Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

Segment 5

Segment 6

Segment 7

Segment 8

Segment 9

Liberation

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger was born 3 November 1922 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Bollinger lived in Lock Haven for about 12 years and his father was transferred and worked for a tannery company and moved to Westchester, New York. Bollinger enlisted in July 1943. Bollinger and a friend were in Ocean City, New Jersey when they had just begun the paratroopers and they decided to join. They drove to Philadelphia and tried to enlist in the Marines, but Bollinger was told he was too small. Bollinger and his friend Johnny went to enlist. The boys were called in two or three days and were sent to Baltimore. Bollinger enlisted at the time because jumping out of airplanes sounded fun and watched the propaganda about paratroopers during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His mother was unhappy about the enlistment, but his father was in the World War I and did not give an opinion. Bollinger had two siblings. His sister was two years younger and his brother was two years older, but died before the war due to a botched tonsillectomy. Bollinger’s brother’s death took a toll on the family and especially his mother. Bollinger trained in Baltimore first, then separated from his friend and continued training in Mississippi. Bollinger was sent to a gunnery school in Las Vegas after he joined the Air Force. The civilian instructors taught the young men how to shoot different kinds of guns. Bollinger had his first crew formed after graduating from gunnery school. Deedle was the original pilot. Their Colonel only flew with Bollinger’s pilot when they got to England. The Colonel was hated by many people from Bollinger’s crew and squadron. Bollinger cannot remember his name.

Annotation

Ardel Bollinger did not get along with the Colonel in England. When Bollinger asked for a recommendation to join the cadets after the war the Colonel gave him a worthless slip. Bollinger skipped to go on the line to go into town and go on a date and the Colonel found out and demoted him. Bollinger trained to be a radio operator and a gunner. During combat the radio operators would also carry guns. Bollinger spent a couple months to train as a radio operator in Las Vegas then went to a center to form crews and transferred to a practice location. The bomb group formed after a short leave to go to England. Bollinger and his crew left for Alaska where the plane engine died so they had to wait for a new engine and fly the plane by themselves to England. The pilot named the bomber plane “My Beautiful Doll” after his wife. Bollinger stayed with the same crew on every flight. The crew included Philip Higdon and Louis Ritt. The pilot was named Deedle. Many men wanted to take Bollinger’s place because his pilot was so reliable. Deedle trained many new pilots and had the reputation to bring the men back every time. When Bollinger was sick and could not fly the men jumped to take his place and did not come back when Bollinger was sick. Bollinger considered his pilot a natural flyer and the best in the bomb group flying the B-17. Kenny Dutton was the young copilot who was also talented. The plane blew up after being shot down and his crew was killed and the only survivors of the mission ended up in prison.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger arrived in Europe in July 1943. He was shot down 23 September 1944. Bollinger’s first mission was a “milk run” in France over oil fields. It was considered an easy mission because the group did not penetrate too deep. [Annotator’s Note: Bollinger’s cannot remember the name of the oil field in France and becomes flustered.] Abbeville was one of the first missions and had a lot of fighters and the better fighter pilots. Sometimes Bollinger and the men would find out about the missions the night before or during breakfast of that day. The men never thought about the mission or became nervous. If they became nervous the men would go down to the small town and enjoy a couple pints at the local pubs. Bollinger did not write home very often. Bollinger and the men frequented the pubs and he even had a girlfriend in England. His girlfriend once took him home and spent the night after her parents went to bed. Back home Bollinger’s comments he could have gone to jail. Going home was easier for the Air Force rather than the men fighting in the ditches. Bollinger became most concerned when his pilot was shot down and he did not go with the crew because he was sick. Bollinger and the men had to complete 25 missions at that time. Bollinger’s outlook was changed after Deedle was shot down. When his pilot was around, Bollinger believed he could have flown 50 missions. Bollinger flew with other crews, but never had the close relationship he did with his first crew. After his first crew was shot down, Bollinger floated between crews as a radio operator.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger had a couple of missions near Paris and Hamburg going after submarines. The cities had a large amount of flak guns. Often squadrons would be sent into the fire at the target before the actual mission. As a radio operator Bollinger would monitor and wait for anything to come up while he sat in his compartment with his headphones. Radio silence would only be used in an emergency. If they were being attacked Bollinger would leave his radio and grab his gun. Bollinger had a porthole as his window where he could watch fighters and the wing of the plane. During down time Bollinger and other men would spend time relaxing. Flying home was the most nervous, because crews never knew if there would be any fighters on the way home. Spitfires would join the squadrons on a lot of missions to escort them home. If the men had to turn around they were sitting targets without the P-47 range. The men would fly as high as 30,000 feet and pick up ice and level out at 27,000 feet. Bollinger would wear long underwear with his uniform and electrically heated suit. Bollinger would save as much oxygen until they reached a certain altitude. The electrically heated suit helped them stay warm in the cold temperatures and the men were still able to fire the guns. Bollinger had a radio compartment and seat next to a hatch so he did not feel claustrophobic. After the mission in Hamburg at the docks the men flew into France on 23 September. Bollinger found out about the mission the night before and expected problems. The target was a submarine repair shop that began as a normal mission. [Annotator’s Note: After the interviewer names the crew Bollinger notes that these men were not his original crew and did not know many of the names.] Bollinger’s second crew members consisted of Philip Higdon as the pilot, Louis Ritt as the copilot, Meyer Hegab as the navigator, Larry Johnston as the bombardier, James Jett as the top turret engineer, Joseph Tallis as the ball turret gunner and Willard Cronin. These men were not Bollinger’s original crew and he did not know or fly with them often.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger learned about his mission to France the night before 23 September. [Annotator’s Note: Bollinger is silent trying to remember the details of his mission. When interview begins again Bollinger is in the middle of the story]. The plane in front of Bollinger pulled up and Bollinger’s plane was shot instead of the plane in front. The crew was going on and had not yet dropped any bombs. The pilot who pulled up in front of him was rude and teased the crew about being hit. The crew had to evacuate the plane immediately. Bollinger put members of his crew in parachutes. Bollinger was the last to leave the plane and opened his chute too early around 25,000 feet. Once he hit the ground he stayed on the ground for a day until a priest came and gave him some milk and told Bollinger he knew where the rest of the crew was. Bollinger was led to a ditch where the rest of his crew landed and one man was shot up. Bollinger announced he was going to leave and asked his replacement crew if they wanted to follow. Bollinger and two members from his replacement crew approached a house of a French couple who saw Bollinger get shot down. They stayed the night and next morning a man in a Model T Ford pulled up to take them home. Bollinger left the Frenchman with his gun as he left his house. Bollinger was driven to a castle where a woman greeted them and told the boys they would stay in the castle. They stayed for a couple hours and were taken care of.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger did not learn the names of the people who helped him or where he stayed because Bollinger thought he would be captured. The lady of the house he stayed made all the contacts for Bollinger and the men to leave. The Model T truck came back and drove them to a busy town full of young people. Girls showed up on each man’s arm and walked around the village where they led the men to safe rooms. The men were still dressed in their gear. The three men stayed in three different places. The next morning the men stayed upstairs in a bar and almost immediately were kicked out into the street. The men walked through the village and walked through the grass. Bollinger found a Catholic church with a priest inside. The priest invited them inside and brought a small French farmer. The farmer and the three men walked to a nearby far where the men stayed with his family. Bollinger stayed a couple of weeks and would walk every night to get exercise. One night a British Bristol plane flew overhead but was shot down by the Luftwaffe. The farmer was out most of the day making contacts. The Frenchman took the boys to the train station and told them to stay separated and told them to be quiet. They got off and began walking along a wall to a house beyond a wall. They stayed with a man and his wife and child who might have been a fisherman. One night they went out to a canal where a barge was waiting with almost 25 Americans at the dock who were all shot down. Everyone retreated for some reason and everyone were told to go back where they stayed. It continued another night and all the Americans got on this boat and laid down while the boat drifted by German troops. The men were all brought back to England.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger did not report back to base immediately. Bollinger still has shrapnel in his foot from when he was shot. Bollinger met a pilot after the war who saw his plane get shot down. After he reported back to base Bollinger was not allowed to fly and he was sent home. Bollinger was sent around the States and ended up in Florida and then Wyoming where they started men from scratch and Bollinger did not like the area and operation. In the paper Bollinger found an ad looking for people to volunteer for B-25s and ended up in South Carolina. Bollinger met fighter pilots in Alaska who wanted to practice with the B-25 and Bollinger joined their crew. The men experimented by putting a canon in the plane and when they fired the canon it almost shot the airplane and filled the cockpit with smoke. Bollinger joined the boys and went to India going South through the States and through South America where they took the wrong route. The navigator found the only refueling station on the route in South America and always played bridge on his downtime and was very good. They ended up in India in 1944 and lived in a small shack with two other guys but they did not do much but stayed for a couple months. Bollinger got a motorcycle and explored villages where he saw people drink from dirty lakes and could not believe the living conditions. He went into a village and saw Gandhi preaching surrounding by thousands of people. Bollinger stayed a hotel and watched Gandhi on the porch with hundreds of people who had followed him.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger noticed large castles in India whereas others lived in shacks. Bollinger lived in India for about a year and then the war ended. They sent Bollinger and his pilot and copilot around to carry troops around planes in China. The radio he used had almost no maintenance in five years. The plane was packed with Chinese troops and they flew over the Great Wall of China. His pilots disappeared and Bollinger is all by himself and found a ride where he was dropped off in the middle of China. Bollinger stole a Jeep and found some local men who could help and let Bollinger stay in a room owned by Russians. Bollinger moved in with these two men for a few months. [Annotator’s Note: Bollinger spends time thinking about what town he stayed in.] Bollinger met a Japanese colonel who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and was in charge of the town. Bollinger found a man with a plane who took him to Shanghai and finally was directed to the Air Force quarters and found out what was going on. Bollinger was told about a ship coming on the Suez Canal where a whole army was waiting for the ship. The ship was turned around and the ship had to eventually come back later. The ship was so full of people that the soldiers could not have been taken home. Bollinger walked on the plank without anyone noticing and docked in New York. He found the Army headquarters and was given money and told to go home. No one knew any information in China but always got money whenever he went to headquarters and asked for money without anyone knowing him. One of the hotels in Shanghai was filled with white Russian women. The next day his American friend told him about the ship coming in and got a ticket and went home.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger noticed large castles in India whereas others lived in shacks. Bollinger lived in India for about a year and then the war ended. They sent Bollinger and his pilot and copilot around to carry troops around planes in China. The radio he used had almost no maintenance in five years. The plane was packed with Chinese troops and they flew over the Great Wall of China. His pilots disappeared and Bollinger is all by himself and found a ride where he was dropped off in the middle of China. Bollinger stole a Jeep and found some local men who could help and let Bollinger stay in a room owned by Russians. Bollinger moved in with these two men for a few months. [Annotator’s Note: Bollinger spends time thinking about what town he stayed in.] Bollinger met a Japanese colonel who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and was in charge of the town. Bollinger found a man with a plane who took him to Shanghai and finally was directed to the Air Force quarters and found out what was going on. Bollinger was told about a ship coming on the Suez Canal where a whole army was waiting for the ship. The ship was turned around and the ship had to eventually come back later. The ship was so full of people that the soldiers could not have been taken home. Bollinger walked on the plank without anyone noticing and docked in New York. He found the Army headquarters and was given money and told to go home. No one knew any information in China but always got money whenever he went to headquarters and asked for money without anyone knowing him. One of the hotels in Shanghai was filled with white Russian women. The next day his American friend told him about the ship coming in and got a ticket and went home.

Annotation

Ardell Bollinger did not learn the names of the people who helped him or where he stayed because Bollinger thought he would be captured. The lady of the house he stayed made all the contacts for Bollinger and the men to leave. The Model T truck came back and drove them to a busy town full of young people. Girls showed up on each man’s arm and walked around the village where they led the men to safe rooms. The men were still dressed in their gear. The three men stayed in three different places. The next morning the men stayed upstairs in a bar and almost immediately were kicked out into the street. The men walked through the village and walked through the grass. Bollinger found a Catholic church with a priest inside. The priest invited them inside and brought a small French farmer. The farmer and the three men walked to a nearby far where the men stayed with his family. Bollinger stayed a couple of weeks and would walk every night to get exercise. One night a British Bristol plane flew overhead but was shot down by the Luftwaffe. The farmer was out most of the day making contacts. The Frenchman took the boys to the train station and told them to stay separated and told them to be quiet. They got off and began walking along a wall to a house beyond a wall. They stayed with a man and his wife and child who might have been a fisherman. One night they went out to a canal where a barge was waiting with almost 25 Americans at the dock who were all shot down. Everyone retreated for some reason and everyone were told to go back where they stayed. It continued another night and all the Americans got on this boat and laid down while the boat drifted by German troops. The men were all brought back to England.
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.