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Robert H Stropp

Military

Crashed near Berlin on 3 Feb 45 in B-17 #44-8379, Prisoner of War (POW).

After bailing out of his plane on Feb 3, 1945, he parachuted to safety and landed in Russia. Below is a summary from my father Bob Stropp Jr. His father, Colonel Robert H. "Bob" Stropp, was a navigator in the 100th Bomb group, 8th Airforce during WWII, and February 3, 1945 was a critical day in his career....

My father is deceased but gave a contemporaneous account of his WWII experience with the 100th Bomb Group, particularly his experience getting shot down on Feb. 3. I have a tape that he did for my daughter for a high school report (her birthday - Feb. 3). This would have been done about 25 years ago. It should repeat some of the story I tell below although he undoubtedly is humble in his own words like many of his war contemporaries.

Rosie was the Commander of the lead plane on Feb. 3 - John Ernst was the regular pilot. This mission on Feb. 3 attacking Berlin was massive with 1003 bombers, and, also, it was controversial within the high ranks of the 8th Air Force. This was the first mission that departed from the American principle of daylight, precision bombing of military targets. This mission was followed just 10 days later with the Dresden bombing. And, of course, some 6 months later with Hiroshima and Nagasaki over Japan.

Back to Feb. 3, 1945, the reason my father was last or next to last bailing out was he remained to release the bombardier's leg that was caught in the bomb bay trap. [NOTE from Emily: I believe this was Capt. John Ernst. However, James Olmsted and his son have also been in contact with my family over the years to discuss his interactions with my grandfather, one of which was the Jan 10 Cologne mission, the mission preceding Feb 3. I have amended the original entry because more information is needed from by father and uncle.]

With his parachute landing, my father suffered a broken hip. He white flagged a Russian vehicle - they roughed him up a bit before he persuaded them he was "Americanski". He said they assumed he was German not having seen any Americans before that day. They took him to a Russian Hospital where he recuperated for a few of weeks. He said every night at the hospital rooftop, he would meet a Russian officer. They would drink vodka for hours while watching the Russian/German artillery attacks. In the early morning, the Russian would grab a couple of hours of sleep, then go kill more Germans the next day. My father then, very casually, said he didn't meet him one night for their vodka, so he assumed the Russian officer was killed.

I think a still have a picture of the Russian officer.

My father was then transferred by plane, boat, train, for a couple of week to Moscow. I am unsure without checking whether Rosie was with him or they met in Moscow. There, they met Averell Harriman for lunch before again taking a long road back to Thorpe Abbots. My father remained in contact with Rosie until my father's death - Rosie wrote me this very nice letter about my father.

At Thorpe Abbots, the commander (?) of the Hundredth told him that the Feb. 3 mission didn't count as one of his required missions to go home because the mission was not complete, but he would allow it to be counted as the 25th and go home, or my father could fly one more mission. My father said, "GOODBYE". He had been MIA for maybe 6 weeks and was able to call his mother - front page picture and article of my grandmother taking the call at their hometown of Rome, NY.

As to a brief personal history of my father, he came from a depression family in Rome NY. He had tremendous sports success and had a scholarship to Western Maryland College for football, baseball, basketball and track. W. Maryland at that time had high level teams - they played Army, Navy and other big league competitors. He was the captain of all teams except track. In 1942 my father was scheduled for a tryout with the St. Louis Browns (baseball) and then with the NY Giants in the fall. Never happened - and so ended his athletic career - he was a graduate and math major and he was told the Army Air Core desperately needed navigators with math.

He met my mother at W. Maryland and they got married after the war. He opened a sporting goods business in Baltimore until Korea brought him back into the Air Force. By that time he had risen to the rank of Capt. and decided to make it a career. The family had a wonderful time of 3 years in Bermuda, 5 years in Charleston S.C., and finally Suitland Md. (US Census Bureau) where Eastaff computer HQ was located. My brothers and I went to school there - I graduated from U. MD. in 1969 on a baseball scholarship.

In 1970 my father was notified there was a mistake - he should have had a tour of duty in Vietnam, and would be so scheduled. My middle brother was going to FL. State (baseball) and youngest entering HS. My father said no thanks, he was retiring and did so in Clearwater Fl. until my parents deaths about a year apart in the late 90s. And, for this record, my mother was a super star. Hard to believe, but I never heard a cross word between them.

Service

People

  • John Ernst

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 100th Bomb Group

  • James Olmsted

    Military | Lieutenant | Co-Pilot
    Half his right hand was shot off.

  • Robert Rosenthal

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot, Commanding Officer | 100th Bomb Group
    Get full bio and photos here ...

Show more

Units served with

  • 100th Bomb Group

    100th Bomb Group

    Group
    "The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...

  • 351st Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 44-8379

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Dallas 29/8/44; Hunter 25/9/44; Grenier 3/10/44; Assigned as PFF 351BS/100BG [EP-J] Thorpe Abbotts 12/10/44; Missing in Action Berlin 3/2/45 with Capt John Ernst {Wounded in Action}, Art Jacobson, Lou Chappell, Stewart Gillison {Ex nav},...

Associated Place

  • Thorpe Abbotts

    Military site : airfield
    Home of the 'Bloody Hundredth’, a Bomb Group with a reputation for high casualty rates, Thorpe Abbotts was under USAAF control from June 1943 to the end of the war. Some of the airfield survives today, and the control tower houses the 100th Bomb Group...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Utica, New York, USA 24 December 1917
Prisoner of War (POW) Germany 3 February 1945

Feb. 3, 1945 was his 25th* and final mission. He was able to successfully bail out of the plane and parachute to safety in Russia. NOTE from Bill Stropp: "considered a POW as he was held by the Russians, not allowed to return home. Later he was released with statesman Averal Harriman had to negotiate his release along with other US servicemen. The Russians at that time were trying to get as much land as they could when the war would end, so used our servicemen as bargaining their release."

*See biography below. The 25th mission may not have technically counted because the mission was not completed, but he was able to return home by choice.

Died West Palm Beach, FL 22 January 1998
Buried Arlington National Cemetery

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2021 22:22:00 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected a typo in the "Summary biography" - "my" was misspelled.

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 06:06:00 Emily.Stropp Changes to biography and events
Sources

Updated on POW status

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 03:52:18 Emily.Stropp Changes to events and place associations
Sources

Updated the BIOGRAPHY POW status with a note - was never taken by the Germans or otherwise as POW, and instead was taken to safety by the Russians having safely landed in Russia before the plane went down.

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 03:35:48 Emily.Stropp Changes to biography
Sources

Amended paragraph 4 "Back to Feb 3" to obtain additional information from my father and uncle.

Date Contributor Update
22 February 2021 21:53:54 Emily.Stropp Changes to nickname, highest rank, biography, events and person associations
Sources

Hello, I am Emily Stropp, granddaughter of Col Robert H. Stropp, Sr. The account described by my father in the biography is one told to me about 30 years ago for a school report, and then was recounted again in the mid-90's while Col Stropp was in the mid stages of Alzheimer's. Despite being very ill with Alzheimer's he never forgot Feb 3, 1945. It was very difficult for him to speak of because he lost many close friends that day, and he never thought of himself as a hero, although of course he was. In fact, he was not interested in receiving the "purple heart" to be awarded to him, and this was instead awarded post-mortem at the request of my Uncle Dr. Richard J. Stropp, now deceased. Please let me know of any additional information that I can help provide. My father Bob Stropp, uncle BIll Stropp, and I are sorting through a lot of information from his service in WWII. Thanks and Best Regards, Emily

Date Contributor Update
31 August 2020 02:56:57 jmoore43 Changes to service number and highest rank
Sources

Updated Highest Rank and Added S/N per MACR 12046 at Fold3.com.

Date Contributor Update
31 August 2020 02:51:08 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Added a "-" to the A/C serial number in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity & consistency.

Date Contributor Update
31 August 2020 02:49:53 jmoore43 Changes to unit associations
Sources

Added a connection to the 100th BG per MACR #12046 at Fold3.com.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:23:33 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 12046 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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