Robert E. Dulac—Fyrtle Myrtle Crash Survivor

Researcher Janet Dethick kindly shared information she discovered concerning Robert Dulac, one of the survivors of the crash of the American B-24 bomber known as the Fyrtle Myrtle on July 16, 1943.

See “B-24 Bomber Fyrtle Myrtle Discovered.”

In the official Missing Air Crew Report, Staff Sergeant Edward Dzierzynski shared this information about the survivors:

“S/Sgt. R.E. Dulac—at a hospital in Potenza, Italy—was badly injured about the eyes – head. S/Sgt. C. F. Johnson at Potenza, Italy. We there boarded the same train for P.O.W. camp. Johnson was in good condition.”

Edward Dzierzynski and Cyrus Johnson were interned at P.G. 59 Servigliano. Robert Dulac, because of his serious injuries, was treated at a military hospital in Perugia.

Here is what Janet had to share regarding Robert:

“I thought you would be interested to know that Robert E. Dulac, the third survivor of the USAAF 376 bomb Group crash featured on your website, was at some stage admitted to Perugia Military Hospital from where on 6 October 1943 he was transferred to Perugia gaol. On 15 October he was transferred to Campo PG77 at Pissignano (Campello sul Clitunno) along with several other servicemen who had also been in hospital with him and it was from there that he would have been transferred to Stalag Luft III.”

The U.S. National Archives online POW database indicates Robert was repatriated/liberated from “Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11.”

“I have attached the entry from the Perugia gaol register and the transfer form which shows him leaving the gaol,” Janet explained. “Unfortunately I didn’t photograph the whole sheet on which the name ‘Campo at Spoleto’ could be read. The next group of men to be dismissed from the gaol were sent to Pissignano and in fact the camp was one and the same—Pissignano is near to Spoleto.”

I asked Janet why the release order refers to Robert as “Dulac Roberto di Francesco.”

She replied, “At that time Italians always identified people in any official document or capacity by giving their father’s name, hence we can only assume that his father was called Francis.”

A September 4, 1943 report on inspection of prisoners of war at the Perugia military hospital, which Janet accessed at the British National Archives, contains information on conditions there:

The number of prisoners being treated at Perugia Military Hospital at that time were 41 (one British air force officer, 38 British non-commissioned officers and men, and two American non-commissioned officers and men; of the 40 non-commissioned officers and men, 39 were from the army and one from the air force).

“Prisoners are in two hospitals: the Hospital S. Giuliano and the Hospital Monteluce, the later being reserved for tubercular and infectious cases.

“The prisoners come from several camps (54 – 122 – 115 – 77) There are besides prisoners from the French Foreign Legion, Giraudists and Croats. All the prisoners are together without distinction of nationality.

“The treatment of the prisoners is very good in this hospital. They told us this in the presence of the Italian doctor who is attached to their section. The latter, whose whole career has been in London, looks after them very well. The general complaint has been the lack of Red Cross parcels. It seems the camps to which the prisoners were attached do not forward parcels and cigarettes from the Red Cross. The same applies to letter forms and cards, the Italian cigarette ration and pay. We are forced to say that the system by which prisoners depend entirely upon a camp in which they may never have been is bad. These defects are naturally accentuated at the moment by the difficulties of communication. It would be better if the hospital might have in this respect an autonomous administration.

“In consequence of the general drought the town of Perugia is short of water and the hospital suffers from the effects. But this seasonal state of affairs will soon pass.

“The Mixed Medical Commission has examined the sick, of whom several have been passed for repatriation.

“The prisoners have pointed out that about a dozen battle dresses [combat uniforms] are needed as a certain number of them have come from other hospitals and have never passed through a base camp where they would have received their equipment.

“What the prisoners need are books and games. They would be very grateful if the Red Cross could send these.

“These two hospitals, which are under one director, made a good impression on us. The defects mentioned are due to lack of administration and we shall make the necessary representations.”

Staff Sergeant Dulac is specifically mentioned in the report as one of four prisoners who “are without news of their families.”

I am very grateful to Janet for access to this information.

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