Stalag Luft III Newsletter – September 2016

 image001-2

                              Stalag Luft III Newsletter – September 2016

Greetings Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,

Nazi Gold Train

As Polish workers continue to search for the gold train reported in the area, Marek weighs in:

“Looks like the operation, Nazi Gold Train, was a fiasco. They dug at least two big holes (approx. 6 meters deep) before the weekend. There was nothing down there. Now they are going to use special big drills to penetrate deeper (from the bottom of the holes). The drill machine arrived on Monday morning, but because of the rain and muddy terrain they could not drive the drill machine to the exact location. Now they are going to fill the holes in and on Friday they will use the drills.”

goldtrain-update-2

Recent holes dug

Nazi Gold Author Also Weighs  In – Ian Sayer – Switzerland

See video:

http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/08/16/hitlers-lost-nazi-gold-train-may-have-been-found-poland

German Woman Who Fed Three RAF  Great Escapers Visits the Camp

Our German researcher friend, Ingo Hauck, spent time in Zagan recently. He brought an 86-year-old woman who lived in Halbau before the war, which was on the evacuation march route for the Forced March (Long March to the British) and evidently for some Great Escapers. Actually, it was then the small village of Zehrbeutel which after the war became a part of Halbau (now called Ilowa in Polish). She came with her husband and son.

During the war, she lived on the modern farm. It was early morning in March 1944 when her older sister discovered a few British officers (3 or 4) in their barn, and her mother and sister gave them some food and milk. Then they left. The whole family left Halbau on February 9th, 1945, (at the same time Stalag VIIIC was evacuated), and they walked almost the same route that Luft 3 POWs did (Lipna and Gozdnica).

Ingo has been studying at the University of Merseburg working on his master’s thesis, and the son had read about him and his research on the camp and Great Escape. He contacted the university who put him in touch with Ingo . Marek was able to show the woman some old pictures he had of the barn that no longer exists.

marek-gerhard-hildegard-gunter-2

Left to right, Marek, Gerhard Züchner, Stefan Beyer (Ingo’s friend), Hildegard Züchner,

86, and Günter Züchner

czerna-river-flood-copy

This picture of the barn that gave refuge to the RAF Great Escapers was taken during the war.

The barn flooded when the Czerna River overflowed. Marek’s assistant, Mirek, is working on

tracing which of the Great Escapers might have stayed here.

New Display

Earlier this month the items seen below were donated to the museum. They are original German electrical devices. These were not used specifically in the camp, but they are exactly the same as those used in Luft 3. The items will be installed in a planned hut mock-up in the museum with other original things (stove, gramophone, Luftwaffe bed, and German wardrobe).

“I had a group of Polish Army officers visit (mostly active but some of them retired). The group was led by a man whom I’ve known a few years. He is also a retired officer and a Boy Scout leader. Some 20 years ago, they built a Boy Scout camp on the site of Stalag Luft 3. At the same time, the foresters did some work on the site. There was a fallen tree near the camp that created a big hole in the ground, and one of the boys found the strange electrical devices deep in that hole.”

img_9694

switch, socket, and part of the ceiling lamp

Recently Sent to Marek:

  att00012-3 

German dog tag anonymously sent by mail from Warsaw

Donations to the Museum from POW Robert Malin’s Son – Scott Malin – U.S.

Scott recently visited the camp and presented Marek with his father’s ID card, a post-war newsletter, and the two pictures below:

I.D.

filename-1-3

Post-War Newsletter

newsletter-from-malins-3

POW Robert Malin is second from the left below

filename-1-2-4

Photo taken in camp

When Wars End

A sobering thought in regard to the aftermath of war – Recently, I was telling Marek about a body that had been found next to a road that went to Lubin, Poland, and it was exhumed after discovery. The link had been sent to me from an American friend living in Poland, Stephen Marks. Marek’s reply:

“Almost every day we hear news like this. A few weeks ago, two German soldiers were found not so far from Zagan (small village between Zagan and Halbau). This part of Europe was a huge battlefield during the war. There are still a lot of bodies in the ground, as well as the guns, live bombs, and even vehicles.”

St. Michael’s Fair in Zagan

Sept. 9th marked Zagan Day, or St. Michael’s Fair in Zagan, remembering the old tradition when farmers used to bring goods to sell in the town each September. It became an annual celebration of the town of Zagan. The parade is only a small part of the event. There are concerts in the town, presentations, food market, merry-go-rounds etc. The fair is related to St. Michael’s Day, which was, according the Gregorian calendar, September 19th.

 

st-michael-parade02-3

SLIII Museum employees marching through Zagan – Marek on the left

st-michael-parade-3

The museum’s crew: Marek, Teresa, Sylwia, Pawel (friend of the museum)

and Mirek. Teresa and Sylwia both work in the museum. They do most of

the paper and administration work, and work in the gift shop.

st-michael-parade01-3

Four US Army officers participated in the parade. They are in the 3rd

Infantry Division (part of the US Army in Europe) and conducted a

few months training with the Polish 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade.

st-michael-parade03-3

Polish Black Division band

st-michael-parade04-3

The famous Wojtek, the WWII artillery bear attended!

The Museum Gets a “Blessed Tree”

The 11th Armoured Cavalry Division’s commander, General Jaroslaw Mika,

planted a yew tree in front of the museum recently. It was cultured from a

seed blessed by Pope Benedict in 2012. The young tree was a gift of the

State Forest for the Museum, and it was planted to honour 11th ACD

(Armoured Cavalry Division) also known as the Black Division.

2016-09-16-rm03

From right to left: Forest Ranger Zbigniew Blazewicz is far right, barely

visible. Chief Forester’s deputy Sławomir Tryjanowski is reading the

certificate, Gen. Mika, General (ret.) Janusz Ornatowski, Marek, and

Warrant Officer Robert Zych

2016-09-16-rm04

Gen. Mika plants the tree.

2016-09-16-rm01

The group admires the tree and handsome plaque.

 

2016-09-16-rm02

The plaque on the top of the marker says:

Cis pospolity (Polish name for yew) planted 16th September 2016 on

the occasion of 11th ACD Day. It was cultured from a seed blessed

by the Pope Benedict in 2012 during the pilgrimage of the Polish

foresters to Rome. Yew funded by Forestry Management of Zagan

“Black Division Day continued with a military display at the museum. Over 30 different military vehicles were displayed including Leopard tanks, self-propelled artillery, and infantry carriers. The most popular was the field bakery! People could taste fresh-baked bread direct from the oven. The display was planned for three days, from Thursday until Saturday, and brought hundreds of visitors from all over the Poland.”

img_98142

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marek addresses the students from the nearby school who walked

to the display wearing bright yellow safety vests to make them

visible on their walk. The little girl in the back seems to be particularly

enjoying “playing the part.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Field Bakery – Long lines waited to try the Polish Army fresh baked bread!

rm01

Some of the vehicles on display

rm02

ground-to-air missiles

ray-wojcik

“A few hundred guests visited the museum, including a few Polish Army generals (former commanders of the 11th Division). I also had the great pleasure to meet Colonel Ray Wojcik (US Army Attaché to Poland (the man in the center). He is of Polish descent.”

Polish History Contest

Children participated in a written history contest during the event writing their answers as they sat in the replica of Hut 104 where Tunnel Harry was dug for the Great Escape. Poland’s history has involved so many wars, and the Poles want to make sure their children are aware of the sacrifices made in and for their country.

img_9836a

Note an unusual carved figure stands behind one of the girls.

This creature is actually a wooden sculpture.

“It was a gift from the German town of Netphen (Zagan’s twin-town) in 2012. It commemorates the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. The figure holds one hand on its heart and the second hand on its head in a gesture of sadness saying,What have I done?’ The figure represents the German nation asking for forgiveness. There is a black inscription on it: 1 Sept 1939.”

img_9838a

Students take their tests.

img_9857a

Interesting Aerial Recon Map of SLIII and Surroundings – Dr. Mary Ruwell, U.S.A.F. Academy

I asked Marek to mark the locations of Belaria, the SLIII satellite camp, on the map and also Kupper airfield, where two RAF POW escapers, Walter Morison and Lorne Welch, tried to steal a plane and where Marek recently received from a man near there, a belt buckle belonging to one of them (shown in a previous newsleter).The map is turned to show North at the top. SLIII and the camp Stalag VIIIC are marked in white letters on the map’s SW corner. The picture was taken December 22, 1944. This is what Gen. Clark said this about the map:

“We all remember when this photo recce [reconnaissance) aircraft came over. It was a cold day, and the high which covered the area had been over us for days while the Luftwaffe coducted mass formation flying apparently in preparation for the attacks on our airfields in the west. The recce aircraft was making a brilliant condensation trail and was being intercepted by a German aircraft also “conning” clearly. Obviously, he was not hurt in the attack.

clark-aerial-belaria-kupper01

Happy 101st Birthday Dick Cole!

 Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last surviving member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, turned 101 on September 7, 2016!

Folded Wings

Paul Gordy

2nd Lt. Paul Gordy was a B-17 pilot, shot down 7/29/1943 on a mission to bomb the docks in Kiel, Germany. After being shot down, he floated in a dinghy in the North Sea for 8 hours, 80 miles west of Denmark. He was picked up by a Dornier Do 24, three-engine maritime patrol and sea rescue flying boat produced by the German manufacturer Dornier-Werke GmbH. Gordy was one of the many waiting to hear about the return of the remains of Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers from Poland; they were classmates at the University of Florida. Sconiers’ had rented a room from Paul’s girlfriend’s mother. As a barber, Sconiers cut Gordy’s hair when they lived in Florida and later at Stalag Luft III where they were both POWs. Gordy talked with him the morning Sconiers slipped on ice in the camp, which later led to his demise. Gordy said he always regretted having lunch prep duty that day…thinking if they had been able to keep on talking or had taken a walk together, Sconiers might not have fallen.

After nine months as a POW, Gordy’s brother joined him as a POW at Stalag Luft III, and they were both liberated at Stalag VII-A in Moosburg, Germany.

The Stalag Luft III community extends it condolences to his family.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chipleypaper/obituary.aspx?pid=177699443

Col. Stephen J. “Sky” King

Condolences to the family of Col. Stephen King on the loss of their father. Col. King attended SLIII Reunions for many years and was on the same crew with POW Don Casey, who died a few months ago. King was a familiar face to so many at the reunions, and he will be greatly missed by so many. Rest in peace Col. King. Your Nation thanks you.

Obituary link is below.

8-2014-dad-stalag-luft-iii-pow-reunion-colorado-springs                      stephenking-2

SLIII Reunion –Colorado Springs 2014                                  Going off to war                                            

   dad                     img_6416-fixed-2                        A  military career                                      Beloved father and grandfather

http://legacyfuneralcare.com/obituary/stephen-j-king/

Great Research Website:  Moosburg Online

http://www.moosburg.org/  Many stories are archived on the website, which also has many photos of the camp.

Coders Karl Duggin – U.S.

“POW Oran Highley, his Co-pilot, James Clark, and POW Jay Coberly, were housed in Barracks 137. Jay told me in a phone call that ‘Jimmy’ Clark was involved in tunnel work, but Jay had no idea that it was in their combine. Barracks 137, according to a diary entry, had been evacuated for a week while the Germans were looking for a tunnel entrance.

I have a picture of James ‘Jimmy’ Clark in a group photo at Moosburg labeled ‘X Committee’ (from the Gen. A.P Clark scrapbook at the AF Academy). The ‘X’ guys were a part of a group that communicated with the MIS-X folks in Ft. Hunt, VA, in coded letters from the POWs sent home but passed through Ft. Hunt for decoding before going on to their families. The mention of Barracks 137 being evacuated in search of a tunnel was noted in the book, ‘Clipped Wings’ the South Compound book produced after the war:

‘22 Jan 1944-Barracks 137 evacuated, 5 Feb 1944 prisoners allowed to return. No tunnel found by Germans.’

[There are no page numbers in Clipped Wings, but the notation is just after the section, “Appel” for those of you who have that book.]

Below is the picture of the “X Committee” taken in Moosburg, 10 April 1945. James Clark is kneeling row, far right.

clark-mooseburg-10apr-45-gs-aa

Interview with Author of New Book on Paul Brickhill – Tom Colones – U.S.

This new book about Spitfire pilot, Paul Brickhill, author of The Great Escape, gives insight into his wartime years, and his more tragic, troubled, and final years. Stephen Dando Collins, an Australian, is the author, and the book is called, The Hero Maker: a Biography of Paul Brickhill.

 Listen to the interview here:

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/stephen-dando-collins-on-‘hero-maker’-paul-brickhill,-‘dam-buste/7782954

Which Barracks Did the American Live in While Living in North Compound?

Americans shot down early in the war lived in blocks 105, 106, 107, 108 before they were moved to the South Compound.

Great New Resource for South Compound Researchers  After much tedious and meticulous work for the past two years, POW son, Mike Woodworth, has given Arnold Wright’s transcription of Behind the Wire a much-needed update. Because the original secret ledger that accompanied the POWs on the Forced March and survived Stalag VII-A in Moosburg was recorded almost microscopically by POW Ewell McCright, many errors in spelling and facts had to be corrected. This was no small task, as the ledger contained over 2,182 names. In addtion, when additional information came to Mike’s attention for some entries, he has added it as an addendum for many names. The new format is an excel spreadsheet with the basic information for each man that McCright interviewed in South Compound. I have used it many times now, and it is very user-friendly and is a great resource for researchers. If you are interested in the updated version, contact Mike at mike.woodworth@gmail.com  The modernized version can be accessed on the Air Force Academy’s website also. Hit control and click on: SL3 Porfolio page. Many thanks to Mike for this incredible amount of work to benefit all of us whose fathers were in South. He requests that if anyone detects any errors that they notify him.

Link to the spreadsheet:

http://afac.sdp.sirsi.net/client/en_US/default/?rm=STALAG+LUFT+III0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C0%7C%7C%7Ctrue

Escape and Evasion Reports – Dave Champion – Canada

https://narations.blogs.archives.gov/2010/09/14/world-war-ii-escape-and-evasion-reports-are-now-available-online/

More Escape and Evasion Reports – Ed Reniere – Belgium

All E&E reports are available at: https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&f.ancestorNaIds=305270&sort=naIdSort%20asc

Just type in a name (last or first) in the top left search window, replacing the *.* to find the link to the individual’s PDF file.

Red Cross Newsletters – Dave Champion – Canada

http://archive.org/search.php?query=publisher%3A%22Washington%2C+D.C.+%3A+American+National+Red+Cross%22

Covent Garden War Memorial – London – Ross Greene – U.S.

Ross found this WWII memorial marker at Covent Garden. Anyone visiting London can look for it. St. Paul’s is also known as the Actor’s Church.

“It’s in the walkway at the end of the Covent Garden mall closest to St. Paul’s church.”

image001

 

St Paul, Covent Garden (1631-8) by Inigo Jones

St Paul, Covent Garden (1631-8) by Inigo Jones

Dutch Resistance ID Card – POW son, Jim Keeffe – U.S.

Jim continues to find items of interest as he goes through his late father’s files. His, father, Col. James Keeffe, evaded in Holland during the war, and is subject of Jim’s book, Two Gold Coins and a Prayer. Jim returned to Holland, and his trip was written up in a previous newsletter. This time, he has found original Dutch Resistance ID Cards. This one is for Willem Verdoorn.

verdoorn-pb-2a-2  verdoorn-pb-1a-2

ID states Willem Verdoorn was a member of the LO (Dutch Resistance) who helped people who were in hiding (Onderduikers) and asks that he be given assistance if necessary post-war.

“I found the original wartime ID cards of one of the Dutch Resistance men who helped my father. They had been in the possession of Kees van den Engel, who was a young 23-year-old Dutchman in Rotterdam whom my dad met during his time evading there. Because the Germans were looking for him, Kees van den Engel never went to his home in Rotterdam after the start of the war. The Germans would have interrogated his father and mother brutally if they had had the slightest inkling that they might know where their son was located. So Kees stayed away for the entire war to protect his family.”

By the time Jim’s father met him, Kees hadn’t been home to see his family in four years.

“Willem Verdoorn was one of the first Resistance men who entered the rabbit shed [where Keeffe had hidden] to get my dad going on his journey into the Dutch Underground world. His brother, Johannes Verdoorn, was one of two men who rowed Dad up the river to the large town of Dordrecht that night. I sent an email to Margre van Wijngaarden, my Dutch friend in Papendrecht, to ask how to get the ID cards back to the Verdoorn family. Margre runs the town museum, which has a corner dedicated to Dad’s story. To her, and the town folk of Papendrecht, my father is their ‘Hero Liberator.’ The town’s people also honor the crew of a British Lancaster that crashed there during the war. Every year, during their Memorial Day services, the town’s people, led by the Burgemeester and other officials, solemnly march through the town and end up at the center where the tombs of the Lancaster crew are located, putting wreaths on each head stone. It’s quite moving. I have no idea how Kees came to have Willem’s ID cards. I didn’t think they knew each other, except after the war when Kees and my father visited Papandrecht to locate where Dad had parachuted. During that time, they did meet the Verdoorn brothers and other folks. I knew that the persoonsbewijs was the local civilian ID card the Germans required everyone to have. My dad was given a PB when the Resistance gave him a false identity as a Dutchman whose Beroep (occupation) was basket maker. But I had never heard of the legitimatiebewijs (Legitimatie.) After translating it, I realized it is an ID card for people in the Underground – the LO.  This is what is printed on that card:

Nationwide Organization for the Help to Persons in Hiding (L.O.)

Members of acknowledged resistance organizations, military and civilian authorities are requested to give all possible help and information to the bearer of this document

The LO cards were issued immediately after the Liberation. During those first weeks there were travelling restrictions all over the country. Only people with the right papers, such as the ID-card of the L.O. were allowed to travel from one place to another. It was not specifically for honoring them, but it enabled them to travel.”

46-keeffe-kees-and-broekhuizen

“This photo was taken during the war and given to my father when he visited Rotterdam in 1959.  From l to r: Kees van den Engel, Lt. James Keeffe Jr (evading as a Dutchman, alias ‘Andries Willem Teeuw’ – a ‘deaf and dumb basket maker’) and Alber Broekhuizen (a photographer in the Underground.) At the behest of the Verdoorn family, I have sent Willem Verdoorn’s two war-time ID cards to Margre van Wijngaarden at the Papendrecht Museum in Holland where they are now on permanent display.”

Reconnecting!

I was pleased to receive this email from POW Bob Doolan, 99 years old, just five months from 100!

Hello, Ms Walton,

I read the newsletter and saw a mention of Lt Leonard Spivey. We were once great acquaintances in the camp. I was wondering if there was a way to get a hold of him. Does he have email? My name is Lt. Bob Doolan. This is my email address. I look forward to hearing from him. Thank you,

 Bob Doolan

[They are now connected!]

Sketches of the “Long March” and a RAF POW Room at SLIII – POW daughter, Jane Bryce – Barbados

Jane has sent a picture of the famous RAF sculpture of a POW with his sledge on the Long March and sketches by POW Roderick D. May that she located at the RAF Museum Collection, Mill Hill, in London, England.

pows-on-the-march-2

                                                        On the march

pows-sleeping-in-a-church-4

POWs Sleeping in a Church on the Route of the Long March

pows-in-their-hut-2

Winter in a Stalag Luft III Room

text-re-pows-in-their-hut

 

pow-statue-2

pow-sledge-2-2

RAF Museum in London

Close up of contents of the sledge

RAF Photos of  POW Tony Gordon –  POW son, Drew Gordon – Australia

Drew has sent photos and descriptions of them that he found with his father’s belongings:

Background of the photographs:

“The following black and white photographs, which measure approximately 8cm x 12cm, each belonged to Flt/Lt Tony Gordon of 455 Sqdn. He became a POW on 7 November 1941 when he crash landed his Hanley Page Hampden Bomber (P210) near the town of Charloi, Belgium. For the balance of the war, he was a POW in Dulag Luft, (Frankfurt), Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) and 2 [ error – There was no Stalag Luft 2] and Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan).Tony, in the company of thousands of other RAF POWs, was eventually liberated at the end of April 1945 at Trenthorst, Germany, by British troops. The photographs depict portraits, small and large groups of POWs, and sport and theatrical activities in the camp theatre. Some of these photographs were sent home during Tony’s captivity, and others remained with him during captivity. On the back of many of these photographs, Tony wrote details of the event depicted, location, date, and the names of those present. Several also have the camp censor stamp on them.”

In 2005, Drew had the photographs examined by a scientific document/handwriting expert in order to enhance and decipher information and names written on the backs, as the penciled details on many of them had faded over the 60 years since they were written.

Following is a list in alphabetical order of 77 names as they appear on the back of the photographs. Spelling in some cases may be incorrect. In cases where a rank accompanies a name, the name and rank is listed as well as the same surname where it appeared without rank to cover the possibility there are two POWs with the same surname. Details follow:

 

 

Avres

 

 

P/O Ferwerda

 

 

Leigh

 

 

Flt/Lt Rummach

Bacheney Fraser Margot Russell
Baines Gibbs G/C Masse Seargy
Baky Flt/ Lt Gordon May Seaney
Baxter Tony Gordon McCague Schacer
Bickinsale Govell McIntosh Sherwood
Birchley Greach McLeod Slater
Teddy Blicharz EA Grey Miller Stan
Bradby Griffith Mulligan Flt/Lt Bob Van der Stok
Brickhill Sgt Griffiths S/L Murray P/O Thomlinson
Brown Harvey Murray Thompson
Bull Henry P/O Nelson Train
Cassie Hollaman Norbel W/C Tuck
S/L Catanach Keigh Pederson Twichett
John Cordwell Key Flt/Lt Plunkett Williams
Cornish King Rees Wood
W/C Day Kiost Regis Flt/Lt Wright
Doyle P/O Kloster Vasek Rekszczyc
Falkenmire Large P/O Van Rood
Farngey Larkin(W/C) Ross

 

dinner-group

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 – 1942

Description: Formal group photograph depicting 8 uniformed POWs around a formally set table. No details relating to the reason for the gathering are provided, however, a cake on the table has1942 on it. The gathering may be for Christmas or New Year’s celebration? Names of only 5 of the 8 participating POWs are handwritten on back and do not relate to the positions around the table.

Details: Rees, Regis, Bull, Govell, Norbel, Gordon (front row left hand end)

dressup-3

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 -1943

Description: Photograph depicts 5 named POWs attired in various costumes in the camp theatre.

Information handwritten on back of the photograph:

Music Hall

Stalag Luft 111

Nov 43

Flt/ Lt Plunkett, P/O Nelson, Flt/Lt Gordon, S/L Murray, Flt/ Lt Rummach

 fordyce-sketch-2

Sketch by POW Fordyce

Camp: Stalag Luft 3

Description: Photograph is of a cartoon sketch done by POW, Flt/ Lt Bill Fordyce (RAAF) of his friend, P/O Tony Gordon in 1943.

It is one of 8 similar sketches done by Fordyce depicting the subjects engaging in a range of activities. In this drawing Gordon is depicted in his role of a “Tin Basher.”

Gordon was involved in the construction of the tunnel ventilation system. These were made from “Klim” tins soldered together. He was also involved in the construction of bellows and a range of other escape related items as well as tunneling and building clandestine radio receivers following D Day.

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 – 1942

Description: Formal group photograph depicting 11 uniformed POWs around a formally-set table. No details relating to the reason for the gathering is provided. However, as the gathering occurred in August, it is possible that it relates to the 62nd birthday of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands on 31 August. Of note is that P/O Gordon, sitting on front left is wearing Observers half wings and not Pilot’s wings on a jacket that was most likely borrowed. Details handwritten on back of photograph:

Stalag Luft 111   Aug 42

(Back  row, L  to R) (Front row, L to R)
P/O Ferwerda P/O Gordon
Flt/Lt Bob Van der Stok W/C Tuck
P/O Van Rood G/C Masse
P/O Thomlinson G/C Schacer
P/O Mc Cague W/C Day
Flt/Lt Wright

gordon-photos0003-2

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 – April 1942

Description: Pilot Officer Tony Gordon with beard after having been a POW for 5 months. Tony would have only just arrived at the recently-opened camp and have been transferred from Stalag Luft 1 in Barth.

Details handwritten on back as well as Stalag Luft 3 censor stamp. “GEPRUFT 62” (Examined by censor number 62)

Stalag Luft 111 April 42

OK, it’s really me behind the beard.

Hang onto these.”

gordoncatanach-2

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 – 1942

Description: POWs Tony Gordon and James (Jimmy) Catanach  DFC.

Details handwritten on the back of photograph as well as Stalag Luft 3 censor stamp.

“GEPRUFT 62” (Censor number 62):

“Hang onto these.”

Stalag Luft 111

Oct 42

P/O Gordon   S/L Catanach       

Tony Gordon enlisted with James ((Jimmy) Catanach on the 18 August 1940 in Malvern, Melbourne, Australia. They became close friends, undergoing training in Australia and Canada together. Following deployment to RAAF 455 Sqdn in the UK, they were later reunited in Stalag Luft III. Catanach was one of the 50 POWs murdered following the “Great Escape.”

group

Group photo Camp: Stalag Luft 3 -1942

Description: Group of 24 POWs photographed outdoors

Details handwritten on the back of photograph are the names of 21 POWs, in no particular order:

Stalag Luft 111

Sept 42

Twichett Slater Kloster Train Cornish
Brown Large Leigh Birchley Key
Mulligan May Bradby Ross Doyle
Gordon (Pipe) Thompson Miller Russell Farngey
Seargy        

group2

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 – 1943

Description: Formal outdoors photograph depicting 34 Australian POWs on ANZAC Day 1943 (25 April)

Names of POWs are handwritten on back of the photograph as well as Stalag Luft 3 ink stamped.

Australians

Stalag Luft 3

ANZAC Day 1943

(Front row) Mulligan, [Mayo] [Brickhill] Falkenmire, Greach, Seaney, Cornish, Brickhill, Margo(?), Harvey,

(Middle & front rows) Larkin (W/C) EA Grey, Hollaman, Slater, Bacheney, Bickinsale, Keigh, Baxter, Catanach, Fraser, Gibbs, Kiost, Avres, Baky, Pederson, Baines, Williams, King, McIntosh, Wood, McLeod, Name illegible, Henry, Sherwood, Stan

gymnastics

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 1943

Description: Photograph depicts 6 POWs standing in a row attired in long pants and singlets on a stage. In the background, is a gymnastics bar and to either side are paintings of gymnasts. There are no details written on the back of the photograph. It is reasonable to assume that the photograph was taken with others in the Stalag Luft 3 theatre/music hall in November 1943.

[ Barb Edy, whose father, Don Edy, 5th from the left, is in this picture, adds more information]:

“Dad’s 6-man gymnastics group photo is captioned ‘Six To The Bar’ on page 39 of Wirebound World [1946] Stalag Luft III Photo Book by Squadron Leader H. P. Clark [of Winnipeg], photos by Hans Pieber and smuggled out of camp by Clark (aka ‘Herb’ also known as ‘Bert’). Dad is on stage with his gymnastics group of six men who normally performed on the high bar set up just outside Hut 103 (no doubt being a distraction for prep activities going on inside that hut, as the camp high bar was commandeered by Wings Blake. Blake, an NZ’r was a famous inventor who Hake written home about, saying he was doing work for him. Blake was one of Dad’s friends in the group, a great gymnast he taught Dad daring giant swings on the high bar, real crowd pleasers.”

 From POW Don Edy’s 2010 book, Goon In The Block:

 “My hobby had always been the horizontal or high bar, and we were able to get a couple of pretty good steel bars from the Goons.  When these were set solidly I spent a great deal of time on them.  There was a little New Zealand Wing Commander who was a real expert on the bar.  He taught me a lot and I was soon doing things I had never dreamed of at home in High School.  It was partly because we had a rather shortsighted view of life in the camp and rather threw ourselves around with a little more abandon then we would have at home.  One time we rigged up a bar on the theatre stage and put on a high bar act for a Variety show.  I got going on some giant swings and then let go on a fly-away that carried me right off the stage into the wings.  Johnny Johnson said he almost dashed outside to see if I had gone through the wall and landed on the sports field.”

 These six had performed their ‘Horizontal High Bar’ act in ‘Music Hall II’ which was actually in 1944 two months after the escape.  

 They normally practiced the high bar outdoors, the bar had been procured by a New Zealand Wing Commander ‘Wings’ Blake who had placed it outside his own hut (when they performed on the high bar crowds would gather outside Hut 103 to watch, sometimes helping to create a distraction when inside that hut Hake et al were manufacturing escape equipment). 

 Prior to the war Wings Blake had been a gymnastics champion, he was able to teach my father some very exciting, very daring ‘giant swings’ on the high bar. I’ll include a story below. 

 The week Dad’s group performed in the theatre was actually the third week of May 1944, during ‘Music Hall II’, the second of two Music Halls held in North Compound, the first being during the third week of November, six months prior.

gymnastics2

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 -1943

Description: Photograph depicts 6 named POWs attired in costumes presenting a gymnastic display in the camp theatre.

Information handwritten on back of the photograph:

Music Hall

Nov 43

Stalag Luft 3

Plunkett, Gordon, Murray, Posell, Nelson, Cassie

gymnastics3

Positions of POWs in the display per names on back of photograph:

Outer standing R & L: Murray and Plunkett

Inner standing R & L: Posell and Gordon

Being supported standing: Nelson

Sitting on Nelsons shoulders: Cassie

Camp: Stalag Luft 3 – 1943

Description: Photograph depicts 5 named POWs attired in costumes presenting a gymnastic display in the camp theatre.

Information handwritten on back of the photograph:

Music Hall

Nov 43

Stalag Luft 111

Gordon, Murray, Plunkett, Nelson, Cassie

(Positions in display per names on back of photograph:

Gordon is standing to the left.

Murray and Plunkett are doing handstands with Cassie balanced in the middle

playing-chess

 Camp: Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) December 1941 – April 1942

Description: Four POWs sitting around table reading and playing chess.

Details handwritten on the back of the photograph:

Self  (Tony Gordon)

John Cordell

Teddy Blicharz, Polish Pilot

Vasek Rekszczyc, Polish Pilot

It can be noted that John Cordwell’s right hand is heavily bandaged. John was Tony Gordon’s co-pilot and he had sustained burns when they crash landed in Belgium on the 7 November 1941. Tony and the two Polish flyers were instrumental in caring for John during this period and assisting in his recovery.

Spoon from Stalag Luft III – POW Ed Dement – U.S.

Thanks to Ed for the following. Ed brought home the spoon he used in Stalag Luft III.

09-10-2016-063845pm   09-10-2016-063101pm

Swastika on handle                                                AXPOW Commander Ed Dement

Goebbel’s Approval of Civilians Killing Allied Pilots – Dr. Susanne Meinl – Germany

Following is the translation of Goebbel’s words approving of the killing of Allied crews who were shot down:

“It has now happened that in certain villages or in cities, the population has fought against such terrorist fighter pilots to help themselves. They killed them (loud approving roar). Bravo – or they cut their necks through and the like. We, therefore, do not shed crocodile tears, and those who have done so are, therefore, not led to the scaffold. No, we are not so crazy! We can understand the anger of the population very well. The British and US pilots need to be aware that if they continue as before, so the German people will give them an answer that is anything but a pleasure.”

Josef Goebbels public speech – Nuremberg, June 6th, 1944

Sketch of North Compound – POW daughter, Barb Edy – CA and POW son, Doug Thorpe, son of POW Clifford Thorpe- CA. The sketch, done by American POW Charles Fredrickson, flying with the Eagle Squadrons, was found in Clifford’s log book.

picture-2-crthorpe-pow-mugshot-stalag-luft-3

image002-2

december-30-1943-calgary-herald-pow

POW Thorpe in the Calgary Herald – Dec. 1943 – credit Barb Edy

photo-a-stalag-block123-room11

Thorpe is first man on the left, looking at Barb’s father, Don Edy. Hut 123, Room 11, c. late 1943/early 1944. L-R: Thorpe, Edy, Crozier, Stephenson, Hodgkins. Standing: Taylo

Opportunity to Purchase “The Great Escape–the Final Secrets” DVD – Nils Cowan

After the Dayton reunion in 2012, many of you asked if you could purchase this DVD we showed, which feature Art Durand and Lt. Gen. A.P. Clark among others. I asked Nils if he was able to make some, and he did. With more requests, he has graciously made a limited number of this excellent DVD available again.

The film poster and synopsis are below.  Here’s a link to a teaser video as well: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/videos/escape-thwarted/

The price is $10 plus $5 shipping & handling for a total of $15.00 even.  Make check out to Hemlock Productions.  No credit cards at this time, but payment can also be made through Paypal to Nils at nilscowan@gmail.com.  Be sure to send the address where you would like your DVD sent.

Address is:

Nils Cowan

4340 30th Ave. W

Seattle, WA 98199

(206) 268-0907

great_escape_the_final_secrets__dvd

WWII Tour that Visits Stalag Luft III – Szymon Serwatka – Poland

My friend, Szymon, a professional tour guide and one of our researchers in the recovery of Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers, has sent information on his upcoming 2017 WWII Tour. For those of you who would like to visit SLIII, this excellent tour (April 23-29) might work for you. See videos on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/BlechhammerTour/

Trip Schedule

Day 0 – arrivals in Kraków

Day 1 – Kraków Castle and Old Town

Day 2 – Wadowice, Jeleśnia – B-24 memorials

Day 3 – Auschwitz death camp

Day 4 – Blechhammer USAAF WWII target

Day 5 – Żagań Stalag Luft III POW camp

Day 6 – Wrocław Old Town, Walim tunnels

Day 7 – Jewish Kraków, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Day 7 +1 – departures from Kraków

Your Guide

I am Szymon Serwatka. I will be your personal guide and your driver.

I have been researching USAAF missions to Poland for the last 20 years. My friends and I identified almost 200 crash sites or landing locations of American aircraft in Poland. I wrote 2 books and many articles for different aviation magazines.

I have been helping to find American MIAs in Poland, too.

Day 1

We will start in Kraków, and we will see the Royal Castle and the Cathedral on the Wawel Hill.

We will take a tour of Krakow Old Town in an electric cart.

We will visit the market square with a historical trade hall, St. Mary’s Church, and an underground exhibition about medieval Kraków.

Day 2

This day is related to the USAAF bombing of IG Farben in Auschwitz on September 13th, 1944.

We will visit memorials to two B-24 crews who were shot down on this date. One was from the 485th (we will see the crash site) and the other from the 460th Bomb Group.

We will also see a Polish-American museum in Wadowice.

Day 3

We will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where 1 million Jews were murdered, together with 70,000 non-Jewish Poles, and 30,000 people from other nationalities.

We will also see where the IG Farben Auschwitz chemical factory was, which was bombed 3 times by the USAAF in 1944.

Day 4

On this day we will leave Krakow and go to Kędzierzyn-Koźle, known in World War Two as Blechhammer.

The town’s synthetic fuel factories were at the extreme range of the USAAF bombers, and were heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns.

We will see the factories, a former slave labor camp, and the museum dedicated to the 15th Air Force.

Day 5

After staying overnight in Wrocław, we will continue west to Żagań.

We will visit a museum dedicated to POW camps. It is located where the Stalag Luft III was. This camp was known from The Great Escape.

We will see a reconstructed POW hut, foundations of the camp’s buildings, and where the main Great Escape tunnel (Harry) was.

Day 6

We will visit Wrocław’s magnificent Main Square, with a place that has been serving beer since 1275.

We will see „Panorama Racławicka” (1894) which is a giant 360 degree painting best viewed from a centrally located viewing platform.

On the way to Kraków, we will visit mountain tunnel systems at Walim built by the Nazis in 1943 and 1944.

Day 7

We will go to a historical Salt Mine in Wieliczka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Then we will visit a museum in Schindler’s factory, made famous by Spielberg’s „Schindler’s List”.

We will end the day in Kazimierz, Kraków’s Jewish district, where we will see a medieval Gothic style synagogue.

April 23-29, 2017 Tour

 Arrivals on April 22nd, departures on April 30th

Hotels (Paid at the hotels. Szymon books for you) $510 (single room) $280 (double room)
Personal guide Transportation Entry tickets

(Paid to Szymon)

$550 $550
Total $1060 $830

Cancellation fee: $300 under 60 days from tour start

The tour cost does not include:   Flights to/from Krakow   Airport transfers   Lunches and dinners (estimated at $30   a day per person. 7x$30 = $210)

Number of travelers: min 5, max 7

July 2-8, 2017 Tour

arrivals on July 1st, departures on July 9th

Hotels (Paid at the hotels. Szymon books for you) $580 (single room) $320 (double room)
Personal guide Transportation Entry tickets

(Paid to Szymon)

$550 $550
Total $1130 $870

Cancellation fee: $300 under 60 days from tour start

The tour cost does not include:   Flights to/from Krakow   Airport transfers   Lunches and dinners (estimated at $30   a day per person. 7x$30 = $210)

Number of travellers: min 5, max 7

Contact Szymon at sserwatka@yahoo.com

Tour That Stops in Zagan

For those who have asked about visiting the camp, twice a year, this guided WWII tour stops at Stalag Luft III.

http://stephenambrosetours.com/tour/wwii-poland-and-germany-tour/

Links

AAC Ring Traded at Stalag VII-A Returned – John Lanza – U.S.

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/26816

Air War over Holland

http://www.studiegroepluchtoorlog.nl/welcome/

Colditz Escape – POW son, Mike Woodworth – U.S.

A group of us visited Colditz (Oflag IV-C) a year ago, and Mike has since found this link:

https://218squadron.wordpress.com/escape-from-colditz/

Hologram:

Not WWII related, but quite amazing:

Unless you have seen this hologram…

you have never seen a hologram.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ vZRFcGrrsyc

Great Escape Theme – UK

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKRacCfOfBI

At the 2012 Ceremony of Beating Retreat on Horse Guards Parade in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Massed Corps of Drums – comprising: First Battalion Coldstream Guards, First Battalion Irish Guards, and the Second Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – were joined by the Massed Foot Guards Bands for a performance of, “The Great Escape.” Elmer Bernstein’s well known and highly-popular theme music was conducted and adapted by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Barnwell (Senior Director of Music Household Division and Director of Music Band of the Welsh Guards).

 

Always remember:

“The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it….. The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died serving it.”

Until next time,

Marilyn Walton

Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers

 

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Stalag Luft III Newsletter – September 2016

  1. What a fantastic newsletter! Thank you very very much!

    A special thank you to Marilyn Jeffers Walton and Marek Lazarz!

    Greetings from Germany

    Best wishes Ingo

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s