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Van Every, Harold

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Harold Van Every was born on 10 February 1918 in Minnetonka Beach, Minnesota. He went to local schools, graduating from Wayzata High School in 1936. Harold then attended the University of Minnesota, where he was an all-Big Ten football player; he subsequently played professional football for the Green Bay Packers (1940-41). With the US entry into World War II Harold gave up his football career and entered the Army, and after six months in the infantry was transferred to the Air Corps. He earned his wings in July 1942, and by 1943 was pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bomber. Along with the rest of the B-17's ten-man crew, Harold arrived in England in April 1944 and was assigned to the 447th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, based at Rattlesden. Over the next weeks the crew completed eight missions, but on their ninth, on 12 May 1944, their plane was shot down over Zwickau, Germany and Harold became a POW. After a brief stay at Dulag-Luft, the central interrogation facility in Wetzlar, near Frankfurt/Main, Harold was sent to Stalag Luft III, located in Sagan, 150 miles southeast of Berlin. When in early January 1945 the Germans evacuated this camp due to the advancing Red Army, Harold and hundreds of other POWs were marched several days to the city of Spremberg, then taken by train to Stalag XIII-D, at Nurnberg. Here he remained until early April, when the Germans evacuated this camp due to the proximity of American forces. After a forced march south of more than a week, the POWs ended up at the overcrowded Stalag VII-A Moosburg. This camp was liberated by American units in late April 1945. Harold spent several months recovering from his POW ordeal, and was finally discharged in 1945 with the rank of captain. Again a civilian, Harold returned to the Twin Cities area and his wife Drexel (married 1942). He spent a career in the insurance industry, and also devoted much time to community affairs. At the time of this interview (March 2004) Harold and Drexel Van Every lived in Minneapolis.


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Harold Van Every - Transcript.pdf (787 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Harold Van Every