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Lt. Howard G. Mayes Prisoner of War Correspondence

Note: This item is currently in storage.

This collection of papers pertaining to Lt. Howard G. Mayes poignantly illustrates the human cost of the war effort. This selection of correspondence illustrates what it was like for many American families to learn a loved one had been injured, captured or killed. 

Mayes, a reconnaissance pilot with the 91st Aero Squadron, was responsible for conducting high-altitude surveillance across the German lines. On July 2, 1918, Mayes and a flight of three French-built Salmson aircraft were intercepted by nine German fighters. Unable to return across the lines, Mayes and his observer, Lt. Frank F. Schilling, became separated from the rest of their flight and were repeatedly attacked. During the fight, Schilling was killed and Mayes was shot through the head and leg. Despite these injuries, Mayes managed to land his aircraft behind enemy lines, where he was immediately taken prisoner and sent to a military hospital. After several months of recuperation, he was transferred to the German prisoner of war camp at Villingen, Germany.

War Department Correspondence
On Sept. 13, 1918, Mrs. Howard G. Mayes received this letter from the War Department notifying her of her husband's status as a prisoner of war.

Prisoner of War Postcard from Germany
The German army permitted limited correspondence between interned airmen and their families. This postcard from Stuttgart, Germany, was mailed by Lt. Howard G. Mayes to his family. He writes:

Dearest Grace: Am now back to a kind of rest center to get back my strength before being sent to prisoner camp. Have no idea how long I will be here but you may write to me at this address. How are you and the boy getting along? Would certainly love to see you. If you need anything let Guy know.  Don't try to send me anything unless you are sure how it is done. With lots of love, Howard."

Officer's Word-of-Honor Pledge 
Captured American airmen interned at the POW Camp in Villingen, Germany, were required to sign an oath promising they would not attempt to escape. It states:

"I declare by my word-of-honour, that I will not make any attempt to escape from the time leaving the camp until returning to it, will make no preparation for a future escape and that I will not act in any way to the prejudice of the German Empire." 

"I know that a prisoner of war escaping in spite of the given word-of-honor, according to sec. 159 of the German army regulation incurs the penalty of death."

Signed--H.G. Mayes on November 8, 1918.

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