Received: PURPLE HEART, BRONZE STAR, AND OTHER VARIOUS SERVICE
Job: ARTILLERY FORWARD OBSERVER
after War: SALES
On October 26, 1944 our Dad was captured by the German Army outside of
Bologna, Italy. The following excerpts represent his memories and
thoughts of those days from capture to release, as written in his
memoir, World War One, Two and Me.
Upon capture, what was left of the 351st Regiment (Company G) were
marched throughout the night then were transported by railroad boxcar,
ultimately to Stalag VII-A near Mooseburg, Germany. It was a very large
POW camp holding about 40,000 men of many nationalities. We were taken
to a heavily guarded area. Being a new POW I had thought we would be
given something to eat after 4-5 days without food. How wrong I was.
Each POW was given an overcoat, one blanket and a sack full of straw.
The bunks were three high with wooden slats to put the straw on.
Probably one thing I missed most was a toothbrush; I took a piece of my
blanket, wet it and used salt to brush with.
Dad’s memories of those first two months were sketchy at best.
However, after his transfer in December, 1944 those memories are much
By noon on December 26, 1944 we were marched about 3 miles to a railroad
yard. The boxcar had been especially arranged for the POW’s with about
half being available for the prisoners. There was one stool and straw on
the floor. I am not sure how many were crammed into that car but it was
about 25. After we were in they nailed wire from the front of one side
of the car door to the open side of the other. One door was open and one
shut. Three guards used the rest of the car.
On January 1, 1945 the train stopped and we were loaded on trucks going
to our next POW camp. The new camp was Oflag 64 near Schubin. Poland. On
the morning of January 20, 1945 we learned definitely that we were going
to be evacuated from Schubin. On January 21st we left Oflag 64 in a long
column of twos. The temperature was just above zero.
The Germans had made no plans for feeding us so it was whatever we were
able to carry of the Red Cross Food Parcels we had when we left. It was
dark when we arrived at a large farm complex and the Germans told us to
sleep wherever we could find a place to lay. I went into the barn that
was full of sheep. There were some feeding stalls so I just got in one
of these. Early the next morning the Germans were everywhere with fixed
bayonets jabbing into everything they thought we might use to hide.
Several hid in a haystack but the Germans fired their machine guns. I
don’t know how many were killed or how many escaped but our numbers
were less and less over the next 6 days.
At one point I couldn’t walk anymore. My feet were nearly frozen and I
had been hit in the back with a rifle butt. Eventually the men arrived
at a rail yard in the city of Settin, Germany. More and more men kept
coming in and soon there were about 120 of us. They herded us into the
two rail cars. It was so crowded that we had to take turns sitting and
standing. We could take that but there was only one bucket for relieving
ourselves. Dysentery was a problem and sometimes laying down it would
come down on us. After several days the men arrived at the Berlin rail
Many times bombs dropped near us. We had now been about 6 days in this
boxcar without food. Water wasn’t a problem, as the German guards
would fill a pail with snow for us. After sitting in those yards for 3
days we finally began to move. The train stopped at the city of
Luckenwalde. The prisoners were then transferred to Stalag III-A.
There were no American Red Cross food parcels in the supply house but a
shipment that came in assigned to the American Senior Officer was
changed by the French to read French Senior Officer. The Germans had put
the French in charge of parcel distribution. The French offered to
barter the parcels to us for anything of value that we might have. I was
offered a can of Spam for my bible. No way, even though I knew my weight
was now down to about 100 pounds.
Another food problem we had was that there was a steady flow of POW’s
from other camps that were being forced marched to Stalag III-A. The
camp, at the end, held over 50,000 POW’s. It was designed for 12,000.
The weather was cold. We started burning the slats in our bunks to keep
a little warmer.
April 14, 1945 was the day of our so-called liberation by the Russian
Army. The Russian Army took all the food from the camp as they passed
through on their way to Berlin. We were left with nothing to eat. They
told the Senior American officer that for our own safety we would all be
kept in the compound. If anyone tried to escape they would be shot. He
was also told that we were soon to be evacuated to the Port of Odessa on
the Black Sea to be released to the American government there.
On May 20, 1945 the exchange of hostages between the American and
Russian governments was completed.
I will never forget May 22, 1945 as that was the day that I had a hot
shower, had my head shaved to get rid of the lice and a hot meal of
strained vegetables. I weighted just over 100 pounds. The next morning
we were put aboard a C-47 transport plane to Nancy, France.
Dad passed away on March 15, 1998 but thanks to his many memories and
his willingness to share those with future generations we are all much