2/Lt. Harold J. Konantz
(Robert M. Littlefield)
2/Lt. Harold J. Konantz
338th FS - 23 March 1945 - 07 April 1945 (Prisoner of War)
Born in Lamar, Missouri, 24 December 1923.
ASN - O-719368
23 March 1945 - Joined the 338th Fighter Squadron
07 April 1945 - Shot down by 'Friendly Fire' and made Prisoner of War
MACR No. 13949
Walter Konantz, a pilot in the same squadron, tells his brother's story, in first person, as it was told to him. Harold was killed in a civilian aircraft accident in 1977.
I think I was shot down by a B-17. I had been designated to get close enough to identify the bomber's tail symbols to see if they were the ones the 55th was to escort that day. I saw some puffs of smoke come from the waist gun on one of them. I did not feel anything hit the airplane but less than ten minutes later my coolant temperature had pegged and steam was coming out from under my engine cowling. The engine eventually caught fire and I bailed out at eleven thousand feet. (It was later reported that someone said over the radio, "What a way to go, shot down by a B-17.") I landed near the small town of Pritzwalk, some forty miles north west of Berlin, and was captured immediately by civilians and Pritzwalk police who watched me come down. I was kicked around some by the civilians and then put in the local jail for about a week before being picked up by the Luftwaffe. I had nothing to eat until I got to the interrogation center.
An interesting sidelight to the interrogation was when asked my name and I answered, the interrogation officer shuffled through some papers, studied one for a while, and replied, "We thought you had finished your tour and were on the way home." He had a data sheet on my brother, Walter, who in fact had finished his tour and was on his way home at that time. I did admit what type aircraft I was flying and the German officer said, "Ach, the 'Moosetang', a good airplane." I eventually ended up at a POW camp near Barth, Stalag Luft I. I met several 55th pilots there including Eastman, Gregg and Buskirk.
The Germans deserted the camp and fled when the advancing Russians overran the area. The prisoners foraged around the country side for chickens and eggs but stayed near the camp so the American rescuers could find them. Once while roaming the nearby country side, myself and a friend found a locomotive by itself in a marshalling yard. We fiddled around with it, got it moving under its own power then jumped off and watched it disappear down the tracks toward the next town.
The Russians shared some of their food with us prisoners and also a lot of their vodka. We were all flown out of there aboard B-17s and taken to camp Lucky Strike (in France) for transportation back to the U.S.
Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author's book Double Nickel - Double Trouble
07 June 1945 - Returned to Active Duty with the 338th Fighter Squadron
Publicity photo of (L-R) Walt Konantz and brother Harold Konantz
Lt. Harold J. Konantz (D. Herbst via 55th FG
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