National Headquarters

3201 East Pioneer Parkway #40

Arlington, Texas 76010-5396

817-649-2979

817-649-0109 - FAX

hq@axpow.org

 

 

FEBRUARY 2004

Captured!

James F. Sansom

2333 Glscock St., Raleigh, NC 27610

December 1944, our squad: ten riflemen, one Browning Automatic Rifleman (BARMAN) and one medic were assigned to a farmhouse, several miles south of Hosingen, Luxembourg.

For nearly two weeks we stayed on alert. The mess truck would bring us a hot meal along with our mail each day at noon. Other meals were mostly C-Rations. It had been rumored that when Christmas neared, we would be sent to Bastogne, Belgium for some R&R. We were all looking forward to that!

The farmhouse had 18-inch concrete block walls. We entered via a side door, then up a flight of stairs to a large room, approximately 30 feet square, with three smaller rooms along one side. The house had a wood-coal stove which kept the entire house warm. In addition to providing much-needed warmth, it was also used to heat coffee, hot chocolate, and food.

On the morning of December 16th at 0600 hours, Sgt. John Reardon was giving the morning report on the telephone when communications were broken. The lines had apparently been cut. Almost immediately there was incoming mortar fire, with explosions on the roof, coming from a wooded area about 800-1000 yards away. Machine gun fire quickly followed, with rounds hitting the house. Multiple rounds began penetrating the windows.

The men immediately took up positions (mostly in the barn), returning fire at some Germans spotted near the edge of the wood line. The BARMAN, Joe Glick, had taken up a position in the barnís loft, firing at the enemy near the wooded area. He was lying prone, shooting through an open window.

It seemed at first that the skirmish in which we were involved was just a German patrol. We observed several German tanks traveling up and down the nearby road, firing at random.

As the time drew close to noon, the men were still at their posts. Since I was the squad medic, I was kept busy preparing hot chocolate and food rations for those in positions.

At approximately 1300 hours, I was informed that Joe Glick had been hit. I immediately rushed to him, finding a gaping wound above his right ear. I dressed his wound, injected morphine and began artificial respiration. Within 30 minutes, he had no pulse. He never regained consciousness. One of the other men took over the BAR.

About 1600 hours, two Germans, who had crept within a hundred yards of the farmhouse, were wounded. A couple of our guys decided to go after them and to look for souveniers. I gave them my Red Cross armbands and they took a litter to bring the Germans back. They were brought to the main house; they wounds were minor, in their arms and legs. I dressed their wounds and gave them hot chocolate.

About dusk, a German tank rolled into the yard. Someone in the tank called out something in German. Our prisoners called back in German, which I didnít understand. As I was coming down the stairs, some kind of concussion grenade detonated and I was thrown to the floor. The tank then drove away. I got up, ran to the barn where the others were, and told Sgt. Reardon what had occurred.

As darkness descended, we talked quietly in the loft, and then attempted to get some sleep.

Just before dawn, several Germans with flashlights entered the barn where we were hiding. We kept quiet and they left. There was a small room beneath the loft where we had hidden, closing the entrance with hay bales. Several times, three or four Germans would enter the barn, look around, then leave.

At approximately 1000 hours, several more Germans armed with machine pistols entered the barn and searched. One of the enemy soldiers pulled away a hay bale and found us. We shouted "Hier! Rause!" (Here! Out!). I was the first out, then the rest followed. We were lined up along a fence outside. We were told, "Hands Up!" and then searched. They took watches, jewelry, cigarettes, and chocolate bars. The German soldiers had a discussion with a lieutenant. We were very fearful for our lives. We were marched across a field toward some woods. Someone in our ranks whispered, "Surely we will all be shot now!" As we got to an area where several logs were stacked, we were ordered to sit. The lieutenant attempted to interrogate us. His English was very limited and we acted as though we didnít understand him. Then with our hands up, we were herded with other captured US troops, totaling up to 2,000.

Late in the day, I was taken in a truck to work in a hospital along with several other medics. The others journeyed several days to prison camps. I worked six weeks in hospitals. Then for five weeks I was in Stalag XIIA and six weeks in IXB, where I was later liberated.

Our squad of the 110th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Division in December 1944 consisted of:

Pvt. Melvin Braiser (POW) Chartley, MA; Pvt. Bernard Cohen (POW, Bridgeport, CT; Pvt. Frank DeLorenzo (POW), Norwich, NY; Pvt Joe Glick (KIA), Hudson, NY; Pvt David McCartney (POW), Oxford, PA; Sgt. John Reardon (POW), Chicago, IL; Pvt Francis Rozelle (POW), S. Glen Falls, NY; Pvt Fred Roth (POW), Medina, NY; Pvt Fred Roys (POW), Muskegan, MI; Sgt. Russell Schneider (POW), Pittsburgh, PA; Pvt Al Turek (POW), Brooklyn, NY; Pvt James Sansom (POW), Raleigh, NC.

Barbed Wire

by Larry Voss

submitted by Doris M. DeVivo

173 Bennett Ave. #3210

Council Bluffs, IA 51503

Honorable men with a burning desire

To be set free from the cruel barbed wire.

Prisoners of War is what they claim

Prisoners of Hell is a better name.

Starvation, disease, torture and pain

Pressures of cruelty driving men insane.

Forced labor camps when they could hardly stand

Enduring degradation as long as they can.

Men imprisoned that we might be free

The supreme sacrifice for you and me.

Brave men were lost as they passed through the fire

The legacy of love from behind barbed wire.

God Bless all of you men who survived the horrific hell of the POW camps. Thank you for your dedication, your bravery and the great sacrifice you made to keep our country free. We will always be in your debt as we carry you in our hearts.

This Shirt

by Donna Schrock

submitted by Diana Thomasian

201-262-2984

Tonight we would like to pay tribute to an article of clothing from WWII. Usually it does not stimulate discussion. It has several patches and medals from each branch of the service including the Navy. I call it "The Shirt". This shirt was issued in 1942. It saw many practices on a gunnery range somewhere near Las Vegas. It missed a birth of a son, but was able to come home on furlough before it went overseas.

This shirt flew over Germany in a B-17 as a waist gunner. This shirt was shot down and wounded in the sleeve. After its recovery, helped by the Belgian underground, this shirt made its way to Paris, where it was captured by the Germans posing as the French, and was taken to a Prisoner of War camp, the Frennes Prison in Paris. Eventually, this shirt was transferred to Buchenwald Concentration camp where it suffered greatly along with many others Ė the sights, sounds, and smells of the furnaces.

This shirt escaped prison and was liberated by Gen.Patton, and received the honor and respect it deserved. After this shirt was decorated for service to its country, it returned home to family and friends, and retired to a box of war memories for the past 50 years.

Tonight we honor this shirt by putting it back into service for this event. This shirt was worn by my father, William Joseph Williams, a 55 year Mason, who resides in Lake Placid, Florida with his bride of 52 years, my mom, a member of Eastern Star. At 82, my dad is still very proud to be an American, who can tell you all about the "Big One." World War II.

This shirt is worn tonight by my husband, Dayle Schrock, a retired Master Sergeant of the US Air Force. He served from 1972 to 1992, from the end of the Vietnam War in Thailand to Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia. We honor all those who have served their country in something similar to this shirt.

An American In Paris

Jim Sansom, Raleigh, NC

The old American absentmindedly arrived at French customs at Parisí airport and fumbled for his passport. "You have been to France before Monsieur?", the customs officer asked sarcastically.

The ancient Yank admitted that he had been to France before.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready for inspection," snapped the irate official.

The American said that the last time he came to France he did not show his passport.

"Impossible, old man. You Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France."

The old American gave the Frenchman a long, hard look. "I assure you, young man, that when I came ashore on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day in 1944, there was no damned Frenchman on the beach."

A True 1944 Adventure

by Lawrene R. Landwehr

W256S4895 Wood Lilly Lane

Waukesha, WI 53189

At 7:46 AM, Sunday, April 29, 1944, our B17F fortress bomber, the Chief Wahoo, took off from our 483rd BG base at Foggia Italy, with 10 men and 12-500 lb load of demolition bombs. With the rest of our formation, we were to destroy a factory at Milan in Northern Italy.

Our pilot, Hilmer Landholt, our bombardier Floyd Bowles, myself at age 24, and eight more of us were briefed that this would be a "Milk Run". All we had to do was fly up there, drop our bombs, and come back to our base. All the Italians and Germans would be in church!

Sad to say, intelligence was wrong. During and after our run on the target, heavy flak rocked our plane. An 88 projectile went through the wing between number 3 and 4 engines, exploding above us. Immediately #3 engine caught fire. The pilot pulled the handle and extinguished the fire with the CO2 rings around it and feathered the prop! With the loss of power in that engine, our plane had to drop out of the formation protection and start our journey back home. A few minutes later, four ME 109s of the German Luftwaffe engaged us because we were a straggler and without the protective firepower of the squadron. In the ensuing battle, they made runs firing against our plane from the nose, and then went under us to turn and come back from the rear. The bombardier, by a sly trick, shot up one ME 109 so bad he had to eject. I was at right waist and fired only 20-30 rounds from my flexible 50 caliber out the open window. All this time we were losing altitude; the three engines could not keep us up. The pilot gave the order to bail out at approximately 5,000 feet.

After pulling the rip cord and floating down, I noticed a creek running across the road near where I would come down. Upon landing roughly, I gathered my chute around me and back into the 3-foot culvert. In eight or ten minutes, motorcycles, bicycles, and military vehicles searched for me. They knew I had come down in that vicinity.

To plan my escape, I stayed in the culvert all Sunday night and all of the next day and night. On my parachute harness I had fastened a Tropical Survival Kit that I had picked up Ė water purifier, hacksaw blades, money and maps. I then planned to walk to the Adriatic Sea, obtain a boat, and paddle back to Foggia. I set out walking Ė walking 200 steps, then jogging 200 steps, an old Indian way to cover ground. The money was useless; people ran away when I tried to buy a bicycles, food or other items. The third night, I "borrowed" a suit coat from a clothesline to cover up my flying coveralls.

Being too engrossed and eager to get back to our base, I got too bold. I put a garden hoe over my shoulder and walked right through villages and over bridges guarded by soldiers. Finally on the fifth day, while I walked down the highway, a German soldier stopped me for a light for his cigarette. Since I couldnít speak German, I shook my head and continued on. He rode his bike in the opposite direction until another soldier joined him; both pulled out their pistols and approached me asking for identification. All I could do was shake my head, whereupon they marched me to the local jail. When they searched me and found all those escape items, they thought I was a spy or a fighter pilot. I had an English-speaking woman question me, but as you know, I could only tell them my name, rank and serial number.

They must have gotten on the phone to German Headquarters, because the next day they took me under guard to a railroad station and then through Bremmer Pass and into Germany. In Frankfurt there was a central prison and SS troops to interrogate Allied airmen and other POWs.

After 2 days and nights in a cell with only a straw bed on the floor and an open drain for a potty, I was brought to a central room by a 7-ft. tall guard and plunked down in a chair across from a German officer. He spoke good English with an accent. He had a pack of Lucky Strike and Chesterfield cigarettes in front of him. After offering me one, which I politely refused, he proceeded to light up and blow clouds of smoke in my face. He didnít realize I didnít smoke. He confirmed my name, rank and serial number and then started berating me for fighting against them. My name Landwer means (according to Websterís dictionary) the first German Land Army. Wehr macht is their infantry fighting force. Suddenly he asked me how many tons of bombs the B29 would tote to the target and what was the top speed? With no answers to another five questions, he motioned to the guard to take me to my cell.

Lunch consisted of a cup of watery soup of potato peels, cabbage or rutabagas with some broth, a slice of black bread, margarine and one 3" slice of wurst. Shortly I was taken to the same room with a different SS officer who said that since I was found with escape items and a civilian jacket, I was a sure candidate to be shot as a spy unless I cooperated with answers to questions about our base, missions, and future targets! With no answers to their dozen questions, I was returned to my cell to "think it over" seriously before it was too late.

In four more sessions in which I told them nothing, my final SS officer berated me: "You think we Germans are stupid. Look at this." He pushed a report of my crew, each position and each manís name, rank and even civilian occupation in front of me. When I showed no surprise, he said "For you the war is over", and that I was to be sent to an Airmanís POW camp to spend my days until we lost the war.

That night I was loaded on a 40-8 boxcar with other POWs and arrived two days later at Stalag Luft IV at Gross Tychoro. As POW 1036, my clothes were exchanged for other used ones and I went into Compound A as the first group to occupy a room with 15 other Kriegies. We had two tier wooden beds in our barracks three feet off the ground to prevent tunneling.. There were 11 other rooms with just one wash room and two latrines.

On February 10, 1945, we left Luft IV; traveling in the Black March of 80 days and more than 620 miles in the winter. Along the way, some of us got into 40-8 boxcars to Nurenburg. We were liberated May 5, 1945 by Pattonís Third Army at 7A Moosburg. After a voyage in convoy to the US, I was discharged Sept. 15, 1945 at Fort McCoy, WI. At the rank of T/Sgt!!!

1940 edition of the Navy Bluejacketís Manual:

Pay Grade Class or Rating Pay per month

E-7 Nonrated 3/c $21.00

E-6 Nonrated 2/c $36.00

E-5 Nonrated 1/c $54.00

E-4 Petty Officer 3/c $60.00

E-3 Petty Officer 2/c $72.00

E-2 Petty Officer 1/c $84.00

E-1A Chief (provisional) $99.00

E-1 Chief (permanent) $126.00

I might add, all pay was non-taxable at that time. The E-1A pay grade was only for Navy and Coast Guard. The Army and Marines (there was no Air Force at that time) did not have a provisional E-1A pay grade. The pay grades later changed in 1958 under PL 85-422, which created the "super enlisted grades, E-8 and E-9, and inverted the order where an E-1 was the lowest, E-9 being the highest. Also under that law the provisional pay grade went away, however the practice of the probationary period as an E-7 remained until 1969 (two years).

POW Prayer

by John R. Modrovsky

461st BG, 765th BS, Luft 1

10474 Ventura Drive

Spring Hill, FL 34608

Oh God above please hear my plea

Iím here on earth in captivity.

I fought the war the best I could, until my luck ran out

Now, Iím behind barbed wire on the inside looking out.

War is Hell, I just found out much to my dismay

Iím asking for Your blessings and help in every way.

Give us Your strength to guide us through this terrible ordeal

Itís only now we realize that what has happened is for real.

The inhumane brutality which we suffered each and every day

Is slowly wearing us down, into a state of disarray.

How long can our minds and bodies fight this gruesome episode

We are weak, hurt and hungry, with little hope in sight.

Our Country knows that we are here

But, what of the ones who are missing.

We pray, oh God that you look out for them

For their families, friends who pray constantly

Still hoping for a miracle, AMEN.