My grandfather passed away in May of 1972, at the age of 53. He developed terminal cancer, most likely from his smoking habit. I was not born until 1979, and my grandfather never spoke about the war with my father or his brothers. Therefore, much of my information was gathered through conversations with crewmembers or personal friends of my grandfather. In particular, Mr. Bob Carroll and Mr. Richard Hobt assisted me in filling in these gaps. Most of the photos of my grandfather while he was interned were sent to me by Mr. Carroll, as he was interned on the same day as my grandfather and became a good friend of his. The description of the crew's last mission is courtesy of Mr. Hobt, who was the radio operator in my grandfather's crew. The transcript of the last mission was taken from a copy of the Polebrook Post, which is the quarterly newsletter of the 351st BG Association. Several of the photos and the mission record on my aircraft page also came from Mr. Ken Harbour's site, The 351st Bombardment Group, which is the official website of the 351st. I also obtained information about the internment in Switzerland from Chuck McPartlin's site, which documents his uncle Charles Cassidy's internment at many of the same locations that my grandfather was held. My Uncle Jim Mears in Washington, D.C., sent me many of the family photos and also some useful files from my grandfather's 201 (personnel) file. The photo of the several captured aircraft at Dubendorf came from Mr. Robert Martyr, an English historian who also sent me a Swiss inventory on Super Ball after it was captured. The pictures of Super Ball after being towed out of the snow drift in Switzerland came from Hans-Heiri Stapfer and Gino Kunzle's book "Strangers in a Strange Land; Vol. II: Escape to Neutrality." The information on Polaris Academy came from the following site entitled Aircraft Wrecks in Southern California. Specific dates of internment in Switzerland were established after Mr. Bob Long, a former internee and president of the Swiss Internees Association, put me in touch with a Swiss logistics general, Major General S. Zahnd. MG Zahnd sent me the official internment records, which confirmed that my grandfather spent time in the Les Diablerets and Wauwilermoos concentration camps. From here I contacted Mr. Dan Culler, former Wauwilermoos internee and author of the book "Black Hole of Wauwilermoos." This book is where I obtained much of the data about what early conditions at Wauwilermoos were like. A bibliographic view of my various sources can be seen here.

I would also like to clarify why I have used the terms POW and internee interchangably. During the war, my grandfather was an internee, as required when belligerents were detained in a neutral state under the Hauge Convention of 1907. Under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Article 4, paragraph 61 provides that: "The following shall likewise be treated as prisoners of war under the present Convention: (2) The persons belonging to one of the categories enumerated in the present Article, who have been received by neutral or non-belligerent Powers on thier territory and whom these Powers are required to intern under international law, without prejudice to any more favorable treatment which these Powers may choose to give..." Later, the US Code (Title 38, Section 101(32)) was changed in 1988 to require the Secretary of the Army's approval for POW status to be granted to those interned in neutral countries. Basically, the conditions of their internment must be equal to those endured by POWs of belligerent powers (the Germans, Italians and Japanese in this case). This has been used by the Veteran's Association to deny POW benefits to those who were interned in Switzerland during WWII. I know this because I have spoken with several honorable veterans who served with my grandfather. Because of the above provision, most who were simply interned in Switzerland are not eligible for POW status and subsequent medical benefits, however, many who were interned in the Swiss concentration camps such as Wauwilermoos have met this qualification. Based on this information, I am currently applying for a posthumous award of the POW medal for my grandfather, to be awarded to my grandmother.

The following photos are of those who have contributed to the creation of this web page, including myself.

hobt2 hobt2 hobt3 Mrcarrol Mrhobt

Back to the story of LT Mears