As reunion time draws closer, for those who have already made hotel reservations, a reminder to submit your registration forms as well, as soon as possible, to complete your reservation for the reunion. I have been asked if the reunion is only for SLIII POWs and families. All people interested in SLIII are welcome. In the past, we have had researchers, authors, filmmakers, and WWII enthusiasts, in addition to POWs and their families. If you need registration forms, please email me.
From Marek – Stalag Luft III Musuem – Zagan, Poland
Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Polish archeologists working with Marek have found Tunnel Tom in North Compound and the escape tunnel used in the Wooden Horse escape out of East Compound.
“After two days of exploring, over 100 artifacts (coins, buttons etc.) have been found. My favourite is the American visor cap eagle (see picture) found in the vorlager (North Compound) near the road. We have GPS coordinates for every single item. We had a Polish TV film crew. They made a documentary (very popular TV historical series about exploring, archeology etc.).”
Fantastic find—the eagle emblem from an American POW’s cap
Brass guard for polishing metal military Army tunic buttons
German Tank Battle Badge
South Compound – Barrack 127 – Remains of an I.D. style bracelet
SS belt buckle
Stalag 318 VIIIF POW name tag – Stalag VIIIF was also Lamsdorf (approx. 100km east of Breslau). It was a camp for Soviet POWs. Three-digit numbers like Stalag 308, 314, and 318, were camps for the Soviets. The main camp in Lamsdorf was Stalag VIIIB. So how this tag got to SLIII is a mystery. By 1943, Stalag Luft III had become so overcrowded that about 1,000, mostly non-commissioned aircrew, were transferred to Lamsdorf. The hospital facilities at Stalag VIII-B were among the best in all stalags. The so-called lazarett (hospital) was set up on a separate site with eleven concrete buildings. Six of them were self-contained wards, each with space for about 100 patients. The others served as treatment blocks with operating theatres, X-ray and laboratory facilities, as well as kitchens, a morgue, and accommodations for the medical staff. The lazarett was headed by a German officer with the title Oberst Arzt (Colonel Doctor), but the staff was made up entirely of prisoners. They included general physicians and surgeons, even a neuro-surgeon, psychiatrist, anesthesiologist and radiologist.
Pilot’s wings found near #128 – South Compound – These are original Sterling silver wings, not replicas made in camp.
Two hockey masks and remains of a skate found near South Compound – outside the southern fence – The ice hockey rink was in South’s sports field. Marek assumes that these items were thrown in the area when they were found by the Russian troops that entered the camp after it was evacuated by the POWs.
Before the digging, Marek conducted a briefing in the replica of Hut #104. In addition, representatives of the National Heritage Board of Poland gave a briefing on Polish law regarding exploration, archeology, and “treasure hunting” at such historical sites. Poland has very strict laws about bringing home artifacts from the camp that could otherwise be put in the museum.
Briefing the news media
Polish T.V. in Zagan
Polish Radio ZACHOD (West) broadcast its morning show live from Zagan recently. Marek was interviewed live that morning promoting the museum. The movable studio was set up at the Zagan’s market square. No picture of Marek, but the Mayor of Zagan, Mr. Daniel Marchewka, on the right, was also interviewed.
The town of Zagan has a sculpture of Steve McQueen’s motorcycle on the town square!
Ed’s Halifax – POW Ed Carter-Edwards
Ed Carter-Edwards in Canada just received pictures of his Halifax shown at its dispersal area with the 427th Squadron in Leeming, Yorkshire, England. He bailed out of the plane and later was taken to Buchenwald Concentration Camp before arriving at Stalag Luft III.
“It is hard to imagine this ‘haly’ was buried deep in French soil the morning of June 8th, 1944, and I have a piece of it dug up when we visited Paris– a piece of burnt, twisted, aluminum from our ‘haly.’ I also have a spike I removed from the tracks at Buchenwald and a piece of the barbed wire that encircled us in 1944.”
On Aug 24th, Ed’s former bomber squadron, (in 1944 called the 427 Lion Squadron) now a helicopter squadron with the same name, will honor Ed. The current commanding officer of this squadron wanted to know all about Ed and his plane. The unit will fly a helicopter from Petawawa, north of Ottawa, to the air museum at Mt. Hope, near Hamilton, and take Ed up for a ride in one of their helicopters. Have fun Ed!
Selden Edner’s Son Visits SLIII – Selden Edner
Selden Edner, mentioned in a previous email, was a POW at SLIII, and after the war, as a fighter pilot, he was hanged in Greece by the Communists. His son, who carries his name, just learning of his SLIII history, recently returned to the camp where Marek guided him.
Marek with Selden’s wife, Judy – Marek points out Selden’s father’s barrack
West Compound Theatre site on the West Compound model
Barrack 172 – West, on the complete SLIII site plan
Familiar Nose Art
Several planes incorporated the “I Wanted Wings “ logo on the nose of their planes. The logo was first drawn by POW Emmet Cook, and it was later licensed by Disney.
Loss of Another Tuskegee Airman – Lt. Col. Eldridge Williams – Barry Schoen
Just 25 now remain.
Thoughts from a POW – George Sweanor
“Marilyn, I want to thank you for your part in producing the book on Von Lindeiner, “From Commandant to Captive,” a man I admired for giving me my Alma Mater rather than the Hell Hole it could have been. As I expressed in my book, “It’s All Pensionable Time,” I felt shame at the shabby way we treated him after his humane treatment of us, Jews and Soviets included. I have just purchased the e-book version from Amazon and have just started to read it – but had to pause to thank you.”
Mike & I are so appreciative of George’s next comment after he read the book.
“Marilyn, I have just finished your book and given it a 5-star rating. I did take notes as I read along as you have given me so much more data. This slowed me down as I do like to maintain my own numerous files.
I would like you to pass along my thanks to Michael Eberhardt as my only contact with him was a very brief introduction at the POW reunion in Colorado Springs.
I wish I could also thank Wings Day and Arthur Durand for leading you to Lindeiner’s memoirs.
You have accomplished an amazing feat with all your tireless research. I also appreciate very much all the details you present on such people as Lisa Knüppel, of post war conditions in Deutschland, and of Spivey’s help. I did publish a blog entitled “Deutschland” on German resilience.
You did mention that Hans Pieber, whom I considered a friend in the North Compound, also had a rough time. Can you give me any details?
My sincere, and grateful, thanks for all you have accomplished.”
Ye Olde Scribe, George
Be sure to check out George’s blog that he has been writing for years:
Both Mike and I have just a few discounted books left for sale if anyone wants one. Just email me. 100% of the proceeds go to the museum at SLIII. Thank you for our endorsement, George!
New Book Due Out – Keith Ogilvie
“You Never Know Your Luck” – Keith, a Canadian, remembered the quote of his father, POW Alfred Keith “Skeets” (nickname he picked up when he was a star football player in his youth) Ogilvie, often mentioned to his son, and it became the title of a new book about his father. More details to follow when it is released. In researching, Keith requested information regarding who might be the artist that sketched the following picture, which bore only a date but no signature. His father had it in his collection. Barb Edy came to his rescue recognizing the artwork of Henri Picard, an accomplished artist before becoming a POW, and who was one of The Fifty killed after the Great Escape. Picard’s work was very distinctive.
“’Skeets’ joined the RAF before the outbreak of war because the RCAF at the time were looking for pilot officers with university degrees, which he never got. After being turned down by the RCAF, he literally went across the street to the RAF recruiting office in Ottawa and less than a week later was on the boat on his way to England with a number of pals. He transferred to the RCAF after the war and spent the next 20 years doing what he loved best, flying.”
See link below for more on Picard’s work, recently found:
POW Ogilvie’s son, also named Keith, returned to SLIII for the 70th anniversary of the Great Escape. While there, he kept a diary of his trip and sent along a passage he wrote that recognizes the incredible job that Marek and Mirek are doing at the museum.
“Unlike any other museum of my (admittedly limited) experience, the Zagan museum has made an effort to put together a large number of binders documenting the events and containing whatever records they have of each of the inmates. They are freely available to the inmates and provide a wonderful frame of reference for anyone doing related research. Each inmate has a descriptive sheet that gets filled out as information becomes available from family, friends or other researchers, and we were given a form to complete for AK. [Skeets] The documentation they have available shows he was in Hut 110 and that his prisoner number was 1409. We talked with Mirek about the drawing that another inmate had done of AK while he was in the camp. A good reproduction that Jean had made was among the things we contributed to the camp’s records. Mirek recognized it immediately, although it wasn’t signed, and said, “That was done by Henri Picard!” Picard, a Belgian, apparently had done a number of drawings and this caricature was among the few things that AK had somehow rescued from the camp when he left. Mirek showed us another of Picard’s works that the museum has framed, pointing to the date and title at the bottom, recorded in an identical hand to the one that had dated the drawing of AK.
Some other random finds resulting from a one hour or so review of the document collection at the museum, while Casey and Jean went for a walk:”
A theatre program stamped “Secret”. Classification changed in 1954.
A note from the senior British officers in the camp suggesting Lindeiner separate the Americans from the British because of the formers’ lack of formality, something carefully preserved by the British.
Letters from F/S Peter Lockett to his mother documented by Mrs. Christine Wootton in 2008, including a note in his last letter from the camp that says, “Gloom settled over the camp as a result of the executions of the escapees and communications deteriorated.”
The construction of the memorial to the 50, created under the direction of POW John Hartnell-Beavis.
British documents dated 1946 describing the discovery of the memorial having been broken open and many of the urns of The Fifty smashed, apparently by Russians looking for gold or other treasure. The floor of the chamber containing the urns was described as being covered with a mixture of pieces of urns and ashes.
The document that Keith mentioned regarding The Fifty and their urn
This rare picture of the memorial to The Fifty shows the eagle that was placed there by the RAF POWs who built the memorial to their fallen comrades several months after the murders. The eagle disappeared after the Forced March (Long March to the British), when the Russians invaded the camp. The urns of ashes mentioned above that were damaged were kept in this memorial.
Rare photo of Great Escape mastermind, Roger Bushell, in a play called George and Margaret. Bushell in on the left. Wirebound World – Keith Ogilvie
Clipped Wings for Sale on Ebay – James Castle – UK
Note: (MW) – Clipped Wings, a pictorial history of South Compound, originally sold for $9.95 at one of the very early reunions. I have seen original first editions as high as $900. The book was reprinted several times.
Injured SLIII POW Collects Back Pay – Donna Causey/Liz Cain
Lt. Homer B. Pou, Northington, General Hospital patient from Tuscaloosa, Ala., is shown with his first pay check since February 1944 – a check for $6,459!
“Back at our air base in England, those USO units were really entertaining,” said Pou.
Despite air raids, the show always went on. Pou, first pilot on a B-17, was shot down March 8, 1944, by German fighters on the second large Berlin raid. Two of his crew were killed; the rest bailed out and were captured by Germans. It was thirty hours after his capture that the lieutenant received treatment for his wounded arm, which had been broken by shell fire. “Our medical treatment was very inadequate,” said the lieutenant. “And the food given us by the Germans consisted mostly of potatoes and bread.” Around the first of this year [Jan. 27th] the prisoners were forced to march 90 kilometers from their camp, Stalag Luft 3, to Bavaria, where they were liberated April 28 [29th] by U. S. troops. Pou, who was in the hospital with an infection of his arm bone, was sent to an American hospital in France before traveling to the States aboard a liberty ship. He arrived at Northington June 5, 1945. “At our P.O.W. camp, we had an Alabama Club composed of about 25 men from this state. Talking to our fellow Alabamians kept us from going off our nut.” Photographer, Northington PRO, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. [Homer was in South Compound.]
Shot Down Near Leipzig – POW Russ Reed
Pilot 2nd Lt. Russ F. Reed, [last man on the right looking away from the camera], Co Pilot 2nd Lt. Richard J. Wansersky, Bombardier 2nd Lt. Charles J. Proctor, Navigator 2nd Lt. Stanley R. Mattes, Engineer S/Sgt. Alphonse B. Grothues, Radio S/Sgt. Michael L. Barnes, Waist Gunner Sgt. August V. Krizek, Ball Gunner Sgt. Darrel Thorpe, Tail Gunner Sgt. George E. Barnum, Sgt. Paul. Audet, not on mission
N7M, B-17# 42-107053, 398th BG 8th AF, was on its 59th mission on Nov 2, 1944. Russ Reed and crew were on their 5th mission. The tail guns had been shot off, the vertical fin, and the left horizontal stabilizer were damaged, number 1 engine shut down, number 2 drawing ½ power, right wing with a hole in it but 3 & 4 ok. After the flak stopped, a FW 190 came up and set us afire. The crews parachuted out, were captured, and were POWs for the rest of the war. They were shot down in flames near Leipzig, Germany.
Russ continued to fly after the war until he was badly burned while flying for the Air Defense Command at Lockbourne, Ohio, when his F-84 caught fire just after takeoff. He never got over 500 feet.
“I caught fire Sept. 2, 1950. My 1st lumbar crushed, 12th thoracic damaged, 20 percent second and third degree burns and damage again on the left leg. All added up to 5 months in the hospital.”
Despite such severe injuries, Russ went on to fly once more. Read more about this remarkable man, POW, military pilot, airline pilot, and friend of POW Jerry Sage, at this link:
Rare Footage of Le Havre – Camp Lucky Strike
[one of the “cigarette camps” to which SLIII POWs were sent to process back home and board the troop ships at the port at Le Havre]
Just a Common Soldier – Dennis Daniel
Two Minutes of Aviation Majesty – Carolyn Clark Miller
Trailer for an Upcoming Movie on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – Alan Hopewell
Touching Military Child Video – Barry Schoen
Hanks/Spielberg Trailer for new Mighty Eighth Movie
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers