BEDFORD, Richard Lawrence
Name: Richard Lawrence BEDFORD
Born 17 April 1922
Birthplace: Rochester, New York
Age at arrival in Buchenwald: 22
Died 6 July 2017 in Fairport, New York, age 95
Service ID: O-810459
Service Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Duties: Fighter pilot
Air Group: 8th Air Force, 353rd Fighter Group, 350th Fighter Squadron
Airbase: Raydon, Suffolk UK
Aircraft: P-47 42-25768
Date shot down: 12 June 1944
Fate of crew: Evaded, captured
Evasion summary: Richard parachuted near Dreux, France and was hidden by a French farmer for about six weeks. A local English teacher taught him some French and when the Germans moved into part of the house, Richard was hidden in a tiny outbuilding beyond the farmer’s fields. Richard expected to be picked up by someone who who would take him to Switzerland or Spain. Instead, a well dressed couple, later identified as Desoubrie and Orsini, took him to Paris.
Date captured: 21 July 1944
Capture summary: He was arrested by the Gestapo three days after he arrived in Paris. The French farmer was executed. Richard was taken to Gestapo HQ for interrogation and then sent to Fresnes Prison, where he spent three weeks.
Boxcar Transport: 15-20 August 1944, in boxcar #3 with Martini, Wilson, Pennel, Perry, Bastable, Carr, Grenon, Gibson, High, Hodgson, Prudham, Sonshine, Robb, R Mills, Whellum, Spierenburg, Taylor, Allen, Harvie, Larson, McLaughlin, Moser, Petrich. Roberson, Stevenson, Vinecombe, Zeiser and, at train change, Lamason, Watmough, Scullion, Smith, Head, Watson, and C Hoffman.
Buchenwald ID: 78283
Notes on Buchenwald internment: Four days after arriving at Buchenwald, B-17s bombed a factory next to where the airmen were camped in a field. Richard thought it quite a miracle they were not hit. Eventually they were moved into barracks and were fed German black bread that was sour tasting and consisted mostly of sawdust. Sometimes there was a soup with “protein” wiggling in the broth and one week they had bushels of fresh garlic. The Danish Police, also prisoners at Buchenwald, somehow received rations of canned sardines and herring which they shared. Over the two months at Buchenwald, Richard lost 70 pounds.
Transferred from Buchenwald to: Stalag Luft III, North Compound, Bldg 112, Rm 4
Kriege ID: 8126
Notes on SLIII internment: He was given a postcard and could send a note to his wife, Doris, who did not know for over four months where he was or if he was even alive. He stayed in the infirmary for about a week because he was fairly ill when he arrived. The YMCA-issued journal kept him entertained and the Red Cross parcels provided food, clothing and athletic equipment. On 27 January 1945 began packing because they had to be prepared to march in one hour. They ate as much food as they could, built sleds as quickly as possible and tried to locate the warmest clothes. The temperatures were below freezing. North Compound began the forced march began just after midnight. Richard teamed up with his friend, Van Gundy, and marched all night in a blizzard.
Subsequent transfer to: Stalag XIII-D, Nurnburg. North Compound began the forced march began just after midnight. Richard teamed up with his friend, Van Gundy, and marched all night in a blizzard.
Notes on S XIII-D internment: Evacuated on 6 April 1945 via 10-day forced march of 81 miles to Stalag VIIA. (American forces reached S XIII-D on 16 April 1945.)
Liberation: 29 April 1945 by units of Patton’s Third Army, 14th Armored Division
Repatriation from ETO: From Moosburg, Richard went to Landshut to be flown on C-47 transport planes, refueled at Metz and then flew further to LeHavre. Trucks took them to Camp Lucky Strike. He was able to shower, receive clean clothes, fresh boots and had plenty of food. On May 8, he bought a new uniform and was processed back to England where he boarded a Liberty Ship for his 30 day voyage to New York City. He was given a voucher for a train ticket to Rochester, New York where Doris was living with her parents. He had difficulty getting a cab from the train station to his in-law’s home because he had no money. Eventually he found a cab driver that took a chance he would get paid once Richard got to his in-law’s home.
Discharged: 13 October 1945
VA status: Richard used the VA for some medical things, a hearing aid, glasses, etc. but he did not suffer any psychological traumas.
Notes on Post-War period: Eastman Kodak saved his position and eventually he helped to develop the chemistry for color photography and other photographic endeavors. Eastman Kodak was his only employer. He and Doris were able to travel extensively after he retired.