Capt. Peter Dempsey

(F. Birtciel)

Capt. Peter Dempsey

338th FS - April 1943 - 07 October 1944 (Prisoner of War)

Assigned Aircraft

P-38J 44-67740 CL-J
P-51D 44-14291 CL-

Mission History

Not Known

Mission List
55th FG Mission # Date Target
31 05 January 1944 Kiel (White 3)
97 21 May 1944 Chattanooga No.1
249 07 October 1944 Leipzig
Air Scores
Ground Scores
Score Detail 05 January 1944  Me-109 destroyed (air) Neumunster
21 May 1944  (2)Me-109 destroyed (ground) Helmstedt
21 May 1944  (3)FW-190 damaged (ground) Helmstedt
Notes Born in Tacoma, Washington, 29 June 1920.
ASN - O-743319
April 1943 - Joined the 338th Fighter Squadron
29 November 1943 - Awarded the Air Medal
17 January 1944 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
05 February 1944 - Awarded 2 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal
07 March 1944 - Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
On 21 May 1944, Capt. Dempsey was strafing Helmstedt airdrome when he tried to fly under high tension power lines.  In doing so, he snagged the wire and returned to Wormingford with approx. 10ft of 1 inch power line attached to his left rudder (see photographs below).
17 June 1944 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross
Bailed out on 07 October 1944, after his engine had lost complete power.
MACR No. 09258

Crew Chief - T/Sgt. Marvin T. Reynolds

Passed away on 28th June 2008.


Peter Dempsey relates his experiences:

The city where I went down, unknown. (Forty miles south west of Leipzig.) On the fatal day I was lead of a spare flight of four. I was briefed that I could tag along for the full mission if a spare was not needed. All went well until I lost complete power. It happened so fast that the rest of my flight could not throttle back in time to follow me down, at least I never saw them after the failure. The prop windmilled for a minute or two and then froze. I went down at a pretty steep angle, I let the canopy go and got ready to get out. Things were going a little fast so I decided to belly in. I landed a little fast and went right past the field I had picked out and went into a stand of trees.

Some how, I have no idea how, I found myself sitting on a log getting rid of my breakfast. The plane exploded and set all the trees on fire. As I sat there a very old gentleman came over and asked if I could walk. I had received cuts, etc. and a sprained right leg. I got up but couldn't put any weight on it. He was using a cane and offered it to me but no go. He said he was sorry but he would have to leave and did. After he left a group of Serbs, who were farming the field I wanted to land on, came over and tried to talk to me with no luck. In a flash they were gone as a car drove up in a cloud of dust. It stopped about a hundred yards from where I sat. Four people got out, the mayor of the town, an army officer, and a driver of the car plus some guy I didn't get introduced to. They all had leather coats on down to theankle style. It looked like one of our movies about the Germans. I couldn't help but laugh which did not help. The fire was so intense that they were sure it was a bomber and insisted I tell them where the crew was hiding. I couldn't walk without help and also I had a deep cut on my forehead which was real bad plus my left thumb was almost cut off. They took me to a military hospital near where I went down. The doctor there was a great guy. He got his MD in Scotland and spoke English. He wanted to visit the USA and all that stuff. He sealed my forehead by using clamps, no sewing, also my thumb. I thought my leg was broken but it was only badly sprained. I stayed a couple of days there then moved on. The doctor bent over backward to get an escort of equal or higher rank but couldn't find anyone but a warrant type and took better than an hour explaining this to me. I was then sent to Obermassfeld IX C. There were a lot of P-47 pilots with bad burns there. Seems as though they sat over the turbo. (Engine supercharger) I was there a week or more, then to a holding station at Meiningen for those headed for Sagan and those selected to go home on the Gripsholm. Bert Shepard was there and did get to go home.

I was sent to Stalag Luft III and then was on the march south to Stalag VII A at Moosburg where we were liberated by Patton. I had been treated as well as could be expected although food was a bit scarce for everyone. I was sent to Camp Lucky Strike and then home by boat with Karl Garlock in command.

Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author's book Double Nickel - Double Trouble
Nb. Photos open in new windows.  Close the new windows to return to this page. Capt. Dempsey and crew chief Sgt. Reynolds holding power line attached to left rudder of Capt. Dempsey's P-38. (F. Birtciel)
Photograph of 10ft of power line still attached to Capt. Dempsey's P-38, having returned to Wormingford. (F. Birtciel)
Additional photograph of Capt. Peter Dempsey by his P-38 (Robert M. Littlefield)
Another photo of Capt. Dempsey next to his P-38 with power cable still attached (55th FG Newsletter)
Power cable around rudder (55th FG Newsletter)

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