EDMUND H. DONNELLY|
POW -- WWII
Kriegie Ode is a work, in verse, recalling the author's experience as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.
Ed Donnelly graduated from navigation school in Hondo and served as a navigator with the 506th Squadron of the 44th Air Bombardment Group during the war. Later, during the Korean conflict, he served with the 10th Air Rescue Squadron and with the 58th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron. He retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Lt. Colonel after 23 years of service.
Kriegie Ode is based on his unwilling residence at Stalag Luft III, South Compound, which was located at Sagan, beginning in March, 1944, and at Stalag Luft VII-A which was located at Moosburg, from January 1945 until the camp was liberated by the 14th Armored Division in April, 1945. He was shot down while a crewmember on a B-24J during a mission to Friedrickshaven.
Ed is a native New Yorker, earned his bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from New York University and his master's in Mechanical Engineering from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute. Me was employed for 26 years by Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies and for 3 years by Lucas Aerospace.
He is active as a volunteer at the Kerrville Veterans Administration Hospital, is a lay reader at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and is a member of The Harmonizers - a barbershop chorus. He is also active in the Mill Country Chapter of the American Ex-prisoner's of War, in the Stalag Luft III Association, and in The Retired Officers Association.
He is married to Jane, and is the father of four and grandfather of two.
* * *
Now, many years have gone the way that things important do.
'Tis easy to forget the deeds that were in World War Two.
Unlike the dreams of goals we've reached, forgot when we were through,
I write them down and dedicate to them, the noble few.
I write these episodes in verse instead of common prose.
Because it helps me edit, despite my typing woes.
For I've an old computer with printer in death's woes-
And so I write this epic of our fight with Axis foes.
The things contained within each verse are based upon my life
And memory of times long ago, when worldwide war was rife.
The time I took to write this poem caused no domestic strife,
I also dedicate it to my dear and loving wife.
Another person needs my thanks who helped me quite a lot
By reading proof throughout this work-she straightened every knot.
She's Nina Weinberg, Robert's wife, who knows when not to dot,
She's heard so much of Kriegie life, she knows the flaws to spot.
BACKGROUND (Not far enough back)
In August, fair, in forty-three we formed the Freeman Group.
We had last leaves-we got our planes-we were a motley troop.
We read the tales in papers. News, of the Ploesti loop-
Of losses grim-so every one knew he'd be in the soup.
We trained at Pueblo for three months with weather mostly fine.
Then had a leave where most went home with families to dine.
And then came back to last farewells-at parties some did pine,
Though most of us did wash it down with gallons of red wine.
And then by train to Lincoln town, home of the twenty fours-
Where each air crew was issued one from aircraft factory doors.
We checked them out and got our maps from Navigation stores-
Sealed orders in our hand to see from whence we'd leave our shores.
Three weeks it took to fly our plane across the broad Atlantic-
With stops at every post and base-it drove the C.O. frantic-
We parsed each order paragraph-we studied each semantic
'Til every base at which we stopped would strive to stop our antics.
To Bobbington they sent our crew and kept our aircraft, Rover.
We trained ourselves in drinking beer which seemed to us warmed over.
And while away they lent our plane which came not back to Dover.
A Messerschmit flew into it-This war's no bed of clover.
They taught us math at combat school and how to stay alive.
They said that loss percentages were seldom more than five.
How mission number twenty five was that for which we'd strive
How twenty five times five or more would show how you'd survive.
For two and twenty times he went across the channel coast
And each and every time he went, he'd come back home to boast
Of what he 'd done to win the war though no one him did toast
For mission number twenty-three his hide almost did roast.
THE STAGE IS SET
For twenty-two good missions the Rover boys did fly,
With little damage from the foe, they thought they owned the sky.
They'd been to Kiel and Bremen too, soon twenty-five they'd try,
Except for flak, intensified, which almost Ed did fry.
Ed started out that fatal day in March of Forty four-
A screwed up wing assembly point caused problems by the score.
Soon engines started dripping oil, the birds could hardly soar
Such problems, though, were small compared to what was yet in store.
They carried twelve five-hundred bombs within the ship's bomb bay,
With lots of ammunition belts to be used in case of fray.
They topped off tanks with aircraft fuel, they'd go a long, long way,
And takeoff was so hard to make to clear the base runway.
Now, flying over Germany was not for weak of knees,
Where yellow nosed Messerschmitts, one nineties thick as fleas
And black, black smoke puffs fill the air, with iron, if you please-
Ed thought there must be some way else to stop these S O Bs.
The target, Friederickshaven, was one hard to be missed.
Its rocket subassembly plants got it high on the list.
There were no clouds to screen the planes and soon we got the gist
Of why in stories about war they cite the iron fist.
We crossed the tip of Austria preparing for the run,
We passed the Alps of Switzerland where people skied for fun,
And then on southern Germany the bomb run we begun
And far ahead was a black cloud that filtered out the sun.
The I P passed ere things got rough with aircraft tightly stacked-
Near "Bombs Away" the trailing group showed planning had been lacked-
Undershot Ed's group who held their bombs as they'd been racked
So round and back the whole group went-and made a lone attack
The Forty-fourth bombardment group had earned Ploesti fame-
The pilot of the plane in lead thought he should play this game.
He'd challenge German personnel with course, speed, height the same.
And for this eager officer I've always had a name.
With flak so thick the sun grew faint-spent metal fell like hail.
Great holes appeared throughout the planes from nose up to the tail.
With bomb doors open they flew on along the bombing trail,
But old Ed knew that they were through-so he did quake and quail?
Now Frank, who was the pilot, and five more from the crew-
Were still aboard the twenty-four when into bits it blew.
They could have gone to Switzerland, which was in real plain view,
Except unto the mission goal they tried to make it through.
Ed never thought that he'd survive-his thoughts almost astute,
He knew that he must hit the silk without his pet flak suit-
He wondered why at this nice, guy, so many Germans shoot,
And hoped that they would cut it out with him in parachute.
The bombers which had forced Ed's group to make a second pass,
Were out of wing formation- more screw up by their brass,
A group alone o'er Germany lacked good formation mass,
And many of their planes were sent to German or French grass.
And that is how the fourteenth wing of second air division
Lost just as many aeroplanes as on another mission.
Ploesti one, done on the deck, did not have more attrition-
A simple raid against the foe was in the home edition.
IT'S DOWNHILL FROM HERE ON
When he tugged on his 'chute rip cord there was a dreadful jerk-
He reached down for a cigarette and almost went berserk
The chute was soaked with high octane and danger there did lurk
A spark could light the whole thing off and Eddie would be murk.
His boots came off when chute did ope' and fell down to the ground.
From roar of engines, cannon noise-and then there was no sound
With only wind and nothing else though death was all around
He saw three other parachutes, no others could be found.
Three other squadron airplanes were treated much the same.
But no survivors could Ed see. He knew them all by name.
Despite the hell the target gave the raid gained not the fame
Of Schweinfurt or of Regensburg-despite the deadly game.
Down to the ground he slowly fell, though he felt 'twas too soon,
Where he was met by Wehrmacht man-it was his first live goon
"For you the war is over"-his captor's hackneyed tune,
"To Dulag Luft you next will go-you'll sing Just like a loon!"
This little man with gun quite long first met him on the ground.
And Ed first heard what has been called a base and guttural sound.
"Hans Hoch!" shouted out the kraut-Just look what he had found-
And off they started for the jail across the snowy ground.
As he was walked unto the town, the children stopped their play,
To see a Yankee airman did not occur each day.
And Kraut cowboys and Indians appeared quite everyday-
For in pre-school activities the Nazis were at bay.
Some women tried approaching, his guards stopped their advance.
They didn't mean to hurt him, his chute got their best glance.
The white and silky fabric almost made them take a chance
To take it home for sewing but were held up by guard's stance.
At last unto the courtyard of the town hall and the jail
Our small parade of guards and me, for whom there'd be no bail,
Into the hall and at a desk-no sign of justice' scale-
They entered my particulars and said escape must fail.
For three long days in darkened cell with cot and oaken door.
A single hole receptacle kept bad things off the floor.
Two guards were used to bring in food- 'Twas awful and what's more,
There was no one to talk to or to find what was the score.
A person in civilian dress came to my cell next morn-
He gave me several cigarettes-I blessed his day of born.
In those days surgeon general did not us people warn.
This helped restore my frazzled nerves and made me less forlorn.
The prison it was also used for others doing time.
And Ed could see a scaffolding through window bars and grime.
He knew riot who this thing was for nor when the time was prime-
But happily 'twas not for him, but for some local slime.
'Twas not that bad for others like his own flight engineer-
Who, captured by the signal corps found little then to fear,
They took him to their quarters where they stowed away their gear,
And got for him a ration card, and spent it all on beer.
And when they sat to dinner, he saw upon the wall
An old guitar just hanging there, awaiting for a call.
For three more nights old songs they sang, it must have been a ball,
'Tween Okie twang and German lied, and food for one and all.
OFF TO DULAG LUFT
Then, early in the morning they said they'd take a trip
To where experts interrogate-Ed couldn't pack a grip-
They squeezed him in a Volkswagen, which soon the West would rip.
A secret weapon Adolf said all U. S. cars would whip.
I thought this statement boastful of this car quite like a bug.
For I, like most Americans did tend to be quite smug
About our cars-this tiny thing we'd sweep under the rug.
The only ones to buy this thing would be those on the drug'.
The first stop was Luftwaffe base in Friederickshaven town-
Where at the local pilots' mess his captors sat him down.
The pilots wondered if his plane was part of their renown
They knew not that the long flak guns had nearly got his crown.
They took him up to Frankfort by slow civilian train,
Whose passengers around him did often strive and strain
To separate this flier brave from head or at least brain
His guards with drawn guns kept them off avoiding much great pain.
As Ed approached by railroad train the Frankfort station grand
The R A F did their level best to change it into sand.
Ten thousand pounders Lancs did drop-to make them understand
It shook the train so dreadfully that it was hard to stand.
Civilians in the railway cars were eyeing us with hate,
To have a necktie party would not need a debate.
Our guards saw trouble brewing and saved us from grim fate
They took us from those railway cars, by truck to Dulag's gate.
ASK ME NO QUESTIONS-I'LL TELL YOU NO LIES
In Dulag Ed found out that he was not an honored visitor
In sessions with the Air Luft's best-the sauerkraut inquisitor'
"We need that bit of info now,"-the goon was an insister!
If you're to have that thing you want, the Stalag three's bright vista!"
The German asking questions-Luftwaffe, not storm trooper,
Was looking for a slip of tongue which could be quite a blooper.
He said that if he didn't tell, our Ed was in the souper
To Ed the German Officer was Fritz the party pooper.
They had a little gimmick, effective still in March-
They 'd turn up heat within the room and try his throat to parch.
And when he'd shed his clothes in sweat they tried with humor arch
And opened wide his window to thermal shock his starch.
They threatened every prisoner with tales of the S S!
And how their style of questioning could cause all great distress.
And never from their questioning did Nazis e'er digress.
Each prisoner thought then, "How could I have gotten in this mess."
Old Ed spilled not a single, thing which wasn't then allowed.
'Twas not a tribute to the guts with which he was endowed,
It was because the Luftwaffe 'neath skies devoid of cloud,
shot down so many day and night-there was a Kriegie crowd.
The Germans had a question whose answer they did say
Would answer all the questions of who was whom that day.
What time did you release your bombs-what time was bombs away?
Behind this simple querry was -"Did extra flak guns pay?"
You'd think this question innocent-showed you'd been in the attack.
But what they really wondered was how good was extra flak-
Did it deter you from the drop-did your bombs leave the rack-
For fifty extra eighty eights helped paint the sky dark black.
These days the Royal Air Force as well as Army air
Their largest efforts they did mount-the weather it was fair.
This meant the load of prisoners was more than staff could bear-
So questioning was shortened to three days beyond compare.
From questioning they were released and moved across a road
And given fresh new uniforms-'twas not a heavy load.
They mixed with other prisoners within this new abode,
And spent a day of wondering of what the future bode.
A Royal Air Force Officer within the second camp,
Met freshly questioned Yanks and Brits with welcome that was damp,
And underlined security and warned, a slimy scamp
Is often seated next to you so you, your tongue, must clamp.
And when the Kriegies number was what goons waited for
They marched us to a siding to a relic of day's yore.
It was the end of a long train which raised a question sore,
Would pilots flying strafing planes endanger us once more?
And so the line of prisoners got slowly in the trains.
And carefully did case the cars and use all of their brains.
Recovery that for most of them was end to body pains,
As thoughts of how to leave their cars to drop on passing plains.
For light in the long tunnel lit what had been quite dark (crepe)!
And plans were soon establishing a way to an escape.
Though weeks of stress and hunger had reduced our body shape,
The thought of loss' 'of freedom made every Kriegie scrape.
BRITS AND YANKS
The British and Americans were mostly thick as fleas,
Except in rare occasions, like how to brew best teas.
They'd put their leaves in pots of tin, the flavor to release
In water, boiled, then seep in pot, then strain away the leaves.
Americans with tea from home, got it in little bags.
When watching how we brewed our tea, the true Englander gags.
We boil the water, chuck in bag-"It's brewed," the Yankee brags.
Efficiency in making tea with far, far fewer snags.
Now in the camps at Stalag three goons separated nation,
With North Camp for the R. A. F., the south was our location.
They must have felt this would cut down on escape incubation,
Instead promoted rivalry-escape origination.
The British were the champions-they really broke the tape
By putting eighty men at large in one most famed escape.
They tunneled under German nose-they bent them out of shape-
Although the goon reprisal was as low as one could scrape.
For over fifty escapees were taken to a field
Where they were executed by the S S, their fate sealed.
But Kriegies took no notice, 'gainst the Germans they were steeled.
As through the camp a circular the German guards did wield.
This says escape by prisoners was no longer thought a sport.
It spoke of parts of Germany where you'd have no retort.
Where only thing that you would hear would be a gun report,
And prison camps would cease to be a gentleman's resort.
Now in this section of this work, in verse I will describe
Some of the folk, the characters of goon and Yankee tribe,
Including hard core Nazis and those whom we could bribe.
To most of them, in later years, a toast I will imbibe.
In early times in U.S.A. employers hired thugs
To break up strikes and actions like, they were the worst of mugs.
They learned to spy, their brothers try, from under they'd pull rugs
They were named Goon by one and all-these ill-willed human slugs.
Now that is reason that one gave to Nazi personnel
The name of goon-it really fit-and was not hard to spell.
The Alice in the comic strip of Popeye seemed, as well,
To typify the average guard who ran the camp appeal.
'Tis often said that some go nuts when comes the full of moon-
They flap and screech and run about quite like a loony loon.
But some are like this all the time from July until June-
And this has earned for them the name and repute of the goon.
The goons developed specialists to ferret Kriegie thought-
To help them to uncover plans before escapes were wrought,
To help discover any guards where contraband was bought,
Put Kriegies in the cooler whene'er they could be caught.
The ferret is an animal-looks like a sneaky weasel.
With long thin nose-they're seldom seen upon an artist's easel
With-human Nazi counterparts-as useful as a measle
Who, dressed in light blue coveralls were like the coarsest teasel.
The ferrets swarmed about the place inside and out of doors
Eavesdropping on the Kriegie talk from underneath the floors-
With flashlight and screwdriver long and often on all fours,
To see what Kriegies were about comprised their Nazi chores.
'Tis said that certain barracks drilled holes in flooring planks
And when the goon was underneath uncovering our pranks,
They'd pour a liquid through the hole, came not from water tanks-
The words the goon would say from there could not be classed as "Thanks"
The goons were aided in the camp by others less benign
With eyes quite sharp and noses keen and ears tuned very fine.
Accompany the ferrets, they'd search for clue or sign-
But who supplied the brains, we ask, the ferret or canine?
These Dobermans and shepherd dogs-Teutonic but of course-
Would run the camp from dusk to dawn a searching for the source
Of tunnels; new, and Kriegie brew, these fiends had no remorse-
But ne'er our radio they got despite their nosey force.
A story of the Russian camp was heard about the place-
About the Hauptman's valued dog who left without a trace.
At morning call, upon the trash, his collar it did grace-
And see the happy Russians with a smile upon each face.
But Kriegies also tried to spy upon the German troop-
And always made an effort to get one in the soup.
And salting one with chocolate for us was quite a coup
For often such a sorry guard would make the Russian loop.
Now, when Teutonic phrases beyond "Ja," "Nix", und "Raus!"
Required expert knowledge-'twas no Job for simple souse-
The camp would call upon Dick Schrupp-a man who's not a mouse,
To straighten out the Prussian word when spoke within our house.
Another Yank who somehow beat the reaper's final sickle-
Who bored his fighter in the ground-he wound up in a pickle
He fooled the medics of the Reich who wouldn't give a nickel
For his chances to survive, our adjutant McNichol.
The moustache always was the mark of Lieutenant Colonel KIocko
Against the Germans he could give almost impressive socko.
The X committee called on him on duty round the clocko
And when spare time on him was giv'n, the goons he'd surely mocko.
Within each camp there was one man at whom none crane their necks,
Of whom 'tis said his knowledge, goon, our captors much did vex.
We managed all escape attempts and who would break out next-
The one that just a chosen few knew him as Mister X.
Into the camp a padre came-a presbyter quite super.
When taken in by Germans, he was a paratrooper.
His sermons Sunday mornings for our souls a great recouper
Though no one ever thought of him as Mac the party pooper.
And every Sunday morning between morn appeal and eats
You 'd see most Kriegies running-although there were no meets.
The object of these actions-to hear MacDonald's treats
There were a thousand Kriegies and just six hundred seats.
Now Dusty Runner had a band that played the very best.
They were the best in Kriegie land and elsewhere we all guessed.
On trumpet Dusty played most grand-he played without much rest
And tunes he wrote-The Money Blues-for him it was the crest.
A Kriegie by name of Fred Loomis developed great timekeeping care.
He ably repaired Kriegie watches-new springs both the main and the hair.
Results of his timely profession did not many Kriegies cause care-
The time of the day meant but little for we never went anywhere.
Now those bright Kriegies who had got from home a new wristwatch
Through toil or play the crystal clear was ruined by a scratch.
Could get replacement crystal made from tooth brush handles, natch
An option to the wearer-mixed colors or a match.
Now, you could get a Rolex if your family sent a check
To Rolex plant in Switzerland; which bombers did not wreck.
The'd send your watch to Germany where you'd get it, by heck,
This must have been to the Third Reich a big pain in the neck.
Upon the railway station in Sagan one bright day;
A prisoner escapee gained cash in just this way-
To guard he sold his Rolex, his ticket this did pay,
And many other items, for food, clothes, or for play.
A hero in the compound-inspired all in scene,
An engineering Kriegie whose name was Willie Green.
Designed and built from boxes and whatever he could glean,
The thing he would escape in, a fabulous flight machine.
Today Willie is a hero for doing the best that he could.
Except for bad navigation, to England through escape he would.
We think that his work needs rewarding for making it over the wood.
But landing at another compound was far from what we thought he should.
We had a lovely theater where we could see great plays
With girl impersonators that did Kriegies quite amaze-
Who learned to walk with swinging hips-great passions they did raise
And gave some Kriegies sweet, sweet dreams at night and sometimes days.
There was a tailor section within the buildings' rooms
Where Kriegies made for every play the very best costumes.
They made civilian dress for all from boots to feathered plumes-
And oft made clothing for escapes-quite busy were their looms.
Now, when the curtain lifted, we all had fine box seats
Which once had held our red cross packs-converted by great feats
packs-converted by great feats of carpentry by Kriegie hands-though not for encore treats
For Kriegie ends beyond two acts could bear no long repeats.
Now Ed Carmichael's room was in block one twenty five,
And to his room came letters on which most Kriegies thrive
From relatives and friends back home who hoped you're still alive,
And when he had his mail call, his room looked like a hive.
Now letters from the family were very welcome things.
For most folk in the states at home wrote only friendly things
Although a few in letters terse produced, some dreadful stings
From messages that on return they'd wear another's rings.
Among the German Officers, an Aryan believer-
With spit shined boot and light blue coat-the Commandant's retriever-
With quiet voice, a violent word from him was "Ach du lieberi."
He is one goon who did his best so cheers for Hauptman Pieber.
A German Hauptman Officer, Galathovics by name,
Who was a snappy dresser-his major claim to fame.
Responsible for numbers-he ran the counting game-
Who with his own gefreiter got counts that were the same.
Another goon whose manner bright, some Kriegies did appall
Spoke English almost perfectly and always was on call
To spy on us both day and night and e'er did raise our gall
With tales about his life in states did sergeant Hohendahl
And then there was the German guard who during an air raid,
Took bead upon the cookhouse where, inside, the Kriegies stayed.
Me later claimed Miles was outside-this never made the grade-
He killed Miles with a single shot and left us quite dismayed.
THINGS TO Do
The average day in Kriegie life was waking with the sun.
We dressed, washed and to appeal we'd walk though some did run.
We then lined up in ranks of four for counting by the Hun.
The German would approach each block, "Goot Morning, Chentlemunl!"
The unterofficer took the back, Der Kapitan the front.
They'd have to watch all carefully to pick up move or stunt,
For if a member of the troop had made an exeunt'
To cover up his absence would delay the goon man hunt.
Now, when the count had ended, each added up the score.
The two compared their counts in goon, if none were less or more,
"The roll-call's right good gentlemen"-the same occurred at four
And back to barracks we'd then go to eat or sleep and snore.
So many days were spent by us behind the fence of wire
That holidays-red letter days-stood out from mundane mire
Inventiveness and courage were all we did require
To raise morale throughout the camp great antics to inspire.
Awakening early on one morn we all saw quite a sight-
Three Kriegies in Colonial garb, a drummer on the right.
A fifer on the left looked like he'd been in quite a fight,
The center man with bandaged head bore our flag to the light.
Upon the fourth in forty-four there was a monstrous bash.
And chocolate bars and cigarettes were used in place of cash-
For playing games like slap the Jap and hit Germanic trash
with softball thrown at Kriegie's head-who often got backlash.
The goons they offered us parole for Independence Day-
Our brass responded where they'd file this gift for us to play-
For if we did, the goons would get a break for all the day.
To ease the burdens of our guards was not the Kriegie way.
At cards you'd bet your chocolate bars or else a pack of smokes-
With some men who among them cleaned out all the others' pokes.
Concessionaires were all around with food to sell to folks,
And Kriegies stood around in groups to tell Teutonic jokes.
Upon the camp parade ground they held a baseball game.
With Sheriff calling balls and strikes-to him they were the same.
One base for balls that wire passed so guards they wouldn't aim.
For playing in this field at all deserved the hall of fame.
The British in the compound North played at their game of cricket,
Which we could see from compound South through fence that had no picket
We knew not how you played the game, but felt that you could stick it.
And all of us already knew what meant a sticky wicket.
Now o'er the camp one sunny day three airplanes without props,
Flew in a vee, scared you and me, these aircraft were the tops.
They were M.E. two sixty three-our guards did lick their chops
But Adolf liked the one oh nine, thought these new jets were flops.
This was a case where one mad man could wipe out for duration
The military chances of his doomed to failure nation.
For, if unleashed, the squadron of the jets meant ruination;
In allied air headquarters then, there'd never be elation.
Each Kriegie seeing this fly-by-this circus in the air,
Turned to each other with a thought-we ought to tear our hair.
But, other crises we'd survived although not without care,
We did the only thing we could, we turned to God with prayer.
THEY FENCED ME IN
There is a verse I used to know-recall I cannot make-
That said that bars of iron-do not a prison make.
But they sure help when aided by goon boxes, wire like snake,
The warning rail and fences high did raise escapees' stake.
Around our camp a wire ran within the tall barbed fences
Within whose bourn, no one should go if he had all his senses.
The guards could fire at the sight of Kriegie sans defenses-
For if one did step o'er the rail, there'd be no future tenses.
Where fences meet, at corners too, and sometimes in the middle-
The boxes stood with searchlights bright-an architect's bad riddle-
With ladders steep which sapped the breath of guards not fit as fiddle
Who spent the hours of the day in quest of us to diddle.
Now, of one thing all goons alike were dreadfully afraid-
The sound of aircraft engines-in the sky a great parade-
of Fortresses, B twenty fours, with fighters too they made
Our goony guards consider how their sins would be repaid.
For Sagan was to Berlin thirty miles or so Southeast
And when the big blockbuster fell-it was an awful beast-
The Kriegies harkened for a sound to hear the very least,
For each and every one that dropped would length of war decrease.
Now air raids were a mighty aid to Kriegie bad morale,
They'd often pick a goon nearby at whom they'd raise a wail-
"Where ist Herr Goering's Luftwaffe?" the cry rose from the jail-
This cry, though oft repeated was never old or stale.
A Kriegie in an outer room voiced this opinion loud-
The guard in the goon-tower, with smarts not well endowed,
Unloaded his machine gun in the barracks with a cloud,
To all's surprise miraculous-there was no need for shroud.
Another thing made goons decry American virility-
When censor girls outside the camp espied our masculinity,
And sunbaths stopped inside the camp despite our great fertility,
And never thence the censors dreamed of losing lost virginity.
Yet one more thing that pissed goons off was that once in a while
Some Kriegies followed goons in camp-they marched in single file-
And walked in manner like a duck which didn't them beguile
And on occasion guns were aimed that wiped off Kriegie smile.
One well might ask if deeds like this were really infantile,
To risk the life of one and all to make one's fellows smile.
Each little' prank took up guard's time-enough might well compile
An extra airman's time as guard-this made it all worthwhile.
A NECESSARY EVIL
In Yuppieville's throughout our land most folk have septic tanks,
Which bring to mind an earthy task affecting all our ranks.
You put stuff in until they're full and then like money banks-
A man withdraws to create room-this man deserves our thanks.
Within the compound at the camp there was no public sewer.
Between two buildings stood a shack, eight seats, and sometimes fewer.
'Twas no place for philosophy, but rather for the doer,
And when near full a honey truck would be a sight for viewer.
The honeywagon driver is hardly fit to greet.
His uniform of rubber boots and coveralls complete
With filth and grime and pole in hand pushed through each toilet seat-
The other hand-did, firmly grasp his lunch which he did eat.
At Stalag Three the truck was drawn by aged, swaybacked horse.
Who had a following in the camp of Kriegies but of course,
For movements on the fly they caught and never with remorse
And rushed them-to their-gardens-tomato plants to force.
The truck 'had western wagon wheels, 'twas painted Nazi green,
With hose about four inches wide, it pumped out the obscene.
A cover at the middle top gave access, tank to clean.
'Tis 'said ''twas used by Kriegie, to leave the Stalag scene.
When, later on at Moosberg, the wagon was a truck,
No horse, instead a motor, removed the horrid muck.
But, yet, the driver's hygiene, would make most folk
In driving such a vehicle he oft abused his luck.
For honeywagon driving can be a risky sport-
For from the air a fuel truck en route to tank or fort,
Can look close to the honey truck 'til distance is too short
And bombs have been already dropped and no one can abort.
And so one day in Moosberg in nineteen forty five
A fifty one lone mustang our honey truck did strive
To bomb it in the middle-forever stop its drive-
The bomb went off, the contents flew, the driver made a dive.
The goons then filed a protest with the protecting power.
A new truck was delivered by the grace of Eisenhower
But drivers still, when with a load, did quiver and did cower
In fear of fighter aircraft and the resultant shower.
Because of this vile action the prison camp's goon boss
Informed the allied forces that any future loss
Would hurt all Kriegies' comfort so to avoid bomb toss
The newest truck was painted white and wore a huge red cross.
Now while we waited for this truck the johns did overflow
The camp was full as were the tanks-our sewage was our foe.
A protest staged at roll call time would make them really know
How we objected to this state-for Kriegie health a blow.
The reference to Moosburg is slightly out of sequence
For this the poet of this work will do the needed penance.
To keep all words of wisdom of the honey truck performance
In one place In this epic work was 'most beyond endurance.
What happened in the next few months almost defies belief.
A period of prison life that brought to some great grief
There was some hope 'ere Christmas time we'd surely get relief-
But as you'll see Teutonic thought stole this hope like a thief.
A WALK IN THE WOODS
How did we get to Moosburg from Sagan's sunny land?
Will ever be a question-it's hard to understand
But since the order of this ode is not completely grand,
We'll retrogress a little bit to smooth times wrinkled sand.
For everyone from Kriegieland forever will recall
What happened in mid-winter time when lots of snow did fall-
The play "You Can't Take It Along" was showing in the hall,
When word was given-we'd be gone-we'd walk out one and all.
The Russians were advancing-we'd hear the welcome guns-
For Kriegie regulations said to leave us on our buns.
We dug our own slit trenches-so happy to dig tons,
Till we were told they'd move us out-those dirty rotten Huns.
'Tis said they took a survey within the happy ward-
To see if we would rather cut loose our German cord
And trust the Russian mercy-we must be off our gourd
This was asked of flakked up men who should have met a board!
Now all us normal Kriegies were not allowed to vote.
Results of course were obvious as you will shortly note-
The goons gave orders to move out-you'd better wear a coat.
And into some container-all life support to tote.
To make the march with goods in hand without a bag or pack
The Kriegies organized the things they 'd tote upon the back.
Some extra pants, were tailored to accept this worldly stack,
And blankets sewn into a bag which was the sleeping sack.
The parable of virgins who knew not of the time-
Was followed by some Kriegies-who in this wintry clime
Were best prepared for marching with pack and rations prime-
You'd never guess that 'midst them there was not a single dime.
Once all was packed within each room, there was a monstrous bash.
For what we couldn't take along, we cooked or turned to ash.
Some made out notes or I 0 Us which someday would be cash,
And bought some things to take along which might be someone's trash.
At low of night. they called us out, and lined us up with pack.
The moon at zenith gave the light to start upon our track.
We bid farewell to Sagan walls, to which we'd ne'er be back,
And through the gate, away we went, nostalgia none did lack.
And off went south camp prisoners-they were a motley bunch-
Upon fresh snow with cold so deep each footstep was a crunch.
And guards and prisoners alike did feel the wintry punch-
As through. the night, the next day too, without a stop for lunch.
A fear possessed some Kriegies-that this our death would be-
Who visioned like Corregidor the end just few would see.
They overlooked the simple thing-Geneva covered we-
Despite their many horrid faults, to this they did agree.
We started out and sang a song, I think the railroad song.
As thousands of cold Kriegies-they were a motley throng-
For no two men were dressed alike, to what did they belong?
And at the start of this dread march we knew we must be strong.
We marched o'erhill, we marched o'er dale-we sang out doleful tunes.
We passed civilian refugees who fled the red dragoons.
The food that each one carried was worth bright gold doubloons
And most folk ate with fingers for they had no time for spoons.
And as we passed a wagon where there lay a little child-
Who wept from cold and hunger on this night so dark and wild-
A Kriegie threw a can of Klim-the mother gently smiled-
This Kriegie's love for innocents could never be defiled.
There is one thing that on the march it seemed we'd never stop.
Both guards and prisoners alike-from private to the top.
To turn the white snow yellow-it became a frozen slop.
And next year rutabagas would be a healthy crop.
And every time we rested, out came a pack of smokes.
In those days surgeon general gave warning to no folks.
No threat of kidney failure, bad heart or many strokes,
We even spoke unto our guards and told off color-jokes.
A man who jogged each day in camp, to exercise addicted
While toiling up a snowy hill, with cramps he was inflicted,
Into a pile of aching limbs, the goons thought him afflicted.
They put him in a sled they had for guards and those restricted.
Our guards were all quite older than the Kriegies all around,
And each one at the resting breaks fell flat upon the ground.
And at these breaks, despite their aches, some would have a hound
Which we would feed when e'er we could with tidbits that we found.
The feeding of these dogs, to us, a future to invest,
We spoiled the canine tendency to bite the Yankee guest.
We hoped to dull its senses to pursue in future quest,
And when the Germans saw this, they were indeed distressed.
Now after long days' marches, we stopped for several days
In Muskau in Silesia to let our spirits raise.
To rest our guards and canine friends, who too, were in a daze.
This was a stop all needed, lest captor and slave craze.
We slept in barns, in factories depleted by the war.
We slept on hay when there was some, but mostly on the floor-
Until, at last, a promised train-quite primitive-no more-
And we'd be loaded into it-each car for several score.
There's good news and there's bad news in most things that we do
The good was that we'd get a train, a thing we didn't rue,
The bad was we'd walk miles and miles before next day was through.
All volunteered to take this hike except the ailing few.
It was another day, quite sharp, at six or thereabout,
We started down along the road, and then cross country route.
Until beyond a crest we saw a city of the kraut
The sign said Spemberg 6 more K which made us sing and shout.
We sat awhile in Spemberg, where Germans trained for war.
They marched in tight formation, their feet did not seem sore.
They sang the marching lieder, from memory, not score,
And gave us the impression that they'd soon be in the fore.
KRIEGSGEFANGENEN CHOO CHOO
But while at Speirberg where the train was fitted for our trip,
Three cans of sludge were set for us-so hot they'd scald the lip-
But barley soup could give the strength to give the goons the slip.
So eat we must and eat we did, despite the stomach flip.
They herded us to boxcars and made us climb aboard-
A hundred Kriegies at a time, with baggage tightly stored.
Each car designed for forty men-again the goons had scored-
They claimed that this was all we'd get, no more could they afford.
Within one car of Kriegies was quite a contraband-
A German guard's own rifle-one part to every hand.
Each Kriegie had a bolt or stock-the goons had not us scanned,
The owner pled, unless recouped, in front of guns he'd stand.
This guard had been quite fair to all, so they put his gun together.
Although within the car were some, agreed not altogether.
But most men claimed it would be found, to them there was no whether.
They gave it to the fearful guard, and saved him from world, nether.
We all took turns at lying down-a space was saved for that-
The rest of us just stood although some intertwined they sat.
Except for cracks in wall or door and where did meet the slat,
We could not tell the time of day or wherever we were at.
The engine, steam, that pulled the train, those days black coal did burn,
To Kriegies armed with Nescafe' was quite a coffee urn.
The engineer hot water gave to those who this did learn-
Though not too hot the additives did make the stomach churn.
The second day that we were out the train stopped near a field,
And we were freed to squat and go, good fertilize we'd yield.
But after a few minutes the goons their guns did wield
And back into the cattle cars since we could wield no shield.
Men talked about the risk we took during this stop for rest.
Since Royal Airmen, in a field, by Nazis, burliest,
By guns, machine, were all cut down, this made some feel distressed,
But none were hurt as back to cars, to this I can attest.
We rode for two more nights and planned to make one more escape.
With trapdoors cut from cars of wood-the first those in best shape.
But we, alas, had reached the camp-the goons did stare and gape
At Kriegies busting out of trains into new camp's gate.
OUR NEW HOME
We were deloused outside the camp and treated to a shower.
This was thought well of by most folk who smelled not like a flower.
We saw some Russian prisoners nearby the camp's front tower,
And French poilus in goon employ, who to goons did not cower
A task was then presented to test the Kriegie means-
To clean up cakes of human waste we found in the latrines.
And then in tents-the circus type, 'twas not like village greens-
We put-our gear, such as it was, and slept and heated beans.
A Colonel from the infantry did come into the camp
And did more than the Germans did to make some spirits damp.
Me said that a U S Officer should ne'er look like a tramp.
Me threatened to inspect the troops and put some on the ramp.
To cook with gas was one sure thing that made each in man a yearner.
Soon Russian troops from camp next door became in stealth sojourner
For cigarettes of capital soon proved an avid learner
And thus the Kriegie soon did buy from them the Kriegie burner.
There were two types of burners that the Kriegies daily used.
The first, a static burner stove, the simplest one produced.
The second had a blower which did lots of heat effuse
Unto the stove part where-you'd see-cold food to hot transfuse.
You'd see average prisoner develop a low-squat
While feeding twigs and wooden bits to make a flame quite hot
And thus brew tea or coffee black within a cup or pot
And breathe in fumes and smoke and dust until his lungs were shot.
Each early morn at Moosberg, obscured was the horizon
By smoke from Kriegie burners-with soot and smoke arisin'.
The purity of German air was one thing none- relied on.
We should have had one central stove where breakfast could be fried on.
This Kriegie to the hospital went with badly frozen feet.
The medics fixed the toes-a grand view of fresh meat-
They saved my anaesthetic-and made my day complete
By pouring fluids over me that almost caused stained sheet.
"Why to me, did you do that?" I asked as they did bandage.
They said that not like Russkies-my pain they thought I'd manage
No anesthetics could they get, no matter what the carnage-
So they would cheat and give them mine-it gave them slight advantage.
The talks within the private ward-we'd more than twenty three-
Involved the standard Kriegie talk of when we would be free.
We'd Ruskie Sanitators to whom we paid a fee
Of cigarettes and chocolate bars-our servants then they'd be.
'Twas true for all within the ward, it mattered not what rank.
The Russians ne'er objected, although some tasks surely stank,
For they had better treatment and they had no chains to clank,
But this once hurting Kriegie does owe them quite a thank.
But while in a ward I rested I 'd like to add this thought-
There was a German surgeon with kindness who was fraught.
Ability and skills he had-could be surpassed by naught
He was their finest officer I'd seen since I was caught.
A train was strafed as it passed by the little Moosberg town.
And wounded to the camp were brought-this raised on some a frown.
The Russkies smiled and laughed aloud as rudely they did clown.
'Twould be their retribution when Nazis were put down.
The goons once tried recruiting to man the eastern front
To fight the dirty Bolsheviks-the goons would bear the brunt-
To save our civilization-a goal we both should hunt.
However, Kriegies to a man thought this a stupid stunt.
So soon they had forgotten what they had said before-
With claims of gangster warfare and murders by the score
But yet they claimed they'd trust us if the Russian lines we tore-
But told us not how reason would haunt us evermore.
A WALK IN THE SUN
While resting thus at Moosburg, two Kriegies broke the tape-
They did upset the commandant by making their escape.
Who first was told by wire and not the vine of grape-
That there they were in Switzerland and in the best of shape.
The commandant would not believe escape by either name.
He called in dogs to search them out-He'd foil their vengeful game.
Me had appels from morn til night-things never were the same.
For to Teutonic folk like him this was a cause for shame.
So when it came to roll call time the muster ground was bare.
The goons took notice of the fact, how could those Kriegies dare
To show no fear of the Third Reich, of Aryans quite fair.
And so with guns and canines too and German words of swear.
The doggies roamed throughout each block and caused alarm and fright,
And if they found a Kriegie there they'd gladly take a bite.
The guards that brought the dogs to camp smiled at the sorry sight.
For deeds of greater wrong by goons were very hard to cite.
No matter how the doggies sniffed they couldn't find a trace
Of either of escapees-some goon would fall from grace.
The commandant felt such a loss would be more than just face
And so refused to understand how they had left his place.
But then a wire came to him from out of land of Swiss
That said two Yank escapees had reached his land of bliss.
Me told him so that his appels no more these men would miss.
The commandant felt this would be to him from death a kiss.
THE DAY OF RECKONING
And then in April guns were heard-the SS ran in rings.
The U S fourteenth armored corps made every Kriegie sing.
The Stars and Stripes did fly above-each man felt like a king
And soon from food to sex our thoughts did gradually swing.
The fourteenth armored cars came down the main street of the camp
Two brothers reunited, MacCracken was their stamp.
While officers were smiling-a sergeant's eyes were damp-
More brothers, two, MacCrackens too, were in each others clamp
Then came a time for Kriegies all- 'twas true for all our types.
A moment silent, then a cheer-there weren't any gripes.
"Say can you see" this song burst forth from 'most all Kriegie pipes
As from a tower in the town appeared the Stars and Stripes.
A proper bash was then prepared for this august occasion
Although in April it was held our final liberation
Graham crackers-chocolate pies-a Kriegie celebration
When tasted by a press type man-spit forth this prize creation.
A general came to visit us-he didn't give his name
Two ivory handled thirty eights told of this man's great fame.
Saluting us, the prisoners, now, none of us felt shame.
We all would gladly follow him, no matter what the game.
A truck with doughnuts came to camp which almost caused disaster,
For eating doughnuts was one thing that Kriegies could do faster,
And all those sinkers cooked in fat were more than most could master
No stomach pumps or drugs were there, not even mustard plaster.
A DAY TO REMEMBER
What was it like, that April day, when freedom came at last-
To each and every Kriegie when Old Glory took the mast-
The sun shown bright on star and stripe, unseen for eons past,
As from each man joy's tears did flow while Germans stood aghast.
Although no pitching note was heard, there rose from every throat
The one song that each prisoner gave his the highest vote.
When through the trees our flag was seen, each Kriegie heart was smote-
"Oh say" our anthem started out-the greatest words e'er wrote.
The morning light was almost past for it was almost noon-
But to those in the prison camp, it dawned like in the tune.
We proudly hailed our risen flag, which waved through afternoon.
Surviving shells which split the air, it still waved the next forenoon.
Now, one thing that each prisoner in Moosburg camp did crave,
A quick return unto that land where it would always wave.
Though in those precious moments, a memory I save,
That at that time it proudly flew over the free and brave.
Each time I see the burning or the misuse of our flag,
I know they have no knowledge of the cost, although they brag
Of how they stand for freedom though they treat it like a rag,
Protected by America, elsewhere they'd have a gag.
Upon our liberation our roles became reversed-
Our guards were now the Kriegies who in hunger and in thirst
Demanded Red Cross Parcels for the goon food was the worst-
Were told when Berlin sent some out they would receive the first.
So after liberation we went out through the front gate
To see the neighbor countryside which oft on us did grate.
The first thing that we all could see-a cheese works but please wait
It wasn't cheese that they turned out-they all worked for the state.
Accessories for messerschmits were built and put together.
Like fuel controls and instruments for flight in any weather.
The red cross painted on the roof 1 they felt in cap a feather-
That would keep bombers off of it-keep safe all in its tether.
Command of Yankee forces from dawn til after dark,
Fell to the senior officer-to one who'd make his mark.
However all the top most brass to France went for a lark
And left our camp direction to good old Colonel Clark.
At Stalag Three the prisoners did often bitch and mope
About their lives, their aeroplanes and all within their scope.
But one thing always comes to mind when life is hard to cope-
And that is just like yesteryear you never give up hope
In criticizing Germany from o'er Teutonic maps
is one overriding thought to keep within our caps-
And that is how much worse 'twould be despite fate's nasty slaps
If prisoners of war we had been taken by the Japs.
So any time you feel the urge to curse Adolf's third Reich-
Before you castigate them more, be sure and take a hike
To library or other source to learn what it was like
With Japanese instead of goons who off men's heads did strike.
The years go by so rapidly that we fall out of touch
With roommates from the olden days who shared with us so much
From cooking meals and cleaning house and getting into Dutch-
And strolls through wintry Germany, of parcels, half, and such.
And so in southern Texas a group was formed to tell
The story of the prison camp in which they had to dwell-
To show that General Sherman's mind was clear as any bell
There's very little glory and an awful lot of hell.
And in this group we got to talk to men from other wars
We'd often meet another man whose story never bores
Who'd been a hundred yards from us within Germanic shores
Once wire kept us far apart-we now have common cores.
Like Weinberg in the center camp was just across the wire-
Whose capture by the Hitler youth could thriller tales inspire.
Of little Nazi bastards who rose up from the mire
To threaten Robert's life and limb and future to be sire.
Now why we mention Weinberg in this portion of the ode
Is that in years beyond the war he's carried quite a load
Of work to keep us all in touch with notes to each abode
Of memoirs of the roughest ride that most of us have rode.
Another man without whom this group could not keep up.
Who once spoke fluent German-could brew a fancy cup.
Who lived across the hall from me within the land of Krupp
And he of course is no one less than good old Richard Schrupp.
And yet a most important type, to whom none held a candle
Recorded South Camp Kriegie life-Clipped Wings was his book's handle.
With pilot wings with one shorn short to him the Kriegie symbol
We raise a toast for memoirs writ and edited by Kimball.
When Kriegie groups together get an outside benefactor
Makes life a bit more pleasanter-of gloom a counteracter
The drawings financed for us all gave memoirs a good factor
But from his product, Coors by name, there'll ne'er be a detractor.
And if I've bored you with this work-I couldn't write in prose,
Remember many years have passed since I was held by foes.
Remember many missing men-do not their records close.
Remember freedom is so dear that we must never doze.