Stalag Luft III Newsletter – January 2018
Greetings, Stalag Luft III POWs, Families, and Friends,
Marek recently received $1100.00 in donations from American children of POWs and wanted to thank those contributors. It is difficult to find artifacts related to Stalag VIIIC that sat right next to Stalag Luft III’s West Compound and wanted to once more thank the donors.
“I’d like to thank all recent donors for their generous contributions. The money safely landed in the museum’s bank account. The donation helped me to buy a unique collection of Stalag VIIIC original pictures. It happened just two days ago. Thank you again my Dear Friends!”
Christmas Cake – POW son, Tom Lundquist – US
“The Christmas 1944 Kriegie news-sheet cover [Dec. newsletter] reminded me of something in my father’s (1st Lt. John Lundquist – Belaria) log book.
I believe that the Christmas cake pictured was made by my father, although there is no written text to support that. However, later, at Moosburg, he and others did make an Easter cake which won a contest.
I’ve puzzled over the words on this Christmas cake, and don’t know if the expression “Etto nitchivo” was commonly used by Kriegies. Do you know?
“Etto” may be an abbreviation for “each to their own,” but “nitchivo apparently is Russian- and means “never mind,” “a mere nothing,” “tolerable,” or “futile joy.” In one source I found from literature, “nitchivo” meant “They will reach their goal at length, for they look upon the dangers and delays as nothing.” Seems appropriate.”
Marilyn: I submitted this to Marek, who speaks and actually can teach Russian.
Marek: “That’s interesting! I’ve never heard this before. However, I know all these Russian words. I’m sure that Kriegies learned this from the Russian POWs – no doubts!”
SLIII POW/Tuskegee Airmen – Alex Jefferson Video – John Dodds – US
2nd Lt. William J. Bramwell – POW Daughter, Joan Wootton – US
On New Year’s Day, at almost 101 years old, William Bramwell passed away. On the day his plane went down, he was the most seriously injured, yet he was the last surviving man on that crew. 2nd Lt. Bramwell was a B-17 pilot shot down over Belgium on Nov. 5, 1943, injuring his spine upon bailing out. He was quickly picked up by the Germans and fortunately sent for fairly extensive medical treatment, first in Brussels, then in Frankfurt, and other nearby rehabilitation hospitals. He was scheduled to come home on a troop exchange because of his injuries but was delayed multiple times and eventually was sent to Zagan, arriving August 15, 1944. He stayed until November 28, 1944, living in North Compound according to his journal. When he left for repatriation for injured flyers, he went to Annaburg, a gathering point for British and American flyers, where he departed for Switzerland on Jan. 14, 1945, eventually coming home on the ship, Gripsholm, leaving from Marseilles Feb. 8, l945.
He was featured in this newsletter to mark his 100th birthday last year:
Lt. Bramwell front row, first man on the left
Lt. “Bill” Bramwell
William J. Bramwell, Jr., aged 100 years and 8 and 1/2 months old, passed peacefully with his family at his side on New Year’s Day. Mr. Bramwell and his wife Virginia, who passed in 1999, moved to Claremont, California after World War II where they built their home in 1955. They raised three children,
Bill Jr., Virginia, and Joan. They were also blessed with six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Bill served in the Army Air Corps in World War II as a captain and pilot of a B 17 bomber stationed at Knettishall, England. He served from 1942 until being repatriated in a prisoner exchange for wounded flyers in January 1945. He and his crew were shot down over Belgium in 1943, and he was a POW in German hospitals and Stalag Luft III. He is a recipient of the Purple Heart.
He retired as a manager at Insurance Services Organization in Los Angeles in 1980 and was recently honored as their oldest living retiree.
Bill’s life spanned many chapters – born in Concordia, Kansas, at the end of WWI, attending a one-room school house, growing up on a Depression-era wheat farm, serving honorably in World War II, POW, returning veteran, suffering lifelong disabilities as a result of injuries incurred as he bailed out of his B17 over enemy territory, a 55+ year marriage, 33 year career, building a home and raising a family.
Bill and Virginia celebrated many years of a happy marriage. Their lives centered around their family, traveling in the American Southwest, collecting native American jewelry and rugs, re-uniting with the remaining members of Bill’s B17 crew members and their families, and enjoying their retirement in Claremont. Bill, of course, was renowned among family and friends for his sweet navel orange juice grown from his own trees, his juicy home grown tomatoes, and his many wonderful home cooked meals. He could fix anything, build anything, and grow anything. A good husband, father, and grandfather always ready to offer help and advice and always interested in what all his kids and grandkids were up to.
During the past several years, Bill resided at the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach where he became one of their oldest and most venerated residents. From janitorial and food service staff, to nurses who lovingly called him Papa, to doctors, he was revered for his military service and continued sense of patriotism and, despite his lifelong injuries incurred during the war, for never complaining.
Perhaps one of the best descriptions to remember Bill by was that written by George Watt, his B17 crew waist gunner… “low key, rugged, competent, his calm efficiency pulled us through some pretty tight scrapes.” All of us who knew Bill can say he touched our lives in that manner. It is a tribute to him to be remembered as such.
Bill, last man on the right, with his reunited crew
Lois Carter Edwards – POW daughter, Leanne Cunliffe – Canada
Wife of SLIII and Buchenwald survivor, Ed Carter Edwards, whom we all got to know at the Dayton Reunion, has passed away. Condolences to the Carter-Edwards family.
Address Book Entry
In going through my father’s things recently, I found an old address book with the names of his POW friends. I can tell it got wet at one time, and this entry on the last page was smeared. But I recognized the last signature as Tom Wilson, affectionately known a Ma in the camp. (South Compound). I scanned it to him as a surprise. My father carried this book on the march and on the box cars, and kept it at Stalag VII-A in Moosburg. It was taken to Camp Lucky Strike and would have been taken aboard the troop ship home!
Tom Wilson on Marietta Street in Milwaukee, WI
Item Found in England 467th BG – Rackheath – Trevor Hewitt – UK
“I and two of our museum group were digging in the middle of a muddy field on the old 467th BG base at Rackheath just after Xmas. We had dug down about 5 feet or so when we found several items. One of these was a piece of Tuffnol board. This board is made up of a composite material and was used in the repair of electrical equipment, radios, and used as an insulator. The board came back to my home with all the other finds. I finally got around to start cleaning these finds and eventually I got to clean this piece. I washed the caked on mud off it and then started to polish it. I suddenly noticed something on the board when the light flashed on it. If I had not looked as closely as I did I could have very easily missed it perhaps never to have noticed it at all! It was a signature which had been scratched in the board and another set of initials which were FB. The signature is “Theo L Rykiel”. It is in the centre of the white oblong box in the photo. I tried to copy the style of the writing to decipher the name. So Theodore Luke Rykiel it turns out was a Tech. Sgt. Armourer in the 467th BG. His son posted the this photo of his father in uniform on the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, American Museum section website a while back. It would be great if I could trace his son and show him his father’s signature which had been buried for 70+ years at Rackheath. These small types of finds really fascinate me. Just to think Marilyn , this young man in a moment of probable boredom scribbled his name on the piece of board, not thinking anything of it at the time, and all these years later it came to light from 5-feet down in the ground on a damp cold Norfolk morning in December to spark a bit of a mystery.”
White oblong box surrounds signature
Marilyn: “Years ago, I found the American family members of the crew of B-24 Belle of Boston for Trevor, a plane that crashed on Trevor’s grandfather’s farm during the war, so he asked me to see if I could find the son, Alan Stanczik. I believe I have found him and I’m waiting for him to call me.”
Wealth of Information Made Available by the Nat. Archives in London – Dr. Susanne Meinl, Germany
Scroll down to see actor, Peter Butterworth’s and Roger Bushell’s SLIII ID cards.
POW 1st Lt. Alvin Lynch – Flag, Wings, Bracelet, ID Card – POW daughter, Molly Bohn – US
Molly’s father was co-pilot on Mike Eberhardt’s father’s crew. Her husband, Tom, has made a flag holder and display case for Lt. Lynch. He is also working on a display case for the flag that was used at the memorial service for the late SLIII/Buchenwald POW Richard Bedford who died September 30th 2017.
WWI Truce – Rob Davis – UK
After reading about the WWI Christmas truce in the last newsletter, British WWII Researcher, Rob Davis, sent the following poem he wrote about that event.
He also sent a picture of this plate:
“The ‘plate’ is actually the lid of the Christmas box that the Queen sent to all soldiers, containing sweets, cigarettes and other treats.”
Be sure to visit Rob’s many interesting and informative websites!
Base page www.robdavis.webhop.org
Bomber Command www.robdavis.webhop.org/raf_bc
Great Escape www.robdavis.webhop.org/gt_esc
Motorcycle Touring www.deauville.webhop.org/touring
The Private said, “What’s up, lads?
it seems right quiet out there,
but I don’t mind if Christmas morn
has no attack affair.”
We peered out from our trenches
(and so did all the Frenchies).
The Corporal said, “Stand fast, lads;
for we’ll not fight today.
For once, no battle, just because
it’s Christmas, and we’ll have a pause.
We’ll give Fritz no melée.”
We Privates thought this sounded fine,
and stood down right along the line.
The Sergeant said, “Stand fast, lads;
we’ll wait all quiet, and see
what happens, and if Fritz is still,
we’ll not attempt to do him ill;
all peaceful it will be.”
The Corporal nodded, all a-smile,
there’d been no rest for quite a while;
we Privates stood down all content,
against the walls our rifles leant.
The Captain said, “Stand fast, lads;
we’ll play it cool, and this’ll
do just fine, we’ll keep it calm
and hope that Fritz he wants no harm,
and doesn’t blow his whistle.”
The Sergeant said “Very good, Sir!
Enjoy your Christmas pud, Sir!”
The Corporal he gave orders,
“Stay well within your quarters!”
And told us all to lay off;
we’d likely get the day off.
The Colonel said, “Stand fast, lads;
here’s something to be seen;
a ray of light for trenches murky,
tinned chocolate, a slice of turkey
a present from the Queen.”
The Captain said “God save Her!
We’re grateful for the favour.”
The Sergeant, warmly dressed
was mightily impressed.
The Corporal passed the tins,
and said “Lads, here’s your dins.”
We Privates didn’t quibble,
we’d Christmas pud to nibble.
The General he said “What?”
And rose up from his benches,
“Whilst Fritz is eating Christmas pud,
our lads can do a whale of good,
and storm his ruddy trenches.”
The Colonel was dismayed,
but plans to go were laid.
The Captain said to “Stick it,
it simply isn’t cricket.”
The Sergeant he knew who was boss,
and didn’t argue much the toss.
The Corporal gave a telling,
“You there, lads, get fell in!”
We Privates downed our trifles,
and took up with our rifles.
Then came a voice from the other line –
“Merry Christmas, Tommy” – sounded fine;
so we all called, with no alack,
“Merry Christmas, Fritz!” we shouted back.
Then sailed into our dingy hide
a piece of sausage, then a tide
of bread, and bully, cheese and such.
For finest fare, it didn’t measure
but sure enough it gave us pleasure,
for tucking into bread and ham
beats shooting at the other man.
We tossed across what we could spare,
some tins and such flew threw the air;
(it made a change to not abrade
his dugouts with a Mills grenade.)
A face peered out from firestep yonder
and wondered if this all was blunder?
But then we all saw Fritz produce
a white shirt waved to show us truce.
The Corporal at the Sergeant looked
to see if this our goose was cooked,
the Sergeant caught the Captain’s eye
and saw his eyebrows rise on high.
The Sergeant saw his head a-nodding
and needed no more gentle prodding.
“Wave them back, lads, it’s all right!
What’s to hand that’s clean and white?”
We found a scrap of off-white cloth
and quickly tied it, nothing loth
to rifle’s end, and raised it so
that Fritz could see we’d have a go
to rise up from our muddy place
and be more friend than deadly foe.
Now we saw them, one by one
and cautiously with careful treads
without their rifles, no grenades
just tin hats on their grimy heads.
Our Captain was, by us, respected;
and sure enough, as we expected
he clambered up, to quickly meet
with Flanders mud beneath his feet
a German Hauptmann, where they stood
face to face, right where we could
see our Captain’s hand salute
the man who yesterday – he’d shoot.
We watched them both, tense to a man
’til saluted back the proud Hauptmann.
The Corporal cried, “It’s Christmas Day!
For Fritz and us, no fight – hooray!”
The Sergeant cried, “That’s right, I think!
We’ll share our humble food and drink
with Fritz, and find out if we can
what kind of enemy is our man.”
The Captain cried, “It’s safe, I reckon!”
We Tommies followed at his beckon.
Herr Hauptmann called out loud in German
and from his trench rose Wolf and Hermann.
A football from the blue appeared
and as we watchers waved and cheered
a kick-about ‘tween trench occurred;
no man on either side demurred.
Fritz and Tommy swapping cadges,
gaspers, lucifers, jacket badges;
no need to hide in trench’s cover
for all there understood the other.
Nobody seemed to want to war
like yesterday, or the day before;
amongst their crowd I picked a man
and thought “I’ll just see if I can
meet up, and without being rude
be pals for this short interlude.”
So Tommy there with Fritz did stand
to shake each other by the hand;
In Christmas cheer and gay bonhomie
“Good Luck, Fritz” and “Good Luck, Tommy!”
Whatever lay ahead their fate
men found men they could not hate.
Our Captain and the Hauptmann tall
saluted each and other all;
a whistle blew to spell the end
of peace ‘twixt enemy and friend.
We turned and trudged in fading light
and wondered why we had to fight.
The next day, had the bubble burst?
We waited – but who would fire first?
No rifles spoke, or Lewis chattered,
to keep things quiet was all that mattered.
But as sun lit the hills, we see
Fritz pounded by Artillery.
So it all began again
the senseless slaughter, and the rain
of shells and whizzbangs, frozen breath;
and friend, with foe, alike in death.
“Were you in the War, Grandad?”
Aye I was, and now right glad
that desperately so I tried
to shoot to miss, and aim aside.
For once I’d met Fritz, face to face
to shoot and kill was not my place.
I know it seems a shame
but I never knew his name;
and when the war was over
I’d have been pleased
to have had
The finding of Lt. David Foulkes’ dog tag recently brought an email from the son of one of my father’s best friend in South Compound, POW Charles Church. I had been looking for his son for eight years with no luck. Just before the SLIII Reunion in Dayton, Mike Eberhardt noticed a posting on a forum by Charles Church’s son and put me in touch with him. Son, Jim Church, ended up coming to the reunion where we finally met. Now he tells me his father and Foulkes were roommates in the camp!
Recently on ebay: – Tom Colones – US
For those who still believe the Steve McQueen character in The Great Escape movie was real, Tom submits the following oddity reinforcing that error:
Bombardier School in 1942 at Midland, Texas – Midland Army Air Field – POW daughters – Elizabeth and Susan Holmstrom – US
Check the pictures to perhaps see the familiar face of a relative?
The first class was on 02-06-1942. Training was twelve weeks.
Video of the History of Midland Field and the bombardier school there – Click on link below:
Vintage Video of Franz Stigler/Charlie Brown of Book Fame. “A Higher Call” – Joe Lawrence – US
New Records on Great Escape Found – New Book
Arlington Ladies – POW daughter and Arlington Lady, Carol Godwin, US
P-40 Pilots – Pearl Harbor – SLIII POW Ken Collins – US
A short video about two American P-40 pilots who were able to get off the ground at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
The Air War from the German Perspective – Susan Meinl – Germany
WWII Aviation Photos – Ross Greene – Ross Greene – US
Change Course! – John Dodds – US
Rare Footage of the Red Baron – 1917 – Joe Lawrence, US
Notice them squirting oil prior to spinning the prop. The following is a very rare piece of film, 100 years old. It shows Baron Von Richthofen doing an external prior to a mission, as well as his putting on a flying suit prior to flight in cold weather. If you look closely, you will notice Hermann Goering. The Baron was shot down on 21 April 1918 by Roy Brown of the Royal Navy Air Services, a prelude of the RAF. The Aussies also claim that one of their machine gunners on the ground shot the Baron down. UK & Aussie doctors, after the autopsy, stated that the fatal bullet was shot from above. Ray Brown was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame on 4 June 2015. Enjoy this up-close and personal look at the most legendary combat pilot who ever lived, the infamous Red Baron, Manfred Von Richthofen.
Walt Disney Goes to War – Joe Lawrence – US
When the United States entered the war in 1917, Walt Disney wanted to enlist just as his brothers had but at only 16, he was too young. Disney found out the Red Cross Ambulance Corps was accepting volunteers as young as 17. So Disney utilized his artistic skills to change his birth date on his passport application from “1901” to “1900.” This photo is Disney in uniform by his vehicle before leaving Paris to return home. As can be seen in the photo, he decorated vehicles with cartoons while overseas. Later stating, “I found out that the inside and outside of an ambulance is as good a place to draw as any.”
In addition to the ambulance flaps, Walt created sketches for the canteen menus and for friends to send home to their families and girlfriends (for a small fee of course). He also sent funny sketches and letters back to his high school newspaper, “The McKinley Voice.” One of which revealed how homesick he actually was, the cartoon featured the caption, “Oh! I want to go home to my Mama!”. By August 1918, his brothers Ray and Roy had returned to Kansas City and Walt put in for a discharge
Did You Know? – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – US
“Luftwaffe Stomp”—the name given by U.S. fighter pilots to a turn used in combat to evade German pursuers. It involved stalling the aircraft and turning at the same time. The maneuver was very effective in allowing the pilot to come out on the tail of a German fighter with a good chance of shooting it down.
Marilyn: Two personal notes –
On Jan. 25th my husband and I flew to Florida to stand with Pam Sconiers Whitelock and family, and members of “Ewart’s Army” the dedicated international group who searched for the left behind SLIII POW for so long as we lay her uncle, Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers, to rest beside his mother on the 27th of January, the 74th anniversary of his burial in Lubin, Poland. Two daughters, one son, and one grandson of the SLIII POWs who buried him that day stood in their relatives’ places for this burial. I will post coverage of and pictures from that re-burial in next month’s newsletter.
2. Some of you who know me are aware that our eldest son, John Walton, is the play-by-play broadcaster for the Washington Capitals Hockey Team. NBC has asked him to do the play-by-play for women’s hockey for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in early February. The Olympics Games will be carried on USA and NBCSN t.v. channels. On a 3-week leave of absence from the Caps, he will broadcast the women’s hockey games up to the bronze medal game when he will have to return to DC. Now that the North and South Koreans have agreed to form a combined women’s ice hockey team, he will have the honor of calling those historic and unifying games. I know that his SLIII POW grandfather would be proud.
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers