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"WWII captain's secret mission to save hundreds from Soviets" Topic


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471 hits since 30 Oct 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 9:04 p.m. PST

"Capt. Robert Trimble was "mad as hell" when he learned of the deception.

It was Feb. 15, 1945, and the 25-year-old U.S. Army Air Forces bomber pilot had just arrived for duty at Poltava Air Base, Ukraine. It was one of three bases in Soviet territory where the U.S. military was allowed to operate during World War II, and Trimble accepted orders there believing it would be a relatively risk-free mission flying out aircraft that had crashed and been repaired.

Checking in with the commanding officer of the small U.S. contingent at Poltava, Trimble asked, "Where are these planes that they want ferried back to Italy and England?"

That's when Col. Thomas Hampton dropped the bombshell, informing Trimble that flying planes out was only a ruse to deceive the Russians. His real business at Poltava was a top-secret mission, working with counterintelligence agents to find recently liberated American POWs and help them get home. The mission would eventually expand to include POWs from other allied nations as well as death camp refugees…."
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Amicalement
Armand

AlexWood01 Nov 2017 2:46 a.m. PST

You know what makes me doubt this. Poltava is about 900km from the Polish border.

"… helped 400 French women make it out of Poland and back to France."

Fred Cartwright01 Nov 2017 3:36 a.m. PST

You know what makes me doubt this. Poltava is about 900km from the Polish border.

I suggest you actually read the piece in the link provided. It makes it clear that he was flown out to Krakow and Lwow.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2017 10:40 a.m. PST

Fred is right…


Amicalement
Armand

Barin103 Nov 2017 6:41 a.m. PST

Still, operation Frantic was called off in September, 1944 and the last American plane took off on September, 19. After this, Poltava airfield was not US airbase any longer.
Also, I'm a bit surprised that the guy is described as saving US POW adn French women from evil Soviets. The most endangered former prisoners were soldiers, who surrendered to germans – they, indeed, could get in Gulag fast. Getting US POWs tickets to Odessa, a part of evil Soviet Union shows that moving foreign nationals was not such a problem.
I have a suspicion that he might be involved in smuggling certain people that US were really interested in, or didn't want to be captured by Red Army.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP03 Nov 2017 10:51 a.m. PST


Also, I'm a bit surprised that the guy is described as saving US POW adn French women from evil Soviets. The most endangered former prisoners were soldiers, who surrendered to germans they, indeed, could get in Gulag fast. Getting US POWs tickets to Odessa, a part of evil Soviet Union shows that moving foreign nationals was not such a problem.
I have a suspicion that he might be involved in smuggling certain people that US were really interested in, or didn't want to be captured by Red Army.

When I spent a summer in the Bordeaux region of France, back in 1979, I had the pleasure to come to know a crusty old agricultural worker named Maurice. He was a living stereotype of a French paysan (source of the English word peasant -- but more correctly translated as one who lives in the countryside rather than a vassal). He wore a beret pulled forward (not to the side), he wore a pale blue coat, he always had a cigarette (Gaulois was his brand) dangling from his upper lip right in the front/center of his mouth, his primary transportation was a moped, and he looked rather like Mr. Magoo.

Maurice shared with me his WW2 story. He had been in the French army, had been captured by the Germans in 1940, and had been liberated by the Soviet army in 1944 (I think). He said he spent 4 years as a prisoner of the Germans, and 5 years as a "guest" of the Soviets. He did not return to France until 1949. During that time when he was a "guest" he lost his ring finger on his left hand, when he didn't get the hint fast enough when one of the Russian (actually probably Kirghiz or Mongolian) guards expressed admiration for his ring.

His view, as much as he disliked the Germans, was that he would choose being a captive of the Germans to being a guest of the Russians any day. As a captive of the Germans he always understood where he stood. He was an enemy soldier, he had a set of rights, but had to submit to military discipline, and he would be released when the war ended. As a guest of the Russians he had no idea. He didn't know why he was there, didn't know what the rules were, and didn't know if he would ever get home.

An interesting old fellow.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

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