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Stalag5a in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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    Those known to have been held in or employed at


    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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    Wilfred Thomas Black Watch

    I am looking for any one who can help tell me anything about Stalag Va, my father, Wilfred Thomas was a prisoner there,he was in the blackwatch. I have photos of him there and letters. I would also like to know if there are any trips to this camp.

    Hazel Sewell

    Pte. James Riley West Yorkshire Regiment

    My Dad, James Riley, was taken prisioner at Dunkerque and to the best of our knowledge was sent to Stalag 5 in the Black Forest. We were some of the lucky ones who had their father returned to give us more years of happiness.

    Peter Riley

    Pte. Leonard Fred "Chub" Tendick Dental Corps

    My dad, Leonard Tendick, was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, he was listed M.I.A. January 6th, 1945 from France and was held at Stalag 5A. He was liberated, April 19th, 1945 from a large prison camp at Fallingbostel in Western Germany.

    Leslie Clark

    Mstr Sgt. Wiliam Cannon "W C" Sargent

    My father was a POW in Stalag 5A during World War II. He was an American from Atlanta, Georgia.

    He passed away in 2001 but left me an audio tape of his experience during the War and as a POW at Stalag 5A ( He almost never openly discussed it).

    I am now in the process of transcribing his words. I would like very much to see photos of the camp if any are available. His tapes describe in detail the bitter cold and lack of food. I will provide more info when the tapes are transcribed.

    Lynda Greaves

    WO. Peter Orchard. Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers

    After active service in Palestine emergency 1936 -39, I was in Malta until 1942, when I was posted to the 8th. Army in the Western Desert , after skirmishes with Rommel we moved to Tobruk. The Army was besieged in Tobruk. We were surrendered into the hands of the Germans. They ordered us to proceed to the POW compound, some 5 miles away. The Germans said we could walk there or go in our own trucks which we had not had time to destroy. We said OK, having made holes in the sumps of the trucks; they just got us there before the engines seized up solid! The next POW camp at Benghazi was under control of the Italians , water was a problem ,they produced it in 44 gallon drums that had been used for diesel fuel and had not been properly cleaned out. Result massive diarrhoea in some 2000 prisoners.

    We were soon taken by boat to Italy, first in Brindisi southern Italy. Then to a camp north of Rome near Ancona. Italy capitulated; Mussolini was killed and the guards smashed their rifles against the nearest post, tore off their uniforms and shouted `the war is finished I am going home to `multi Vino, multi pasta, and multi `Nikki-nick!`. A company of Germans soon arrived and we were on a train through the Brenner Pass to Germany to Stalag ďV. POW camp, that was a former concentration Camp for the Jews. We had to strip and tie our cloths in a bundle or bag if we had one, these were put in the Cyanide gas chamber, and we went naked into the showers. Our cloths came out stinking of the cyanide Gas, we had to shake them for some minuets before dressing. My weight had dropped to 7 stone ;at last the Red Cross Parcels arrived to supplement our POW food of a couple of slices of black rye bread, potatoes and turnips, with occasional goat meat in the daily stew. The potatoes were boiled in their skins, we took it in turns to have the skins to make a `biscuit`baked on the top of fire stove each hut had for heating. A corporal of the Australian Army Tom Ward was captured with the resistance in North Italy and was being taken to Berlin for trial as a spy, which meant the death penalty. He was kept in the `cooler`out side of the main camp and was to be bathed and de-loused, before going to Berlin, in the camps big Shower Block (where we had a monthly shower). The key to the gate from the camp to the showers was trusted to a Sgt. Of the South African Army, who spoke German. He locked up at night handed the key to the guard house, and drew it the next day for prisoners assembled from each hut in turn to shower. The Camp held more than 10,000. prisoners of all nationalities! So the shower house was very large and in constant daily use.

    On the day Tom was to be showered and deloused the key was not issued by the Germans, but the escape committee knew this in advance. So the night before it was arranged that the padlock only looked secured before the key was handed in. All was set for the escape into the POW camp proper. The POW camp was for senior Non Commissioned Officers, Sergeants and Warrant Officers. So there were some good brains at work on the escape committee In the morning set for Tom Wardís delousing and shower, he striped naked and put his cloths in the Gas chamber, now he was the only person in the very large shower room, with the guards on the far tide of the shower room. Outside the gate from the main camp was a rigged party of prisoners supposedly ready to take a shower. The pad-lock was unhitched and into shower room rushed naked prisoners from the main camp. The guards were taken by surprise and shouted `rouse rouse `-get out -they did *with Tom Ward, who was quickly dressed with battle dress supplied by the escape committee ; now they were all including Tom, back in the main camp. The Germans were livid when they realised what had happened, and all hell was let loose!.

    It did not take long for a company of SS to arrive ordering the whole camp out for an inspection count and identification of all Prisoners. Tom Ward was in our hut, the question was where to hide him. Above the ceiling the slanting roof had sacks of straw in the gap between the outside walls the ceiling and sloping roof, Tom got inside one of these. The whole camp was kept outside for some 16 hours and we were checked against the records kept by the Germans. The search included guards from the SS going up above the ceilings and bayoneting the sacks. By the time they got to our hut, which was about the last they were obviously getting tired, and the bayoneting missed Tom Ward.

    This was not to be the end of the searching, we learnt that notices were put up in the surrounding village, offering a reward for his capture, They just did not know where he was and were determined to get him. Two weeks later a Battalion of SS arrived in Armoured Cars, we were ordered out for further checks and the SS. took the place apart. This time we knew they were deadly serious, so Tom Ward got down inside the night latrine, a sewage pit, and stood in the sewage for hours, it was just ghastly, I just donít know how he stuck it, He got through it with terrible uric acid burns, which took weeks to heal. He finally took over identification of a South African Sargent who had hung himself. The Prisoner records were kept in the German main office by POWs working as clerks, they arranged the switch, even Tom Wards fingerprints.Tom Ward passed subsequent German identity checks, they never twigged it. He remained in the camp until we were freed by the Russian advance.

    In January 1944 I had the misfortune of contracting Cerebral-spinal Meningitis. They had to put me in a straight jacket , because the pressure on the nervous system caused me to thrash about uncontrollable. In the hospital I was treated by a French POW doctor. That night a Red Cross supply of drugs came in from Switzerland, the Doctor said he very nearly did not give me the Sulphonamide drug that eventual cured me because he thought I was `too far gone to save` .I recovered enough for a German medical board who recommended me for POW exchange category `B`, an exchange that never took place; in any case I did make a slow recovery during the next 15 months up to the time the Russian advance caused the Germans to abandon our POW camp. While recuperating in the hospital an American soldier with a serious gun shot wound on the side of his head came into the camp hospital. He was from Texas USA and the Doctor could not understand what he said, so I found myself interpreting broad Texan accent into English! That night before another consignment of Red Cross Drugs came in the Doctor told me he did not think the American Sgt.would live the night out. Early next morning the excited Doctor took me to see the American sitting up smiling. `Its almost a miracle` said Doctor, I just gave him three shots of Penicillin a new drug just out and look at him now! He fully recovered and came back into the main camp with me. I learnt some years later the discovery was worked on by Mrs. Suzian Tritton M.P.S. F.R.I.C. my very good friend and wine making mentor who was an assistant to Dr.Flemming who made Penicillin, but more about her later. Stalag lV was an ex concentration camp. On the exercise field to the north there was a series of humps, our senior representative a WO1 asked the Germans if we could flatten it to make a playing field for games. This was firmly refused by the commandant. It was later learnt the field was a burial ground. The humps were the top of a series to lime pit trenches where it was said were the bodies of Jews who died in a collier epidemic, when the camp was a Jewish concentration Camp. Two years after the British arrived in the camp a reading of the Camps Electric meter showed a 1000% increase in electric consumption! A big raid took place to find out why?.

    This led to tables between the British Sector Huts full of confiscated equipment of all kinds. from electric suites in the RAF. Huts, to numerous Brew kettles to make Tea and coffee from Red Cross Parcels. These were mainly two metal plates, separated by a piece of wood, placed in a brew can, the wires were connected to nails and another piece of wood for a plug. When plugged in the whole thing was alive and very lethal if touched. We had striped the wiring from the outside lavatories that were disconnected anyhow, we wired the mains up to secret sockets behind two tiny holes in the wooded walls of the hut. One thing the Germans never did find was the Radio set in our hut. It was under the seat of a stool our hut commander would sit on as he was allowed to stay in the hut, when a search took place. We had a large home made Map of the War zone, and pinned up little flags to show the Allies and Russian advance from the news we got. The German Sgt Major would come to find out the war situation. He would say `no no, thatís not correct`, knowing full well it would come on the German news sometimes a week later. He was comparatively friendly and we would have a laugh at his expense. In the end he would come in almost every Day.

    The Camps News letter was also compiled from news we got from our Radio Which was made from bits and pieces bought from guards with cigarettes and some times coffee from Red Cross Parcels. The bulk of these parcels came from Canada, mainly because the Canadian Red cross would escort the parcels and cigarettes to Germany. From UK Some 60% of the parcels, especially cigarettes were pillaged first in the UK ports, then across Spain Switzerland and of course Germany. I only got some 15% of the cigarettes Dad & Mum sent me. The distribution depended on how many parcels were available, at the very best it was one food parcels between two of us, They were only available about half the time.

    The end of the War in Europe for us in the POW camp came with the advance of the Russians in 1945. The Germans were fleeing to the other side of the River Elbe, and wanted us to join them. Our `Man of confidence `a Warrant class 1(he was voted to the position and in fact from REME. an ASM, (Armament Sgt.Majors, who were generally better educated than RSM`s,Regemental Sgt. Majors, who were very good in fighting infantry and Guards regiments;) refused the German offer to take us, some 10,000 of us, across to the Other side of the River Elbe.

    The Russian liberation consisted of an Officer on horse back , riding into the Russian compound. `You are liberated in the great name of the USSR` he then said those who are fit can draw a rifle from the horse drawn trucks, and join the front. A prisoner shouted that man is a German dressed as a prisoner; the office drew his pistol and shot him dead on the spot. He continued `The rest are at liberty to go (walk!) home, We did later find some dead on the road side in their attempt to go home to Russia (the Russians sector was quite separate from the European sector of the POW camp, Because they were not protected by the Geneva convention; in fact the Germans starved very many of them to death. They had to pull carts with tanks on them, used to empty the sewage from the night latrines at the end of each hut, they also had to pump this sewage out on their rounds of the camp, using hand pumps. The sewage was taken to the fields to fertilise the turnips etc.used to feed POWs!. Russian officers said soldiers were expendable.

    The Camp was liberated on the 14 April 1945. My friend Eric Skinner D.F.C.,a WO.1 air gunner of the RAF he and I went walk about to the near by villages where we `liberated two bikes!` the houses were mostly empty , just a few very old people who had been left behind the fleeing population. We entered a Villa that had been pillaged by Russian Soldiers, they had just used their rifle butt smashing lovely furniture in wanton destruction.

    Peter Orchard

    Frank Baker

    My uncle, Frank Baker, was a USAAF belly-gunner on a B-17. He was shot down and became a POW at Stalag 5. Does anyone have information about this?

    Jolene Anne Giroux

    Thomas Dawson Northumberland Fusiliers

    I have two uncles who were in the Northumberland Fusiliers during WWII. They were both captured at St Valery. Thomas was interned in Stalag 5, Poland, and Robert in Stalag 8b.


    Robert Dawson Northumberland Fusiliers

    I have two uncles who were in the Northumberland Fusiliers during WWII. They were both captured at St Valery. Robert was interned in Stalag 8b and Thomas was in Stalag 5, Poland,


    Arie Verouden Marine

    My father, Arie Verouden, was a Dutch Marine and was interned in Stalag XIa. He was sent there from Amersfoort, Holland on 13th May 1943 until 27th May 1943. Then he escaped but was captured by the Gestapo at the end of December 1943. He was transported to a prison and Stalag Va. In April 1945 he escaped again and came home. After the liberation he returned to the Marines.

    Marga Verouden

    Donato Anthony "Danny" Donato

    I only know that Danny Donato was in the infantry, captured in France, was awarded the Purple Heart. He may have been at the Battle of the Bulge. Was a POW in Stalag 5A. I don't remember much about my dad as he was killed in an automobile accident when I was young. My mom said that he never talked about his war experiences. Any further info you could provide me with would be much appreciated.

    Len Visco

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