Cerro Gordo County

Lt. Donald Nesbit



Liberator Navigator Freed After Romania Capitulates to Allies

CLEAR LAKE—“Our Liberator was shot down July 3, by M. E. 109’s after a 20 minute running battle,” said Lt. Donald Nesbit, recounting the incidents which resulted in his spending 2 months in a prison camp.

“Our target was Giurgiu, Romania.  We all baled out and, as we were coming down, could see the soldier coming. We landed in a small town but were taken to Bucharest, the capital, for interrogation, after which the officers were lodged in a schoolhouse which was used as a prison.  The enlisted men were at another place near the north end of the city.

“Lodging prisoners of war in an area which is a military target us contrary to international law but there were for 2 months with both American and British bombers flying over and dropping their loads.

“The food we got was poor, consisting mainly of soup and black bread. They had better food but would not give it to us.  Hygienic accommodations were negligible and medical care poor, but we suffered no physical violence.  The Romanians are excitable people and the guards seemed to fear we would try to escape. About every 2nd day, they would count us to see if we were all there.  The other prisoners were from England, Australia and other allied countries.

“The language spoken was a mixture of French, German, and Spanish with some English words thrown in.  In 2 months I got so I could understand and speak enough to get along quite well.  We sued to gang up on the guards to make them believe we were up to something and get them excited.

“ When Romania capitulated and was fighting Germany, they told us there were now ‘on the right side.’ We were free but we had to stay in bomb shelters for 4 days as the Germans were so peeved at the Romanians that they came over and bombed the city all that time.  It was unsafe to be above ground.

“To make it worse the Romanians stopped feeding us, as we were not prisoners any more. Luckily, we had received our Red Cross packages the day before the break came and we managed to live on them 9 days.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had not had them.  The Red Cross packages were wonderful help, while we were prisoners, too.  We certainly appreciated what the organization did for us and cannot praise it too highly.

“The Germans had posts on all sides of the city, so it was practically surrounded.  Those who were on the south side had to fight their way through to the north to join their own forces and there was some pretty tough fighting in the town.  We had to keep out of sight as the snipers were busy on both sides and we didn’t want to be in the way of their bullets.

“After 4 days we were taken out to an army airport and some of our planes came over from Italy and rescued us.  It was dangerous and exciting. The pilots set their planes down, but kept the engines running.  We were ready and climbed on board as fast as we could and they took off. The German lines were only a few miles away and we did not linger around there.

“We were in Italy a while and then came to the United States where I received a 30 day furlough.  I came from Los Angeles here, arriving early Sunday and have to report back to Santa Monica, Cal., for reclassification and reassignment.  We will not be sent back to our old unit, as from the German point of view, we are escaped prisoners and, if recaptured, could be considered spies.”

Lt. Nesbit is visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Floyd “Nibbs” Nesbit, and family.  He entered the service about 2 years ago, left the United States last spring and had been on 15 missions before being shot down.  He was a navigator with a bombing squadron over the oil fields of Romania when taken prisoner.  All the members of his crew landed safely, but some men in other crews were injured.  Lt. Nesbit’s planes have been damaged when he was on other missions but he managed to get them back to base.

Lt. Nesbit visited his mother, Mrs. Ella Nesbit, Los Angeles, Cal., before coming to Clear Lake.

Source:  Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 25, 1944 (photo included)