379th Memorials




WWII Photos

WWII Crew Photos

War Stories

Mission Reports




Thousands of heroic deeds in World  War II will be recorded in the stiff,  formal, impersonal  language of military citations, but thousands of others will never be remembered except in the minds of those to whom they occurred. 

One such deed took place high over Germany in August, 1943, and is related  by a friend of S-Sgt.  Robert Watkins, nephew of Alma B. Davis, 675 Valley  Forge road. The narrator is T-Sgt.  Eugene Shadick, a crew member with Sgt.  Watkins. This is his story as told in a letter to Mrs. Davis; the story of how Sgt.  Watkins, a ball turret gunner, saved his friend's life:

"The target that day was Regensburg-Schweinfurt.  The Luftwaffe was strong all the way to the target and back, and  it was on the return trip that they literally blasted us out of the air.  They were using rockets and flak was heavy.

"We were at 27,000 feet when our pilot ... gave the order to bail out.  One of the engines was gone.  The crew bailed out.  Bob was still in the 'blister' but somehow he managed to scramble up out of that ball turret.  I was still standing there, dazed, blinded by flak and my left hand hanging by a few shreds of flesh.  I had no 'chute on. 

"All, this time we were losing altitude; one of the wings came off and we were falling pretty fast.  The pilot was still at the controls and he must have been hit bad, for he made no attempt to leave the ship.  Bob was having a time with me.  He had to scramble through that ship and find my 'chute and get it on me.

"He had just finished strapping my 'chute when the tail section was blown off and we were thrown out.  If it hadn't been for Bob, I wouldn't be here to tell the story. "Bob and I landed in  Worms, Germany. He got to me and put a tourniquet on my arm and gave me the sulfa drug.  Then I took Bob's penknife and finished the amputation of my hand. Bob stayed with me until  we got a doctor and I was taken to a  small hospital in Worms.

"After I was discharged from the hospital, Bob and I were walking around the camp enclosure and a couple of officers of the Luftwaffe came up to us. They gave us a snappy salute and told us they were the fighter pilots who had shot us down.  But they added, 'You had a fine crew; we shot you down, but you also shot us down'."

Sgt.  Watkins has been liberated and recently spent some time in Paris from where he cabled: "Having a wonderful time in Paris.  See you soon."

The gunner, attached to the 8th Bomber Command, had completed 21 missions over Germany and German occupied territory.  Before being shot down, Sgt. Watkins and his crew had flown in two other B-17s, both of which were so badly damaged during raids that they were unfit for further use. 

Robert Watkins was held as a POW until the end of the war.  On August 17, 2004,  the 61st anniversary of the Schweinfurt, Germany Raid Robert Watkins passed away.





Trademarks are Copyright of their respective owners, all other content is Copyright of 379th BGA.
Comments/Questions? Email