The Arrowhead Club

Category Archives: WWII

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WWII Timeline – Summer 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1938

July 6, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jews from trading and providing a variety of specified commercial services.

July 6 – 15, 1938

Delegates from thirty-two nations attended the Evian conference to discuss Jewish refugees fleeing persecution by Nazi German. The conference ended with no resolution passed condemning German anti-Semitic policies. Most, including the U.S., refused to relax their immigration restrictions and no country would accept them.

July 11, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior banned Jews from health spas.

July 23, 1938

The Nazis ordered Jews over the age of 15 to apply for identity cards from the police, to be shown on demand to any police officer.

July 25, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jewish doctors from practicing medicine.

August 3, 1938

Italy enacted sweeping anti-Semitic laws.

August 11, 1938

The Nazis destroyed the synagogue in Nuremberg.

August 12, 1938

The German military mobilized.

August 17, 1938

The Nazi Executive Order on the Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names required Jews bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin to adopt an additional name. Men would add “Israel” and women would add “Sara” to their names on all legal documents.

August 18, 1938

German General Ludwig Beck resigned as chief of the German General Staff in protest of Hitler’s overtly militaristic policies.

September 27, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jews from all legal practices.

September 29, 1938
Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France signed the Munich agreement, or “Munich Betrayal.” Adolf Hitler had threatened a European war unless the Sudetenland, a border area of Czechoslovakia containing an ethnic German majority, was surrendered to Germany. The leaders of Britain, France, and Italy agreed in exchange for a pledge of peace from Hitler.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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A B-17 Navigator Oversleeps

In the overnight hours between Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21, 1944, the 384 Bomb Group prepared for Mission #163 to the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Airfield at Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

Air personnel were awakened to begin their preparation process – breakfast, briefing, picking up flight gear and equipment, and assembly at their designated aircraft – as usual for each mission.

But one navigator fell back asleep after being awakened. William Alvin Henson II was awakened at 0150 – that’s 1:50 in the morning. After the orderly who awakened him told him that breakfast was at 0230, Bill Henson fell back asleep.

No one missed Henson or reported him missing until the pilot of his aircraft did so at engine time. Pilot, Lt. Alfred H. Cole, who had recently been promoted from co-pilot to pilot of his own crew, called the tower. Cole’s usual navigator, Harry Simons, wasn’t assigned to Cole’s crew that mission and Bill Henson was to replace him.

The tower advised Cole to taxi on time and he did so until he was nearly in takeoff position. Cole called again and was advised to wait in the dispersal area.

Someone found Henson still asleep in bed and awakened him at 0620. Henson must have had to skip breakfast and hustle to operations to get his briefing materials, control points and maps, but didn’t receive a flight plan. He headed to the Tremblin’ Gremlin with the rest of the Cole crew aboard and waiting for him to take off. Henson arrived at 0645 and they took off at 0655.

Henson had to put his navigation skills to work to search for the formation, but without success. The formation crossed the English coast at Felixstowe at 0821, altitude 15,000 feet, without them. By 0835, Cole realized they were not going to locate the formation and decided to turn back. They landed back at Grafton Underwood at 0954.

544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall determined the abortion was justified on the part of the pilot, but stated that the…

Navigator is held responsible and will be required to fly an extra sortie to complete his tour. The Squadron duty operations clerk is also held partly responsible since he did not double check barracks. He will do night duty for one week. It is also felt that the Group Duty Navigator should have discovered that this navigator was not present at briefing. In calling roll at Navigators briefing, he should have discovered that this navigator was absent.

544th BS Operations Officer Major George H. “Snapper” Koehne, Jr. agreed with the abortion justification ruling.

What did the punishment of flying one extra sortie (mission) for the simple act of falling back asleep mean for navigator Bill Henson? Well, if Henson had begun his tour earlier in the war, he would have completed his tour of duty of 25 missions on September 27, 1944 with the 384th’s Mission 200, and been sent home. As it turns out, on his 26th mission, Henson was aboard 43-37822 with my dad’s crew and was killed in the mid-air collision over Magdeburg.

As horrific as the thought of dying because you fell back asleep is, that wasn’t the case for Henson. By the time Bill Henson was assigned to the 384th, the number of missions to complete a tour had been increased to 30, and he still had several more to go before he could return home. He did get awfully close, though.

Navigator William A. Henson’s Statement in Full

I was awakened at 0150. The orderly told me that breakfast was 0230 so I went back to sleep and was awakened a second time at 0620. Came to operations and obtained control points and necessary maps but no flight plan. Went to ship and took-off as explained by pilot. Gave heading of 130° in order to meet formation at Splasher # 7. Couldn’t get Splasher # 7 on radio compass. Circled in what I thought was apparent area of Splasher # 7. Saw balloon barrages at approximately 0800 and realized we were sout[h] of London. Gave heading to Felixstowe and arrived there approximately 0830 and realized formation had left. Plane was equipped with gee box but on my first gee fix plotted west of Northampton, so I thought it was inoperative. Later fixes proved to be correct. Request all responsibility of abortion.

Pilot Alfred H. Cole’s Statement in Full

At engine time the navigator had not yet arrived. I called the tower and was advised to taxi on time – I taxied until nearly in take-off position at which time I called Cherub again and was told to wait in Dispersal #46.

The navigator arrived at 0645 and we took off at 0655. At 0835 we had not yet located the formation and it became apparent that were not going to find it. I decided to turn back.

Other Sources

William A. Henson’s personnel data from the 384th Bomb Group website

384th Bomb Group Website mission data

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1938

April 22, 1938

The Decree against the Camouflage of Jewish Firms forbid changing the names of Jewish-owned businesses, i.e., changing the business name to give the appearance that the business was Aryan-owned and disguise that the business was Jewish-owned.

In Nazism, “Aryan” designated a supposed master race of non-Jewish Caucasians usually having Nordic features.

April 26, 1938

The Nazis ordered Jews to register wealth and property. The Order for the Disclosure of Jewish Assets required Jews to report all property in excess of 5,000 Reichsmarks.

June 1938

The Chinese military leader Chiang Kai-shek ordered the dikes along China’s Yellow River destroyed. The result of this attempt to slow down a Japanese invasion was the destruction of more than four thousand cities, towns, and villages, leaving two million Chinese homeless, and a devastating famine ensued.

June 14, 1938

The Nazis ordered businesses owned or run by Jews to be registered and marked as Jewish.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Two-hundreth Mission Celebration, Revisited

I originally published this article on September 24, 2014. Realizing that the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission party would coincide with the date of the last day of the 384th Bomb Group Historical Association’s 2019 reunion and farewell dinner, held in England this year, I decided to review the article and found a few errors. So I’m republishing it today with corrections. (I have corrected the original, too, so if you look back at the 2014 article, you’ll just see this same information).

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group's 200th Mission Celebration

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group Website Photo Gallery

On September 23, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group celebrated their two-hundredth mission, although that milestone mission would actually be flown four days later.

Mission 197 was flown on Thursday, September 21. The party was on a Saturday – September 23. Mission 198 was flown on the 25th, and 199 on the 26th.

The boys reached mission 200 on Wednesday, September 27. The 384th Bomb Group formed the 41st CBW “A” wing for Mission 200’s attack on the railroad marshalling yards of Cologne, Germany.

On Mission 200, there were several mishaps and not everyone made it back to Grafton-Underwood alive.

  • The Donald George Springsted crew and Bert O. Brown, Jr. crew were involved in a taxi accident prior to takeoff. The Brown crew’s aircraft, 44-6080, had to be scrapped. The Springsted’s aircraft, Sneakin’ Deacon, was repaired in time to fly the next day’s mission.
  • The Loren L. Green crew aboard Pro Kid had to abort and turn back due to an internal failure in an engine.
  • The Frank F. Cepits crew aboard The Challenger came back with the #3 engine feathered. (See Note)
  • The James W. Orr crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin II experienced a bomb bay door malfunction over the target. The bomb bay doors could not be opened, either electrically or manually. Gremlin returned to base still loaded with all of her bombs.
  • The John H. Hunt, Jr. crew had a harrowing landing. Boss Lady’s tail wheel would not extend for the landing. Fortunately, no one was injured.
  • The William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with wounded aboard. Rebel came back with an injured tail gunner, Robert H. Hoyman.
  • Navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren of the Raymond J. Gabel crew aboard Fightin’ Hebe was killed by flak. He is buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England: Plot E Row 5 Grave 12. I will have the opportunity to visit Lt. Lovegren’s grave during the 384th’s visit to the American Cemetery at Madingley during the reunion.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, completed Mission 200 with the John Oliver Buslee crew aboard Hale’s Angels, which was the high group deputy and hot camera ship. They completed the mission without incident.

The James Joseph Brodie crew did not fly Mission 200, but both the Buslee and Brodie crews would be part of the bomber stream for Mission 201 on Thursday, September 28, 1944, and it would be their last. The Buslee crew aboard 43-37822 and the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy collided coming off the target at Magdeburg at about ten minutes past noon. Aboard the two ships, fourteen men lost their lives, and four became prisoners of war.

What a difference one mission could make for an airman in WWII. For the Buslee and Brodie crews, Mission 200 was a celebration, Mission 201, a disaster.

Note

The Challenger was lost on February 3, 1945 when the pilot was forced to ditch in the North Sea. Ball turret gunner Jack Coleman Cook saved the life of navigator Edward Field on this mission and The Challenger sank to the bottom of the North Sea.

Source

384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1938

January 5, 1938

The Nazi Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names forbid Jews from changing their names.

January 28, 1938

President Roosevelt called for a massive rearmament program for the U.S.

February 1938

Adolf Hitler bullied Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg into giving him control of Austria’s interior ministry.

February 4, 1938

Adolf Hitler became commander-in-chief of the German armed forces, the Wehrmacht, and the German war minister.

February 5, 1938

The Nazi Law on the Profession of Auctioneer excluded Jews from the profession.

March 12, 1938
Germany announced Anschluss, a union with or annexation of Austria, which had a population of 200,000 Jews, most living in Vienna. Nazi troops entered Austria and began arresting and publicly humiliating the Austrian Jews, making them perform tasks such as getting on their hands and knees and scrubbing the pavement.

March 13, 1938

The new Nazi government in Vienna declared Austria a province of the Greater German Reich.

March 18, 1938

The Nazi Gun Law banned Jewish gun merchants.

Late March 1938

The SS was placed in charge of Jewish affairs in Austria and Adolf Eichmann established an Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna.

Two weeks after the Anschluss, the National Socialist Gauleiter (regional head) of Upper Austria, August Eigruber, announced the building of a concentration camp at the town of Mauthausen on the Danube. Political opponents and those considered criminal or antisocial would be imprisoned at Mauthausen and forced to work in the granite quarries.

March 24 – April 7, 1938

Japan’s first military defeat in modern history occurred during the Battle of Taierzhuang. The Chinese killed approximately 16,000 Japanese soldiers during the two-week battle.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

The Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Imagine

On September 28, 1944, two B-17 heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany.

As I remember the bedtime story Dad told me over and over when I was a child, ground fire hit the ship flying next to his, and that ship, knocked off course, ran into his ship. His ship cracked open like an egg, spilling everyone out. Dad was knocked out in the collision, but as he fell toward earth, he heard his mother call his name. He came around enough to open his chute and lost consciousness again.

The old woman struck him again and again with a stick as Dad woke up on the ground. German soldiers arrived and found him seriously injured, unable to walk. They carried him to a house to await transportation on his journey to confinement as a prisoner of war.

Dad would pause and get very sad as he told me that he was the only one on his plane who survived. When I asked why, he explained that he was the only man wearing his chest chute when the ships collided.

The story continued like it always did. The Germans took Dad to a hospital because he couldn’t walk. Moved by train, the German soldiers were kind to him and allowed him to ride in a bunk in their rail car. After his stay in the hospital, they moved him to a prison camp, where he learned to walk again, able to only shuffle his feet at first. And then came the part of the story that seemed the most significant, the march across Germany and how he slept in barns in the hay at night.

My childhood image was of my father dressed in a crisp uniform and polished shoes marching in columnar formation. I imagined him lounging in a fresh mound of clean hay, trying to avoid the proverbial needle that surely existed in every haystack. I was probably around eight years old and my imagination was highly influenced by a daily dose of Looney Tunes cartoons.

* * * * *

My father, George Edwin Farrar, died in 1982, and over the years I stopped thinking about the stories he told in my childhood of the mid-air collision, the prison camp, and the march. One day, almost thirty years after his death, a cousin e-mailed me a familiar story she had found on the internet. It was told by an eye-witness to the mid-air collision, the co-pilot of another B-17 in the formation. Reading the story brought all the memories flooding back.

The additional discovery of Dad’s record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website triggered my curiosity to learn more. I found that September 28, 1944 was my father’s sixteenth mission as a waist gunner on the John Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, which was based in Grafton Underwood, England. But most telling was a copy of the missing air crew report attached to Dad’s record.

Through the missing air crew report, I learned that my father was wrong about why his crewmates didn’t survive. He was the only one who made it out of the ship. After the mid-air collision, his B-17 was seen spinning into the clouds on fire, with centrifugal force likely trapping the rest of the crew, who may have also been knocked unconscious. And through a conversation with another eye-witness, I learned the ball turret was knocked from the ship during the collision and plummeted to earth with the belly gunner inside.

Included in the missing air crew report was a statement in handwriting I immediately recognized as my father’s. In his statement he said,

Our ship was hit by another B-17 from our group. The other ship must have hit right in the center of our ship, as we were knocked half in-to. At the time we were struck I was knocked unconscious and fell about 25,000 feet before I knew I was even out of the ship. Never saw any of the other boys. I received a little rough treatment from the Germans when I hit the ground, and was unable to tell where I was. Any information you can find out about the boys I would appreciate hearing very much.

He concluded his statement with,

May you have luck on the mission of finding what did happen to the boys.

I pulled out the box of my dad’s WWII mementos that my mother had given me before her death in 2004, and read letter after letter from the families of my dad’s lost crew to my grandmother during 1944 and 1945. While waiting for news about their sons, the mood of the letters evolved from disbelief, to hope, to despair, to sadness. The only joy came in the shared gladness of news of my father’s survival.

The information from the missing air crew report and deep emotion of the letters transformed me and I knew I had to learn more about this shared family tragedy. I began researching my father’s and his crewmates’ WWII history, learned all I could about the Stalag Luft IV prison camp where my father was held, and began reading personal stories of the march.

I learned that as a prisoner of war, Dad spent almost two months in the hospital. Shortly before Thanksgiving 1944, he was transferred to Stalag Luft IV. On February 6, 1945, my father was among the prisoners who marched from Stalag Luft IV. He remained on the road until his liberation at Gudow eighty-six days and five hundred miles later on May 2, 1945.

I started this blog to record the findings of my research. The stories on my blog not only let me record my findings, they lead to connections with relatives of the men my father served with in combat and was held captive with as a POW.

It may have been Dad’s statement, “May you have luck on the mission of finding what did happen to the boys,” that triggered not just an interest, but an intense desire, to find out for myself what happened in the skies above Magdeburg on September 28, 1944, and to learn more about the families and their sons.

* * * * *

Imagination is a funny thing. It creates a picture in one’s mind based on available information. When new information is added, a new picture emerges, but the old one remains. Version control for the brain, I suppose.

The more I learn, the more the picture changes, but it is only an image conjured by my imagination of the things my father told me and the things I have learned since. I have never seen these places with my physical eyes, only within my mind’s eye.

My image of my father sleeping in the hay in a barn is now of an emaciated man I would not recognize, huddled with other prisoners under thin, dirty blankets. If they slept, they dreamt of home and food, and when they didn’t sleep, they asked God for the strength to walk just one more day.

* * * * *

The next steps in my journey are to visit the airfield in England at which my father was based, to see the crash site in Germany of his B-17 and the remains of the Stalag Luft IV prison camp, walk some of the path of the march, and find the location of his liberation at Gudow.

I need to see the remains of the prison camp where my father stared at fence day after day, learned to walk again at twenty-three years old, and with the lack of food, began the slow progression of starvation that would continue until liberation.

I need to physically see barns where the prisoners rested during the march, and not only view them from the road, but throw open the doors and breathe in the stale and musty smells of the hay. I half expect to awaken the sleeping ghosts of hundreds of starving and exhausted airmen when the daylight strikes the dark recesses of these shelters that housed the marchers from the harshness of the bitterly cold nights of winter 1945.

I need to physically put one foot in front of the other along the road, to scuff up some dirt where dad walked through snow and ice. I need to be in the same physical space he once traveled. I know I will feel him there and connect with him, and I will remember the bedtime stories of my childhood once again.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1937

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1937 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1937

November 5, 1937

Adolf Hitler held a secret conference in the Reich Chancellery to reveal his plans for the acquisition of Lebensraum, or living space, for the German people (at the expense of other European nations).

Attending the conference were:

  • German War Minister, Werner von Blomberg
  • Commander in Chief of the Army, Werner von Fritsch
  • Commander in Chief of the Navy, Erich Raeder
  • Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring
  • Foreign Minister, Constantin von Neurath
  • Colonel Friedrich Hossbach

Colonel Hossbach took the minutes of the conference which resulted in the meeting being known as the Hossbach Conference, and his record of minutes the Hossbach Memorandum.

At the conference, Hitler swore the men to secrecy and told them that his words should be regarded as his last will and testament. Hitler expressed his view of and vision for Germany with these arguments and reasons:

  • Germany had a tightly packed racial core and was entitled to greater living space than in the case of other peoples.
  • History proved that expansion could only be carried out by breaking down resistance and taking risks, there had never been spaces without a master, and the attacker always comes up against a possessor. Where could Germany achieve the greatest gain at the lowest cost?
  • Germany’s two biggest problems, two hate inspired antagonists, Britain and France, to whom a German colossus in the center of Europe was a thorn in the flesh.
  • Germany’s problem could only be solved by means of force, but when and how remained to be seen.
  • Military action must be taken by 1943-1945 at the latest, to guard against military obsolescence and the aging of the Nazi movement. Germany must take the offensive while the rest of the world was still preparing its defenses.
  • The primary objective would be to seize Czechoslovakia and Austria to protect Germany’s eastern and southern flanks.
  • Hitler envisioned three different strategies (see Cases 1 – 3 in the Hossbach Conference link below) designed to capitalize on the present and future military and political problems of France and England.

Following the conference, Foreign Minister Constantin von Neurath suffered several heart attacks and asked to be relieved from his post.

Hitler’s vision and casual acceptance of the immense risks of starting a war in Europe shocked his colleagues and conference attendees, especially German War Minister Werner von Blomberg and Commander in Chief of the German Army Werner von Fritsch. Both repeatedly emphasized that Britain and France must not appear as Germany’s enemies. Blomberg and Fritsch’s continuing opposition to Hitler’s war plans resulted in their removals via trumped up scandals within three months.

With the removal of the top echelon of the Army, Hitler assumed supreme command with Wilhelm Keitel as chief of the high command.

November 6, 1937

Italy joined the Anti-Comintern (Communist International) Pact. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan previously signed the pact, which was directed against the international Communist movement, in November 1936.

November 8, 1937

Chinese resistance in Shanghai ended. The Japanese victory claimed 100,000 Chinese troops and as many as 200,000 civilians.

In Munich, Germany, a traveling exhibit called “The Eternal Jew” opened which promoted stereotypes of Jews and the Nazi perceptions of their danger to the world.

December 11, 1937

Italy withdrew from the League of Nations.

December 12, 1937

Japan bombed the US gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River in China.

December 13, 1937

Nanking fell to the Japanese. During the following “Rape of Nanking” more than 200,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered.

Sources:

More detail on the Hossbach Conference and Hossbach Memorandum from The History Place

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

German Hospitals Holding POWs in WWII

In the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between two of the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17s with the Buslee crew (my dad’s crew) aboard 43-37822 and the Brodie crew aboard 42-31222 (aka Lazy Daisy), fourteen airmen died, but four survived. My dad, waist gunner George Edwin Farrar of the Buslee crew, was the only survivor on his fortress. He was seriously injured and required hospitalization for almost two months.

Aboard Lazy Daisy, waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger and tail gunner Wilfred Frank Miller survived without serious injury, but navigator George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. sustained extremely serious injuries due to the collision. I don’t intend to cover the extent of Hawkins’ injuries now. At this time, I want to only identify the hospitals at which my dad and Hawkins were treated as POW’s.

During WWII, the following German Lazaretts (Hospitals) held American POWs,

Lazarett IV A Elsterhorst (Hohnstein, Czechoslovakia)
Lazarett IV G (Leipzig, Germany)
Lazarett V B (Rottenmunster, Germany)
Lazarett VI C (Lingen, Germany)
Lazarett VI G (Gerresheim, Germany)
Lazarett VI J (Dusseldorf, Germany)
Lazarett VII A (Freising, Germany)
Lazarett IX B (Bad Soden/Salmunster, Germany)
Lazarett IX C (a) (Obermassfeld, Germany)
Lazarett IX C (b) (Meiningen, Germany)
Lazarett IX C (c) (Hildburghausen, Germany)
Lazarett X A (Schleswig, Germany)
Lazarett X B (Sandbostel, Germany)
Lazarett XIII D (Nurnberg-Langwasser, Germany)
Lazarett XVIII A/Z (Spittal/Drau, Austria)
Marine Lazarett (Cuxhaven, Germany)
Luftwaffen Lazarett 4/11 (Wismar, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett II Vienna (Vienna, Austria)
Reserve Lazarett Graz (Graz, Austria)
Reserve Lazarett Bilin (Bilin, Czechoslovakia)
Reserve Lazarett Wollstein (Wollstein, Poland)
Reserve Lazarett II Stargard (Stargard, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett Schmorkau (Schmorkau, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett Konigswartha (Konigswartha, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett Ebelsbach (Ebelsbach, Germany)

The above list is noted to be as of December 31, 1944 and was found on the website of the National Museum of the US Air Force.

The 384th Bomb Group website notes that George Hawkins was treated at POW Camp: Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (Serves Stalag 9-C) Obermassfeld Thuringia, Germany. In addition, Hawkins’ WWII records, which I found at the NPRC during a visit to St. Louis for an 8th AF Historical Society reunion noted he was treated at these hospitals:

  • A hospital in Magdeburg, Germany for 3 1/2 months (not noted on the above list)
  • A hospital in Obermassfeld, Germany for 1 week (according to above list, Lazarett IX C (a))
  • A hospital in Meiningen, Germany for 2 3/4 months (according to above list, Lazarett IX C (b))

According to an entry on Wikipedia about Stalag IX C and its associated hospitals, the 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.

Hawkins spent a week at the large hospital in Obermassfeld, which was a three-story stone building and was operated by British, Canandian, and New Zealand medical staff. But it was the smaller hospital in Meiningen where Hawkins would spend the remainder of his captivity during the war.

I can only guess that my father was taken to the same hospital in Magdeburg where Hawkins was first treated and after two months of treatment was transferred to the Stalag Luft IV prison camp. I don’t believe he would have been transferred to either the hospital in Obermassfeld or Meiningen, but he may have been transferred elsewhere before being placed in the general population of Stalag Luft IV.

My assumption may not be correct, but I do not know of a particular hospital that was associated with Stalag Luft IV. Unlike George Hawkins’ records at the NPRC, my father’s records only consist of recreated documents supplied by my mother after his file at the NPRC was destroyed in the fire of 1973.

Until I learn differently, I will assume that Dad was treated in the same hospital in Magdeburg as George Hawkins, but my percentage of certainty about that is pretty low. If anyone knows of any other resources to help me find information about POW hospitals in Germany, please comment or e-mail me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Liberation Gudow

My father, George Edwin Farrar, was a POW in Germany’s Stalag Luft IV in WWII. On February 6, 1945, all of the prisoners of Stalag Luft IV were marched from the prison camp and continued to march out of Poland and through Germany until their liberation.

The prisoners were marched in separate groups, or columns, and didn’t all follow exactly the same route. All were not liberated at the same time or place.

From a letter to his mother, I know my father was liberated on May 2, 1945, after a march of eighty-six days, and was in one of the last columns to be liberated. He did not mention where he was liberated, but at the time he may not have known exactly where in Germany he was.  He said,

I guess you have heard through the government that I was liberated. I was liberated by the English May 2nd and have been treated very nice since. I should be home soon, and having some of the nice meals you fix. That I have dreamed of for all-most a year. Life was a bit hard here, but it is all over now. I have been on the road marching since Feb. 6th with very little food, but am not in bad condition.

In his book, The Shoe Leather Express, The Evacuation of Kriegsgefangenen Lager Stalag Luft IV Deutschland Germany, POW Joseph P. O’Donnell wrote that on April 30, 1945, the column of prisoners arrived at Zarrentin and spent the night sleeping in the barn of a farm.

The next morning, Day 85 of the march, the farmer slaughtered one of his cows to feed the group, but before the meal could be prepared, the prisoners were ordered to move out.

Late in the morning of May 1, 1945, the column left Zarrentin and arrived at a farm at the outskirts of Gudow late in the afternoon, a walk O’Donnell estimated to be eight kilometers, or about five miles. There, not knowing that liberation would come the next day, the prisoners spent their last night in the farmer’s barn.

On the morning of May 2, 1945, Day 86, the prisoners’ morning started as usual, awakening early, with some prisoners searching the farm for food, eggs that could be eaten raw, or potatoes that could be carried to the next stop. On this day, the Germans distributed canned sardines and commanded the prisoners to pack up and walk to the end of the farm lane to the main road where they would be liberated by the British 8th Army, the Royal Dragoons.

Joe O’Donnell reported that the column was liberated at approximately 11:50 am on May 2, 1945.

The Austrailian War Memorial website contains two photos from the liberation,

GUDOW, GERMANY. 1945-05. POW AMERICAN AIRMEN SHOWING THEIR EXCITEMENT AT BEING LIBERATED BY MEN OF THE REGIMENT OF ROYAL DRAGOONS. (BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH, BU5038).
Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

and

GUDOW, GERMANY. 1945-05-02. AMERICAN PRISONERS FLOCK BACK ALONG THE ROAD TO FREEDOM AFTER BEING LIBERATED BY TROOPS OF THE BRITISH FIFTH DIVISION. (BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH, BU5046).
Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

From the time my father was born until the day he died, I imagine his walk down a farm lane on the outskirts of Gudow on May 2, 1945 became the sweetest steps of his life, his final walk to liberation and freedom.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1937

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1937 in this post.

But before I begin the timeline, I’d like to note that seventy-four years ago today, February 6, 1945, the march out of Stalag Luft IV, the POW camp in which my Dad was held prisoner, began.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1937

April 27, 1937

The Spanish city of Guernica was destroyed by German war planes and becomes symbol of anti-fascism.

May 28, 1937

Neville Chamberlain succeeded Stanley Baldwin to become prime minister of Great Britain.

June 11, 1937

Soviet leader Josef Stalin began a purge of Red Army generals.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019