Until the End of the War

With the downing of the Mairzy Doats, six survived to become POWs.  As a reminder the tenth crewman, 2nd Lt. John Friese, was not actually on the plane for the Kassel mission.  The pilot, 1st Lt. Edward F. Hautman, the waist gunner, S/Sgt. John A. Tarbert, and the tail gunner, S/Sgt. Gordon F. Waldron did not survive the mission.

2nd Lt. Maynard L. Jones:

Maynard sustained a fracture of his right femur on landing in his parachute.  He was immediately captured and taken to a German Luftwaffe Hospital in Andernach, Germany.  Later he was transferred to a POW hospital in Obermasfeld, Germany, and later still to another a few miles away in Meiningen, Germany.  From there he was released by advancing American troops several days before April 7, 1945, according to a letter from Maynard written on that date.  Maynard recalled that he was not particularly mistreated but food was scarce and he lost 50 lbs. down to 135 lbs. in that length of time.

His prisoner of war number was 53634.

Maynard wrote his first letter home shortly before Christmas, 1944.  In it he wrote, “Dear Folks:  It is almost Christmas time.  Perhaps you haven’t yet had news that I am alive and well.  If not I fear that your Christmas will be a very unhappy one.  I shall make mine a happy one by thing about all the wonderful ones we have had together before the Army called me away.  I hope you can do the same.  I know that before you hear I am a P.O.W. you will worry a very great deal but after you do hear you must not worry because I am perfectly okay.  After this war is over I shall be home as good as new.  I am still in the hospital and shall be for several more months.  But I am just getting my leg strong.  If it was published in the paper that I was missing in action be sure it is published that I am okay.  Start looking for a beautiful convertible coupe for me.  I’m going to buy one when I come home.  Give my love to Shirley, Helen and the grandmas for me.  All my love, (signed) Maynard.”  The letter was written in all capital letters and was censored by the U.S. before delivery to his parents.  It is not known when Kenneth and Zita Jones actually received the letter.  The letter was written on a German-inscribed, line letter used by prisoners of war.  Maynard wrote one other letter on German POW stationery in January 1945.  No other letters are known to exist from him until April 7, 1945 when he wrote to his parents on regular stationery.  See Appendix 5, Letters.

Maynard did not relate to his parents the seriousness of his fractured right femur incurred when he landed upon parachuting from the Mairzy Doats until prompted to do so by a letter from a family friend who was writing about his injury.  He had not wanted to cause his parents undue worry or concern.  In his letter of May 18, 1945 he wrote, “…I got a letter from Mrs. Haas (mother of Maynard’s friend Art Haas) today.  She told me you heard parts of my letter to Art.  I hadn’t meant for you to know all about my leg until I was back in the states.”  However, since you know a little about it, I’ll tell you the rest.  When I cam down I broke my ‘femur’, (the thigh bone) about three inches above the knee.  The Germanys didn’t know all the modern medical treatments for such an injury.  They put a pin through the bone right at the knee.  On this pin they hung weights.  “Traction,” the treatment is called.  However, they didn’t leave me in the “traction” long enough.  When they removed the pin, the muscles, which these (sic) are the strongest ones in the body, contracted and pulled the broken ends of the bone till they overlapped a little over an inch.  (1 ½-inches to be exact.)  When I finally got to a hospital with Allied doctors, they thought the bone was too solid to be broken over again until I got back to the states.  Now I limp because of the shortening.  However, the leg can easily be broken again and lengthened when we get back to the U.S.  The pin through my knee caused an arthritic condition so that I cannot bend my knee fully.  I have 45 degrees of movement now.  The doctor says that this can also be fixed up in the U.S.  So you see, there really isn’t anything to worry about.  I have a limp but it isn’t a permanent condition.  Don’t worry about it.  I’m perfectly okay.”

Maynard’s parents wrote to him at least nine times after January 1, 1945, but these nine letters were returned as ‘undeliverable’.  It is not known if there were other letters from his parents that were delivered to Maynard while he was a prisoner of war.   See Appendix 5, Letters.

Paul O. Bergman, an enlisted man, was hospitalized with Maynard in the hospital at Andernach.  He had a broken left leg after parachuting from his doomed aircraft.  He wrote in 1995 to Maynard’s mother that while in the hospital, a German soldier named Henry Londorf brought them paper and pencil to write our homes.  (I have not found such letters of Maynard’s written while he was hospitalized in the hospital at Andernach.)  Two German soldiers were also hospitalized in the same room.  After that hospitalization, Maynard and Paul were separated because of the officer and enlisted enforced separation, but Paul reported that they were both sent to Meiningen and were still able to visit each other, often playing cards.  Paul and Maynard did not correspond after the war.

The exact dates of Maynard’s movements from Germany to the United States are not known, but by April 18, 1945 his was in an American hospital in France.  He traveled to Paris several times for sightseeing trips, including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sorbonne University, and the French Military Academy.  Maynard also wrote of meeting a French marquis and his family.  From at least May 6 through June 10 his was at an unknown location in England.  The censor blacked out the location in England.  The postmark for a letter dated July 12, 1945 has him located in Charleston, South Carolina.

While a POW, Maynard crafted a cribbage board that returned home with him and is now in possession of his daughter Kendra.

See Appendix 5.

Other Captured Crew Members of the Mairzy Doats

2nd Lt. Carroll Givens Snidow:

After his capture he was taken to a nearby road and there he waited for about an hour.  In the meantime Land and Giesler were brought up.  They had also been captured.  They took them in an automobile to a nearby town where they waited about three hours. It took the entire night, after changing trains many times, to get to Oberursel near Frankfurt.  That was the morning of September 28th.  At Oberursel they interrogated Carroll and left him in solitary confinement until October 3rd at which time he was sent to his permanent camp, Stalag Luft I, Barth, Germany on the Baltic Sea.  He was undoubtedly separated from Land and Giesler, since the protocol demanded separation of officers from enlisted men.  See below.  He remained there at Stalag Luft ! until May 1945 when he was liberated by advancing Russians.

T/Sgt.Harold William Giesler:


Per Harold Giesler’s son Duane:  “Most of the captured Allied flyers, (including dad) were detained for interrogation at Dulag Luft near Oberursal.  From there they went to Dulag Luft at Wetzler for about a week while they were being processed and assigned to a permanent camp.  Most of the Kassel Mission enlisted men went by train to Stalag Luft lV at Gross Tychow, Poland (including dad) and most if not all the officers went to Stalag Luft l at Barth, Germany.  

“The prisoners at Stalag LuftIV (including dad) were put on the road Feb 6, 1945 and began a march (ahead of advancing Russians) that lasted 86 days and covered about 600 miles.  Dad’s bunch walked Southwestly all the way to Fallingbostel and then back Northeast to Lubeck, Germany where they were liberated by the English on May 2, 1945.

“I believe the same is true about Maupin, Land, and Howe.”*

S/Sgt. Dale Corwin Maupin:

POW.  See above.  

T/Sgt. Thomas Vernon Land:

    POW.  See above.

T/Sgt. Orvel George Howe:

POW.  See above

*See Appendix 10 for more information on Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft I, and Stalag Luft IV.

There did not appear to be an effort by any surviving members of the Mairzy Doats to try to escape back to friendly lines at the time of the their downing.  Any thoughts of trying to evade capture were probably diminished by the terrain and by the presence of people in the immediate area.

2nd Lt. John Albert Friese:

Lt. Friese, who was not on the mission and did not become a POW, did not fly again until October 3, 1944.  By January 17, 1945 he had completed his thirtieth mission* and on February 5 was heading back to the United States where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for participation as the lead navigator on a bombing mission into Germany.  He appears to have married within about a month after his return to the United States.  After a 21-day leave he reported for duty with the 2nd Air Force.

Sally Friese Hoffman on her father:  “My dad was assigned to San Angelo (Project Lincoln) and Alamogordo (Stripped Eagle Crew) and at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona (Very Heavy Bomb crews).  Both involved secret new types of radar used on B-29s.  However, to use this radar, the planes were stripped of most defensive guns to lighten them in order to carry heavier bombs longer distances.”

He was released from active duty on October 12, 1945 as a 1st Lt.

*Friese was able to come home on leave after 30 missions instead of 35 because he had been a member of an aircrew that was the mission lead seven times and deputy lead fourteen times.  This activity reduced the number of missions to a minimum of thirty.

Meanwhile, Back in the United States

It is easy to forget about the families of service members who were serving overseas.  Letters were about the only means of communication and had to survive censorship and long delays in mail delivery, especially from combat areas.  Long periods would often go by when there was no communication between the service member and the family then letters might arrive in bunches.

As an example, Maynard Jones last wrote his parents on September 25, 1944, two days before the Mairzy Doats was downed and Maynard was taken prisoner.  It was not until October 14, 1944, that Kenneth and Zita Jones learned that Maynard was missing in action via a Western Union telegram, a common form of rapid communication at the time.  A letter from the War Department in November 1944 declined to provide names and addresses of those lost on September 27 or their kin in the United States.

It was not until a letter was received from the War Department dated January 6, 1945 that Maynard’s parents knew he was a prisoner of war.  They received a telegram on April 25, 1945 notifying them that Maynard had returned to the control of the United States.

Despite the War Department’s unwillingness to provide names and address of next of kin, the families of the crewmen of the Mairzy Doats did have that information and were writing letters of support after September 27, 1944.  I suspect that some of the addresses were shared while the crew was in training in Tucson, Arizona.