ARNOLD E. (ANDY) KAUFFMAN
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Air Force, WWII, Europe
Arnold E. Kauffman was born in New York City in
He grew up in Yonkers and joined the New York National Guard
in early 1941.
After several months in the Guard, he volunteered
for service in the Army Air Corps and on August 21, 1942, he entered active
He went through a succession of training courses including
the Airplane Mechanics School at Amarillo Army Air Field in Texas, the B-17
Specialist School in Seattle, Washington and Aerial Gunnery School at
In 1943 he completed training on the Heavy Bomber,
B-17, “Flying Fortress.”
A new heavy bombardment group, the 457th, was
activated in July 1943 and Andy was assigned to it.
He joined a flight crew of the group’s 749th Bomb
Squadron and was with them when the aircraft were ferried from Grand Island,
Nebraska to Glatton, England.
The group’s B-17s were flown individually beginning
January 17, 1944 and they had all arrived at USAAF Station 130, Glatton, by
The 457th Group then flew bombing missions without
letup until April 20, 1945 when there were no more strategic bombing targets
remaining as the war was drawing to a close. After a total of 236 combat
missions, all while at Glatton, their only wartime home, the group was
inactivated in August 1945.
But Andy hadn’t been there for all of it; after some
early missions his aircraft went down in enemy territory and he spent the
remainder of the war as a P.O.W.
Those early missions of the group included some
in which the 8th Air Force sustained heavy losses, those being Oschersleben,
Schweinfurt, Augsburg, the “Big Week” bombing of Berlin in March,
Oranienburg, and others.
Sergeant Arnold Kauffman’s twelfth and last mission
was number 23 for the group, and it was the deepest penetration mission the
457th had participated in as of that date, April 9, 1944, when the 8th Air
Force sent 300 bombers to destroy a German fighter plane factory at Gydnia,
Being such a long range mission, fighter escorts could not
protect the bombers for the full distance to the target.
The weather was clear, the bomb run was successful
and the bombing results were reported as good despite moderate FLAK from the
It was the enemy fighters, hitting the bomber formation
repeatedly before the target and on the way home that took the greatest
The 8th Air Force lost 32 bombers on the mission, three of
those were from the 457th Bomb Group, two of the three were from the 749th
Squadron, and one of those was aircraft #537, the B-17 “Shepard’s
Flock,” piloted by Lieutenant Amos Shepard.
Sergeant Kaufmann was the Left Waist Gunner.
(The following is believed to have been an eyewitness account of the
loss of the B-17 from post-mission debriefing of the crews.)
The plane (flown by Lt.
Shepard) was hit by FLAK in the target area.
At least one of the engines was out when he left the
Three parachutes were seen emerging from his plane.
The plane dove down and leveled off and was
immediately attacked by three FW-190’s…..
(The 457th BG Association has an outstanding website.
It has added information provided many years later
by the co-pilot and the ball turret gunner, but these details, next
following, were not known at the time back at the base at Glatton).
“All of the crew
parachuted safely except the Aircraft Engineer.
He was found dead with an open parachute.
The Right Waist Gunner was injured in the upper leg
by shrapnel but was able to abandon ship.
He was later operated on in a German hospital and
survived as a P.O.W.”
Having parachuted safely, Sgt
Kauffman was soon taken captive and his first stop was in Dulag Luft, the
“transit camp” north of Frankfurt for initial processing as a Prisoner of
He was then transported to
Stalag Luft 17, a prison camp operated by the Luftwaffe for captured Allied
Flyers located at Krems, Austria, northwest of Vienna.
He was not, however, reported
by the Germans as a P.O.W. as required by the Geneva Convention, so his
parents had received War Department notification that his plane was missing
but with nothing to indicate whether he was killed or had survived. And so
it remained for several months, then in June 1944 the Kauffmans received a
telegram informing them that a German short wave radio message had been
intercepted that included the name of Sergeant Arnold E. Kauffman as a
P.O.W., but cautioning them that it was not proof that it was true.
Meanwhile, Andy was spending the remainder of the
war with the 4,300 other American Flyers, all of them NCOs, in Stalag 17
(real life setting for the 1953 movie,
starring William Holden) and on the other side of the fence, in the
international compounds, there were 15,000 other Allied prisoners, it was a
As the war was drawing to a close, Soviet troops
were threatening from the east and the Germans made a vain attempt to keep
the prisoners under their control.
On April 8, 1945, 4,000 of the P.O.W.s were started
out from Stalag Luft 17, beginning an 18-day march of 283 kilometers, to
There were 900 men remaining who were too ill to
make the march and were left behind in hospitals.
The P.O.W.s averaged 20 kilometers each day.
At the end of the day, they were forced to bivouac
in open fields, regardless of the weather.
The only food provided was barley soup and bread.
They reached their destination, a forested area at a
Russian prisoner of war camp four kilometers north of Branau.
Upon arrival, the men cut down pine trees and built
crude shelters for themselves.
The German guards had little real means of securing
their prisoners but no attempt was made to escape because it was apparent
that the liberation forces were in the immediate vicinity.
The camp was liberated on May 9th.
Andy shipped out for home on May 20, 1945, arrived
in the United States on May 31st, and on November 11, 1945 Technical
Sergeant Arnold E. Kauffman was discharged at the Separation Center at Fort
Meade, Maryland and returned home to New York City.
Arnold and Elizabeth (Betsy) Kauffman lived in
Sun City, Georgetown since its early days and he joined the Military Order
of the Purple Heart as a life member eleven years ago.
Most recently, he helped start up our chapter’s
monthly luncheon meetings in Georgetown.
and Chapter 1919 proudly salutes Patriot Arnold E. “Andy”
I have given up the
bodies that survived this searing shell
I have bore from my
hammock cactus leaves you would not sell
I have trained the
nearest beauty from the crippled hills of hell
And I weave a wreath of
sorrow… buddy, buddy
I have scouted with the
embers of the trenches, but in vain
I have crawled along the
mountains and along the desert lane
Seeking but a badge of
Jesus to adorn that valiant strain
But the crucifix is
cactus… buddy, buddy
I have sought among the
ruins where the ghost of flags acrew
But I cannot find the
fragments of the dear old flag we knew
Go fold upon your memory
and toward the sand from you
So I lay you with your
buttons… buddy, buddy
I have commandeered a
fraction of Africa’s old breast
With my fingers I have
torn for you a bivouac of rest
And your eyes turned
towards heaven and your boots are to the West
I have fulfilled my
promise… buddy, buddy.
And I cannot bring you
bugles, as I close your weary eyes
As I clasp you hands
together `neath the blue of foreign skies.
A bit of me detaches and
descends to you, and dies
No, you are not alone in
slumber… buddy, buddy.
A poem written in Mr. Clair “Rusty” Swarmer’s
from Stalag XVII-B by an unknown POW