Stalag Luft III Newsletter – March, 2017
Greetings Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,
Friday, the 24th of March, marked the 73rd anniversary of the Great Escape. In 1944, the escape was also on a Friday. On a sunny day in Zagan, many gathered to remember the fifty POWs who escaped through Tunnel Harry in North Compound and lost their lives, murdered by the Gestapo. Air Commodore Charles Clarke, who flew with the RAF and was a POW at Stalag Luft III, was an honored guest. On Saturday, the 25th, The Great Escape Cup Cross Country Run took place with over 700 runners, including the RAF and US Army. There was also a static display of the U.S. 11th Division equipment that recently arrived at the camp.
73rd Anniversary of the Great Escape:
Marek and the Mayor of Zagan, Daniel Marchewka
Marek, Master of Ceremonies
2nd Tactical Wing of the Polish Air Force delegation
Col. Christopher Norrie, right, and Sgt. Major Christopher Gunn,
left, U.S. 3rd Armored Brigade Commanders
Inspector of the Polish Air Force, Gen. Krzysztof Zabicki,
right, with Gen. Stanisława Czosnek, Polish Black Division Commander
A/Cdr Charles Clarke, RAF POW head of the RAF ex-POW Association, age 93, was interviewed by Polish television. He was the only POW to attend.
Video of interview with A/C Clarke:
Charles and Gen. Czosnek
Charles’s speech — Marek, left, and interpreter, Monika Parker
45 RAF servicemen arrived on 23rd March and spent all day touring the museum and the camp with Marek.
RAF bugler playing Last Post
After the ceremony, Black Division’s Band played the theme from The Great Escape to conclude a memorable and meaningful tribute to The Fifty.
Stalag VIIC Perimeter
More news from Marek:
“Replica of the Stalag VIIIC perimeter is finished! It will be painted soon with special protective varnish. As you remember, the perimeter and two new towers were the idea I came up with last year. I designed and planned everything. The mayor and the city council added additional funds. They liked the project, and here it is.”
American Red Cross War Medical Kit Box
Marek has acquired an interesting find that he will be able to use as he creates the new donor-funded replica of the kriegie room in the museum.
“Another great item for the collection. An original American Red Cross Prisoner of War Medical Kit No. 4. We found it in northern Poland so it is not directly related to SL3, but I’m 100% sure that hundreds of these were sent to Zagan too.” Here is an exact description of the kit (scroll down):
Night Time View of the New Perimeter and Tower
Marek has sent these beautiful pictures of the recently completed goon box and perimeter fencing he has installed at the camp. Each new project creates the authentic look of the old camp, restored in such a way that many of our POWs might be stunned to see the result.
Boy and Girl Scouts Remember the Great Escape
Boy and Girl Scouts traveling to Zagan participated in the 9th Annual “The Great Escape” Boy Scout competition at the camp. Over 200 Polish Boy Scouts came to pay tribute. Both girls and boys competed, as they are both under one organization, the Polish Scouting Association.
“It started with an official roll call at Gen. Maczek Plaza in Zagan. After the roll call I (with Mirek) welcomed them, and I wished them good luck. They walked from Gen. Maczek Plaza to the museum. Most of them were dressed as escapees, and their first task was to escape from Hut 104. They had to answer some questions about the Great Escape in order to “escape.” We had two volunteers from the Historical Association SAGAN dressed as German soldiers. They were checking the documents.”
The competition camp ended on Sunday, and the participants stayed in the local primary school. Below, Marek is wearing the same original 1943 US Army greatcoat that so many POWs wore on the evacuation march.
Marek and Mirek
Archival Material Made Public – POW son, Ric Martini, U.S.
While researching his upcoming book, Betrayed, about his SLIII/POW father’s stay at Buchenwald, Ric accessed a tremendous amount of material from several archives. He would like to make all of it available to those who would also benefit from reading it. Click on the link below to view what is available—a wide variety of topics are covered. Many thanks, Ric!https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3f13cqryqu0sh4j/AABmb3H22Ho5bZQXoTkbt3Q1a?dl=0
British Beer Tribute to the Americans – POW son, Tyler Butterworth – UK
Tyler’s wife, Janet, recently bought him a bottle of beer from a brewery in Wiltshire.
“As you’ll see from the picture, it’s called 506. Why? The label on the bottle reads”:
“The American 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s motto is Currahee, which means ‘Stand Alone.’ This ale does exactly that. It’s our tribute to the men who were stationed on the land where we now grow the barley that makes this premium beer.”
POWs and Purple Hearts – Robert Sabel – U.S.
“A reminder that all American military personnel who experienced severe frostbite are entitled to the Purple Heart. Next of kin are also authorized to pursue the medal. Medical records are the evidence. The computer has avenues to access for records of POWs. With the guidelines, there should be no problem.”
For information, please contact Robert Sabel:
POW Website – POW Ralph Kling – U.S.
Lots to look at on this website sent by one of our POWs.
Many who flew this raid became POWs at SLIII. Be sure to watch this Memorial Video to the men of the 506th Bomb Squadron who flew the deadly low level Ploesti Raid on the oil refinery in Romania:
More from the Col. Keeffe “Vault” – POW son, Jim Keeffe – U.S.
Jim has just found many maps kept by his father, including this one of Stalag VIIA in Moosburg, Germany, where the Americans were kept until liberation.
“South Compound was in the area marked ‘Officers Transient Compound,’ and Center (and eventually West) were in area marked ‘British.’”
Pictures found in the cabinet:
Former RAF POWs returned to the camp and museum for the 50th anniversary of the Great Escape: This picture was taken in the old museum.
Standing left to right: Dennis Plunkett, Sydney Dowse, Ivo Tonder, Ray van Wymeersch, Les Brodrick and Bob Nelson
Who is Laddie MacArthur??
This young gentleman is in several pictures taken at SLIII during the anniversary.
He is with Hermann Glemnitz on Jim’s black/white picture and with Gen. Spivey on the picture that Jim found at the USAF Academy last year. Does anyone know who he is?
RAF ID Requested – Ian Sayer – Switzerland
Ian sent two pictures for identification. First mystery solved. It is RAF F/Lt John Talbot Lovell Shore on the left next to RAF Jimmy James, one of the surviving Great Escapers. The picture was taken at Stalag Luft I in Barth, before they both transferred to Stalag Luft III.
Jimmy James is shown again below. There are some names on the back of the photo which was given to Ian recently by the daughter of RAF POW Wings Day.
In the back is definitely “Cookie Long,” one of the 50 murdered after the Great Escape. Jimmy James is in the middle. The words “Trund” and Gilson are also written on the back of the photo. There was a R.M. Trundle who was a RAF POW at SLIII and a G.K. Gilson who was also. Can anyone confirm?
POW Andy Wiseman
Marek sent this picture showing former RAF POW Andy Wiseman in sunglasses below. Andy died a few years ago, but he always went back for the RAF re-enactment marches and memorial activities at the camp. Andy always met up with A/C Clarke at the camp for the anniversary memorials.
“Good old Andy Wiseman seated second from the left (dark glasses). He spoke very good Polish. He was a Polish Jew who went to the UK shortly before 1939. As I remember, he joined the RAF when he was 17. His first name was still Andrzej while in Stalag Luft 3. Andy’s signature in Polish is shown below in his POW diary. He helped to organize the anniversary in 1994, and he attended several Long Marches in the last 10 years. He passed away 2 years ago; we miss him.”
POW Sydney Dowse to Andy’s right
SLIII Reunion Table Decoration
At a previous SLIII Reunion, replicas of “goon boxes” sat at each table. During the days of the reunion, each goon box held a Nazi flag. On the last night at the banquet, those flags were replaced by Old Glory, much to the delight of the POWs.
Recently, ebay showed one of the table goon boxes:
Marek sent the picture below:
Former Guard, Hermann Glemnitz holds his goon box at the reunion.
Bob Doolan’s 100th Birthday Party March 26st – POW daughter, Mary Lance – U.S.
Enjoy Bob’s recent interview here:
There was a celebration of his birthday (March 21) on March 26 at the Western Hills Retirement Village in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Travel Grant Opportunity – Sue Moyer – SSMA (Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association) – U.S.
A nice opportunity for researchers:
Militaria Show – Robert Coalter – U.S.
“Some of your readers that live in the DFW metroplex may be interested in attending a Militaria Show this May 20-21 in Cleburne, TX. Vendors will be buying, selling, trading militaria artifacts, and authors selling books and a number of veterans will be there signing books and pictures.
Army Air Corps Library and Museum
Sons of Liberty Museum
Did You Know? – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – U.S.
[Mike’s father, Charles, and the late POW Irv Baum, both arrived at SLIII the day after the Great Escape!]
In WWII, the French used the port of Toulon for anchorage of most of the French fleet. As the Germans initiated their siege on Toulon in late 1942, the French feared seizure of the anchored fleet and scuttled three battleships, seven cruisers, twenty eight destroyers and twenty submarines. Without the Germans firing on the French fleet, it was destroyed and constituted a significant naval setback for the Allies as they sought to build their naval capacity in the early stages of the war.
Prior to WWII, the French had designed and then built three prototype bombers that were designed as sea planes. Upon the German invasion of France, the Nazis captured these planes and flew them to southern Germany where they were kept on Lake Constance. When the RAF discovered their location, they were bombed and now reside in the deep waters of the lake.
New Orleans WWII Museum Link to POW Exhibit
The museum recently had a temporary exhibit, Guests of the Third Reich:
Danish Boy Finds German Fighter Plane and Pilot – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – U.S.
Finding the Murderers of The Fifty
For those of you who missed this excellent video we played at the reunion regarding the hunt for the murders of the Great Escapers, here is the full video:
Click on, “click to play video” at the very end of the link:
Flying Through the Himalayas – POW nephew, John Lanza – U.S.
(If you have trouble loading or playing this in HD, left click on HD on the bottom right of the screen and choose a lower category of HD.)
Drone Flying over Auschwitz – POW nephew, Ross Greene – U.S.
Remains of Fighter Pilot Brought home after 70 Years – POW daughter, Joan Wootton – U.S.
Unusual Burial at Sea – Bob Frey – U.S.Loyce Edward Deen, an Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class, USNR, was a gunner on a TBM Avenger. On November 5, 1944, Deen’s squadron participated in a raid on Manila where his plane was hit multiple times by anti-aircraft fire while attacking a Japanese cruiser. Deen was killed. The Avenger’s pilot, Lt. Robert Cosgrove, managed to return to his carrier, the USS Essex. Both Deen and the plane had been shot up so badly that it was decided to leave him in it. It is the only time in U.S. Navy history (and probably U.S. military history) that an aviator was buried in his aircraft after being killed in action.
Restoring B-29 “Doc” – POW Kenneth Collins – U.S.
Dog Fight Under the Eiffel Tower – Joe Lawrence – U.S.
Under The Tower (hit control while clicking on the link)
Interview with pilot, Bill Overstreet here:
Harrier Jet Lands with No Landing Gear – POW nephew, Ross Green – U.S.
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers