Stalag Luft III Newsletter – August 2015
Greetings Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,
Registration Forms are available for the Stalag Luft III Reunion for 2015 in New Orleans. Anyone wishing the forms with full agenda, registration and price information, and hotel information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are attending, the sooner that you register the better so we can keep an accurate count to better plan our activities. Registration fee is waived for POWs, and entrance fees for the WWII Museum and Air Show are also waived. Be sure to bring your POW memorabilia to share with others. Authors’ book sales will take place in the evenings in the hospitality suite. Join us and enjoy the southern charm of the Big Easy! All who are interested in Stalag Luft III are welcome. See you in New Orleans!
News from Marek
“We are going to arrange two archeological sessions in Luft 3. I’d like to find the Wooden Horse tunnel, confirm the length of Tunnel “Tom,” and check the tunnels in South Camp. We will do this in cooperation with local association of explorers and the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The first session is 1st-2st August, and the second is 15th-16th August.” Tornado Hits Zagan
On July 19th, a tornado hit Zagan bringing down some trees around the museum. It affected only the bigger trees. The museum did not sustain any damage, thankfully, nor did Marek who was out in the woods at the time and ran for cover away from the big trees!
Fallen birch trees that line the main road into the camp fell very close to Tunnel Harry. This is the main road where POWs previously walked from the train station into the main gate of the camp. The last time trees came down, Marek found the kriegie stove, mentioned in a previous newsletter, wrapped in its roots.
“A few trees fell down in North Compound, and we need to search the roots!”
Near the entrance of the museum
Zagan, Poland, and Saint Omer, France, Become Sister Cities
Mr. François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, France, visited the museum July 21st. The town of Saint-Omer was liberated by Polish General Stanislaw Maczek on September 5th, 1944. When legless RAF fighter pilot, Douglas Bader, parachuted from his Spitfire during an aerial battle over France, he was initially treated at a Luftwaffe hospital at Saint Omer, where he tried to escape by hanging bed sheets out of his hospital room window.
Polish Troops Liberate Saint-Omer
Bed sheets out window
A twin towns partnership agreement, Zagan/Saint-Omer, will be signed in Saint-Omer on September 5th 2015. While in Zagan, the mayor toured the museum and saw the exhibitions and was especially interested in the Stalag VIIIC displays, since at one time it was a predominantly French camp. As a result, Marek will conduct research to trace POWs who were formerly residents of Saint-Omer held in Stalag VIIIC, which sat to the west of West Compound of Stalag Luft III.
POW John Pedevillano’s Birthday Wishes – William Vucci
After Sen. John McCain’s recent presentation of POW John Pedevillano’s Unit Citation award, mentioned in the last newsletter, the senator took the time to also send John a congratulatory letter for his 93rd birthday. When recently asked about his reaction to Donald Trump’s recent comments about him, McCain responded on NBC News and in doing so mentioned POW John Pedevillano of SLIII. Afterward, a limo picked up POW John for a t.v. interview on NBC.
More from the Keeffe Treasures – Jim Keeffe III
“Found a couple items of interest yesterday. A Dutch ration card issued for 1 October – 25 November 1944 and a letter from Hermann Glemnitz.”
Letter: Berlin 12th Jan. 66 Dear Mr. Keeffe First of all many thanks for your very warmly letter and the good wishes for XMAS and New Year. I’ve received that letter yesterday but I was extremely pleased to hear from an ex ‘Kriegie’ and good wishes are welcome at any time. I must confess that I am very glad and even proud that I have received so many letters from P.O.Ws and everyone insured me, that they liked me despite my awkward job being a Security man. 1965 was one of my delightest years in my life because it enabled me to see so many of ex Kriegies at the Re-union in Dayton and I would say that not even one of you complained concerning my behaviour. I must make you a compliment. In this picture in the Newspaper you look as if you are not older than 30 years or should I better make a compliment to Mrs. Keefe that she has looked so well after you? I wish you and your dear family a happy, healthy and prosperous 1966. I hope sincere- ly that the Vietnam War would come to an early end so that you can stay with your family. In case that you correspond with other ex-Kriegies please send them my best regards. I am looking (?) forward to the next re-union in 1970, when I have been promised to be invited again. and now to you and your dear family warmly greetings sincerely yours Hermann Glemnitz His address on the envelope was: Hermann Glemnitz 1 Berlin 20 Weinmeisterhornweg 126
Dutch Ration Card
POW Ernest Thorp – Bomber Pilot
Ernest is 94 now. His book is called, My Stretch in the Service and sells for $25.00. He was an American in North Compound. Anyone wanting his book can call 217 935-5461 and talk to his wife, Helen.
Link to book:
Ernest’s ID card:
Remembering the Camp’s 4th of July Celebration Mentioned in the Last Newsletter – POW Tom Wilson
“HOW WELL I REMEMBER THAT 4TH OF JULY PARTY. THAT KRIEGY BREW THAT WE MIXED AND STRAINED THROUGH AN OLD T SHIRT SURE EMPTIED A LOT OF STOMACHS!!”
Origin of WWII Term
The term, “He bought the farm,” which referred to a death, came from World War II when the next of kin became the beneficiary of a $10,000 insurance policy carried on military personnel. As a result, thousands of farms were paid for with the patriotic blood of sons lost in war.
Hilarious Story from SLIII RCAF POW Don Edy – Barb Edy
Happy belated 98th birthday to Don, whose birthday was July 26th! Don is the author of the book, Goon in the Block. Shot down very early in the war, he was at Padula, near Naples, Italy, held at the Certosa Padula prison camp. It was actually a converted 13th Century monastery, rebuilt in 1306 AD and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The second picture shows one of its ledges that overlooked the courtyard. The WWII POW camp section where “Stretchy Rubby,” the POW mentioned in the story below, exercised is the courtyard and surrounding building at the FAR end in the first picture. See pictures at end of story.
“Calisthenics became a fetish with a lot of the men and indeed it was important to keep fit. Most of us took our exercise in sports, or just plain walking. A few preferred to take their exercise in their own way.
One of these individualists was a chap we nick-named “stretchy-rubby.” He would get up each morning with the sun and pad softly down the corridor in his bare feet. Once in the courtyard, he stripped naked and then began the weirdest calisthenics I have ever seen. I think the idea was to induce good circulation, exercise the muscles, and stimulate some sort of mental process. There was a regular routine, but I could never follow it here. At times, he would rub his stomach vigorously with both hands, then draw the hands up towards his chest slowly, then suddenly fling out an arm. Other times he would massage an ankle, draw his hands up the leg onto his body and fling out a leg.
When we heard him go by, Ellis and I would watch from the ledge. We nearly fell off the time he started running on the spot, kicking his knees high and spanking himself soundly on the bottom all the time. It may have actually done him some good, but it was better for the spirits of any of the other chaps who were watching. Another big fellow jumped up early every morning, ran down to the courtyard, “fell-in” on instructions from himself and went through the complete Army drill.
Certosa Padula prison camp/monastery Ledge with a view
New Book on Two Australian Great Escapers – Louise Williams
Daughter of John “Willy” Williams writes of her father and his childhood friend, Rusty Kierath, both of whom tunneled out during the Great Escape and became two of the murdered 50. See link below for more details.
Spitfire Lands with No Landing Gear Down – James Castle
49-Plane Fly Over – John Lanza
Budget cuts have eliminated the military flyovers at large events. There’s a group of guys in Kansas City who do some formation flying, in their own planes, and decided they’d volunteer to pick up the slack. They invited a couple of other groups to join them, and before they knew it they had 48 guys with their homemade airplanes signing up to join in. If they had more time, they probably would have gotten an even larger group as people kept joining and a 49th was added near the event. One additional feature of the flyover was the use of pink smoke for cancer awareness. The folks from the Guinness Book were there and are expected to confirm it as the largest formation flight ever. And to top it off the crowd later set the record for the loudest gathering at a football stadium.
WW2: Ground Observer Corps – Aircraft Warning Service: “Eyes Aloft” (ca.1943) | Training Film – Arthur Taber
WWII From Outer Space – History Channel – Unique overview of the war
Australian Airman Joins American Ground Troops – Barry Schoen
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers