Stalag Luft III Newsletter – November 2016
Greetings Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! The fundraiser Mike Eberhardt and I are doing for Marek continues through December for those who would like to donate. Donors and POWs’ names will go on the plaques.
November has brought a new display at the museum in Zagan:
Marek: “The Czechoslovak plaque is ready. It was made with huge help from my two friends from the Czech Republic: Michal Holy (airline pilot) and Jan Rail (historian and specialist on Czech pilots in the RAF). The plaque is next to the Polish display. 42 Czechoslovak airmen who flew with the RAF were held in Stalag Luft 3. Three of them escaped in March 1944. Arnost Valenta was killed by the Gestapo. Ivo Tonder and Bedrich Dvorak were sent to Colditz.” [Oflag IV-C – castle in Saxony for chronic escapers]
New Czechoslovak Plaque
New French Film on the Great Escape
Several in the SLIII Community, including Marek, Ed Reniere, and I, have been working with the French on a new film about the Great Escape. It will be the first documentary on the Great Escape produced for the French market. The film will cover the famous escape in general with a small part devoted to French POW, Bernard Scheidhauer, Roger Bushell’s escape partner. Both were murdered by the Gestapo. Anna Kwak, from Paris, director and chief scriptwriter, who visited with Marek mid-November, is working with the LaFamiglia Production Company. The program will be produced for the RMC TV Channel. The production crew spent three days in Zagan shooting at the museum (replica hut and main exhibition), in the remains of Stalag Luft 3, at the train station, and at The Memorial to the Fifty. Marek will be the narrator for the Zagan scenes. The filmmakers were also in the UK where they interviewed former POW Jack Lyon and Colin Kirby-Green, son of Tom Kirby-Green, who was murdered after the escape. The filmmakers are planning the premiere for March 2017.
Anna and Marek
POW Grandson Returns to SLIII – Chris Wells – U.S.
Marek recently escorted Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Wells of South Carolina, grandson of POW S/Sgt. Horace Wells, West Compound, around the camp. Marek and Chris found they shared the same birthday, both date and year! Wells’ father was with the 454th BG and was lost on April 21, 1944, over Yugoslavia. He was a gunner who had flown on the crews of Lt. Henry G. Hughes and Lt. Edward L. Sensor of the 739th Squadron, 454th Bomb Group (H), respectively. He was flying as nose gunner with Lt. Sensor when shot down on a mission to bomb the southeast marshalling yards in Bucharest, Rumania. Wells was subsequently captured and spent most of the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III.
Sgt. Wells and Chris below:
Crew of Bama Baby – Wells’ first crew
Accompany Chris and Marek as they find Sgt. Wells’ barracks in West Compound:
As a side note, Chris’s father sent me a page from his father’s Log Book showing his roommates. One turned out to be Milton R. McCracken whose brother came with Patton’s Third Army into Stalag VII-A to find POW McCracken there on liberation day. More ironic, there was another POW named McCracken in the camp, and his brother also came in to find him there. Eventually, all four McCrackens met each other. Mike Eberhardt and I wrote about all of them in our recent book.
S/Sgt. Horace Wells S/Sgt. Milton McCracken
Further, McCracken’s grandson, Matt, created a website:
http://www.victoryboundcrew.com/ to honor and provide information on the crew of the B-17, Victory Bound, on which his grandfather was the left waist gunner. Matt and his mother, Lucy Nesbitt, have been doing research in an effort to locate living family members of the crew. Over the years, they have had great success but were unable to locate the children of the co-pilot, Joe Luckey. They had located Joe’s widow, and Lucy met her in Florida where she gave Lucy Joe’s military memorabilia, including his medals and correspondence he’d had with his parents. Lucy accepted the treasures only with the understanding that if either of Luckey’s children contacted the widow, she was to provide Lucy’s name and phone number so the precious items could be returned to their rightful owner/owners. Fast forward two years. Michael Luckey, Joe’s son, decided he wanted to know more about his father’s military experiences for the sake of his own children. He Googled his father’s name and up popped Matt’s website. Michael emailed Matt and Lucy expressing his gratitude to see so much information about his dad, most of which was new to him. Afterward, Lucy was able to present the son with his father’s memorabilia. Since then, Lucy and her son were also contacted by a man in the Czech Republic who was looking for information on the crew’s ball turret gunner. They shared with him all the information they had. It is always gratifying when SLIII families come together to share mutually-beneficial knowledge so many years after the end of the war.
Similar pages in Wells’ and McCracken’s Log Books:
Wells lists McCracken. McCracken lists Wells.
U.S. Troops Headed to Poland
U.S. Army troops will deploy to Zagan in January. A few high-ranking officers visited the museum recently, and Marek gave them a proper guided tour. Many guests will visit the museum in January, and there is a rumor that Marek will finally get to drive an Abrams tank!
Center Compound Roommates – POW daughter, Ali Powell – U.S.
Ali’s father was navigator, James Chandler. In his Log Book, he noted some of the men he knew in Center Compound. Hopefully, some readers will see a familiar name.
Life Magazine – 1942
Marek has located the Life Magazine that featured a group of “early bird” SLIII American POWs who posed for the Germans in front of their barracks. Lt. Col. A.P. Clark is sitting in the back row, first man on the left. This photo was shown with a photo of German POWs held in the U.S. Many of us grew up with Life and Look Magazines, both now long gone now. The famous picture of the first Americans held in Stalag Luft III was published in the May 31, 1943, issue of the LIFE magazine.
Marek: “I attached a clip from Gen. Clark’s album (USAF Academy). He described it as ‘Life Magazine Nov ’42.’ See the whole magazine in link below. You will find the picture on page 25.”
[#18 is actually POW Charles Cook who was in the Eagles Squadrons, and #19 is POW Ed Tovrea.]
Condolences to the families of these fine men and patriots:
POW William H. Harvey
POW Charles Patterson – POW son, Craig Patterson – U.S.
POW Charles A. Patterson, whom we enjoyed at the Dayton Reunion in 2012, passed away on 11 Oct 2016. He was 96 years and five months old at the time of his passing. He was a B-24 pilot assigned to the 15th Air Force, 459th Bomb Group, 757th Bomb Squadron. His plane was shot down on 15 July 1944 during a mission to Ploesti, Romania, and he was incarcerated in Stalag Luft III [and Stalag VII-A] until liberated.
Charles in the cockpit
POW Warren Peter Endris
1st Lt. Endris was in South Compound, Barracks 136, Room 6. He was a B -17 pilot who evaded for 60 days in France before being taken to the notorious Frenses Prison near Paris. On March 8, 1943, Edris was shot down on a bombing mission over German submarine pens.
More of his story can be found in the obituary link below.
Pete Edris, a World War II POW MIA, salutes in honor of the POW
MIA during a brief ceremony Dec. 10, 2011, at Mt. Gur Cemetery
in Kernersville, N.C.
F/Lt Zbigniew Gutowski – Marek Lazarz – Poland
F/Lt Zbigniew Gutowski was buried in Warsaw on November 21st, 2016. He was 99. He was with the 302 Polish Fighter Squadron RAF, shot down over France in November 1941. He died in Canada in March of this year. According to the wishes of Gutowski’s family members, his ashes were brought back to Poland, and his urn was placed in his brother’s tomb in the military section of Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw. Zbigniew Gutowski was a member of the Escape Organization in Stalag Luft 3. With Bronislaw Mickiewicz and Zbigniew Kustrzynski, he designed the trap doors to escape tunnels Tom, Dick and Harry. Gutowski’s brother, Michal, was in Polish Gen. Maczek’s famous 1st Division. An excellent horseback rider, he was a member of the Polish Olympic team in Berlin in 1936.
F/Lt Zbigniew Gutowski Funeral Mass In Warsaw
Pictures by Lt. Col. (ret.) Waldemar Kotula
Gutowski is third from the left in this picture taken in Stalag Luft III. Mickiewicz is the first man on the left. Kustrzynski is the tall man in the back row, fifth from left. All of these men were Polish officers at SL3. POW Danny Krol, murdered after the Great Escape, is in the front row, second from the left.
POW Robert A. Hoover – Stalag Luft I – Barth – POW son, Mike Woodworth – U.S.
http://www.brooksart.com/Deflection.html Link shows the aviation art Hoover describes in the video depicting when he was shot down.
Air Force IQ Test
|Test Your IQ
What’s Your Air Force I.Q.?
Test your knowledge, take the following test containing a few of the questions from the, “AIR FORCE” magazine. January 1944 1. A warrant officer is saluted by enlisted men as if he were a commissioned officer:
2. The Chief of the Air Staff is (in 1944):
a. Major General William Lynd
b. Major General B. M. Giles
c. Lt. General B.K. Yount
d. Maj. General Walter H. Frank
3. The astro-dome is used by:
a. Navigators to take drift readings
b. bombardiers to help sight target
c. Pilots as a landing aid
d. Navigators to take celestial observations
4. The horsepower developed by each engine of the P-38 is:
5. To what does CAVU refer?
Henry Soderberg – POW Camps’ Angel – Dr. Mary Ruwell – U.S.A.F. Academy
Henry was the representative of the YMCA for the Protecting Power, Sweden, spending his days visiting Allied POW camps and making life a bit easier for the men he visited. Below is his own personal map showing in red all the camps he visited up through the end of the war. Long after the war, Henry became V.P. of SAS – Scandinavian Airlines. He died in 1998.
Col. Keeffe’s Filing Cabinet – POW son, Jim Keeffe – U.S.
Jim continues to clean out his late father’s files, always finding items of interest. Below are pictures and letters he has found. The letters are correspondence between Col. Keeffe and the Col. von Lindeiner’s Adjutant, Maj. Gustav Simoleit, a former college professor before the war. Simoleit went to Stalag VII-A with the Americans and ended up surrendering the camp on liberation day. Below are some photos that Col. Keeffe took the day after liberation. [Moosburg Stalag VII-A]
“View in Center Compound area of a tent someone erected to get
out of the barracks. If you zoom in, you can see other Kriegies on
the other side of the wires.”
Anderson and Keeffe (on the right) in front of their tent
“ Stalag VII-A large tent next to Dad’s small tent”
Keeffe (back row, second from left) and other POWs
Keeffe on the left cooking in front of tent
Keeffe, front row third from
left with POWs in front of VII-A’s
“View from within Center Compound area at Stalag VII-A in Moosburg looking into
The area where South Compound was held–notice the tree line outside the fence.”
The front entrance to the camp with wooden watch tower on the main street
Outside the front gate
Liberating tank sits outside the front gate of the camp
On a trip back in the 1970s, Col. Keeffe took additional photos:
Front entrance to the camp where the wooden tower and tank once stood–Surrendering
German officers were held under the overhang on the building on the right.
“The photo of the [Moosburg] rail yard might show the building Dad went into and found the
Nazi flag and helmet he brought home – although I thought it was a smaller building that he
described. Will never know.”
“I don’t know when the color photos were taken–maybe during his late ’70s trip, but probably during the 1995 trip (50th anniversary) trip to Moosburg.” [Note scaffolding on one of the steeples of St. Kastulus Catholic Church that sat next to the camp. Nazi flags once flew above the twin steeples until taken down on liberation day.]
The barracks at Stalag VII-A became low income housing after the war
“This is a certificate I assume all airmen of the AAF received at the end of the war. It’s signed by Gen. Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold.”
After the war, Senior American Officer Delmar Spivey of Center Compound corresponded with both Col. von Lindeiner and his Adjutant, Major Gustav Simoleit, a former university professor, helping them in any way he could as they endured the grim fate of vanquished Germans. The many letters between Spivey and von Lindeiner are in the book Mike Eberhardt and I wrote, From Commandant to Captive, the Memoirs of Col. Friedrich von Lindeiner. Below are Spivey’s post-war letters to Major Simoleit. Col. Keefe had them in his file.
Major Simoleit, on the left, surrenders Stalag VII-A before being
taken away on liberation day.
Below is a letter from Spivey to the POWs regarding action on recommendations for awards for the POW crews.
Below is a Christmas greeting to the POWs in Center Compound written by Spivey seven months after the war ended:
As Superintendent of the Culver Military Academy in the 1960s, Spivey wrote to thank Center Compound POWs for their help in making a get together, to which some of the Germans were invited, a complete success:
Below is a Christmas greeting to Col. Keeffe. Spivey is the author of POW Odyssey. The final comments at the end are about a Chicago Tribune article Spivey wrote about his POW experiences.
On the map above, Jim has marked the areas within Stalag VII A where Center and South Compounds ended up. When Center arrived at VII-A, South was already established in the eastern-most compound next to the outside wire. Center was ushered into the compound to the left of South a few days later.
For those interested in the Center Compound timeline and route for the Forced March, Jim provides the following:
Left Stalag Luft III – 4am Sunday, Jan. 28, 1945 Arrived Halbau (Lutheran Church) – evening Sunday, Jan. 28 (??km) Left Halbau – Monday, Jan. 29 Arrived Freiwaldau – 4:30pm Monday, Jan. 29 (14 km) Left Freiwaldau – Wednesday, Jan. 31 Arrived Muskau (pottery factory) – evening Wednesday, Jan. 31 (34km) Left Muskau – Saturday, Feb. 3 Arrived at Graustein – Saturday, Feb. 3 (20km) Arrived at Spremberg – Sunday, Feb. 4 (7km) Left Spremberg – Sunday, Feb. 4 Arrived Stalag VII A – Wednesday evening, Feb. 7 Stalag VII A Snake Pit – Feb, 8,9,10 Stalag VII A moved to perm location in camp – Sunday, Feb, 11
Quotes from a Center Compound Kriegie – POW Jim Fall – Center Compound
“I remember the Snake Pit very well. It is perplexing how with so little food and water how the kriegies could develop such diarrhea, but they sure did. Also unforgettable, when my bunch was moved into the permanent camp, we were forced to strip at the gate to be searched. The goons certainly were in no hurry to get the job done. We speculated perhaps the goons suspected we had a radio, but they did not find it. We were certainly concerned, but that night we still got the gen. [info from their radio] We did not have the luxury of the shower; we just played host to the critters.
Thanks again for your help. It is great to relive some of those special days, knowing they are in the long ago. My words are the way it was. I have felt over the past seventy years that I owe it to my buddies who did not make it back to perpetuate true memories of WW 2.” Jim
[The Snake Pit, marked on Jim Keeffe’s map, was the area at the edge of camp where there were some barns and stables. My father (South Compound) stayed there, too, as others did who first came into the camp before the Germans found room for everyone somewhere in the camp. South Compound POWs were taken to be deloused and to showers, and my father said they worried the showers were like the ones in the concentration camps. They were put in barracks but when Center came in South was moved to live in the big white tents seen below. Twin spires of St. Kastulus can be seen in the background.
Living in filth
Memory from a POW – Tom “Ma” Wilson – U.S. – age 96
Pilot of a B-25 remembers the day the crew was shot down:
“Moses, our regular bombardier, was pulled off our flight for medical reasons by the flight surgeon at the last minute before takeoff, and Wood got on board just before we taxied out for takeoff. Wood had arrived at the Group late the night before, as a replacement, and hadn’t unpacked most of his gear. He got into the plane after the engines were started, and I never met him until we bailed out.” Ma Wilson
Luftwaffe External Fuel Tank Transition – Szymon Serwatka – Poland
Szymon, Tour Director for the Blechhammer Tours, April and July 2017, including Stalag Luft III, has sent these amusing pictures:
“One of the museums which we visit on the Blechhammer Tour received something new for their collection yesterday. It is a Luftwaffe external fuel tank which was repurposed after the war to serve as a motorcycle sidecar, then was repurposed again as a swing!”
German Warning Issued to POW Camps after the Great Escape
Did You Know? – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – U.S.
According to Walter Schellenberg, Hitler’s Chief of Counterintelligence, official Japanese Intelligence warned that Germany, as early as 1942, could not prevail on the Eastern Front with the Soviet Union and that Hitler should reach a peace accord with the Soviets. These warnings came before the 1943-44 counteroffensive launched by the Soviets which became decisive on the Eastern Front as the Soviets turned back the Germans. Hitler was provided with the Japanese intelligence and dismissed it as unreliable. The Eastern Front casualties include an estimated 30 million killed, mostly civilians. “The Great Patriotic War,” as the Soviets labeled their war with Germany, was, indeed, costly with many millions killed after what proved to be accurate Japanese intelligence.
Jewish Ledger Article
I was recently privileged to work with a German professor and a filmmaker on a documentary telling the story of a Dessau, Germany, Kripo [Police] Chief, Arthur Jetzinger, a member of the Gestapo. In a war crimes trial, he was accused of ordering the collecting of three American airmen, who were in the custody of the Burgomeister of Hohen-Erxleben or Gerwitz, to have them shot in the woods near Kleinzerbst, Germany. Jetzinger’s nephew is just now learning how instrumental his uncle was in the murder of downed airmen. The story was recently told on German television. The story with pictures is below:
Honor Everywhere – John Walton – U.S.
A service for our veterans who are no longer mobile so that they can enjoy the tributes such as those Honor Flight provides:
Salute to Eddie Brodsky Crew – Evan Thomas – UK
American Air Museum – Britain
This recent website asks for edits to material listed as many errors were made in transcriptions. It is a good research website for those looking for American crews.
Fly with the Blue Angels – Ross Greene – U.S.
LCDR Jim Hiltz, USCG flies as a passenger with the Navy’s Blue Angels.
Nine People You May Not Know Were WWII Veterans
Nose Art and Wartime Photos – Marek Lazarz – Poland
Below is one of the planes that bore the I Wanted Wings logo, created by POW Emmet Cook. It was later licensed by the Disney Corporation.
The Blitz – POW son, Mike Woodworth – U.S.
1932 Rare German Board Game – Airplanes and Flak – Evan Thomas – UK
98th Bomb Group Website – a Treasure Trove of Documents and Information – POW son, Mike Woodworth – U.S.
15 Strangest WWII Mysteries – Ross Greene – U.S.
Animated GIFs – Making Photos Move – Evan Thomas – UK
These little mini movies loop, continuously. Still photos can be brought to life using this technique!
http://giphy.com/channel/bloodsweatflak – Evan’s creations
Our National Archive has also pasted one.
Beautiful Sign of Patriotism
This was a few nights ago at the Washington Capital’s game. The man singing, Caleb Green, is the same man who sang the National Anthem next to SLIII POW John Pedevillano the night we had him there. Last week, Caleb’s mic did not work. You can see what happened next. The 18,000 fans and players showed patriotism is not dead! Thanks to my oldest son, John, play-by-play announcer for the Caps, for the video.
Quiz Answers – How Did You Do?
- (a) True 2. (b) Major General Barney M. Giles 3. (d) Navigators to take celestial observations 4. (b) 1,150 hp 5. Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers