Capt. Joseph P. Marsiglia
38th FS - Unknown - 12 September 1942
338th FS - 12 September 1942 - 07 January 1944 (Prisoner of War)
|Known Mission List||
13 November 1943
29 November 1943 Me-109 damaged (air) E/Emmen
Born in New York City, New York, 07 March 1917.
Entered service from Long Island (Flushing), New York.
Known as 'Joe'
ASN - O-388033
12 September 1942 - Transferred from the 38th Fighter Squadron tot he 338th Fighter Squadron
10 September 1943 - Promoted from 1st Lieutenant to Captain
14 October 1943 - Appointed Squadron Gunnery Officer
20 November 1943 - Awarded the Air Medal
27 December 1943 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
07 January 1944 - Prisoner of War
MACR No. 01747
Joe Marsiglia tells his story: Duty in England presented challenges of weather flying for which we were hardly prepared. Take-offs and landings were sometimes hairy but somehow we managed. The problems I encountered were with the dear old P-38. Its heating system was so primitive that on long two belly tank missions we froze at high altitude. Its operation at altitude was a bit sluggish and control pressures were excessive, but I loved its tremendous fire power. Our duty while I flew was strictly bomber escort with strict admonition to "STAY WITH THE BOMBERS". They also protected me when an E/A got on my tail.
The morning of 7 January 1944, was a typical foggy, cold morning. The target was Osnabruck and the group, as usual, was high escort. we made rendezvous shortly after landfall and met light opposition from fighters on the in. As usual flak over the target area was intense and as the big birds withdrew cripples started to trail. My flight of four had gotten scattered in the twisting and turning and I found myself very much alone and out of radio contact. I was with the main bomber stream however and continued to turn enemy fighters away as well as I could by turning toward them. One 17 however was trailing smoke from the port side and losing altitude when four 109s started a gunnery pattern on it. I turned toward this attack which was about 5 thousand feet below, and off to my left and started a run on the fighters, calling for others in the escort to come down. No luck. My left engine was hit, flamed, and I was forced to bail out. I landed near the town of Fischbach, high up in a tree, right arm injured, in a driving rain. I managed to get to the ground and disposed of all military items. I buried them. I was picked up about an hour later by a forest ranger and his dog who had seen me coming down and who had alerted the military. Treatment was courteous. I was held at the mayor's home in Fischbach for about an hour, given refreshments and asked if I needed medical attention and listened to the mayor's story of his exploits in WWI. I spent the night in a military prison where I met the bomber crew I'd tried to defend, who had one man killed. We were given bread and water and, after being called murderers by a general who had just come from the East Front, were put on a train to Stalag I, in Barth, Germany, where we arrived about a week or so later. Treatment at all times was humane if not cordial. We had Red Cross parcels and received hot soup at German Red Cross stops.
Life at Stalag I was bearable since we were convinced that we would win and we had things that the Germans wanted such as coffee, tobacco and soap. With a careful trading system we were able to obtain just about anything we needed - except a way to get out. Weekly showers, ample food supply and an excellent recreational program, along with fine doctors generally had us in a high state of morale. You would not believe the weekly parades we held complete with band. We even sang German marching songs. Have you ever heard, Hi Lee Hi Lo? Our stage plays and educational class were outstanding. I even taught a few like fencing and Italian. We became good cooks. You should try my Chocolate Rutabaga Pie with stale bread crust.
But all good things come to an end, and on the second of May 1945 we were liberated by the Russians. The German troops just faded away and for a few days we caroused with our Russky friends. The bombers came to the local airport soon after and we were staged home thru camp Lucky Strike, England, etc. and it was all behind us. I could only pray for the troops that fell into Japanese hands.
Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author's book Double Nickel - Double Trouble
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