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S/Sgt. Charles H. Walter

455th Bomb Squadron

323rd Bomb Group, 9th Air Force

U.S. Army Air Force

Knoxville, Iowa


       At age twenty, Charles “Chuck” Walter became a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He would spend most of the war in a B-26 Marauder as an Armor Gunner attached to the 9th Air Force’s 323rd Bomb Group with the 455th Bombardment Squadron.

      The Marauder was a fairly new plane to the Air Force. Ordered as a “twin-engine bomber with great emphasis placed on speed, range and operational altitude,” it was manufactured by the Martin Company. 5,157 planes would be used in the war efforts, including one flown by Jimmy Doolittle in North Africa to prove: “It’s just another airplane. Let’s start it up and play with it.”

The 323rd was first assigned to the 8th Air Force, then transferred to the 9th in October of 1943. In July of 1943 the group began attacking marshalling yards, airdromes, industrial plants, military installations and other targets in France, Belgium and Holland. It then undertook numerous attacks on V-weapon sites along the French coast and attacked airfields, and Leeuwarden and Venlo as part of the Allied campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry from 20-25th February 1944. The 323rd helped prepare for the invasion of Normandy by bombing coastal batteries on June 6th 1944 and participated in the aerial barrage that assisted the breakthrough at St. Lo in July. It began flying night missions at about that time and eliminated strong points at Brest early in September, then shifted to eastern France to support advances against the Siegfried Line. It received commendations for action 24-27th December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge for hitting transportation installations used by the Germans to bring reinforcements to the Ardennes. It was on a mission on Valentine’s Day in 1945 that the B-26 in which Chuck Walter flew was shot down. A photo of it, engine on fire, appeared in a service publication that claimed the plane had recovered, when indeed it had gone down.

      The first POW camp where Walter was held was a very small one near Wuerzburg; after a short time there he was transferred to the Nuremberg camp, which was actually four camps in one. It had originally been built to house Nazi gatherings and Nazi Youth Corps. At this time, the Germans were evacuating other camps near the advancing Allied troops so that the population of this camp swelled to 29,550. One official report stated, “The camp was in terrible condition when the Americans arrived. Sanitation was almost non-existent. Everything was infested with lice, fleas and bed bugs. Men slept on the bare floors – each had two filthy German blankets. The barracks were not heated. Latrines were inadequate. Showers were available once every two weeks.”

      In early April the Americans were evacuated again, this time to the camp at Moosburg, which they reached on April 20th after a forced march. On this “walk” the POWs slept on the ground, had little food and were strafed by Allied planes on three separate occasions, when three were killed and many wounded.

      If anything, conditions at Moosburg were worse that at  Nuernberg. What had been a reasonably well-organized combination transit and permanent Stalag was at the end of the war a crowded collection of “snow-thatched, vermin-ridden hovels.” In the days the American POWs were there, nearly continual bombing was going on nearby, but the attackers avoided the camp, clearly aware that prisoners were being held there.

      On April 29th, Moosburg was liberated by Patton’s 14th armored division, and on May 1st Patton himself visited the POWs.

      For his service to his country, Chuck Walter was awarded a Purple Heart, an air medal with four clusters, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign European-African-Middle East Medal, a Victory Medal, a POW Medal and a Group Citation for contributions in the Battle of the Bulge.


S/Sgt. Charles H. Walter

U.S. Army Air Corp

9th Air Force 323rd Bomb Group 455th Bombardier Squadron


Memories of War: “I’ll Bring Her In”


      Coming back from a mission, we were waiting to land but did not know our nose wheel would not come down. After discovering our problem, we talked to our Commanding Officer and decided that the crew would stay with the plane. We circled until our ship was the last plane aloft. We tried to lower the nose wheel but after opening the hatch, we found the hydraulic line was ruptured and was spewing fluid all over and inside the cockpit. The windows were covered and the pilot could not see out.

      Pilot “Willie” opened the side window and “flew her in.” While in the air, the crew decided to go to the rear of the plane to keep the weight far back to help keep the nose of the ship off the ground as long as possible. We would be landing at 130 miles per hour.

      I was sitting with my butt behind the bulkhead - my radioman between my legs. We had hardly touched down when he freed himself and jumped out of the waist window. The last I saw of him he was rolling down the runway. I thought he would surely be killed. He survived with not even a broken bone. We landed with a full bomb load. I had to go back and deactivate the bombs before we landed. We continued down the runway to the end and nosed it in.

      All of this was being watched and recorded by Associated Press. The crew was later interviewed and the following appeared in the Stars & Stripes.

      “Sergeant Walter had very little to say about his recent narrow escape when a crippled bomber came back to the base with the bomb bays still loaded. The bombs had not been released because of the danger to Allied soldiers near the bomb target. Sergeant Walter enclosed the following clipping from the Stars & Stripes the newspaper for men overseas; which gives an account of the perilous flight: ‘Don’t worry. I’ll bring her in all right,’ Lieutenant Rufus Wilson, 23 year-old Marauder pilot from Corsicana, Tex., radioed the control tower as his plane, its nose shell shot away, circled the field with a full crew and full bomb load.

      “Colonel Wilson R. Wood, of Chico, Tex., group commander, approved the crew’s decision to stay aboard and suggested that the explosives be left aboard to hold the tail down. Wilson brought the plane down on its two main wheels and for two- thirds the length of the runway he kept both the tail and nose off the ground. Unable to apply the brakes because of the danger of the ship nosing over, Wilson rode the screeching Marauder off the end of the runway. The nose dipped and propeller hit turf but the plane didn’t tip over.

      “Crew members included Lieutenant James Rudig, South Bend, Ind., bombardier; Staff Sergeant Frank Miller, Atlantic City, N. J., engineer; Sergeant Charles Walter, Knoxville, Iowa, tail gunner; Lieutenant Louis Carrington, Houston, Tex., co-pilot, and Sergeant Martin Terrell, Little Rock, Ark., radio operator.”


December 26th

      Going to briefing early the 26th. Weather clear and cold. We had already flown 3 missions in 3 days and this would be our second of the day. In the briefing room, we were informed of our second mission of the day. They informed us the target would be heavily defended with 99 guns. There were 52 ships - 3 boxes of 18. Our flight failed to release our bombs on the first run so made a second pass. Lt. Fox and crew were flying Mission Belle on her 149 mission. He was flying on our left wing when the plane was hit by flak and exploded, going down. No survivors.

            Lt. Fox was a very good friend of mine. We were also hit and thrown out of control and out of formation, but my pilot regained control. We returned to formation and dropped our load on target., On our way back to the base, I roamed the plane and picked up two handfuls of flak. Luckily, no one was hit. After landing, I counted the flak holes for a total of 129. For this mission my pilot, Lt. Wilson, received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the 323rd Group received the Group Citation.


On his copy of his pilot’s “Flying Cross” memorandum, Chuck wrote: “At this time of this award, Lt. Wilson was missing in action. His plane had been shot down in a raid. His crew were taken prisoners. Lt. Wilson sustained fatal injuries in this crash and died three days later. The crew remained prisoners until the end of the war. Lt. Wilson’s body was returned home in 1950.”


FEBRUARY 14, 1945



      Flight going well until we encountered heavy flak at about 10:00 A.M. Right engine took heavy hit. We feathered the prop and dropped out of the formation, as we couldn’t maintain speed and position. We started back toward our lines, were met with oncoming flak from the ground. The engine caught fire at about 3500 feet. We did evasive action, trying to avoid getting hit. I was in the tail telling Willie, my pilot, where the shell bursts were, and we would turn away. We weren’t hit again but every time we turned to the dead engine side, we would lose altitude until we were at about 1200 feet.

      My pilot rang the “bail out” button and the enlisted men bailed out. I was the farthest away in the tail, but was the second man out. My chute opened and I did one or two swings, being fired at on the way down, having bullet holes in my chute to prove it. I landed real hard on my butt, injuring my back. I also sustained burns from the flames that were coming in the waist window as I bailed out.

      The gun crew that was shooting at us picked me up. Their crew chief was a little 5’5” fellow, but he had a P38 pistol pointed at me before I could get to my feet. The radioman, Rouser, was picked up by the regular army and was treated okay. Frank Miller, our engineer, was picked up by the townspeople and was beaten quite badly.

      The first 24 hours were the worst because we didn’t know if any of the crew had survived. I was put in a jeep-type vehicle and taken by a private in the German Army to a gathering point. Our planes, fighters, were circling overhead; and every time my captor saw a plane, he would stop and run for the ditch, leaving me in the car. I was sure glad that our fighters didn’t see us. We finally arrived at the outpost where I was thrown in an upstairs bedroom in an old farmhouse, scared to death.

      During the next twenty-four hours, planes bombed close enough that as I lay on the floor, I could see the plaster crack above me. The next day we made the outpost where I was joined by my engineer and radioman. While we were there, an ambulance arrived. In it were my pilot, Lt. Rufus Wilson, my co-pilot, 2nd Lt. John Weinstein, and my bombardier, 2nd Lt. James Rudig. Lt Wilson had a broken neck, dying three days later. The co-pilot, Weinstein, had broken bones, but Bombardier Rudig was not injured very much. The three officers had gone down and crash-landed with the plane. The hydraulic system had been shot out, and the doors of the plane would not open. The plane was on fire when it landed and was damaged quite badly.

      There was a lot of screaming coming from within the plane when it landed. The rescuers thought that the enlisted men had not gotten out of the plane and were trapped inside by the flames. There may have been some of the enemy on the ground and the plane landed on or trapped them.

      The interrogators took our money, anything else they wanted, and one dog tag. We were marched to the next place by one guard—an old soldier in the regular army. As we marched, we met forced laborers from different countries. They told us (sign language) that we would be killed.

      We arrived in one town and went to the railroad station. While we were there, a group of townspeople gathered and started yelling. A crowd surrounded us, and we were afraid they were going to hang us. We walked out of the town with our soldier guard following behind. We finally arrived in Wetzler where they took all of our Air Force clothing and issued us plain U.S. Army clothing. Each of us got a long winter coat. We were then sent to Frankfurt on the Main to be questioned.

      I was placed in a very small room and asked all kinds of questions about the U.S. Air Force. If we refused to answer questions put to us, the heat was turned up with each refusal. We were told that they didn’t need our answers—they were just trying to verify the information they had. They knew everything. They told me where we were based, the type of plane we flew, the

name of our commanding officer. Since they were getting no answers, they finally gave up and shipped us to Wuerzburg to a camp where we stayed for some time. Wuerzburg was a camp by a small town that held a 20MM gun barrel factory.

      Our camp, located on top of a hill, was divided into two parts. One section was for POWs and the other was for the German Army troops. They thought it was a safe location for them, but the British low-level bombers could pinpoint their section and bombed the German part of the camp without touching our section. Every morning, weather permitting, our 26s would come in and bomb their factories. All of the townspeople would race up the hill to our camp for protection.

      It was while we were in this camp that we first saw their jet fighters. We saw one of our planes attacked and shot down by their jets. Only three of the crew parachuted.

      We arrived in Nuremberg and walked by the station and on to camp. At one time while we were there, the city was under siege for an entire day. The British Air Force took over where the Americans left off and bombed the city the entire night. The next morning there were a lot of new members in our POW camp—mostly British.

      At times the British were firebombing. During those raids the Germans would attack the British planes in their night fighters. A direct hit on the incendiary-laden British planes lighted the skies for miles around.

      Our Army was now moving in for the kill, so the Germans began moving us out of there to keep our troops from releasing us. There were many thousands of us on the road. The Americans were first in ranks. The British were next. I don’t recall how the remaining POW’s were lined up.

      We walked seventeen days, arriving at Moosburg. During the march, we were kept alive by the Red Cross rations that were passed out to us—one package per three prisoners. The food didn’t always serve the whole formation. The captors did feed us at times, but the rations were very poor. But we were hungry so the bugs in the bean soup went unnoticed.

      En route we would pass through small towns. If we spent the night, there was a ring of soldiers with guard dogs stationed around us. In the morning the dogs would get us out of hiding. I was the cook, my engineer was the fireman and the radioman was the thief. That radioman could steal an egg from under an old hen without her ever realizing it was gone. We slept in a barn one night and explored and found the farmer had hidden some wheat behind and under the hay. When we left, we had our socks and pockets full of grain. We traded for a coffee grinder and ground our wheat—almost like Cream of Wheat.

      We slept one night in a shed of pine boughs. We discovered that the boughs covered ice and the “ice house” was a storage place for the farmer’s potatoes. I spent the night with a stick spearing potatoes. We had all we could carry when we left the next day.

      One day while on march, we were going under a train trestle and some P47s dive-bombed it and strafed it while we were under it. Some of our POWs were killed but the planes had cameras synchronized with their guns. When they returned to base and studied the films, they discovered that they were attacking some POWs. From that point on, while we were on the march, we were put to bed every night and awakened every morning by a P51. He would fly beside us on a road fill, wave and smile and give us the ol’ “Thumbs Up”. Each time we stopped to rest, we marked our campsite with a ground sign, “POW”, made of toilet paper. We finally reached Moosburg, staying there some time before we were liberated.

      On April 29th 1945 General George Patton overran our camp, releasing us. Our first act was to look for something to cat. We went down the road to a farmhouse, confiscated some tame rabbits and on the way back to camp, picked up some chickens—really traded for them. We took the chickens but left the rabbits in their place.

      We were flown out of Germany, then taken by train to Reims, France, on May 8th 1945, the very day the Germans were signing their surrender. We were taken to Camp Lucky Strike near Le Harve, France. After four weeks we boarded the ship, Monticello, for our journey back to the States. The time at Lucky Strike was spent sleeping, eating and getting our strength back.

      We were the first ship back without escort. Boy, did that Statue of Liberty look good. It was nice, too, to be able to read road signs and understand them. Believe me, we read every one.

      We were sent to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and from there—HOME.


      The story doesn’t end there. I developed yellow jaundice and spent twenty-three days in the hospital. I was discharged October 30th 1945, and started to work for the Knoxville Post Office on December 5. Over a period of twenty years, I held jobs at all step levels in the post office. In December 1973 I became Postmaster, retiring in November of 1980.

      I am now home. The children (four of them) are all gone. I’m getting to hunt, fish and vacation as I please. My wife is enjoying the good life with me. World War 11 is almost sixty years behind us.


AAF 201 – (12374) Walter, Charles H., Jr.




20 April 1945


Mrs. Mary E. Walter

1621 McKinley Street

Knoxville, Iowa


Dear Mrs. Walter:


        I am writing you with reference to your husband, Staff Sergeant Charles H. Walter, Jr., who was reported by The Adjutant General as missing in action over Germany since 14 February 1945.


        Additional information has been received indicating that Sergeant Walter was the armorer gunner on a B-26 (Marauder) bomber which participated in a combat mission to Germany on 14 February 1945. The report reveals that during this mission about 10:30 a.m., southeast of Amsterdam, Holland, four miles inside of Germany, our planes were subjected to flak and your husband’s bomber sustained damage. Subsequently the disabled craft left the formation and was headed in the direction of the American lines when it disappeared from sight of the crewmembers of accompanying planes. It is regretted that no further information is obtainable in this headquarters relative to the whereabouts of Sergeant Walter.


        Believing you may wish to communicate with the families of the others who were in the plane with your husband, I am enclosing a list of these men and the names and addresses of their next of kin.


        Please be assured that a continuing search by land, sea, and air is being made to discover the whereabouts of our missing personnel. As our armies advance over enemy occupied territory, special troops are assigned to this task, and agencies of our government and allies frequently send in details which aid us in bringing additional information to you.




Very sincerely,




Major, Air Corps

Acting Chief, Notification Branch Personal Affairs Division

Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Personnel