Stalag Luft III Newsletter – June, 2017
Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,
The new room is finished! Marek has completed the building of the replica room which now sits inside the museum at the camp. He has been successful in searching for artifacts that are original and would have been used in the camp.
keintrinkwasser pitcher on the left
KLIM cans and original record player
The portrait of P/O Robert M. Buckham made by Polish POW Kazimierz Zakrzewski-Rucinski hangs on the wall. Marek received the scans of his works from his daughter Helena Zakrzewska-Rucinska and then made a high quality reprint on canvas.
The view from the window is South Compound, a street named Stillman Strasse that Lt. Col. Robert “Moose” Stillman created. As a POW, he got to work creating a main street in South Compound, where it had been previously difficult to walk. With a small crew of workers, he dug out an area and cleared it and then filled in the holes to create, “Stillman Strasse” [Stillman Street] making life just a little easier for the prisoners who now walked instead of flew.
The plaque below hangs by the room to thank all of you who donated to the room’s development and construction. Your funding enabled Marek to construct the room and to purchase the artifacts that make it so authentic. The names of POWs associated with these families will soon be placed on the POW plaque, as well, and he will send photos of that plaque to the families. Beautiful work, Marek!
Plaque for the new room – thank you donors!
Marek’s letter explaining how he came up with the idea for the new room is below:
New Guitar and POW Camp Sagan
Marek recently purchased a guitar for the museum made by a French POW formerly in Kriegsgefangenenlager Sagan (POW Camp Sagan), a WW1 camp that existed in Sagan from 1914 until 1920 when it was dismantled. This is where the museum sits today. The guitar was made in 1915! The self-made guitar was constructed by Auguste Naranowski, a French POW of Polish descent.
“A musical instruments collector from Warsaw contacted us after he discovered that the guitar was made in POW Camp in Sagan during WW2.”
Below, are two pictures of the general view of WW1 POW Camp Sagan. It was built on the so-called “excercise place” – the Army training field of the German Field Artillery Regiment from Sagan. The camp held Russian and French POWs during WW1. In 1939, Stalag VIIIC was built on the same spot.
Name on the guitar
Marek’s Incredible Co-incidence:
Satisfying the requirement for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s research grant to Marek last summer, he has now written about the American men who flew in the Eagle Squadrons during the war, getting into the war early flying with the RAF.
“The man who is helping me to build the POW room is a good friend of the museum. He donated several items. He is a president of the local historical association, and he is owner of the construction/plumbing company. He is currently restoring a private house in Zagan. The owner of the house is a local collector, and he has a small collection of dog tags and buttons. He found them years ago somewhere near the camp. My friend saw the collection and told me about it. I asked him to take a pictures of the dog tags (I need the POW numbers for my archive.). The collector just gave the dog tags to my friend, and my friend brought them to the museum. Dog tags are from Stalag VIIIE Neuhammer (20 km from Zagan), but one is a US Army service dog tag and belonged to George Carpenter! Carpenter was No. 121 Eagle Squadron and in 1942 was transferred to USAAF 335 Fighter Group. He was shot down in April 1944 and was held in West Compound. What a find! I will put it in my article. Today was the last chance to do it as the periodical is almost finished.
Carpenter’s dog tag – no explanation as to how it got left behind in the camp
Read about Carpenter here:
Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers
Following up on Lt. Sconiers, our Belgian friend and member of “Ewart’s Army,” Ed Reniere, visited Henri-Chapelle, the American Military Cemetery in Belgium. It is at this cemetery where Lt. Sconiers’ name is engraved on the Wall of the Missing. Traditionally, when one of the men who was missing is found a stone rosette is placed next to that name. Ed was there for Memorial Day to see that rosette, and he has sent the following pictures which were taken by Patrick Demaison.
Ed standing as the Wall of the Missing paying tribute to Lt. Sconiers on Memorial Day. He points to the new rosette.
Ed’s floral tribute
Visitors to the cemetery that day came up to read Ed’s words. The four flags on the panel Ed made, below, represent the four countries that ended up participating in Lt. Sconiers’ recovery.
[graphics would not copy from original newsletter]
1st Lt Ewart Theodore SCONIERS Bombardier – 97th Bomb Group/414th Bomb Squadron
Born 29 November 1915, DeFuniak Springs, Florida
Died as a Prisoner of War – 24 January 1944, Lubin, Poland
… After 73 long years, finally recovered and
brought home thanks to the efforts
of the DPMO / DPAA.
In name of the SCONIERS and HARRELL families and of “Ewart’s Army”
MEMORIAL DAY – 27 May 2017
Ed: “I attended the Memorial Day ceremonies yesterday at two American cemeteries. The first event was at the Ardennes one in Neupré, the one in the afternoon was at Henri-Chapelle. I was at the cemetery long before the ceremony began and put flowers and paid my respects to Ewart. I was particularly moved seeing and touching the rosette that has been applied recently next to his name on the Walls of the Missing there. Afterward, many people, Belgians and Americans, looked at the flowers and the small panel. Some took pictures, and I could tell part of the fantastic story to a few of them. I had mixed feelings standing there at the foot of the wall. Emotion. Respect. Gratitude. A joy tinged with sadness. Thinking of all of you and those watching us from above, with a certain pride of what the global team has achieved in this very special journey.”
We hope Ed will be able to join us at the funeral in Florida next January.
Sconiers’ Trip Home – POW niece – Pamela Sconiers Whitelock
It was a poignant moment for Pam and all of us seeing the picture below of her uncle being brought home from Poland through Germany to Offutt AFB for DNA testing. Delta, with great respect, flew him back to the U.S. with his army escort, the pilot announcing the WWII POW’s remains were on board. See Pam’s words below for everyone reading this newsletter:
Delta ceremony honoring Sconiers
Sconiers’ proud escort from Europe
Pam: “We hope you will help spread the word about the fundraiser to support the “promise keepers” of Lt. Sconiers’ recovery. Please use your social media platforms, email distribution lists, word of mouth, etc. to share the link.” http://www.youcaring.com/KeepingThePromise
Children’s Day in the Camp
Marek: “On 1st June, we had a big event at the museum–actually two events in one– International Children’s Day and also attendance by the 11th Repair Battalion from Zagan. The soldiers organized a big display of their equipment for the local kids: tanks, heavy trucks and recovery vehicles. There was also a special military ceremony to honor Battalions Day. Several soldiers were promoted or awarded for their service. It was great publicity for the museum as well. I organized several guided tours during the whole day.”
Story of a Stalag VIIIC Guard – grandson, Heinz Kahan
Through the newsletter, I was contacted by the grandson of a German guard trying to find out which camp his grandfather had been assigned. Marek was able to determine it was Stalag VIIIC that sat next to Stalag Luft III.
“Back in the ’60s, my mother told stories of her father (my grandfather) part of Landesschützen Btln 314 being guard at ‘a prisoner of war camp’ and him taking extra food to the prisoners in the pockets of his uniform to Frenchmen and Russians. Her village was Kunzendorf about 5 miles NW of Luft III. I have searched archives, and his unit was, indeed, assigned to prisoner camp duty there. Are there any stories like his that have been saved in your archives?
His name was Günther Czernotzky. He was already 40 at the time. He died in March 1945. The front had moved through Kunzendorf in Feb., and he along with two others ended up behind the lines. He knew the area well and held up in a brick factory outside of town. They managed for a couple weeks by sneaking into town at night to get food from his family. His plan was to ride out the next few weeks until the war was over. Someone in town told the Russians. They sent soldiers out to the brick factory. They ran in three directions, 2 of the 3 being killed. The lone survivor told the family later what had happened. He [Heinz’s grandfather] was not found until spring 1946.The Russians had setup a supply/ammunition depot outside of town, and the road leading to it was off limits.
When they closed the depot in 1946, the road re-opened, and a man saw a roadside make-shift grave. My mom and great-grandmother (his mother) went along with some men to see if it was him. Not much was left after a year.His mother identified him by his gold tooth and the tatters of the sweater he was wearing which she had knitted for him.
My mother did the same stretch to Spremberg in a civilian trek. Kunzendorf – Sorau – Triebel – Bad Muskau – Spremberg About 25 miles, like I wrote earlier, Kunzendorf was only 3-4 miles west of Luft III. She likely walked in the steps of your father a month later. I am now the keeper of the Erkennungsmarke (dog tag).
Günther’s German dog tag
If anyone has information on Gunther, his unit, etc., I can put you in touch with Heinz.
POW Bill Styles Silk Map Comes Home to his Daughter – POW daughter, Linda Berkery, US
Following up the story of Linda’s quest to find the fisherman who picked up her shot down father in Denmark, she just received the silk map her father gave to that fisherman. Until she found contacts in Denmark, Linda had no idea the silk escape maps had been given.
The note accompanying the silk map:
Hereby the legendary and beautiful scarf.
Note after she thanked him:
I am so glad to convey the scarf to you it got its last oversees travel back home . Best regards,
Linda, pleased to have “part of her father” back
SLIII POW Bill Styles’ story has gotten lots of publicity lately both in Troy, NY, for Memorial Day and also in newspapers in Denmark where he was shot down and rescued from the North Sea. The City of Troy hung a special banner to pay tribute to him.
Below is the article in the Troy newspaper:
“My father’s Memorial Banner is now hanging in our local hometown of Troy, NY. (Home of Uncle Sam!) They put up all the banners this week, and Dad’s was the first – his banner is fittingly located out front of a German Bier Garden – which used to be called “Bombers” – A good spot for a POW B-17 pilot- he is flying high! Our family plans to go down and toast Dad with a German beer on Monday afternoon. Now that’s a new Memorial Day tradition for us.”
The Danish flag accompanies the American flag this year.
Bill Styles’ Rainbow Story
Bill’s touching letter to his wife:
Linda also came across the YMCA letter below and sent it to Marek for explanation:
“There are several addresses of the YMCA offices at the bottom including German–Berlin. The letter was written in late August 1943. Just a few days later, in early September, Berlin was bombed, and the YMCA headquarters for Germany was evacuated to Sagan. I’ve never seen that kind of letter, very interesting. I only saw the reports written by YMCA representatives (including Henry Soderberg.
More Visitors for Marek – POW, daughter, Deborah Anderson – US
Deb and her son, Erik Anderson, recently visited the old camp to locate the hut of her father, Lt. Wilfred Boyle:
Deborah and Marek
Deborah’s son, Erik
“Other pictures were taken at the site of my father’s hut #135 where one of the tunnels was located in the South Compound. The other tunnel that Marek located was from hut #137 where my friend, Allister Carlson Webster’s father, lived (last picture ).”
Jim’s Training Accident – SLIII POW Jim Stewart – Canada
“Cannot be certain but believe this was my first landing on HMS Argus, 24 Feb. 1943! No self-centering wires back then and “batsman” landed me with drift….that’s my story. Just another one of my foolish experiences! Google CAM ships and MAC ships through Wikipedia for fascinating picture of how little we had back then to eventually win “Battle of Atlantic. It always was a one way ticket on the CAM Ships, ditch or bail out, but in 1942 and 1943 the MAC ships were coming into service and, with the remote chance that one might be available, we practiced all sorts of Dummy Deck Landings on the runway at Speke and actual landings with Royal Navy on Firth of Clyde. The carrier was supposed to be moving directly into the wind, but a crosswind meant you were slipping to the side at point of landing, “drift.” Me and my gremlins…….only my pride was hurt! They just got me another aircraft and after that, I made 3 successful landings. Most disappointed that Hitler did not award me an Iron Cross. After all, German losses, 1 Focke-Wulf 200 destroyed; compared to my British, one Hurricane destroyed, one damaged; two Typhoons destroyed. Hardly cost effective!”
Copies of Our Books Available Again
Information on the books:
100% of the proceeds go to the museum.
Mike Eberhardt and I supply the museum in Zagan with our two books with all proceeds going to the museum. Marek has told us he just sold the last two copies of the von Lindeiner book to Zagan’s Military Police unit who bought them (with some other items from the gift shop) as souvenirs for their counterparts from the US and Czech Republic who all will visit Marek at the museum. Mike has discounted copies again of both books, From Interrogation to Liberation, and From Commandant to Captive—the Memoirs of Commandant of SLIII Col. Friedrich von Lindeiner. Contact Mike at: Mikeceber@sbcglobal.net
Memorial Day – POW son, Alan Hopewell – US
For 142 years, Americans have taken the last Monday in May to remember those who have died in our wars. Like all deaths honored by the state, flags fly at half-staff.
However, on Memorial Day, the U.S. flag only flies at half-staff for the first half of the day, and then is raised to full height from noon to sundown. This unique custom honors the war dead for the morning, and living veterans for the rest of the day.
No one knows the exact date this tradition began, but an Army regulations book from 1906 carries instructions for the procedure, so it predates the 20th Century, said Clark Rogers, executive director of the National Flag Foundation. In 1924, Congress codified the tradition into U.S. Code Title 4, Section 6, with the proclamation, “For the nation lives, and the flag is a symbol of illumination,” explaining how the noon flag-raising symbolizes the persistence of the nation in the face of loss, Rogers told Life’s Little Mysteries.
“The first part of the day honors those who sacrificed, and the second part of the day honors those who are still with us,” Rogers said.
Also, if you experience difficulty from your HOA flying our nation’s flag, the federal law of 2005 provides that owners of residential property have the right to fly our nation’s flag. Some HOAs have tried to target a “flagpole” as a violation of HOA rules as a means to skirt the issue, but court cases have ruled against HOAs for this interpretation, stating that a pole is necessary to fly a flag, which is protected by federal law. There are also some states that specifically prohibit HOAs from attempting to restrict property owners from flying our nation’s flag; Florida is one such state.
Col. Keeffe’s Filing Cabinet – POW son, Jim Keeffe, III – US
35th Stalag Luft III Reunion – Jim has come across the program from the 35th reunion which shows some of the names of very prominent POWs in the camp. The program has humor and is very clever. Some might remember many of these names:
Inside cover page
Cartoons from POW camp Artist Joe Boyle were also featured:
POW Joe Boyle’s cartoon
Sketch of Hut – POW nephew, Hugh Carter – US
“Attached is an actual sketch made by Steve Pritz, my Uncle John’s cooking partner in Stalag Luft III. He was an artist and did many sketches while in POW camp. This is only one that survived as he tore it out of his sketch pad as they headed out the door for Spremberg and Moosburg. These are John’s own words from ‘Pilot Missing…’ A shame the entire sketch pad did not survive.”
“Steve was good enough to provide a drawing of Combine 3 he made while in Stalag Luft III “ – Steve relates:
“I tore this out of my ‘drawing book’ just before we started our forced march from Stalag Luft III as the Russians were moving in on Berlin. It was sudden departure to the unknown and we took only what each of us considered extremely usable for self survival! The drawing book did not fit in with our ultimate objective!! The drawing does not show all of the two tier bunks that outlined the actual size of the combine. There was only one layer of floor boards with cracks between. In the winter, we had cold air blowing in from underneath the building. I really don’t know why I kept it, along with my POW dog tags, POW spoon and knife, etc.! But it is here somewhere for my grandchildren to find sometime in the unknown future. We were housed in Barracks No. 43 in the Center Compound.”
Because We Flew – SLIII POW Leonard Spivey – US
Because We Flew
Once the wings go on, they never come off whether they can be seen or not. It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline, and no one who has ever worn them with pride, integrity and guts can ever sleep through the call of the wild that wafts through bedroom windows in the deep of the night.
When a good flyer leaves the job and retires, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the world of flying, there is a fellowship which lasts long after the flight suits are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.
Because we flew, we envy no man on earth.
POW and Boy Who Turned Him in Reunited after 50 Years – Dr. Susann Meinl – Germany
Pearl Harbor and D Day Documentaries – Tom Colones – US
Tom with DVD covers
Over the years, Tom, a friend of Stalag Luft III, has filmed some incredible documentaries. Below are some of the most recent ones.
All the excellent films the foundation produces are available on this link:
Thomas Colones [firstname.lastname@example.org]
WSPA TV – CBS – Spartanburg, S.C.
Plaque for Roger Bushell Dedicated
[Please note the error that the camp was “in Nazi-occupied Poland.” The camp was in Germany and that area was given to Poland after the war in war reparations. MW]
Why We Fly – Joe Lawrence – US
Raising the Hunley – 19th Century Submarine – POW nephew, Hugh Carter – U.S.
Ground Version of Honor Flight – POW son-in-law, Bill Vucci – US
Did You Know? – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – US
The number of lost planes in WWII: U.S. 94,000, Russia 106,000 and Germany 76,000.
I leave you with a poem from Stalag Luft III:
Last night I held a lovely hand A hand so soft and neat I thought my heart would burst with joy So wildly did it beat No other hand unto my heart Could greater solace bring Than that dear hand I held last night Four Aces and a King.
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers