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Last member of The Passionate Witch crew shares his story

April 28, 2011

Paul Robison and his wife, Ann, were visited recently by two of the sons of a fellow crewmate of Paul’s during World War II. Greg Allen, far left, and Dwight Allen, far right, did a videotaped interview with Paul for a book they are writing about their father and his experiences during the war.

R. Paul Robison of Broken Bow, known to his Army Air Corp buddies as "Roby", was serving as a top turret gunner aboard the plane The Passionate Witch, when it was shot down Jan. 11, 1944, over Brunswick, Germany. It was the eighth mission for the crew.
All 10 crew members got out of the plane, however the pilot's parachute did not open and he was killed. The rest were taken prisoner. The POWs were eventually taken to a camp, Stalag 17B, just outside of Krems, Austria. They would spend more than a year there before finally being liberated, May 3, 1945.
More than 65 years later, Paul still remembers nearly every detail of the time he spent in that POW camp, and the men he spent that time with. His memory got put to the test a couple of weeks ago when Paul received a visit from two of the sons of one of his closest friends during that time.
Ralph Allen, known to the crew as "Al", was the tail gunner on the crew. "Roby" and "Al" spent a great deal of time together in Stalag 17 B, sleeping side by side the entire time they were kept prisoner. Two of Al's sons paid a visit to Paul April 15 and 16, with the sole purpose of finding out as much information as they could about their father and his time in the military.
Greg Allen, of Apex, N.C., and Dwight Allen, of Willsville, N.Y., came to the Robison home prepared. They set up video equipment to tape their interview with Paul, and had a 150- question typed questionnaire for him. They also set up a computer equipped with Skype so a third brother, Jim, who lives in China, could be part of the interview.
Paul had kept in close contact with Al over the years. In fact, he tried to keep in touch with all the members of the crew. But some, he says, were just not interested in doing so because it was too painful for them.
Paul and his wife, Ann, fondly remember a special visit they had from Al and his wife one summer back in the late 80s. They were joined by another POW who was from a different crew but was also in Stalag 17 B. The three couples spent a week together at the Robison home, and Paul says they had a great time.
Al passed away nearly two years ago, and the three sons are now in the process of putting together a book about their father. As the only surviving member of the crew, Paul was asked to help fill in some of the blanks Al's sons had.
"I was able to answer just about every question they had for me," Paul says.
It wasn't the first time Paul had met one of Al's sons. He and Ann had met Dwight several years ago at a reunion in Dayton, Ohio, that Dwight was attending with his parents.
Paul has also been in touch over the years with family members of some of the other men he served with. One member of his crew, affectionately referred to as "Charlie", has a son and daughter-in-law whom Paul has corresponded with for several years. That couple will be visiting Broken Bow in a couple of weeks.
Jim Allen has made a trip to Austria and drove the route, as nearly as he could tell, that his father and the rest of the POWs were forced to walk. Greg and Dwight plan to make the trip to Austria as well in the near future to do more research for the book. The brothers plan to publish the book in about two years.
"I'm 88-years-old now. I just hope I'm around to see it," Paul laughs.
Though recalling some of the details of his time as a POW are often unpleasant for Paul, he does enjoy talking about his old friends. "We all got along very well. But then we had to, our lives depended on each other!"
Paul says it means a great deal to him to have contact with the wives, sons and daughters of the brave men he served with in World War II.
"I really feel privileged to be able to be in contact with some of this second generation," says Paul.
"Especially since I'm the only one left."

Comments

My Dad, I believe was on that plane

August 10, 2011 by Ken (not verified), 3 years 15 weeks ago
Comment: 111

I have a news article that states, the bomber, "Maggies Delight" had a nude woman painted on it's side. The biys went all out and repainted the nude womn, adding hair, riding a broom and carring a bomb and renamed her the Passionate Witch." My Dad is still alive, doing well at 89. Carl Driver is his name. Anuone out ther know him? His son.

Indoor Growing Supplies

July 28, 2011 by gregaria (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 106

Wonderful blog. You constantly write a intriguing blog. I will come back very soon.
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Paul Robison

May 4, 2011 by Jody Sargent (not verified), 3 years 29 weeks ago
Comment: 98

I was so impressed with this story and the courage it took Paul and his crew to go through such an experience at such a young age. All I can think is "wow" and "thank you Mr. Robison for your service to our country". I have nothing but utmost respect for this man and his family. I'd hate to think where we'd be without people like him and his crew willing to serve and sacrifice for the United States of America.

Thanks Roby!

May 2, 2011 by Greg Allen (not verified), 3 years 29 weeks ago
Comment: 97

It was truly a pleasure spending time with Roby and Ann. He is a great man who along with many other men and women were successful in protecting our way of life. My father was very close to Roby and their time together was filled with sacrifice, pain, brotherhood and ultimately triumph. Victory has its rewards and its consequences. My father, like many Vets of all conflicts, suffered with PTSD for the rest of his life. Our current generation of warriors will suffer from their own combat experiences and I pray that we as a nation will be supportive of them and never forget the sacrifices they have made for us. Broken Bow is a great town and it is made even greater by the presence of Roby and Ann Robison.

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