On the 24 of June 1944, B-24 “Liberator” from 449 Bomb group of 15th Air Force”, named “Gidi Gidi Boom Boom”, was  shot down around Samokov, Bulgaria,  from Bulgarian fighters, lead by 1st Lt. Stoyan Stoyanov- most successful Bulgarian pilot in WWII.

The crew:

pilot, first lieutenant ANDERSON, Robert Colby.

co-pilot, second lieutenant LOBER, Donald Warring.

navigator, second lieutenant RIGGS , Louis.

bombardier, first lieutenant DEVINE, John.

engineer and waist gunner, technical sergeant LEONARDI, Keneth Antony.

radio-operator and waist gunner, technical sergeant WATSON, John.

nose turret gunner, technical sergeant JUSTICE, John.

top turret gunner, staff sergeant JOHNSON, Robert Henry

armament and ball turret gunner, staff sergeant BIAGGNE, Russel R.

tail gunner staff sergeant KAPISH, Joseph R.

In Samokov from 24 June till 8 of July 1944 the crew was held in the barracks of 7th Artillery regiment ( 2 aircrew members were in hospital). The interrogation was in Sofia prison from 8 till 14 of July, and by train the crew was transferred to town of Shumen on 16th of July 1944. In POW camp near Shumen they were from 17 July till the liberation on the 8th September 1944. 

 Robert Henry Johnson ( Texas,1945) (courtesy of Robert Johnson)


 Reunion - the rest of the crew in 1995

(L to R)  Robert Johnson, John Watson, Robert Anderson, Keneth Leonardi and Russel Biaggne (courtesy of Robert Johnson)


Robert Johnson in May 2004 wrote: 

 During World War II, I was a prisoner of war in Bulgaria at their Shumen Camp where 329 prisoners of war were held.  Principally, the group was airmen from the USA but there were also flyers from England, Canada, Holland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Australia.  Some of the POW's had been held since August 1, 1943, date of the first raid on Ploesti, Romanian oil fields, by planes from North Africa.  My stay began June 24, 1944.  All of us were released on 8 September 1944, when the Russian Army reached the northeast boundary of Bulgaria. 

  I am attempting to trace out exit route starting with our departure by train from Shumen.  Apparently this would have followed the normal transportation lines through Karnobat, Stara Sagora, Haskovo, Svileingrad (all in Bulgaria), then across the extreme northeast corner of Greece, on though Edirne to Istanbul, Turkey. By train from Istanbul to the Syrian Border, picked up by English trucks there, taking us to Aleppo, then capitol of Syria.  From there to Cairo, Egypt by our own planes.

In 2004 Mr. Johnson, his wife Rose-Marie and  son Gary visited Bulgaria- Shumen and Samokov. In  2006, Robert Johnson issued his very interesting book about the experiences during WWII in Europe. More about his visit to Bulgaria- click here.




United Kingdom - 17 POW's Yugoslavia-10 POW's
South Africa - 4 POW's Canada - 2 POW's
Netherlands - 2 POW's Australia - 2 POW's
USA - 292 POW's

copyright © 2007 Stanimir Stanev