- Stalag7a during the Second World War -
POW Camp Index
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- AK2780 Arbeits kommando Stalag 7b
- AK3324-46 Arbeits kommando Stalag 7b Krumbachstrasse 48011
- AK3368 Arbeits kommando Stalag 7b Munich 48-11
- AK3911 Arbeits kommando Stalag 7b Munich
1st Dec 1941 77 Squadron Whitley lost
22nd Feb 1942 106 Squadron Hampden lost
26th Jul 1943 15 Squadron Stirling lost
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have been held in or employed at
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Amelang Leslie.
- Azbill Virly Elmo. Sgt.
- Ballantyne Leonard. Fusilier
- Baxter Norman William. Pte.
- Beebe Paul.
- Behringer Karl. Pvt.
- Billner William James. Pvt.
- Brafman Chaim Mojsze.
- Branson Arnold Lester. Pfc.
- Breach Hugh Elliott.
- Bruno Albert Richard. Pte.
- Butcher Tom.
- Calhoun Floyd.
- Capp Cyril Charles. Sgt.
- Casey Donald Emmett. 2nd Lt.
- Chupin Pierre.
- Ciummo Adolph. Pte.
- Clark Laurie. Sgt
- Clason George F.. L/Cpl.
- Cleworth Cyril.
- Collins Elwood E.. 2nd Lt.
- Collinson Roger. Spr.
- Coppola Leonardo. Cpl.
- Crissman H. G..
- Crissman Howard G.
- Curnow G. D.. Pte.
- Dale C..
- Daniels Thomas.
- Daum Harold James. Cpl.
- Davies Ronald.
- Davis Robert.
- DeBiase Rudolph.
- Dennis George Alexander. Pte.
- Doyle Terence William.
- Duhon Shannon James. Staff Sarg
- Edmonds Benjamin LaForest.
- Field Howard Peter.
- Fields Albert Conn. Pte.
- Finchum Frank.
- Fox Henry. Technical Sgt.
- Frost George Wesley. Pte.
- Frost George Wesley. Cpl.
- Frost George Wesley. Pte.
- Gibbons William Thomas. Pte.
- Gibbs Henry Perry. S/Sgt.
- Gipson Ernest Lloyd. Cpl.
- Gregory Melvin Eugene. Pfc.
- Gyves George. Sgt.
- Hamilton Ralph E.. Lt.
- Heckel Charles Clark. 2nd Lt.
- Hillan Hugh. Pte.
- Hines Gordon Leslie. Cpl.
- Hunter Richard John.
- Jenkins Ronald John.
- Jessop John Cunliffe.
- Johnson Donald Duane. PFC
- Johnson Donald Duane. PFC
- Johnson Robert Lee. PFC.
- Jones Kenneth. Pte.
- Kammeraad Herbert J. Pte.
- Knight John James. Driver
- Lang Albert.
- Lang James H..
- Leathem John. Fus.
- Ledford Lester Thomas. Pfc.
- Lee Arthur. Trp.
- Lyman Asael.
- Lynes Thomas Frank. Gnr.
- Mardon William Richard.
- Martin Arnold Paul. 2nd Lt.
- Martinez Melesio V..
- McClelland James Poage. Pte.
- McFarland William John. Cpl.
- McKenna John Alphonsus Stuart. Pte
- McKenna John Alphonsus Stuart. Pte.
- McPherson Theodore Pershing.
- Miller Herbert Henry.
- Newnham Albert Edward. Cpl.
- Newton Marshall Lindsay.
- Ninow Frederick George. Pte.
- Nix Miles Richard. Pvt.
- Paolini Livio.
- Pennington Harold. Pte.
- Pitts Harold Alfred George. Pte.
- Plunkett Bert. Cpl.
- Read Leslie Bowness. S/Sgt.
- Reed John B..
- Rice Bervie. Pte.
- Richards John Leonard. Pte.
- Roberts Ernest. Pte.
- Robinson William.
- Rudmann Lawrence.
- Ryan Urban Gerrard.
- Sanford Joseph Charles. 2nd Lt.
- Santiago Luis G..
- Scott John J.. 2nd Lt.
- Sheard Robert. Cpl
- Siddall Harold. Stkr.
- Simmonds Norman William. WO
- Sinclair Walter. (d.25th Jan 1945)
- Smith Thomas George.
- Smith William David. Gnr.
- Soderberg Arthur Fredrick. PFC.
- Steele Rolland E.. PFC.
- Stockwell Herbert Victor.
- Sulivan John Francis.
- Sutton Leonard Arthur.
- Tearle P. A.. Pte.
- Till Peter. Colour Sgt.
- Turner Claude.
- Turner William. Fus.
- Vicary Charles Gordon.
- Wasser Maurice Joseph. 2nd Lt.
- Williams Pete.
- Williams Peter.
- Winters Lloyd Emmanuel. Pte.
- Woodhouse Albert Edward. Pte.
- Woodward Frederick George. Sergeant
- Wright Fred John. L/Cpl. This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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2nd Lt. Elwood E. Collins 44th Bomb SquadronI am looking for anyone who might have known my Uncle Elwood. His plane, which I believe was the Sanchez Belle, was shot down and 5 were captured and taken to Stalag 7A Moosburg (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse 48011, Work Camp 3368 Munich 48-11). Four of the men escaped but my uncle remained till the liberation. He was in the Middle East Theatre, heavy bombardment and his Serial number was O&733533. I recently learned he passed away at 90 never having talked about his experience. For 18 yrs I have been trying to find anyone who served with him, etc. to contact me please.Cindy
Colour Sgt. Peter Till The Royal Hampshire RegimentMy Grandad Peter Till has written his story
I offer my story as follows, and trust it will enlighten, and at the same time ease the mental stress, which I experience at times. I am sure that true ‘comradeship’ carried us through.
I was captured in Tunisia, 1 March 1944. After POW Camps in Italy, and the German Army was retreating northwards, I was moved to Germany in May 1944. I went to Stalag V11 A at Moosberg – just outside Munich. It was relief to us, as we were de-loused, clothes fumigated, then after a shower, dusted over with DDT powder. We were all given a metal identity disc. On mine, which I still have in Stalag V11A No 129824: which means I must be on some records somewhere. Maybe Red Cross, who know.
From empty tins we made little stoves to brew tea in, from the Red Cross parcels. This meant that you needed fuel to burn in your little stove. Well the wooden floor of the huts was completely gone, just bare ground. You guessed right it had been used to ‘brew up’ by previous prisoners. When Red Cross parcels were issued, it was always 1 between 2. The first time I ate some of the rich food, I was really ill with stomach pains, which meant I sat for a long time on the outdoor toilet, which consisted of a trench with a pole across, supported by a trestle at each end. Oh! Well enough of that.
I did not stay long at Stalag V11A as a party of us were moved to a working camp No 3911 in Munich. Stalag V11A would have been released by the American 9th Army about 1 March 1945, as they advanced across Europe. True British spirit was always the mainstay of our existence, we had our ups and downs, what more can I say.
Lots of stories, but I only trust, and really sincere in wishing peace and happiness to all your family. Thank you.Julie Gilby
Pte. Herbert J KammeraadDad did not talk to much about it.The few times I could get him to talk this is what I remeber. They were captured and moved to a guarded barn the US was shelling the Germans he heard 1 shell go long then 1 go short the 3rd shell hit the barn, he was on an outside wall it blew him out side the barn. He said he could not see because of the clay forced up under his eye lids. Not many men survived the blast. He was moved to pow camp stalag 7a from what I can obtain. He said they were forced to repair train tracks that the allies bombed. He told about being chain bombed "he said they chain bombs together so the bombs would lay out in a line to desroy more track " Dad said the Germans would run for shelters and leave them their. He talked about pick axeing the gages in a train engine when the germans were gone.Dad said they made them carry a bucket of grease and a stick to grease train cupplers.He talked about adding a hand full of dirt then covering it with grease.He said towards the end they starved,they fed them hedge leaf soup and bread made from saw dust.I remember him saying they would trade uniforms with us officers so they could go on work detail. Sometimes the locals would slip the bread and food and this would allow the officers a chance to get more to eat.I think i was 25 years old before my dad ever talked about it at all and I was born in 1955. I know it affected him deeply. He was looking for a book called Feet Of Clay, I think it was writen by someone he was captured with.Mark Kammeraad
Sgt Laurie Clark 138 Sqd.My father died in 1960, 3 weeks after my birth and would never talk about his wartime experiences to my mother. However, this is what I have gleaned over the years:
Towards the end of the war his Stirling was shot down over the Danish coast. There was an emergency landing and repairs were made but while they were taking off, and 50ft in the air, a bomb on the aircraft went off. A saboteur has planted it while the repairs were being done. My father was hurled through the perspex nose but landed in a mixture of sea and marsh, went through minefields, but survived. (At this time he may have been helping an injured American airforce person, perhaps of African descent. He may have killed an enemy soldier at this time, too, as my Mum said he had nightmares about this)
Through friendly contacts he made it to Copenhagen and was in sight of Sweden when he fell into the hands of the Gestapo. He received the "full treatment" and was sent to Stalag 7a at Moonsburg.
My mum would say that towards the end of the war he was part of a crew whose mission was to drop spies behind enemy lines and he talked about the Caterpillar Club.
My mother died 12 years ago and I now have children of my own and I am aware that there is so much about my father that I do not know.
The Stirling was LJ999, NF-Q they took of at 23:48 on the 4th of March 1945 from Tempsford on Operation TABLEJAM 241 and headed for Denmark. On the return journey at 150 feet, over Ringkobing Fjord an explosion sent the aircraft out of control to crash in shallow water.
The crew were:
The crew all survived and were taken POW, 5 of then were confined in Hospital due injuries until the Liberation.
- F/O L.G.Steven
- Sgt J.T.Breeze
- F/O N.E.Tilly
- F/S J.F.Kyle
- F/S G.M.Maude RAAF
- Sgt W.L.Clark
- Sgt J.H.BloomerLaurel Clark
Marshall Lindsay Newton Ox and Bucks Light InfantryMy father Marshall Lindsay Newton talked to me when I was a little girl about being a prisoner of war and being kept in a "pit" and fed on only onions,as he was moved from camp to camp, Stalag V11A must have been where he ended up. He talked about being liberated by the Americans at the end of the war and them pulling him out of the pit. Mum said he looked half starved when he came home " you could put your fist in the hollows of his cheeks". I found only yesterday his identity tag it says, Stalag V11/A 137638 Does anyone have any relevant information about my dad, or the pow camp? Dad was in the Army with the Oxford and Bucks L.I. I would be grateful of any information at all to pass onto his grandchildren.Sandra Simpson
Richard John Hunter Irish GuardMy father, Richard John Hunter, was a POW at Stalag 7a. He was in the Irish Guards and was taken prisoner at Anzio on the beach head. He was one of very few to survive, and this was probably because he was strong enough to dig graves for which he was given extra food.Margaret Timmis
Thomas George SmithThomas George Smith, my fatherm was one of the Stalag 7a prisoners. He would have been about 40 when he was in Camp 2780 and his prisoner number was 6047. I only know that he was captured at the Battle of Crete. He managed to survive the war but died in 1952.
If anyone can find any references to him anywhere I would be most grateful to hear from you.Eileen Thompson
Ronald Davies Royal ArtilleryMy father, Ronald Davies, served with the Royal Artillery and was a prisoner in Stalag 7A. He did not like talking about his wartime experiences. To my brother he spoke of being put on his knees with a gun to his head on three occasions, each time his life was saved by the priest. To me he told tales of horses head soup and that it was the only time in his life that he had worn a moustache.
He escaped, was recaptured and sent to the coalmines in Poland (I think) My father died in 1986. I wish he was here now to tell his stories.Melanie Dartnell
Hugh Elliott Breach Royal ArtilleryMy father, Hugh Elliott Breach of the Royal Artillery was captured in Italy in September or October 1944. He became prisoner number 138048 at Stalag 7a, and he was liberated by American forces in May 1945. Like so many others my father never spoke about his war experiences. I know he made friends with a Canadian, Al McLennon? who lived in Vancouver, but anything else is a mystery.Chris Breach
Theodore Pershing "Mac" McPherson 4th Armored CorpsWe discovered after my father died that he was a member of the Patton’s 3rd Army, 4th Armored Corps. His name was Theodore Pershing "Mac" McPherson and he was captured near Hammelburg, Germany on March 28th 1945 while with Task Force Baum. He arrived at Stalag VIIA at Moosberg on the 19th and liberated on April 29th. Dad kept a journal in a Christmas card he received from Mom. My brother and I have always wanted to know more about his service. > >Dan Mcpherson
Fusilier Leonard Ballantyne Royal FusiliersMy Grandfather, Leonard Ballantyne was one of the prisoners at Stalag 7a and also Stalag 344. He was captured on the 16/02/1944, ironically on his birthday, at Anzio. He was a Fusilier with the Royal Fusiliers. His prisoner of war number was 128717.
According to information I have received from the Red Cross he arrived in Stalag 7a on 07.04.1944. He left Stalag 7a for Stalag 344 on 02.06.1944 and was present in Stalag 344 on the 06.06.1944 . He eventually managed to escape from Stalag 344 on his second attempt. At this point I do not have any more information.
Since my grandfather passed away in 2000 I am having to trace his war through official records which is a very lengthy process. However I have found the Red Cross a surprising source of Prisoner of War information and through our National Archives am hoping to see his Escape and Evasion interview. If anyone has any further information, photos, stories, anything, it would be greatly appreciated.David Hobbs
Herbert Henry Miller 120th Company H 30th Infantry DivisionMy father Herbert Henry Miller was born and raised in Wheeling WV. He was drafted to serve in the US Army. He belonged to the 30th Infantry Division, 120th Company H. This division fought and survived some of the most horrific battles in St LO, and Operation Cobra and the Battle of Mortain. The Nazi Germans captured him on August 6, 1944, at Mortain, France. From there, he was marched 1,325 km across Europe to Stalag VIIA, Moosburg - which was located north of Munich Germany. Based of actual events, research and personal accounts, I have successfully uncovered a rich story that will certainly be of interest to every reader. What is even more unique, our Dad kept a detailed written journal of his POW experience cleverly hidden in the dirt floor of his Loft away from the Nazi guards and it was never discovered.
In 2008 I travelled and walked in his footsteps in England, France and Germany and captured recent photographs and interviews. I have also obtained original, never before published war photographs for the families who still live in Mortain, France that will be displayed in this book.
Scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2009, “White Picket Fences” is the remarkable story of my father and his World War II war experience. The goal of this picture-based book is to uncover and assemble the history of my father’s war with my two sons, and to create a book that is compelling and interesting. We want to pass this story on to our family and friends and general public, so they can understand what a tremendous person my dad really was and draw more attention to the millions of veterans who gave up so much to keep the world free. The stories alone from 30th Infantry will astound most readers for they indeed were all heroes.
If anyone wants to contact me about the upcoming book or to discuss Stalag VIIA, please email me.Robert Miller
Pte. Norman William Baxter MID 2/1 Ord. Store Co.My father Private Norman William Baxter joined the Australian Army in Sydney on 29 May, 1940, aged 22. He served in Libya and North Africa, Greece and Crete, where he was captured and taken prisoner by the Germans on the 1st June, 1941. He was taken to Stalag V11A (Mooseburg) on 23 August, 1941. By August 1943 he was at Stalag V111A (Gorlitz)and at various working camps. He was at Stalag X1B (Duderstartd), where he was liberated by the Americans on 9th April, 1945. After R and R in England he arrived back home at Sydney on 17th June, 1945. It turned out to be my birthday six years later!
My father loved to watch Hogans Heroes. He would watch that show and laugh his head off. He obviously had some fond memories as a P.O.W. He always spoke well of the German people. I have a few photos and two surviving postcard/letters he sent from the P.O.W. camps.Lorayne Mahoney
Charles Gordon Vicary 101 SquadronI flew on Lancaster PA237, 23rd of Feb 1945 in the raid of Pforzheim and was shot down. When jumping out the landing looked to be a good one, but it turned out to be a ploughed field that had frozen! I was taken POW and was taken to Moosberg.Mr B Latchem
Terence William Doyle HMS BedouinI served on HMS Bedouin until sank and was then made a POW in Stalag 7A and 8B, I would be interested to hear from survivors particularly ones from the Bedouin, I have never attended a reunion as they were always in London, but would now like to.Terence Doyle
PFC Donald Duane Johnson 88th Div, G Company 351st InfantryMy father, Donald Duane Johnson, was taken prisoner October 24, 1944 at Vedriano, Italy. He was in an advance patrol on the city and was captured on a small hill at the edge of the city. There was a small church on top of the hill. The time was 3:30 P.M.. There was 9 hours of continuous machine gun, sniper, 88 cannon and creaming meemie fire. Their company was surrounded by the Germans when the company commander surrendered them. He kept a diary during the war handwritten in 67 pages of a blank book that he won in a lottery at Stalag 7-A in Moosburg, Germany. Copies of the diary and my father's letters are in the Minnesota History Museum archives in St. Paul, MN.Mary Johnson Corcoran
2nd Lt. Maurice Joseph "Murray" Wasser 325th Fighter SquadronMy beloved father, Murray Wasser, was a member of the 325th Fighter Squadron in Italy. He was shot down on his 13th mission over Salzburg, Austria and was a POW at Stalag VIIA. He passed away in April, 2007 and when looking through his things, I found his POW dog tags. My father's POW number was 147023. What shocked me was that those numbers are the same as in my birthday; 01/23/47! My sister made a necklace for me of the tags and I wear them proudly everyday.
I'm trying to find out what kind of metal they are made of. They have some rust and/or oxidation on them and I don't want to use something harmful. If anyone knows the type of metal used on those tags, please contact me. Thank you so very much!Sandi Wasser Falk
2nd Lt. Arnold Paul "A.P." Martin 548th Squadron 385th Bomb GroupMy father was the co-pilot of B17 'Miss NonaLee II' which developed engine problems on the October 9th 1943 mission to bomb the Marianburg factory. The crew bailed out and the pilot ditched the plane in occupied Denmark. The rest of the crew, including my father, were captured and spent 15 months in Stalag Luft III and then were forced to march to Stalag 7A (Moosburg) in January 1945 where he was imprisoned until liberated on April 29th 1945.Patricia Martin
Staff Sarg Shannon James "Uncle Dud" Duhon 413th Infantry RegimentCaptured w/ Capt. Gleason at the River Rohr trying to go into Inde or Enden, Germany. Captured after 3 days fighting a panzer unit w/ insufficient support. First at Stalog 7a then to 12b.
He left me a Walther ppk 32 Auto that he took from a German major at POW camp.
He died in feb 12 2004 afyer 64 yrs of marriage. He would tell POW stories at times but I could see it was too hard for this hero in my eyes to explain. He told me the worst thing was when the Germans fired their 88s tree burst level was horrifing.He also told me most of the Germans guarding him were from America.
His rank promotion and mail was intercepted by the Germans and he said he got called out one day and was given his new rank and told to sew them on. I have his sleeve patches. One is a head of a wolf and the other has a seagull on it that states( fortior ex asperis - strength out of fierceness (or roughness)".)
He told me he was never so happy to see an ugly woman as the Russian one that rolled over the fence at his POW camp.
In his latter yrs when my mom and aunt said he was losing his mind he said"bub this gun is to never ever kill another human being" and winked at me. I laughed because as soon as my mother came back into the room he seemed to lose his memory again. I am his oldest grandson we spent all the days we could together and I miss him everyday.Randy Credeur
Pte. Harold Alfred George Pitts King's Royal Rifle CorpsHarold Pitts (George) my Uncle, was taken prisoner on Crete in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in stalag V11/a. I have his camp ID tag No. 8014 and also a few photos taken at the camp, seven of which are of a funeral service.
He spoke very little about the war but he had very bad memories of the journey to Germany. George sadly died in August 1996.Mel Thurgood
James H. LangI have written a book about my experiences over 2 years in Nazi POW camps, Stalag VIIA and Stalag XVIIB. The book is finally complete Kriegies and Goons with original photos.Dick Lang
S/Sgt. Henry Perry GibbsMy great uncle Henry Gibbs was a prisoner at Stalag 7a, his capture postcard is dated 12/10/1944.Dave Gibbs
2nd Lt. Joseph Charles Sanford 782 Bomb Sq, 465 Bomb GroupI went into Federal Service From 44 Div NG. Sept 16 1940. I then entered USAAF in 1943 a Member of Class 43 10 Bombardier training at Childress Texas. I trained to drop "The Bomb" at Wendover Field Utah as a member of Col Keese' Provisional Group. But The Bomb was not ready so I joined 456th Bomb Group at McCook, Nebraska and flew to Africa, and later on to Italy. I then flew 31 missions bombing oil refineries. I was shot down in July 1944 and taken to POW North Compound at Stalagluft III, then to Nuremberg and then Mooseburg. I was Liberated by General Patton.Joseph Charles Sanford
L/Cpl. Fred John Wright 2nd Battalion Queens Own Cameron HighlandersMy father, Fred Wright was in PG54 from August or September 1942 until Sept 1943 when Italy capitulated and he escaped. He was harboured by an Italian family for about 9 months and was was then re-captured. We believe he was injured when he was re-captured as he ended up in the hospital at Stalag 7A (Moosburg) and lost a lung as a result. During his time at Moosburg he be-friended two NZ soldiers, one of whom he said was from Invercargill. I assume he remained at Moosburg until the end of the war. After the war he emigrated to NZ where he spent the rest of his days. He passed away in 1991.
I am now trying to put together the story of his time in the war so if you know of Fred, or have any stories that mention him, I would love to hear.Julie Henderson
Pte John Alphonsus Stuart McKenna D (Taranaki) Company 19th BattalionOn 25 January 1941 my father, John Alphonsus Stuart McKenna, volunteered for war service and was attested into the 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). He had been offered “essential industry” status but refused, preferring instead to go overseas and fight. He had prior service in the Territorial Force as a Sergeant. His record shows he entered Trentham Camp on 18 February 1941 and embarked for Egypt on 7 April 1941 as a member of the 5th Reinforcements. They embarked on the ‘Nieuw Amsterdam’ at Wellington and sailed for the Middle East via Sydney, Perth, Singapore and Colombo, Ceylon. The ship disembarked in Egypt on 16 May 1941 and Dad was taken on the strength of Taranaki Company, the 19th Battalion, 4th NZ Brigade Group, 2nd NZ Division, on 26 June 1941.
He began desert training at the Infantry Training Depot, 2 NZEF Base Camp at Maadi on 27 September and marched back into the 19th Battalion on 19 October 1941. He was in the 1941 battles around Tobruk (Ed Duda and Sidi Rezegh), followed by the 1942 Break-Out at Minqar Qaim, where he was in the leading (Taranaki) company, and the Battle of Ruweisat Ridge where the 4th NZ Brigade, particularly the 19th Battalion was decimated. Dad was captured by the Germans on 15 July 1942 on Ruweisat Ridge.
• On 15 July 1942, the last day of the battle, his Army record shows that Dad was posted missing.
• On 24 October 1942 a cable from Rome (The Vatican we were told as children) was received stating he was incarcerated at Campo PG 57 at Gruppignano.
• His Army record shows he was posted as a Prisoner of War (POW) on 25 October 1942.
• On 24 July 1943 a communication was received from Rome stating he was in Campo PG 103/7 at La Maina (Sauris) in the Dolomites. According to a Top Secret questionnaire completed by Dad in the UK on 25 April 1945 he said he worked at this camp on a hydroelectric scheme.
• Cables from Rome advised that Dad had been ill with chronic intestinal catarrah in April 1943 and had been discharged from the “Hospital Militaire” at Udine cured of the illness but in “organic decline”.
• After the Italian surrender Dad and other prisoners from Campo PG 103/7 were transferred to Germany by train. According to the 25 April 1945 Top Secret questionnaire Dad arrived at Stalag VIIA at Moosberg on 15 September 1943. On 3 November 1943 Dad moved to Stalag XIA, Altengrabow, near Magdeburg, arriving on 6 November 1943. A capture card reporting Dad at Stalag XIA was noted in his records on 15 November 1943. On 24 December 1943 Dad was moved to Stalag XIB at Fallingbostel.
• A camp leader communication was received by the NZ Army on 23 January 1944 advising Dad was in Stalag XIB as POW number 138645.
• On 25 December 1943 he was moved to work camp KDO 7002 at Ufingln, where he worked building air raid shelters.
• On 6 August 1944 he was moved to Arbeitskommando 7001 at Halendorf where he worked in a steel works. He stayed there until 9 April 1945. Both work camps were attached to Stalag XIB.
• At Stalag XIB, on 13 April 1945, the German Commandant announced that the British Forces were very close and that he proposed to move his guard company, leaving a token guard on the camp to avoid possible interference by SS troops in the area. Senior prisoner NCOs then took over the complete administration of the camp, even to issuing leave passes to the German guards. On the morning of 16 April British tanks of units of the 7th Armoured Div (the Desert Rats) arrived at the camp gates and the POWs were released from Stalag XIB at 0837 hours 16th April 1945.
• Dad’s records show him being reported “safe in the UK” on 23 April 1945.
• Dad’s records show him embarking in England on 18 June 1945.
• Dad arrived back in NZ on 19 July 1945 (I was then nearly 7 and my brother Denis was 5).Kevin McKenna
2nd Lt. Donald Emmett Casey DFC 370th Bomb GroupMy name is Don Casey of Chicago, IL. I was in Stalag Luft III after being shot down 5/18/44 over Hamburg, Germany while flying Deputy Lead Navigator for the 379th Bomb Group out of Kimbolton, England. We lost 4 of our 9 man crew that day. Five survived as POW's. Pilot Steve King and I were taken to SL3 and were held in the South Compound along with 2,000 flying officer prisoners of the USAAF. There were five compounds. The Great Escape compound was also called North Camp. Conditions were pretty good that summer. We had food, books, musical instruments and room for exercise. On January 27th 1945 we were evacuated on foot in a 15 degree below zero blizzard to the sound of the Russian guns approaching the camp from about 30 miles. For a while we were hopeful the Russian Army would liberate us but to no avail.
I have written a book about my experiences entitled: To Fight For My Country, Sir. It is a paper back edition of just less than 300 pages with pictures taken throughout my training, in combat and at SL3 inside the camp.
We were liberated on 4/29/45 at STALAG VII-A in Moosburg (Bavaria) Germany by Gen. Patton's 14th Armored Division of his 3rd Army and George visited us there on 5/2/45, in person. Two other SL3 POW's surviving from South Camp are Col. Steve King, USAF, Ret. and Valleau Wilkie of Fort Worth Texas.Don Casey
L/Cpl. George F. "Sailor" Clason MM. Seaforth HighlandersMy half brother, George F. Clason, took a discharge from the American Navy in 1939 while stationed in California and joined the Seaforth Highlanders and was shipped to England. I don't know where he first saw action but do know it went through Sicily and up through Italy. I do know he was in a building that was shelled and all were killed except him and he was not hurt. He got the MM medal for an action when he was behind enemy lines with a radio and stayed there while under heavy enemy fire and guided the allied artillery which resulted in heavy losses. He was a L/Cpl and was put in for a field commission but before he got it he was again behind enemy lines with a radio. The Germans sneaked up on him and took him prisoner and was sent to Stalag 7A.
When freed by the Americans on April 20th, 1945 he was sent to England and shortly later to Vancouver, Canada where they had a parade for him. I understand he was offered the commission if he wanted to stay in the service but declined because he wanted to come home to the U.S. Americans that joined a foreign service up to this time lost their citizenship. He was the test case in Congress that changed that.Alexander Hutton
Pfc. Arnold Lester "Leck" BransonArnold Lester "Leck" Branson was in the US Army from 1943 until mid 1945. Most of the time, however, he was a POW in Stalag 7A at Moosburg, Bavaria. Like many of his generation, be spoke very little about his time in Moosburg, but he was planning on returning in the fall of 1983 before he died in February. I remember him talking about chocolate (he likened them to Hershey's Kisses) and working on the railroads bombed out by the Allies. He also was taken aback by the cleanliness of the Germans who worked on the front steeps of their homes to make them spotless. He was outspoken about his British counterparts who, prior to the capture in Holland, would have fires raging for tea while he would have to crawl inside his helmet to light a cigarette!Mark Branson
Pte. George Wesley "Jack" Frost Company A 117th Infantry RegimentMy father, George Wesley Frost, known as "Jack", was captured on August 7, 1944 at St Barthelemey in the Battle of Mortain & was a German prisoner in Stalag 7A. His feet were frozen & he suffered from this until he died. He worked on the train tracks & told us of his traveling to work on cattle cars, standing up. He also told us of the "marches" he was made to go on.
He tried unsuccessfully to get reimbursement from the government & I have his letters he wrote about this. He got 2 Bronze Stars for all this. I bought him a brick at the New Orleans D Day Museum & his picture was on one of the walls inside the museum. He was always very sad that his grandparents were from Munich, as were my mother's grandparents.Phyllis J Frost
Lt. Ralph E. Hamilton Oak Leaf Clusters 78th Fighter Group, 83rd Fighter Squadron 8th Air ForceLt.Ralph Hamilton was a P-51 pilot who was shot down on a mission to Nurnberg on February 22, 1945 while strafing a marshalling yard in Crailsheim, Germany. He bailed out and was captured trying to reach the Swiss border. He achieved limited popularity among other prisoners for being able to make a delicious white cream sauce out of minimal ingredients, turning rather bland rations into food that was almost edible.
In his notes he said he wrote the following poem under a dim night light, on toilet paper in the camp at Moosberg Kriegsgefangenenlager Stalag VII-A. He said the bedbugs had chewed his wrists, neck, and ankles to a painful mass of itching misery and forced him from his bunk.
A Kriegies's Prayer: Oh, God, I ask of you in humble prayer, As I lie in torment far from home, Keep safe my loving family over there; Make lighter theirs—this burden Which they bear. I ask not why this plan for war was lain, Nor question your divine authority, But couldn't you have had the flak refrain That last time I went down to Strafe a train? Oh, God, just slightly overflow thy cup, And speed me from this vermin-prison’s bed. Please, God, release me from This land of Krupp Before these God-damned bedbugs eat me up!Shawn E. Hamilton
Sgt. Virly Elmo AzbillMy grandfather, Sgt. Virly Elmo Azbill, was cycled through Stalag 7A as it was his first stop. He later spent most of his time as a POW in Stalag 3B. He, and a lot of other soldiers captured at Salerno, Italy went through Stalag 7A and he recalled how, after having little to eat or drink during the railroad transfer to 7A, the Airmen there provided them with some cigarettes and also gave up their potato rations for a day to make certain that all of the newly arriving prisoners ate. I am currently working on my grandfather's memoirs and hope to find a publisher for them.David Jobes
Trp. Arthur "Tats" Lee 48th A Royal Tank RegimentMy father, Arthur Lee, was captured in Italy on the 4th September 1944. He was with the 48th A Royal Tank regiment. He was the driver of his tank and it was blown up. Only him and his co driver were alive, even though they both had burns on their bodies. The others were killed outright.
They were taken to a Italian Dulag first and then onto German Prison camps. My father was in Stalag X1A and Stalag V11A until they were freed by the Americans. They had to walk for many miles through different German villages until they reached the British who gave them food which had been in short supply whilst a guest with the Germans. He never spoke much about the camps but did say they had to share one loaf between six people sometimes and that he was put out to work on the railway. He was always light hearted about it but never told us the real truth. Dad suffered with his health for the rest of his life. He came home very much under weight and not very healthy. He always said his health had suffered due to being a POW.Janice Lee
John Francis SulivanMy dad, John Francis Sullivan, was a POW at Stalag 7A. He was captured in a farmhouse near or in Bologna, Italy when he was sent out as a forward observer.
I believe he originally operated a Howitzer gun. He served under General Mark Clark. He and about 6 – 8 other soldiers were sent out on Oct 25, 1944 and captured that day. Then on Oct 26 General Clark called off any offensive until the spring because of the weather. At the time the troops were in the Italian Alps. Dad and the other soldiers were in a farm house and I believe his Lieutenant called in for artillery when they realized they were surrounded and about to be captured by the Germans. After being captured, Dad said the captured soldiers and the Germans walked thru Germany over the Bremen Pass. They finally boarded a train and got off in Mooseburg Station, I believe. My mother received a telegram that my Dad was MIA from the Government but later she received telegrams from all over the country as people who had heard my Dad give a message to my mother via the radio. I believe it must have been short wave radio or perhaps from the Red Cross that Dad relayed the message. I still have those telegrams too. Just prior to being liberated on May 1, 1945, Dad remembered that the German guards had the Americans leave the camp and walked the Americans to Regensburg. When the Americans woke up on May 1, 1945, the German guards were gone but a Hawaiian troop of soldiers were coming down a hill, as Dad was by a watering well. He said a soldier gave him a piece of his bread and Dad said it was so good it tasted just like cake. I also believe that the photo of the 5 men with the heading of Mooseburg in Winter might be a picture of my Dad, John F. Sullivan. He is in the back row, first person on the left. My Dad wore eyeglasses, wire rims but I can't tell from the picture if he has glasses. I know that he lost a lot of his teeth while being a prisoner due to diet. My Dad loved photography and while he was in Italy and not assigned to a troop, he was held in an area with people from Associated Press.Mary Sullivan Schroeder
John Cunliffe Jessop 1st Btn. Kings Own Yorkshire Light InfantryMy uncle, John Cunliffe Jessop, according to notes my grandfather made, was moved to Oflag VIIB before 2 May 1941. He was in the 1st KOYLI and was captured in Norway.
Before Oflag VIIB he had been in a "reprisal camp" in Poland. He was one of those moved to Moosburg (Stalag VIIa) starting on 14 April 1945. Except that he produced a number of embroidered pictures while he was there, I don't think that I have any other information. I have been told that many of these were embroidered with sock wool because someone (I think the Red Cross) was able to supply wool for darning socks. These were therefore browns and greys or whatever colours were used for men's socks. At some stage he did have a range of bright colours.John Jessop
Pvt. William James Billner Demolition Platoon 509 Parachute BrigadeThe following was written by my grandfather, William James Billner:
On 15 Feb 1943 I was sent to Dallas, TX for a physical exam to determine my physical fitness for military service. I was found physically fit and was returned home for 7 days to complete my personal affairs. On 22 Feb 1943 I was transported by bus from Sherman, TX to Camp Walters, Mineral Wells, TX. This is where I was to take my Basic Military Training. The first day I received an issue of military clothing which was much too large. I was then issued bedding and assigned to a certain barrack where I would sleep during my basic training. The second day I was sent to the barber shop to get a so called G.I. (this means government issue) hair cut. I proceeded to instruct the barber how to cut my hair. The barber said OK soldier, but you will be back to get the rest of your hair cut off. Sure enough he was correct. I did return to the barber to get it cut as instructed. On the third day I received all of my immunizations. On the fourth day I started receiving instructions in my basic training which consisted of marching, drilling, physical fitness, forced marches and firing and maintenance of various types of small arms; rifle, pistol, machine gun and bazooka. After successfully completing 13 weeks of training I decided that I needed a change so I volunteered for airborne training. I was sent to Fort Benning, GA for the airborne training which was a little more specialized training, consisting of various schools. I attended the demolition school where I learned to use high explosives. After completing five parachute jumps and other requirements of the school I graduated and received my wings.
Upon graduation I was immediately sent overseas by ship, taking 21 days and landing in North Africa. I received more training and then was sent to Naples, Italy as a replacement and was assigned to the demolition platoon of the 509 parachute brigade which was engaged in battle against the German army near Mount Venefno in Italy. After this battle and capture of a Roman Coliseum making the Germans retreat, we returned to Naples, Italy to reorganize and make preparations for an invasion of Anzio which was a strong point of the German army.
At 4:23 AM on 13 Feb 1944 we landed and established a beach head and drove 3 miles inland causing the German army to retreat, die or become a prisoner of war. After 89 days of fighting we were relieved and returned to Naples, Italy to again reorganize and make preparations for an airborne invasion of Southern France.
On 15 August 1944 we were taken to the air field at Rome, Italy where we received a briefing which consisted of an explanation of our mission which was to make a parachute jump 9 miles inland and forcibly take the city of Limoux, France and capture all German soldiers and equipment. We were loaded aboard the airplane. In a few minutes we were airborne. After flying for approximately 3 hours we jumped from the plane at 4:32 AM. Our mission was successfully completed.
We continued to fight until the 13th day of September 1944. This was my unlucky day. I was sent on a recon mission along with five other soldiers and five French soldiers. Our mission was to come in contact with the Germans and determine their location and strength in number. As we proceeded up a valley in the Alps Mountains north of Niece, France we were pinned down by German machine gun fire. After a fierce small arms fire fight we ran out of ammunition to which resulted in being captured by the Germans. I was immediately relieved of my adequate American clothing which was replaced by inadequate German clothing and wooden moccasins – this was to prevent us from escaping. We were forced to walk many miles and then locked in an unmarked boxcar with no sanitary facilities. We rode the train for approximately 7 days being strafed daily by the American fighter planes who did not know we were there. We finally arrived at the train station in Mooseberg, Germany where we were taken to a P.O.W. camp – Stalag 7-A.
This was a very undesirable place as the living quarters were very inadequate and the food consisted of nothing but a liquid which the Germans called soup. It consisted of 5 potatoes in 5 gallons of water. This was a very poor diet which caused all POW’s to have malnutrition. I lost approximately 45 pounds of weight during my stay in the POW camp. Each day we were loaded on a boxcar and taken into Munich, Germany railroad yards to work rebuilding the railroad track that the American bombers destroyed. On 4 January 1945 I was wading the snow in wooden moccasins working on the RR track in Munich when a sortie of American bombers came over and bombed the RR yard. I received a fractured foot and leg and was taken to a so called German aid station where a cast was applied from my waist down to my toes. I was also given a pair of crutches and instructed that I would have to continue to work. I worked until the 29th day of April 1945 at which time Stalag 7-A POW camp was liberated by the American 3rd army commanded by General Patton.
We remained in the POW camp until 8 May 1945 at which time we were flown to France, put aboard a hospital ship and returned to the U.S. After a period of hospitalization and treatment at Brooke Army Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, TX, I was honorably discharged from military service.
I have one statement to make concerning my military experiences: I am proud to be an American and I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve my country for a good cause.William J. Billner, III
Lawrence Rudmann 82nd Airborne DivisionLawrence Rudmann was a paratrooper and member of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War Two. After joining the Army, he learned that paratroopers received $50.00 more pay on the month, so he switched to the paratroopers. He thought the $50.00 more in his paycheck each month would be extra money for a married man with a young wife and baby girl.
Lawrence received basic training at Fort Benning, GA, and then later was sent to Ireland for more training, and later to England. All of this training was in preparation to the D-Day invasion. This was an Allied plan to hit the cold, dark beaches of Normandy, France instinctively committing acts of soundless heroism that gave the world hope that the Nazi forces would not overpower.
On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops hit 50-miles of French coastline to meet the Nazis. There were 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supporting the invasion as more than 100,000 soldiers began the march through France. It was 2 A.M. that Tuesday morning when Rudmann jumped out of a C-47 twin-engine cargo plane, crammed in the hold with 30 other soldiers. For the next hour 12,000 men pulled their parachutes and jumped and jumped and jumped. Lawrence said he was somewhat scared; I landed in a tree and had to wiggle myself down. I had my bayonet with me and cut my lines off me. Down on the ground he met up with his buddy, George Hickey from New York, and joined the march through France. Their first stop was the tiny village of Sainte-mere-Eglise in northwestern France located on a main route the Nazis would take to battle back the Allies as they took over the Normandy beaches.
For the next four days the Allied troops and Germans exchanged fire. In the middle of the night Rudmann was captured, his buddy was mortally wounded and Rudmann was taken prisoner. There were nine in his group captured and the Nazis marched them half way across Europe. When they got to Paris, the prisoners were packed into box cars for part of the way, but mostly they walked. From June to September, they marched, always at night to hide from the strafing by American aircraft. The first POW camp Rudmann saw was Stalag 7A at Mossberg, Germany.
There was barbed wire, dogs and hardly any food. We slept on the ground and I thought I would never get home. Days were a jumble of sick-to-your stomach fear and mind-numbing boredom. You stood around and walked around and looked at the fence, he said. And always Rudmann’s thoughts were on his wife, Margie, and their 2 year-old daughter, Rita.
In December the POW’s were taken by rail to a village near Munich and a farm slave labor camp. They worked sun up to sun down, finding rest in a cold dark stable at night. Sometimes the snows were two feet deep. My shoes were worn out and they gave me a pair of wooden shoes to wear. Some days you didn’t have anything to eat. Some days they gave you potatoes. Rudmann stayed there through winter until spring when finally that day he thought would never come did arrive. The defeat of the Nazis had come. It was liberation, freedom and home.
Now as the oldest living POW survivor of Lawrence County, Rudmann wants the sacrifices of the military never to be forgotten. We certainly ought to remember and be thankful the troops did what they did, he said. I am certainly thankful I got back. In 2012 Lawrence is the oldest living WW2 POW of Lawrence County, OH. He is 87 years old.Ken Massie
Technical Sgt. Henry "Hank" FoxMy grandfather, Henry Fox, was a member of either the 338th or 388th Infantry and was taken prisoner by the Germans and kept in Stalag 7A.
I listened to an interview he did with a newspaper and he made his experience sound like an episode of "Hogan's Heroes" in talking of pranking the guards during head counts and playing chess with the officer. If anyone remembers my grandfather, I would love to hear from them.Michelle Fox
Pte. Harold "Penny" Pennington East Lancashire RegimentMy grandad Harold Pennington lived in Slyne, Lancaster and was called up in 1939. He enlisted with the East Lancashire Regiment and saw action in Dunkirk. He then joined C Squadron, 6 Troop, 53rd Reconnainsance Regiment as a driver, mechanic, group D,class II based at Maidstone, Kent. He then saw action in France and Belgium with the 53rd Welsh Division.
On the 7th September 1944 he was listed missing in action after he and his comrades were sent to capture a German general and 500 men who had offered to surrender. I have a letter sent to his father from HQ dated Wednesday 29th September 1944 confirming this information. He was sent to Stalag XIIA, Limburg and on the 26th September sent to Stalag VIIA, Moosburg. His P.O.W number,87517. There is a letter sent to a Ken Williams, Shrewsbury address who may have been captured at the same time but sent to Stalag IVB, Muehlberg. Grandad was returned to this country on the 13th May 1945 and joined the 62nd TRG Reconnaissance Regiment.Brian Pennington
Pte. William Thomas "Spider" Gibbons 2/1 BatallionWilliam Thomas Gibbons, my Uncle, was captured at Retimo in Crete on or about the 30th May 1941. He was interred at Moosburg Stalag VIIA and remained there as POW 92173 until 14th April 1943 when he was moved to Stalag VIIIB in Poland near the small town of Lamsdorf. He remained at Lamsdorf after it was split up and renamed to Stalag 344 in December 1943, through until April 1945. He was also one of those who survived the Great March when many POWs were marched westward from Polish camps to flee the advancing Soviet armies.
Uncle Bill was repatriated to Australia in June 1945 and returned to his home town of Gulgong NSW where he remained for the rest of his life.Peter GIbbons
Pte. Lloyd Emmanuel WintersMy dad, Lloyd E. Winters was taken prisoner by a tank as he was crawling in a ditch, he was taken to Stalag V11a and held for over 200 days until he and a captain managed to escape through a barbed wire at the back of the camp while the guards were otherwise occupied. He made it into France and there was helped by the underground. Upon returning home and being released from service he re-enlisted in the US Air Force. I have his POW tags the number is 145097. He did not like to speak of the experience so this is all I really know.Carolyn
Pte. John Alphonsus Stuart "Johnny" McKenna 19 Battalion 2 New Zealand Expeditionary ForcePrisoner of War, Stalag XIB, Fallingbostel 43205 Pte John Alphonsus Stuart McKenna D (Taranaki) Company, 19th Battalion, 2 NZEF On 25 January 1941 my father, John Alphonsus Stuart McKenna, volunteered for war service and was attested into the 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). He had been offered "essential industry" status but refused, preferring instead to go overseas and fight. He had prior service in the Territorial Force as a Sergeant. His record shows he entered Trentham Camp on 18 February 1941 and embarked for Egypt on 7 April 1941 as a member of the 5th Reinforcements. They embarked on the "Nieuw Amsterdam" at Wellington and sailed for the Middle East via Sydney, Perth, Singapore and Colombo, Ceylon. The ship disembarked in Egypt on 16 May 1941 and Dad was taken on the strength of Taranaki Company, the 19th Battalion, 4th NZ Brigade Group, 2nd NZ Division, on 26 June 1941. He began desert training at the Infantry Training Depot, 2 NZEF Base Camp at Maadi on 27 September and marched back into the 19th Battalion on 19 October 1941. He was in the 1941 battles around Tobruk (Ed Duda and Sidi Rezegh), followed by the 1942 Break-Out at Minqar Qaim, where he was in the leading (Taranaki) company, and the Battle of Ruweisat Ridge where the 4th NZ Brigade, particularly the 19th Battalion was decimated. Dad was captured by the Germans on 15 July 1942 on Ruweisat Ridge. On 15 July 1942, the last day of the battle, his Army record shows that Dad was posted missing. On 24 October 1942 a cable from Rome (The Vatican we were told as children) was received stating he was incarcerated at Campo PG 57 at Gruppignano. His Army record shows he was posted as a Prisoner of War (POW) on 25 October 1942. On 24 July 1943 a communication was received from Rome stating he was in Campo PG 103/7 at La Maina (Sauris) in the Dolomites. According to a Top Secret questionnaire completed by Dad in the UK on 25 April 1945 he said he worked at this camp on a hydroelectric scheme. Cables from Rome advised that Dad had been ill with chronic intestinal catarrah in April 1943 and had been discharged from the Hospital Militaire at Udine cured of the illness but in organic decline. After the Italian surrender Dad and other prisoners from Campo PG 103/7 were transferred to Germany by train. According to the 25 April 1945 Top Secret questionnaire Dad arrived at Stalag VIIA at Moosberg on 15 September 1943. On 3 November 1943 Dad moved to Stalag XIA, Altengrabow, near Magdeburg, arriving on 6 November 1943. A capture card reporting Dad at Stalag XIA was noted in his records on 15 November 1943. On 24 December 1943 Dad was moved to Stalag XIB at Fallingbostel. A camp leader communication was received by the NZ Army on 23 January 1944 advising Dad was in Stalag XIB as POW number 138645. On 25 December 1943 he was moved to work camp KDO 7002 at Ufingln, where he worked building air raid shelters. On 6 August 1944 he was moved to Arbeitskommando 7001 at Halendorf where he worked in a steel works. He stayed there until 9 April 1945. Both work camps were attached to Stalag XIB. At Stalag XIB, on 13 April 1945, the German Commandant announced that the British Forces were very close and that he proposed to move his guard company, leaving a token guard on the camp to avoid possible interference by SS troops in the area. Senior prisoner NCOs then took over the complete administration of the camp, even to issuing leave passes to the German guards. On the morning of 16 April British tanks of units of the 7th Armoured Div (the Desert Rats) arrived at the camp gates and the POWs were released from Stalag XIB at 0837 hours 16th April 1945. Dad's records show him being reported "safe in the UK" on 23 April 1945. Dad's records show him embarking in England on 18 June 1945. Dad arrived back in NZ on 19 July 1945 (I was then nearly 7 and my brother Denis was 5).Kevin McKenna
Cpl. William John McFarland Royal Irish FusiliersWilliam McFarland was my father, who I know nothing about, as he died one month before I was born in 1946, but was buried with a Union Jack covering his coffin. He was a Prisoner of War, in Stalag Moosburg (Isar). Could anyone tell me anything about him, or even have a photo, as I don't know what he looked like.John McFarland
Leslie Amelang 454th Bomb GroupLes has told his story in front of church groups and on local TV. His daughter-in-law helped him start a web-site with some of his memories on it. He was born June 5, 1920, to the late Lewis Amelang and Mary Davis in Ottumwa, IA. He was a graduate of Louisville (Nebraska) High School, and from the University of Louisville (KY) School of Business in 1950. He worked 36 years as an accountant and data processor at the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, retiring in 1986. He was a member of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where he had been a deacon, elder, and elder emeritus. He served in World War II in the Army Air Corps and was an original member of the 454th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force based in Italy. His plane was shot down over Budapest, Hungary, and he was held as a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft III POW camp, Sagan (now Poland), and in Stalag VIIA, Moosburg, Germany, where he was liberated on April 29, 1945.
In 1970, inspired by his own experience as a prisoner of war, Les founded and served as president of POWER, Inc., "Prisoners of War, Early Release," a regional organization to aid families of prisoners and war and missing-in-action servicemen of the Vietnam conflict. He was preceded in death by his wife of 30 years, Mary Margaret Swift, of Winchester, KY; and his brothers, Maurice, Max, Merle, and Laurence.
He died in 2011 without getting his story in print as a book as he had desired and attempted to do. I wanted to let you know as he was a great man and a good friend of mine.Gordon Blue
Pfc. Melvin Eugene "Popeye" Gregory 168th Infantry Regiment 34th Infantry DivisionMy uncle Mel Gregory was captured at Anzio Beach, Italy in April, 1944. He was part of a seven man machine gun nest. They were hit by grenade and knocked unconscious. Mel suffered injuries to his left arm, left leg and face. He lost sight in his left eye. The other six members of his squad were unconscious when the Germans overran their positioin. Since they were unconscious the Germans slit their throats. Since Mel was conscious during the overrun, he was taken prisoner. Mel escaped twice during the next 13 months. He was housed at Moosburg, 7A and in Poland he was held at Hammerstein/Schlochau 2B, Stellin 3B, and Alt Drewitz bei Kurstrim 3C, all in Poland. While at 7A Mel became reaquainted with Fred Schumann from Garfield, Washington just 10 miles from Mel's hometown of Oakesdale, Washington. The two men were members of the class of '43 and competed against each other in the Whitman County League in junior high and high school basketball and high school football. They had known each other for many years and had many friends and aquaintences in common.Chris Gregory
Cpl. George Wesley "Jack" Frost 117th Regiment, Co A 30th InfantryMy father was a POW in Stalag VII A from the time he was captured until the camp was liberated. He was captured by the Germans in the Battle of Mortain, August 7, 1944, while defending his position in St. Barthelemy, France. He told me he worked on the German railroad with the Dachau prisoners, that they had very little to eat and that he suffered from frostbite of his feet and severe stomach problems. He never told me much other than those details. My father died July 12, 1988. In his honor, I purchased a brick at the National D Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.Phyllis Frost
Pfc. Lester Thomas Ledford Co L, 7th InfantryLester Ledford was captured while on patrol in Italy but escaped shortly afterwards for a short while. He was recaptured by SS while eating with an Italian family at their home. He changed his name for fear of being shot if discovered he had escaped and used Retsel Drofdel (Lester Ledford spelled backwards). He was transported in railcar to Stalag 2B where he worked on a farm and in a blacksmith shop. He was moved from Stalag 2B to Stalag 7A and marched on Death March until LiberatedLester Gerard Ledford
Sgt. Cyril Charles "Andy" Capp Royal SignalsI have just been given my grandad's Soldiers Release Book Class A which states on the front his army number 2321982, his name was Cryril Capp, knwon as Andy, but while searching the internet I have discovered that he was a prisoner of war in Stalag 7A Moosburg (Isbar) Bavaria P.O.W. number is 13110.
He would never talk about his time as a POW, so I would like to find out as much information as I can on this subject. The information I am looking for is how long he was a POW and what the condition were like in this camp as well as if he made any friends there. If anybody can help me or point me in the right direction I would be very gratefulTeresa Upson
Pte. Albert Richard BrunoMy dad, Albert Bruno, was a POW in Stalag 7A Mooseburg, Germany. He was a POW for 9 months before he escaped with a Mexican/American soldier. They were on the run a couple of days before they split up not to get caught. My dad made it out but till this day wonders whatever happened to his friend. We don't know his name only that he was from California and was of Mexican decent. Please write back if you have any information to give my dad. Thank you.Teresa DelRe
Fus. William Turner 9th Btn. Royal FusiliersMy Father, Bill Turner, was a Royal Fusilier in the 9th Btn. and was also in Stalag 8b. He worked first in a coal mine then in a sawmill for about a year. The sawmill was in a small hamlet in Czechoslovakia now called Mankovice (it's German name was Mankendorf). It is near Ostrava and the closest town is Odry. The Lager was No. E119 Mankendorf
My father escaped when the end of the war was close. He contacted the Czech partisans and advanced to Prague in the company of the Russian army. In Prague he parted company but he was there on the night of Prague's liberation. The next morning he and an American he had met made their way to Pilsen where they met up with the Americans who were waiting for the Russians to take Prague.
We have been back to the sawmill and now have local friends there.
I have transcribed my father’s story from tape recordings he had made. I don’t speak German so have written his words or phrases phonetically:
I was captured at Battapaglia on the Salerno landing in Italy, September 9th 1943. Prisoners were transported to Stalag 7A at Munich. Then two weeks later taken by train across to Stalag 8B, not far from Breslau. The camp was called Lamsdorf and it was not far from the River Nysa. Brieg was somewhere nearby.
After being photographed, fingerprinted and registered, I was now Kriegs gefangener 32590. I was put into the RAF compound in the middle of the camp. It was placed in the middle because the Germans considered the RAF to be more intelligent than army personnel and they were further away from the outside perimeter wire. Douglas Bader was in the next hut. Most of the RAF were bomber crews and fighter pilots.
My first roll call the next day surprised me because as we were counted in fives, guards were coming along handcuffing us. However, as the guards moved away, a couple of RAF chaps followed up with sardine can keys, unlocking the handcuffs and throwing them onto the floor. This reprisal was because when the Canadians raided Dieppe they took German prisoners and handcuffed them to bring them back to England after the raid. However, the prisoners’ boat overturned and the handcuffed Germans were all drowned. So all of the Dieppe Canadian POW’s were handcuffed every day.
The Dieppe compound was next to the RAF, so the RAF used to stand at the wire every morning jeering at the German guards. The guards got fed up with this and decided to handcuff the RAF and as I was among them, I was handcuffed too. While I was in that compound an RAF pilot crocheted a woollen hat for me. I wore it all through the cold weather and I still have it today.
While I was there, I was asked if I would like to swap over with an RAF chap who could become me so that he could get out on a working party to try and escape. I would assume his identity and receive his parcels from home. Wandering round the camp in the day I spoke to some of the old Kriegies (prisoners) who warned me to be careful of the RAF chaps. (They had a nickname for them calling them ‘Wingers’ — short for wings.) During an escape attempt they might sabotage, hit a civilian foreman or fraternize with women, all of which were forbidden and offences warranting a court marshall. If subsequently caught and returned to the Stalag they might swap back their identity with you, not mentioning that a court marshall would be coming up in your name. In such a situation it was of course useless to say it was not you. Everyone was wary of Wingers.
In the Stalag there was a theatre and the shows put on were very professional. Now to put on a good show you need girls of course but out of the thousands in the Stalag it was no trouble to get the type you needed. The only trouble was they needed strong arm men to protect them when they were not on the stage. There was also a call for strong-arm men to help in Block 4 — the ‘bomb happy’ and ‘Stalag happy’ nut cases. Extra rations were promised to volunteers.
I do not want to dwell too much on my time at 8B because so much was going on and I could make a tape about this on its own. My story took me away from Stalag 8B. However it is important to give some background of the time I was there.
I left the RAF compound to go into Poland and work in a coal mine near Katavice. There were 300 men working 12 hour shifts. Some POWs put their fingers and hands between the buffers of the wagons to get away from the working party. I had a bad knee so I played it up and managed to return to 8B. I was put into Block 4, Hut 2. This hut contained 120 men. In charge was an Australian Sergeant Major. There were Aussies and New Zealanders there. I assumed they had been taken prisoners in Crete or Greece. The bunks were 3 tiers high and the hut was always very cold. I slept on the second bunk up from the floor. Around me were a mixed lot. The English chap underneath me was very clever. He was an expert on Sport and knew all the details, dates and times. The only problem was he was ‘Stalag Happy’. He only shaved one half of his face one week and the other half the following week. He had a filthy mug that he never cleaned and he ate and drank everything out of it.
At this time the Swiss representatives were negotiating POW repatriations with the Commandant of 8B and POWs were trying all sorts of tricks to be selected. There was a chap called Sawkins who kept us in fits of laughter every night with jokes and country sayings. He lay all day on his bunk with 2 pennies on his eyelids making them droop. Then he would walk round the camp bumping into the posterns (guards) because he could not see them. He did get onto the repatriation medical. Unfortunately the silly sod entered for a boxing match and was recognised by the German officers who always had ringside seats.
I shared a parcel with an Aussie who gave me his address, 81 Blaxland Street, Sydney. He was a real ‘bludger’. Anyone from outside a big town was a ‘cow cocky’. Others around me were one known as ‘MM’ because he told us he had won an MM and another, a Cockney from Poplar in the East End who the Aussie had nicknamed ‘Slasher’. On the top bunk was a New Zealander who did nothing but talk about wild weekends in a boat, boozing up the Wonganooi River and he was forever letting us know that not a lot of love was lost between North and South Isle. The Aussies hated all the New Zealanders and kept on about ’Gundiguy’.
The Aussies told us never to go over to the toilets after dark in case we were mistaken for someone who was going to be duffed up.
As time went by people moved into other compounds. I eventually got to the top bunk and so did Slasher beside me. Because of this we started to share Red Cross food parcels.
A Red Cross parcel contained 16 articles of food and when it was available it should have been one parcel a week each. We did not always receive it because we were told the Royal Air Force had bombed the railways. When issued it had to be one parcel between 2 on Tuesday, sharing the contents and the same on Friday. All of the tins were stabbed by a postern or in front of him to let the air in. This was so that they could not be put aside to aid escapers. In bad moods the Germans would break open tea packets, chocolate, prunes, biscuits etc. and mix them up in the box. When we complained to the British Commandant about this the Stalag Commandant responded,
“The Geneva Convention states whenever possible British prisoners shall receive a Red Cross parcel with 16 articles inside. It does not say how you receive them.”
In such a situation we shared a mixed up parcel twice a week becoming ‘muckers’ because we decided to ‘muck in’ together, sharing not only the parcels but any food we got daily together. Some teamed up into fours. Unless someone stayed behind when you went out and left your parcel of food, 9 times out of 10 it would be gone by the time you returned. To get over this you had to scrounge or make a bag if possible to carry with you on your shoulder. This was known as a ‘rackets bag’. It was also handy to carry anything that was going at the time.
Barrack Room 2 was a very special room in the camp because every evening tables were put up and covered with blankets. Hut 2 became the main gambling casino with bets going on and thousands of cigarettes going from one side of the table to the other on the roll of a dice. My mucker and I would lay on top of our bunks in the evening and through thick hazy smoke, sometimes with the smell of the orient, we would take it all in.
In a POW camp cigarettes are money. Money gives power and there are always hangers on. The lads running the school took a percentage of each win. One day they received a letter demanding a cut from the casino earnings, threatening to slash up those running the show if they did not come across with a pay off. In my opinion they were Scots lads from the Gorbals in Glasgow. It was their type of threat — a razor blade sewn into the peak of a cap. This night, laying on our bunk, waiting for the game to start, a big Aussie jumped up on the table, read out the demand, then produced an open razor and said. p“If I catch anyone talking of slashing anybody, they will have me to reckon with.” No more was said.
Up until then my mucker had only been known to us as Slasher, or Slash and things could have got a bit dodgy. He was always talking about West Ham Football Club and West Ham Speedway. His idol was Champion Speedway rider Bluey Wilkinson who had let him push his motorbike on and off the track. So Slasher became Bluey. His surname was Uden but we never mentioned it because the German word for Jew is Uden. Sometimes his behaviour was a bit strange as he was ‘bomb happy’. He got very depressed, even suicidal, so he needed someone to keep an eye on him. There was no harm in him. He was a nice bloke.
By this time some of the sick and badly wounded had arrived back in England and so many tales were told by ex-prisoners about 8B that the Germans decided to change 8B to Stalag 344.
Whilst in 344 I was very surprised that 9 out of 10 POWs captured at Dunkirk in the early part of the war spoke so little German, as it was possible to go on courses run by British professors. It was possible to pass exams under the auspices of the Swiss delegation, which were accepted back in England. I signed up for lessons in German but after a short while the frustrated tutor took me aside and said he thought I would do better learning to speak English properly before I tackled another language!
Bluey and I were out every morning, mooching around the perimeter, talking to other POWs, watching football, looking at swop shops set out on the tables by established POWs, getting into the Dieppe compound and chatting to them. They nearly all came from Montreal. One warm day we were on our usual mooch round when we passed a huge concrete tank that held water in case of fire. There were a few scattered around the camp. We wondered if it would be deep enough to swim in. The next day we were sitting on the wall with a piece of string and a stone, testing the depth. Of course the lads passing thought we were both stalag happy and called out smart remarks about fishing. The incident would not have been worth noting except that two days later the guards were going mad, turfing us out into the compounds, hitting out with their rifle butts and shouting, “Get out! Get out!”
They had discovered a dead body floating on the top of the water tank. We found out later it was a ‘ferret’, a German dressed up as a POW. Someone had done him in and dumped him in the water. Two days before we had been testing the depth! The Germans pumped out the water and bits of hand and fingers were found. The Gestapo were around for a long time.
I met a 2nd Battalion Royal Fusilier who had been captured at Dunkirk. He advised me to get out on a working party if possible because typhoid broke out in the camp in summer. He had been writing to a girl for a long time and she had promised to marry him. He had his pay signed over to her and we said, “Do you really think she will be there when you get home?” After the war I contacted him. The girl had waited for him and they got married. What faith Bert Rowe had!
Listening to older POWs who ran away hoping to escape I very soon came to the conclusion that if those chaps, who had either lived in Europe before the war, taken holidays or worked abroad and maybe could speak French or German, had got recaptured despite their previous knowledge, what chance would I have if I did get away and which way should I head? Bluey had been captured in the desert and was a POW in Italy. He had told me that life could be a lot better inside a lager of workers. In 8B there were over 40,000 POWs but working parties were smaller groups, never over 300, so we trooped off to the ‘arbiets’ compound — a sort of job centre. We spoke only a few words. Looking on the list we saw work on farms, stone quarries, mines and factories and so on. Then we came across E119 a ‘holtzfabric’ — four men needed in a village called Mankendorf in Czechoslovakia. We put our names down along with two Geordies. This meant our leaving Block 4 and transferring into the arbeits compound awaiting transport. We spent about a week there and then set out on a train with a guard to Mankendorf.
The moment we were on the train there was a feeling of freedom. No more barbed wire and we were sitting on the train among ordinary people again. You must remember that we had been in the desert since 1942 and had no contact with our own kind since then. We could not understand anyone on the train but just the surroundings made us feel normal again.
Eventually we arrived at E109. The total party was 60 men, 30 in each room. We lived upstairs with just a single wire around the lager. A Sergeant was in charge. There was a schnieder to repair our clothes, a cobbler, two cooks and an officer to issue out parcels to other working parties in that area. That left 56 working. Two Czech women who were good contacts for the black market did washing.
Because it was a large timber factory the lads had made long wooden baths and with a copper tank and fire we could all have hot baths every Saturday. No more fleas or lice! Each room had bunks, a set of tables and a large sawdust fire that would burn for two days. We could cook our parcels on it and toast bread. Some made Welsh cakes, others “stottie badgers” a Geordie cake. The work was classified as heavy so we got a little extra bread, potatoes and soup and sometimes some meat. The coffee was black “ersatz”. With our Red Cross parcels and the German rations I would say that the food was better than we got in the desert. No more hard tack biscuits, corned beef stews and having to eat Aussie sandwiches — two large slices of bread, a lump of cheese with a spoonful of jam stuck on your plate. Smack the whole lot together with a mug of hot sweet tea, made from purified water and you have your Aussie sandwich. I often have one now at home. They all ask me how I can eat it. It’s an acquired taste, like Londoner’s ‘pie and mash’.
It was now possible to leave your parcels and belongings safe by your bed. Other than being locked up at night, all in all things were not too bad. There were beautiful mountains either side of the Oder valley, colourful trees and fantastic sunrises over the mountains. The river Oder rose nearby and was not very deep. Sometimes in the evenings we managed to get a swim. There was a feeling of being free for a while. Some of us cultivated a bit of ground and grew tomatoes, lettuce and spring onions. There was enough room for the lads to play shuttlecock in the evening.
I spent a lot of time standing at the wire talking to some of the young children, trying to learn German. It was fairly easy because they did not mind repeating over and over. Also at the same time they were learning English. Sentences were beginning to form instead of just a word here and there.
We worked from six in the morning until six in the evening, the same as the civilians, with a short break at friestik 9.00 am and an hour for dinner. There were no German guards. At six in the morning we were taken to the factory and were then under civilian control. If we were not well a German doctor was available but we had to walk two or three miles to another village. If anyone was in pain with toothache he would pull out teeth without cocaine. He wore a white coat, jack boots and pince-nez glasses. I will talk more about him later.
It was possible to be taken into another village by train to see the dentist. Two men were taken once a week. Because other lagers in the area could do the same someone always went so that news could be exchanged.
Every night at roll call everyone’s boots and trousers were taken away and locked up for the night. Working in the factory we carved out the shape of our feet and with bits of leather made jointed shoes. We all had a spare pair of trousers. The local postans, or guards were the equivalent to our Dad’s Army although not as stupid. At times we had young men wounded from the Russian front. As experienced soldiers they were grateful to be away from the front line and sympathetic to us saying, “Die fiel, die fiel” (“Orders are orders”) They couldn’t really care less and were very easy to bribe. Here you could talk to the guards on a better basis. In Stalag 8B it was frowned upon for POWs to make conversation with any Germans. Perhaps that is why prisoners spoke so little German.
We had an old gramophone and made ourselves a dartboard out of cardboard. There was also time when we got newspapers and weekly magazines and read a lot. “Weil du est Bist” is the one I remember “Because of you”. Love stories of course. What you did not understand you could guess. So much now for lager E119.
The factory was known as Rosmanwitz. He was the owner. It was a holtzfabric and made wheels of all sorts and sledges. Some of the POWs had a roving sort of job going out on the “slipper”. It had front wheels driven by half tracks (not petrol of diesel) by smouldering small pieces of wood cooked to make a gas.
They also travelled miles away in a lorry, sometimes all day to get to the forest where the women land army found large trees and trimmed them. Loading them by hand and winch was a very hard job, but they also had Mickey the driver who was a civilian to take care of them.
They were on their word of honour not to escape. To run away would have been easy but where could you run to? Without maps, deep inside enemy territory, surrounded by forests, mountains and remote countryside we remained prisoners but we had a sense of freedom.
If the slipper returned early and was quickly unloaded they could return to the lager. This was known as “Furarm und furtick” (Job and finish). Sometimes the slipper broke down waiting to make gas and the boys came home late. Of course it had nothing to do with them all having been in a guest house for a few drinks! I did manage to get out on the slipper a few times. Nobody would ever have dreamt of dropping Micky in the cart. Sometimes I even wore his pistol and belt for him when it got in his way. He was a German.
Bluey and I worked inside at first on the machines cutting and shaping spokes segments, spindles, hubs and all sorts. There was a big machine with a large blade one way and a lot of small knives fixed together and the whole lot were fixed to a piston. You clamped a log about two feet from the side, the piston went to and fro and the log went in producing what was known as holtzwal. It was then compressed into bales and sent away. We had this holtzwal in the paliases on our bunks. It was soft and warm to sleep on. When we had a chance we did a bit of sabotage, breaking the spokes and such. Our answer was always, “Nicht versten”. The Meister whose name was Wiesbrot had a habit of looking across to see what you were doing. If you were doing something wrong he would curl his right forefinger, waving his hand in front of his eyes as if to say “I am watching you”. That sign was used between ourselves to say “Watch out!”. If the word geranium was spoken it meant “Be careful what you say!”
When we found out that we were helping to make sledges and loading them on wagons for the Russian front we went on strike and refused to load, unload or work on them. We did not touch them any more. Two or three of the lads worked in the blacksmiths shop. One of the things they helped make was steel bands that would be fitted on the wheels. The bands had to be placed together in a heap. A big fire was then lit around them. After a time they expanded and were placed over the wheels. We then took water out of the river nearby and threw it over the wheels. The quick contraction meant that as the tyre was fitted it shrunk dead tight.
While we were doing this Russian men and women prisoners who had been marching for miles, probably on their way to concentration camps, were brought to the river to have a drink of water. They lay down to drink and some were so weak that their heads fell into the water and they drowned because they hadn’t the strength to raise their heads. We could only stand and watch. We couldn’t save them and felt so helpless.
As time went by we picked up more words, instead of sabotage it was possible to answer back, especially if it was to your advantage. For instance, when they spoke of German victories at the Russian front or in France, or of Frau Einz (the nickname for rockets over London), our reply was always two words, “Der tag” — “Our day will come”. We had another saying “sie sind sihone geweshen” — “You’ve had it!”. We had many arguments with the foreman and always finished up with “Du vier ecke kopf”, “You four cornered head — or square head”. We found we could swear at them in German or English, after all we had learned it from them. But you couldn’t laugh or take the micky out of them, or call them swindlers.
As time went by I was moved to Drausen arbeit. The outside work was in a very large area so there was more freedom instead of being inside all day. When the trees had been “auf laden”, (unloaded) we had to sort them out for size and type of wood, Eike (Oak) or Buche (Beech). We then loaded the holtzwool into the wagons and stacked the long planks for weathering. I worked with a Czech named Poldo. Instead of morgan it was now dobry den as a greeting. German and Czech now had to be understood. Poldo told us that he was going to get married. According to German law they both had to get medicals first. He even had to get a permit to buy an innertube for his bike. When he got married we asked him to bring us in some food. He brought some potatos with some sort of vegetables. The speciality was some spiced meat in batter. Later he asked how we had like it because it was “hund fleish “(dog). He said it was good for TB.
I want now to tell you how we spent the evening in the lager. Some played cards or darts. Although by the time we got back at 6 o’clock, washed, had some soup and cooked from Red Cross parcels, it would be quite late. One chap, Smudger Smith said to me one evening. “I have some books on how to learn German but nobody to talk with. How about us learning together?” Remembering what the tutor in 8B had said, I replied “OK. Anything for a laugh”. I wanted to do Smudger a favour but I didn’t have much hope. Each evening we sat together and I found sentences became longer and I could read the local magazines. Bluey joined us and amused the chaps lying on their bunks listening. He had the knack of reading the words the wrong way round and also guessing. We reached a stage where we no longer needed an interpreter. We could converse fairly well and could no longer use “Nichts Verstehen” as an excuse. We spoke a mixture of German and Czech but we now understood and could answer back.
We worked a 5½ day week finishing at 12 noon Saturday. In the week the train brought in wagons to load. They had to be loaded immediately so that the same train could pick them up on its way back in about 6 hours. This was very important otherwise those in charge of the factory could be put into prison or heavily fined. This meant the outside workers having to work fairly fast, instead of the old poomaly (go slow). To encourage us to move a bit faster the Meister Foreman would say “Fur arm and Fertig” (job and finish), and if the wagons came in early you could be back in the lager for the rest of the day. This worked very well until wagons came in late in the afternoon and you were still loading after the others went home. Tactics had to change to stop the loaders walking off as well. Ackord Arbeit (piece work) was agreed and we kept a check until it mounted up to enough time to have a day off. This system worked alright until the empty wagons came in on a Sunday and nobody would turn out. Three wagons to load and we all said no because Sunday was our day to play football on the village green with other lagers. Mostly it was just a kick about and a chance to discuss events. Having made our point, we were ready to give in on the argument. When the guards came in shouting “Raus! Raus!” with their rifle butts ready to knock us out. It was time to move.
We got to the wagons and started loading. It was poomaly, poomaly — (work slow) The checker watching our work soon realised the wagons would not be loaded in time for the train to take away. Soon the boss was called in and it was agreed that if we loaded the wagons we could have the next day off.
The sequel to this was months later when thick snow covered the ground. One Sunday the guards burst in “Alles fur Futeball” (Football for everyone). Nobody wanted to go but they forced us all out. “Geneva Convention say Sunday day off — English play football!” There we all were chasing a football around, up to our knees in snow and the local villagers shouting “Englanders Verucht” (The British are mad) We all saw the funny side of it when we came back in.
We had some fiece arguments when we were working in the factory. Once I smashed a lot of bricks in front of the boss. He shouted to the guard to shoot me. Bluey stood in front of me between the guard shouting “Nix, Nix”.
Sometimes I used to look at Bluey working on the saws and he seemed mesmerised. I dreaded that one day he would do something wrong and cut himself. There was a time when he was working on the big saws cutting the holtzwoll. It had a piston with the knives going up and down. He reached out and put his hand on it, just to see what it would do. Luckily it only gave his skin a little shave.
One day I was working outside and the Meister came up to me, took my arm and said “Commst du mitt “ come with me. He had another POW with him, Harry Mead. He took the two of us back towards the lager. A very old man was standing there, typical 1914-18. As we got to the old boy the Meister said, “Arbeit mitt”, we were to work with him. So we marked out a big square and started digging a deep hole. That evening as the lads came in, they asked us what we were doing. We had no idea. When the hole was large enough the spoil was taken away and lorries dumped a load of chalk. We then ran a hosepipe from our lager and the water made the chalk bubble and steam. We found we had made a big lime pit. Then we worried what it was for. Some guessed maybe for the bodies of the dead Russians from the river.
By this time we managed to say good morning to the old boy. He did not start until 8 o’clock and he went about 4.30. It suited Harry and I, last out in the morning, first in at night to wash. After a couple of days another German civilian arrived and he was the “bauwer meister”. At last we found out we were going to build a house and the lime pit was for the foundations. We carried on digging with Franz, by now the old boy had told us his name. He had got used to us now. The meister zibert we had under our thumb from the first day. He liked a smoke so we soon bribed him. Later we had a very thin Czech lad about nineteen years old working with us. His name was Vlashik Lewiosky and he came in daily from Marie Ostrau. Today it is called Ostrava. (Many years later remembering that name helped me a lot.) Again, no guards, brown as berries, a bit of black market, everything was acceptable.
As the job progressed the bricklayers arrived and we became labourers. Because of this I managed to get Bluey working with us. The weather was grand at the time. The carpenters on the job were also Germans, working on the roof. So we were now doing a bit of bartering for the lads in the factory, and as labourers doing a bit for everyone, we found time to chat, talking to the Germans and them telling us how good the two fronts were going on. I used to say my usual “der tag”, then spin them stories of what the Ghurkas would do to the SS, so I became known by them as “Wilhelm the propaganda minister”. It was lovely to listen to the Czech women in the fields singing at work. They sang “La Paloma” and other songs. The German soldiers marching in the forest sang the “Horst Wesel” song. Also “Mein vater ware ein wanderman”, “Lilli Marlene” and others. We learned to sing many of them.
Not far from where we were working building the house, there were some fruit trees and Bluey decided one day to get some of the apples. He picked quite a lot and while he was doing it a German came along and asked him what he was doing. Bluey tried to tell him that he had been picking the apples up off the ground. The trouble was he had great branches sticking out of the front of his jacket, so it was obvious he has been up the trees.
Come to the end of Autumn the house was practically finished. Bluey and I went back to Drausen Arbeit in the factory cutting the logs for the holtz wool machine.
Back now to the Artz doctor. A few months before the house was finished Bluey received a kick in his leg playing football. This turned into a large ulcer, bigger than half a crown. It was very bad and showed no sign of getting well. Eventually we convinced him to visit the Artz. Really he was worried in case he was sent back to 8B unfit for work. If you ever saw a doctor dressed in a long white coat, jackboots and pince-nez glasses, I am sure you would never forget him. He mixed up a white paste and it had to go on in a circle round the ulcer. Slowly it started to close. Some time later it cleared right up. Many a time since I have been home I have wished that I knew what that paste consisted of, talking to elderly people with ulcers. On top of that, Bluey played football again, received another kick and had to go through it once again.
If you had a bad toothache the doctor would pull the teeth out without cocaine or gas. I was caught outside the camp one day by a patrol and brought back, so to save the posterns getting into trouble we all had to pretend I was returning from the dentist in Odrau. I had lost a front tooth many years before. The excuse was that I had been to the dentist for a false tooth to fill the gap. To make it stick, I did go to the dentist many times. I had a tooth crowned in silver with a false tooth to fill the gap attached. It only broke off about 5 years ago and became a distinguishing feature that people always remembered about me. After all you don’t come across many people who show a silver tooth when they smile. It cost 50 marks and the sergeant of the guard paid for it for me.
I had an idea that very near to us Czech partisans were operating in the area. We picked up hints from our Czech workers. Sometimes they asked us for salt or pepper. After raiding German dorfs and stealing pigs and such like, the salt was needed to cure pork. The large saws cutting long trees into planks needed to be about 12 ft. long and had to be mounted according to the thickness of the planks. These saw blades needed to be changed very often. They had to be taken to the Schlafferi. The sharpening shop. They were taken on a horse and cart driven by an old German. His name was Byuss. Bluey and I always went with him to help carry the blades in and out. This night it was quite dark and as we walked in there were Czech workers making knives and bayonets out of the broken steel saws. We told Byuss to stay with the Pherd (horse) and we did the unloading and loading. Poor old Byuss shot himself as the war came to an end. Gradually now we learned more.
The Biggeri shop (that is the shop where wood was taken for steam treatment before bending), had members who knew where the RAF escape route was and there were contacts in the factory who we could trust. In the lager we did have a crystal radio set. One chap spoke 2 or 3 languages very well but most of our news came from the locals.
Just before Christmas 1944 we saw Russian aircraft overhead and we were all made to go into the bunkers for safety. Again we said — “Der tag. Zweiter frunt jetz fahren schnel nacht Berlin” Second front on its way to Berlin fast.
There seemed to be a slowing down in the Fabrick with not so many wagons arriving. More aircraft appeared overhead and an uncertainty of what was happening. The chef (boss) went to Prague knowing that east and west had begun closing in. Our fears were of the SS and what was happening in 8B with all of those POWs. The chef returned and the word went round that he had been away to place all his money into Swiss banks.
At that time I was waiting to go to Novyjicin to have my knee looked at. It meant being taken in a horse and cart and I considered trying to get back to the others? Some of the lads were talking of trying to get back to Stalag 8B but Bluey and I had other ideas, the Czech partisans. We now noticed that the guards were not the same and were very relaxed when we returned from working in the evening. They had always been at the lager to count us in, now they could not care less. Even evening appel and taking our boots and trousers was forgotten. In fact some of the lads often spent the night out with a Czech family. They showed up at work in the morning.
You must remember we were quite isolated in a tiny village. Some villages were known as Czech, others as Deutsch. Everyone was uneasy. Red Cross parcels were not so regular. Czechs were beginning to take days off, never known before. About the end of January or early February, on the spur of the moment, nothing planned, Bluey and I decided to weg — that means go. No one ever called it escape only weg. In the past years some of the POWs used to weg laufen (run away). When caught and brought before the Commandant at 8B it was said “ He got fed up and ran away for a while”. Some lads did this regularly and after a while gave themselves up, collected their mail and other things, spent 2 or 3 weeks in the bunker then looked out for another working party.
I have often puzzled why officers claimed officer status as soon as they were captured, if they wanted to escape. As ordinary soldiers you could get away without digging tunnels. I can tell you I never met any Bridge over the River Kwai officers. Getting away was easy but getting away from Poland or Czechoslovakia to a friendly country without skills was another thing. Remember they held all the aces.
Our decision to walk out of the lager was easy in one way but not in others. It took a lot of thought, collecting information, watching the situation on the Front and deciding which way to go. Could we get Resistance help on an escape route? We had to be careful about who to trust and to gain the trust of civilians? There were German Sudateland folk running the Resistance who actually were communists. I don’t want to mention names. Remember, to this day families still live there.
Remembering the Stalag days and the lessons of old POWs who had escaped and been recaptured I learnt all about where I was and knew the source of the River Oder and where it went north to sea. I also knew it was possible to get down to Vienna in Austria, heading towards the Swiss border. I knew that to head west was impossible without help from the Resistance and you needed 3 or 4 weeks to hide away as soon as you got free and so the timing had to be well thought out. I would not go as far as to say we planned it but we listened and waited and eventually balanced our chances. We had no idea we would end up on Yanosik Kries in Mala Fatra with the partisans.
One day in 1944 we just wandered off. We came to a village, I believe it was called Landskrone. Then we wandered to so many places that I can’t remember them all, dossing down in barns or fields, running into German cyclist patrols and trying to make out we were Russian POWs working on farms, acting dumb by answering Nero Zomice, Ni panimoi. Slowly we got further away from the lager and found ourselves in the Bedskids hills. From here things get a bit mixed up.
One day we were asleep in a barn and a German soldier on patrol looked in on us. He shouted and pointed his rifle and at the same time pulled back the bolt to load and all his bullets fell out onto the straw. He was very cross with himself but we saw the funny side of it. We helped him to look for them, joking and laughing, then he stormed off.
I believe it is now time to study the map. The River Oder, marked with a little X, Odrau is about 3 to 4 miles away by train. Stalag 8B is not far from the River Neisse. A village called Lambsdorf Brzeg or Brieg was the nearest railway station. Opole is a small town in Poland and a leading area for Polish partisans. It was also part of the route for any RAF escapees. More of that later.
Cesky Tecien was a place we stayed for a while. It was half Czech, half Polish. If possible we kept away from towns. So now we are near Odrau again. There we found out that we were not far from the RAF escape route. I never did find out how many got through.
After the war I enquired to an RAF escape committee at the Duke of York’s HQ, Chelsea who had no idea. They told me that only 2 families in Poland were in receipt of a pension for helping the RAF. The route from Odrau ran down to Gottwaldov south, I believe towards Budapest to the Danube. We did send out feelers with some of our contacts. We were told the escape route was very dangerous for everyone. British contacts had told them not to help British soldiers along because it was only for RAF and submarine officers. That is how much they were interested in ordinary POWs.
Watching Russian aircraft flying low and not dropping bombs we found out that we were near an area of the mountains called Janosik in Mala Fatra. The beginning of the Tatra mountains. It was the headquarters of the partisans and the Russians were dropping supplies to them — The Poles on one side, the Czechs on the other side. The whole area was known as the Janosik Kriese (Janosik circle) and is was very dangerous for the Germans to contain, which suited us. We got food from the partisans very often and saw how they waited by the mountain streams to trap wild deer coming for water, and put snares on poles just before dark, pulling down birds out of the trees. Sometimes we didn’t see them for ages. They told us when going to dorfs to scrounge or steal food, always to look for the first or second farm house, and to wait and see who was about to ascertain if it was a Czech or German house. They advised never to beg in the centre of the village, only on the outskirts so that it was easier to run back into the woods if it looked like trouble. I must say we got very good at that, even Bluey took a turn and at most times were successful. It was somewhere here that I took a pistol and rounds from a German.
Now the usual greeting in all villages, towns and shops was always “Heil Hitler” so when we knocked on a door or shouted hello we always said “Gruz Gott” (God be with you). If the door was opened by a woman, nine times out of ten it would be, we always told them that we were Kriegs Geffangeners, POWs, and asked for “ein stikel de brot” (a piece of bread). Sometimes it was, wait a moment, a piece of bread or cake given and the door shut, so we would leave quickly because we knew the people inside were afraid to be seen helping us. Other times it was “Herein kommen” (come in). Here we had to take a chance — Was a party member inside? Police? or a soldier? As we went inside, a quick look round to satisfy all was OK. We always asked the same question, “Where is your man?” Knowing full well that he was likely to be at the front. On the answer we would look sympathetic and say, “Yes, Russian front very hard”, then we would tell whoever was there about ourselves, by now probably eating a piece of bread or soup. Sometimes there would be a deserter, maybe a son, about the place. If we could stay a couple of days sleeping in the barn that was great. The only trouble was rats would run over you in the night. We were offered glasses of slivervitch which we both hated but it was given as a toast so we had to drain it.
You may not believe this but once up in the mountains Bluey and I had a fight. I think it was over an overcoat that he had left behind somewhere. I went off alone but we ran into each other two days later so we teamed up again.
There was a time when we were so hungry we took the horses oats out of a stable, boiled them up and spat out the shells. I wouldn’t recommend it. One day I got hold of a chicken and we were starving. We boiled it in our can and when it was ready to eat Bluey said “I don’t want any, I don’t like chicken.” This tale has amused our families and friends for years, but it is true.
While we were in Mala Fatra we heard that the Russians were advancing. Decisions had to be made. Should we wait for the Russians to come or start back into Czechoslovakia and strike for the east? We knew that somewhere back were the German military police waiting to shoot deserters from the Russian front because we had already seen deserters. Also the SS were about.
It was Autumn. Somewhere in a mountain area not far from a village called Makov we came down a track and lo and behold a Russian tank column was sitting on the road. By our wireless in the lager and local news back in Mankendorf we knew that Churchill and Montgomery were not happy with the three powers agreements. Bluey and the POWs in Italian camps had been taken into Germany when Italy fell to the allies. We did not want to risk that happening to us and ending up in Russia! So we brazened it out, greeting the tank crews who were made up from whole families, including women, and asked if anyone could verstehen Deutsch. An officer came along and we managed to tell him who we were. After all by now we could have passed for Russians the way we were dressed. They gave us food and water. He then offered to get us sent back to Odessa. He said we could be put on a boat home from there. We were not too keen on that and said we would go east, towards Prague. He was waiting for some heavy artillery to come along to lead them into Prague. I found out that they were the Georgian army. Talking to them I said that I knew a Georgian division in 1942 where the Russian soldiers were on one side of the road and the British 56 Division was on the other side of the road. Both had orders not to speak to each other. It was at Mosul, north of Iraq. We were to assist the Russians as the Germans could have broken through Turkey, making for the Suez canal. Of course they never did. The artillery arrived, we all shook hands and we advanced with them.
We rode in the back of a jeep. The driver did nothing but grin and wave to everyone. We were right up the front now, stopping now and then whilst a barrage was sent off guided by small spotter aircraft. We enjoyed being with them until our driver, covered with garlands of flowers and well on the way with drink, began driving up pavements and down ditches at the side of the road. The spotter pilots were landing on the road in front of us for their garlands and drinks. Our fear now was we would never reach Prague before overturning and crashing. It would have been ironic to survive all this time only to be killed by a drunken Russian driver! When they stopped for a while somewhere between Olomouc and Pardubice we decided to part company so we thanked them and continued alone. Glatz and Konigratz were two of the places I can remember. Eventually we got mixed up with thousands of German refugees pouring to the west to flee from the Russians.
We guessed that maybe the Russians had stopped further back because the road was blocked. Back in the mountains I already had the German original map of the front as it was. I also had the pistol I had acquired earlier. I still have the map.
As we moved along the road east we saw German deserters lying dead along the side, shot by the SS. Their right arms had been propped up set in rigor mortis in a Nazi salute. We stayed with the refugees driving the horse and carts and helping them in general for food. As time went by British POWs were appearing en-route. They told us Hitler was dead. A photograph of him was displayed in shop windows. We lost all recollection of days and dates and heard that the surrender had taken place. Suddenly the SS appeared on the streets, shouting “Wier kampfew wieter allein!” We are carrying on alone. We were glad we were mixed up with the refugees, who were all crying because of this.
We like to think that British soldiers are above looting but that is just what started. They were looting the carts. I know that they were Germans. Maybe some of them deserved it, but Bluey and I thought of those German families who gave us food and shelter at great risk to themselves back in the mountains, and we did not want to be associated with what was going on.
By leaving the refugees we could push on faster across country, away from the main roads. We went through one or two villages and late in the afternoon we ran into some Russian infantry making their way to Prague. The Czechs there were going berserk and beating women and men, chasing them up and down the road and making them carry and replace the cobbles that the SS had torn up to act as road blocks. I felt sorry for them and was going to lean out of the truck with some water but Bluey stopped me and said “Don’t do it. They may just take it out on us”. He was probably right as the mob was all fired up with hate. The Russian soldiers just sat in their trucks looking very contained. Their uncomfortable looks showed they were strictly under orders. They stopped on the edge of Prague and we gathered this was as far as they were going. We wondered why? We found out later.
So now we were alone again except for an American soldier who had tagged on to us. We made our way into central Prague. As it was getting late we wanted to be off the streets because we could sense that things were tense and there were snipers about. We walked through a tunnel and everything was quiet. Even today, I still cannot believe what happened next.
It must have been about 10 o’clock when we saw sign for a hotel. Bearing in mind we were ragged, unshaven and dressed like bandits, the three of us entered and walked up to the reception desk. There was nobody about so I hit the little bell. When the man came I asked in English if we could have a room for the night. Very casually he turned a huge register round and asked us to sign it, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to shelter escaped prisoners of war with no money, while a battle raged outside to liberate the city. He called a young man to take us to the lift and up to our rooms. As we walked away from the desk the Yank stopped, stood to attention and sang “God save the King” very loudly! Just before we got into the lift the receptionist called out to us asking if we would like an early morning call! I don’t know why but I said, “Yes, 4.00am!” What a strange thing to say! The whole thing was surreal.
We got to our rooms and settled down but somehow we felt very uneasy. I suppose we had broken the rule taught to us by the partisans, this time there was nowhere to run. We lay on top of our beds fully clothed. Bluey and I looked at each other. There was someone at the door, just a little rustle. I signalled to Bluey to stay there while I crept to the door, pistol in hand and opened the door. There was nobody to be seen. This puzzled us both. Then again we heard the rustle and this time I got up quickly and snatched the door open. Standing there was a dear old lady holding a tray with two basins of soup and a stikal brot. We thanked her and were very grateful. After we had eaten Bluey wanted me to throw the gun away but I would not. I realise now the risk of getting caught carrying an automatic pistol with over 50 rounds on me. I could have been shot on sight, and was not covered by the Geneva Convention. We dropped into an uneasy sleep waking with sounds of tanks moving about, their tracks rattling on the cobbles.
At 4 a.m. came my early morning call. I got up and went out into the street. Walking along the road I smelt bread baking. It was lovely. I found the bakers and managed to scrounge a few fresh rolls for our breakfast. I was nibbling one as I turned the corner into a great square. It was full of Russian tanks and from every lamppost hung a dead German. Some old scores had be settled that night. The Czechs were throwing petrol over the bodies and setting them alight. I was standing in Wenceslas Square. I hurried back to tell the other two and they came and had a look. We decided there and then to get out of Prague as quickly as we could. I looked at my map and found the road out to Pilsen.
About mid-day we came across soldiers with guns facing us up the road. We put up our hands and a group came towards us covering us. We thought we were done for and they were Germans. Suddenly the American shouted “They’re not Germans! They’re Americans!” At last, about three to four days after the surrender had been signed, we were safe - no longer Kriegs Geffangeners, but British soldiers once again. We were interrogated by the officer in charge and gave him all the information we could. We told him about the tanks and what was happening in Prague. He said that if they had been there first, it would not have been allowed to happen.
They were 20 kilometres outside Prague and had been lying there for three weeks, but under the three powers agreement they had to let the Russians enter Prague. It was the Yalta agreement. After feeding us up with K rations, we were put on a plane to the Canadians in Brussels. Free but back under army rules and not able to choose for ourselves. The first thing I did was have my photo taken. Bluey bought silk stockings on the black market to take home. My wife told me off, she would have liked stockings. The photo still stands to this day on our sideboard but the stockings are long gone!
We landed at Horsham, only about three quarters of an hour from my home in Sutton, but my feet were in such a state with sores and blisters I was kept there and given treatment for a week until they improved. Bluey had decided after his leave was finished, to sign on and go to Burma. He spent a lot of leave with my wife and I, staying at my mother-in-law’s or at his sister’s. He didn’t have much in the way of family and was happy to become part of ours.
Eventually he reported back. I was still on leave. Not long after, he came to see Joyce and I and asked me to be his best man at his wedding. He had met a girl who worked in the NAAFI and was getting married. Joyce and I went up to Brooks in Wales, the only people on his side. They eventually got a council house in Weaverham in Cheshire. Bluey worked for many years for the Water Board in Cheshire until he retired. He and Freda had a very happy marriage and had one son, David. Bluey was devastated when Freda died on August 20th 1987. He told me that he walked down to her graveside every day to see his “old gal”. He died on 7th July 1990 and they are buried together.
Bluey looked a strange, tough character. He had scars on his face and a great mop of hair that made him stand out in a crowd. In fact one time back in England when I was supposed to meet him I was able to pick him out in a stadium full of hundreds of people — something about the shape of his head that was different to everyone else. Everyone expected him to be a really hard bloke because of the way he looked but he was one of the gentlest people you could ever meet. He was also very funny. He was accident-prone and could make you cry with laughter at stories of what had happened to him. It was even funnier because he could never quite understand why it happened to him. Joyce and I remember so many incidents. After one visit he was saying goodbye to us on the train. When the whistle blew he stuck his head out of the carriage window to wave goodbye without noticing the window was closed at the time. He broke the window and the train pulled out with him still waving and blood pouring down his face.
His war experiences before I met him had left him ‘bomb happy’ and he was in a terrible state mentally. One of the tragedies of the time was there was not much help or understanding for the many who suffered mentally for their war experiences. They had to struggle on alone and for some it took years to cope. Bluey was lucky. After the war Freda sorted him out and she was his rock. You couldn’t help liking him. I lost one of the best pals I ever had when he died
I never thought I would return to Czechoslovakia, Poland or any of the places I had been during the war. That area all went over to Russia and the Communists and I thought many times that life must be hard for the people while we in Britain were getting back to normal and had a decent standard of living. However, 20 years after the war in 1960 I did go back.
Joyce and I were visiting a friend in Vienna and looking at a map I wondered if I could find my way over to Lager E119. I knew that if I could get to Marie Ostrau (now Ostrava), the nearest big industrial town, it should be possible to find Mankendorf.
Our Viennese friends thought it was mad and dangerous to go across into territory behind the iron curtain but I felt I had to do it. We set out by train from Vienna and eventually got to Ostrava. The problem was I was asking people for names of places I had known in German, not realising that the Czechs had changed them all back to Czech names. Then I came across a very old man who was willing to speak to me in German and he knew the places I was looking for. We took the train back to Suchdol and changed to go to Odry.
Now I was beginning to get my bearings. When we arrived at Suchdol we had to get a local train. It was very hot and a lady sitting on a train by an open window spoke to us on the platform, asking if we were English? We said we were and told her we had come to visit the POW lager in Mankendorf. She said this train would take us there. There were no hotels in that village but when we had seen what we wanted, if we got the train to the next village, which was Odry, we could stay at her house. She said her husband had worked with the British prisoners at the factory during the war and he would be interested to meet us.
Mankendorf was now called Mancovice. I recognized it immediately. It had hardly changed. Set on an open Slavic plain with mountains beyond were half a dozen houses, a church, a village green and the timber factory, backing on to the railway.
I showed Joyce the house we had built and also the factory. Of course the Germans had gone and were in a new factory in East Germany. The lager was still there, locked up. An old lady opened it up for us and we went in and had a look. The old copper and wooden baths were still there and the wire round the outside. I showed Joyce the bunks that Bluey and I used to sleep on and the tables and fire were just as we had left it all.
When we got to Odry I knew exactly where I was. We met the lady from the train and she told us her name was Herta. In her house we met her family. Her husband Leo came in from work and we started to talk to each other. A little time went by then it suddenly dawned on Leo who I was. He struggled to find the few English words he had learnt from POWs and burst out, “Bill! You bloody bastard!” with a big grin on his face. So we stayed with them and the word went round the two villages. Many of the men I had known took the next day off and we all met up in a barn for the “Mankendorf Conference” where we shared our memories and drank a lot.
We also met Herta’s father and found out her story. Although he was a German, Herta’s father had been a leader in the Odrau partisans. He was put into a concentration camp that was liberated by British Forces after the war. Herta and her mother were in a different concentration camp at Novyjicin and there Herta passed by her mother without recognising her, she had been tortured and suffered terribly and in the end Herta believes she was executed just a few days before the end of the war. Herta herself was involved in the partisans and the escape route. These people risked everything and many died.
Once we had made the contact we remained friends. Leo and his son Peter came to England and stayed with us, but Herta and her daughter were not allowed to travel. Husbands and wives could not travel out of the country together under the communist regime and we had to meet their expenses because they could not bring any money out of the country.
We visited several times once our friendship had been established. Leo and Herta took us back to the mountains Mala Fatra and the Bedskids, along the old trails. I also went back to Zakopani on a visit to Poland, we were looked after by the Polish partisans from Opelan. They escorted us everywhere. When we got to Zakopani I had already phoned Leo and Herta and they came and visited us. We had taken a certificate for Herta and her Father which was read out and one of the British party presented Herta with a silver chain. The partisans paid their expenses.
Leo died a few years ago but we always receive a Christmas card from Czechoslovakia in English asking when they will see us again.
After the war I tried to get help for those who had helped us but the Foreign Office said nothing could be done to help them because they were not wearing British Uniform. It seems such a shame that those who had risked their lives ended up with so little. I went to the RAF escape Committee at the Duke of York’s HQ Chelsea to trace the escape route but they denied it existed. Only a couple of years ago I had an address in Brompton Road I contacted but they replied saying they had disbanded and had no knowledge. Official sources are still very secretive and don’t want to give information. I wonder how many people owe their lives to a few brave people who ended up trapped in a Communist state.
In 1993 I was thrilled to get a letter from the displaced lad who had worked with us on the house next to the lager 50 years before! We kept in contact and the week of the VE Day celebrations in 1995 I met him and his wife at a London Hotel on a brief visit. We recognised each other but it was a short meeting and we wish we had had more time. They gave Joyce and I a beautiful crystal bowl which we treasure and a few years after we were able to visit them at their home north of Prague, with our older daughter and her husband.
In 2001 (when I was already in my 80’s) I managed to get hold of my POW records. Everything is there except I was never recorded as liberated, but there is a photograph, fingerprints and information about my working parties.
I am now in contact with POW connections in New Zealand and received a book last year written by a New Zealander escapee. In this book Getaway by Gordon Woodroof MM printed by Publicity Printing Limited, Taurangh, New Zealand, he says he was told in Stalag 8B that if he got a chance to escape he was to head for Mankendorf where there was an escape route operating.
I have been back many times to Czechoslovakia the last time was in April 2002, when we went to Prague with my youngest daughter and her husband. Our original intention was to try and find that hotel where we stayed on the night before the Russians arrived in Prague. The three of us, Bluey, the American and I had signed our names in the huge old hotel register. I had hoped we might discover the hotel but that corner of Prague, behind Wenceslas Square and the big church, appeared to have been one of the few areas that had been updated after the war and I think the streets must be different. We had no luck. I would still like to see an old map to satisfy myself where I think it must have been. I also wish I could meet the American again. I don’t even remember his name.
We hired a car and made a brief visit to Odry and Mancovice. I was able to show them the old factory and this time it was deserted. As we walked through the open gates memories came flooding back. I could once again smell the oak and beech being unloaded and hear the saws and activity of men making wheels and sledges. There had been 60 men in those days.
Along the road in the churchyard lie people I remember and their faces came back to me as we walked round in the spring sunshine. Destiny brought me to this little place during the war and it has left an impression I will carry all my life. I feel linked with it.
We walked down to where the lager still stands. I could imagine faces round the table as bread was divided among us. It was a serious business to see we all got equal shares. Someone had to stir the soup continuously so that the vegetables and occasional meagre helping of meat would be evenly distributed.
A Russian lady now lives in part of the old lager. One of the highlights of our visit was when she invited us in to show us how it had been converted into a very comfortable and spacious home. Upstairs is only used for storage and remains much as I remember it. Looking across towards the dome of church the landscape was like something in Dr. Zhivago. I recalled watching the seasons go round from this window; thick snow and bitter winds of Winter and the cold earth slowly coming alive in Summer. As a rare treat we were allowed to swim in the river in the heat of summer. So long ago yet still so fresh in my mind.
We stood in front of the house my comrades and I had built when our future lay uncertain before us. The years rolled away as I remembered.
With the collapse of Communism the Czech Republic has a fresh start and is looking forward to being part of Europe. People are anxious to catch up with progress and opportunities offered by the European Community. We remember a time when shops in Prague had empty shelves and it is nice to see life is easier now for the Czechs. Nobody wants to remember the war. When you mention it they say “We have move on since then”. There is a noticeable reluctance to talk about the bad old times.
Herta is fail and suffering with ill health these days but we are always overwhelmed by affection and hospitality when we visit Odry. Their son Peter reminded us of his trip to England in 1965 when he was 16. It left a big impression on him. He remembered us buying him his first pair of jeans and brought out a treasured box of mementoes including bus tickets and tickets to the Tower of London and Hampton Court. Herta’s grandson, David has dreadlocks and in perfect English speaks of his passion for ecology and saving the planet. He is educated and has travelled to places his grandparents could only imagine. He has a lot in common with my own grandchildren. We were impressed by the courtesy of young people everywhere we went. It is refreshing to see the elderly and women automatically offered a seat on the underground, buses and trams.
Herta is surrounded by loving family and treated with great respect. As they gathered to see us off she hugged my daughter and said, “We old ones have lived through some terrible times yet we have found a special friendship. Now we pass it on to you and the next generation to carry on and keep up the link between our families”.Bill Turner
Pte. Adolph Ciummo Coy.C 501st Parachute Inf. Regt.Adolph Ciummo parachuted into Holland September 17th, 1944 in Operation Market Garden. He was captured the following day and spent the rest of the war in several pow camps among them Stalag 7a and Stalag 12a. Any information regarding him will be greatly appreciated.Lawrence Depetrillo
Thomas DanielsMy father, Thomas Daniels was captured in Crete and spent some time in Lamsdorf 1941. He went on to Marburg (escaped), Wolfsburg (escaped), Gurtchdorf, Setsdorf and Muisburg. I spent many years trying to get him to talk about his memories but he would not say much at all. I would be grateful if anyone can remember him and get in touch.Lynne OConnor
Sgt. George Gyves RA HAAMy father, Sgt George Gyves (RA HAA), was captured on Crete in June 1941. I know he was in Stalag V11a (Moosburg) during 1942 as we have postcards from him. We also have postcards dated June 29 and September 15 1943 from Stalag V111b (Lamsdorf). He was on the Death March that commenced on January 1945.
Unfortunately, he was very poorly when repatriated to the UK and died on Oct 25 1946 age 39. If anybody recognises a fellow POW from the photograph or has a related story, I would like to hear from them.Michael Gyves
Walter Sinclair 2/2 Field Regiment (d.25th Jan 1945)My uncle, Walter Sinclair, 2/2 Field Regiment, Australian Army was captured on Crete. I was very, very excited to see his name on the List of Prisoners & that the information that he died on 25th Jan 1945 correlates with my research. This is the first mention of him that I have found in over 12 months of searching on the net. However, his German POW cards show that he was transferred to Stalag V111B Teschen on 11.1.44 from Stalag 344 (V111B) Lamsdorf where he had been since 14.4.43, so he should have been on the Teschen march not Lamsdorf.
My mother can remember being told that he had severely frostbitten feet & couldn't march so was shot. I would appreciate any information that you can give me, as I am trying to trace his grave & the route taken from these 2 camps was entirely different. I have a postcard from 7A Moosburg & 2 from 8B Lamsdorf.
Update: The change of the designation V111B has tricked many family researchers, including myself. V111B (Lamsdorf) became 344 towards the end of 1943. It was an extremely large camp & was set up in 1939 using existing WW1 camp constructions. Initially it was a transit camp which then became permanent. Early in 1943, V111B (Britenlager) included 318/V111F Lamsdorf (200,000 Soviet POWs of whom around 40,000 died) & V111D Teschen, making it one of the largest POW complexes. Because of the large influx of POWs after the Normandy landings, the complex was reorganised & separated as 344 Lamsdorf & V111B Teschen. Teschen (now Cieszyn) is about 120km south from Lamsdorf (now Lambinowice) in Poland. By February 1944 V111B Teschen was the administrative base for many of the Silesian Arbeitskommandos (Work Camps), mainly mining, including 53 which contained 11,500 British POWs. (The designation 'British' also applied to all subjects of the British Empire e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.) Most of these work camps were many kilometres from the main camp & the POWs lived, as well as worked, there. (Some in deplorable conditions). From the middle of January 1945, the POWs in the work camps were force-marched through Czechoslovakia away from the Russian advance. The last group left the main camp at V111B Teschen on about 20th Jan 1945. My uncle, Walter Sinclair,VX613,2/2nd Field Reg,AIF, POW 92192, died on that march & has no known grave. He was transferred to Teschen, 11/01/44 from 344 Lamsdorf. He wrote of the change from V111B to 344 on a postcard dated 26/12/43. He arrived V111B Lamsdorf, 14/4/43,from V11A Mooseburg,21/08/41,following his capture on Crete,31/05/41.Cheryl Smith
Howard Peter Field Australian Signallers CorpsMy uncle's name was Peter Howard Field, born 7 March 1919, at Glenelg, Adelaide, South Australia. He was a bus driver prior to entering into the Australian Army.
He entered the army into the 2nd Australian Imperial Force - Army Signallers Corps on the 6th of May 1940 in Adelaide, South Australia (Service no. SX2719). He Was taken on strength into the Southern Command and embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on the 10 August 1940 aboard the Greta, arrived in Bombay 3 September 1940 and then Palestine 12 October 1940.
He was then attached to the 2/2 Field Regiment, Royal Engineers. He embarked in the Middle East for service in Greece on 26 March 1941. He was reported missing on the 7 June 1941 in Crete. (I am not sure of the exact circumstance regarding his capture and probably will never know). Confirmed POW at Stalag VII A by International Red Cross on 28 October 1941. (Stalag VII A records show no Australian POWs in Stalag VII A, I assume Australian POWs were listed as British. This shows he must have been one of the earlier POWs at Stalag VII A). If I remember correctly he told us that whilst on transit to Stalag VII A, they were being transported via rail cars, and whilst in Austria en route to Stalag VII A while the train had stopped he was looking out of one of the vent slots, when there was a lot of SS and Gestapo officers milling around the rail area. He believed that he actually saw Adolf Hitler himself at this time. A German soldier hit him in the nose with the butt of his rifle, breaking his nose for being impertinent enough to cast his eyes on the Fuehrer. I am not sure of whether the following occurred in Stalag VII A or in Stalag VIII B, but the situation was poor and both POWs and German guards were starving and the POWs were not getting their Red Cross packages in full if at all. They resorted to killing a German guard dog to eat. He escaped from Stalag VII A (I do not know how) around July/August 1943 and was recaptured at the Swiss border from where he was transferred to Stalag VIII B until liberation in 1945. The dates are correct as are the internments at Stalag VII A and VIII B as recorded by the Australian Defence Force Archives. The other information is only what I remember him telling us as kids when he spoke of the war which was not often. He was awarded the 1939/45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal and the Australian Service Medal.
He died a couple of years ago know which makes a lot difficult to substantiate, I wish I had taken a keen interest in genealogy a few years earlier as I may have been able to document his history more accurately. We were all close to Uncle Peter and he is missed immensely by us. If anyone has any info that may be relevant please make contact.Craig Elphick
Pte. George Alexander "Snowy" Dennis MBEMy father George Alexander Dennis was in Stalag VIIA and Stalag VIIIB during 1941-1945. He is now 93 years old living in Sydney Australia. Often now he seems to be back in the POW camps with his developing dementia. He used to never talk about the war but now it seems to persecute his mind. If anyone has any connection with my father, we would be very interested.Patricia Kowal
Pvt. Karl Behringer Bronze Star Hq. Coy. 3rd Battalion 508th Parachute Reg.My dad Karl Behringer was assigned to Headquarters Company 3rd Battalion 508th Parachute Regiment 82nd Airborne. Dad made two combat jumps in Normandy and Holland. During Operation Market Garden while on Patrol Dad lost his best friend Billy King when they made contact with the enemy and came under heavy enemy fire. On December 22nd 1944 during the Battle Of the Bulge Dad and two other troopers were sent out on Patrol to try to locate a four man motorized patrol that failed to return in the area of Provedroux Petite Langlir Road in Belgium. On Christmas Eve Dad became a prisoner of war and was sent to Stalag # 7 in Germany until liberated in April 1945.
When Dad returned to the United States and was able, he made a trip to a small town in Illinois called Centralia where he met with Billy's mother. Dad and Billy had made a promise to each other that if one of them did not return they would meet with their parents. During my youth we would drive down to Illinois from New York and visit with mother King, what a great lady and friend.
Dad would really never talk about his experience during the war to me, and I understood that, because in September 1972 I joined the military and became a Paratrooper. I was assigned to various Airborne Units until my retirement.Karl R. Behringer
Pte. Albert Edward Woodhouse 2/7th Btn. Queens Royal RegimentMy dad was pow no. 128512 in Stalag 7a at Moosberg. His name Albert Edward (Eddy) Woodhouse, his date of enlistment was 15 February 1940, 2/7th Queens Royal Regt. D Coy. he was in the North African campaign at Enfidaville Tunisia, from here he went to Italy, Anzio where on 5/2/44 he was transferred from D Coy. to C Coy. and was involved in the attempt to extract a US army Battalion 2/157 who were cut off and isolated about a mile ahead of the front line, they too were cut off from their supplies and suffered very heavy losses. He was reported missing (War Diaries Feb 44) 25/2/44 and I know he was taken to Stalag 7a for the remainder of the war.
Would like to hear from anyone who has any knowledge of him.Michael Woodhouse
Pte. John Leonard Richards Royal Army Ordnance CorpsMy father John Leonard Richards was a dispatch rider captured in North Africa in May 1941. His family later were told he was in Stalag V11A. Where he stayed until the war ended. We know little of what happened to him there but he came home in poor health and was classed as disabled. Dad never spoke about anything to do with that part of his life. He died in 1973 aged 58 yrs old. Soon after his death a fellow prisoner came looking for him and told us Dad was tortured but gave us no details. It's good to think he will be remembered via this site thank you.Susan Bolton
Leonard Arthur Sutton 12th Royal LancersMy Uncle Leonard Arthur Sutton, was a driver to a Major Palmer (A member of the Huntley & Palmer biscuit family) and served with the Twelfth Royal Lancers in the Libyan desert. Whilst on a scouting mission, Major Palmer ordered my Uncle to stop and investigate what was on the other side of a ridge they were behind. As my Uncle approached the top, the Afrika Korps were waiting for him! As he turned to run, Major Palmer drove off! and left him to the Germans! Needless to say, us Suttons don't eat Huntley & Palmer Biscuits! He was treated very well by the Afrika Korps and given Chocolate & Cigarettes, before being transported to first Italy, and then onto Stalag 7A Concentration camp. After 2 unsuccessful escape attempts, and being threatened with being shot if he tried again, he finally escaped and after many months on the run, made it to Switzerland and to freedom. He suffered many illnesses whilst escaping, from which he never really recovered. He passed away aged 43 in 1965. A true Hero in my eyes.Greg Sutton
Pte. Bervie RiceMy great-uncle Bervie Rice served with the US Infantry, was captured and held as a POW at Stalag VIIA from 09/23/1944 to 06/06/1945. He was always a quiet man and did not talk of his experiences in the War. He passed away a few years ago and I'm hoping to find stories or photos that include him so that our family can know of his experiences. My father may have a wartime photo of him; if so, I will upload it at a later date.Tammy Ford Cuevas
C. DaleWe have in the Hampshire Scout Archives an embroidered handkerchief for the Stalag 7a POW camp 1st Cosmopolitan Rover Crew. I mention it because of the comments from one of your contributors who said his dad was in it. We also have an unused Prisoner of war Airmail postal letter and a copy of the Camp newsletter Issue Number 4 written in pencil on toilet paper with the editors name of C. Dale, Sub editor J. Beanett and artist H. Bowring. It is dated 19th June 1943.Richard Spearing
Pte. George Wesley "Jack" Frost Co A 117th RegimentMy father George Frost was a POW in Stalag VIIA. He was a private in the US Army 117th Regiment Co A. He was captured in the Battle of Mortain on August 7, 1944 near a farmhouse serving as headquarters in St Barthelemy. He was freed during the camp liberation. He worked repairing the railroad with the Dachau prisoners and was taken to and from the sites by railroad car. He suffered from frost bitten feet his entire life from working in the cold on the railroad. He received 2 Bronze Stars.
He spoke very little of this experience, but did relate all this to me before he died in 1988. I have the Bronze Stars and his Stalag VIIA dog tags. In his memory, I purchased a brick which is in the floor by the entrance to the D Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.Phyllis Frost
Pte. Hugh Hillan Gordon HighlandersMy dad Hugh Hillan was one of the many captured at Anzio and interned in Stalag VII-A Moosburg until the end of the war, his POW number was 127846 ... would like this oppertunity to thank all who fought and sacrificed their lives to make sure we have had a safer futureNeil Dawson
PFC. Arthur Fredrick Soderberg 576th Ambulance Company Medcial CorpsArt Soderberg didn't speak much of his experience, but we have letters stating that these soldiers were not to speak of it. Arthur was a strong man who endured 9 months in Stalag 7A. We have a book which documented some of his friends (we think) with names and addresses marked on it (very small pocket size probably to hide from the Germans). We have an application for living ex prisoner of war compensation for compulsory labor and or inhumane treatment. Arthur never filled this out. I imagine there was nothing to compensate such atrocities endured. I spoke with his brother who indicated that men in this camp were routinely pistol whipped and fed saw-dust mixed with potatoes, these were the only things mentioned, along with trading Lucky Strikes for bread. Arthur was allowed to bring home the German decorative swords granted by Cornel Eisenhower.Fred Soderberg
Gnr. William David "Ginger" Smith Royal ArtilleryMy father William Smith would never talk about his time as a POW until my mother died in 1969 when after a few years he came to live with me. I asked him one day if he would tell me about the terrible POW years and he told me his story which I decided I would write one day. I have just found the notes I took on this day together with telegrams, letters, photographs and drawings that he sent home so have decided it is now time to try and write my book.
Two drawings I have were done by Thomas Burke at Stalag XXA entitled 'A Merry Christmas to all', and the other is by K V Wood which is just entitled 'The Camp'. I don't know where the 1st drawing was sent from, but the second one was sent from Blechhammer. I would be interested to know if anyone knows the two men who drew them.
My father was in Stalag XX1B, XX11A and V11A. He was captured on the 20 May 1940 in Albert which might be in Belgium but I'm not sure and was on the Death March from Poland to Germany. His best friend who was captured with him and went all through the POW system with him, was called Albert and I think he lived in Rotherham.Violet Walker
Cpl. Ernest Lloyd GipsonMy father, Ernie Gipson was captured at Anzio in 1944. Until his last few years, he never spoke of his time during the war, his capture or his time in Stalag 7A. After he began to share his memories, they just flooded out, and I began to appreciate even more the service he rendered to his company and to his family. He left camp before it was officially liberated, in the company of an American and a British friend. They headed for the front, despite the dangers, as he said they had figured it would mean faster processing and home if they made it to their own lines than if they waited for camp liberation and it's resulting bureaucracy. They were nearly killed a couple of times, but made it through, and were roundly yelled at by an American officer for taking such risks. Apparently the British friend saved him from the brig by stopping him from taking a swing at the American officer and the two of them actually made their way to Paris before they finally went back "into the system". I will look for more memorabilia, as I know that he valued the men he met whilst a POW, and would want their families to have any information I could post. It would mean much to find out if anyone remembered him after the war.Katelyn Lord
Pte. James Poage McClelland 350th Infantry Regiment, Coy. A 88th DivisionMy father, James P. McClelland, was an enlisted man in the US Army and served the last seven months of World War II as a prisoner in Stalag VII A, Moosburg, Germany.
His brief military career took him from basic training in Texas, on a victory ship across the Atlantic to Napoli, then slowly up through Italy, above Florence, where he went from one replacement camp to another. Being 35 years old, he got the feeling he would never be called to the front.
The situation changed. In early October of 1944, thousands of troops were pulled from the Italian front to participate in the invasion of Southern France. But the battle in Italy against the Germans and the formidable Gothic Line continued. Everyone was called to duty, including company clerks and older GIs, like my Dad. Moving into battle for Pvt. James P. McClelland was the beginning of what could have been the end.
On his third day of combat, he was captured and his seven months of being a POW began. His experiences were unusual. Each day was a battle for survival. For him it was a happy ending. He survived.
On his return to civilian life, he began writing about his experiences. He worked nights, putting his experiences on legal-sized yellow pads. He hired a typist. He revised and revised. He sent his manuscript to several publishers and started a collection of rejection slips. Despite his limited Ozark education and lack of writing skills, his story was real. Long after his death, I reread the manuscript and decided it should be published, if for no other reason than to preserve McClelland family history. It took me three years to retype his manuscript, edit it, research changes and make two visits to Europe. I visited a museum in Moosburg north of Munich where his Stalag VIIA was located. I walked the streets of Munich where Dad had dodged bombs dropped by Allied planes. I sipped beer in Lowenbrau, the big brewery where my father had hidden in the basement during air raids. I finally published Name, Rank and Serial Number in 2005.Tom McClellland
Pierre Chupin 403é Régiment de PionniersMy father, Pierre Chupin, was released from Stalag 7A, on the 29th of April 1945, by Capt. FA John S Martino, Jr.Annie Chupin
Cpl. Gordon Leslie Hines 235 Field Park Coy. Royal EngineersGordon Hines was called up for war-time military service on 16th October 1939 to Royal Engineers, army number 1184039. He joined A Company, 1st Motor Depot (believed to be based in Tyneside). He was posted to Aldershot to join 50th Motor Division (later to become 50 th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division), 235 Field Park Company as driver on 13th of December 1939. He was posted to France as part of British Expeditionary Force, on the 23rd of January 1940 part of British 2 Corps, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. They were evacuated from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo on 1st of June 1940, swimming out to waiting small boats. Gordon rejoined 235 Field Park Company on 29 June 1940,and was appointed Acting L/Cpl 13th July 1940. He was in hospital from the 1st to 18th October 1940. He attended the 8th Corps Vehicle maintenance course from 10th of March 1941 to 31st ofMarch 1941. He was then appointed Acting Corporal on the 15th of April 1941. The unit embarked for Egypt on the 21st of May 1941 as part of Middle East Forces where they disembarked on the 10th of July 1941. Gordon was appointed Acting Sergeant on the 19th of July 1941. Embarked 25th July 1941 for Cyprus, disembarked 26th July 1941 and was in hospital from the 2nd to 30th of September 1941. They moved from Cyprus to Palestine in January 1942 then moved to Syria on the 21st of January 1942. They made another move from Syria to Egypt on the 14th of February 1942.
Libya was captured on the 28th of May 1942 and Gordon was posted as missing in Western Desert. He was confirmed as a PoW on 30th of May 1942, in Italian hands. He was held in Italy, Campo PG 65 at Gravina near Bari (holding camp) then moved to PG 53 near Sforzacosta on east coast. He was transferred to Germany by train in July 1943 to Stalag IV-B 50 km north of Dresden, Germany, for three weeks, and given PoW number 221441. He then transferred to Stalag VIII-B (later called 344) in Lamsdorf, Poland (then Silesia) on 9th of August 1943 and joined Working Party E769, Heydebreck, Poland (IG Farben chemical plant, Blechhammer South) on 23rd of September 1944.
The POW's from Gordon's camp commenced the "Long March" from E769 on 22nd January 1945, through Poland, Czechoslovakia and south west Germany. They arrived at Stalag XIII-D, Nuremburg on 28th March 1945. They left Stalag XIII-ID on 2nd April 1945 marching south from Nuremburg, believed to be towards Moosburg POW camp. It is believed that Gordon escaped from column and was hidden in farmhouse during American bombardment. He was liberated by Americans on the 25th of April 1945 at Pietenfeld. He departed in a car given by Americans on 27th of April 1945, and drove north through Wurzberg, Frankfurt and Coblenz to Aachen on the Dutch/Belgian border. He transferred to Antwerp and Brussels on 30th April 1945 and boarded Lancaster bomber in Brussels and arrived in UK 2nd of May 1945. On the 12th of July 1945 posted to 2 Div Transport Unit. He was Posted to 1 Batt RAOC for UK service from 2nd May 1945 and was given release leave on the 26th January 1946. Before being discharged on the 13th of May 1946 going in the royal army reserves.Richard Hines.
Pvt. Miles Richard Nix 3 Battalion, Co I 168th Infantry Regiment.My father joined the Army in 1941. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor the US declared war on Japan and immediately after Germany declared war on the US. America entered the war with the invasion of North Africa and Daddy was one of the soldiers in the first invasion. He group landed at Algiers, Algeria. He was later captured at Faid Pass in February 1943 by the Germans under the command of the "Dessert Fox", Erwin Rommel.
They were marched to Tunis where they were held in a fenced in compound, burning under the African sun during the day and digging holes in the sand at night to keep warm during the cold nights. They were sent to Stalag VIIA, which was a staging area for the POW's and then sent out to his permanent camp at Stalag IIIB.
He was required to go out on work details and worked building an electric plant. The men in the camp had some very rough conditions. They had little food. They got a cup of Ersatz coffee for breakfast, waterey soup for lunch, and one loaf of Black Sawdust Bread for supper which had to be divided between 6 men. It was a while before the Red Cross parcels began arriving to the camp. The parcels were kept outside the compound and overseen by the Germans. When they received them, they had often been gone through and some food and other things had been taken.
Occasionally Hitler's SS would visit the camp and they were very fearsome. Even the German guards were afraid of them. He was a POW for 26 months. When the Germans heard the guns of the Allied Army moving closer and closer, they quickly marched the POW's away from front lines with little preparation for the march. They had little food or water and snow was on the ground. They would stay in barns and whatever shelter they could. Daddy once stayed in a chicken coup. At some point while on this march, Daddy and some others escaped and held up in a barn hoping to get to the American troops. When they awoke it was to the sound of tanks. They feared they had been recaptured, but it was the Russians who found them and helped them to return to American control. Freed POW's were given priority on air transport coming back home. He was sent to a hospital in Georgia for a while and then sent to Miami, Florida to recoup. It was a very trying time in his life.Sandra N. Dean
Benjamin LaForest Edmonds Coast Artillery CorpsMy father, Benjamin LaForest Edmonds, was captured in Italy trying to take Mt.Belvedere. He was taken by boxcar to Stalag 7a. Like many men he did not talk much about his experiences there. He did talk about trading his Red Cross cigarettes for food; and how he was plagued by lice. He was at the camp when it was liberated.
If anyone remembers him I would love to hear from you.Nancy Edmonds Paull
Pte. Ernest Roberts Kings Shropshire Light InfantryMy father, Ernie Roberts served in the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. I do not have much information about him, but I do know that he was a POW (POW Number: 87181) in Stalag VII-A Camp, Moosburg An Der Isar, Bavaria, Germany.
Any further information would be of interest.Ian Roberts
Cpl. Harold James Daum Company C 805th Tank Destroyer Btn.Jim Daum was captured at Kasserine Pass and taken to #66 Capuia, Italy on the 25th of Feb 1943 and was held there until the 8th of March. He arrived at Stalag 7a on the 12th of March and on the 22nd was moved to Stalag 3b where he was held until the 1st of February 1945. On the 10th he was moved to Stalag 3a. He was released by the Russians on the 23rd of April 1945 and died in Germany after the war on the 1st of November 1947.James Daum
Pte. Albert Conn Fields 2/11 Btn.Albert Fields, my great uncle, was born in Sheffield, England. He later followed his sisters and their husbands to West Australia, arriving in Perth at the age of 21. He enlisted in Perth WA for service on 20th May 1940. He gave his birth date as 21st November 1914, yet on a 1911 Census for Sheffield it states he is two years old then, so his actual birth was 1908!
His battalion was sent to the Middle East, to Greece and then to Crete, where he was captured in 1941. He was sent to Stalag VIIA and then later to Stalag VIIIB where he, with so many others, are nearly worked to death in German work camps. Another member of my family who I am so proud of.Linda Chapman
Stkr. Harold Siddall HMS RepulseMy dad, Harold Siddall, was held in Arbeitslager 2780A. He was captured on Crete. 2780A was a work camp in Pasing, which is a suburb of Munich. They were employed repairing train tracks, building drains and moving goods between trains at the station. You can read my Dad's account at http://www.naval-history.net/WW2MemoirAndSo00.htmBarbara Roche
Cpl Robert Sheard 7th Btn Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light InfantryMy grandad Robert Sheard, served in the 2nd World War, I think with the 7th Battalion of the Ox & Bucks but cannot be sure. He has only talked once about his time serving in the war about 10 or 11 years ago for a project my son was doing at primary school, and this is where all my information has come from. I am unsure where he served for certain and have no idea of the dates but he did mention Palestine. I am sure he was in Egypt and somewhere in the Suez canal area as I have photos of him there dated 1942.
He definitely served in Italy as he was captured in Rimini in 1944 and was shocked when I realised he'd been a prisoner of war. He was taken to Stalag VII-A located at Moosburg an der Isar in Bavaria, a journey that took 3 days in the back of a cattle cart. He was liberated by General Patton on his way to Berlin in April 1945. He was demobbed soon after and home either just before or after his 25th birthday in June 1945, but I have a photo of him in an army uniform in 1946 with CPL Berry, Bateson and Smallman taken in Plymouth.
If anyone has information, photos or stories in connection with my grandad or the 7th Ox & Bucks can please get in touch. I would really like to know more about his time serving in the army, particularly the people he served with before, during and after the war.Andrea Baldwin
Peter Williams King's Royal Rifle CorpsI was in the King's Royal Rifle Corp, taken prisoner on Crete in 1941. I was sent to Stalag 7A Moosberg and later to 8B until the end of the war. If anyone remembers me, would they please contact me. I have some photos of other POWs, mainly Australians and New Zealanders and a couple of IDs if anyone is interested in seeing them.Pete Willkiams
Robert DavisMy father, Robert Davis served in WWII. He was a POW at Stalag VIIA and VIIB. He was only 18 years of age when he was captured. He wrote a short essay on his memories as a POW, which I found recently among my mother's effects.Pat LaRocca
Paul Beebe 4th Field AmbulanceMy father, Paul Beebe, was a Canadian Army medic (4th Field Ambulance) and was taken prisoner in Italy while retrieving wounded. He was a POW at Stalag 7A Mooseburg, Germany. He recalls volunteering for a mission in which 83 emaciated French women were taken from Mauthausen, driven through Switzerland and turned over to the French. He didn't weigh much more than 100 lbs at the time, but he carried one woman to the water pump and he didn't think she weighed half of his weight. He wonders if any of these women survived the horrors of Mauthausen and were able to make any kind of life for themselves.Phyllis Thompson
Howard G Crissman 454th Bomb Group, 15th AAF 739th SqdnI was a member of 454th Bomb Group, 15th AAF, 739th Sqdn stationed near Cerginola, Italy from August to December 1944. On my 30th mission on 27th December I went down over Bruck, Austria. I was then a POW in Stalags 13d and 7a until liberated on 29th April 1945. I was a tail gunner on a B24 (a great plane). All except the engineer got out safely. I lost one-third to one-half of my body weight in four and a half months on a 700 calorie (or less) diet. I retuned to the USA on 5th June 1945.Howard G Crissman
Floyd Calhoun 85 Div. 339th Infantry Rgt.My father is Floyd Calhoun, 339th Infantry, 85 Division. He was a POW in Stalag 7a in 1944 and 1945. He was a tall red-headed guy from Georgia and is trying to find some of his older friends including P. Philipp Wang. Please email me if you remember him.Michael Calhoun
PFC. Rolland E. Steele InfantryMy wife and I are investigating what her father Rollie Steele endured at Stalag 7A and it has been a very interesting endeavour. He was a prisoner from 17th December 1944 to 14th June 1945, which does not agree with the liberation of 29th April 1945 by American forces, but this information is what we received from the VA. Obviously it took time to get them out of there since there were 80,000 prisoners (six weeks from 29th April to 14th June). My wife never heard anything about his time in the prison camp because, as others said, he would not speak about it at all. He died very young (49 years old) so unfortunately I never had the honour to know him and that definitely would have been a wonderful experience.
H. G. Crissman 454th Bomb GroupI served with the 454th Bomb Group, 15th AAF, based near Cerignola, Italy from August to 27th December 1944. I was a tail-gunner on B24 `Thunder Mist' which was lost to AA fire over Bruck, Austria on our 30th mission. I was in POW camps in Frankfurt, Wetzler and Nuremburg and walked to Stalag 7a Moosburg in mid April 1945. Nuremburg had to be the worst camp in Germany (old 13d) There was no heat and little food.H. G. Crissman
Fus. John Leathem 1st Battalion Royal Irish FusiliersMy father John Leathem enlisted on 19th of June 1941 with the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Ballykilner Camp in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. On 15th of November 1943 he was posted to the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers joining them at San Salvo in Italy. He fought with his regiment until 18th of June 1944 while advancing with the 56 Recce Group advance heading North of Orvieto towards Lake Trasimene. Withdrawn from the front he would spend the summer recuperating in Southern Italy before rejoining his regiment on 16th September 1944 while they were preparing in Taranto to rejoin the battle front. The unit then saw action starting in Castel Del Rio. My father's company was one of two companies that took part in the ill fated initial attack on Monte Spaduro. After a relatively unopposed advance onto Monte Spaduro the Germans counter attacked strongly on October 20th, 1944 and and completely overran the positions of A and B companies 1st Battalion RIrF after they had ran out of ammunition. My father was one of some 40 men taken prisoner. Many of his unit did not survive the counter attack. He was transported to Stalag VII-A and held POW until liberated by the Americans on 29th of April 1945. He seldom talked about his experiences in the trenches and in the POW camp. He lived a long life after the war although sometimes in pain from his war wounds. He died peacefully of natural causes on St. Patricks Day 1994 at the age of 84.Trevor Leathem
S/Sgt. Leslie Bowness Read Royal Army Ordance CorpsMy father was a prisoner in Stalag VIIA and Stalag 383. He was captured on Crete in June 1941. Whilst in 383 he made wigs for the theatre productions, `Mikado', etc.Richard Read
Cyril CleworthMy uncle, Cyril Cleworth, was a POW in Stalag 7a.K. Featherstone
Frank FinchumMy dad, Frank Finchum, was at Stalag 7A. He made stoves to sell to other POWs. Does anyone remember him?Tresa Finchum
Asael LymanMy father was Asael Lyman. He escaped from Stalag 7a shortly before the end of the war. I would like to hear from anyone who knew him. He passed away in 1984.David M. Lyman
Pte. Kenneth JonesMy father, Pte. Kenneth Jones, was a medic in WWII. He was captured and placed in Stalag 7A. He was highly intelligent and was studying to be a doctor when he was drafted into the war. The German officials in the camp made my father the `Man of Confidence' over the American soldiers. It was a horrible experience for him, but I was fortunate to listen to his stories about Stalag 7A. Just before the camp was liberated, he signed a document that claimed that some SS officers at the camp were only prison guards. The SS was sent to the camp, under orders from Adolf Hitler, to execute all of the POWs if Germany lost the war. If these SS officers were captured by the American or British Armies, they would themselves be executed. So, my father, seeing no other solution, signed the document, thus ending any more bloodshed at Stalag 7A. My father received no medals, not even a `thank you' from anyone for what he did.Andrew Jones
Claude TurnerMy father, Claude Turner, was an Australian soldier. He was captured on Crete and became a POW in Italy and Stalag 7A Moosburg, Germany. I am trying to find a contact for Howard Reid, father of Ian Reid, who was a fellow POW.Nola Alexander
Cpl. Leonardo CoppolaMy father was a POW from September 1944 until April 1945 in Stalag 7a.Tony Coppola
WO Norman William SimmondsMy dad WO Simmonds was a bomb aimer/navigator. He joined the RAF on 27th October 1941. He was shot down on 6th September 1943 and was a POW in Stalag VIIA from 16th Septmber 1943; Dulag-Luft from 20th September 1943; Stalag Luft from 10th October 1943; Stalag 357 (Thorne) from July 1044; Stalag 357 August 1944. He died in a car accident in 1973.Dave Simmonds
Tom Butcher Welsh RegimentMy father, Tom Butcher, was captured on Crete and was sent to Stalags 7A and 8B. He was also on the 1,000 mile death march from Poland. He hardly said a thing about his time as a POW.John Butcher
2nd Lt. John J. Scott 338th Bomb Sqdn.My father never talked much about the war or his time as a POW, most men of that time didn't say much. It is only now after his passing, while completing the family tree, that the whole story is known. Jack Scott enlisted on 29th January 1942 at the age of 23. After flight training in the US, his group (96th BG, 338th BS) was based at Snetterton Heath, England on 4th July 1943. A little over three months later on 8th October 1943 at 15:10, flying at an altitude of 22,400 feet over Bremen, Germany, his plane went down. Those who could, bailed out. In his Missing Air Crew report he wrote: the plane crashed 15 KM SW of Weingbergen, Germany. He was the navigator, he had the maps, so he knew exactly where it went down. They flew B-17F - Serial Number 42-30373, Lucky Lady III. The POWs were taken to Stalag 7A, Moosburg, Bavaria 48-12 (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse 48011, Work Camp 3368 Munich 48-11) where they stayed until liberated by American Forces on 29th June 1945.
The Crew of the Lucky Lady III was- Pilot: Warren Jones; Co-pilot: Jim Fisher; Navigator: John Scott; Bombardier: Elmer Smith; Flight engineer/top turret gunner: John Sisul; Ball turret gunner: Frank LaPorta (6 Prisoner of War); Radio Operator: Leon Pensack; Waist gunner: Art Townley; Waist gunner: Bob Bassett; Tail gunner: Art Neilsen; foto-John Black[HQ Sqd 48th ASR] (5 Killed in Action); flak, crashed Weingbergen. God bless everyone of you Ggntlemen.M Scott
Pte. Frederick George Ninow B Coy 2nd Transvaal ScottishMemories of Frederick George Ninow - North Africa - ACROMA< GAZALA TOBRUK Submitted by nephew Gregory Ninow'since his passing.
There were rumblings of war in Europe, Hitler was taking over little countries and this greatly upset me. I decided I needed to go to war to help stop this mad man. I was only 17 and when I tried to enlist. The officer told me to go and join the boy scouts. I went around the block and went to see him again, this time I said I was 19, and he said “that’s better” and I was enlisted in the 2nd division of the Transvaal Scottish attached to the British 8th Army.
This was the 5th of August 1940. We trained in a place called Zonderwater near Pretoria. We left South Africa on the 19th April 194l on a 42,000 ton ship called the Mauretania which had been converted for military use. I was thoroughly sea sick and spent most of my time on deck; when I had to eat I would take a deep breath and dash downstairs where the food was, grab what I could, and then back upstairs, it was a miserable trip. The ship stopped at Haydon on the Indian Ocean to refuel, we then sailed through the Red Sea to Port Said and docked at Alexandria, Egypt, on the North African Coast.
We traveled into the desert about 17 miles where we joined with the British Forces and received further training in desert fighting. That night the German Air Force came over and dropped their bombs; we rookies made for our trenches only to discover that the bombs were being dropped 17 miles away on Alexandria but it sure sounded like they were being dropped in our trenches.
Life in the desert was very challenging. We dug a hole in the sand to act as a kitchen, a couple of days later we were standing watching this thin black line from the sky down to the sand little realizing it was the Gumseen Winds (Egyptian word); within 30 minutes we were in the middle of a massive sand storm. We quickly crawled into our tents and when the storm was over we had to dig ourselves out as the sand had covered all the tents. We did not find the kitchen again and there was sand in everything even our food, I think this is the reason I do not like to go camping.
Our food was very meager and only a pint of water a day for drinking, shaving, washing etc. If we complained the British soldiers would say “Hey mate, don’t you know there is a war on”.
We served in different lines of defense and eventually got close enough to the enemy and went on fighting patrols. We built the El Alamein defenses that would eventually stop the Germans advance; it was important to keep this line open because it was situated near the port which was used to bring the soldiers, food and guns, If Germany had taken that port they would have had total control of the area and they already had north of the Mediterranean and Italy. We had to cling to Malta as it was a vital spot. We patrolled right along the Egyptian Coast, Mersa Matruh 240 km (149 miles) west of Alexandria and 222 km from Sallum and 145 km (91 miles) west from Tobruk, and Darnah (also Spelled Derna), west of Tobruk.
We got leave twice during my stay in the area. Once I went into Alexandria, and the second time I went to Cairo. The trip to Cairo gave me the opportunity to go through the Sphinx and the Pyramid, to ride a camel and observe the Egyptian way of life. There was an epidemic of flies that would settle around any moist area of the face; the poor little children had to pull the flies away from their eyes if they wanted to see, and their nostrils and sides of the mouth were also full of flies. The male children were always trying to rent their sisters out to the soldiers.
We were guarding Tobruk one of the main shipping areas. The Germans had already taken the Australian section of the army as prisoners and we were sent to replace them. The Indian section of the army went on patrol outside the gap with 16 infantry tanks; they were captured by Rommel and his forces that put on the Indian uniforms and used the tanks to go through the gap and took control of it.
The Germans surrounded us and we had no defense; our officers had slipped away in the night knowing the end was there. We were left with just the non-commissioned officers who informed us in the morning of the 21st June 1942 that they had surrendered. We were told to destroy as quickly as possible anything we could lay our hands on including the canned food, this aggravated the Germans who marched us 25 miles without stopping to the coastal area with no food or water.
When we arrived at the sea they allowed us to swim in the ocean and the salty sea water increased our thirst. When we finally arrived at the camp they gave us no food or water in an effort to destroy our morale and hopefully stop any desire to escape. This created a certain attitude in my mind and I became somewhat rebellious and after two days I said to my friend “Please come with me; we walked out of the camp, passed two German guards to an enclosure opposite us where the Germans kept their water supplies, picked up a two and four gallon cans of water and walked straight out past the guards who were so shocked they did not even stop us. We shared the water with as many as we could; I think I got about a half a cup of water out of it.
We were then taken from Tobruk to Benghazi where there were two tanks of water, one for the white soldiers and one for the black soldiers. The men had not had water for many days and some of the white soldiers became frenzied, they attacked the tap and tore it right out of the tank causing the water to run into the desert. These men then made for the tank of water that had been allocated for the black soldiers who said "if you want water behave like gentlemen and form a line and we will see that you get water". I was so disgusted at the behavior of the men that I went to my cover and decided it would be better to die than to act like an animal.
We remained in the desert for about 40 days after which we were taken to Italy on Italian cargo ships. They put us in the hold of the ship like a lot of animals and wired the hatch down so that we could not get out; if the ship had been hit there would have been no hope for us. This was a terrible experience as there were no toilets and after about three days the smell became unbearable; add to this my nausea and my sea motion problem which did not help matters.
After a few days we arrived at Brindisi on the western Italian coast, we were transported in cattle trucks to Bari and then to a prison camp called P.G.54 - Fara in Sabina located in the town of just west of Rome (Fara in Sabina is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Rieti in the Italian region Latium, located about 40 km northeast of Rome and about 25 km southwest of Rieti. The Camp was in the town of Passo Corese) - See Appendix for more on P.G. 54
Our food was very meager and consisted of about 7 grains of rice and a quarter leaf of cabbage boiled in water. If one man received more grains of rice than another he went to the grievance committee to complain, we received a slice of bread a day and once a week we got a little piece of butter and a little piece of cheese. Occasionally we got packages from the Red Cross (most of the packages were stolen by the Italians).The packages weighed about I0 lbs. and were divided into four. The dividing would almost cause murder and they would count every raisin. We were not used to much food so when one man ate his entire share at once it killed him. Another man was so hungry he ate grass and died.
We lost so much weight that one day when the men were taking a shower l started laughing - they looked like an H. I happened to look down at myself and stopped laughing as I looked the same. Although we were weak three of us tried to keep our minds clear and our bodies fit by wrestling on a fast mat, taking cold showers and keeping our clothes clean we did everything necessary to prevent us from falling apart. Some of the POW’s sat on rocks near the camp gates day after day; being curious I would ask them "Hey Jack what are you thinking about?" They would answer "Nothing", “What are you looking at", answer "Nothing”, they were like the walking dead and we called them "Gloompers".
The Italian soldiers were a joke. They were afraid of us. One day they had to count us three of the prisoners had escaped. They made us march around the camp between the inner and outer fences. We did it once and when they ordered us to do it again we decided that was enough. The Italian Officer in charge of the soldiers told them to load up their rifles and fix bayonets and instructed them to charge. We were completely at their mercy as we were tightly hemmed in between the two fences. We said “come and try”. They put down their bayonets and stood like scared rabbits. We just walked back to the main camp.
I was in this camp for about twenty-three months. On 11th September 1943 Italy capitulated to the Allied forces. When we woke up in the morning there were no guards as they had all gone away. During the period before the Germans arrived to take over the camp twenty of us walked away from the camp. The next day the Germans recaptured 18 of the men who were down by the river enjoying themselves and took them back to camp. Tom and I were watching this and at the first opportunity we took off walking away from the camp in a westerly direction.
My friend Tom spoke fluent Italian as he was married to a lady from Malta who spoke Italian. We arrived at a freeway and I decided to go across first to see if everything was O.K., as I stepped onto the freeway I saw a German convoy coming around the bend; I jumped back quickly not realizing I was over a ravine and fell straight down through the trees ripping my clothes and body as I fell. When I arrived at the bottom I was scratched all over and naked. Tom went to look for some clothes for me and brought back some pants and a shirt that were on a line near by. We were trying to get to the Allied lines. Some of the Italian people were friendly but I cannot remember what all we ate during the seven months.
One evening we visited a couple of the Italians we knew in a village, we knocked, they said "Avanti" (come in) as we opened the door we saw two German soldiers at the table so we took off. Another time we were at the table eating when two German soldiers came in and sat down to eat, there was nothing we could do, fortunately they took us for Italians as every one was speaking broken Italian, it was a scary experience.
One day a lady had just killed a pig and there were sausages hanging in the rafters; she offered us something to eat but when we saw her pour pigs blood in the pan we took off as hungry as we were. Another person asked us if we were hungry and when we said yes she told us there was a vineyard down the road where we could pick some grapes and a stream where we could get water. Another time a lady offered us some food which consisted of polenta (Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal) with fresh goat’s cheese on the top and we got up and ran. The Italians would scrub the table and pour the polenta (like a stiff porridge or what South Africans would call mealie meal) directly on the table and then pour a tomatoe sauce over it. Each person was given a fork and you cut out pieces in front of you and ate it.
When we left camp the weather was still warm but we were not adequately dressed for the severe winter as it progressed; we were dressed in very light weight summer clothes and not suitable for traveling in the snow of the mountains. We would have to wade through frozen streams, sleep in shepherds’ cabanas on straw and have to break the ice off our clothes in the morning. One evening after visiting some friends they gave us two paper sacks; we had not traveled far when a German soldier asked us for our papers. We replied in Italian that we had left them at home. He wanted to know what was in the paper sacks and we told him that it was just some old clothes. The soldier did not have a flash light and ordered us to report to the work camp the next morning with our papers. As we left one of us replied O.K. in English, he realized we were not Italian and called "halt" but by then we had run off to the cave we were staying in which was under the road and covered by trees. When we opened the paper sacks we found they contained German uniforms and German food. We buried the uniforms and ate the food. If we had been caught with these things we would have been shot.
The next day a battalion of German soldiers with dogs were searching for us, fortunately the dogs were on leashes making it awkward for them to find us. They spent half the day looking for us then went away. We continued up the mountain until we arrived at an abandoned monastery where we took refuge for some time. Tom was a Catholic, but to protect us he said we wanted to be Catholics and needed god-fathers who he knew would not betray us.
In March 1944 at four o’clock one morning I awoke to the sound of "raus" to find a gun at my head. Some Italian had sold us to the Germans for four thousand lira each. The Germans took us to a village where they interrogated us. I received such a shock that I lost my memory. They took us back to the Italian Camp. The Allies were advancing so they put us in lines of five and marched us out of the camp; when one fellow tried to escape they shot him in both shoulders and forced him to keep his arms up. We marched about 25 miles and those who tried to escape or were even a foot out of line were shot dead. The next morning they marched us back again and we could see how many they had killed. They had not moved the dead and the convoys had run over them and all that was left were their uniforms.
On our return to camp they prepared us to go to Germany in cattle trucks. The first train of P.O.W’s (prisoners of war) was blown up as they crossed a bridge by the Allied forces, who did not know what they there were in the cattle trucks. Some of my fiends were in that train. We went from Turin through Insbruck, Bremmer Pass to Muizeburg (actually Moosburg) near Munich to the camp known as Stalag VIIA (See Appendix for Stalag VIIA).
Some of us were transferred as a working party to Munich where we stayed on a train going from on Marshall Yard to another eventually staying at a school at Versailler Strasse (See Appendix - Google Earth Images) which was next to a Marshall Yard. The Germans asked for someone who understood German to assist in getting the rations for the prisoners. I put up my hand and when they discovered I could not speak German they put a luger to my head and said you have six weeks to learn the language. Of course I learned in a hurry.
This assignment gave me a bit of freedom as I traveled with a guard around the city. The bombing of Munich by the Allies was very heavy and everyday the German guard and I would go to a Shelter during the Air Raid; this one day during an air raid he was talking to a friend and decided we were not going into the shelter, I was not very happy but he carried the gun and I had no option but to stand while he visited with his friend. I suppose without knowing it the Lord was protecting me as the shelter had five direct hits and everyone in it were killed. I seemed to have someone looking after me as bombs were flying all over the station. We were speaking to a party of about 50 Italians and had just moved away from them when they took a direct hit were all killed; around another corner a bomb came through the ceiling and did not explode.
One night I was brazen enough to get in civilian clothes and take a French girl who was forced labor to the Atlantic Palace to a concert. There where German Office all over the place. When I returned to camp I was whistling one of the tunes from the concert; The German Officer in charge called me and asked where I learned that tune – apparently it was a new song. They interrogated me and said they had already interrogated the girl but did not get any information from her. Of course I lost my privileges and had to go out on work parties after that. We went to various areas where the Allies had bombed to clean up. Having learned the language I could understand what was going on and volunteer for the right places to go.
The skies over Munich, Germany, were black with Allied planes dropping, bombs. It looked like Munich was on fire with shaking buildings that crumbled. Three quarters of Munich was destroyed. After the air raids the German soldiers and prisoners would bring large boxes of the dead who had been blown up to a mortuary where I worked, we had to put the parts together and put them in boxes and bury them. The ground was frozen and we dug trenches 3 foot deep to put the boxes in. This was terrible work as the stench of burnt flesh is awful.
The German citizens could request prisoners of war to help repair the damages of the air raids. An old lady (I called her Hackle tooth as she only had one) signed me out to kill a rabbit; I told her she was crazy that I could not kill a rabbit. We became friends and she would sign me out, she would lend me her husbands bicycle and we would ride around Munich looking at the damage done during the air raids. One evening she signed me out telling me that her friend across the river had some American soldiers in her house. She called the friend who let me speak to one of the American soldiers who said he would liberate us in the morning. Sure enough, early next morning they were there. It was a strange sight- one minute the prisoners of war were peeling potatoes with the Germans having the guns, the next the position was reversed and the German soldiers were peeling potatoes and the prisoners of war had the guns.
I was released 7.30 a.m. on May 6th 1945, and weighed about 128 lbs when I arrived home. We left Munich on a DC3 and went to Brussels for a day and arrived in England on the 28th of May 1945. On my return to South Africa the airplane stopped at Khartoum in the Sudan to refuel. As I walked away from the plane I bumped into someone in the dark only to discover that it was my brother Raymond whom I had not seen for 5 years. I resumed my journey home and arrived in Johannesburg on the 10th of June 1945.
At that time my family lived in Cape Town and my father had also joined up, I had not seen him for 5 years as well. I went into the Victoria Hotel to have dinner and as I went through the revolving doors to my utter amazement I bumped into my father. I then went to Cape Town by train to see my family after that long absence.
Summary of Official War Record of Fredrick George Ninow Frederick George Ninow
Union Defence Force 2nd South African Division serving under English 8th Army
- Rank Private
- Company B Coy
- Force Number 221527
- Age 09-01-1924 19 ½ Years
- Enlisted 03-08-1940
- Embarked Durban S.S.Mauretania 08-06-1941
- Disembarked Suez 20-06-1941
- Confirmed Missing in action 20-06-1942
- Confirmed captured – Tobruk 21-06-1942
- POW – Italy PG 54 Fara in Sabina (town of Passo Carreso)
- Escaped after Italian capitulation 8th September 1943
- Captured interned in German Stalag VIIB (located Moosburg near Munich)
- POW # 132847
- Re-Patriated 15-05-1945
- Total Time 4 years and 276 days
Medals: Serial 7381, North Africa Star 1941-1942, 1939-1945 Star, The War Medal 1939-1945, Africa Service Medal
Albert LangI was a POW first at the Oberursel interrogation center outside Frankfurt, then to a hospital in Obermassfeld, then to a recuperation hospital in Meinengen, Germany. From there I went to Nuremberg. Stalag13D and then on the march from Nuremberg to Moosburg Stalag 7a where we were liberated on 29th April 1945.Albert Lang
Pete Williams King's Royal Rifle CorpsI was captured on Crete in 1941 while serving with the King's Royal Rifle Corps and spent the next couple of years at Moosberg (Stalag 7A), before moving on to Stalag 8B in 1943, where I remained until the end of the war. I would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers me. I still have a number of photographs of fellow prisoners taken at Moosberg and a couple of German IDs on William Robinson of the 2nd KRRC, and another POW, Ronald John Jenkins No. 31861.
I knew many Australian and New Zealand POWs. I recently read Harold Siddals' biography on the web, which included his recollections of life in both these camps. An excellent read about the realities of camp life.Pete Williams
William Robinson 2nd Btn. King's Royal Rifle CorpsWilliam Robinson was a POW in Stalag 7A.
Ronald John JenkinsRonald Jenkins was a POW at Stalag 7A.
Melesio V. MartinezMy father was in Stalag 7A from 1944 through to the end of the war. His name was Melesio V. Martinez and he lived in Karnes City, Texas. I would like to find information about him. My dad passed away before I could get him to talk about his war experiences in more detail than he did. He was a very decorated soldier. Can anyone help?
Have you visited Moosberg Online? It is an excellent site which covers the development of Stalag 7A through the war and after.Minny Martinez
Luis G. Santiago 9th Infantry DivMy father, Luis G. Santiago, was an American POW at Stalag 7A in Moosberg from 1944 onwards. He was in the US 9th Infantry Division and was captured in Belgium. He was born in Puerto Rico but lived in New York City before and after the war. He died in 1997. I'd appreciate any information about him or the camp.
Have you visited Moosberg Online? It is an excellent site which covers the development of Stalag 7A through the war and afterwards.Louis Santiago
Rudolph "Rudy" DeBiaseMy father was a POW at Stalag 7A. Does anyone remember him? He was a medic, held for nine months, and was liberated by advancing US troops.Randy
Livio PaoliniMy uncle was an Italian policeman called Livio Paolini, in Castelgiorgio in the province of Terni (Umbria). He was arrested about 8th September 1943 and interned in Stalag 7A, where he died on 26th December 1944 from TB. I do not believe this version of events because I have a letter dated 20th December 1944 where it says he's OK and there's no mention of his illness.
My family was able to recover his remains in 2002 and he was buried in the cemetery of the country of birth of his uncle, but I would like to know the truth about the cause of his death. Can anyone help me with my research?Francesco Paolini
Urban Gerrard "Jack" Ryan 2/11th Btn.My uncle, Urban Gerrard `Jack' Ryan was a member of the 2/11th AIF, captured on Crete on 6th June 1941 and interned first at Stalag VIIA, then transferred to Stalag VIIIB in October 1941. Does anyone remember him? Does anyone know which route the death march took when he left VIIIB.Lorraine Bush
Pte. G. D. Curnow Duke of Wellington's Rgt.My grandfather was captured at Anzio and taken to Stalag 4B in 1944. He was also at Stalag 7A. Does anyone remember him? He served first in the Essex Regiment.Kerry
Herbert Victor StockwellMy grandad was captured near Tobruk and sent to Stalag 7a.Ian
Driver John James Knight Royal Army Ordnance CorpsMy father was a driver in the RAOC and was captured at Tobruk. He was sent to Italy and on to Stalag 7a.Chris Knight
Cpl. Bert Plunkett 4627217 Duke of Wellington's Rgt.Cpl. Plunkett was a POW at Stalag 7A (Moosburg). POW No. 127945.
William Richard Mardon Kings Own Yorkshire Light InfantryMy great uncle, William Mardon, served with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry between 19th December 1942 and 1st December 1946. He was captured and sent to Stalag VIIA, where he refused to try to escape! He said that his German captors were decent people and treated him well. Bill also picked up the German language. He didn't like talking about his war experiences and, after reading correspondence between his brothers and sisters, you can understand the heartbreak and the atrocity of war. He died in 2005.Michael Turner
John B. Reed 85th Div. 339th Coy KJohn is my grandfather, who is deceased. He served, as far as I can tell, in the 339th Co K, 85th Div. He was captured in Italy on 5/13/44.(He may have been captured in Itri or Ninturnfront? unsure if this is correct.) He was placed in Stalag 7a and 7b on 10/28/44 to 1/11/45, according to him and freed, 5/1/45. He may have played a guitar. Looking for anyone who may have served or was imprisoned with him to complete his military history for our family.Mike Willemsen
Gnr. Thomas Frank Lynes Royal ArtilleryGunner Thomas Frank Lynes 1137679 Royal Artillery spent three years as a POW (No. 128084) in Italy and Bavaria. Records show he was in Stalag 7A. He was born in 1923 in Warwickshire, England and married in early 1942. Demobbed he was killed in an accident on a building site in October 1946. This the extent of my knowledge of my cousin Tom. I would love to find out more about his time in the Army and as a POW. If there is anybody still living that remembers Tom or anyone that has in their own research come across any details about him then I would love to hear from you. In fact I would be grateful for any help anyone can offer that would help me piece together his short life.Norina Dixon
Cpl. Albert Edward Newnham Royal FusiliersMy grandfather, Albert Edward Newnham, was POW No.127932 at Stalag 7a Moosburg (Isar).
I'm trying to find out where he was a POW before this, as this was his second camp. My mother (his daughter) thinks it was in Italy, but is unsure. She suggests he was interned with a lot of Russian troops, but again this is only a possibility.Paul Moss
PFC. Robert Lee JohnsonMy father, Robert L Johnson who, from what I have read and heard from family members, was a POW at Stalag 7A, Moosburg. He was captured on 6th September 1944 in a barn along with other soldiers and was taken prisoner. He was released in 1945. I am trying to find pictures of him in the army or in the POW camp. At first, he was assumed to be missing or killed in action until the camp was liberated. Then, when he gave his name, it was realized he had been alive all along. If anyone remembers him, or was with him, or knows where I can find some army or POW pictures of him, please send a message to me. Any help will be appreciated.Tim Johnson
2nd Lt. Charles Clark Heckel 428th Fighter Squadron 474th Fighter GroupI've been researching my Grandfather's plane for over ten years, sadly he passed last fall but not before I was able to get some pieces from his crashed mount that was excavated by some nice fellows in Germany. They sent me the parts and didn't even charge mail fees. Great guys. I've tried in vain to get any photo of my Grandpop's plane, 42-68153. Here's the story.
On October 13, 1944. My Grandfather Charles Heckel and 11 other pilots left A-78 in Florennes for a mission over Germany. His group was made of 12 American P38's in the 428th Fighter Squadron, 474th fighter group. This was the second mission of the day and the 12 were on a Gladbach- Roermond- Duren run, and somewhere over the Dusseldorf area, east of the Rhine, about 2:30PM they spotted 25 FW 190's flying in three decks. A fight ensued, and soon 12 more 190's joined in. Within a matter of minutes, 6 190's and 3 P38's all crashed within about a 15 mile area.
One of the American pilots was killed, Lt Richard Holt. The other two had a collision, my Grandfather was wingman for the CO Lt Col Darling (Lt Col Darling and 2nd Lt Heckel) they both were able to bail out of their burning AC's. They were picked up immediately. Lt Colonel Henry Darling was initially caught by SS and on his knees for execution but was saved by a Wehrmacht Captain. The other pilot, Lt. Charles C. Heckel (my grandfather) was running through German farm land when he leapt a fence and went into the arms of 12 German farmers. A Wehrmacht trooper arrived shortly and Heckel and Darling were taken to a small town jail. The next day they went by train to an interrogation camp near Frankfurt and finally to Stalag Luft III. Eventually, those prisoners went to Moosburg freed April 29, 1945 by Patton's third Army. MACR attached.
I've spent many hours trying to find a photo of his plane. It seems to have begun at the 20thFG 55th FS then was transferred over to the 474thFG when the 20th got mustangs. I've been unable to find a photo of it in either area. Some sites say it was KI-J at 474th but I don't know boom letters from the 20th.
Any assistance would be appreciated. In addition, I've tried to find out the pilots who flew the BF 109's from that Oct 13.1944 They were from JG2 Richtofen. I know 6 were lost but not their names, again any assistance would be appreciated. I've made inquiries from Schatzucher.de and face book Richtofen Jagdeschwader 2 to every American site I can find. Probably have several hundred hours in the search. Any assistance in how to proceed finding: a 42-68153 Photo, story and or photos of Jagdeschwader 2 on 13th of October 1944 or the Wehrmacht account of pick up Darling and Heckel near Dusseldorf. I appreciate any assistance.Phil Johnson
Chaim Mojsze "Maxi" BrafmanMy father Maxi Brafman served under a different identity to protect his Jewish identity. The cover identity was of James Johnson. He was injured and captured in Brac Yugoslavia, on 6th of June 1944. He first arrived at Stalag 7a, transferred to Stalag 18c few weeks later. He made a few attempts to escape with a British POW by the name of Anthony Ambleton Smith an artillery officer.
Hope someone can fill me in with more information and hopefully pictures.Daphna Brafman
Spr. Roger Collinson Royal EngineersFebruary 1943
21st Feb - 04.30hrs - Moved from Bivvy area to front line between Kasserine and Thala. I went with OC as batman, runner, fighter, clerk together with HQ personnel, Bill Ford, Clark, Armitage and Tubby Bastard. Section 1 and 2 set up mortar positions, dug in and prepared to support boys of Leicesters. Tanks still retreating from Kasserine towards Thala Road. Stuck in mud - dug slit trench. Dug hole for rations and comoflaged them. We prepared for night vigil. Reported Germans approaching. 1st army tanks still retreating in valley in front of us. 19.50hrs Tried to contact brigade Headquarters (HQ) over wireless - No Contact. HQ informed that German tanks approaching about 200 yards away. No action taken. German voices on hill beyond road firing over us. Germans speaking English "Come out boys". Took most of section 1 and 2 prisoners including Ernie, Dave, Bill, O.C. Bill , Jerry and I about 21.00hrs. Left all rations. Germans anxious to get Tommy gun and ammo. Most anxious moment when I was ordered to proceed to the road with hands up expecting a bullet, but Germans proved likeable men or at least soldiers. Congregated on the road and marched about 2 miles with other troops to a compound and stayed the night. Learned we had been captured by Rommel's Africa Korps in the battle of Kasserine Pass.
Caught as POW on the 21st Feb 1943 in Tunisia
17th March - Arrived at Campo Concentramento P.G. 66
16th June - Travelling - Supposed to have travelled through Rome - Arrived at Campo Concentramento
22nd Sept 1943- Arrives at Stalag 7a
2, 3 & 4 Nov - Cold and damp Moved from Stalag VIIA (Moosburg)
Arrived Stalag XVIIA - 3.11.43 Wilflingdorf (Kaisersteinbruck) 5th Nov - Paraded for identification received first POW Number 154111.David Mottershead
Available at discounted prices.
Kriegies & Goons
James H LangKriegies & Goons is an unadorned and engaging retelling of author James H. Lang's experience as an American airman and German POW during World War II. Author Lang takes the reader from his early years as a B-25 radio operator and gunner, through his capture off Libya and journey across Axis controlled Europe, and eventual incarceration at a prison camp in Austria. It was there that a contraband camera landed in his possession, allowing him to capture the unique images of prison camp life included within these pages. Concluding with his liberation, Lang shares in his own unfiltered words the thoughts and feelings he experienced throughout his ordeal. This is as real as it gets and is a must read for anyone with an interest in World War II history.More information on:
Kriegies & Goons
To Fight For My Country, Sir
Don CaseyMr. Casey relates a compelling story of his military career, including his time in the air and time imprisoned on the ground. The letters to and from his family give insight into how an American family dealt with the tribulations of having a son in a prisoner of war camp. Well written and deserving praise, this is a fine memoir which I highly recommend.More information on:
To Fight For My Country, Sir
The Last Escape. The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Germany 1944-45
John Nichol & Tony RennellAs WW2 drew to a close, hundreds of thousands of British and American prisoners of war, held in camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, faced the prospect that they would never get home alive. In the depths of winter, their guards harried them on marches outof their camps and away from the armies advancing into the heart of Hitler's defeated Germany. Hundreds died from exhaustion, disease and starvation. The Last Escape is told through the testimony of those heroic men, now in their seventies and eighties and telling their stories publicly for the first time. A very good account of a forgotten part of the Second World War; Allied POW's caught in the final months of the Third Reich. The author's of this book have provide the reader with a detailed and moving account of what happened to the many thousands of Allied POW's caught in the final struggle for Nazi Germany towards the end of WW2.More information on:
The Last Escape. The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Germany 1944-45
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