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39th Bomb Group (VH)


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Sgt Harry Slater, Jr
CFC Gunner
Harry Slater (R) w/ Dick Curry, cousin of crewmate David Curry, who was lost with the rest of Slater's crew.
Note: The following is copy of a letter written by Harry Slater, CFC Gunner, Kobler Crew, 61st Sqd, 39th BG to the mother of David Curry, Gunner on the same crew & cousin of Richard (Dick) Curry Crew 19 (60th Sqd 39th BG). David Curry was listed as Missing in Action. According to MACR # 14511 (Missing Air Crew Report) David Curry is listed as "DED". Sparky Corradina of the 40th Bomb Group Association provided this: "With Cpl David R. Curry being listed "DED" (Declared Dead) further research turned up that the remains were crashed with the aircraft and it is supposed that the remains could not be identified - this may explain why Curry is listed as "DED"".

"Dear Mrs. Curry:

I, at last, got a chance to write you and express my sorrow on the missing boys. I just have to thank God that I was so lucky to leave the plane first. We were burning badly and it looked as if she would blow up any second when I dove out of the bomb bay. I am the CFC or ring gunner on the plane and during our training I was taught to jump first in my compartment.

The Captain was planning on ditching it in the ocean but he gave us our choice whether to bailout or to go down with him. The fire looked so bad that I decided to get out quick, which I did. The rest should have followed but they didn't have much time. I am not sure, but it seemed to me like an explosion (occurred) when I left. I was covered with fire and parts of the plane were falling off. By the time I released my burning raft and rubbed out the fire on me, I pulled the ripcord. After that, I never saw anything of the plane. I wasn't sure whether it flew away or if it was one of the many fires on the ground. I wasn't burned too badly and hid out in the hills for two nights and then I was captured near a town. I was then taken to M. P. Headquarters at Kempei in Tokyo where I was put in a cell with eight other B-29 men, which soon grew to fourteen. It was awfully crowded in that 7 x 10 foot cell. Not enough room for everyone to sleep.

They fed us a handful of rice and sometimes a few greens for three months. I lost 50 pounds but already have gained it back. While we were there I never saw any of the rest the crew or never heard any news concerning them.

We were all very close to each other. Playing basketball together and going to town together. I give you all my sympathy and hope and pray that they might show up some place somehow.

I close for now praying that they might show up among the missing soon. I will, write again when I get more time. I have just a few days at home now. I am stationed at Van Nyes in the Birmingham General Hospital for the time being.

I wish you all the luck and health in the future.

Sincerely

Harry"


Update:

13 November 2002: In 1995/96 the widow of Capt Kobler and one of her sons heard about of Veterans Day or Memorial Day gathering in Reno, NV that advertised a speaker who was the sole survivor of a B-29 shot down over Tokyo. They went to the gathering to find that it was indeed Slater. When Ken Lummus, who is pictured with his father drove over to visit Slater he had moved.

Any one with additional information about Harry Slater or a member of his crew please email updates@39th.org


Kobler Crew Main Page

POW Main Page

61st Squadron Index Page

Source: MACR#14511 provided by James Kasmarek; "History of the 39th BG"; Ken Lummus