Sunday, May 15, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: August 30, 1944, Part Three: Evacuation!

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 30, 1944 (Part Three)

Just heard we were to be evacuated the next morning by B-17's. Too fantastic to believe but it made us extremely happy. It was confirmed at 7 o'clock. We were put in groups of twenty and told we were to leave in the morning. After hours of talking we slept some under the stars. Those who were to be repatriated were still in the hospital and didn't go along. We arose at 4:30 a.m. , packed a small bundle adn the inefficient Romanians had buses waiting for us and drove us to the Municipal Airport which had no runways. We heard that the planes were to come at 10 a.m. if they did come. We roamed about, looking at HE 111's, ME 109's, Romanian IAR's and other types of planes. The boys went collecting souvenirs, guns, caps, wings, etc. for anything and all they possessed and the Romanians cleaned up. The Romanians also stole many of our belongings.

At 8 a.m. a P-51 came in and landed. The B-17's were coming at 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00 in groups of 12 which meant accomodations for only 740, so 450 enlisted men remained. At 10:00 we saw the escourts, about 25 P-51's, then the B-17's. What a glorious feeling -- what a show! They landed and the first 11 groups of 20 climbed on board and took off shortly. One B-17 had a flat and remained on the field. P-51's put on quite a show. At 11:00, 12 more flew in with their escorts, P-38's and P-51's. I was in Group 19 and took off with this group. Almost unbeliveable -- going home. The trip to Bari, Italy, was uneventful although I heard someone saw flak and that some enemy fighters were shot down by the escorts. We landed at Bari and then realized how efficient our army is. After posing for some cameramen and a few minute speeches by the Major and the Captain, we were driven in escort trucks to the hospital and there we received refreshments, filled out forms for a cablegram and then went to a replacement center or stay at the hospital if treatment was necessary. At the Center, long lines were everywhere. We threw our clothes in a pile which were covered with insect powder. Our valuables and clothing which we intended to keep were tagged and deloused. Then a bath in water and powder and we received a complete set of clothes, were assigned to a tent, ate a good meal, saw a movie and then to a clean sack.

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