The internment of LTC Lawler
During World War II, then a Flight Officer (Lt.), I was a co-pilot on a B-17 Flying Fortress flying combat missions over Germany.
A chronological summary of events leading up to my incarceration in Switzerland is as follows:
March 16, 1944: On a mission to Augsburg, Germany our B-17 aircraft was severely damaged and disabled by German fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft flak. With two engines out, loss of power on the third engine and losing precious altitude, we struggled to keep our smoking aircraft airborne and headed toward Switzerland. Not knowing precisely where we were, and dangerously close to snow covered mountain peaks with no place to land, we were forced to bail out of our burning and crippled aircraft. We alighted in the vicinity of the Swiss border north of Maienfeld. Subsequently, we were confined in Davos.
September 1944: I attempted to escape from Switzerland to return back to my military unit in England. I was apprehended at the Swiss border in the vicinity of Geneva with a gun to my head. My goal was to get to Annecy, France. I spent a week or so incarcerated in a damp, dirty jail somewhere in the area of Geneva. I was then transferred to the infamous Wauwilermoos Prison.
November 1944: I was returned to Davos due to the intolerable conditions at Wauwilermoos. I refused to sign a pledge that I would not attempt to escape. As a consequence, I was placed back into incarceration at the Les Diablerets prison.
December 1944: I escaped from the Les Diblerets prison at the end of December and finally crossed the Swiss border on January 6, 1945 into France. I reported to the U.S. control at Annecy, France and was then transported to my Bomb Group in England.
LT/COL Lawrence T. Lawler (RET)