15 cze 2015

Roads to Oflag 64 – Arrival of the first groups of American POWs at Szubin

Kriegies of Oflag 64 at rail station, l-r: Pfc. Max Druckman, Few, Sgt. Charles Greenhill (British), Capt. Newton Lantron, Long, McMurdo, Capt. Tony Lumpkin.

Commentary on photograph: Although the caption for this photo found on The Oflag 64 Association homepage states, Unknown date/location”, one might assume with some probability, that it was taken at the rail station in Szubin. All of the identified POWs were captured in February and March of 1943, except for Lantron who was captured in September 1943. The clearly visible snow suggests that this photo was not taken when the first American POWs arrived at Altburgund. 

On the list of US POWs of Oflag 64, there can be found three persons with the family name ‘Long’. Two of them were captured in February 1943.  Pfc. Vernon Long was captured on 17 February 1943 and 2nd Lt. Gerald Long was captured on 18 February 1943. I’m wondering which one is in the photograph, but I'm not able to recognize the rank by the uniform.  If anyone is able to recognize the rank of the 5th POW, from l-r in line, denoted as 'Long', please email me whether he is a Pfc. or 2nd Lt. 

I suppose this photo was in fact taken at the Szubin rail station, probably when most of the group camp photos were taken in mid-January 1944, and my hypothesis is that it might have been taken during the POWs duty at the rail station.  The photo shows those who used to pick up the Red Cross parcels, which were taken every week to Szubin by trains. They worked unloading parcels from carriages.  I have received a comment from former Oflag 64 POW, Wilbur Sharpe, confirming that: “Tony Lumpkin was in charge of the distribution of all packages not just the Red Cross parcels, which were distributed every ten days or so with some not quite as often”. This makes my hypothesis more probable. Another former POW of Oflag 64, Ted Roggen, has replied that the only POW he is familiar with is Newton Lantron, and he cannot identify the others. He also has stated that he remembers that Amon Carter, Jr. was in charge of all the Red Cross parcels that came to their camp – I suppose he maybe took it in turns with Lumpkin.

* * *

The history of Oflag 64, the prisoner of war camp in Altburgund, begins in June 1943. Those officers and noncommissioned officers who arrived in Szubin first, were captured between  November 1942 and March 1943 in the North African Campaign. Before those captured reached Szubin, they were held in various other camps. Most of them at first went to P.G. 66, the transit camp in Capua. Some captured during April-May passed through P.G. 21 in Chieti (P.G. - Prigione di Guerra - Prison of War). Then, the bigger group was transferred to Stalag VII A in Moosburg, and after few days to Oflag IXA/Z in Rotenburg an der Fulda. The smaller group was transferred to Oflag VII B in Eichstätt.

On June 4th, the group of 39 officers from Eichstätt was ordered to move to Szubin. On the road via Poznan four of them escaped. The book “Dzieje Szubina” (The history of Szubin) mentions this fact, but with the added comment that because of lack of more information and proper documentation it is unknown if this escape was successful. Today, after more than 70 years, we can learn more and I hope to share the story from one of those escapists.

The first group of 35 officers arrived at the camp in Szubin on June 6th, 1943. We can read about it from the War Log of Lt. Col. John Waters.

  • June 2 – ordered to move,
  • June 3 – move postponed til tomorrow,
  • June 4 – move started – 3rd class wagons,
  • June 6 – move to ALTBURGUND completed,

    I suppose that the additional notes "4 out" and "66 out" might be the number of those four US POWs who escaped from the train in Poznan, and respectively, those noncoms who were left behind in Eichstätt.
The group in Rotenburg was notified on May 26th that they would be going on to a US camp. On the 28th they were told that the camp was in Silesia. In fact, according to German documents, between March and May 1943 the Oflag 64 camp was opened in Wahlstatt (Legnickie Pole), a village located south of Liegnitz (Legnica), at Lower Silesia. On June 3rd they were issued clean clothing, on the 6th they prepared to move. On June 7th they were in 3rd class coaches on the way to Szubin via Berlin and Bromberg (Bydgoszcz). After two days, on June 9th, they arrived at Szubin.

Both groups, in fact, arrived at Oflag XXI B. According to the War Log of 2nd Lt. John Glendinning, they were on their way to Oflag XXI B. In his War Log dated June 9, the entry stating "Oflag 21 B" can be found. In his written memories, 1st Lt. O. L. “Brad” Bradford recorded: "Originally Oflag XXI B, it was renamed Oflag 64 shortly after we arrived (...). We found 35 officers there who had preceded us about three days, having come by way from Eichstätt". The War Log of Lt. Col. John Waters has a stamp of Oflag XXI B on Szubin.

All entries referring to POWs’ stories before reaching Oflag 64 in Szubin will be tagged as: "Roads to Oflag 64".

  • Clarence R. Meltesen, Roads to Liberation from Oflag 64, 3rd edition, 2004, ISBN 0-9627005-3-3 (Thanks to Meltesen Family for sharing this book).
  • Dzieje Szubina, Marian Biskup (ed.), Warsaw-Poznań, 1974.
  • Moosburg Online, POW Camps: List: http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/laglist.htm.
  • Transcript of War Log of 2nd Lt. John H. Glendinning available in “Sketches of lives of Kriegies in Oflag 64” (Thanks to Cynthia Burgess).
  • Memories of 1st Lt. O. L. “Brad” Bradford: "The Way It Was" available at www.oflag64.us.
  • Scan of Lt. Col. John Waters War Log (Thanks to James Sudmeier).

©Mariusz Winiecki

Brak komentarzy:

Prześlij komentarz