Krieg in der Luft -> Stalag Luft VI, St. Wendel, Germany -> Charles W. Hartney

Charles W. Hartney


home: Wichita Falls, TX



POW-# 4069

Radio Operator

8th AF 467 BG 789 BS

B-24H           # 129373

Pilot: Lt. Damian T. Murray


crew members:

CoP    B.A. Staydt

Bom    Fredrick W. Pulver


The following NCO's had to have also been sent to St. Wendel: Leslie J. Knott; Eugene S. Mettler; J.D. Docamto; Walter C. Sane


1.  6 Aug 1944 over Hamburg; 9 parachuted safely - one killed

2.  to downtown - a camouflaged building then to a cell in a youth camp (I always thought)

3.  by train the 2nd day - couldn't leave that nite due to rail damage - Hamburg was a mess of rubble - no streetcars running. On 8th Aug by rail to Frankfurt and Oberursel. On 10th August to Wetzlar (Dulag Luft) on about 15 Aug to St. Wendel

4.  we walked - can't remember how far though. The camp was on a hill - we crossed over the river on our way. From the camp - when we looked at the hospital there was the Marshal Tobacco Co. on the right. I was there again in 1959 and they were building new houses on that spot. This hospital was large and had several barracks. I was taken there to get my upper plante (dentures) repaired which had been broken into 3 pieces when I was captured.

5.  I don't recall the church. On the way from town to the camp was a road sign "38 km to Saarbrücken" - I saw that sign again in '59

6.     -






12.  yes - for only a few hours. In 1959 when I relocated the camp area. Someone in the city office helped me locate the camp area. Everyone questioned of its whereabouts would say "nein (nine) - no POW camp here".

13.  The area had huge truck, maintenance like, barns. I think that we were all in one large building with 3 bunks. We used a huge wooden VAT for overnight latrine (like half a large vine cask). The Germans had their own latrine (toilets). In fact, Frank Dwyer and I hid in one of the boarded up stalls in an escape attempt the night before they moved us out. That night we were placed into solitaire within the German compound.


I came in with the first group - probably 15 Aug 44. I think that about 3 groups joined us - maybe 500 total - all US and we left 9 Sept 44 (Frank Dwyer kept a diary) by rail. Either end of the box cars were barbed wired for us and we had 3 guards in between. The trip to Luft IV was 3 or 4 days.


Food at St. Wendel was almost non existent - as it was on the train ride.


By the way - Luft VI was evacuated from Heydekrug while we were at St. Wendel and sent to Luft IV - I guess the reason for the new camp!!


I don't recognize the buildings in the photos you sent. The one we were in were high - big doors and the compound was a large truck scale. I had at one time thought of hiding inside of it.


The crew that I flew that mission with, had just came from the States and I first saw them as I replaced their radio operator who was too sick to fly - it was my 32nd mission.


These former POWs were at St. Wendel with me:


J.J. Dunphy             40__   deceased

L.A. Knotle              4017

H.G. Feldkamp                   4019   deceased

A.E. Dowell             4049

P.W. Duran             4051

Larry E. Doyle          4053   Carmichael, CA

Donald Dean Dorfmeier                 4054

Francis E. Dwyer               4055   deceased

E.L. Ferris               4057

M.G. Flores             4059

O.W. Elsrod             4062

Martin C. Chavez               4155   Albuquerque, NM

F.L. Espinoza           4188

Jack R. Fetteroff               4195   Ardmore, PA

John K. Eschbach              4216   Tyrone, PA

E.J. Enghauser                  4217

J.L. Kavanaugh                  4226

Chester Natanek      POW No        4245   deceased

Jack D. Fisher          4395   Fairfield, TX


Mission Number - 92

Date - 8/6/44

Day - Sunday

Day of Year - 219

Primary Target - Hamburg, Germany

Secondary Target -

Results - Excellent

Aircraft Assigned - 24

Aircraft Dispersed - 22

Aircraft Over Target - 22

#of Bombs Dropped - 260

Wt. of Bombs - 500

Type of Bombs - GP

Altitude of Drop - 22000

Fighter Escort

P38 Escort -

P47 Escort - X

P51 Escort - X

Spitfire Escort -

Enemy Aircraft

Claimed Destroyed - 0

Probably Destroyed - 0

Claimed Damaged - 0

Anti Aircraft was - Intense

Aircraft Lost - 2

Men Killed - 1

Men Wounded - 0

Men Missing in Action - 19

Type of Target - Oil Tanks and Processing Plant.

Names of Crew Killed in Actionfrom

B-24H-15-CF 41-29373 ?FLAK MAGNET? 789th Sqdn

2nd Lt Seymour M. Gitlitz, Navigator


B-24H-15-CF 41-29421 ?WALLOWING WILBERT? 791st Sqdn

2nd Lt George J. Kotraba, Pilot

2nd Lt Sumner A. McCartney, Co-Pilot

FO Joseph W. Kirby, Bombardier

Sgt Samuel R. Corbin, Ball-Turret Gunner

Cpl Dan R. Gage, Gunner

SSgt John H. Biggs, Gunner

Sgt Thaddeus F. Jez, Tail Gunner


B-24H 42-95224 ?LONELY HEART? 791st Sqdn

2nd Lt Roy J. Doole, co-pilot


Names of Crew Made Prisoners of War

from B-24H-15-CF 41-29373 ?FLAK MAGNET? 789th Sqdn

2nd. Lt. Damian J. Murray, pilot

2nd Lt. Benedict A. Staudt, co-pilot

2nd Lt. Frederick W. Pulver, bombardier

SSgt Leslie J. Knott, engineer

Sgt Eugene S. Mettler, ball-turret

Sgt J.D. Docouto, gunner

Sgt Walter C. Sane, gunner

Sgt Dominic C. Garetto, tail gunner, Charles W. Hartney, radio operator

from B-24H-15-CF 41-29421 ?WALLOWING WILBERT? 791st Sqdn

2nd Lt. James R. Gamble, navigator

SSgt David W. Johnson, engineer

SSgt James E. Manning, radio-operator

Names of Crew Interned

Mission Narrative

Major Smith led the first of two squadrons, Capt. Neitzel the second. Twenty-four aircraft took off at 0745 each loaded with 12 x 500lb GPs. The bombing run was visual with excellant results. One aircraft returned with mechanical failure.

Intense and accurate flak at target, no enemy aircraft seen. Good fighter support.

Details of Aircraft Loss

B-24H-15-CF 41-29373 ?FLAK MAGNET? 789th Sqdn

The ship was struck by flak about one minute before ?bombs away?. The crew managed to bail out before the aircraft crashed in Hamburg. One fatality. Remaining crew made POW.

B-24H-15-CF 41-29421 ?WALLOWING WILBERT? 791st Sqdn

Took a direct hit from flak in the right wing, two minutes before the target while on the bomb run. Three crew successfully bailed out and the ship is reported to have exploded in mid-air killing the remaining crew. Survivors made POW.

Mission Label

Mission #92

Hamburg, Ger




467 BG 789 BS

target Hamburg

06.08.1944, 1159 hrs


B-24H # 41-29373

MACR 7378

KU 2672


P        Murray Damian J. 2Lt O-695270      POW

Co      Staudt Benedict A. 2Lt        O-822974      POW

Nav    Gitlitz  Seymour M. 2Lt       O-716643      KIA

Bomb  Pulver Frederick       2Lt     O-553969      POW

ROp    Hartney        Charles W. SSgt       36328510      POW

BT      Mettler         Eugene S. SSgt       39326429      POW

TG      Garetto         Dominic C. SSgt       3_742234      POW

Gnr     DoCouto        Jose P. SSgt  11115310      POW

Gnr     Sane   Walter C. SSgt        34771507      POW


Plane crashed at Hamburg-Schnelsen, 1203 hrs

Gitlitz was first buried at Hamburg-Niendorf Cemetery.



Statement of Witness

Hamburg Raid


Lt. Murray's aircraft was flying in the second squadron. His left wing was shot completely off out past #1 engine. The plane went into a tight spin to the left of the formation. As far as I could see, no parachutes came out of the aircraft.


Tommy F. Brown, 18216975

SSgt, 790 BS



Statement of Witness

Over Hamburg about one (1) minute before "bombs away" Lt. Murry's aircraft was hit on the left wing and about six feet was shot away. The aircraft was turned over on its back and broke off into a dive then into a spin. I saw no parachutes or men leave. The aircraft crashed in Hamburg.


Calvin K. Jensen, 16145005

SSgt 789 BS

Historische Forschungen · Roland Geiger · Alsfassener Straße 17 · 66606 St. Wendel · Telefon: 0 68 51 / 31 66
E-Mail:  alsfassen(at)  (c)2009

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