Original U.S. WWII Shot Down B-24 Stalag Luft III POW Named Grouping - 385th Bomb Group
Lieutenant Colonel Luther Paul Newcomer (ASN 0-692809), United States Army Air Forces, served as a Lieutenant with the 385th Bombardment Group, 551st Bomb Squadron of the legendary 8th Air Force. Lt. Newcomer was the pilot on the B-17 aircraft #42-31598 MOON GLOW which was shot down by flak and crashed North of Rambouillet, France on a mission to bomb Paris on August 2nd, 1944. He along with two other crew members were captured by German forces and became a POW in Stalag Luft 3 where he remained until being forced to march to Stalag VIIA Mossburg. He was held as a Prisoner of War until his return to U.S. Military Control at the end of hostilities in May 1945. His POW status can be verified at this link. He flew 29 missions all of which can be verified at this link.
His story was recounted in an email from his life ling friend and reads as follows:
In July, you requested any information we had regarding Luther Paul Newcomer's time in the service during WWII.
Paul flew a B-17G plane in the 385th BG, 551 Bomb Squadron. The plane's name was "Moonglow", tail number 42-31598. Moonglow's regular enlisted men just started R&R so another gunnery crew flew on the plane. They were shy a waist gunner. The gunnery crew were: Jack C. Davis (ball-turret gunner), Joseph W. Panasuk (top turret gunner), Edward Abbott, Marion T. Church, and Waterfield (first name unknown.) The other crew members were : 1St Lt. Luther P. Newcomer (pilot), Edward F. O'Day, 2nd Lt. Russell Cotts, and James Lindquist.
I have been informed that Davis and Lindquist were befriended by a French farmer and hid in haystacks the day they bailed out while Germans searched the area for them. They stayed with the farmer until Paris was liberated.
Paul was injured in his lower leg by flak which became infected. He always felt that the forced march to the boxcars is what kept the circulation going and saved his leg. The boxcar took him to Stalag Luft III by Sagan until January when everyone was forced to march to other camps. He was sent to Stalag VII-A near Mooseburg until the camp was liberated by Patton.
Abbott and Panasuk were a POWs in Stalag Luff 4 Gross-Tychow, Prussia.
Church was a POW in Stalag Luft 3 and then marched to a POW camp near Nuremburg where he was liberated.
I have not been able to find what happened to Cotts, O'Day, and Waterfield.
Paul remained in active duty until early 1950's, trained other pilots while in the reserves, and retired as Lt. Colonel.
Stalag Luft III (German: Stammlager Luft III; literally "Main Camp, Air, III"; SL III) was a Luftwaffe-run prisoner of war (POW) camp during World War II, which held captured Western Allied air force personnel.The Stalag was established in March 1942 in the German province of Lower Silesia near the town of Sagan (now Żagań, Poland), 160 kilometres (100 miles) south-east of Berlin. The site was selected because its sandy soil made it difficult for POWs to escape by tunneling. It is best known for two escape plots by Allied POWs.
- One in 1943 that became the basis of a fictionalized film, The Wooden Horse (1950), based on a book by escapee Eric Williams.
- The so-called Great Escape of March 1944, which was conceived by Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, and was authorised by the senior British officer at Stalag Luft III, Herbert Massey. A heavily fictionalized version of the escape was depicted in a film, The Great Escape (1963), which was based on a book by former prisoner Paul Brickhill.
Newcomer was awarded the Distimguished Service Cross, Air Medal for "exceptionally meritorious achievement" as well as the Prisoner of War Medal and a Purple Heart. His Air Medal is included in this offering.
- Original U.S. WW2 size 38R named Gaberdine 4 pocket officer jacket with Lieutenant bars (shoulder patches were removed but are included, loose) with his initials on internal pocket and laundry number in armpit.
- Original Officer Peaked Visor "crush" cap with initials on sweatband
- Original U.S. overcoat with initials on internal pocket.
- Original Air Medal in case.
- Fantastic and comprehensive research binder detailing all of Newcomer's service with copies of original documents, mission lists, and much more
- Book Risking and Resisting by Marie Le Febvre with all pages (8 pages) that mention Newcomer, nicely picked out.
The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9 October 1943, during which only two out of one hundred B-17s were lost and all of the buildings on the site were damaged or destroyed. They won two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, awarded to all 4th Bomb Wing Groups, was for accurately dropping their pay load on an aircraft factory at Regensburg, on 17 August 1943 and the Group's second was awarded after leading a difficult long-range mission to destroy an aircraft repair works at Zwickau, south-west Germany, on 12 May 1944.
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