Lloyd J. Burns – Tail Gunner

Lloyd Burns is another thoughtful person who responded to an article that I wrote that was printed in the AX-POW Magazine.  I did call him to thank him for the response and it was an honor to meet him.  His thoughtful letter contained the following brief history of his WWII experience and I’m proud to share it. . . . . . . . .

Dear Candy,

 I saw your message in the X-POW May Issue.  I did not know your father.  My Bomb Group was flying with the 92nd Bomb Group on the Frankfurt Mission, 2/4/44.  I was a tail gunner in the 392nd Bomb Group, 577th Sqd. Based at Wendling, east of Norwich on the “Wash.”  On February 24, 1944, we were shot down while bombing a jet aircraft assembly complex at Gotha, Southern Germany.  I was sent to Buchenwald for some time and then across Poland and North to Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug, East Prussia.  That was early March, 1944.  I think I was in Lager G8.  After a bad winter (snow and zero weather) and in the advance of the Russian Army, we were taken to the seaport of Memel, Lithuania on the BalticSea.  There we were literally stuffed in the hold of the “not-so-good-ship” Masuren.  This was an old coal ship with standing room only in the hold.  We docked at Swinemunde near Stettin.  We were chained together in twos and again loaded into the famous 40 & 8s box cars and taken to Stalag Luft IV, Kiefheide at or near Grosstychow, Poland.  Our stay there lasted most of the winter and again we were evacuated to avoid capture by the Russians.

We were evacuated in large groups by box cars and on foot.  As for your father, apparently he was in the group that was sent to Barth (North).  I was in a large group that was sent to Nurnberg Stalag XIIID.  This place had a mix of many, many nationalities—-and I could not help observing that a great number of the Russian POWs were amputees.  The Germans were not too sympathetic to their wounds and amputation seemed to be the cheapest and best medicine.

With General Patton’s Third Army advance from the West, we force marched from Nurnberg, southeast to Moosberg, 158 kilometers that took 15 days.  On April 29, 1945, his 14th Armored Division liberated us.  ___And we were on our way home!

 Being at Stalag Luft VI and Stalag IV, I am sure he (your Father) experienced the same things I did.  Aside from the horrors we saw and experienced, that was a special, educating, trying, testing, and youthful time in your Father’s life.  Remember, his faith gave him the strength and determination to survive.

I have tried very hard not to be graphic and give you this info, little as it is, and hope that it will be helpful in some way.  If there are other questions, call or write.

Lloyd J. Burns

PS:  Your father was based at or near Northampton, West of Cambridge.