Greetings, POWs, Families and Friends,
The recent observance of Flag Day reminds us all of the sacrifices and patriotism of our military. Please see the link below:
Many have asked if there was going to be another SLIII Reunion in 2015. There will be a WWII Air Show near New Orleans, which seemed like something our group would like to see. It is only over one weekend in October. So plans were made very quickly to secure a hotel near there and also arrange to visit the WWII Museum in New Orleans. There will be speakers, films, banquet, sharing of memorabilia, and book sales, and more details will follow, but for now, this is notice of the dates: arriving on Wednesday, Oct. 21st and departing on Sunday morning, Oct. 25. This is much shorter notice than for the reunion in Colorado, so for anyone wanting to go, you will need to register and made travel arrangements much more quickly. This is the busiest month in that area for hotels, so we were lucky to get a hotel. A free hot breakfast buffet has been negotiated, normally not offered, and each room has a refrigerator and microwave. A grocery, Whole Foods, is close by adjacent to the hotel in a large mall where there are many restaurants. The hotel will also serve meals paid for individually. Rooms can be booked now and cancelled later if necessary. Ask for the Stalag Luft III rate. This rate holds for those wanting to come early and stay later also.
Hotel: Best Western Metairie – 800-277-7575
We hope that many of our POWs can attend, but we realize that it is increasingly difficult to travel for many. Over the years, our reunions have become family and researcher events also, and we are grateful for all those who attend and all those POWs who have attended for years. Hope to see all of you in New Orleans. The airport is: MSY – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, LA.
Full agenda for the reunion will be sent out as quickly as possible. In the meantime, here are two links to look at.
More to follow!
News from Marek in Poland
“A stone directional sign was discovered during road work recently.”Nach Priebus” was engraved into the stone in addition to a directional arrow. The words mean “To Priebus.” Stones like this were used as directional signs at the crossroads. Usually, the letters were painted black. There are lots of them in Silesia. They are probably from the 19th century. The stone is approximately 31 inches high and 20 inches wide. It was found during the road work on the crossroads, where the dusty road from Tunnel Harry meets the main road. The workers left it in bushes. I asked them to move it to the museum, and they did, using a large bulldozer because the stone is very heavy.”
Seems likely our POWs probably passed it on the march since they all marched that way.
NATO in Zagan
Big NATO exercises have begun in and around Zagan involving soldiers from Germany, Norway, Holland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. The main evening news on Polish TV was transmitted from the exercise ground in Zagan.
Choosing this location provides good publicity for the museum, and most of the soldiers will visit the camp and museum.
Below are pictures of some of the heavy armament now in the area where over 10,000 WWII POWs once lived:
At the railway station in Zagan recently there was the annual June Railway Party event. Marek and Mirek once again arranged a promotional display for the museum at the historical platform, number 1 (The Great Escape platform). Marek’s tank was also displayed. There was a vintage steam train nicknamed “Dick” that went to Szprotawa (Sprottau) and Żary (Sorau). There had been a bombing raid on Sorau during the war, and POWs at SLIII saw the planes fly over the camp. Last year, the train was named Harry. The party had many other attractions such as a classic cars display, souvenirs, and competitions for the kids. It has proved to be a very popular event.
The Ships of Salvation
Marek recently saw mention in the Red Cross bulletins he acquired of the name of the Swedish ship that was used to ship Red Cross parcels. It was called Travancore. Doing further research, he found a picture of it. More research revealed two more ships that made up the Red Cross fleet, the Mangalore and the Caritas I. From the Red Cross POW bulletin (April 1944):
From one Bulletin:
“The ‘Mangalore’ was recently built in Sweden and flies the Swedish flag. Her crew is also Swedish, and she is under charter to the Swiss Shipping Foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva. The Mangalore is not only the largest vessel in the Red Cross service – she is also the fastest. She completed her first run from Philadelphia to Marseille in 17 days.”
Stalag Luft VI Tag – Norm Burmaster
At a recent 95th Bomb Group reunion, Norm a restorer of the B17 near Dayton, Ohio, met a B17 tailgunner who had his POW German dog tag from Stalag Luft VI. We’ve seen quite a few Stalag Luft III dog tags, but not so many from the enlisted men’s camps run by the Luftwaffe.
The Church in Ilowa, Poland
Below are four pictures of Christ the King Catholic Church in Ilowa, Poland, (formerly Halbau, Germany) where Center Compound POWs stopped about four in the afternoon to spend the night. It was already dark on that frigid late afternoon winter day when they arrived. Not all the men could fit in the church, so some were in the crypt, cemetery, and small school offered to them. Some could not get in anywhere. By 8:00 p.m., the men bedded down. General Arthur Vanaman slept on the altar. Fights broke out in the church as men pushed beyond their limits tried to cope with the crowded conditions. Colonel Delmar Spivey spoke from the altar in harsh terms telling the men things could be a lot worse for them during the war and warned them that the next man fighting would be thrown outside. A blanket of silence fell upon the men, and they settled down and fell asleep. Spivey joked later that General Vanaman, stretched out where the lectern had been on the altar, looked like a living sacrifice about to be offered up for who knew what. Decades later, Gen. Spivey returned with other SLIII POWs and presented the church with a plaque of thanks and a stained glass window.
More Stained Glass – Arthur Taber
“The church at Grafton-Underwood has this memorial stained glass window memorializing the 384th Bomb Group (Heavy), which flew out of the RAF field there; my father flew with the 545th Squadron of the group.”
Happy 70th Anniversary!!!
POW Joe Consolmagno and his beautiful wife, Patricia, celebrated their 70th anniversary on June 27th. Congratulations!
Another WWII Veteran Declines a Plane Ride – Stan Walsh
“I was at the AF Museum several years ago when they were towing their B-26 into position. They asked me if I’d like to climb aboard and take a ‘ride.’ I had the same feelings. I declined and told them I survived 65 missions in one. ‘She’s a beautiful, demanding gal, but I didn’t care to renew the acquaintance.’”
Check this link for the video promo for Stan’s WWI book, First Over the Front.
Here is the book link:
Another Member of the Nonagenarian Club of POWs – Lowell Sterler
Former B-17 pilot, George Sterler, 94, was part of the 96th BG, 338th Squadron. He tells his story here:
“In the B-17 Sad Sack crew photo, my Dad is kneeling in the front row on the far left. In the second crew photo, my dad is in the front row, 2nd from the left.”
Incredible Animation from the UK – WWII in Motion – Evan Thomas
This 50-second video uses the parallax technique of animation, making what is a still photograph a 3D one with action. You can vote for this video in the competition on the website. If link does not work, cut and paste it into your web browser.
Asking for Identification – JC Dowell – firstname.lastname@example.org
JC Dowell’s uncle, Clarence E. Fischer, is third from left. He wishes to know if anyone recognizes other POWs in the picture below. It was taken June 8, 1943, at Stalag Luft III. Many men had their pictures taken near this big mound, which unbeknownst to the Germans, hid sand from a tunnel. The Germans took the picture and encouraged POWs to send it home, as this one was, to show how well the men were being treated. Often such pictures were published in hometown newspapers.
Another Good Watch Story – Pete Porter
“You mentioned a bit about Sage’s watch, and I thought you would like to see a bit I wrote about my own father after he crashed and ended up in Stalag Luft III in 1942. This is called, ‘The Story of the Watch’ and is included in my own book, “Pop’s Progress.”
Below is a link to read the charming story of a young Dutch boy, whom Peter’s father was fortunate to meet the day he was shot down.
Interrogator’s Story – Claudius Scharff
The son of Master Interrogator of Germany, Hanns Scharff, who interrogated POWs in Oberursel, has so many interesting stories about his father. This is one of them.
“I was going on business to South Africa in the eighties, and my dad said to me, “When in Jo’burg, open the phone book there and the first name in the book is Asad Assad; he is a former prisoner of mine and is of Lebanese descent, give him a call. I did so. Asad commanded me to stay in my hotel until he picked me up in a few minutes. Later, he took me home to meet his extended family of 35 people including his mother. During the evening he had everyone gather around and told his mother to get the telegram. She disappeared and returned a short time later carrying a piece of yellowish paper. He took the paper and then told the story of being a pilot in the South African Air Force and being shot down over North Africa, how he was captured and then sent to Germany as a POW. He told how he was rambunctious and kept fighting his German captors. He explained that he ended up in my father’s office, and my dad, after offering him a South African cigarette (Springbok), asked him why he was so aggressive with his guards. Asad told us that he explained to my dad that his mother had a weak heart and could possibly suffer greatly not knowing what had happened to her son and that he was becoming crazy in his helplessness. My dad told Asad not to worry, that he had a friend in the German Embassy in Portugal who would send a telegram to his mother saying he was safe. Asad held up the piece of paper and said, “Here is the telegram, and here is the son of the German interrogator who had the telegram sent.” All I remember after that was that I was poked and prodded, kissed and hugged, patted and punched, and plied with food by all 35 members of the family for the rest of the evening.”
Incidentally, the first home that Hanns Scharff bought when he went to work in South Africa at the age of 21, before the war, was the house of Mahatma Ghandi. Click on link below:
Gandhi’s Story in South Africa – Satyagraha House
“Hanns was the second son of an industrial family. His elder brother was the heir apparent to the textile factory and business. Hanns didn’t count and didn’t want to play second fiddle to his brother in the family business. Hanns, in his late teens, went to Hamburg from Thuringia and joined a trading company. He wasn’t there long before he discovered that the trading company he had joined had the import rights of Adler motor cars to South Africa, but wasn’t exercising its import rights. Adler was a German automobile company based in Frankfurt/Main. Hanns borrowed money from his mother and bought those rights from the trading company. In the late twenties, he moved to South Africa, still a young man in his early twenties, and bought a modest four room house outside of Jo’burg in a residential area called Orchards. He found out that the house had been specially built by a like-minded German architect for Mahatma Gandhi in 1907 and that Gandhi lived there in 1908 and 1909 at the very beginning of his political career.I don’t know how long Hanns lived in the house, but at a maximum until he married my mother in the early to mid thirties.” see link below:
Propaganda Leaflets Dropped by B17s over Germany – translated by Claudius Scharff
Propaganda and Reality
“I can assure Mr. Churchill: Regardless of where he chooses to start the Second Front, he can only speak of luck if he stays nine hours in country.”
Adolf Hitler, 30 Sept. 1942
This photograph was taken by an Allied war reporter – nine hours after the first landing in Normandy.
On the back, there is a page that has language in Polish, Russian, and German. The German is addressed to Austrians, and it basically says that Austrians fighting in German units should not forget that they are Austrians first and foremost and that they are not Germans.
The 2nd World War Never Quite Seems to Come to Its End – Wolfgang Samuel/Marek Lazarz
Lt. John W. Herb – “Here is a sad story of an American fighter pilot, John W. Herb, who crashed on a combat mission in the north of Germany (4/13/45), east of Hamburg, just days before war’s end. He landed his P-51 and was trying to get out of the wreck when men with guns shot him in the head (a war crime), buried him face down, and left. A young five-year-old boy, Manfred Römer, saw the damaged aircraft go down. His quest for answers over the years was met with silence. He persisted and eventually the grave of Herb was located at a site tended by a woman who had lost her own son in Russia and hoped that some Russian mother was tending the grave of her son. Burial was at Arlington Cemetery June 18th, 2015, and Manfred was invited to attend by Herb’s family.”
1/Lt Larry Powell – Wolfgang Samuel
“Powell was shot down in January 1945. He crash landed his P-51 and managed to flee as far as the Netherlands, where he was captured. Thirteen-year-old Paul Burke saw the plane crash. Burke, now 83, and Powell, 92, finally met in Germany and visited the crash site. Powell flew for the 339th FG. Later, he rose to the rank of colonel and was severely burned in an aircraft accident. In the pictures, Larry is the one in the baseball cap.
How the French Said Thank You
The 40&8 (Chevaux en-lang 8) boxcars our POWs suffered in were French box cars circa 1880 and were used in WWI and WWII to haul troops and horses to the front lines. In February, 1949, France arranged to ship 49 of the cars, one for each state, on the “Merci” train. Each car was filled with gifts from France in gratitude for America’s efforts during World War I and World War II. See where your box car is located. This website does not yet have pictures of all the box cars and is requesting them. It makes for interesting reading to find out what happened to some of them once they got here.
Powerful Message from Tuskegee Airman – Alex Jefferson (Tuskegee Airman)
“Carol Anderson from Emory University has given me an entire positive view of “Red Tails.” [movie] I dwelt on the negative impression of the flight leader being drunk leading the flight. ‘We fight, we fight’ carried a powerful and dynamic message to the Tuskegee Airmen during the war and after the war and the civil rights movement. I’m going to put this on a DVD and show it every place I go.”
Joe Moser – SLIII and Buchenwald – Val Burgess
The Memorial Day parade in Bellingham, WA, this year had a very special Grand Marshal. Joe Moser, 93, former pilot, and one of the POWs featured in “The Lost Airmen of Buchenwald” documentary. He was chosen as Grand Marshal for the parade. Congratulations Joe!
Folded Wings – Col. James Keeffe, POW from SLIII, died May 26th, 2015. During the war, he flew with the 389th BG / 566th BS out of Hethel, England. His attachment to Stalag Luft III remained constant, and he was heavily involved in the planning of reunions and trips:
35th Anniversary – 1980 – Cincinnati (David Pollak organized) 40th Anniversary – May 1985 – Denver (Herman Glemnitz attended) 42nd Anniversary – May 1987 – Seattle 45th Anniversary – April 1990 – Norfolk, Virginia 50th Anniversary – April 1995 – Cincinnati, Ohio 1995 – With the help of Vern Burda (another Center Compound Kriegie and Val Burgess’s uncle) he organized a trip back to Stalag Luft III and took the route to Stalag VII A. 320 ex-POWs and family went.
The condolences of the entire Stalag Luft III family go out to the Keeffe family after losing one of our own.
More on Lt. Clemons – Karl Duggin
Karl, who has been researching Oran Highley’s crew, has found that one member of the crew, Frank Clemons, later KIA, was able to visit the Beach family on his first London pass when he arrived. The Clemons family was very good friends of the John Beach family that lived near London. John Beach was a cinematographer and took a short 16 mm color film of Frank during his visit. Roger Beach, John’s son, who found the film, converted it to digital format for sharing with the family and Karl. Ten days after Frank’s visit was filmed, Lt. Clemons was killed in action. The very beginning of the film is May, 1943. It shows James Clark and his wife, Harriett, and a 6-year-old, Frank’s nephew, whose infant footprint photo was in the cockpit of Clemon’s plane. There is no sound. At the end of the link, there is scene of Franks’ funeral in May, 1949. George’s mother, Alice, sister to Frank, can be seen.
This is the film link.
When news arrived that Frank was missing in action, John Beach routinely kept in contact with the CO of the 306th BG in Thurleigh as to the status of Frank. Karl was sent a copy of one of his moving letters he wrote to the 306th a month after Frank was declared MIA. When news finally arrived that Frank had been KIA, both families grieved over the loss. After the war, Frank’s remains were moved from the Cuxhaven German Naval Cemetery and interred at the Ardennes at the time the Ardennes was declared one of the 14 temporary American cemeteries. In March 1947, John Beach and his sister, Irene, took a ferry from Dover to Calais, France, and trained to the Ardennes Temporary cemetery. They located Frank’s grave and placed a nice floral arrangement.
Fredrick Hallabrin – Did Anyone Know Him? – Debbie Mullinax
“My father, Fredrick Jacob Hallabrin, was captured 7/16/43 and released 4/29/45 from what we have figured out. He was killed in an auto accident when I was 6-years-old, and my mother never mention the war. So I never got to know my father or learn about his life during the war. He was in “Operation Husky One,” 505th PIR of the 82nd Airborne into Sicily, Headquarter Co. 1st Battalion. He was in the South Compound.”
8th AF Museum – Pooler, GA – Candy Brown
Candy, whom many know from SLIII reunions, recently visited the museum after donating the vest her father crocheted. He was a POW at Stalag Luft VI and IV, and she created a beautifully-written book about him entitled, What I Never Told You. She was able to sit at a bench near the display and remember her father in a very special way and tell other visitors about him. She was also able to help the museum pick a mannequin that best reflected her father’s hair and eye color. Not far from there she found SLIII POW Irv Baum’s bomber jacket.
Ross Greene’s New Book
Many reunion attendees met and enjoyed speaking with Ross Greene. He has written a wonderful tribute to his uncle in this well-researched book which combines history with a charming love story. Bud Perrin was a B-17 bombardier married to a former Miss America contestant. Ross wrote the book so that Bud’s daughter, born after his uncle was killed, could learn her father’s story.
“81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska’s Frozen Wilderness” by Brian Murphy
“Shortly before Christmas in 1943, five Army aviators left Alaska’s Ladd Field on a routine flight to test their hastily retrofitted B-24 Liberator in harsh winter conditions. The mission ended in a crash that claimed all but one—Leon Crane, a city kid from Philadelphia with no wilderness experience. With little more than a parachute for cover and an old Boy Scout knife in his pocket, Crane now found himself alone in subzero temperatures. Crane knew, as did the Ladd Field crews who searched unsuccessfully for the crash site, that his chance of survival dropped swiftly with each passing day. But Crane did find a way to stay alive in the grip of the Yukon winter for nearly twelve weeks and, amazingly, walked out of the ordeal intact. 81 Days Below Zero recounts, for the first time, the full story of Crane’s remarkable saga. In a drama of staggering resolve and moments of phenomenal luck, Crane learned to survive in the Yukon’s unforgiving wilds. His is a tale of the capacity to endure extreme conditions, intense loneliness, and flashes of raw terror—and emerge stronger than before. – Barry Schoen
Defeat in the West by Milton Shulman – Best book I’ve read that really hones in on why the Germans lost the war – Gary Hill
Caged Eagles: Downed American Fighter Pilots 1940-1945 by Vern Haughland – Experiences of POWs who flew early in the war with the RAF Eagle Squadron – Devon Nielsen
Padre Mac: The Autobiography of the Late Murdo Ewen Macdonald of Harris – Marek Lazarz
Just out in 2014. This is not The Man from Harris the original biography.
The Ultimate in British Deception
Airplane Photo Catalog– Claudius Scharff
Aviation Pioneers <http://acepilots.com/pioneers.htm
World War I Aces <http://acepilots.com/wwi/main
Hall of Fame of the Air <http://acepilots.com/wwi/hfa.html>
WW2 ETO <http://acepilots.com/usaaf_eto_aces.html>
WW2 PTO <http://acepilots.com/usaaf_pto_aces.html>
WW2 <http://acepilots.com/usmc_aces.html> US Marine Corps
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/usn_aces.html> US Navy Aces
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/usaaf_mto_aces.html> Mediterranean (MTO)
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/german/ger_aces.html> German Aces
. Korean <http://acepilots.com/korea_aces.html> War Aces
. Russian <http://acepilots.com/russian/rus_aces.html> Aces
. Vietnam <http://acepilots.com/vietnam/main.html> Era Aces
. Airplanes <http://acepilots.com/>
. World <http://acepilots.com/wwi/main.html> War I Planes
. 1930s <http://acepilots.com/pioneer/air_photos.html> Aircraft photos
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/planes/main.html#fighters> Fighters
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/planes/main.html#bombers> Bombers
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/german/main.html> German Planes
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/archives/main.html> Airplane Pictures
. History <http://acepilots.com/airplanes/> of Airplanes blog
. Nose <http://acepilots.com/planes/nose_art.html> Art
. Postwar <http://acepilots.com/jets/main.html> Jets
. World <http://acepilots.com/> War Two
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/misc_ww2.html> Facts and Firsts
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/medals/main.html> Medals
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/ww2/museums.html> Museums
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/ww2/pictures.html> Pictures .
WW2 <http://acepilots.com/ships/main.html> Ships
. WW2 <http://acepilots.com/ww2/weapons.html> Weapons
For those who have never seen the picture of Gen. Patton’s dog, Willy, after the general died at the end of the war:
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers