World War II Veteran Prisoner-of-War for 20 Months

by Emily Baird on November 11, 2009 at 6:06 am

Veterans Day is a time for Americans to honor the men and women who have served and fought for our country, and for many veterans, it is a day of reflection.

World War II Veteran Lewis Baker was stationed in England, serving in the 8th Air Force. He says he flew over France and Germany on six missions with the intent of destroying a factory that produced German planes, but Baker never made it back to England after that sixth mission. His plane was shot down.

"The day I was shot down, our group had 21 planes in the air that day and lost 11, which was 110 men. 55 of them were killed, 53 were taken prisoner, and two of them made it back to England on the Underground, " says Baker.

The Underground was a group of French people who help soldiers get back to England by going from village to village.

Baker says while some Frenchmen came to his aid the night he was shot down, he wasn’t able to go with them because his foot was broken.

It was the next morning that he was discovered.

"I looked out in the vineyard and saw five or six german soldiers just walking up and down out in the field there. After a bit, someone spotted me and pointed the gun in my direction, " says Baker.

Baker spent the next 20 months a prisoner-of-war at a camp in Austria with about four thousand other American soldiers. He says he wasn’t mistreated but was interrogated by the Germans.

American troops were eventually able to reach and rescue Baker and the others in the camp about a month after the war ended in Germany.

Baker says he now works with ex-prisoners of war and their widows, and he was just inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in Columbus last Friday.