2nd Lt. Edward Tinker, P-38
(L to R) Robert Schultz ( POW
in Shumen from 29 jan.1944), Edward Tinker and John McLendon
released from Shumen POW camp
On the 20 of
December 1943 pilots of the Bulgarian air force had made a large number
of claims against the attacking Sofia B-24s and P-38s, many of these
were made erroneously. Of the B-24s that took part in the mission to
Sofia on this day, only the 376th Bomb Group aircraft rammed by Poruchik
Spisarevski would fail to return to its home base in Italy. The
Group however, would lose a total of three P-38s over Sofia on this
day to the air actions of the
Vozdushni Voiski. These losses would consist of one
P-38F (43-2151) from the 96th Fighter
Squadron, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant George Mitchell,
who would be made a prisoner of war after being shot down. In addition,
the 97th Fighter Squadron would lose a P-38G (43-2352) piloted by 2nd
Lt. John McLendon and another P-38G (43-2413) being flown by 2nd
Lieutenant Edward Tinker, who had lost a previous aircraft on the
November 24th mission to Sofia. Both Lieutenant Tinker and Lieutenant
McLendon would be parachute safely and be made prisoners of war. While
the Bulgarian pilots had scored a number of victories over their
opponents, these were not to be gained without loss. Besides the loss of
Poruchik Spisarevski, who had crashed into the B-24, Podporuchik Georgi
Kyumurdjiev of the 3rd Orlyak would also be shot down and killed. This
occurred immediately after Podporuchik Kyumurdjiev had downed Lieutenant
Tinker's aircraft some 10 to 15 miles southwest of Sofia during the
withdrawal for the flight home. The victory over Podporuchik Kyumurdjiev
was a result of an attack by 2nd Lieutenant Donald Foley.
2nd Lt. Edward Tinker, 2nd Lt. George Mitchel and
2nd Lt. John McLendon were POW in Shumen camp from January 18
1944 till September 8, 1944.
Edward Tinker later wrote:
Concerning the brutality that has been mentioned in the past, I
would have to take exception to that. The only ones that were mistreated were the ones unlucky
enough to come down in a place that had been bombed repeatedly and that
maltreatment was at the hands of civilians living there.
The Bulgarian military never abused anyone as far as I know.
In fact they treated us the best that they could with the
existing conditions. We ate
food out of the same pot as the guards.
The only difference was that we only got one slice of bread per
meal and the guards got a loaf per day.
Bread was rationed all over the country. The Bulgarians paid us
the equivalent to the same rank in their Army.
I don’t believe prisoners anywhere else had that benefit. They also let a merchant bring his cart up to the gate so we
could buy stuff with our money. Later
on we were allowed to order certain things from town and the merchant
would deliver them. All the comforts of home....
...The Bulgarian pilots were as fierce and well trained as any we
had ever faced. As to the pilot that shot myself & McClendon
down, he was shot down immediately after and was killed....
Germans pulled out to go get ready for the 2nd front (D-Day)
they wanted to take all of us prisoners back with them to Germany but
the Bulgarians said “no” and meant it.
So we stayed in country and were released on September 8th
1944. Oh happy day!