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Russell S. Shaw Jr. 1942

Russell and Thelma Thanksgiving 1994

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Street:  18 TAUNTON ST, Lot #1 City & State: PLAINVILLE, MA E-Mail:  racinwife@webtv.net
Zip: 02762 Phone:  Spouse: THELMA M
Conflict: WW II Service Branch: Army Air Corp Unit: 15 AAF, 98th Bomb Group, 344th Squadron
Theater: ETO Where Captured: ITALY Date Captured: 06/13/44
Camps Held In: LUFT III AND VIIA How Long Interned: 320 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 04/29/45 Age at Capture: 19
Occupation after War:  ELECTRICIAN &MAINTANCE

Military Bio:

Written by his wife, Thelma M. Shaw, November, 1999

Russell Salter Shaw, Jr. was born April 1, 1925 in Attleboro, MA, an eleventh generation descendant of Abraham and Bridget Shaw who sailed from Halifax, England on the ship “Arbella with the John Winthrop Fleet and arrived in Watertown, MA in June of 1630. They chose to begin a new life in a free country. Russell Shaw chose the Army Air Corps to fly and keep his country free.

He graduated from high school in June 1943 and was inducted on July 23, 1943. Basic training was in Greensboro, NC gunnery school and Tyndall Field, FL where he received his silver wings. Training on B-17’s ad B-24’s continued at Mitchell Field, NY, Westover AFB in MA and later in Cuba. He sent home a photo of his plane crew in Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana. Those men were: Pilot Clyde Copley, Co-Pilot John McLaughlin, Navigator Waldo Page; Robert Kirk, Roland Reese, William Schonfeld and Russell, a gunner. They left the USA for Italy by way of Brazil and Africa and reached base “near the heel of the boot” about May 25, 1944.

On June 13, 1944, after a bombing mission over Munich, Germany, the plane was unable to keep up with the formation and lagged behind the group until it reached Motta, Italy where the other crews lost sight of it. Because the plane had been damaged by enemy fire which killed the pilot and co-pilot, the crew was forced to bail out into the Adriatic Sea where the Italian fascists brought the men to shore and the Germans took them prisoners.

They were first taken to Stalag III at Sagan and after about three months were moved to Stalag 7A at Moosburg where Russell remained until General Patton’s men liberated them. A letter to his mother, dated July 1944 read, “I suppose it came as quite a shock when you got the telegram that I was missing in action. I hope it was not too long before they told you I am a prisoner of war. Most of the crew is here together and we are being treated OK. I could use towels, toothpaste and soap, canned preserves and candy. The Red Cross gives us packages every week and we cook our own meals. Give my love to everyone and tell them I am OK.”

After liberation he went to LeHarve, France to await the ship to take them back to New York. He was discharged on November 14, 1945.

He began his life-long career as an electrician and maintenance man at a local textile plant where he worked six days a week until retirement in May of 991. We were married in February 1949 and daughters Debra and Bonnie arrived in 1951 and 1953. Russell was a loving husband and father and his home and children, grandchildren and his job were always his priorities.

We were able to celebrate our 50 years of marriage quietly. In January, Russell had been diagnosed with lung cancer caused by the use of asbestos in the early years of his job. On May 4, 1999 he left us. He was an honorable man and was always ready with a helping hand when one was needed. He is missed.

My Message to Future Generations:

Russell said many times over the years, “I did not want to go to war but I was ordered to go and I went without question.” I am sure he would say to today’s generation and those of the future to be thankful you are an American and to fight for your country in any way in which you are called upon to do so.

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