2nd Lt. Edward Tinker, P-38 pilot
(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 82nd Fighter 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 dont 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....

  ...When the 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! "...



United Kingdom - 17 POW's Serbia and Montenegro - 7 POW's
South Africa - 4 POW's Canada - 2 POW's
Croatia - 2 POW's Australia - 2 POW's
Nederlands - 2 POW's Slovenia - 1 POW
USA - 292 POW's

copyright 2007  Stanimir Stanev