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D-Day from a different view

German POWs

On 6 June 1944, Milton Roger Sosin, a seasoned reporter, took a ride up the south shore of Lake Okeechobee, Florida.  Overnight, the long anticipated invasion of Europe had begun.

The Miami Daily News was in search of local reactions from people in Florida – Sosin was assigned to talk to Germans.  Not German-Americans, and some weren’t too far away.

Milton Sosin, Miami Herald reporter

In May of 1943, Allied forces had begun to ship German POWs to the United States, more than 9,000 were sent to Florida’s 22 prisoner of war camps.  Near Clewiston, FL, was Liberty Point and Sosin was on his way.

On that warm day, he drove up U,S. 27, past pastures and farm land.  When he got to Liberty Point, prisoners were marching in from the fields, in formation, their shovels slung over their shoulders like rifles.

The draft had decimated the American labor force and disrupted the usual flow of Caribbean workers, so the Germans were put to work planting and harvesting sugar cane.

The Germans were happy to talk.  Yes, they had heard of the invasion, on radios the camp commander had bought them from what they earned running a canteen at the camp.  Enough of the POWs spoke English to translate the broadcasts to the rest.

June 1944 Headlines

The POWs told Sosin the reports were propaganda.  Germany, they said, surely would prevail.  Sosin’s story headline read, “Arrogant Nazis still laud Hitler.  Der Fuehrer’s Forces Think Germany Will Win The War.”

Sosin described the prisoners as “jaunty, confident and arrogant members of Der Fuerhrer’s forces – not cowed and beaten soldiers of a nation being pushed into a tighter and tighter circle.”

But their Glade home was no picnic for the fair-skinned men.  When the American Red Cross showed up, the temperature was 103°F and it had not rained for 6 months.  Prisoners worked long, hard hours, but the Americans could feel no sympathy for them – they knew what U.S. POWs in Germany were going through.

German prisoner buys candy at the canteen

The prisoners were paid 80 cents a day in coupons which they traded for cigarettes and beer.  Barracks held 6-men each and had mosquito netting.  They were served the same meals as their American camp guards.  Nearly 300 POWs fished in the local canals, saw films twice a week and assembled a band using instruments bought with their canteen money.

German POWs play chess

Prisoners had newspapers, took educational courses, played soccer and volley ball at a nearby school and competed against a local softball team.  But when the POWs went on strike whining over a cigarette ration cut – the army handed down a “No Work – NO Eat.” policy.

The prisoner’s had a social structure loosely split among the elite Afrika Korps captured in 1942; troops in Italy ’43-’44; and those captured after D-Day.  The Afrika Korps officers refused to believe what the new arrivals reported about the Normandy beaches and believed they were spies trying to demoralize them.  The korps prisoners would lord over the other POWs, doling out discipline and punishments.

Escaped German POW

Some tried to escape, but Florida was not the easiest place to go on the lam.  Most did not go very far.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ralph Brown – Maori Hill, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 424421, WWII

Paul ‘Bud’ Erlacher Jr. – Milford, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt. Medical Corps

Lee Holstein – Laguna Woods, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

Durwood Johnson – Cravens, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail-gunner

John Knaur – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, steamfitter, USS Amycus

Jack Maddox (100) – GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, crew chief, 62 FS/56FG/8th Air Force

Newton Nelson – River Falls, WI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Harry Siria – Thompson Falls, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, fire ship

Otho ‘Coke’ Wiseman – NM; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Elvin Zipf – Pompton Plains, NJ; US Navy, WWII, air corps

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Home Front – Missouri POW’s

The main camps supported a number of branch camps, which were used to put POWs where their labor could be best utilized.

As author David Fiedler explained in his book “The Enemy Among Us: POWs in Missouri During World War II,” the state was once home to more than 15,000 German and Italian prisoners of war (POW).

Many of the camps where they were held have faded into distant memory as little evidence remains of their existence; however, one local resident has a relic from a former POW camp that provides an enduring connection to the service of a departed relative.

“Established at Weingarten, a sleepy little town on State Highway 32 between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Missouri, (Camp Weingarten) had no pre-war existence,” wrote Fiedler. The author further explained, “The camp was enlarged to the point that some 5,800 POWs could be held there, and approximately 380 buildings of all types would be constructed on an expanded 950-acre site.”

Camp Weingarten quickly grew into a sprawling facility to house Italian POWs brought to the United States and, explained Jefferson City resident Carolyn McDowell, was the site where one of her uncles spent his entire period of service with the U.S. Army in World War II.

Working POWs earned 80 cents a day and could buy beer at the canteens.

“My mother’s brother, Dwight Hafford Taylor, was raised in the community of Alton in southern Missouri,” said McDowell. “His hometown really wasn’t all that far from Camp Weingarten,” she added.

Although her uncle passed away in 1970, records accessed through the National Archives and Records Administration indicate he was drafted into the U.S. Army and entered service at Jefferson Barracks on November 10, 1942.  After completing his initial training, he was designated as infantry and became a clerk with the 201st Infantry Regiment.

Shortly after Taylor received assignment to Camp Weingarten, Italian prisoners of war began to arrive at the camp in May 1943. Despite the challenges of overseeing the internment of former enemy soldiers, the camp experienced few security incidents and conditions remained rather cordial, in part due to the sustenance given the prisoners.

There were four main base camps, each holding between 2,000 and 5,000 POWs.

It was noted that many of the Italians were “semi-emaciated” when arriving in the United States because of a poor diet. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 23, 1943, that the prisoners at Camp Weingarten soon “put on weight” by eating a “daily menu … superior to that of the average civilian.”

Pfc. Taylor and his fellow soldiers, most of whom were assigned to military police companies, maintained a busy schedule of guarding the prisoners held in the camp, but also received opportunities to take leave from their duties and visit their loved ones back home.

“During one of my uncle’s visits back to Alton, he asked his mother for an aluminum pie pan,” said McDowell. “He then took it back to camp with him and that’s when he gave it to one of the Italian POWs.”

Cigarette case cover

When returning to camp, one of the POWs with whom Taylor had established a friendship was given the pie pan and used it to demonstrate his abilities as an artist and a craftsman by fashioning it into a cigarette case. The case not only had a specially crafted latching mechanism, but was also etched with an emblem of an eagle on the cover with barracks buildings and a guard tower from the camp inscribed upon the inside.

“My uncle then gave the cigarette case as a gift to my father, who was living in Jefferson City at the time and working as superintendent of the tobacco factory inside the Missouri State Penitentiary,” stated McDowell. “It is a beautifully crafted cigarette case, but the irony of it all is that my father never smoked,” she jokingly added.

Inside of the case.

As McDowell went on to explain, her uncle remained at Camp Weingarten until his discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1944. The following October, the former POW camp was closed and many of the buildings were dismantled, shipped and reassembled as housing for student veterans at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In the years after the war, McDowell said, her mother kept the cigarette case tucked away in a chest of drawers but since both of her parents have passed, she now believes the historical item should be on display in a museum.

Italian POWs

Little remains of the once sprawling POW camp located approximately 90 miles south of St. Louis, with the exception of a stone fireplace that was part of the Officer’s Club.  McDowell notes the cigarette case is not only a beautiful piece that serves as a link to the past, but represents a story to be shared of the state’s rich military legacy.

“I will someday donate the cigarette case to a museum for preservation and display, and I believe my brother, Harold McDowell, would agree. However, I want to ensure it is recognized for the treasure that it is and it is not simply thrown away,” said McDowell. “That’s why I want to tell the story of its creation … its history, so that its association to Camp Weingarten is never forgotten.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Wishing all in New Zealand a memorable Maori New Year!

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bealle – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot

Percival Blows (100) – Summerset Karaka, NZ; RNZ Army #20590, WWII, 21st Battalion

David Chappell – Pueblo, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

Murray Fromson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Stars and Stripes journalist

Robert Greer – Stanford, KY; US Army, 11th A/B & 82nd A/B Divisions

Melvin Korman – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

L.G. ‘Butch’ Lemons – Phoenix, AZ; USMC, WWII, SSgt.

Donald McIntyre – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 388853, WWII, Maj. (Ret.), 7th Rajput Reg, So. Lancaster Reg.,Royal West African Frontier Force Intelligence Corps

John Strouf – Altoona, IA; US Army, WWII

Byron Wrenn – St. Helens, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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Eye Witness Account – Magic on the Burma Railroad

‘One day, the Japanese camp commandant said he had generals coming to visit and that he wanted me to do some magic. He asked what I would need for a trick. I requested an egg. He wrote out a chitty and told me to take it to the cook house. The cook asked me how many I wanted, so I asked for 50. I went straight back to the hut and we had a 49-egg omelette, saving just one for the trick.

Egg-shaped: Fergus Anckorn with the secret of his success

Gus Anckorn 7.egg-trick today

Gus Anckorn
7.egg-trick today

After the war, as a lecturer in subjects including English and economics at West Kent College, Fergus often pepped up his lessons with anecdotes about his extraordinary wartime survival. Now 92, he has decided to record everything in a new book, Captivity, Slavery And Survival As A Far East POW.

‘At the prison camp that night I did the trick for the generals and it all went very well,’ he says.

‘But the next day I was summoned to the commandant’s hut. He was glowering. The chitty was on his desk. He said, ‘You do magic one egg. Where 49 eggs?’ I thought, in ten seconds my head will be rolling across that floor.

‘Out of my mouth came the words, ‘Your trick was so important to me, I was rehearsing all day.’ He nodded and let me go. I couldn’t perform that trick again for 40 years. My knees would knock together even thinking about it.’

FERGUS ANCKORN. With the nurse he married.

FERGUS ANCKORN.
With Lucille, the nurse he married.

 

The Japanese wanted to know how the trick was done, so Fergus showed the commandant how he made a hole in the back of a second eggshell into which he dextrously stuffed the handkerchief. The hollow egg is switched for an intact egg, which is cracked on a bowl, and out plops – not a handkerchief – but yolk and albumen.

Fergus and his twin sister were born in Dunton Green, Kent, in December 1918. Fergus’s father, Wilfred, a writer on The Hotspur, and his mother, Beatrice, instilled in him the moral code of decency, honesty and kindness that helped him survive the war.

On Fergus’s fifth birthday his father gave him a box of magic tricks and he became hooked on the expressions of amazement his family would feign at his childish conjuring. But as Fergus practised, this wonder became genuine and, at the age of 18, he was admitted to the Magic Circle.  ‘For about five years I was the youngest member and now I am the oldest,’ says Fergus. ‘I have joined the Inner Circle of 150 members.’ 

When war was declared in 1939, Fergus joined the Army.

He served in the 118th Field Regiment Royal Artillery and spent the first two years in Britain, preparing to fight a Nazi invasion.  While stationed in Woolwich, South-East London, he contracted pharyngitis and met the love of his life, a pretty, bespectacled nurse called Lucille.

‘I was lying in a ward for two months,’ he recalls. ‘One day, the fellow in the next bed asked if I was engaged. I said, “Good God, no. I haven’t got time for women.” And then Lucille walked into the ward. I quickly added that if I ever did get married, it would be to her.  ‘Lucille and I hit it off straight away. I used to go and talk to her when she was in the sluice cleaning out the bedpans – very romantic.’ 

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Fergus found himself heading to the Far East instead. Just before they departed, the colonel of Fergus’s regiment gave him the then huge sum of £30 to buy magic props, declaring: ‘You’re the only man we’ve got to entertain the troops.’

POWs working on the Thailand/Burma Railroad.

POWs working on the Thailand/Burma Railroad.

 

But on arrival, it was the enemy who were full of surprises. ‘We arrived in Singapore 15 days before it fell,’ says Fergus. ‘My war lasted five days.’  On Friday, February 13, 1942, Gunner Anckorn was driving an armoured lorry just outside Singapore when 27 Japanese bombers swooped out of the sky. ‘There were so many of them, there was no escape,’ he says.

By the time the bombing stopped Fergus had taken a severe blow to the head, his right hand was hanging off and he had a bullet in the back of his left knee. He was found in a ditch and taken to a field hospital, where a surgeon told Fergus his damaged hand would have to be amputated. 

Luckily, when an orderly came round to administer ether he recognized Fergus and cried: ‘You can’t cut his hand off, Sir, he’s our conjuror and a bloody brilliant one, too!’

The next day Fergus woke up in the Alexandra Military Hospital to find he still had his hand but that the hospital had been taken over by the Japanese, who were taking away the staff and shooting them.

From the Daily Mail. co. uk

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Military Humor –

article-2169177-13EF191F000005DC-287_306x466

Well, I didn’t read it myself, but my mate knows a bloke who got a mate that’s a mess orderly and he knows a bloke on P party who says…….

 

 

buck.jpg from Muscleheaded

Courtesy of Chris, from Muscleheaded.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charlie Aldridge – Olive Branch, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal

Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal

Stanley Atkins – Fort Lee, NJ; US Army, WWII, Africa & CBI, Bronze Star

William Baldwin – Stroudsburg, PA; US Navy, WWII,PTO, USS Batfish & Bass

Angelo DeRosa – Toms River, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Mary Dunne – Milford, CT; US Army WAC Nurse Corps, WWII, CBI, 159th Sta. Hosp & 181st Gen. Hosp.

Earl Hayes – San Jose, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, P-47 pilot

William Kast – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunnery officer

Duane Oberlin – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army, WWII, CBI

Donald Peck – Tampa, FL; US Army, WWII, CBI, Bronze Star

Peter Zaharko Sr. – Brooklyn, NY & Delray Bch, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 68th Air Service Group, Sgt. Major

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Former U.S. POWs Visit Japan

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On 12 October 2015, 9 US former prisoners of war returned to Japan for a Memorial Service – 

View their 2 minute video Here!

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nine former American servicemen who were held as prisoners during World War II were in Japan on Monday to revisit some of the places where they were held seven decades ago and recount their memories.

The men, all in their 90s, opened their tour with a memorial service for their fellow fallen soldiers at the Commonwealth War Graves in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

As they marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the emphasis was on reconciliation.

George Rogers, of Lynchburg, Va., said he had no hard feelings. Now 96, he was taken captive by the Japanese after surviving the infamous Bataan Death March in April 1942 and forced to work at the Yawata steel plant in southern Japan, or today’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.

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During his nearly 3 1/2 years of captivity, Rogers was given meager food rations and sometimes beaten.

He said that he was lucky to survive, but that he harbored “no hard feelings” toward his captors.

“Just like we do what we’re told to do as far as the Army is concerned, your (Japanese) men do the same thing. They tell them to do it, they do it,” he said. “Other than that, I think we lived.”

A month after Japan’s Aug. 15, 1945, surrender, Rogers returned to the U.S. in skin-and-bone state, weighing only 85 pounds (38 kilograms) despite being 6-foot-3. His doctor told him — he was 26 then — that he would most likely not live past 45 or 50, keep his teeth or have children.

Rogers still has his teeth, and has five children. One of them, Jeffrey, accompanied him on his trip to Japan.

“They didn’t give me any food, and I didn’t get much water when I needed it, but other than that, it was a long trip, very far,” he said.

His hope to revisit the steel plant wasn’t accommodated. The Yawata plant was chosen as a World Heritage site.

William Chittenden, Carl Dyer & Joseph Demott. 3 of the 9 former Pow's at the Commonwealth War Graves, 12 Oct. 2015

William Chittenden, Carl Dyer & Joseph Demott. 3 of the 9 former Pow’s at the Commonwealth War Graves, 12 Oct. 2015

During the Bataan march, thousands of prisoners were forced to walk more than 60 miles under severe, sweltering conditions while being abused by their captors. Many died.

Historians say some 30,000 Allied force members were held as prisoners in Japan during World War II.

At Monday’s memorial service, the nine veterans, assisted by their family members and U.S. servicemembers, laid flowers for their fellow countrymen who perished while in captivity.

The participants, visiting Japan at the invitation of the Foreign Ministry under a program for reconciliation that started five years ago, are scheduled to visit some former camp sites, including Osaka, Yokohama and Kamioka, central Japan.

Japan has similar programs with Australia and Britain. Many former POWs still harbor hard feelings because of harsh treatment by the Japanese.

It took 94-year old Arthur Gruenberg, from Camano Island, Wash., 70 years to come back. The former Marine surrendered at Corregidor, Philippines, in May 1942, and was eventually shipped to a Fukuoka mine in southern Japan. By then he was blind in one eye due to vitamin A deficiency.

Gruenberg said he was simply impressed by Japan’s postwar development and hoped it remains a peace-loving nation.

“Everything is just amazing, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I can’t say it (my feelings) has changed much, I just hope we don’t have any more wars.”

Article from “Stars and Stripes.”

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Military Humor – 

SadSack37

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alan Brecht – Canberra, AUS; RA Navy, Commodore

Thomas Campbell – Beaumont, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Don Edwards – San Jose, CA; US Navy, WWII228685_214560631902034_100000442955388_742352_2701778_n

Quin Johnson-Harris – Milwaukee, WI; US Air Force, Afghanistan

Robert McCombe – Whangamata, NZ; RNZ Army # 056196, WWII, Hawkes Bay Regiment

Sam Ozaki – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

Charles Ragland – Bethesda, MD; US Army Lt., Vietnam, Siver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Josephine Stetson – NYC, NY; US Army civilian employee & USO, WWII

Steve Theobald – Goose Creek, SC; US Army, Iraq, SSgt.

Marvin Voltech – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO

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