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Those who Served
It is not possible to fully understand the history of the Second World War without refering to the forces of the Axis.
The Wartime Memories Project is purely a historical resource and the information contacted in this section is for historical educational. We are a Non Political organisation and do not support the ideas of The Third Riech, we simply present the facts.
Johnny Demshire . Wehrmacht from Ukraine)
My father was a Ukrainian POW interned at The Moor Camp, Thankerton, Lanarkshire (No 62). He called himself Johnny Demshire and I think he may have worked with shoes. Does anyone remember him?
Willie Dimter . Luftwaffe NG1 (d.1942-09-17)
Willi Dimter crashed and was killed on 17th of September 1942 during aerial combat in his C-6 at Dongen in Holland.
He is recorded as shhoting down a Whitley V over Breda on 17th August 1941. A Whitley V on 19th August, 1941, a Wellington and a Hampden over Limburg Province, Belgium, on 31st August 1941, a Wellington and a Hampden on 1st September 1941, Hampden EQ-D flown by P/O E.L. Houghton over Venlo, Holland and a Wellington on 8th November 1941.
Cpl. Ferdinand Dolezal . Luftwaffe Kampfgeschwader 53 (d.9th August 1942)
He-111 H-6 (7492) of Kampfgeschwader (Condor Legion) 53 was shot down and crashed at Worthing, Sussex on the evening of 9th August 1942. Five Germans were killed and are buried in Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery in Plot 4, Row 8:
Uffz. (Sgt) Horst Grosse-Heitmeyer (grave 242) Gefr. (L/Cpl) Guenter Gruessner (grave 243) Obergefr. (Cpl) Joachim Wolfgang Richter (grave 247) Obergefr. (Cpl) Ferdinand Dolezal (grave 245) Uffz. (Sgt) Albin Johann Adam Kielmann (grave 246)
Wilhelm Drahk . Wehrmacht from Düsseldorf)
It was shortly after Ray Noon's arrival at Stalag 2A that he came into contact with a guard by the name of Wilhelm Drahk, or “Willy” as the prisoners called him. He was quite friendly, of middle age, and walked around with a limp. Apparently he had been injured and now found himself with a permanent limp. He was a painter with three kids from the town of Deuseldorf, which coincidentally was a town that the cattle carts passed through on their way to Stalag 2A. The town had suffered a lot of loss, had been demolished to the point that “not even a mouse could find shelter from the rain”, as they told Willy, but Willy appeared surprised when the incoming prisoners told him what they’d seen.
One day, Willy suggested to Ray that he take a job at a brick factory in nearby Friedland since it was easy work. Willy was constantly trying to make life easier for the prisoners and periodically would make suggestions vital to their health and life in the camp. Ray probably would have declined the job if it were not Willy who had made the suggestion. It was known among the prisoners that Germany was forcing prisoners of war to work in armament factories thinking that allied planes would hesitate to drop their bombs knowing their own soldiers were in the factories. Since this factory was just a brick factory, Ray decided to take the job.
Willy was right. It was easy work and periodically they would receive pay. The Geneva Convention required that working POWs be given a paying wage that matched the rest of the civilian population. However, German marks were worth nothing and prisoners could not spend the money in any event. Working in the brick factory would define most of the rest of Ray’s days in the camp. The POWs were given other assignments but most prisoners worked in factories.
By March, 1945, Ray had been in the camp for about four months. Ray had continued the counting of days that he saw in the box cars by marking bars on the wall of his living unit. 150 bars meant 5 months had passed. They were working out in a field one day when Willy came over to them to inform them that Roosevelt had passed away.
“Roosevelt tot,” he said. Ray and his friends had a difficult time figuring out what “tot” meant but finally realized that this meant “dead”.
“Germany is sure to win the war now, this is our saving grace!” he said.
“That doesn’t mean that the U.S. is out of the war,” they replied.
“This will disrupt the U.S.’s position and involvement in the war,” Willy told them and then he left.
They were left alone to discuss what Willy had told them. Willy’s remarks made little sense to them. They could not understand how he could think that Roosevelt’s death would help Germany to win the war. This told them that the people in Germany were used to long term, well-establish leaders like Hitler and would misinterpret the meaning of the death of Roosevelt. They didn’t know that the vice president of the U.S. would take over the presidency and that nothing would change. If a similar situation occurred in Germany, the death of the leader meant the end of the country’s involvement in the war and perhaps a complete change in political direction for the country. This would later prove true as the death of Hitler meant the death of the Nazi party. Hitler was the Nazi party. Everyone else relied on the survival of the party, and therefore Hitler. During Ray’s entire stay at Stalag 2A, the Russians were making large advances on German territories.
During the last week of April, the Russians got so close to the camp that the guards were forced to leave the camp, all the guards except one: Willy. With the little money they had, some of the prisoners purchased a cart and ox for the prisoners that could not walk due to injuries or illnesses. Willy confronted Ray about the possibility of hitching a ride with the injured prisoners. Willy’s limp kept him from leaving the camp with the other guards and his own life was at risk if the Russians found him there.
“You too, Willy. Get on,” Ray told him.
“I’m not sure that the other guys will like a former German guard riding with them, especially if we run into German soldiers,” Willy replied.
“If any of them have a problem with it, they’ll have to deal with me,” he told Willy.
The Russian POWs joined the American POWs as well. Ray took this as a sign that getting caught by the Russians would be bad news. Even the Russians didn’t want to be found by Russian forces, so they decided to march west towards the American lines. He looked at the wounded in the cart. They looked like a disheartened, sad bunch. All of a sudden Willy spoke up:
“You all represent the best army in the world. Act like it !!” he said.
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