Stalag Luft III Newsletter – August, 2016
Greetings, POWs, Families, and Friends,
Please take a nostalgic look at the picture below when thousands attended the Stalag Luft III reunions. You might just find a familiar face! Gen. Smart, Gen. Clark, and Jerry Sage are all sitting at the center table behind the white raised table, and just behind the flowers on a table. “Padre Mac,” Murdo MacDonald, beloved SLIII chaplain, is there too. You will have to zoom in on the picture. Due to its nature, I can’t make it any bigger without losing resolution.
1985 – 40th Anniversary SLIII Reunion in Denver, Colorado, held at the Denver Marriott – The event was attended by over 1000 POWs and their wives.
Identifying the General
In the last newsletter, I posted the picture Lt. Gen. Clark’s granddaughter sent to me for identification, which is below on the left. I had speculated it could be Gen. Ira Eaker, but that was wrong. Gen. Hodges was considered next, but his family confirmed it was not him. Our crack researcher in Belgium, Ed Reniere, then looked at countless pictures of WWII generals, and found Lt. Gen. Barton K. Yount, a West Point graduate, as Gen. Clark was, and the man who pioneered the procedures for teaching military pilots to fly. See link below of his distinguished service. As an added bonus, I was able to find that it was Gen. Yount’s wife who chose the original 1942 Army Air Corps March that you will recognize from the link below:
Lt. Gen. Yount
Below is a link to the 1942 pressing of the “Army Air Corp March” performed by The Victor Military Band, conducted by Leonard Joy, with The Four Clubman, played on 1940 “Airline” Radio.”
In 1937, Assistant Chief of the Air Corps Brig. Gen. Henry H. Arnold persuaded the Chief of the Air Corps, Maj. Gen. Oscar Westover, that the Air Corps needed an official song reflecting its unique identity in the same manner as the other military services and proposed a song competition with a prize to the winner. However, the Air Corps did not control its budget and could not give a prize. In April 1938, Bernarr [correct spelling] A. MacFadden, publisher of Liberty magazine stepped in offering a prize of $1,000 to the winning composer, stipulating that the song must be of simple “harmonic structure,” “within the limits of [an] untrained voice,” and its beat in “march tempo of military pattern.”
Over 700 compositions were received and evaluated by a volunteer committee of senior Air Corps wives with musical backgrounds chaired by Mildred Yount, the wife of Brig. Gen. Barton K. Yount. The committee had until July 1939 to make a final choice. However, word eventually spread that the committee did not find any songs that satisfied them, despite the great number of entries. Arnold, who became Chief of the Air Corps in 1938 after Westover was killed in a plane crash, solicited direct inquiries from professional composers and commercial publishers, including Meredith Willson [correct spelling]and Irving Berlin, but not even Berlin’s creation proved satisfactory, although it was used as the title music to “Winged Victory” by Moss Hart. Two days before the deadline, Crawford, a music instructor, aviation enthusiast, and professional musician billed as “The Flying Baritone,” personally delivered a sound recording of his entry, which proved to be a unanimous winner. Mrs. Yount recalled that Rudolph Ganz, guest conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra and a consultant to the committee, was immediately and enthusiastically in favor of the winner.
The contest rules required the winner to submit his entry in written form, and Crawford immediately complied. However his original title, “What Do You Think of the Air Corps Now?” was soon officially changed to “The Army Air Corps.” Crawford himself publicly sang the song for the first time over national radio from the 1939 National Air Races.
Not everyone was fond of the song. During a dinner of September 1939, Mrs. Yount played a recording of the song for Charles Lindbergh and asked his opinion. He responded politely to Yount, but years later remarked in a diary, “I think it is mediocre at best. Neither the music nor the words appealed to me.” Arnold did not share Lindbergh’s opinion. He sought to fund publication of band and ensemble arrangements of the song for nationwide distribution. However, the Air Corps did not have enough money to publicize the song, so Crawford arranged a transfer of the song’s copyright to New York music publisher Carl Fischer Inc., including a perpetual performance release in favor of the U.S. Air Force.
After World War II, Crawford opened a restaurant near Opa Locka, Florida, named the “Blue Yonder.”
Read more about Gen. Yount on the link below:
News from Marek in Poland
With the potential discovery of the infamous Nazi Gold Train back in the news again, I asked Marek about it:
“They actually started to dig two days ago as they finally got all the permissions.
Earlier, they only conducted several examinations (with GPR and other special devices). This is about 80 kilometers southwest of Wroclaw [formerly Breslau, Germany].The German name was Waldenburg (today Walbrzych). I spent 4 years in high school there. Walbrzych/Waldenburg is just 35 kilometers northeast of my hometown, Lubawka (Liebau).To my knowledge, they confirmed that there is a tunnel down there. No Gold Train so far.”
Exploration of the camp and Stalag VIIIC that sat beside West Compound is still yielding interesting items. Below is a dog tag of a French POW from VIIIC. Marek later found the man’s death certificate in the Zagan City Archive, which indicates the death was suicide by hanging.
Beneath the signature:
“Selbstmord durch Erhangen” – [death by hanging]
Canadian Red Cross Box
Marek found an historic piece for the museum and bought it from a Polish seller:
“I asked the seller about it. The lady said that the house [where it was found] belonged to a Polish officer. He was in Polish Army in the West. Looks like he came back from the war with this box.”
The original Canadian Red Cross box was found in the attic in southern Poland.
On 8 May 1945, it was reported that 7,000,000 Red Cross parcels, weighing 35,000 tons were at sea or in warehouses in Britain, Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseilles, Toulon, Geneva, and Gothenburg. A Red Cross representative said that they were not perishable and could be used for distressed civilians and as a flexible reserve.
Donation of Stove
This stove was dug up sixteen years ago by some local “looters.” The stove is in perfect condition. It was found in North Compound in one of the huts near the fire pool. The men who had it saw Marek and his team on TV (the documentary made during the search they conducted last year), and when they realized what they do at the museum, they decided to donate the stove to the museum.
The stove was still filled with charcoal briquettes!
B-17 Parts from Polish Lake
Recently, Marek received a B-17 switch panel found in a small lake in northern Poland. Four crew members became POWs at SLIII. Many of the parts found in 1989, are displayed in the Polish Army Museum in Kolobrzeg (Baltic Sea). The plane was from the 91st BG, 322nd BS, shot down on mission to Berlin, 21st June ’44. It had crashed into Stolsko Lake (now Poland). POWs were Robert O’Bannon (SL3), Thomas Fitzgerald (SL3), Nathan Bartman (SL3), Arnold Ostwald (SL3), Irving E. Lewis, Benjamin Goldman, Herbert McCutchan, Jose Fioretti; KIA, and Amos Estrady.
When my father died, I found an autographed book by O’Bannon that he had in his collection, and I spoke with O’Bannon then. He has since passed away. It is too bad he died without seeing these parts.
Eagle Squadron Uniform
American POW “Casey” Jones’s Eagle Squadron uniform is now on display at the Air & Space Museum at Dulles airport. Marek took this picture when he was there. Note unique Eagle Squadron emblem for this American who, like many others, first flew with the British.
More on the Eagle Squadrons
Wright-Patterson AFB: – Photos by Marek:
POW Display – Wright-Patterson AFB
Photo taken by Marek
Burial photos were taken at Stalag Luft I, in Barth – the second Luftwaffe officers’ camp
that preceded Stalag Luft III.
Polish Army Day
On August 15th, Poland celebrated Polish Army Day. All tank sequences from the link below were filmed in Zagan, Home of the Polish Armoured Corps. Polish Army Day is celebrated on August 15th to commemorate the 1920 Warsaw Battle during the Polish-Bolshevik War when Poland stopped the communists near Warsaw, who had wanted to conquer Western Europe.
“A group of American volunteers helped us. They were pilots led by Merian C. Cooper. Communists left Poland, and the years 1920-1939 were the Golden Era for our country. We had very good army, industry, and education. We were able to rebuild the country and then we lost everything in 1939 again.”
To celebrate this year, there was a great parade in Warsaw. Twenty tanks from Zagan participated in the parade, as well as four US Army Abrams tanks and other vehicles.
American Pilot – Merian C. Cooper
POW Tom “Ma” Wilson Receives Lance Sijan Award from A.F. Academy
Tom, affectionately known as Ma by his roommates, 96 years old now, recently was presented with this prestigious award.
In the spring, Tom fell and broke a rib while playing golf, getting out of a bunker, which kept him from golfing for a while, but now he is well again and back in action. Congratulations on your award, Tom, from the SLIII Community!
Duxford – POW son, Keith Ogilvie – Canada
Keith had an eventful time with his book launch in Duxford, England, where he also enjoyed the air show.
“It was an amazing weekend for me to see two solid days of extraordinary aircraft blowing around the field (including a B-17!) and at the end of each day’s show to see 20 war birds flying by in formation–7 Spitfires, 2 ME109’s, a couple of P51 Mustangs, a Grumman Avenger, a Bearcat and a bunch of others I don’t remember.”
Keith’s photos below:
End of the day fly over
B-25 – Mitchell Bomber
B-17 and Spitfire
B-17 and ME 109
Sentimental Trip Back to France – POW daughter, Carolyn Clark Miller – U.S.
Carolyn returned to France July 4th, 2016, for the 60th Anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty at the old air base, now a French drone base, which her father, SLIII POW, later, Lt. Gen. A.P. Clark, had commanded near Chaumont. Carolyn, one of three children of men who had been stationed there, was the only one who was actually there by the statue when her father dedicated it. She was seventeen then. There were a few other Americans, including about six former enlisted personnel who had closed the base down in the mid-sixties. Several hundred French had come from afar for the celebration.
“They raised the French and American flags simultaneously exactly as they had at the first dedication on July 4, 1956, and then played the Star Spangled Banner and Le Marseillaise. Another one of the ‘children’ and I laid a wreath at the base of the statue.”
The following day, the attendees met in the middle of town at a statue dedicated to Franco-American friendship and French and American WWI war dead. The names of 19 American pilots who died in accidents during the 50s and early 60s were added to the statue, and Taps was played. After many speeches, they laid three wreaths, and Carolyn, fluent in French, gave a short talk before she presented a plaque she had made to the Mayor of Chaumont in memory of her father and grandfather.
“I told the several hundred French citizens of Chaumont that the history of their town and the history of our family are significantly linked. The mayor told me that the plaque would hang in the Hotel de Ville.”
Carolyn’s paternal grandfather lived in Chaumont for 15 months, a doctor on Gen. Pershing’s staff. After spending some months in the trenches caring for the wounded, Pershing brought him to the Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Chaumont to help design and facilitate the building of field hospitals to expedite delivery of medicines and supplies to the battlefields.
“Then, quite by coincidence during the Cold War, my father was sent to command one of the largest American bases in France, which was outside Chaumont, and we resided there for 17 months.”
Carolyn told the gathering that one day perhaps Clark’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren might visit France and come to Chaumont to see the plaque in memory of their ancestors and better understand the significance of Chaumont and Franco-American friendship to the family.
The next day, Carolyn unveiled the new street sign that renames a street in the center of town after President Woodrow Wilson who visited Chaumont during or right after WWI. Another street was renamed after the 48th Fighter-Bomber Wing, the wing stationed at the air base.
Bonnie Sher, left, Carolyn on the right –“Her father worked for my father, and was the project manager for the Statue of Liberty project. The French colonel’s name is Chabert.”
Carolyn unveils the street sign.
Carolyn’s plaque dedicated to her POW father and grandfather
Book of Interest – POW son, Dick Olsen – U.S.
“Not too long ago, I Googled the name of the navigator on my dad’s crew and his name turned up in the appendix of a book written by a man named Imre Rochlitz. The appendix contained the names of around 50 downed airmen that Imre helped when he was a Partisan in Croatia in 1944. I have had a nice e-mail correspondence with his son—Imre died a few years ago. Imre wrote a book called Accident of Fate and it is a very good book that I highly recommend.
Youtube has a segment called, “Portraying Imre Rochlitz,” which is a captivating interview about all the things he went through during the war including being sent to a Ustache death camp in Croatia and then miraculously being released, thanks to a Nazi general.”
Portraying Imre Rochlitz—about 30 minutes
A much longer interview with Imre Rochlitz—about 3 hours
Here is the book—available on Amazon and other sites.
From the book, The Dulag Luft Trial – 1952 by Eric Cuddon (editor) which is a book on the post war trials of Germans employed at the Interrogation Center in Oberursel, comes this map of the cooler, which no longer exists. These are the solitary confinement cells where downed airmen were initially confined as they were interrogated.
Photos and Information – POW daughter – Deb Boyle Anderson – U.S.
“My father was Lt. Wilfred L. Boyle, B-17 bombardier, shot down and ditched in the North Sea, 8-12-43. He arrived at Stalag Luft 3 on 8-22-43. He was housed in the South Compound 135/13.
“I am working on a make-shift address book my father obviously made in prison camp. It lists about 30 people and includes two of his crew in the South Compound, some in the same combine. Some of it is in his handwriting and some in a variety of handwritings. It was written on German supply forms and is held together with pieces of metal.”
[When completed, Deb has agreed to share the address book for the newsletter.]
Wilfred L Boyle
Wilfred Boyle before being taken POW
“The picture taken in the Moosburg, shortly before liberation, is of (from left to right) Frank Ronzio, Reuben Fier, and Wilfred Boyle. Frank and my father were both in the South Compound 135 room 13 and both were from Rhode Island; Reuben was in the West Compound and originally from New York. He visited my father in 1980 and was then living in Maryland. A few years ago I tracked him down through the internet. He was then living in Boca Raton, Florida. I sent him a letter, and he called me. His National Archive POW info is listed the same as my father 7A only.[NARA continues to repeat this error and the one that says all SLIII POWs also went to Stalag XIIID in Nuremberg, which they did not, and many of us have addressed this with them, but they will not correct the records.] I have two other pictures taken at Moosburg with just Reuben. He said there were 7 pictures in the series, but my father received only four of them and one was a duplicate.”
After the war, Frank Ronzio was an American actor famous for playing ‘Litmus’ in the film, Escape from Alcatraz. He played ten roles in his life. He also acted in Hill Street Blues and Fear City.]
Did You Know?
…that the French 40&8 box cars used to transport the POWs from Spremberg, Germany, were actually named by the American Horse Calvary during World War I? That unit designated 40 men or 8 horses.
German Boy Witnessed the Forced March
With permission of Mr. Siegfried Heller who lives in Washington State, read the letter below that he wrote to Marek after visiting the camp. He became a good friend of POW Norm Achen decades after the war, not realizing at first that their paths had crossed in Jan. 1945, in Muskau. After the war, Norm also became very good friends with the son of Hanns Scharff. Siegfried is one of the incredibly lucky survivors of the bombings of Dresden, a town our POWs passed through on the 40&8 box cars very shortly before the bombings there.
Dear Mr. Lazarz:
You may recall our short meeting on June 3 of this year when a colleague and I enquired about a friend of ours who was imprisoned at STALAG LUFT 3. His name is Norman Achen, and he and I met on January 29, 1945 not knowing that we indeed had seen each other until we found out about the details in 1990.
You and your friend were able to locate the records of Norm Achen and gave us a copy of those records. We are very grateful for your efforts and appreciate your work at the museum very much. I promised you that I would send you a copy of Norm’s book “Go with God” which is enclosed with this letter. I hope you and your colleagues will enjoy reading it and that it will contribute to filling in those many blanks in the history of STALAG LUFT 3. Norm has since passed on, and we are trying to locate some of his family now.
Here again a quick recount of what happened on January 29, 1945. I was seven years old then, and it was a very cold winter. We lived at Sorauer Strasse 21 in Muskau, now Clara-Zetkin-Strasse 21, just about 200 m down on the right of the street from the bridge across the Neisse River. Lots of refugees and military were streaming across the bridge all day long, and at night we always had a dozen or more people trying to get away from the cold, sleeping on the floor of our living room. That day hundreds of American and British POWs were marched by our house in Muskau, several pulling their meager belongings on primitive sleds like oxen behind them. My cousin Manfred and I threw snowballs at them for “fun,” and one of the POWs actually gave us a couple of small pieces of chocolate, something we ourselves had not tasted before – it was wartime!!
Instead of refugees staying in our house that night, we had about ten or so German Luftwaffe guards along with a couple of watchdogs sleeping on the floor. The POWs had been locked up inside the large Evangelical church (destroyed and never rebuilt) close to the market square and inside the brick factory in Muskau. The guards told me about the camp and how many of the prisoners had dug a tunnel, sewn fake uniforms, carved pistol fakes out of wood, blackening them with shoe polish. As a seven-year-old, I was all captured by that story.
After running away from the communist system in East Germany in 1958, I lived in Australia. In 1961 I came across the book “The Great Escape” and was so surprised to find out, that I actually had been indirectly part of the story. In 1965 or so I the saw the movie in the USA – pretty much hyped up, though. Then in 1990 when I was the vice president of Physicians Medical Laboratory in Portland, Oregon, the laboratory was sold to Nichols Institute. The lawyer handling all the legal matters noticed my German accent and mentioned to me that he was shot down over Germany in the summer of 1944. His name was Norman Achen, and what a surprise to discover that he marched by our house in Muskau in January 1945! We became friends, and he wrote the book “Go with God” about his experience. It’s a small world – and God is good, all the time!
You are doing a great job at the museum. War is terrible. I had lost my father in October 1944, missing in action. My mother and I lived thorough that air raid of February 13, 1945 while in a refugee train on a railroad station in Dresden. Having survived that is a true miracle. Those horrible experiences in childhood will forever be engraved in my mind.
My cousin Manfred now lives in Krauschwitz at Zum Schulmeisterweg 6 (telephone number 49 35771 640955). He is 80 years old now, but remembers all those details very well. His sister Ingrid and her husband Günther Till still live at the house at Clara-Zetkin-Strasse 21 in Muskau.
If you are near Boston:
Fly with the Blue Angels – John Lanza – U.S.
“You’d think it was dangerous to chew gum while doing this!
Footage is courtesy of the U.S. Navy & the Blue Angels.
Video runs 3:44. For sure, go full screen. This footage is of the “slot man” in the Diamond formation…toughest flying due to wingtip vortices, etc. When the pilot “smiles,” he is pulling some serious positive/negative “G” forces. Notice the rest of the formation in the pilot’s reflective goggles.”
The Four Chaplains – Famed WWII Story
Video of Admiral Nimitz’s Victory Parade – 1945 – Washington DC
1000 Plane Fly Over
Adopt a Retired Old Guard Horse from Arlington National Cemetery
B-17 Belly Landing – 1944 – Podington, England
How to Fly a B-17
Touching Video of the Return of WWII Marines from the Pacific
Dress Made of Silk Escape Maps – POW daughter, Barb Edy – Canada
Searching the German Archives
Many WWII documents are held at the archive in Freiburg:
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers
[Previous newsletters are all archived at stalagluft3.wordpress.com. Click on newsletters.]