New information from a new search on Ancestry.com, and new information from military records have provided me with some new and updated information regarding George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original navigator of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII.
To view my original post and other information about George Hawkins, please see the links at the end of this post.
Continued from George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Update – Part 2
George Hawkins Missing in Action
With George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. considered MIA, the War Department correspondence began with his next-of-kin. The letters were very similar to those sent to the Farrar family and to the Henson family, which I recently published in part.
On 9 October 1944, 384th Bomb Group Protestant Chaplain Dayle R. Schnelle wrote to Mr. George M. Hawkins (George Hawkins’ father) at 52 Buchard St., Fords, New Jersey. Dayle Schnelle wrote the same letter to George Edwin Farrar’s mother, and likely to the families of all of the boys lost on both the Buslee and Brodie crews’ B-17s on 28 September 1944. The Catholic chaplain may have taken care of the letters to any of the Catholic members of the crew.
Chaplain Schnelle expressed the “deepest and heart-felt concern” regarding George Hawkins’ son, who was reported missing in action. He offered hope that his son had escaped or was being held prisoner of war and told him not to consider his son as dead.
On 12 October 1944 a Casualty Message Telegram was created and dispatched on 13 October 1944 to Mr. George M. Hawkins, Sr. (George Hawkins’ father) to his address in Fords, New Jersey. The telegram stated,
The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son Second Lieutenant George M. Hawkins, Jr. has been reported Missing in Action since Twenty Eight September over Germany If further details or other information are received you will be promptly notified
On 16 October 1944, Major General J.A. Ulio, the Adjutant General, followed up George Hawkins’ Missing in Action telegram with a letter. Similar letters to other next-of-kin family members of both the Buslee and Brodie crews were written between 15 and 17 October. Major General Ulio confirmed that George was missing in action and wrote that he would pass along additional information when it was received or within at least three months.
On 22 November 1944, Major E.A. Bradunas wrote to George Hawkins’ father, stating similar information that was imparted to the Henson family, but not until 8 December,
Further information has been received indicating that Lieutenant Hawkins was a crew member of a B-17 (Flying Fortress) bomber which departed from England on a combat mission to Magdeburg, Germany, on September 28th. Full details are not available, but the report indicates that during this mission at about 12:10 p.m., in the target area, our planes were subjected to enemy antiaircraft fire and your son’s bomber sustained damage. Subsequently, the disabled craft dropped out of formation, fell into a spin and disappeared into the clouds. Inasmuch as further observation of this aircraft was impracticable, the crew members of accompanying planes were unable to furnish any other details relative to its loss.
George Hawkins Prisoner of War
It would take months past the mid-air collision before the War Department and George’s family would know he was alive and a prisoner of war. In the meantime, for George, as the Nazi interrogators would say, the war was over. George Hawkins summarized the mid-air collision, his injuries, and immediate aftermath in an undated post-war “Statement or Report of Interview with Recovered Personnel,”
Leaving the target area near Magdeburg, Germany, 28 September 1944, our ship was struck by another B-17 in our formation. I was pinned in the ship, but managed to break loose and parachuted to the ground. I received injuries to the knee, ankle, left leg and ribs at the time of the crash. I landed safely. The military freed me from civilians fifteen minutes later, during which time I was beaten. I was taken to a small house in Erxleben, Germany. There, wooden splints were applied to my left leg. The next day, I started to Magdeburg for hospitalization.
As he stated above, George Hawkins was taken prisoner shortly after landing in his parachute in Germany. George was severely injured in the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision. His main injuries were multiple fractures of his left leg, specifically of the left fibula and tibia, involving the left ankle and knee, and two or three broken ribs.
Post-war military medical records state that in the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision, in medical terms, George Hawkins sustained an FSC, digital third, fibula, left, and a dislocation of the tibia at the knee joint. As part of his treatment, George’s left leg was placed in a cast.
George Hawkins’ National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) POW record notes that he was held prisoner at Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (Serves Stalag 9-C [IX-C]), Obermassfeld Thuringia, Germany 50-10. However, in his post-war undated “Statement or Report of Interview with Recovered Personnel,” George Hawkins noted that for the six months he was absent from United States Military Control, he was taken Prisoner of War, with the places and times he was imprisoned as,
- Hospital at Magdeburg, Germany for 3 1/2 months
- Hospital at Obermassfeld, Germany for 1 week
- Hospital at Meiningen, Germany for 2 3/4 months
Magdeburg – 29 September 1944 to 12 January 1945
George Hawkins was held POW at a hospital in Magdeburg, Germany for 3 1/2 months, from 29 September 1944 to 12 January 1945. During this time, on 20 October 1944, the US Army Air Forces promoted George to 1st Lieutenant.
The hospital may have been Kahlenbergstift, located in Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt Germany DE. It was a General Hospital used as a Military Hospital during World War II. Kahlenbergstift Hospital opened in 1896. The decaying hospital was renovated in 2011, but has since closed and has been demolished.
In George’s previously mentioned letter in Part 2 to Frank Furiga, his “account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” George continued with information about his hospitalization and internment following his capture by the Germans after the mid-air collision.
I remained here in the city for the remainder of the year  … in the prison ward at the hospital while undergoing surgery and in the balcony of an old theatre where they housed several hundred injured from many nations. On October 6th they attempted to set my broken leg but an air raid interrupted their efforts and I came out of the anesthetic in the basement air raid shelter … the leg still not set. They finally got the job done on the 12th … and that deserves a little comment.
A Colonel, the chief of Surgery, at the hospital returned from leave the day before my second attempt at leg repair … he had just buried his wife and children who had been killed in an air raid. He needed to get back to work following his tragic experience and he found me. He decided he would perform the operation himself and did so … without anesthesia. I filed charges against him with the War Crimes Commission at a later date but nothing ever came of it. Magdeburg is still in the Russian zone. But, needless to say, POW time from that point on was a piece of cake.
In late November, I was returned to the hospital with a knee infection. The plaster cast was removed and they found a real mess. The leg would probably have to come off. But a young captain took charge and did a beautiful job. I’ve never been able to bend my knee since then but the leg is still there.
Military medical records in George’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) state that on 22 November 1944, he had an incisional drainage, abscess of the knee.
George noted in his post-war undated “Statement or Report of Interview with Recovered Personnel,” that while a prisoner of war, he,
Performed no duties, with one exception, as I was an ambulatory case in Magdeburg, I communicated with the British Man of Confidence at the local Stalag in regards to Red Cross parcel distribution. Advised British Medical Aid Man in Charge in clothing distribution.
On 6 November 1944, George wrote his father a letter conveying that he was in a German Prison Camp (Stalag XIA) and was is in the hospital being cared for by a French doctor and he was wearing a cast, which would be removed in a week. George also wrote two postcards to his father, dated 13 and 20 November.
George’s father did not receive the letter or postcards until 18 January 1945. A Battle Casualty Report confirms George Hawkins as a POW in Stalag 11A. Possibly, the hospital at Magdeburg was under the administration of Stalag XIA.
On 12 January 1945, George Hawkins began his transfer to the next hospital with an interrogation stop near Frankfort, Germany, travelling for two days.
Dulag Luft and Hohemark – 14 January to 17 January 1945
George arrived at the Frankfort railroad station on 14 January 1945. He spent the night at the railroad station, then was transported to Dulag Luft on 15 January, and to Hohemark Hospital on 16 January.
Dulag Luft was what the POWs called the German “Durchgangslager der Luftwaffe” or “Transit Camp of the Luftwaffe.” It was known as the greatest interrogation center in all of Europe and was located at Oberursel, about eight miles northwest of Frankfurt.
In George’s previously mentioned letter in Part 2 to Frank Furiga, his “account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” George continued with information about his hospitalization and internment.
DULOG LUFT & HALL MARK [DULAG LUFT AND HOHEMARK]
I departed from Magdeburg on January 12th and arrived in Frankfort two days later. I spent the night at the railroad station in a dungeon-like room about forty feet under ground and rode in a trolley car and a truck to Dulog Luft. A very short interrogation then up to Hall Mark the following day. I remember my interrogator who once worked for Western Electric and took bus 18 out of Newark each morning on his way to work. I had to admit that I didn’t know very much about Newark, New Jersey. I guess he just wanted to be friendly … right? One day later and we were on a hospital train to Obermassfeld.
In post-war documents, George also wrote of riding on a bus as one mode of his POW transportation between places in addition to the train rides and this mention of a trolley car and truck.
The Luftwaffe had taken over the Oberursel installation as a transit camp / interrogation center in December 1939. To meet the need for treatment for POWs who would need medical attention, camp authorities requisitioned part of Hohemark Hospital, one mile west of the interrogation center. The hospital ward for POWs was on one floor and was comprised of several rooms with sixty-five beds.
On 17 January 1945, George Hawkins was on a hospital train to Obermassfeld.
Stalag IX-C (9C), Obermassfeld (Reserve-Lazaret IX C (a)) – 18 January to 25 January 1945
According to a Wikipedia article about Stalag IX C and its associated hospitals, this POW camp was for Allied soldiers during WWII, rather than airmen. A large hospital, Reserve-Lazaret IX C (a), and a smaller hospital, Reserve-Lazaret IX C (b), were under Stalag IX C administration.
Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 served Stalag IX C (9-C) and was located in Obermassfeld (Obermaßfeld), Thuringia, Germany. Obermassfeld was the larger hospital under the administration of Stalag IX C, known as Reserve-Lazaret IX C(a). It was in a three-story stone building that was previously a Strength Through Joy hostel and was operated by British, Canadian, and New Zealand medical staff.
George Hawkins arrived at Obermassfeld on 18 January 1945 and spent one week there as a POW / patient.
In George’s previously mentioned letter in Part 2 to Frank Furiga, his “account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” George continued with information about his hospitalization and internment.
Arrived here on the 18th of January. The British doctors took xrays and I finally got a full understanding of my physical condition … for the first time. Here I met a number of people who I’m sure you knew also … Irving Metzger (no fingers) and T.S. McGee from Mississippi … the chaplain. McGee, George Brandon and I came out together … we toured Paris together. One week later, on January 25th, I was moved over to Meiningen.
Note: the Paris comments are regarding George’s stay in Paris following his liberation.
After receiving his son’s letter and postcards (written in November 1944) on 18 January 1945, George Hawkins’ father wrote to the Army Air Forces the next day, 19 January, informing them that he had heard from his son and telling them where George stated he was being held prisoner, German Prison Camp (Stalag XIA). Of course, by this date, George was no longer at Stalag XIA. He was at Obermassfeld, Reserve-Lazaret IX C (a), of Stalag IX-C, and soon to be moved again.
George Hawkins was moved from the larger hospital at Obermassfeld, Reserve-Lazaret IX C (a), to the smaller hospital at Meiningen, Reserve-Lazaret IX C (b), on 25 January 1945. Obermassfeld and Meiningen were about 5 miles apart and about 150 miles from the area of the mid-air collision near Magdeburg.
Stalag IX-C (9C), Meiningen (Reserve-Lazaret IX C (b)) – 25 January to 10 April 1945
On 30 January 1945, Major E.A. Bradunas replied to George’s father’s letter. Major Bradunas stated that the military had not received a report that would “indicate that your son is in a German Prison Camp,” but that “we rejoice with you that you have received word directly from your son.”
It was the smaller hospital in Meiningen, Reserve-Lazaret IX C (b), where George Hawkins would spend the remainder of his captivity, another 2 3/4 months, during World War II. George had arrived on 25 January 1945 and years later, Frank Furiga, who was already a POW / patient at Meiningen, recorded his memory of meeting up with George Hawkins as POWs.
One evening, January 25th to be exact, we were sitting around at our ward tables playing cards, etc. There was a commotion as a new bunch of patients arrived. I looked at one man in particular and gasped. Here was George Hawkins from the 384th Bomb Group, a Navigator. The last time I saw him was when I was still riding in the tail of the Lead Planes. It was September 28th and we went to Magdeburg. It was a tough mission. George was the Navigator on the [Brodie-Vevle] crew and they collided coming off the target with the [Buslee-Albrecht] crew.
In George’s previously mentioned letter in Part 2 to Frank Furiga, his “account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” George also shared his memories from their time spent at Meiningen,
Here we joined forces, Frank … so there is little I can tell you that you don’t already know. I do have a few dates [from 1945] noted so I will jot them down and see if they ring any bells:
- February 23, Bombing by USAF
- March 2, Bombing by RAF
- March 24, US fighter planes overhead
- March 26, Group of ambulatory POWs moved out of camp to the East, away from approaching allied troops. Group included Marty Horwitz and William Griffin.
- March 30, Shelling
- April 1, Guards gone. We have taken over the camp
- April 2, Obermassfeld liberated
- April 4, German guards returned by order of local commander
- April 5, LIBERATED by 11th Armored
- April 10, Departed camp
Liberation and Repatriation
On 8 May 1998, Frank Furiga shared his memories of the liberation and evacuation of the POW Hospital at Meiningen, Germany in a recording, which his son Paul shared with me. (Note: Frank’s dates and days of the week don’t properly align with the 1945 calendar, but I am publishing his story as he told it. In 1945, Easter was Sunday, 1 April.)
We had Easter services and there was a certain tenseness among all of us. We were all asked to come downstairs in the early evening and the Germans told us that they were turning the hospital over to us. Only the Chefarzt [physician in charge] was staying. He told us that we would have to protect ourselves against the civilians just in case some had ideas of vengeance. He asked we go back to our wards and await further developments. Some of the men had gone out and “liberated” guns from the local folks, how I don’t know.
On Monday, April 3rd, we learned that Obermassfeld had been liberated. That night there were a lot of heavy guns firing in the near distance. The German area commander had ordered our guards back to the hospital.
On Tuesday, the 4th, we were told that an observer had been placed in the top of the hospital tower to watch for the advancing Americans. A siren would sound and we were to go to the wine cellars.
Early on the morning of Wednesday the 5th, just after breakfast the siren sounded. We all went down to the wine cellars in an orderly group. Someone said they could see German civilians running for the air raid shelter. There was some mortar and machine gun fire but not cannons.
Around 2:30, someone shouted that American tanks were heading towards the hospital. We all ran upstairs and into the courtyard. I had just arrived to see a lead American tank come through the fence and stop. A major jumped down and he was immediately grabbed and hugged by our men. We learned that this was the 11th Armored Division of Patton’s 3rd Army.
Soldiers eventually came into the hospital proper and inventoried our food supply. They brought in lots of K-rations, a welcome change after our prisoner fare. A day later, the 26th Infantry Division came to the area. They brought in a large supply of potatoes much better than we had. They also “liberated” the brewery bringing many types of alcoholic beverages. There was a lot of celebrating going on and soon senior officers called a halt to that and the beverages were put under control.
It was such a relief to go to bed that night and know that the German Army in our area had been put down. Within a few days, the 26th Infantry Division had to move on and we had the 71st Infantry Division move into the area. We had a chance to visit with them and they were much interested in our stories. We now also had some fresh white bread brought in. It was a welcome change over the “ Soldaten Brot” which had been made with sawdust for storage purposes and we ate every day. The men of the 71st brought in lots of sabers and swords liberated. Also some of the men got some very fine German cameras, watches and other trivia.
On Sunday, the 9th we were told that we would be moving out via ambulances the next day. We were loaded early in the morning and were driven to a U.S. Army Field Hospital near Nidda, close to Frankfurt. We had a steak dinner that evening with all of the fixings. The white bread tasted like cake after what we had eaten before.
Here we would be loaded aboard C-47ʼs and flown to American Hospitals in England.
Here is where Frank Furiga and George Hawkins parted ways. Frank was flown to England while George was flown to Paris. Frank’s account continues here, with George’s path described next. Frank said,
I was in two hospitals in England because the first one we got to closed the very next day. The 2nd one was at Burford. They gave us good care,the nurses were superb and the doctors were understanding. I was there 3 weeks. I called my brother Michael with the Medical Corps down near Reading and he came to visit me the next day. I didnʼt have a penny to my name and he had to loan me money.
A group of us were sent up to a Prestwick, Scotland hospital to await a flight home. We flew through Iceland and New foundland via a C- 54 to Mitchell Field, Long Island. They told me since I was a POW, they would fly me to any hospital in the U.S.A. I asked for Deshon General at Butler, Pennsylvania.
They flew me to Pittsburgh and via an ambulance, I arrived at Deshon. By then it was May 16th. I was given a 30 day leave immediately to visit with my mother and two sisters. I went to Pawling, New York then and finally to Greensboro, North Carolina for discharge.
In a future post, I will cover Frank’s own story of how he became a POW in Germany.
In George’s previously mentioned letter in Part 2 to Frank Furiga, his “account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany,” George continued with information about his post-liberation movements,
The ambulance convoy out of Meiningen took us to Hanau (94th Medical), then 58th Field hospital (?) and then it was a C47 to Paris (48th General) on April 12th … then back to the U.S. on April 23rd.
In his letter to Frank Furiga, George Marshall Hawkins noted his Liberation Date as 5 April 1945. He was liberated by the 11th Armored Division of Patton’s 3rd Army at Stalag IX-C (9C), Meiningen (Reserve-Lazaret IX C (b)). The larger hospital of Stalag IX-C at Obermassfeld (Reserve-Lazaret IX C (a)) was also liberated by the U.S. 11th Armored Division.
George departed Meiningen on 10 April 1945 by ambulance convoy. George’s first stop was the 94th Medical at Hanau, Germany, then to the 58th Field Hospital in Germany on 11 April 1945. He was then moved by C47 to the 48th General Hospital in Paris on 12 April.
On 18 April 1945, George received his transfer orders to the ZOI – Zone of Interior (United States of America). He was evacuated to the ZOI on 23 April 1945. He was repatriated on 24 April 1945 when he arrived back in the United States and was taken that day to Mitchell Field Station Hospital.
To be continued…
Thank you to Paul Furiga for sharing his father’s stories.
Previous post, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Update – Part 1
Previous post, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. Update – Part 2
Previous post, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
Previous post, George M. Hawkins, Jr. – September 28, 1944
Previous post, Frank Furiga, Mid-Air Collision Witness
Previous post, September 28, 1944 – Wallace Storey
Previous post, George Hawkins’ Account of the Buslee-Brodie Mid-air Collision
Previous post, MISSION 201
Previous post, What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1
Previous post, What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 2
Previous post, George Hawkins’ Account of his Internment and Hospitalization
Previous post, German Hospitals Holding POWs in WWII
Merkki article, The Interrogators, Dulag Luft
American Prisoners of War in Germany, Hohemark Hospital, Section of Dulag Luft
Wikipedia article Stalag IX-C
George Hawkins’ Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
George Hawkins’ Enlistment Record in the online National Archives
George Hawkins’ POW Record in the online National Archives
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2023