Stanley N. Buck
The navigator of the Liberty Lady on the day of their March 6, 1944, emergency landing on the island of Gotland was 1st Lt. Stanley N. Buck. Buck was not a regular member of the crew. The crew’s original navigator, Charles L. Stevenson, was killed by shell fire during a mission on January 11, 1944.
Soon after the crew had settled into the Rättvik internment camp, “THE BEAVER’S SPUR,” newsletter for the Liberty Lady crew, reported that Stan left for Stockholm on March 23rd to “assume new duties as the assistant to the assistant to the assistant at the American Legation in Stockholm … The well wishes of his fellow crewmen are sincere in the hope that he will discover a more fertile pasture in his new surroundings than ever dreamt of amongst the flickas hereabouts.”
After their harrowing experiences over the flak filled skies of Germany, these guys now had a one track mind.
The August 26, 1944, issue of Collier’s Magazine included an article titled, “Swedish Stopover” had many photographs of the interned airmen. They were shown bicycling, skiing, shopping, swimming, hanging out with the ladies … in short, safe and having a good time. For most of the families, this would have been the first glimpse they had of the young men.
The photo in Collier’s prime position was of Stan Buck. One of his duties at the American Legation was to attend evening functions, and he had to buy a tuxedo for the occasions.
I have been in contact with Stan’s widow, Marcia Buck, and we have been trying to piece together some of the details of what Stan was doing while he was in Stockholm.
Marcia shared with me a letter dated July 29, 1944, from Lt. Col. Felix Hardison, Military Air Attaché. “I wish to commend 1st Lt. Stanley N. Buck … for his excellent and outstanding performance of duty as Acting Assistant Military Air Attaché with the American Legation, Stockholm, Sweden from March 23, 1944 to July 24, 1944.
1st Lt. Buck was navigator of a Fortress type aircraft which was compelled to force-land Sweden after a bombing attack on Berlin March 6, 1944. On March 23, 1944, Lt. Buck was ordered to the Office of the Military Air Attaché for temporary duty. In addition to acting as Liaison Officer, he was placed in charge of our Scandanavian (sic) Air Fields section, maps, files and pertinent data regarding Scandanavian countries. As a result of his efforts these previously mentioned subjects were handled in a very excellent and efficient manner.”
Mrs. Buck also sent me photographs Stan had saved of a dinner party whose guests included Felix Hardison and Bernt Balchen. Stan was working with the Air Attaché office at the same time that Bernt Balchen was initiating Operation Sonnie, the courier service between Sweden and the RAF airbase at Leuchars in Scotland. Balchen led his B-24 crews on many other more clandestine operations, aiding the Norwegian resistance.
My theory is that Navigator Stan Buck was helping gather critical information about these Scandinavian countries in support of Balchen’s Operation Sonnie.
In July, Stan Buck returned to Rättvik and remained there until his return to England. In April of 1945 while on R&R Stan and his future wife Marcia visited with the family of Felix Hardison at their home in California.