The following POW repatriation report was prepared by MIS-X Section, POW Branch, of the U.S. War Department.
The report is courtesy of the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.
Technical Sergeant Carl L. Valentine
EX Report No. 55
10 December 43
Escape by Technical Sergeant Carl L. Valentine, 14052008, AC, 376th Bomb Group, 514th Bomb Squadron from Camp 59, Servigliano, Italy
Missing in action – 16 July 43
Date of capture – 16 July 43
Reported P/W – 24 August 43
Escape – 14 September 43
Rejoined Allied forces – 20 October 43 at Marrone
Previous in interrogation- British I.O. Casacalenda; Am. I.O. 12th Air Force Headquarters, Tunis
Arrived in USA – 14 November 43, Newport News, Virginia
Home address – 720 Dehli Street, Bossier City, Louisiana
Age – 21
Length of service – 2 years, 9 months
Technical Sergeant Carl L. Valentine – Radio Operator, B-24
On 16 July 1943, Sergeant Valentine left his base at Benghazi as radio operator of a B-24 of the 376th Bomb Group, 514th Bomb Squadron. The mission was bombing an airfield near Bari. The other members of the crew and the information concerning them are:
Pilot – 1st Lieutenant Samuel D. Rose – P/W Stalag Luft 3, Germany
Co-pilot – 2nd Lieutenant Ralph O. Grace – P/W Stalag Luft 3, Germany
Navigator – 2nd Lieutenant Millard John Kesler – P/W Stalag Luft 3
Bombardier – 1st Lieutenant Charles H. Madgley – believed to be a P/W
Engineer – Technical Sergeant William S. Nelson – P/W Italy, unstated
Assistant Engineer – staff sergeant Joseph E. Maleski – escaped but recaptured
Right Waist Gunner – Captain Nicholas Cladakis – believed KIA
Left Waist Gunner – Technical Sergeant Clarence H. Guyder – P/W Italy, unstated
Turret Gunner – Technical Sergeant Jackson M. Hughins – P/W Stalag 8B
As the plane was 20 minutes off the target, flying at 22,000 feet, and, with one engine not functioning, it was attacked by ME-109’s. The bomb run was made and the aircraft was hit heavily by ack-ack and was being followed by pursuit ships which knocked the other engine out and set the wing on fire. One of the pursuit ships also hit the left stabilizer. The signal was given for the crew to bail out. Sergeant Valentine’s foot was caught in the tail turret and Lieutenant Rose, who had set the controls to keep the ship from spinning, assisted him in bailing out.
Capture by Italians
Upon landing in a field a little to the south of Bari, Sergeant Valentine was immediately surrounded by Italian soldiers and civilians. There was no chance for him to run away and he was taken to a hospital at Gioia del Colle along with Lieutenant Grace, whose leg was broken, Sergeant Guyder, who had broken bones, Sergeant Nelson and Sergeant Hughins, whose hand was injured. They were kept under guard by the Italians during the nine days they were in this hospital and underwent interrogation by Italian military authorities. From there they were taken to Bari, confined to a small hut and had a further and much more rigid interrogation.
On 3 August 1943, the Americans were taken to Poggio Mirteto where they remained until about 20 August 1943, when they were transferred to Camp 59. Sergeant Valentine had no further information in regard to conditions in this camp other than has previously been reported.
Escape from Camp 59
In the English battle dress Sergeant Valentine, on 14 September 1943, left the camp with five other escapists and joined another group of nine in the environs of the camp. The group was sighted by German patrols who started shooting and who were successful in recapturing 11 of the men. Sergeant Valentine and two others got away and started off in a southerly direction, avoiding all large sized towns and main highways. For 36 days he made his way south through Ascoli, Penne, the environs of Chieti, Cassali, Civita Campomarono and into Marono. He obtained food and shelter from many Italian civilians and farmers along the way and was able to trade his English battle dress for civilian clothes to effect a better disguise. From an Italian he obtained a good road map and from another Italian about 100 lira. On his travels he observed many German troop movements but had no personal contact with German soldiers. The night before he got to the Allied lines he met an Italian who guided him across the battle area to an advance post on the British 8th Army. From there he was taken to Casacalenda and then returned to his base in Tunis.
Sergeant Valentine stated that the money given to air crews is in denominations that are too large for practical purposes. He said there would be no chance of changing them in isolated areas and that small amounts, such as 15 to 25 lire, could be used to better advantage when dealing with the Italian civilians.
He also stated that maps and money should be secretly concealed in clothing. He suggested the heels and soles of shoes, because in very rare instances where shoes taken away or searched. He also stated that aviators, when starting out on a mission, should always wear GI shoes and not lightweight civilian shoes. The going is very rough and he observed men without their GI shoes having a very difficult time.
The lack of knowing a few simple Italian words and phrases was a serious handicap to him in obtaining information from the Italians. Sergeant Valentine suggested that in briefing at their bases, that air crews be given a short but practical course in Italian. He feels that a half an hour a day for two weeks would be of considerable benefit to air men.
I can’t thank everyone who contributed, gathered all the information and took the time and effort to give all the families this knowledge and understanding!
Pamela Sanning Scroggins