NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG4256.AM: Willis Lee Jones, 1917-2015
Diaries (photocopies only): 1944-1945
Bloomfield, Knox County and McCook, Red Willow County, Neb.: Air Force veteran
Size: 2 items
Willis Lee Jones was born in Bloomfield, Nebraska, March 21, 1917. He was working in California for the Santa Fe Railroad when he was drafted in 1941. At that time he was twenty-four years old. Jones entered active duty on June 26, 1943 and was assigned a position as company clerk with an armored division. Upon completion of examination, he was moved to the Air Force and Aviation Cadets and Air-Corp Heavy Bombardment. After nine months of training, he was shipped out in October of 1944. He was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 96th Bomb Group, 338th Squadron. As co-pilot on a B-17, 1st Lieutenant Jones participated in twenty-six bombing runs over enemy territory. He was due to be rotated home after his twenty-sixth mission, but he was shot down over Germany on April 13, 1944 while on that mission.
After being captured by a group of potato farmers in the area, Jones and the rest of his crew were turned over to the German military. After a period of interrogation, Jones was assigned to Stalag Luft No. 1, arriving at the camp in Barth, Germany, on April 22, 1944. He remained a prisoner of war there until May 1, 1945, when the camp was liberated by the Russians. On May 13, 1945, Jones was flown back to Camp Lucky Strike in France. On November 28, 1945, Jones was released from the military. He passed away at McCook, Nebraska on October 4, 2015 at the age of 98.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists of two diaries (photocopies only) dating from January 1944 to April 1945. The diaries relate to the bombing missions and prisoner of war experiences of 1st Lt. Willis L. Jones. Volume 1 details the first twenty-three bombing missions in which Lt. Jones participated as co-pilot in the 8th Air Force, 96th Bomb Group, 338th Squadron, January-March 1944. Jones provides a chart which lists the mission number, date, target, and length of mission. A narrative description of each mission follows in which Jones details flak and enemy fighters encountered, events at target sites, counterattacks, losses and damage received, damage inflicted, bomb loads, and evaluations of the missions’ successes. Jones’ second diary contains brief entries during his interment at Stalag Luft No. 1 in Barth, Germany, September 1944 – April 1945. (Jones did not keep a diary during his first five months of imprisonment.) His short entries report on morale, the weather, rations, mail deliveries, war rumors, and general P.O.W. conditions.
Note: See the photo component [RG4256.PH] for related images.
- Bombing mission diary, 1944, Jan. 4-Mar. 28
- Prisoner of war diary, 1944, Sept. 25-1945, Apr. 24
Jones, Willis Lee, 1917-2015
United States. Army Air Forces — History — World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945 — Aerial operations
World War, 1939-1945 — Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945 — Prisoners and prisons, German
Encoded TMM 05-12-2010