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Joe Gould's WWII Experiences
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Broken ankle saved his life after parachuting into a minefield.
Joseph A. Gould graduated from Watertown High School, Watertown, New York, in the class of 1938. He attended Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, and the University of Colorado before enlisting in the air corps in May 1942. Joe received his commission of second lieutenant as a navigator in the U.S. Air Corps at San Marcos Field, Texas, and went overseas on 1 February 1944. On the return flight on his second bombing mission, 20 April1944, he was forced to parachute from their disabled B-26 Marauder bomber over German territory and was captured by the Germans. Also captured were the other crew members: Capt. Harvey A. Johnson; 2nd Lt. Jack V. Porter; 1st Lt. John J. Guiher; Sgt. Harold W. Thomas; Sgt. C.R. Bidlack; and Sgt. Stuart W. Whitford.
Joe’s German POW identity card was recently discovered and had this history of his experiences written on it in his handwriting:
“Liberated 4/29/1945 by Pattons 3rd Army. Shot down 4/20/1944 bombing VI (VII) installation on Pas de Calais coast. Kept in WWI bunker 1st night. Had broken leg--no treatment, taken to old French stone prison in Lille. Hell. A few days later by train to Frankfurt. Trolly to Interrogation Center outside. Later by trains to Sagan (Stalag Luft 3). Arrived 5/6/1944. 1/27/1945 Russians coming, left on foot and by train to Nuremberg, arrived 2/4/1945. Walked 4/4/1945 to Moosburg 4/20/1945.”
Joe returned to the United States on 1 June 1945. Although Joe did not die until 1987 and had four children, he did not talk of his POW experiences. On a rare occasion, he would tell the story of landing in the minefield, breaking his ankle, being unable to run or walk, and being assisted from the field by Germans with a map marked with the location of the mines.
From the US National Archives & Records Administration www.archives.gov <http://www.archives.gov> : File Unit: World War II Prisoners of War Data File, 12/7/1941 - 11/19/1946 - Record group 389, this information is available:
Joseph A. Gould, Serial Number 0&694551 - Camp 033 Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11. 2 LT in the Army Air Corps, Date Report 20/04/1944. Latest Report Date 1/06/1945. European Theater:France.
Joe’s Separation Record gives this summary of his military occupation: "Nagivator on B-26 Aircraft. Navigated to South America, Afrida, to England by means of celestial navigation, pilotage and dead reckoning. Flew two combat missions. Was shot down while bombing rocket installations at Calais, France. Taken prisoner by Germans. Was held prisoner for one year and one months before being liberated. Held position as Squadron Navigator and was flying as Assistant Group leader when shot down. Was awarded European Theatre of Operations ribbon with one battle star. Purple Heart pending."
From the Watertown Daily Times on 10/17/1993, reprinted from the original publication on 10/11/1945, this story appeared regarding Joe’s capture and POW experiences:
Oct. 11 - Aviation Cadet Joseph A. Gould, 22, son of Dr. and Mrs. Leslie A. Gould, 852 Myrtle Ave., and Sackets Harbor, was commissioned a second lieutenant and received his wings in navigation Thursday at San Marcos Field, Texas.
The 1938 graduate of Watertown High School had not been in Europe much more than a month when his parents received word on May 4, 1944, that he was missing in action from a full-scale bombing operation on April 20. A general's message said, in part, "Please accept my sincere sympathy. Joseph was a splendid navigator, highly respected by the members of his crew and all those who knew him. His loss is deeply felt by his comrades."
The eulogy was premature. The family clung to hopes that he was alive after they received a report that three men were seen parachuting from his B-26 Marauder bomber. Then they were informed on June 1 by the War Department that the International Red Cross learned that he had been taken prisoner by the Germans.
"Joe has always been imbued with the feeling that he would return from the war," his relieved father said. "We here at home have had the same feeling."
Liberated April 29, 1945, by American forces, he was home at the beginning of June and shared his experiences. For one thing, he said that during his interrogation following his capture, he was amazed when a Nazi officer pulled from a scrapbook the (above) Oct. 11, 1943, clipping from the Watertown Daily Times.
Of his capture, he said "I landed by a small town near the city of Calais. I was taken prisoner by German infantrymen and brought to their headquarters. ... The following day we were put on trucks and taken to a village called St. Omer. There we were put in dungeons so small that we could not move. We were kept there overnight.
"We were then put on other trucks, taken to Lille and then put on trains for Germany. We were taken through the area of Cologne and Aachen and then to Frankfort for interrogation.
"... The people of Germany had one great fear while they were at war. That is a fear of bombing. They were horror stricken when bombing planes came over. Even remote farmhouses have air raid shelters."
- 20 Apr 1944