Monday, August 6, 2012

Military Monday - Downed Air Crew in Switzerland

Just the other day I was perusing all of my relatives to ensure I had attached the 1940 census to everyone. I came across a great grand uncle, O. Farris Happy, that did not have much information attached to him. He was of the approximate age to have found in World War II, so I decided to do some digging (it doesn't hurt that his name was so unique as to force me to search for him!).

As I usually do I did a search of all records for O. Farris Happy in Unfortunately, it did not turn up much. I then narrowed the search to Military records. Low and behold I found a record for an Oliver F. Happy listed as a prisoner of war during WWII. News to me! I immediately tapped in to to see if I could track down more information.
Through the magic of Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, I was able to find a record of Oliver Farris Happy, Radio operator, member of a B-17 crew that was downed in Switzerland. The document also indicates that Oliver and the rest of the crew were listed as interred in Switzerland via a cable to the American Embassy in London.

I had not heard of air crews being interred in Switzerland, a neutral country during the war. A little research brought me to the website for the Swiss Internees Association, a group dedicated to the memory of Army Air Force veterans interred in Switzerland. Their website lists the flight of Oliver Happy:
Now I am fascinated by the experiences of Oliver Happy. I know he made it home from Switzerland as he died in 2000.

Coincidentally, though Oliver Happy was born in Missouri it appears that he died in Montezuma County, Colorado. The very area that my husband's line is from. Odd coincidence, that. My next step is to contact the Swiss Internees Association to see if they have any more information on Oliver or his flight crew.


Wendy said...

What an interesting story. I'm glad you walked us through your steps to get to the facts.

Daphne Happy said...

I'm the daughter of Oliver Farris Happy and the information on his place of death is an error. I wrote a letter shortly after discovering this to the Social Security Administration . . . and heard nothing back from them. I'm wondering if this might be the town from which his military benefits might have been mailed.

Don't know where you live, but we have his scrapbook from his years in Switzerland. My brother, Donald Happy, was stationed in Germany in the 60's. He and his wife took a vacation to Switzerland to see if any of the people who knew him were still living.

Daphne Happy
Liberty, Mo

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Daphne, I'm late in responding but I'm always interested to learn more. How interesting that they erred by so much in his place of death. My family still live in Ray County...perhaps we can link up some day. Shoot me a message through the blog!