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US Airmen POWs in Belgium

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by greglewis, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. greglewis

    greglewis Member

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    On September 2, 1944, a number of American airmen were pushed on board a train in Brussels which was bound for a concentration camp.
    It is believed there were almost thirty US airmen among the passenger cargo of an estimated 1,400 people.
    All were saved from reaching Germany by the actions of Belgian railway workers who delayed, diverted and sabotaged the train until the Allied forces arrived to liberate the area.
    I am trying to contact relatives of the airmen who were on the train.
    The story of one of the men on the train, 1/Lt William D Grosvenor, featured in a documentary ‘Last Best Hope’.

    According to research by Keith Janes the following Americans were also on the train:

    1/Lt John J Bradley,
    1/Lt William G Ryckman,
    T/Sgt James R Dykes,
    Sgt Hugh C Bomar,
    S/Sgt Ray Smith,
    2/Lt Alfred M L Sanders,
    2/Lt Thomas P Smith,
    1/Lt Jack Terzian,
    2/Lt John W Brown,
    S/Sgt William R Muse,
    2/Lt J H Singleton,
    2/Lt James G Levey,
    Sgt Harry J Blair,
    S/Sgt Cecil D Spence,
    T/Sgt Kenneth P Holcomb,
    S/Sgt Donald H Swanson,
    S/Sgt Charles C Hillis,
    Sgt Ralph J Lynch,
    S/Sgt James M Wagner,
    1/Lt Henry W Wolcott III,
    2/Lt Ford W Babcock,
    1/Lt Robert F Auda,
    2/Lt Wallis O Cozzens,
    T/Sgt Dale S Louks,
    T/Sgt Robert J Piarote,
    2/Lt Theodore H Kleinman¸
    S/Sgt Royce F McGillvary.

    Thanks
    Greg

    greg_lewis [at] hotmail.co.uk
     
    SKYLINEDRIVE likes this.
  2. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    Good luck with your search.
     
  3. greglewis

    greglewis Member

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    Thanks!

    I have already interviewed several people involved on the Belgian side. I've been working on it off and on for a few years but hope to finally have time to take it on further next year.
     
  4. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Have you been in cantact with the guys from the Comet Line site? They have a tremendous amount of info about downed airmen.

    http://www.cometeline.org/
     
  5. greglewis

    greglewis Member

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    Hi Skipper
    Thanks for the link. Yes, I knew about the site - I wrote a book a few years ago about an RAF airman helped by the Comet Line.

    I'm also fortunate to have the help of Belgian historian Walter Verstraeten with the 'phantom train' research. I'm just very interested in trying to find some of the US airmen's stories.

    Thanks
    Greg
     
  6. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    Don't be cruel... What's the name of the book?
    FYI it's A-OK to advertise WW2 related books here.

    > I wrote a book a few years ago about an RAF airman helped by the Comet Line. Greg
     
  7. greglewis

    greglewis Member

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    Apologies! It was called Airman Missing, the story of John Evans, a Halifax pilot shot down by night-fighter ace Schnaufer.

    The book is out of print, I'm afraid, but I have been asked to prepare an updated e-version for next year.


    John is 96 now. This year he met one of his crew - a Canadian named Bill Robertson. I was fortunate to be there.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My impression was not that it was "ok" to do so but that it was and is strongly encouraged, especially if the author is a contributor here. Please mention it in this thread and start a thread on it in the book forum.
     
  9. ETO Buff

    ETO Buff New Member

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    The last name on the list, McGillvary, I know of an AAF guy served over there, but I think his spelling is McGillvray.
     
  10. John Wells

    John Wells New Member

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    I stumbled upon your site when I was doing some research on James Reid Dykes (on the above list). He is my great uncle who passed away much too young at age 28, on March 5, 1949. One of his friends thought enough of him to put a headstone on his grave in Clayton, AL with the following inscription ….." After his B24 Bomber was shot down over Belgium in 1943 "Piker" bailed out and landed in a field where he hid for 23 hours. The Belgium underground forces found him and kept him hidden from the Germans for 14 days before delivering him to the French underground. He was taken by the French across France and Spain over a period of 38 days to prevent capture by the Germans. He traveled through fields and forests instead of roads. He was taken by boat from Spain to England and then back to the states. We will remember you.. Your Yuma Friend" My uncle also received the purple heart which I have in my possession. I did not know the part of the story above where he was scheduled to be sent to a concentration camp but escaped. Thanks for sharing with me. John Wells (welljog@yahoo.com)
     

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