Â-24 “GIDI GIDI BOOM BOOM”- FROM SAMOKOV TO POW-CAMP NEAR SHUMEN
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.
pilot, first lieutenant
ANDERSON, Robert Colby.
co-pilot, second lieutenant
LOBER, Donald Warring.
lieutenant RIGGS , Louis.
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.
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
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.