The Arrowhead Club

Home » 2014 » May

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Advertisements

No Delivery of Next of Kin Parcels

A letter from Colonel Howard F. Bresee arrived at the Farrar and other POW family households the latter part of April 1945.  There was no mention of the POWs marching across Germany, but the letter did advise that prisoners were being “transferred” and it was unlikely the POWs would receive any parcels from home.

April 19, 1945
Army Service Forces
Office of the Commanding General
Washington 25, D. C.

Notice to Next of Kin of American Prisoners
Of War in Germany

It is the desire of the War Department to invite your attention to the fact that due to present conditions in Germany, there is a possibility that next of kin parcels to American prisoners of war may not be delivered.

The frequent transfers of American prisoners of war within Germany by the German government coupled with the fact that transportation facilities have largely been destroyed make it doubtful that the delivery of individually addressed packages to our prisoners can be accomplished. Such transportation as is available to the International Red Cross is used, first, for the delivery of unaddressed standard Red Cross food parcels to American prisoners of war.

While no assurance can be given, every effort will be exerted to effect delivery of individually addressed parcels.

Howard F. Bresee
Colonel, CMP
Director, American Prisoner of
War Information Bureau
Provost Marshal General’s Office

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Advertisements

George Francis McMann, Jr.

My grandmother, Raleigh Mae Farrar, communicated regularly with most of the families on the Next-of-Kin list she received from the War Department.  The document listed all the crew members that were aboard Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy.  One family from which she did not receive any letters was the McMann family.  The letter of April 9, 1945 from Mrs. Buslee to Raleigh Mae Farrar indicates that none of the families had heard from the McManns.

Their son, George Francis McMann, Jr., was the ball turret gunner with the Stanley M. Gilbert crew.  September 28, 1944 was the first time McMann had flown with the Buslee crew.  He had just flown with the Gilbert crew the day before, September 27, but the Gilbert crew did not fly on September 28.  McMann was selected for that mission as ball turret gunner for the Buslee crew, one of a long list of replacements for original Buslee crew ball turret gunner, Erwin V. Foster.

The only other Gilbert crew member to fly on September 28 was Jack V. Carella, the tail gunner.  Carella joined Buslee navigator, Chester Rybarczyk, on Hot Nuts with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew on September 28.

According to the Blankenmeyer Sortie Report, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg on September 28, 1944, aircraft 42-39888, known as Hot Nuts, “Left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base.”  Undoubtedly, the crew aboard Hot Nuts left formation in an attempt to determine the fate of the crews of the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, especially the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana, as Chester Rybarczyk was normally a part of that crew and could have been on that plane if he had not replaced Robert H. Obermeyer on the Blankenmeyer crew.

Jack Carella must have been very concerned for his Gilbert crewmate, George McMann, as well.  The two men aboard Hot Nuts were watching their close friends’ plane go down as described in MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) 9753, with “pieces of tail and wings falling off.”  Lead Banana was “going down in flames, spinning into the clouds.”

Two days after witnessing the mid-air collision between Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, tail gunner Jack Carella returned to the skies with the Gilbert crew for mission 202 on September 30 to the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) airfield, Handorf Airfield, in Münster, Germany.  Joining him on the Gilbert crew that day was none other than Erwin V. Foster, whose absence from the Buslee crew since September 9 had put George McMann in the ball turret on Lead Banana on September 28.  From his position in the ball turret, Foster would have had a great view except for the clouds that day, clouds which obscured the primary target and resulted in a decision to release the bombs on the center of the city.

Foster and Carella continued to fly together on the Gilbert crew until the end of their tours.  Carella completed his tour on January 28, 1945 and returned to the states.  Foster completed his tour a month later on February 28.  Along the way, Foster was able to serve one more time with one of his original Buslee crew mates, engineer/top turret gunner, Clarence B. Seeley, eight days before Foster’s final mission.  They were reunited on mission 269 on February 20 to a railroad target in Nuremburg, Germany.  Seeley eventually completed his tour on March 10.

George Francis McMann was born in early October 1924 to George and Nellie McMann.  He entered the service from Rhode Island.  McMann lost his life on his tenth mission on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision between Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  He is buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands in Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4.  McMann was awarded the Purple Heart.

In August 2013, Jack Carella signed the 384th Bombardment Group’s Wing Panel.  To see photos, click here.

For more information on the Wing Panel project, click here.

May 3, 2015:  Correction made above to George McMann’s birthdate.  After reviewing the 1925 Rhode Island state census, I can see that George’s age was 6/12, rather than 6, when the family’s entry was recorded on April 18, 1925.  George was born in Providence Ward 7, Providence County, Rhode Island.  At the time of the census, the McManns were boarders in the home of Florence Riley at 1466 Westminster Street in Providence.  Both of George’s parents were born in Rhode Island about 1900 as both were listed at 25 years old at the time of the census.  No other children for the McManns were listed.  I can find no other census record for the family.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

The Other Crew

Normally, Mr. Buslee was the letter writer of the Buslee family, but today John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s mother took the time to write to George Edwin Farrar’s mother.

April 9, 1945
Park Ridge, Ill.

My Dear Mrs. Farrar: –

We have received your letter telling of the good news of hearing from your son, George, it is, and must be wonderful for you to know he is alive and well, at least I imagine that’s all he could say or they wouldn’t pass it if he would say he was ill or hungry which I’m sure he is. I understand all prisoners would really be in a bad way if it weren’t for the Red Cross. I hear each fellow gets certain rations from them each week which should help a little, altho, their life must be almost unbearable there in those camps.

Just a day or so before we received your letter I noticed in one of our papers where a boy who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft 4 B – Germany had notified his people he’d be released, so we are in hopes your son is also free again. We are so happy to know that George at least is alive and that he may some day be able to tell us all about the rest of the crew. Isn’t it strange the nothing has been heard of the other two boys?

We have never had a word from the McManns altho Mr. Buslee has written them several times, the Peluso’s have promised to let us hear as soon as they hear anything, and the family of Lt. Brody who was the other pilot haven’t heard any other news than missing, either, and according to some of the other eye witnesses he was in the most dangerous spot, so you see we never can tell so we hear are still hopeful because each day we see where someone who had been reported killed has been found to be alive. I do hope our prayers will be repaid with good news soon.

We are so sorry to hear your other son is ill in the hospital, please let us hear how he is, we are very much interested in you and your family. Hope good luck follows your son in China, and that you will continue to hear good news of George often. Wish we could get something to him to lighten his burden in camp. Mr. Buslee has written him, it must have been a terrible blow to him to have them tell him all his crew were gone – but we heard tell that the Germans like to break down the hopes of the boys by telling them all sorts of lies.

We hear the Henson’s are enjoying a trip to Florida, they seem to be such grand folks, nice that you live so close to each other in Atlanta.

We have had such nice letters from so many of the wives and mothers of the boys and we do appreciate them so much.

We hope you and Mr. Farrar are in perfect health and try to keep up your spirits until your sons come home again and thank you so much for all your kindnesses, and write again soon.

Sincerely,
Mrs. John Buslee

Lots of interesting information for me in this letter.  From this one letter I have learned:

  1. How uninformed the folks back home were about conditions in Germany.  Most of the boys were out on the road marching, not sitting in a prison camp.  They weren’t receiving those Red Cross rations either.  Most of the boys were slowing starving to death.  Don’t know how or what kept them going.
  2. Mrs. Buslee must have meant Sebastiano Peluso of the Buslee crew and James Brodie of the Brodie crew as the “other two boys.”  From reviewing letters, I believe all of the Buslee crew next-of-kin except the Pelusos had heard word of their sons.
  3. I don’t have any letters from the McManns, and apparently other familes had not heard from them either.
  4. The families did know the identity of at least the pilot of the other crew as Mrs. Buslee references Lt. Brody (meaning James Brodie).  This is the most interesting piece of information in this letter to me.  It does let me know that the families knew that their boys were involved in a mid-air collision that involved two flying fortresses and did know about the other crew.
  5. My Uncle Bob, George Edwin Farrar’s (my dad) younger brother, who was injured in a kamikaze attack on the USS Intrepid in November 1944 must have still been hospitalized.
  6. My Uncle Carroll, Dad’s older brother, was still serving in China.
  7. The Hensons were the parents of the crew’s navigator, William Alvin Henson II.  Mrs. Buslee may also have been including Henson’s wife and infant daughter.
  8. “Mr. Farrar”, my dad’s father, was not in good health.  He was bedridden and very ill and the family hoped he would live long enough to see the three of his four sons that were in WWII come home from the war.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Encouraged

The families of the other boys on Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 must have all recently received a letter from George Edwin Farrar’s mother which prompted many of them to write back in return.  Raleigh Mae Farrar had received a letter from her son on March 23, 1945.  The letter had been dated November 9, 1944 and postmarked January 17, 1945.  The letter had been delayed more than four months.  Farrar was no longer in Stalag Luft IV, but had instead been marching across Germany since February 6.  In November he wrote:

Dearest Mother:

In a few more months I should be hearing from you and it will sure be nice.  I think this is the longest I have ever gone without hearing from you.  I hope you and Dad, and the rest of the family are getting along fine.  As for myself, I am feeling fine, but miss that good cooking of yours.  I’ll really keep you busy when I get home.  I guess I have more luck than anyone to still be here, and not a thing wrong with me.  Your prayers came in good.  I still can’t believe I am alive.  They said I was the only one out of my ship that is alive.  Write often.  Love, George

Raleigh Mae must have conveyed to the other families the news that her son had written that the Germans told him he was the only survivor on his flying fortress.

The next to write was Robert Sumner (Bobby) Stearns’ mother.  Stearns was the bombardier on Lead Banana when it was involved in the mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy.  The Stearns had received a telegram, a telegram they chose not to believe, on December 23, 1944, telling them that their son had been killed in the collision.

April 8, 1945
Lapine, Oregon

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

We were so glad to hear from you and to know you had heard from George again and that he was well. It is so encouraging to us that he got down unharmed. Surely some of the others did, too, in spite of what the Germans say. We simply won’t believe them for awhile yet, as it isn’t reasonable where so many parachutes were seen to open that none would get down safe.

It wouldn’t be surprising if George didn’t get home one of these days if he was in the camp when it was liberated. Our cousin was captured in the break-through in Dec. and late in Jan. his folks were notified. From then on no official word, but last week a letter from him saying he might be home as soon as the letter. We can well imagine their happiness at such news – their only boy, too.

If George has been as fortunate he may do the same as all prisoners are sent home as soon as possible, I understand. We can hardly wait as he may be able to tell some thing – the condition of the plane after the collision for one thing. It seemed to me that he seemed surprised at what the Germans said about the others but of course there is so little of that kind of news they are allowed to write.

We are having such a cold spell of weather. I’m sitting by the fire writing on my lap and not doing a very neat job. It has been snowing much of the day, melting as it fell.

Is your youngest son still in the hospital? What a terrible siege he has had – I hope he is improving and will soon be home. It really begins to look like the end of the war is really approaching and we are fairly holding our breath, hoping it is so. Please write any other news you may have.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Stearns

The Farrar’s son, Bob, had been injured in a kamikaze attack on the Intrepid the prior November.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Numb

Gerald Andersen’s wife said so much with so few words in her next letter to George Edwin Farrar’s mother.  Andersen and Farrar were Buslee crewmates on the Lead Banana when it was involved in a mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  Andersen was the crew’s tail gunner, and Farrar was the waist gunner.

Mrs. Andersen must have received a telegram around March 24, 1945, almost six months after the collision.  Farrar’s family had found out he was a prisoner of war on December 31, 1944.  The rest of the families of the boys on the crew had either found out their sons were killed in the collision or were still awaiting word.  Farrar was the only reported POW.

Mrs. Esther E. Coolen Andersen was numb and could not believe the news that her husband was dead.  Her strong faith had been shaken.  She relayed the same message as other families.  She was anxious for Farrar to return from the war so that he could tell what happened, how her husband died.  She thought that knowing would bring relief and comfort.

April 7, 1945
Scotia, Nebr.

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

I have been so numbed by my news I have neglected all my letters, which was a mistake because friends can help so much.

I have had such strong faith and trust Gerald was coming back that I can’t believe my message.

How glad I am, one was spared so we may know what happened that terrible day. It will bring so much relief and comfort to us when we know.

I am so happy for you. You have heard from George and been able to send things to him. We hope your son will soon be released, if he isn’t already. It has been so hard to take the last 2 weeks. I have been receiving my husband’s medals. He never cared for honors, all he thought of was helping with this and getting it over as soon as possible, like so many others, so we may have our home again.

The best of luck to you and may you soon have good news. I am sending a snap shot of my husband.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Andersen

Gerald Lee Andersen

Gerald Lee Andersen

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

The Act of Chapultepec

At the end of his three-page letter to the “next of kin of to American prisoners of war in the hands of the enemy,” Provost Marshal General Archer L. Lerch wrote:

For an accurate statement of the handling of enemy prisoners of war in this country, I invite your attention to the inclosed extract from the Congressional Record of March 6, 1945.

You can read Lerch’s entire letter here.

The subject of the entry in the Congressional Record of March 6, 1945 was The Act of Chapultepec, which came out of the 1945 Inter-American conference.  The Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace was held in Chapultepec near Mexico City, Mexico from February 21 to March 8, 1945.  [Some sources state the location was the Chapultepec Castle, while others report that it was in a museum on Chapultepec Hill.]

The conference was attended by delegates of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

As a result of the conference, “The Act of Chapultepec” was signed on March 6 and entered into force on March 8, 1945.  It stated that an act of aggression against any American state would be considered an act of aggression against the other states that signed the act.

Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance and Solidarity (Act of Chapultepec)

March 6, 1945

 

RECIPROCAL ASSISTANCE AND AMERICAN SOLIDARITY

WHEREAS:

The peoples of the Americas, animated by a profound love of justice, remain sincerely devoted to the principles of international law;

It is their desire that such principles, notwithstanding the present difficult circumstances, prevail with even greater force in future international relations;

The inter-American conferences have repeatedly proclaimed certain fundamental principles, but these must be reaffirmed at a time when the juridical bases of the community of nations are being re-established;

The new situation in the world makes more imperative than ever the union and solidarity of the American peoples, for the defense of their rights and the maintenance of international peace;

The American states have been incorporating in their international law, since 1890, by means of conventions, resolutions and declarations, the following principles:

a) The proscription of territorial conquest and the non-recognition of all acquisitions made by force (First International Conference of American States, 1890);

b) The condemnation of intervention by one State in the internal or external affairs of another (Seventh International Conference of American; States, 1933, and Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, 1936);

c ) The recognition that every war or threat of war affects directly or indirectly all civilized peoples, and endangers the great principles of liberty and justice which constitute the American ideal and the standard of American international policy Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, 1936) ;

d) The system of mutual consultation in order to find means of peaceful cooperation in the event of war or threat of war between American countries (Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, 1936);

e) The recognition that every act susceptible of disturbing the peace of America affects each and every one of the American nations and justifies the initiation of the procedure of consultation (Inter-American Conference for: the Maintenance of Peace, 1936);

f ) The adoption of conciliation, unrestricted arbitration, or the application of international justice, in the solution of any difference or dispute between American nations, whatever its nature or origin ( Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, 1936);

g) The recognition that respect for the personality, sovereignty and independence of each American State constitutes the essence of international order sustained by continental solidarity, which historically has been expressed and sustained by declarations and treaties in force (Eighth International Conference of American States, 1938);

h) The affirmation that respect for and the faithful observance of treaties constitute the indispensable rule for the development of peaceful relations between States, and that treaties can only be revised by agreement of the contracting parties (Declaration of American Principles, Eighth International Conference of American States, 1938);

i) The proclamation that, in case the peace, security or territorial integrity of any American republic is threatened by acts of any nature that may impair them, they proclaim their common concern and their determination to make effective their solidarity, coordinating their respective sovereign wills by means of the procedure of consultation, using the measures which in each case the circumstances may make advisable (Declaration of Lima, Eighth International Conference of American States, 1938);

j ) The declaration that any attempt on the part of a non-American state against the integrity or inviolability of the territory, the sovereignty or the political independence of an American State shall be considered as an act of aggression against all the American States (Declaration XV of the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Habana, 1940);

The furtherance of these principles, which the American States have constantly practiced in order to assure peace and solidarity among the nations of the Continent, constitutes an effective means of contributing to the general system of world security and of facilitating its establishment;

The security and solidarity of the Continent are affected to the same extent by an act of aggression against any of the American States by a non-American State, as by an act of aggression of an American State against one or more American States;

PART I

The Governments Represented at the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace

DECLARE:

1. That all sovereign States are juridically equal among themselves.

2. That every State has the right to the respect of its individuality and independence, on the part of the other members of the international community.

3. That every attack of a State against the integrity or the inviolability of the territory, or against the sovereignty or political independence of an American State, shall, conformably to Part III hereof, be considered as an act of aggression against the other States which sign this Act. In any case invasion by armed forces of one State into the territory of another trespassing boundaries established by treaty and demarcated in accordance therewith shall constitute an act of aggression.

4. That in case acts of aggression occur or there are reasons to believe that an aggression is being prepared by any other State against the integrity or inviolability of the territory, or against the sovereignty or political independence of an American State, the States signatory to this Act will consult among themselves in order to agree upon the measures it may be advisable to take.

5. That during the war, and until the treaty recommended in Part II hereof is concluded, the signatories of this Act recognize that such threats and acts of aggression, as indicated in paragraphs 3 and 4 above, constitute an interference with the war effort of the United Nations, calling for such procedures, within the scope of their constitutional powers of a general nature and for war, as may be found necessary, including: recall of chiefs of diplomatic missions; breaking of diplomatic relations; breaking of consular relations; breaking of postal, telegraphic, telephonic, radio-telephonic relations; interruption of economic, commercial and financial relations; use of armed force to prevent or repel aggression.

6. That the principles and procedure contained in this Declaration shall become effective immediately, inasmuch as any act of aggression or threat of aggression during the present state of war interferes with the war effort of the United Nations to obtain victory. Henceforth, and to the end that the principles and procedures herein stipulated shall conform with the constitutional processes of each Republic, the respective Governments shall take the necessary steps to perfect this instrument in order that it shall be in force at all times.

PART II

The Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace

RECOMMENDS:

That for the purpose of meeting threats or acts of aggression against any American Republic following the establishment of peace, the Governments of the American Republics consider the conclusion, in accordance with their constitutional processes, of a treaty establishing procedures whereby such threats or acts may be met by the use, by all or some of the signatories of said treaty, of any one or more of the following measures: recall of chiefs of diplomatic missions; breaking of diplomatic relations; breaking of consular relations; breaking of postal, telegraphic, telephonic, radio-telephonic relations; interruption of economic, commercial and financial relations; use of armed force to prevent or repel aggression.

PART III

The above Declaration and Recommendation constitute a regional arrangement for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action in this Hemisphere. The said arrangement, and the pertinent activities and procedures, shall be consistent with the purposes and principles of the general international organization, when established.

This agreement shall be known as the “Act of Chapultepec.”

What did the families of the American POWs in German hands that received this letter and “inclosure” think about this message?  Was this act going to bring their sons home and make their families whole again?  I doubt the families thought of much else.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

In the Hands of the Enemy

In April 1945, the next-of-kin of American prisoners of war in Germany received a three-page letter from Major General Lerch, the Provost Marshal General.  While explaining that transportation of supplies to prisoners had become a challenge, the tone of the letter offered assurances that prisoners were getting food and other supplies.   Nothing could be further from the truth for the “walking skeletons” that were being forced to march across Germany since February 6.  Food was scarce and the prisoners sometimes turned to stealing chickens and even dining on rats – if they were lucky enough to catch them.

SPMGG
April 1945

Army Service Forces
Office of the Commanding General
Washington 25, D. C.

To the Next of Kin
of American Prisoners of War
in the Hands of the Enemy

Dear Next of Kin:

Every available means of transportation is being utilized by the International Red Cross to provide American Prisoners of War in Germany with necessary food, medicine, clothing and blankets. Fifteen German trucks and two 20-ton German lorries have been hired by them; 50 trucks each have been donated by the American, Canadian, and British Red Cross; and 100 U. S. Army trucks have been put at their disposal by our Army in France. Another 100 trucks are being shipped for their use from the United States. In addition, barges and railroad trains are being utilized to the maximum available by the International Red Cross inside Germany.

Approximately 8,000,000 American food parcels are either in Germany or outside its immediate perimeter awaiting shipment. The big problem is one of transportation within Germany and that problem will not be lessened, as the Allied Armies close in on the heart of the Reich. However, no effort will be spared by the Red Cross and the Army to overcome all obstacles. Constant and insistent demands are being made on Germany by our State Department for full compliance with the terms of the Geneva Convention; and every effort is being made to make sure that Germany has no excuse for failing to comply.

Food is the principal item being sent to the various prison camps, but the packages include clothing, medicine and blankets.

There are two main routes of sending the parcels. Swedish ships chartered by the International Red Cross unload at ports in Southern France and in Gothenburg, Sweden. Supplies in France are transported to Switzerland. From there they are taken by truck on train to railheads, one of which is at Moosburg, near Munich, for further distribution.

Trucks fan out from these railheads to the various prisoner of war camps. Recently Belgium and France donated 300 freight cars to the International Red Cross to establish block trains. These trains are under Swiss control at all times.

The supplies which arrive in Gothenburg are transported by small ships to Lubeck, Germany, German naval vessels clearing the way through mine fields. From Lubeck, where a reserve of about 1,000,000 packages is steadily maintained, the supplies are sent to the various prison camps by train, barge or truck.

Five foot Red Cross and Swiss flags are painted on the tops of the trucks from protection from air attack and Swiss flags are painted on the sides. All are accompanied for protection by German military escorts. Gasoline, lubricating oil, spare tires and accessories are shipped from this country.

In allowing these supplies to reach American prisoners of war, the Germans are acting pursuant to the terms of the Geneva Convention. With the uncertain conditions within Germany at the present time, the War Department cautions next of kin that definite information concerning the location of individual prisoners, camps, and conditions there may be hard to get in the future. All information will be supplied immediately upon receipt by the Provost Marshal General’s Office. The important thing, however, is that food and medicine are near at hand and the American Red Cross is continuing to ship large quantities.

A typical food parcel, the “A-1”, which is a new parcel, contains: two 3-3/4 oz. tins of Army Spread; one 7 oz. carton of biscuits; one 8 oz. tin of cheese; 2 chewing gum; one 2 1/4 oz. envelope of chicken noodle soup; two 4 oz. chocolate bars; four packs of cigarettes; one 2 oz. tin of coffee; one 12 oz. tin of corned beef; 1 2 1/2 oz. tin of eggs, spray-dried, whole; one 6 oz. tin of jam; one package of multivitamin tablets (16 per package); one 16 oz. tin of milk; one 12 oz. tin of pork luncheon meat; one 8 oz. tin of salmon; one 1 oz. package of salt and pepper; two 2 oz. bars of soap; one 8 oz. carton of sugar.

The American Red Cross also provides an “invalid” food package for those suffering from stomach ailments. This nutritious package contains roast beef, tuna fish, cheese, butter spread, multivitamin tablets, peach jam, dates, oat cereal, milk powder (whole), dried whole egg powder, vanilla tablets, edible starch, soluble coffee, chocolate powder, salt and pepper, biscuits, white sugar, cigarettes and a pamphlet of recipes.

It is hardly necessary to explain to next of kin of American prisoners of war held by the Germans what an outstanding job the Red Cross is doing in getting food and medicine to our people. In a recent public statement, Mr. Maurice Pate of the American Red Cross said:

“The greatest single factor which gives us strength in getting relief and maintaining regular communication with our prisoner kin is the scrupulous attitude of the American Army in fulfilling the Treaty of Geneva toward enemy prisoners. Some have lightly called this policy of our Army “mollycoddling.” The truth is that the Army has maintained the highest discipline in handling enemy prisoners. It treats these men strictly but fairly and has obtained from them millions of valuable man-work hours.”

I just read a story by the Chicago Tribune Press Service from Herbron, Germany, dated March 30th, which describes the capture of a German hospital at which Allied prisoners of war and German wounded were treated. It stated:

“The Americans reported food was terrible, but that they received the same care and rations as the German wounded.”

For an accurate statement of the handling of enemy prisoners of war in this country, I invite your attention to the inclosed extract from the Congressional Record of March 6, 1945.

Sincerely yours,
Archer L. Lerch
Major General, USA
The Provost Marshal General

Next post…  The “inclosed” extract from the Congressional Record of March 6, 1945 – The Act of Chapultepec.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger, Waist/Flexible Gunner on the James J. Brodie Crew

Harry Allen Liniger, Waist/Flexible Gunner on the James J. Brodie Crew

It is March 28, 1945.  For George Edwin Farrar, Harry Allen Liniger, Wilfred Frank Miller, and the rest of the former prisoners of Stalag Luft IV, it is the fifty-first day of marching.

The prisoners were divided into large groups or “columns”  for the march.  Farrar, Liniger, and Miller may or may not have been part of the same column.  Such records do not exist.  For Farrar and Miller, we are unsure exactly where in the march they were on that day, but we do know where Harry Liniger was.  Harry was boarding a train.

A note Liniger wrote that day on a piece of cigarette rolling paper was recently found tucked into his New Testament by his son, Harry.  Almost 69 years later, it briefly describes that day.

51 day on the road.  Boarded train at 2PM March 28.  Recd [received] 3/8 of a loaf of bread per man.  60 men on a car.

Liniger March Note

Joseph P. O’Donnell, another former prisoner of Stalag Luft IV, describes that day in more detail in his book, The Shoe Leather Express.  O’Donnell writes that they arrived at 3PM and were loaded sixty-five men to each boxcar – boxcars that were designed to hold forty men or eight horses, providing the name “the 40 and 8.”  They were “jammed into the boxcars and the doors were sealed shut.”  O’Donnell continues to describe the scene, explaining that there was not enough room for all of the men to sit down at the same time.  The sick were allowed to lie down and the rest of the men took turns sitting and standing.

The train ride did not turn into a “ride” for a very long time.  The train sat without moving, other than occasional movements back and forth of one hundred to two hundred feet.  The tops of the boxcars were unmarked, making them targets for allied aircraft.  Transportation modes were prime targets of the allies.  O’Donnell considered their “confinement in the boxcars and the intermittent movement of the boxcars as a diabolic and intentional plan by the German commandant to have us destroyed by our own Air Force.”

O’Donnell described conditions in the boxcars as “unbearable”, considering the number of P.O.W.’s with chronic dysentery.  The men were denied water that was available nearby during their torturous wait.  Finally, on March 30, after forty hours of confinement, the train began its journey to Fallingbostel, a thirty mile trip.  The men were never let out of the boxcars until they arrived in Fallingbostel.

From the Fallingbostel train station, the men were marched to Stalag Luft XIB.

Thank you to Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. for sharing his father’s note.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

High Anxiety

On March 17, 1945, the mother of Robert Sumner Stearns, bombardier for the Buslee crew on September 28, 1944, wrote again to the mother of George Edwin Farrar, waist gunner on the same crew.  Their boys had been involved in a mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana coming off the target at Madgeburg, Germany.  Farrar had been reported captured and a prisoner of war while Stearns had been reported killed.

March 17, 1945
Lapine, Oregon

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

Every day we say “surely it’s time for Mrs. Farrar to have had another letter from her son” so just have to find out. I’m sure the mail is very slow from Germany and possibly there hasn’t been time for another letter, but our anxiety is very great, for word from over there. Every day we read of some boy who is alright whose folks have had no word officially, so surely the ones who have been reported by the Govt (Ger) would be allowed to write regularily.

Have you heard that Lt. Buslee, Sgt. Bryant and Sgt. Andersen have been reported killed, also on Sept. 28th? The report was a month later than ours. We can hardly wait for this awful war to end so that we will know if these reports are true or not.

I hope your son who was in the So. Pacific is well and safe.

Our oldest son is now in Denver training to be a Turret Mechanic and Gunner on a B-29. His wife is there, too, which is a great comfort to both of them. It’s going to be hard for young people to live normal lives afterward if the war lasts much longer.

I’ve written twice to the Exchange Studio in Savannah to get some extra prints of the pictures Bobby had taken before he went across. When they come I’d like to exchange with you for a picture of your son so can have a crew group for our scrapbook. If they ever had a picture of their new crew I never heard of it and we’d so much like to have pictures of all the boys.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Stearns

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Camp Movements

The February 1945 issue of the Prisoners of War Bulletin reported movement of prisoners from the prison camps.  In reference to Stalag Luft IV, where George Edwin Farrar, Harry Allen Liniger, and Wilfred Frank Miller were held, the bulletin reported:

Grosstychow, in Pomerania, where Stalag Luft IV with its large complement of British and American airmen was located, was close to the combat zone in late January.

The March issue offered more information on the movement of prisoners.  Here are a few excerpts from a section named Camp Movements on the back page of the bulletin with references to Stalag Luft IV:

A cable from the American Red Cross Representative at Geneva in the middle of February referred to “the great mass movement of prisoners now marching on foot westward…”

On February 13, the War Department and the Department of State jointly announced that official information had been received with respect to the evacuation westward of American prisoners of war formerly detained in camps in eastern Germany.  This announcement stated:

“All the camps in East Prussia, Poland, and that part of Pomerania east of the Oder River are being moved westward.  This includes among others Stalag Luft IV…”

“Information concerning the relocation of prisoner of war camps is constantly being received.  This information will be made public as soon as it is possible to confirm these relocations.  Pending a notification through the usual official sources, next of kin are urged to continue to address communications to individual prisoners of war to their last known address.”

Article 7 of the Geneva Convention of 1929 Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War states:

“…Evacuation of prisoners on foot may normally be effected only by stages of 20 kilometers [12 1/2 miles] a day, unless the necessity of reaching water and food depots requires longer stages.”

The latest information on camp movements is given on page 4.

Page 4 of the bulletin offered an additional section named Latest Information on Camp Movements (By cable from Geneva).  Here are a few excerpts from this section:

Approximately 53 percent of all American prisoners of war in Germany, late in February, were moving westward – mainly on foot.  The total number of American, Belgian, British, French, Norwegian, Polish, and Yugoslav prisoners evacuated from camps in eastern Germany and Poland exceeded 300,000.

Prisoners from …Stalag Luft IV… were grouped near Stettin.

Large stores of Red Cross supplies had to be left behind when the principal American camps were evacuated.  The latest cables from Geneva emplasized that much hardship is being suffered by the evacuated prisoners, and even more by German civilian refugees.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014