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Legacy Of:

Daniel  L.  Culler

 

Personal Legacy
DANIEL L. CULLER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

P. O. Box 8634 CRB
Tucson, AZ 85738
(602)825-3505

June 9, 1986

Dear Will:

In the January 1986 44th Logbook you requested any information on POWs-Internees-Evadees-Escapees from WWII. The following is all the information I have on myself and names only of the crew.

My name is Daniel L. Culler, T/Sgt. Flight Engineer - SN 15105134. Hometown Syracuse, Ind. Enlisted 23 July 1942. Separation 7 September 1945. Served in 8th AF from 27 September 1943 to 4th November 1944, was in the 66BS.

Was shot down on 18 March 1944 on raids on Munich and Friedrichshafen. It was our last mission before our tours were up to be sent home. Left fuel tanks were ruptured by flak and while I was up above wing transferring fuel to right tanks, pilot reported lost oil pressure on 1 and 2 engines on left side. When I got back from transferring fuel, we were surrounded by Swiss FW 109 planes escorting us to a field in Switzerland.

Was interned at Adelboden, SW, until 12 July 1944 when our belly gunner, Howard Melson, Matthew Thirlaway (an escapee from the British Army that was prisoner from Italy) and myself, attempted an escape from internment camp to make our way to Italy and hold out till Allied forces came north (not knowing that they would be bogged down in south of Italy. We were captured by Swiss close to the Italian border and I had to return to camp because of sickness that was caused from eating some poisonous plants while we were up in the mountains.


All three of us were then put in a regular prison camp called Wauwilermoos which was a prisoner of war camp for anyone who failed to obey the Swiss Neutral Status. It was filled with all nationals - from Russians to Poles.

After spending about three months at Weauwilermoos, I was covered with boils and sores from the straw and filthy conditions and was sent to a hospital where I was treated and then sent to a camp up close to Austrian border from there I again escaped making my way crisscross across Switzerland to Geneva and got with Swiss underground and was put in a taxi to be taken to the French border where the driver was to get close to barbed wire at border so we could jump out and jump over wire and get into France, but the driver, fearing that he would get caught by the border patrol, stopped about half a mile from the border and we had to run under a hail of bullets from the Swiss border patrol and jumped over three rolls of barbed wire to make it into France. One person was shot in the escape but we got him across. We then walked on a dirt road until two men came by with bikes and guns slung over their shoulders. They rode ahead about a half mile and jumped off their bikes and into a ditch until we came up to them and then with their guns on us wanted I.D.s and since we were in civilian clothes and not knowing if they were French or Germans finally let them know we were Americans and they were the French underground.

They then took us to some small town close to Lyon, France, where we spent several weeks until an evening they landed a C-47 in on a grass field and flew a group of us back to England.

I think the thing I remember most is that when we got back to England and were placed at Stone which was a deportation or processing center, because I didn't have mess kits and was in civilian clothes they wouldn't feed me and I had to go in back of the mess hall and eat out of garbage cans until they finally got me a mess kit and uniform.

Because the last several missions before we were shot down our planes were badly damaged and had to fly replacement planes, I can't tell you what plane logo or numbers, I only think it was a B24H, and don't remember any markings on the sides.

Another thing I remember was the military attaché for America was a Brig. General from the Cavalry and he visited me once in Wauwilermoos and told me that even if we won the war that the Swiss wouldn't let me go because I had broken their neutral law and was not under the American care. That is why I tried so many times to escape.

The other members of our crew were as near as I can remember are as follows: Pilot, Frank Telford from Mass., Francis Coune, copilot from Florida. Francis Testa, radio operator from Waterbury, Conn., William Carroll, bombardier from PA. McConnalt, navigator from Cal. Waist gunners were James Hancock, waist from South Carolina and Dawson from N.C.. Belly gunner Howard Melson from Delaware. George Petrik was waist gunner and John Hughes was tail gunner.

Don't remember what field [Shipdham] we were at only that we used to go to Norwich at night. I have a sketch of Wauwilermoose Prison that I made. I could make a copy of and send to you if you wish.

I haven't thought of this for a long time, so hope I was able to help you on your tireless research. I can imagine it's quite an undertaking.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Culler
 
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