2/Lt. Tunis J. Lyon
(Robert M. Littlefield)
2/Lt. Tunis J. Lyon
338th FS - 13 February 1944 - 15 April 1944 (Prisoner of War)
|Notes||Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 26 February
ASN - O-681686
13 February 1944 - Joined the 338th Fighter Squadron
15 April 1944 - Prisoner of War
MACR No. 03905
Tunis Lyon relates his experiences: I joined the 55th Fighter Group in late January or early February of 1944 and was assigned to the 338th Fighter Squadron flying P-38s. After a number of missions I was shot down near Lingen, Germany, not far from the Dutch border. I was liberated on March 31, 1945, from a hospital in Bad Soden, Salmunster, Germany, roughly northeast of Frankfurt-am-Main.
We were on a strafing mission in western Germany when we suddenly came upon an airfield with a flak tower in the center. No chance of getting out of the way since we were on the deck. Both engines were blown out and I had to come in dead stick. I picked the most open spot available but it had a plantation at one end and I ended up with both wings removed and a plane in flames after the tanks exploded. I had a little trouble getting out of the cockpit and ended up with third degree burns on my face, head and hands. My helmet and gloves were burned off. I walked into a small town and most of the people wouldn't help me. Finally an older man and his daughter gave me water and bread and naturally turned me over to the Home Guard who turned me over to the military.
I was interrogated and some ointment was put on my burns. By this time I couldn't see. About two or three days later, after riding in back of a truck, I ended up in a small hospital, staffed by a French doctor who was supervised by a roving German doctor. I was blind for about one and a half months when some sight was restored. The medical treatment I received was the best they had. My left hand was burned to the tendons and only because I could wiggle my fingers was the hand left on. Thanks to that German doctor I now have full use of the hand.
I was eventually transferred with two other prisoners, to a larger hospital near Frankfurt-an-Main. While being transferred we got caught in an air raid. They took us off the train and into an air raid shelter with many other people. The tone became nasty and the guard didn't really know what to do, but a German woman with a baby carriage used it to shield us in a corner of the shelter. After the raid was over and the people dispersed she moved off and we returned to the train. So much for helping the enemy! In Frankfurt some work was done on my face where healing was not progressing very well. They cauterized the proud flesh on my whole forehead. I was then sent to Bad Soden, Salmunster, a mineral springs area. It was a hospital basically for prisoners having eye problems maintained by Catholic Sisters and staffed by a British Medical unit captured in Africa. I qualified, having no eye lids, nose and parts of the ears. I stayed there until March 31, 1945 when we were liberated by Patton's tank corps.
Some of the American prisoners walked out to the main road and caught a
ride back to the nearest field hospital and staging area. From there
to Paris and then home to Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania.
All in all I would say I was treated very well by the Germans. One
note: While a prisoner I was operated on by a German doctor to repair and
provide me with eye lids. He had never performed this procedure
before and did it by following instructions from a book written by an
American, Doctor Brown. When I was at Valley Forge Hospital, I
encountered Dr. Brown and told him the story. He was highly amused.
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