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Major Wallace

Major Wallace

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Published by Hugh Lessig

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Published by: Hugh Lessig on Jan 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ed Wallace, B17G Pilot, 94
Bomb Group, 332 SquadronEd Wallace was born in June 1920 in Philadelphia, PA, and movedto North Carolina with his parents in 1935. He graduated fromhigh school in 1939, enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1941, andwas sent to Morrison Field, Florida. From there he was sent toAustralia for Cadet Training, spending time in Sydney, Melbourne,Brisbane, and Darwin before being shipped to Port Moresby, NewGuinea.He was eventually recalled to the US for pilot training:Preflight training in San Antonio, TXBasic training in Waco, TXAdvanced training in Lubbock, TXB-17 training in Quero, TXFollowing graduation from flight training, during which his two best friends were killed intraining crashes, Ed ferried a B-17 from Bangor, Maine, to Scotland and was thenstationed with the 94
Bomb Group in Bury St. Edmunds, England.Throughout this training, Ed never received a pass to go home, so he mailed a letter tohis sweetheart, Irene, back home in Kenly, NC. He included a small ring and asked herto marry him. Irene accepted the proposal and had her sister put the ring on her finger.It would be 4 years before they saw each other again.Ed flew 15 bombing missions over Germany before being shot down. He was capturedand spent 14 months as a POW.
The Final Mission
Ed Wallace, B17G Pilot, 94
Bomb Group, 332 SquadronEd and his crew were not supposed to fly that day and were sent up as asubstitute for another B-17. They were assigned to fly ¥tail end Charlie¦, thelast plane in formation. This position was normally assigned to the leastexperienced crew and they shouldn¨t have been back there. Before reachingtheir target the formation was attacked by German fighters and their planewas hit and began losing power. They salvoed the bombs and dropped out offormation. Since there was no fighter cover, they decided to head forSwitzerland and safety.Before they could make it, their plane was attacked by a lone FW-190 andcaught fire. The crew bailed out early, before receiving the emergencybailout alarm, leaving the two pilots on board.With the plane on fire, Ed was at the hatch ready to jump when heremembered that he¨d left his cigarettes back in the cockpit. He went back upand grabbed the pack of smokes because he figured he wouldn¨t have anywhere he was headed. They left the burning plane, opened their chutes, andlanded in several feet of snow at the foot of the Alps. After landing, theyburied their chutes and began walking along railroad tracks, hoping to make itinto Switzerland.
CapturedAfter walking in the snow for about ½ hour, a train came along and stopped.German troops poured out and captured them. They were transferred to anearby German fort and put into a cell.While in the cell, Ed was given black bread so hard and nasty he couldn¨t eatit. Not wanting to offend his captors, he hid the bread under his mattress.Shortly after being put in the cell, the pilot who had shot down his plane
Ed Wallace, B17G Pilot, 94
Bomb Group, 332 Squadronstopped by, resplendent in his German pilot¨s uniform. Neither could speakthe other¨s language, and he told Ed through an interpreter, ¥For you the waris over.¦ The he gave him a loaf of black bread and left.Shortly after his capture, Ed was moved from the fort to Frankfurt, Germany,where he was held five days. There he was interrogated and kept in a cellthat was alternately freezing cold and burning hot. One night, the prisonerswere moved to an air raid shelter when the British conducted a night timebombing raid. Throughout the raid, all but one of the prisoners knelt andprayed that they would not be killed. The one who did not, stood up andcursed God and everyone else. After the raid was over and the lights cameon, that one man was found dead, killed by a steel support beam dislodged bythe bombing.After five days, the prisoners were marched through Frankfort to a trainstation. Along the way city residents who had gathered on the bridges theywalked under showered them with garbage and sewage. They were put on atrain and sent to Stalag Luft III, where Ed would spend the next 11 months.One day in December, 1944, due to the advancing Russian armies, theprisoners were told to get their belongings together and get ready to leave.They marched through 10¦ of snow all night and all the next day, throwingtheir belongings away as they got too weak to carry them. During the rest ofthe march the prisoners did stay one night in a glass factory where the ovenskept them warm. Other nights they were housed in barns and on farms, untilthey were finally put on a train. After two days on the train, packed so tightlyin boxcars that they could not sit down, they arrived at another POW camp

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