that Kolling once
said he would never bail out of an aircraft. I forgot to ask Paul
(Weerdt) what happened to Swain.  It seems like he told me that
Swain bailed out while he and Kolling were fighting with the
controls, in an attempt to stay stable.
        F/O Woodrow was on board as the ball "radar" operator in
place of Dougherty (regular BTG) and since I was in Fischer's place
(TG), Fischer acted as WG with Whittaker.
        This was the crew make-up on a brand new unnamed B-17G (44-
8717) on 18 Mar 45.  It was still in natural aluminum........


Col Thompson relates a interesting and amusing look at the old adage, being in the right  place
 at the right time in a note to this writer (pw) in August 1993.

"I just noticed a sort of injustice in promotions. A J.P. Gibbons joined the 100th 24 Feg 44
 as a 2nd lt and checked out on the 24 Dec 44 as a Major....10 months....I checked in as 
a 2nd Lt in the summer of 1944 and it was sometime in 1958 that I made Major.  
That's about fourteen years.  I'm not saying I was dumb, just a fact of life."

MEMO 2:

Roger L. Swain flew as Command Pilot with many different crews but does not appear to have had a crew of his own.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Berlin DATE: 1945-03-18  
AIRCRAFT: (44-8717) CAUSE: ME262-Explosion  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  
ID: 5072