Date of Interview
Les Meader was born 12 January 1920 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up from age seven in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. He graduated from Columbia Heights High School in 1938. Prior to military service, Les was married (1942, wife Doloris). In July 1943, Les was drafted into military service. He entered the US Army Air Corps, and was trained as a gunner and assistant radio operator on B-17 Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bombers. By late 1943, Les had been sent to England, and assigned to 463rd Bomb Squadron, 388th Bomb Group, part of the 8th Air Force. Les completed six bombing missions. But on 5 November 1943, returning from a mission to Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Les's B-17 was damaged by ground fire then attacked by German fighter aircraft. The plane was shot down over German-occupied Belgium; Les was among the crew that managed to bail out of the crippled airplane. After capture, Les first was interrogated at the central Dulag Luft facility and then sent to Stalag 17-B in Krems, Austria. He remained here from December 1943 to April 1945. In late April, with Allied troops nearby, the Germans evacuated 17-B and marched the prisoners westward. In early May, after eighteen days and nearly 150 miles, the column of prisoners was liberated by American soldiers at the town of Braunau. Les and the other freed American POWs were evacuated, first to France and then the United States. Les was discharged in July 1945. Again a civilian, Les attended the University of Minnesota and trade school; he worked many years in sales for Chippewa Motor Freight Company, retiring in 1983.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Les Meader" (2005). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 48.