Stalag Luft III Newsletter – January 2017
Greetings POW, Families, and Friends,
Happy New Year! Mike and I are pleased to report that due to the incredible generosity of the SLIII family far more money than we expected has been raised for Marek to improve the museum. See Mike’s note below:
OUR LATEST ROUND OF FUNDRAISING FOR STALAG LUFT III MUSEUM
“As many of you know from Marilyn’s prior newsletters, Marek Lazarz, Director of the SLIII Museum in Zagan, was the recipient of a grant from the Air Force Academy Library which allowed him to travel to Colorado Springs in the spring of 2016 to perform some research relating to POWs held at SLIII. On his return flight home, Marek had a few hours layover in Dallas where I met him. Having undertaken some fundraising a few years ago when we raised almost $20,000 that was used to upgrade the museum, Marilyn and I had discussed taking on a new fundraising initiative, but we wanted to learn more about the museum’s present needs. During his layover, Marek and I discussed several such needs, but the most apparent and pressing seemed to be the renovation of the exhibit room at the museum, particularly since Marek has been adding significantly to the prison camp artifacts with many being discovered in recent months. Marilyn has shown a number of those newly discovered artifacts in earlier newsletters. After my discussion with Marek in Dallas, Marilyn and I thought that a modest undertaking might be to see if we could raise $5,000 to help with the exhibit renovation. As usual, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of POWs, their families, and friends. In the span of a few short months, $10,000.00 has been raised and just wired to Poland! Marek will be able to use those funds so that an even better renovation can be made to display the many artifacts he has collected, so that later in 2017 the ever-growing number of museum visitors will see more artifacts in superior displays. Marilyn and I want to thank all who contributed. We will be working with Marek for recognition of all our recent donors, as prior donors have been recognized at the museum. Your generosity reflects the tremendous and important effort to continue the recognition of POWs at Stalag Luft III.”
We thank all of you, many of whom have previously donated to the museum, for such generous support that you have shown to Marek. Once more, it shows me what a tight bond we all have as relatives of the POWs and how strong the effort is to thank them for their incredible sacrifices for us–putting their lives on hold for years at the peak of their youth and suffering deprivation and degradation as they were held in lonesome and frightening captivity a long way from home. We can never thank them enough. And now the memory of their experiences will be nicely preserved. I echo Mike’s comments above. You are all just the best!
U.S. Tanks and Troops Arrive in Zagan
The second week in Jan., 4000 U.S. troops deployed to Poland along with 250 tanks many of which will be held at Stalag VIIC, the camp area that sat next to West Compound at SLIII during the war. Zagan’s training area has four platforms for downloading the tanks. One is located within the Army Base in Zagan. The second on Stalag VIIIC, third in Neuhammer (Stalag VIIIE), and fourth deep inside the training ground. According to Marek, not so long ago all these locations were top secret. Two of them were actually used by the Soviets, and they were highly classified at that time.
The tanks arrive:
This link shows the tanks at VIIC.
Our troops were welcomed warmly on a very cold Polish day. One event was organized in the centre of Zagan. There was a big stage near Kepler’s Restaurant where many of us have had the pleasure of dining. Marek had a 30-minute presentation on the stage showing Luft 3 pictures on the huge screen.
“The soldiers are very busy now as they have to off-load everything from the trains. Looks like it will take a few weeks as there are hundreds of tanks, trucks, and armoured carriers.
A brief welcome ceremony occurred Jan. 12th, with the larger one on Jan. 14th. In attendance were the Prime Minister of Poland, Minister of Defence, U.S. Ambassador, and many VIPs.
“We had a brief welcome ceremony today. It was arranged near the 11thDivision Base. Gen. Mika and the Mayor of Zagan welcomed the troops. Zagan had great publicity today.”
The whole brigade from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs
Plenty of media coverage!
Mayor of Zagan
General Mika, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo (white jacket) and U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Paul Jones.
The event was organized in two locations: Zagan’s Market Square (where Kepler’s is) with a static display of the U.S. and Polish Army equipment, and stage with two big screens. The second location was General Maczek’s Plaza where the main welcome ceremony with all VIPs took place.
Ambassador Paul Jones
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo
Grateful citizens of Poland
Mirek and Marek in the snow with museum employee, Teresa. The stage for the ceremony is in the background.
“After the official ceremony we went back to the museum and walked to see the tanks on the platform on the site of Stalag VIIIC. It was funny because some of the soldiers saluted us.”
Marek has recently acquired a book, The Rose and the Ring, by W. Thackeray, that was formerly in the library at Stalag VIIC. The German stamp can be seen on it. Marek was able to get it for just $4.00! At one time, the library there and the libraries in SLIII held thousands of books. There are now very few of them in the museum. Stalag VIIIC held approx. 2000 British POW soldiers (Army).
My co-author, Mike, has 20 discounted copies of our first book, From Interrogation to Liberation. The books are $33.00 including postage. As with our second book, From Commandant to Captive, we give 100% of profits to Marek for the museum. Anyone wanting to buy the first book, contact Mike at email@example.com The first book weighs four pounds!
Lt. Clifford Hopewell – POW son, Alan Hopewell
“Lt. Clifford Hopewell, Stalag Luft III X committee stenographer, would have turned 102 years old December 27th. His mother died soon after he went into the Army and not long afterward he was captured. The entire time he was at SLIII, he never received a single letter – they were all returned to his father for some reason. When he finally returned home, his father had a whole stack that had been returned. No one ever knew the reason. He said that that was the hardest issue with which to cope.”
1st Lt. Clifford Hopewell
Charles Warren’s Cigar – Ian Darling – Canada
“I recently received a photo request that made me smile from Edouard Renière, a Belgian researcher who collects information about members of the Allied forces who evaded the Germans in Belgium during the war. Edouard wondered if I could help him obtain a photo of Charles Warren, an American evader who parachuted into Belgium when his B-17 was shot down.
Yes, I have what I regard as a fine photo of Mr. Warren taken when he was a staff sergeant in the Army Air Forces in 1943. I used the photo in my book about American aviators who survived ordeals, Heroes in the Skies. With Mr. Warren’s permission, I sent a copy of the photo to Edouard. The photo did make me smile, however, because it shows Mr. Warren in uniform with a cigar dangling between his lips. I know the photo would have made my dad chuckle because I remember Dad, who served as an administrator with the Royal Air Force, telling me that men wearing uniforms in Britain were not supposed to smoke in public, let alone to have their photos taken with cigars.
Incidentally, my dad had tremendous respect for the Americans he met in the war. One of his jobs was to help Americans move onto what had been RAF bases in Britain, and he told me American officers never hesitated to do heavy physical work that British officers would have expected the “lower ranks” to do. Later, he served in Belgium as the Allies pushed the German forces out.
Working as an administrator during the war might not have been as dangerous as being a member of a flight crew, but it could still be risky. Dad almost lost his life when a German submarine torpedoed the troopship taking him to West Africa. Miraculously, he was able to get out of his ship even though one of his legs was badly broken. He lived to be 90.”
Former Ambassador POW Frederick Irving
Book on Jimmy Stewart – Ross Greene – U.S.
How Jimmy Stewart Became George Bailey – Mr. Robert Matzen is the author of “Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe,” published by GoodKnight Books.
“General Martial Henri Valin, head of staff of French Air Forces, decorated the American colonel and actor James Stewart with the Croix de Guerre with palm as a reward for exceptional service rendered for France’s liberation on May 19, 1945, in France.
The first time that Jimmy Stewart appears on screen as George Bailey, the image freezes in close-up as two angelic figures discuss the character in voice-over. One says to the other, “I want you to take a good look at that face.” It’s something that all of us should do as we watch the film. Stewart is supposed to be playing a young man in his early 20s, but the once-boyish 38-year-old had just returned the year before from fighting in Europe, and only makeup and careful lighting could give him a semblance of youth. More seriously, as we know from the testimony of those who worked with him in the military and in Hollywood in those years, Stewart was suffering from what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.
After two years of subsisting largely on ice cream and peanut butter, he had only just begun to eat real food and keep it down. He had the shakes and at times flew into rages, and his sleep was interrupted by images of bombers burning in the sky and men tumbling to earth.
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was Stewart’s first picture after almost five years away, including 20 months on the front lines. As a squadron commander of B-24 heavy bombers, he flew his first combat mission to Germany on Dec. 13, 1943. He commanded 12 missions in his first two months and was almost shot down twice. The experience unnerved him enough that he spent time at the ‘flak farm,’ where fliers went to decompress after seeing too much combat.
It wasn’t fear of losing his own life that had gotten to Stewart. It was his deeply ingrained perfectionism, which made him fear making the wrong split-second decision in German airspace while leading dozens of planes and hundreds of men in combat.
Filming ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ found him back in Hollywood after surviving too many crash landings and close calls. In sunny Southern California, the land of make-believe, this suddenly middle-aged man faced other problems. A new crop of youthful leading men had emerged in his absence. He also faced a crisis of conscience, wondering if acting was a worthwhile profession after the gravity of his daily life in the military.
This back story may help to explain the remarkable emotional energy of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Stewart’s bordering-on-frantic performance was not just virtuoso acting. Co-star Donna Reed reported that both Stewart and the picture’s director, Frank Capra, made the production difficult at times as they second-guessed how scenes were done.
And why not? Both men were desperate to re-establish themselves in a Hollywood that, they feared, had passed them by while they served in the military. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is considered the picture that relaunched Stewart as a more serious, seasoned actor. But for him, making it was just one more trial by combat.
It was the veteran actor Lionel Barrymore —the movie’s villain, Old Man Potter, who helped Stewart to claw his way back. When Stewart wondered aloud during production if acting was worth his time, Barrymore looked him in the eye and asked: ‘Isn’t entertaining people better than dropping bombs on them?’
Stewart seems to have gotten the message. He was able to convey great joy and passion in the movie’s closing scenes, shouting “Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!” as he runs through the streets and saying with a wink to his guardian angel, as he turns heavenward, ‘Atta boy, Clarence.’ Jimmy Stewart returned to Hollywood unsure if he would be able to continue his career as an actor. “It’s a Wonderful Life” showed that he could. It arrives every December like a holiday card from a dear friend, a man who came home from war and found the beauty in peace.”
Letter to Devon – POW son, John Hartley – U.S.
John “Jack” Hartley and Fred Atkinson were crewmates and POWs together at SLIII. A detailed summary of POW Jack Hartley’s experiences as co-pilot and a POW was written years later for his granddaughter. Hartley was held in North and South Compounds.
Double click on document:
[link could not be inserted]
“Crew photo (previously published in Charles Hair’s The Saga
of ’54 and More). The caption is incomplete as my father
and another crew member (both standing to captain Atkinson’s
left) are not identified.”
Jack Hartley during training
Jack Hartley with flight instructor
Jack Hartley posing with their aircraft
“Jack Hartley (center), Fred Atkinson (right), and another captain (unknown to me) in an unknown location. I have always assumed it was taken before they arrived in Africa but I don’t know for sure.
Local news clipping re: Jack Hartley
“Fred Atkinson and John (“Jack”) Hartley
clowning around. After the war, Fred
married Jack’s sister, June. So Fred
Atkinson eventually became my uncle.”
Postcard from SLIII showing the difference between the original date and the Bay City, MI, postmark. Sent Oct. 1944 and received Jan. 1945
Moosburg – Post War – Werner Schwarz – Moosburg, Germany
After the war, many people lived at Stalag VIIA, including Pakistanis who came in to clean up after the war and stayed in Germany. My contact there, Werner, recently told me that in the former camp area there were several workshops or small factory sites after the war. They were founded by German refugees and expellees from Eastern Europe.
14th Army Division’s Liberation of Stalag VIIA – Bridge on the Isar River – POW son, Jim Keeffe
The 14th Army Division’s description of fight for the bridge and liberation:
Below are Jim’s father’s post-liberation pictures taken at the Isar River near the camp after the Germans blew the bridge. An American tank had just started to cross the bridge when the Germans blew it.
Then the 303rd came in and built the treadway pontoon bridge:
See this web site of the 300th Eng Btn. http://www.300thcombatengineersinwwii.com/germany.html
The two cables running from the partially built pontoon bridge upstream out of the photo are the two cables attached to the blown bridge that had partially collapsed into the river.
Breaching the dike for the bridge
Testing the bridge
New Book – POW daughter, Jill Bateman – U.S.
Pilot 2LT Donald Earl Butterfoss celebrated his 22nd birthday
the day he and his B-17 crew arrived at Eighth Air Force Base 128
at Deenethorpe, England. Their first bombing mission was a
milk run to Brunswick, Germany. The target of their second
and final mission was Berlin. Hit by flak on their bomb run,
they managed to drop their bombs and head home. When
barely over the Dutch border, drops of fuel and scrambling
bandits forced the ten-man-crew to bail out. “Flying Forts”
follows “Butter” from take-off on that misty spring morning —
April 29, 1944 —to the day he was liberated at Moosburg, Germany,
April 29, 1945. Woven into his story are the stories of the Dutch
resistors and hidden Jews he encounters along the way.
While at Stalag Luft III, Butter was assigned to
Barracks 162, Room 22 in West Compound.
His co-pilot 2LT. Robert Westfall, their navigator,
F/O Bernard Boyle, and his bombardier, 2LT Robert
Kerpen, who was also assigned to Barracks 162,
were also in Stalag Luft III.
For those wanting autographed books, contact Jill directly:
Maple Avenue Press
3207 Harrisburg Pike
Landisville, PA 17538
717-898-2985 – Payment by check or PayPal.
Provide name and postal address, and to whom the book should be autographed.
Paperback – $15.99
Hardback – $19.99
Postage – $3.99
PA sales tax charged if going to a PA address
Memorial in Watton, England, to Recon Group – Evan Thomas – UK
Their mission: photography and mapping
Requests from Others:
Army Air Corps Museum Solicit and Will Continue Unit Websites that Can No Longer Be Sustained
Websites & Veteran Associations:
As many of you may know, many WWII veterans’ organizations are shutting down or are being altered significantly with the loss of their founding fathers. A number of these organizations had developed some type of website, some with enormous amount of data and history. Sadly, many have not made provisions for the website to be continued and thus when the bill stops being paid, the website disappears; all the work and information is then lost. We want to help and we need you to help us. If you know of a group that is disbanding, and they don’t have plans to continue their website, please have them get in contact with us; we would like to bring their website and information under our wing. If they want to continue to maintain it we can give them access to continue that as well. As one of our top goals for 2017, let’s preserve this history and not lose it!
Presidential Unit Citation
Many groups received unit citations during their particular conflict. When this occurred the paperwork, in triplicate, would include a roster of all assigned and attached personnel on the date for which the unit was awarded. We are actively seeking and requesting copies of those roster documents. Please search your papers, talk to your association and help us out with this information and get them to us pronto!
We may be called the Army Air Corps Library and Museum, but we have items in our collection from the days of the Air Service and World War I all the way through the Vietnam War. In 2017, we are actively looking to expand material we can offer for education and research and build on our website for these conflicts. Should you or any association of which you are a member have material including roster documents like we mention above including websites and other items of memorabilia, please get in touch with us.
Maurauder Historical Society Request
The B-26 MHS is in great need of funds/donations. Fundraising is where we are trying to direct much or our energy so that we can get to a point where we can get all of our archives, all of the donated memorabilia out for the public to see, learn, and remember. We are dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Martin B-26 Marauder and the men and women associated with the B-26. We are encouraging people to become a member of the B-26 Marauder Historical Society this year, donate, and/or refer the Society to a person or business that can make a significant monetary contribution.
Our annual event is the B-26 Marauder Historical Society Reunion. Our 2017 Reunion is planned for June 1-3. We will have special access to Flak Bait, located at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian. It is currently in restoration, and we are scheduled to receive a presentation regarding the restoration and preservation of Flak Bait. We will also be participants in the Battle of Midway 75th Anniversary Commemoration at the WWII Memorial on June 3rd as the B-26 had a significant role in the Battle of Midway. We plan to visit Arlington Cemetery and the Air Force Memorial, too. And, as always, we will have talks, special presenters, and the First Generation and Second Generation panels. Jennifer Merritt Office Administrator B-26 MARAUDER HISTORICAL SOCIETY 3900 E Timrod St Tucson, AZ 85711 USA 520-322-6226 www.B-26MHS.org
Poland/Italy Tour – Szymon Serwatka – Poland
Update on this tour that I mentioned before:
“Szymon Serwatka” firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Poland tour – looking for 1 more person, and for 2 people who want to go to Italy! The April Tour is almost a “go” with 4 people already signed-up – I need just one more to confirm the trip! I need one person, but I can take 3 more altogether. Also, a couple who want to come, wants to go to Italy after Poland, and I decided to offer a voluntary Italy extension to the Poland tour. We would fly from Krakow to Naples, see Capri, Pompeii, Cassino, Mt. Vesuvius, Venosa (15th Air Force had airfields there), and fly back to Krakow. This means that with the original dates, we would be in Italy around May 1st, which is not good as this is a public holiday and travelling there will be difficult.
This is why I need to move the tour to May. The new dates would be:
- Sat, May 6th – arrivals to Krakow
- Sat, May 13th – transfer to Italy (Sun, May 14th – departure to the US for those not going to Italy)
- Sat, May 20th – return to Krakow
- Sun, May 21st, departure to the US
And if you would like to join the Italy part of the tour, here is the plan:
We would fly to Naples on Saturday, May 13th, and come back to Krakow on May 20th.
There would be 5 nights in Naples, and 2 in Venosa.
- May 13th – arrival in the evening
- May 14th – ferry Naples-Capri and visiting Capri
- May 15th – Pompeii
- May 16th – Cassino
- May 17th – Mt. Vesuvius
- May 18th/19th – Venosa
- May 20th – afternoon flight to Kraków
Costs for the Italy part of the tour:
$1200 in a double room, $1400 in a single room
- 7 nights in the hotel
- car rental and fuel
- flights Krakow-Naples-Krakow
- entrance and local transportation fees (Capri, Pompeii, Mt Vesuvius)
- my costs (hotel+flight)
Not included: lunches and dinners
Did You Know? – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – U.S.
During WWII, U.S. submarines or Allied aircraft sunk four Japanese ships in the Pacific theatre carrying U.S., British, and Australian POWs. The four ships were the Arisan Maru on October 24, 1944, the Enoura Maru on September 12, 1944, the Oryoka Maru on December 15, 1944, and the Shinyo Maru on September 7, 1944. 4,440 POWs were killed; almost 1,000 survived.
A wealth of information. I’ve used this website for years!
Damaged B17s that Flew Home – Marek Lazarz – Poland
Germans Help Lancaster Pilot Find his Parachute – Barry Schoen – U.S.
Go Inside Big Ben
Derelict London Wartime – Evan Thomas – UK
WWII Bomb Found in Augsburg, Germany
Book Recommendation – POW son, Mike Woodworth – U.S.
“All the Gallant Men,” by Donald Stratton, a survivor or the U.S.S. Arizona. It is a very heartfelt memoir.
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers