Jack Robins Radio Operator
100th BG & German POW

Jack Robins

Missions prior to Berlin have been aptly described by thousands of crew members. But Berlin was different at least for me, because it created a situation that in my wildest imagination I could not perceive.

We were hit, as I later discovered, in and around Hanover. Flak had killed our No. 3 and 4 engines and we had left the formation. By this time, the flak had stopped and the fighters poured in. The fighter that finished us off laid in over and just behind our left stabilizer and seemed to empty his entire arsenal into our No. 1 and 2 engines. Working my gun, I could not get it below the horizontal to fight him off. As he peeled off we were hit from beneath into the ball turret and the radio compartment.

While all this was going on, I thought I heard a ringing in my ears: a soft ringing, as we wore headphones and helmets. With the firing of the guns and the roar of the engines still working, it never occurred to me that my pilot had activated the alarm bell until I had ripped off my helmet and headphones and yes it was ringing, loud Radio Operator and clear. And when it rings, you go. I don't know why but I had to make sure I connected my oxygen mask to an emergency oxygen bottle, opened the door leading to the bomb bay the bomb bay doors were open, got onto the cat-walk and saw that the door leading to the pilot's deck was open. No flight engineer and both pilots gone, and bending down to look into the nose, nobody home. Back through the bomb bay to the radio compartment; got the Jack Robins attention of both waist gunners with a thumb down gesture. The three of us cranked Bob Taylor, our ball turret gunner, up and out, and snapped his chest pack on his harness (he had been wounded in both legs). He was then pulled to the side fuselage door by both gunners and thrown out. They indicated that our tail gunner had already left the ship.

I reached for my chest pack, entered the bomb bay, tumbled out, pulled the ripcord and all that came out was the pilot chute. By the time I was able to break open the pack to release the main chute, I guess I was about 1000 feet above the clouds. I figure I dropped about 15,000 feet before the chute opened, as there was supposed to have been a 500 foot cloud cover over western Germany that day. I was captured shortly after hitting the ground.

Crewmen of the Jewish faith were issued two dog tags. One did not indicate religeon and that is the one we wore during those missions over Germany for obvious reasons. Unfortunately I failed to wear my non-denominational tag that day and upon my first level of interrogation, the German officer, screening my dog tag, commented, "Jude" with the J pronounced like a Y. I knew I was in for it then. He looked at me and threw the dog tags into the trash, completed his level of interrogation and passed me on with nothing else said. He may have saved my life. I was, after 14 months, repatriated and understanding that not all the enemy were bad people.