668th BS Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Sgt. Harold A. Potter

Airplane Mechanic-Gunner,  16119390

Prisoner Of War - Escaped

668th Bombardment Squadron (L)


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  Born: 21-Feb-1922, Hastings, Barry, Michigan

Entered Military Service: Date: 6-Jan-1944 At: Detroit, MI

POW summary:
Fail to Return Date: 29-Jun-1944
Escaped from POW Transit Camp near Alencon
Return Date: 13-Aug-1944

Died: 2-Jun-1995, Hastings, Barry, Michigan

On-line Memorials:
National World War II Registry


Harold A. Potter

Harold A. Potter, 73, of 1704 S. Jefferson St., Hastings, died Friday, June 2, 1995, at his home.

Mr. Potter was born Feb. 21, 1922, in Hastings to Lawrence and Mary Jane (Sothard) Potter. He was raised in the Hastings area and attended Hastings schools, graduating from Hastings High School.

He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was employed by Clark Equipment Co. in Battle Creek for 30 years, retiring from there.

Mr. Potter was an avid bicyclist, riding hundreds of miles each year throughout Barry County.

Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan), 05 Jun 1995, Mon, Page 2, Harold A. Potter Obituary, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/197189132/?terms=Harold%20A.%20Potter [subscription required] : accessed 9 April 2021)

Extracts from Potter, Harold A. (SGT.) Escape & Evasion Report EE-1002 (Original NARA Report)

MIS-X Report Number: EE-1002  /  IS9 Report Number: I.S.9(WEA)/8/108/585
Interviewed by I.S.9 (WEA): 15 August 1944
Date missing in action: blank
Date arrived in UK: blank


E & E Report No. 8/108

I was picked up by members of a German infantry regiment as soon as I touched the ground after bailing out of my flaming plane near St. Lo on 29 June. They took me to the nearest Luftwaffe Hq, in a farmhouse about 10 miles away to the south. I was interrogated there, and searched, but was well treated and fed. I was kept there until 8 July, when I was sent by truck to Vire with 2 American infantrymen who had been brought in as PW's shortly before.

From Vire we were marched to Alencon and put in the big PW transit camp there. There were 8 or 9 barracks full of Allied prisoners. There was little food and no sanitary facilities. The guards were slack and lots of men escaped while on work details.

I stayed there until 4 August, when I decided to make a break. About 75 men were sent that day to Sees to unload some railroad cars. With an Australian named Lyall I jumped off the truck on the way back. A Lt. Fahrenwald had escaped shortly before and the guards had been doubled. Two shots were fired at us, but we gotaway into the woods.

We stayed there for the next few days, moving around only at night and getting food from the French. We meant to head for Spain eventually. We were chased twice by German patrols but got away.

The last four days we stayed with a Frenchman in his house near St. Pierre. He was a poor farmer. We did not get his name. Finally on 13 August he came and said the U.S. troops were in the village. We went out in civ- ilian clothes and contacted the patrol. Later we were sent to 90th Div Hq in Alencon, where the G-2 talked to us, and then sent us on to XV Corps.

Everything I saw is now in U.S. hands. The airfields around Alencon were all blown up after we escaped.

Capt. Gerard W. Cote, Canadian Army, was the leader in escape activities at Alencon. He helped 35 men to escape and escaped himself, but was caught. (See E&E Report 8/170)

See also NARA and British E & E Reports for others noted above:
    Theodore P. FAHRENWALD (1st Lt) Escape & Evasion Report EE-961 (Original NARA Report)
    WO Roderick LYALL (RAAF) - 453 Sqn - Spitfire NH274 - FTR 12-Jul-1944 - E&E Report I.S.9(WEA)/2/98/288 (TNA Reference WO 208/3348/288)
    Capt Gerard W COTE (RCAF) - 27 Canadian Armoured Regt - (No E&E Report available, No TNA Reference)
    Michael Moores LeBlanc compiled a list of Soldiers who escaped from Alencon, most aided by Capt Cote.

French Helpers listed in Escape & Evasion Report EE-1002:

    Name Unknown, Frenchman's house near St. Pierre

USAAF "Escape and Evasion Reports, 1942 - 1945" available at NARA. British MI9/IS9 reports and Mme. Jeanne Vignon-Tellier related files were graciously provided by researcher Michael Moores LeBlanc from his personal collection. MI9/IS9 reports are also available from the British TNA (The National Archives), some on-line.

See E&E Reports for general information.

MACR 6192 Details

A/C Seen to Crash. Lost as a result of Enemy Anti-Aircraft. Acrft hit by flak over target area. Left engine was set afire. Acrft stalled and slipped down to the left, Kept burning after crash but did not explode.

One aircraft was hit by enemy fire at St. Lo and was seen to crash northeast of that city. The pilot was Flight Officer Bruce E. Baxter. His two gunners were Sgt. R.L. Ernstrom and Sgt. H.A. Potter. One chute was seen to emerge from the falling plane. All are listed as "Missing in Action." It had been F/O Baxter's first operational mission.
(416th BG History 1944)

See also Mission # 87

Photos and Documents
1930 US Census
1940 US Census
1941 HS
Yearbook Portrait
1941 HS
City Directory
1940 Hastings, MI
WW II Draft Registration
WW II Draft Registration
Newspaper Clipping
Petoskey News Review
Passenger List
Return to USA
Passenger List
Return to USA
Passenger List
Return to USA
Passenger List
Return to USA
City Directory
1959 Hastings, MI
Newspaper Obituary
Battle Creek Enquirer
WW II Honoree

See Also:
Prisoner Of War (POW) Camps
Escape & Evasion (E&E) Reports
POW/E&E Terms and Acronyms
POW/E&E Sources, References, Resources