Crew 29 – Assigned 753rd Squadron – October 21, 1943
Crew photo needed
Shot down March 6, 1944 – MACR 3349
|Jesse L McMains
|Casimir J Kolezynski
|Stalag Luft I
|William R Doherty
|Stalag Luft I
|Robert L Dean
|Stalag Luft I
|Harvey L Hoffstot
|Clarence C Daw
|Conrad C Lunz
|Ball Turret Gunner
|Stalag Luft IV
|Carl M Lash
|Stalag Luft III
|Jess J Gomez
|Stalag Luft IV
|Glenn W Hunter
|Stalag Luft IV
An original crew, McMains flew the March 3rd mission to Berlin, but near the Frisian Islands the entire 2nd Bomb Division was recalled due to weather. Crews were given mission credit. They were one of five 458th crews shot down on the Eighth Air Force’s first full daylight raid on Berlin. According to Lt Robert Dean, the crew’s bombardier, their ship was damaged during the second bomb run over the target that day. Losing power, McMains dropped out of formation and was attempting to “hit the deck” when German fighters found them. After several passes the damage sustained was too great to keep the aircraft flying and the order to bail out was given.
Lt. Dean stated that, “With the assistance of Sgt. Daw, Lt. McMains held the ship steady while the rest of the crew bailed out. Sgt. Hofstott remained at the radio sending a call for help. They did not have time to get out before the ship exploded and crashed. The co-pilot was the last man out of the ship through the bomb bay and he saw these three men at their stations. As the plane was burning fiercely, he sustained severe facial burns.” Dean also had a recommendation for his pilot, “This man’s family deserves an award for their son who gave his life that we who escaped might live. He gallantly fought to keep this burning airplane in straight flight [un]til we all were out. Then it was too late for himself.” Similar comments were made about Sgt’s Daw and Hoffstott.
2Lt Robert Dean’s full account appears below.
No statement given
|Cmd P - GRIFFITH
Members of McMains Crew on March 6, 1944
2Lt Jessie L. McMains and 2Lt Casimir J. Kolezynski
S/Sgt Clarence C. Daw and S/Sgt Conrad C. Lunz
S/Sgt Harvey L. Hoffstot
(Photo: Guy Hoofs)
2Lt Robert Dean – My Last Mission
Today we raid Berlin! That was the big news of the day. March 6 – up at 5 A.M. chow, check ship, take-off at 8:15 over the coast at _____ Germany ______ at 1 P.M. ___ at ____. Bombing over target ____, we are an hour late in hitting the target. 1:50 P.M. dropped bombs: did a 360 and came back over target again. This time [supercharger] went out on No. 2 engine. Feathered, dropping out of formation – can’t keep up – farther and farther away, the formation gets. Finally the pilot decides to hit the deck. After getting down from altitude, the pilot started No. 2 engine. At 6,000 ft., 6 fighters hit us. Nose turret was using hand cranks as the electric system was out. Top turret never did fire as trigger control was broken. Ball turret was retracted. Waist guns were O.K. Tail turret fluid had all leaked out. He was using hand cranks. We were virtually unprotected.
After about the second or third pass, I heard what sounded like bee-bees rattling in a tin can. Next thing I knew I was picking myself up off the floor of the ship. I thought the other waist gunner had busted me in the right leg and jabbed me in the left ribs. By the time I got up, flames were sweeping past waist window. No. 3 was on fire. The fire spread to bomb bays. Pilots didn’t know No. 3 was burning. The fire had burned itself back to the ball turret out of control. I got the men in the back into their chutes ready to bail out. That is when I noticed blood all over the floor where I had been standing. We were down to 3,000 feet before pilot knew we were on fire, at about 1,500 or 1,000 ft., he leveled off. I asked each man in turn to go first, but they all pointed back to me. With fire licking up around me, I wasn’t about to argue, so out I went. I pulled my chute cord as soon as I got out. Sure was easy – no shock, no jerk. I turned around so I was facing the ship. I counted the chutes as they came out. Seven in all.
I glanced at my watch just before hitting the ground. It was 2:30 P.M. The ship was out of sight over the hill and still going, with fire streaming out of it. I landed in a tree in the woods. Was swinging from a limb. Tried to pull myself up and get out of the parachute harness. Too weak: couldn’t do anything, but hang there. I did that for about 15 minutes and then I managed to swing into the tree and climb up enough to unbuckle the chute; then slid down the tree. When I hit the ground, I really found out how weak I was. Could hardly stand up. Took a look at my leg. Blood had soaked through my long “johnnies” and heater suit and also summer flying suit. About that time a German worker and a young boy came running over. I held my hands up. The old German searched me, but found no weapons. The boy went up the tree and got my chute down. In the meantime, I had the old German helping me put my shoes on, which I had tied to my chute harness. He then helped me to my feet and helped me get started to walking.
We walked about a half or three quarter mile. Met horse-drawn cart filled with boys – Free French workers (former soldiers) who were supplying the work. I got in the cart and rode. My leg was getting pretty stiff. We continued for a mile or two; till we came to a little village. The people all came running out to see the “Terror Flyer”. I guess I was a sad sight – found out later what I looked like. My face was black and dirty and I had all my flying clothes on – one pants leg red with blood and by now my shoe was full of blood too. We stopped the cart in front of one of the houses (nice looking house, too). I dismounted and was taken into the house. I was taken into a kitchenette where they had me take off my summer flying suit – then the bottom of my heater suit. I then rolled up my long “johnnies” to see how bad the wound was. I was awfully bloody. I was going to open the “first aid kit” on my chute, but they stopped me. They gave me some clean rags and I mopped up the blood as best I could. Couldn’t find anything but a hole in the muscle (calf of leg) about 3/8 inches in diameter. Wound a bandage around same and put my clothes back on.
We then proceeded across the street to another house – only larger. Right after entering I saw “Doc” (W.R. Doherty, my navigator). There were some “Gestapos” in black uniforms there. They had me sit down. Boy! Was I glad to see old Doc! There was a buxom old woman who ran the house, I guess. She got on the phone and called someone. She finished with “Heil Hitler”. In about an hour more soldiers came. One old boy was sure sour. They were looking over my escape kit and found the maps. He asked me a question or two about them, but I didn’t answer. He said, “American Swine! Filthy Swine!” Doc and I were then loaded into a little car, about the size of an Austin, and we started out.
Our next stop was to pick up another flyer, a sergeant walking along the road. We finally halted at what appeared to be an old school building. We unloaded and went in. We were searched again. I had two pair of gloves when I got there, but after I had made a call out back, I found I only had one pair left. We stayed there till dark. A doctor had come in and looked at my wounds, but didn’t do anything to them. We then proceeded in a truck, which had more men in it when it picked us up. We rode for an hour or two, arriving at a hospital. I was wheeled into an operating room where they undressed me and looked me over. Didn’t do a thing but bandage me up again. Next, they wheeled me into the X-ray room and took a couple of pictures. There was an orderly there who could talk English. He kidded me about cutting my leg off, and because I kept laughing all the time, he said, “You like to be a prisoner; you are happy?” (The above bandages mentioned were paper). I told him that so far I had enjoyed myself, next thing – they wheeled me into a room with four beds in it. Three people in them. One had his head all bandaged. The other two didn’t have anything noticeably anything wrong with them. There was a guard with a rifle placed at the door, and the lights were left on all night, but I sure slept good that night.
They fed me some porridge next morning. A nurse came in and took my temperature and pulse. She wasn’t a beauty by a long way, but she had pretty brown eyes. When she went over to take the temperature of the fellow that was all bandaged, he said something and I thought the voice was familiar, so I said, “Is that you Casey?” (Casey is the co-pilot, Kolezynski). He answered by asking, “Is that you Dean?” That made me feel better again, for now I know that Casey and Doc are safe. He was burned pretty bad, but hadn’t affected his eyes. We teased him about this nurse – about how beautiful she was and all. To make it worse, she even held hands with him. He left there without ever seeing her, so we can still tease him about her.
We were treated pretty good while there. They took our dog tags, cash, bracelets, and watches there. They kept the government stuff and we got back our personal material. I got to wash up and get clean. We were there from the 6th till the 8th, when we left for Dulag Luft Interrogation Center. We arrived there on the 9th. We were put into one man cells. Spent the night there. The slop they fed us for food: I never ate it. It stunk. Next morning I was taken across the street to be interrogated. I gave the old boy my name and rank and serial number. I then sat back. He kept asking me questions, to which I would reply, “I don’t know.” After about a half hour, he got mad and said I was too dumb to be admitted to the main prison camp. “Why do you say you don’t know?” Then I replied, “It isn’t a matter of not knowing, but in telling.” So he dismissed me and that afternoon I was taken to another camp to be shipped out.
The day we were to be shipped out, I saw Carl Lash and Glenn Hunter (nose and tail turret men). Talked a little about the ship and how they were captured. I was happy to see that neither were injured. Our stay at Dulag was wonderful. Got a PP [plaster of Paris] bandage put on my leg and plenty of food. Red Cross food – the first we had had. We also got a ration on chocolate bars and cigarettes, which I gave to the enlisted men. While here, I tried to get a crutch to help me get around. “No”, they said I wasn’t hurt bad enough, yet I was crippled as bad if not worse than most of the others (mostly burns). Our trip by box car was the most interesting thing that had happened so far, the cars are slightly smaller than ours, with a coal stove in the center between the doors, we had five benches about six feet long, they were arranged so we had to sit up. We also had straw on the floor, there were twenty prisoners and five or six guards. One was in charge and the others standing guard at the door on watch.
There were over two-hundred of us who came on this shipment. We departed late in the evening, a full Red Cross Box was issued to each one of us, except sugar, milk and coffee, which the German guards kept to make us coffee with. They did, but they didn’t use up near all and of course we never saw it again. They have very little good coffee, milk, or sugar, which is a luxury. So – Oh well! Anyway, we had hot coffee twice, most every day. The guards were not supposed to take anything from us, but we gave them some of the sugar, a lump at a time, also cigarettes and they let us use their knives and can openers. One time the Jerry caught one of the guards taking sugar from us and boy, did he get bawled out! But we still slipped them sugar and cigarettes. Incidentally, they were not so young, at least 45 to 60 years old. They were all pretty good Joe’s. One had a son in a prison camp in the States. They did everything they could for our comfort without the [German] officers finding out. The officers were pretty strict. The guards slept most of the time. We had numerous chances to escape, but they had our shoes and there was snow on the ground, so no use to get away.
While at transient camp we were issued some clothes, overcoat, socks, etc. I was lucky enough to get through with my heater suit, so I had equipment of two pants and two shirts. It was plenty cold outside. Sure did enjoy that food. One night we stopped at a station and got out while they changed engines. We had an air raid while there and were taken into a shelter. The German Red Cross came and gave us coffee. In every little town we went through most of the women were in a family way (we have a baby factory close to our camp). The trip was miserable, but we stood it O.K. Upon arriving at Barth [Stalag Luft I], an ambulance met us and those who couldn’t walk were loaded in and driven to camp.
My stay at the hospital was real nice. Had some books to read, played hearts and learned to play chess too. Had cocoa and pudding. I saved the rations they issued to me. Traded for chocolate with my cigarettes. Had a real good time inside while it snowed outside. Made pretty good friends with Colonel Hanley. I was entered into the hospital on March 15, 1944. My leg had been swelling all this time and I was pretty weak when we reached the hospital, and had to be carried in from the place where we had been searched. On the 22nd they took an X-Ray. On the night of the 25th they put me to sleep with a shot in the arm. When I awoke I felt just like being drunk for an hour. The bullet had been removed from my leg. The piece that was extracted has the casing of a .303. That is all I saw, yet I know for a fact there were two pieces in my leg and the other larger than the one the doctor gave me. The other was probably the slug portion. On March 29th I was transferred to the north compound, was assigned to a room in one of the blocks. I was still real weak from loss of blood etc., my leg was aching so I stayed in bed. I went to only one meal in the mess hall in two days. At the end of the second day, my leg was swollen and giving me lots of pain, so back to the hospital. The wound had quit draining. They opened it up again. I stayed in hospital until April 7th. Returned to my room with a cane to help me. Had a little difficulty in getting around and didn’t attend any outdoor roll calls for about a month.
Courtesy: Ferilen Wimberly
Who shot them down?
In their excellent book TARGET BERLIN Mission 250: 6 March 1944, Jeffrey Ethell and Dr. Alfred Price attribute the downing of McMains’ Liberator to Oblt. Hermann Greiner, a night-fighter pilot. The following account is from that book.
Oberleutnant Hermann Greiner of Night Fighter Geschwader 1, flying a radar-equipped Me 110, had already picked off one damaged B-17 earlier in the day. Now he was able to position himself exactly underneath one of the formations of B-24s then, with the stealth of a pickpocket and exploiting the light night-fighter camouflage of his aircraft which merged against the clouds below, he slowly edged closer to the bombers. If they had seen me they would have fired at me, but they did not. I managed to get into position under one of the bombers, pulled up and fired a short burst. The entire tail unit of the B-24 was literally ‘sawn-off’. The bomber went into a steep dive, spinning out of control without catching fire, and crashed.” Immediately after his sneak attack Greiner too dived away; if the escorts saw him he knew he would have stood little chance. The B-24 he hit belonged to the 458th Bomb Group and it crashed beside the German Army munitions plant at Munsterlager. Two crewmen were killed, the other eight bailed out and were taken prisoner.
This account differs markedly from the story of Robert Dean, McMains’ bombardier on this mission. According to Dean, their aircraft definitely caught fire, and if the tail was “sawn-off” there would be no way that McMains could have “leveled off” around 1,000 to 1,500 feet. Co-pilot Casimer Kolezynski, in his questionnaire on MACR 3349 states, “Ship blew up. Pilot, Radio Operator, and Engineer were still in the ship. Under pilot’s orders I was on the cat-walk checking extent of fire. Engineer kicked me off the cat-walk.”
The translated German reports contained in MACR 3349 also shows that a Melvin P. Simmons 14037744 (not on McMains crew) was captured around the same time (1400) at the “Army’s ammunition depot, Muenster”. These translated reports also note, “A Liberator crashed burning in the area of the ammunition factory, Muenster on the 6 March 1944 about 14,00 downed by fighter and AA.” Whether this aircraft was burning when it crashed or after is not entirely clear.
These things and the fact that three of the crew were killed, not two makes it at least possible that Greiner downed a different Liberator.
2Lt Robert Dean – POW Memoir Stalag Luft I
We did have lots of excitement on April 11th. Group 3 discovered our first tunnel. Room 4 was responsible. [The tunnel] had reached the outside fence. On the night of the 23rd the biggest and best attempt failed. The Colonel and all were here and ready to go out – but alas! At about 1 A.M., just as two of them came up outside the fence, the guards caught them. That night we slept in Block 6. The dirt [from the tunnel] was up in the attic. Things were quiet now.
On May 4th we had Dentt’s and Mac’s folly. May 12th our room tried a new system – “air holes” – we did real well considering that in five hours we reached the warning wire. A false alarm left me digging up in front, while everyone else left. They were spotted coming from under the building, so it failed. On May 29th, Room 6 – next door, tried the same type of tunnel. They were caught in the process of digging. One of the guards came into the room and took possession of the entrance to the tunnel, thereby trapping the digger, but the boys in the tunnel dug up at the front and got out. Six in all and the guard was sure surprised when he finally looked into the tunnel and found no one. Things were quiet after, except for about two searches a week.
On June 6th Rome fell. Then on the 6th the biggest day ever awaited for – “Invasion Day! Also on the 6th we had the most daring attempt ever made to escape. J.D. Mattttie and Smutho (Room 4 again) actually crawled under the fence and got outside and under a building, but just then an unexpected guard caught them. They got fourteen days. Now that the invasion was on, not many attempts were made to escape.
On July 9th we began our swimming parties. Got to go about once every two weeks. These continued through August. These parties were a lot of fun. The place to swim is located about ¾ of a mile away in a lagoon. In order to get there we had to walk through a wooded glen. The wild berry vines and pine trees sure smelled good. Swimming was surely fine. The water is big percent salt water, as the lagoon empties into the Baltic. After swimming we could get up on the bank under the pine trees and relax. Just like Bass Lake. By now most of the Kriegies were brown from basking in the sun, which was very hot. Volley ball was a very popular game until July, when baseball season opened. We had major and minor leagues. Some very interesting games were played. The season lasted until October. Last of August, basketball opened. That lasted until October. Football was played a little in April and May, but on October 1st the real season for football began.
To get back to my story, on August 1st, tents were attached to Blocks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8. A bunch of new Kriegies were brought in. Some had been home as late as July 8th. Sure hard to believe. On September 15th the new north compound was opened and our latest arrivals moved. Our barracks were fumigated twice; the second time after Barney J. Smokers found bed bugs in his bed. Back in May we planted a garden: peas, carrots, radishes, beets, lettuce, onions, corn, etc. They began to produce in August. Sure took a long time. On this date, October 6th, we still have quite a few of them left with vegetables in them.
During the month of June and July, we had a big streak of playing games, numerous dice games, Black Jack, Keno, Chuck-A-Luck, Roulette, and Poker. On July 24th and through the 26th we had “Kriegie-Kraft-Karnival”. It consisted of a play about a mad artist. Had an exhibit of different types of Red Cross parcels and the exhibit of “P.O.W.”, our newspaper of German news. The biggest attraction was the hand craft exhibit, painting, drawings, etc., carvings, sculptures, models, airplanes, boats and plaques. All in all it was very good. Every day there was a big chocolate cake given as a door prize, 16X16X6”. What a cake! The last day they drew for lighters and cigarettes. I won one-hundred cigarettes. Colonel Spicer drew my name and called for “Hoppy”, which was my nickname in the hospital. Also “Trip-a-long. Captain Lucky (British) gave me that nickname. I had three things entered in the exhibit, soap carvings, a racer, model T and a post-war Streamliner job. Later I built a scale out of a wood of a V-8 engine. All parts were removable, head, carburetor, etc. The entire exhibit is to travel through the States when we return. It is for the benefit of the Red Cross.
Going back over the events, we had quite a bit of excitement one day. A R.A.F. Mosquito Squadron came over and shot down a 190. Another time they shot up the air base here (Barth). P-51’s strafed it and shot at a barge too, but the barge turned out to be armed and a 51 came down a short way from here. We have seen numerous groups of “heavies” come over. One day they shot a couple of them down. We saw a B-17 crash. Another time we watched a crew bail out and still another burn and blow up. When they first began to appear in April, we were allowed to go outside the barracks and cheer, but later we were told to stay inside the barracks or [suffer the] penalty of being shot if we were ever caught outside, the shooting to be done by the new guards. Only once did we get fired at and it was at a fellow who crossed the warning line after a ball. The guard thought he was trying to escape, because he hadn’t signaled that he was going to get the ball; he wasn’t hurt. Toward the last of July a fellow in Block One cut his throat and wrist with a razor blade, but they saved him.
November 17th. Reading back through I see I missed telling that cigarettes were the money standard here, until the packages began to come. On October 5th I received my first mail. On [October] 17th I got a personal package. The 7th a package of cigarettes. On October 23rd got model pipe tobacco. October 25th biggest day so far, ten letters. November 1st book package from Grandma. November 2nd another personal package. November 3rd more letters. November 6th got twenty-three letters – a big day. On November 12th we had our first freeze, also a little snow between the 12th and 17th. Big offensives started. November 28th first frost and plenty of it, too. Real cold, big change in rifles of guards. Formerly, new shot type now, long squirrel type. Ice stayed on puddles all day. November 29th played Thanksgiving football game, had an air raid, cold. November 30th Thanksgiving Day, good breakfast and concert, warmer. Had roast beef and chocolate pie for supper. Lights went off before first chow, came on before second chow. Program very good. Accumulated extra lights for room.
December 2nd, had search. [They] got lights and my heated suit which I had since arriving. Got some scraps of clothes I had for patching. Reminds me of a hasty search when they got their fingers in our peanut butter. Just plain mean, some day!
December 3rd, Wehrmacht replaced. Some Luft men who got front. They are old men.
December 5th mail’s in. December 7th, first snow. Big B. session for adjustments. Noted improvements already.
December 8th snowed pretty heavy today. December 9th frost and puddles stayed frozen all day. Guess winter is here to stay.
December 12th my birthday, what a place to spend it! Had another big B. Session today. Looks as though we may get rid of some of the graft. Has been cold for every day over a week. Snow again today. 9:30 P.M. my twenty-first birthday in prison camp in Germany. John Birtch played trombone solo for me. Had my hair clipped with clippers – baldy.
December 14th, oh! Happy day – band played a piece and dedicated it to me at supper. (I’ll Walk Along!) How true! Sure made my joy and birthday complete.
December 15th coldest day in two years +5°F. Everything was frozen and it stayed cold. December 16th, Bart Cripe and Dave making Christmas decorations.
December 17th – rain, not so cold!
December 21st – first day of winter and cold. Frozen over, also longest night in the year, 4:30 P.M. to 8:30 A.M. it was dark.
December 23rd – received Christmas packages, four for five men. Mixed, hard candy, 7oz. mixed nuts, plum pudding, preserves, butter, potted meat, dates, fruit bars, cherries, bullion cubes, games.
December 24th – frozen all day. Lights off during third chow.
December 30th – real snow and cold, too.
December 31st – Turkey for supper and pie, also paper hats and whistles, etc. (French). Swell program, cold today. Had fun sliding on ice.
January 2nd – rain melted the ice. Made big batch of fudge, five pounds. Tub bath also.
January 10th – heavy snow for past three days. Boys mad ice rink today. Started accounting class, also art class, darned six pairs sox.
January 12th – sun out, snow all melted. Going on short rations. Cripe out of climb. (I didn’t see it.)
January 13th – sun out and ice melted. Made teaspoon today.
January 22nd – went ice skating, fun but not long enough. Snow about six to eight inches deep everywhere and still snowing.
January 24th – worked on ice rink last night. Got to skate this A.M. Plenty cold out. Below freezing.
January 26th – cold today. Rumors that coal ration is cut, apparent from amount received. Wore overcoat all day, inside and out.
January 29th – coldest day yet. 2° below freezing.
February 1st – warm all night, snow melting. Ice rink is a lake. Ground is mushy.
February 2nd – lights went off last night, so did water. What is the cause? Still not on tonight. Using melted ice off ice rink to cook and drink. Warm today, snow about all melted. First time we didn’t have a meal in the mess hall. Spam, Kraut and potatoes were issued.
February 7th – first noticing the 12 ½ % cut in rations, bread especially. Fifteen hundred sergeants arrived.
February 8th – began one meal per day. No breakfast. Boys found American cheese can and coffee cans, also cigarette wrappers in former German barracks, where did they come from?
February 9th – report has it that glass was found in the bread.
February 18th — one-fourth ration of Red Cross food. No more. Rations have been two-thirds, one-half, one-third issue.
February 27th – one-fourth ration issued. Wired my bed today. Sure swell.
March 1st – wind blowing a gale out. The school classes at night in the barracks have been discontinued since February 2nd. That was when we started having light trouble. Too bad!
March 3rd – radio came on in barracks. Looks like spring is here. Sun out all day, pretty warm.
March 4th – Had last Red Cross meal in mess hall till more comes in. Snow!
March 5th – Air-raid. Fighters visible. Search – lost nothing. Pretty good weather.
March 12th – started pack sack.
March 19th – finish pack except pockets. Death of boy in South Compound. Shot in back of head during air raid. [This actually occurred on March 18th. Lt. Elroy F. Wyman, bombardier/navigator on a B-24 was shot down February 20, 1944.] Another wounded. Meals are really starvation rations now. Hope Red Cross packages arrive soon. The days grow longer. Everyone is losing weight. All thoughts are turned to food and more food. How long before the end?
March 26th – Red Cross packages arrive. Finished socks. We are allowed one package of cigarettes too, and six bars of soap. Cripe and I planted garden. Everything. We put on summer underwear. Things are boring us.
March 27th – one-fourth issue. Had menu for next week read to us. Things are certainly looking up; we had 35,000 parcels in now. The war is in its final phase. Only a matter of days now.
April 2nd – Past few days’ very windy and slight showers making it miserable out. Coal has arrived in campo. Food situation is relieved. All are feeling better. Have 49,000 packages. Made chair yesterday and today.
April 3rd – raining. Max Schmelling came to camp.
April 4th – At fifteen to six, we were roused out of bed with the cry, “Get your clothes on! Go help put out the fire at the mess hall! The mess hall is on fire!” The Americans put it out by 9 P.M. [A.M.?] The poor Germans were in utter confusion.
April 5th – meals we make in a four-men combine are delicious.
April 6th – meals are really panning out.
April 7th – Kind of wish mess hall had burned sooner.
April 8th – made some pans. Real fun.
April 10th– Rebuilt stove. Really a fine one this time. Two ovens.
April 18th – Boy! The food situation is solved. Why didn’t they issue parcels before? Talk about graft and corruption! Has been pretty nice past week.
April 21st – No lights since 16th. Water goes off an on all day long.
April 25th – weather beautiful. Things continuing normal. Am getting fat again.
April 27th – received Canadian issue. Real butter.
April 28th – can hear big guns very plain tonight. Have been hearing them off an on for over a week, but real close tonight. (It was July 22 that the Germans changed from military to Nazi salute).
April 29th – Have an average of four arrivals per day for past week. Received parcel today in bad shape.
April 30th – Received orders this A.M. to dig slit trenches. General delimitation all over airport town. Flak school. Germans were seen looking [for] Red Cross parcels. Germans are evacuating.
May 1st – Americans are in towers, white flags flying over camp. All Germans appear to be gone. Women civilians are seen looking German barracks [sic]. Is a dreary, wet day out. Yesterday the soldiers were drunk. Paid no attention to officers at all. Just get into nearest wagon and take off. There are still some women around. Russian officers with Colonel Lempke. Tanks 3 kilometers south at 11 A.M. If this rumor proves false, they are still thirty-five miles away. Germans are actually all gone. M.P.’s are everywhere. Russians arrive at Stalag Luft I at 11:30 P.M. or later. The short-wave radio played U.S. number one hit tune, “Don’t Fence Me In!” Ha, ha. National Anthem was just played, first time we have heard it in over fourteen months.
May 2nd – Up for roll call an hour earlier. Everything SNAFU since wheels took over camp. Only wheels are allowed out of camp. Guess they will have everything looted by the time we get a chance at souvenirs. Afternoon, we went to town. Had a wonderful time. Russians were everywhere.
May 3rd – Many are missing from roll call. Martial Law; can’t leave compound. Fried chicken for breakfast. Remember the five dead Germans by cave, thee women and two children. Things here are sure wild. Walked out on peninsula. Quite a sight. Remember the German. We learned we are to fly out. War just about over.
May 4th — Still no word of flying. Discovery of a new camp. Terrible.
May 5th – Heard Bob Hope last night. Today, they are leaving right and left. Such confusion. Can hardly believe it of officers. No one knows anything. At least we have plenty of food. First Americans arrived in camp. Two officers and two enlisted men. Supposed evacuation to take place soon. Many men are being returned by Russians. Supposed to face courts-martial.
May 6th – Fourteen months today (since we were captured). Men are still leaving like rats off a sinking ship. No official word yet.
May 7th – men still leaving camp. Orders are out not to leave. Russians will be furnishing us with fresh meat soon. I hope. We have some cattle in south of camp to be butchered. Saw a Russki show today; sure good. In one of the concentration camps – 26,000 went in and 1500 came out. There are numerous camps still around. Sure had rough treatment.
May 8th – Things are still SNAFU. Looks like we will be here months yet. Made trip to Strasland, stayed all night with Russkies. Real fun. Drove wagon for them.
May 9th – More fun. Started to Rostock with Frenchman. Returned in the afternoon. Everything here getting worse. SNAFU. Saw some people from concentration camp. Pretty bad off. Visited airport; it is terrific.
May 11th – Had an interview with Lt. [Col] Spicer. Got straight dope on leaving, we hope; men are still leaving day by day. The days are really fine – long, warm and plenty of sunshine.
May 12th – Airplanes arrived at 2P.M. to start evacuation. Ships supposed to be in at 4 P.M. to move us out. Everyone is happy.
May 13th – Hurrah! Moving out at 6:30. Flew to Loon, France. Rode in G.I. truck to Rhiems. Saw town. Went to A.T.C. Base, wonderful chow, fresh peaches, (can) asparagus.
May 14th – Had good nights sleep. Leaving for Le Havre. Arrived camp Lucky Strike. Things pretty swell. SNAFU. Had good chow. We are near Dieppe, France.
May 15th – Saw Lash and Fittinger. Sent cable home.
May 17th – Still doing nothing. Moved to Officers Area. Good Food.
Courtesy: Ferilen Wimberly