U.S. Army 1942–1945
Bill O’Brien joined the Army Air Force after Pearl Harbor, went to Texas for bombardier training and in 1943 was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Bill and his crew of ten were sent by liberty ship as a replacement group through Casablanca and on to Tunis. There with the 301st Bomb Group, Bill saw the destruction left over from the clashes between Rommel and Montgomery. His group would receive their orders for a mission in a closed room, be told of the terrain and the type of anti-aircraft they’d be up against. After flying ten missions, Bill was filling in for another bombardier with a crew he didn’t know, was shot down over Greece and sent to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany.
Serving in the Army Air Corps, Bill O’Brien was shot down in Greece and in this interview, part 2 of a two-part interview, Bill talks about his confinement as a POW in Stalag Luft 1(South Compound) in Barth, Germany. He talks in detail about the camp, the food, and the parcels sent by the Red Cross. To keep busy, they organized theatre and music groups and Bill helped put together theater sets, distracting the German guards from the radio hidden in the rafters between the theatre and the chapel. He also talks about roll call and hidden POWs, the difficulty of receiving food and mail through the Red Cross and the excitement of hearing on the BBC of the impending invasion. Pictures of Stalag Luft 1 can be seen at http://www.merkki.com/photo.htm.