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"We Remember"
by Dwayne O'Brien

1st Lt. James C. Lombardi
723rd Squadron


James earns his wings at Ellington Field in Texas



Original crew that left Almagordo NM on 41-28620



James (far right) inspects a blown tire



Officers returned from the Romanian POW camp Bucharest #13



Letter from General Twining to his parents informing them that James was MIA



Western Union telegram to his parents stating that James "was returned to military control"



Letter from General Twining to James congratulating him "home" and that he was to be sent back to the States



Front of a Romanian currency note with the signatures of POW's



Back of a Romanian currency note with the signatures of POW's

POW Camp Diary of 1st Lt. James C. Lombardi

Pilot of the B-24 Liberator (# 42-27835) of the 15th Army Air Corp, 450th Bomber Group, 723rd Squadron, headquartered in Manduria, Italy.

Shot down by flak and fighters over the Ploesti, Romania Oil Fields, May 31, 1944 along with his crew on Mission #78 of the 450th with the goal of bombing the Romano Americano Oil Refinery, Ploesti, Romania.

He was captured and held in a Romanian POW Camp # 13 in Bucharest, Romania.

On September 2, 1944, he and the entire POW population in Bucharest, including his co-pilot Jim Althouse and bombardier Ken Barney, were rescued by the USAF.

________________________________________________________________

OUTSTANDING EVENTS:

Went down May 31, 1944.  One day I'll never forget.

Arrived in Bucharest June 20, 1944 through marshalling yards, a scene of torrid destruction.

On June 25, 1944, bombed in garrison.  Train of bombs missing east wing of garrison 50 yards away.  One bomb landed in shelter killing 8 civilians.

Had ice cream and cake for supper July 29, 1944.

Celebrated first high mass on Sunday, July 30, 1944.  Received communion August 2, 1944.

Monsignor celebrated mass, August 20. 1944.

July 16, 1944

Ate breakfast at 8:00 a.m.  Played 4 rubbers of bridge during day.  No alerts.  At night boys on my bed and figured how long it would be before we would be home ending in an argument and singing songs.  No night alert.

July 17, 1944

Ate breakfast at 8 a.m.   No alert.  Settled down to bridge finished with the arrival of Cl. Smith into camp.  A thunderstorm late in the afternoon waking me up thinking it was the Russians shelling the city.  Played 2 rubbers of bridge.  Conversation took place till I hit the sack.  No night alert.

July 18, 1944

At 8 a.m.  Played bridge again till dinner.  Had a conversation for a while then got a haircut.  Played bridge again then laid down on my bunk and read till supper.  Continued till rosary time.  Came back and read my book till lights went out – hoping there'll be no alert.  No alert.

July 19, 1944

Awoke at 7:30 a.m.  Had breakfast.  Again played usual game of bridge.  No alert was sounded for the morning.  Ate dinner and read most of the afternoon then had a nap.  After I said the rosary.  Then conversated till 10:00 p.m.  No night alert . . . no special news.  Rumors were that Russians are going like hell.

July 20, 1944

Russians have started a southern drive.  I hope it won't be long.

  July 21, 1944

The usual thing; eat, play cards.  Entered bridge tournament to be played Sunday.  We received news that International Red Cross was bringing us clothes.  I certainly need them.  Ended evening saying the rosary.  No day or night alert.

July 22, 1944

Ate breakfast at usual time.  Alert sounded immediately.  I headed for the basement.  Our boys flew over and around the city dropping continuously; none hitting us.  The alert lasted 3 hours and I aged another year.  Things went on as usual during the day eat, read and say the rosary.  No night alert.

July 23, 1944

Sunday ate, read, and played our first tournament game.  Ralph Rickey and I were partners.  We won the first game.  I then went to Mass and then the usual thing eat, read and rosary.  For the first time in a month the RAF came over the city and boy what a racket between flak guns and bombs falling so close.  We all were a nervous wreck.  Fell asleep quick after raid.  What a night.


July 24, 1944

After that rough raid last night and interruption of my sleep woke up tired and hungry.  Ate breakfast and then came a radio alert.  No bombers flew over.  The afternoon played my second game of the tournament and won.  50 boys entered camp after previous raids.  At night said rosary and went to bed.  No night alert.  No war news – rumors.

July 25, 1944

Nothing exceptional happened during the day.  No raid or new prisoners.  Played 3rd game of bridge and lost.  Boys which came in gave us some up to date news.  Somewhat encouraging.  Said rosary and went to sleep.  Alert was on.  Don't know a thing about it.  No bombers came over. 

Note:  Brothers birthday the 22nd.  "Happy Birthday"

July 27, 1944

A radio alert sounded soon after breakfast. P38s bombed Ploesti again.  No planes in sight around city.  Played.  Still expecting clothes which we are promised to us.  At 10:30 p.m. RAF came over.  Saw 12 planes in searchlight.  I think one went down.  It's a big show at night.  None to be compared.  No bombs dropped in center of city.  All clear sounded at 1 a.m.

July 28, 1944

A day I'll never forget.  A radio alert was on all morning.  No American bombers came over.  At night at 10:30 the RAF came over again.  They dropped a flare on top of our building dropping bombs in our area.  We almost died from nervousness.  They set fire to buildings blocks away.  All clear sounded at 1 p.m.  Didn't sleep that rest of the night.  God was with us.

July 29, 1944

Continuation of bombing followed today.  The effort of trying to get Romania out of the way.  Alert sounded at nine a.m.  15th AAF bombed outskirts of town.  All clear sounded at 11:00 a.m. – played tournament bridge and was finally eliminated.  Anticipation of RAF repeating was eliminated by going to bed early and not waking till day-break.  No alert.


July 30, 1944

Alerts continued most of the morning.  No bombers came over.  News from visiting minister of war was encouraging.  We are supposed to move out of town in a week.  Conditions have improved.  My first high mass was celebrated in Romania.  It was held in auditorium.  Radio alert sounded to 10:30 p.m.  No bombers came over.

July 31, 1944

An alert sounded at 9 a.m.  Bombers came over at 10 a.m. hitting marshalling yards; 1 wing flew directly over the school.  Boy what a scare.  All clear sounded at 11:30 a.m.  Nothing unusual happened the rest of the day.  Except Russians put on a show for us at night in the auditorium.  No night alert.

August 1, 1944

No raids or night alert.  Steady overcast over the city all day.  Rumors to the effect that Turkey will enter the war.  Another Boston boy entered camp . . . played cards most of the day.  Learned Warsaw was taken.  Another big step toward victory. 

V _ _ 

August 2, 1944

The best news of the day was Turkey breaking relations with Germany.  Rumors then were immense as usual.  There were no raids or alerts.  Joined the Glee Club.  Other that that nothing unusual happened . . . played three grueling rubbers of bridge.  Our room won basketball game.  No night alert.

August 3, 1944

No alerts – news was that Turkey was entering war – clothes from Red Cross came in.  Received communion for the first time in Romania. THAT'S ALL. 

V _ _ _ _

August 4, 1944

Alert and air raid immediately after breakfast.  No bombers in sight.  Believed to have been P-38s.  Reason, raid lasted 2 hrs. – mail expected for older boys.  No important war news.  Rumors was that RAF notified Bucharest of a raid.  Couldn't sleep till sure of no raid.  No alert or night raid.  1 yr. Anniversary of Ploesti raid.

August 5, 1944

Meeting with Rumanian general; head of all prison camps.  As usual nothing accomplished.  Nothing else unusual.  Rosary at night after practicing with glee club.  No day or night alerts. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 6, 1944

An alert sounded soon after chow no bombers seen in vicinity.  Must have been P-38s.  All clear sounded at 12 moon.  Being Sunday I went to mass and communion . . . celebrated in the auditorium . . . sang in glee club.  Said holy rosary.  No night alert.

August 7, 1944

Ate breakfast early for basketball game an alarm sounded immd . . . it was a false alarm.  Played game and won . . . at afternoon I took up Rumanian language.  I then decided to take up French tomorrow.  Sang in glee club at night.  Rosary followed.  Went to bed early.  No night alert.  No news. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 9, 1944

Eat and radio alert followed immd.  It lasted all morning.  No bombers came over due to weather.  Took language class at noon.  Glee club at night.  Rosary at 10:00, then RAF came over.  First in over week (that terror raid).  They hit north of town.  All clear sounded at 12:15 a.m.  

V __ _ _ _.

August 10, 1944

An alert sounded at 9:15.  15 AAF came over and just about annihilated Ploesti.  P-38 came and dropped pamphlets indicating demolishing of city if Roum. doesn't get out of war.  All clear at 12:30 p.m.  Nothing unusual the rest of the day.  No night alert.


August 11, 1944

Nothing unusual happened all day.  Basket ball language class glee club.  Food has improved immensely.  Things are picking up.  Make up plans for home.  Mod are in the making.  Gave two shaves and one haircut.  No night alert. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 12, 1944

A big day yesterday.  Antonesco and govt resigned.  Looks good – had language class – we won wing basketball pennant.  Glee club at night.  Plus 3 rubbers of bridge – news at 11:00 p.m. Americans 45 miles from Paris – no day or night alerts. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 16, 1944

Basketball game in the morning.  Language class in the afternoon.  Played bridge till supper . . . a show was put on last night – a Bob Hope show arranged perfectly  Glee Club also sang – No news – No day or night raids.  Expecting a princess tomorrow. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 17, 1944

Well my boys came over this morning – the whole 15th AF.  They hit constantly.  It was a three hour alarm.  Played bridge in the afternoon.  Ate late supper due to raid.  – RAF followed at night – it was a short one only an hour long.  They hit N. of town.  Went to sleep after. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 18, 1944

Again our boys came over – hit Ploesti again – raid lasted 3 hours – play bridge to keep my nerve – ate dinner played bridge till supper – went to rosary and then to bed early.  No night raid – no important news. 

V _ _ _ _.

  August 19, 1944

3rd day in a row our boys bombed Ploesti.  The raid lasted 3 hrs.; at 3 p.m. Rumanian monsignor came to visit us.  He promised to say mass for us tomorrow.  I played bridge till supper said the rosary – and then went to sleep – no night raids – no important news. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 20, 1944

Pancakes for breakfast.  Sunday mass in auditorium celebrated by the monsignor who gave us rosary beads – he said mass in vestments used in last war at Verdun – slept most of morning – basketball in the afternoon – bridge at night – no night alert.

August 21, 1944

All morning a radio alert was on – no raid – after dinner I played bridge and started to read Maltese Falcon – I read till 5 – played basketball till supper – read again till rosary time – good news was that Russians have started a drive south – not officially confirmed – no night raid. 

V _ _ _ _.

August 22, 1944

Ate at 8 a.m. watched basketball game till dinner time - - after dinner played bridge till the Princess came who gave us a review on Rumanian history – she was a well groomed woman.  Very interesting too.  Ate supper went to rosary and then to bed no day or night raids. 

V _ _ _ _.

  August 29, 1944

No entry

Outstanding Events

 


Bombed on: 

June 2, 1944

June 25, 1944

"Alerts" have decreased

Lt. Col. Smith arrived at prison camp on July 17, 1944

Alert on July 15, 1944 Ploesti bombed app. 20th time and the outskirts of Bucharest.

Alert on July 22nd.  Ploesti and JoJo bombed again.  Planes flying over town no bombs dropped.

Bombed on July 23.

Alerts have increased in month of July.

Bombed on:

RAF July 28, 1944, close call

15th AAF July 31, 1944

August 2, 1944, Turkey breaks from Axis = V _ _ _ _.

Raid by 15th AAF August 4, 1944 – 1 yr. Anniversary of 1st Ploesti raid.

August 6, 1944 Americans gain 100 miles overnight to breast-armored division.

August 8, 1944 bombed again.

Navigator drew map of Europe on wall keeping close contact on news and fronts.



Link To Crew Information

Information courtesy of Steve Lombardi, son of James Lombardi
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