2/Lt. Frederick W. West

338th FS - February 1943 - 24 March 1944 (Missing in Action - Evaded)
338th FS - 17 June 1944 (Returned) - 06 July 1944

Assigned Aircraft

P-38J 42-67738

Mission History

Not Known

Mission List
55th FG Mission # Date Target
66 24 March 1944 Metz
Air Scores
Destroyed  
Probable  
Damaged  
Ground Scores
Destroyed  
Damaged  
Notes

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 1 July 1915.
ASN - O-743551
February 1943 - Joined the 338th Fighter Squadron
24 March 1944 - Missing in Action
MACR No. 03385
During interrogation Lt. West said: "I pulled up to release my belly tanks at the same time as another aircraft in the flight, but my button failed. I reached back for the mechanical release and on turning again could not see the other ship. Thinking it directly below me, I started into a flat turn to avoid it but the other aircraft pulled up and I hit it across the tail. I went into a spin with my foot caught in the rudder and fell 10,000 feet before I freed it. I then pulled up into a stall and bailed out. When I had pulled the ripcord I looked the terrain over and guided my chute towards a woods. I landed like a feather between two trees and immediately got out of my harness and pulled in my chute. One of the boys buzzed me and I hid my equipment under the leaves and brush. Then I set off through the woods, sometimes crawling on my stomach to be inconspicuous and at other times swinging from branch to branch to throw dogs off the trail. I came to a deep ditch on the edge of the woods. After breaking some branches I got into a hole, camouflaging the opening with foliage. Over an hour later I heard German voices, but they soon faded away. In another hour I heard feminine voices. Peeking through my branches I saw six young girls walking by, but they did not seem to be looking for anything. When they returned a half hour later, I thought they might be expecting a signal from me so I whistled. They turned and when I said, 'Je suis Americain', they dashed toward me chattering excitedly. I asked if one of them had a father or a brother in the Resistance movement, but none of them felt free to answer. One admitted that her father lived in a nearby village, and I asked her to bring him back at 2000 hours. She agreed and they left after covering me with more foliage.

"Several hours passed before I heard two men whistling. I could not see them however, and therefore kept still. They worked back and forth for a long time without ever getting very near and I decided to answer their whistles. I did so for over half an hour before one of them came in view. He was wearing a beret and finally came to a spot directly back of me. I could not see them without disturbing the branches, so I kept my hand on my throwing knife in case they were collaborators. A hand grabbed my foot. I turned and saw a peasant sitting on his haunches, grinning. We had a long argument because he said, 'camarade' which I had always thought of as a German surrender term. He finally said, 'camarade - ami' and we shook hands. The man with the beret joined us. He had bread, sausage and whiskey. The whiskey had a peculiar smell and I again became suspicious. I made them each drink some before I would take any. I was glad when it turned out to be good, for the hole in which I had been sitting was a third full of water and I was pretty chilled. I asked about the Germans and learned that they had already stopped searching the woods because they were too few to risk being there long. I told them about the girls I had seen previously and found that one had acted so swiftly that the rest of my journey was already arranged."

Lt. West was provided with identification and travel papers by the French and paid a Frenchman 10,000 francs, ($200.) to guide him through the Pyrenees Mountains. During this period he had his maps and compass stolen by a Spanish shepherd. He arrived in Spain, 15 May 1944, and Gibraltar, 13th of June. Flown from Gibraltar, 14 June, he landed at Bristol, England, 15 June 1944.
Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author's book Double Nickel - Double Trouble

17 June 1944 - Returned to the 338th Fighter Squadron
06 July 1944 - Transferred out of the 338th Fighter Squadron

Awards
Memories During Lt. West's interrogation by USAAF intelligence he discussed what he thought about the Escape Kit which was provided all American airmen .... "I ate Horlicks while hiding in the woods and later in the mountains, they were very useful. I found the peanut bar difficult to ration as the paper covering is so skimpy that the bar cannot be kept dean unless a lot is eaten at once. I used the adhesive tape for another man in the Pyrenees but there was not enough to do much good. The Benzedrine was very helpful in the mountains. The compass, chewing gum and matches were also used. I carried a red purse but the maps were the old type and did not have enough detail to be helpful. I carried two photographs and used one temporarily, but the background was too white and the face too large. I was lectured on evasion in the States, at Atcham, and Nuthampstead (England). The lectures taught me to have confidence in the French, as they could find help for me, and they did."
Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author's book Double Nickel - Double Trouble
   

Back to 338th Fighter Squadron Pilots