Stalag Luft III Newsletter – April 2016
Greetings Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,
This newsletter starts with news from Marek of another great find at the camp. A Polish Army soldier found an American POWs’ German dog tag in West Compound, where the 11th Command Battalion uses a section of the West Compound as a training ground.
After a quick search in the U.S. I was able to find Kinsky’s daughters and put them in touch with Marek.
Polish Tradition to Bring on Spring
“We have another tradition to welcome spring or rather to say goodbye to the winter—‘Sink the Marzanna.’ Marzanna is a Slavic goddess of winter and death! On March 21st, we sink Marzanna in the river. We actually sink a straw woman, kind of a dummy, which symbolizes Marzanna. Sometimes we burn her. This is, of course, an old pagan tradition. Kids love this!”
Great Escape Memorial – 2016
Special guests attended the solemn memorial this year. Canadian tankers from the tank regiment called Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) from Edmonton came to Zagan for an exercise and were present for the ceremony memorializing the fifty Allied POWs murdered after The Great Escape. Many of the murdered were Canadian. Under an ominous cloudy sky, the Polish people remembered the tragic event from seven decades ago.
Polish School Children
Polish Military and Civilians
Marek and the Mayor of Zagan
Salute near the sculpture in front of the museum representing
the suffering of all POWs
Cross Country Run at the Camp Commemorating the Great Escape
The Cross Country Run was a huge success–1500 runners! Seven decades from the time POWs used to walk the circuit, the runners race through the camp.:
Watch Another One of Marek’s Great Videos Set to Music – The Running Race—Watch for the firing of the tank’s gun!
Historical Test for Polish Youth to Educate on the Great Escape
A historical contest for school children contained three tasks: – Written Test (85 questions about the Great Escape – “Spread the Soil” competition – They had to move the sand from one wooden box to another using a metal coffee cup. – “Identify a Flag and Military Button” competition
Three age categories participated: primary school, secondary school and high school. There were 16 schools. Each school was represented by a team of three students.
Taking the test in Replica Hut #104
Spread the Soil
The Technical High School in Zagan won the competition – Mike Eberhardt and I are pleased that each winner won a copy of our book, From Commandant to Captive.
The steam train was a part of the celebration. Two buses of passengers were taken from the Zagan train station directly to the museum on March 20th so the visitors could see the Cross Country Run as well as the display of the tanks. They also had guided tours of the museum. The train also made two other trips, from Zagan to Zary(Sorau) and back and then from Zagan to Szprotawa (Sprottau) and back. It was a real day of fun, and a lot of publicity for the museum and the Great Escape. Nickname of the train was, of course, HARRY.
North Compound Roads
“We fixed two main roads in North Compound with the great help of the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade from Zagan. They are a part of 11th Division ‘Black Division.’ We used an ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle.”
The work made the roads flat, and Marek also took out bushes that have grown there over the years.
Besides overseeing the museum and planning the great events he does there, Marek is involved in the publication of an historical periodical, Zagan’s Almanac, published twice a year by the museum.
“We print 1000 copies. Each contains usually 10-12 articles (approx. 90-95 pages). The periodical promotes the museum, POW camps, and history of the town and surrounding areas. It’s very popular. We send this out to the biggest libraries, universities, and schools in Poland.”
Break-In at Stalag Luft III, Rather Than a Break-Out
“During the night of Feb. 20th, a man broke into the museum to steal the donation box . He took the whole box, destroyed it, and left in the woods. Police took it with them as evidence. Unfortunately, the motion detector was too far from the window, and it did not activate the alarm system. We have to fix it. Fortunately, the box was almost empty. There were no damages to the museum except the window. We have everything on tape. Police traced the man as he tried to sell a few Australian dollars in the local currency exchange office I called all local exchange offices and warned them that somebody would try to sell the New Zealand and Australian dollars from the ‘80s and ‘90s. The guy came to the exchange office near Kepler Restaurant. The lady called me, and could not do much, but the face of the burglar was recorded there. At the museum, he had waved to the camera two times! I had given the police a CD with the museum’s recording of him. The burglar was captured by the police within weeks of the theft. He was put on probation and will serve ten years in prison if he commits another crime.”
The Burglar’s “Ladder”
“A huge thanks from me to the donors to the museum. I was able to install the cameras thanks to the donations, and the burglar was caught thanks to the security cameras!” Marek
“This YMCA badge was just donated to the museum. It was found near Kustrin, 140 km north of Zagan at Stalag IIIC Alt Drewitz. During WW2, it was near Kustrin. It was an Army POW camp for soldiers and NCOs. Army POW camps were also supplied with sports equipment by the YMCA as Stalag Luft III prisoners were.”
Protecting Hut #104
A fire brigade exercise was just conducted to make sure the replica hut #104, built by the RAF at the camp, was well protected from fire. The fire department simulated a fire, and smoke detectors worked perfectly. All fire extinguishers were checked as well as emergency exits and fire hydrants. Both hut and museum were deemed well protected.
Marek’s Trip to Warsaw
Marek recently was invited to the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw to give a speech promoting Louise Williams new book, A True Story of the Great Escape, which has been previously mentioned in this newsletter.
German Colonel Joachim Franke, German Defence
Attaché in Poland.
Michal Holy, Czech Airlines pilot, who was a mastermind
of the Bull-Mondchein-Kierath-Williams Memorial in Most,
Czech Republic, which honors Louise’s uncle as well as Bull
and Mondechein who also murdered by the Gestapo there.
Book and Hockey Blog– Terry Frei – Denver Post – U.S.
Denver Post sports reporter, Terry Frei, has written a very good book mentioning Stalag Luft III POW Mark N. Hoskins, who played for the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers football team. Third Down and a War to Go is a good read for sports and history lovers. Mark Hoskins was in South Compound. More recently, Terry wrote the following on his hockey blog, regarding a member of my family and hockey played at Stalag Luft III – the wonder of coincidence.
Marek has found another picture of Col. von Lindeiner’s country estate that used to be near the camp. The post card says: “Greetings from Jeschkendorf.” The second picture is a local restaurant where von Lindeiner could have eaten.
Another silent witnesses to Lindeiner’s reconnaissance trip
on February 12th, 1945, fighting the Russians.Village of
Greisitz (today Gryzyce)
POW James Stewart – Canada
Jim was one of 168 Allied Airmen held at Buchenwald before being sent to Stalag Luft III. He has returned there for memorial events, and he just received this invitation to attend the opening of the new permanent exhibition on the history of Buchenwald concentration camp, “Buchenwald: Ostracism and Violence 1937 to 1945”; Sunday, 17 April 2016, but will be unable to attend. Thanks for sending, Jim.
POWs to Identify – Barb Edy – Canada
If any of these RAF POW faces look familiar, please email me so I can pass along the information to Barb.
German Dog Tag – POW son, Gary Alexander – U.S.
This is the dog tag issued to Gary’s father, Harold Alexander, at Stalag Luft III. Thanks for sending the picture, Gary.
Searching for Oberpfaffenhofen Mission Vets – Barb Neal – SSMA – U.S.
Oberpfaffenhofen mission vets – info sought: Were you or your close friend downed 24 April 44? Input is sought from vets & relatives of those downed vets: Dutch author John Meurs (who is fluent in English, having worked for decades for the American GTE in the export department of their European HQ in Geneva), is researching for a book about 8th USAAF crews downed that day – including ten 306th crews. Meurs’ interest in honoring downed crews began at age 9, when an 8th AF heavy bomber crashed directly behind his family’s house in Nazi-occupied Holland on Sunday, 26 Nov 44; his first book covered that Misburg mission: Not Home for Christmas – A Day in the Life of the Mighty Eighth, published 2009 by Quail Ridge Press. His 2nd book, One Way Ticket to Berlin, [29 April 44 mission] will be published soon by the same publisher. He is now researching the Oberpfaffenhofen mission of 24 April 44 for a 3rd book. His books on the 8th USAAF are not history books in the sense of tonnage of bombs dropped or rounds fired. He highlights the human stories of the men who flew the missions and failed to return because they were killed, taken prisoner, or evaded capture — where they came from, what they did before joining the Air Corps, their last flight in WW II and – in case they survived – what they did after returning to the States. John Meurs would greatly appreciate hearing from you veterans and/or family members of veterans who were downed 24 April 44. Email him at email@example.com [Note: “ch” at the end of his email address is the standard European abbreviation used for Switzerland on license tags.]
Second Schweinfurt Mission Reunion – Barb Neal – U.S.
This year’s annual Second Schweinfurt reunion is in Dayton, OH, Sept 15 to 18. The reunion of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association [BGHA], will again be joined by the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association [SSMA]. Go to 306bg.us and click on the “Upcoming Reunion” tab.
March 21 – POW Bob Doolan Turned 99!! – POW daughter, Mary Lance – U.S.
Happy Birthday, Bob!
April 7 – Today, POW Joseph E. Consolmagno Turns 98!!
Happy Birthday, Joe!
Picture of Joe and his sisters taken in 1921
See Joe’s story below:
Oct. 16, 1942
Beverly, Boston Fliers Safe
On RAF Pilot’s Air WigWag
Flying Fortress, Crippled at Lille,
Heeds Sign to Spurn Channel Crash
WITH THE BOMBER COMMAND, United States Army Air Forces, Somewhere
in England, Oct. 15 (AP)-Nine American flying fortress crewmen
are alive and their $250,000 plane will fly against Hitler again because, in
one split second, an alert British Spitfire pilot improvised an air sign language.
But for Flight Lieut. A.J. Andrews, fighter pilot of the RAF, the Flying
Fortress would have crashed into the rough English Channel and these
men in its crew might not have been here today to tell the story.
Lieut. James M. Stewart, 22, a clergyman’s son from Marrowbone, Ky.,
Lieut. William W. Dickey, Jr., 23, of Beverly, Mass., a former scoutmaster,
Lieut. Joseph E. Consolmagno, 24, of Boston, Mass., a former newspaper
Lieut. James A. Creamer, 23, of Louisville, Ky., bombardier.
Sgt. U. L. Langan, 22, of Sioux City, Ia., radio operator-gunner.
Sgt. Charles J. Merryweather, 22, Sanford, Fla., top turret gunner.
Sgt. Raymond C. Schmoyer, 24, East Greenville, Pa., ball turret gunner.
Sgt. Thomas E. McMillan, 23, Steubenville, 0., waist. gunner.
Sgt. Jack M. Wheeler , 19, Muskogee, Okla, tail gunner
Stewart was piloting his Fortress in the big raid against Lille last Friday
when he was jumped by swarms of German fighters. They knocked two
motors out, smashed, the radio apparatus, riddled the lifer raft and
drilled shell holes in the rudder.
The Fortress finally ally shook them off but lost altitude rapidly over
the channel until, approaching England’s hills, it had dropped to about
The third motor was beginning to cough.
“I knew it was only a question of several hundred yards before I would
have to make a crash landing and with hills in front of me it looked, like
the best chance was to land in the channel, said Stewart, “I was picking
out a soft spot in the water, which was very rough.”.
At this critical moment Andrew appeared and instantly sized up the
situation. He could not communicate by radio so he jumped in front of
the, fortress, waggled his wings violently and headed directly for shore. ”
“I knew he wanted me to follow so I took a chance, Stewart continued.
The Spitfire sped straight over a low hill, he said, and “just as he
reached the crest of the hill he waggled his wings again and dropped his
landing gear to show there was a field below.”
The struggling bomber just cleared the hill and rolled onto a runway
directly in front on a field of which to crew had never known before.
The crew agreed that their plane probably could not have flown another
Schmoyer suffered the only injury. He had been cold on the way into
France and had turned on the heating apparatus in his flying suit. In the
flight and the return home he had neglected to turn off and was slightly
Lt. Joseph E Consolmagno, navigator of the Flying Fortress, is the son
of Edwin Consolmagno of Hemenway Street, an attorney with offices on
Hanover Street. A native of Medford, he attended Medford High School
and Tufts College, graduating with honors in 1939.
HONORS AT TUFTS
While at Tufts, he was one of the best known students in the college,
serving as editor-in-chief of the Tufts Weekly and manager of the lacrosse
team. He was also a member of several leading societies and historian
of his class. Before enlisting in the army air force early this year,
he worked for the Medford Mercury and an Italian newspaper In Boston.
Lt. William W. Dickey, Jr., co-pilot, Is the son of W. W. Dickey of 81
Baker avenue, Beveily, an employee of the United Shoe Machinery Corporation.
A native of Detroit, he moved to Beverly when a youngster and attended
Beverly High School and the University of New Hampshire, leaving
the university to enlist as an aviation cadet in July, 1941 .
SLIII POW William Bramwell Turns 99 on April 11th!! – POW daughter, Joan Wootton – U.S.
Happy Birthday, Bill!
The Guns of Kiel – Ernie Hasenclever – Canada
4 min. 30 seconds into the video, you can see Ernie, a former member of this flak battalion near Kiel, Germany, throwing stick for the white dog to keep him in front for this German-made propaganda film about German youth. These are the teenagers who operated the guns in the flak battalion that shot down my father’s plane. Thanks, Ernie, (who was not there that day as he had joined the Navy) and for all the translation work you do for me.
POW Podcast – Don Casey – Barry Schoen has forwarded the following link:
2012 – featuring Don Casey giving his oral history to the Pritzker Military Library.
15th Air Force Bomb Group Reunion in Dallas, TX
WWII 15th Air Force Reunion: October 13-16, 2016. Where: Dallas, Texas. A reunion of multiple groups and associations of veterans of WWII based in Italy. Groups participating are the B-24 groups: 376th, 451st, 455th, 461st, 465th 484th and 485th. Members of the 459th are very welcome to attend. If you were a member of their escort fighter groups or another 15th AF group we are sure that you will be welcome to stop by and say hello. Please contact Dave Blake [firstname.lastname@example.org] who is coordinating this event with questions and registration. Book your room soon! The Army Air Corps Library and Museum will be providing a special exhibit in the hospitality room for this event.
Jumping From a B-17 – Barry Schoen – U.S.
This video gives a perspective of what it might have looked like, minus the flak bursts. Scroll down on the page to click on video:
Bob Hope – Ross Greene – U.S.
Built Your Own Spitfire – Trevor Hewitt – UK
Ike’s Original A.F. One – Ross Greene – U.S.
Bailed Out and Shot Out, Pilot Makes An Historic Kill – POW son, Hugh Carter – U.S.
Footage of Raids on Kiel – Ernie Hasenclever – Canada
Please Mister, Please – POW son, Hugh Carter – U.S.
“Wonder if most folks know that Olivia Newton John had a hit call ‘Please Mr Please’ containing lyric in Shoe cartoon.” [last newsletter] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhi50xGf9Ac One comment under video: “In my neighborhood, the jukebox´s B-17 plays this heart-breaking toon!! Love Olivia
1941 Football Team – Pearl Harbor – John Lanza – U.S.
Lion King Meets Stalag Luft III
Stunning Rendition of the National Anthem – Kenneth Breaux – U.S.
Proud to Be an American – John Lanza – U.S.
Declassified Pictures of Little Boy and Fat Man Bombs – John Lanza – U.S.
BTW, all of these newsletters (26 of them) are archived at stalagluft3.wordpress.com Click on newsletters tab.
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers