179th Infantry Regiment Crest, 45th Infantry Division, Second Worldwar

Cpl Ray J. Sherman
Part Two

179th Infantry Regiment Crest, 45th Infantry Division, Second Worldwar
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Ray Sherman's Recollections and Diary
Part Two

Back To Part One

Edited by Eric Rieth

May 1944


Transit Camp at Laterina Continued

May 1, 1944

We had Italian mess kits issued last Saturday. I ate my last extra bread ration from my shoe trade. We had three on a four- man loaf today. Washed some old wool sock tops and did some knitting, made two handkerchiefs and picked lice; an every day ritual.

May 4, 1944

(Illegible notes again) ---- last night. Cooked part of my bread ration. Mixed it with the soup. Made it nice and thick. I tried to sell shoes yesterday. Am now knitting on the heel of sock. Lots of rumors about shipment. They have put up a loudspeaker. We heard German news broadcast plus music and picked lice.

May 5, 1944

I traded a fountain pen (ninety-five cents at Patrick Henry) to Russians for a bread ration today. Traded tobacco for bread, oleo and jam. Exchanged shirts and got two leaves of tobacco. Traded them for one half-bread ration and butter and canteen cup of thick soup. Exchanged a combat pack for one with three small holes, which I patched and traded for a tobacco and butter and jam ration. I gave Zollner my bread ration today for his bread, butter and jam ration tomorrow.

Soups consist of seasoned vegetables, mostly leafy lettuce, spinach, sliced radishes, onions and a bit of barley and lots of water and a bit of bully beef with flour for thickening.

May 6, 1944

I traded my Eversharp to the Russians for two leaves of tobacco, two sugar, one butter and jam ration. Made a sweet pudding of two sugar, one butter and one jam and one half-bread ration. Small sugar ration of approximate one tablespoon was made today. I made a candy of two sugar, one butter and three jams, but I didn't boil it long enough.

May 7, 1944

Got on an inside work detail today. Got two extra soups plus butter, jam and cheese with bread today. I finished my first sock. Attended services outside search hall this evening. Mother's Day today. A few days ago I had a feeling that Grandma Lange had passed away. (She hadn't.) I started working on my second sock.

May 8, 1944

Got a hot shower and deloused. Traded Italian shoes for two bread and one butter ration. Made a pair of carpet slippers for a guy. Got two bread and one butter ration.

May 9, 1944

I think quite often about the good times on my Milwaukee Journal paper routes. Long to return to that simple, peaceful life.

May 11, 1944

Rumor came in that Rome had fallen last Sunday. I was picked up with Stacy for questioning about shoe trading. Don't know what he got. I started to embroider an AMA insignia. (American Motorcycle Association) All Americans with shipping cards are to go tonight by truck. We got on an open trailer at 1:00 AM.

Transit Camp # 132, Montova

May 12,1944

Rode all day. Air raids several times. Important fortifications in the mountain area around St. Lucia. The road went above the clouds several times. We went through Florence and Berlonga (Bologna?). Quite nice farmland on this side of the mountains. Lots of poppies and iris growing wild. Many poplar trees are trimmed so that they grow tall and slender; very nice. We stopped in one town and the Italians began to throw bread until the guards stopped it. Some trucks did very well.

We arrived at Transit #132 camp at 1:00 AM. Rations for the day was one half loaf of bread and one-third slice of beef per man. The camp is located on the edge of Montova. Got a small cup of coffee.

Breakfast was sweeter than others. Four on a German loaf and jam and a nice dipper of soup with quite a bit of macaroni (no greens) for dinner. Supper was rice and greens chopped fine.

May 13, 1944

Coffee for breakfast with an Atabrine pill. Barley, meat and greens for dinner. We have to come inside during the frequent air raid action. A water tap in the yard is always running out. We sleep on wooden bunks, blankets, but no straw. The Po River is about two hundred yards away. Three men on a loaf of bread for supper. The latrine at night is a barrel like at Studio.

May 14, 1944

Coffee, Atabrine and roll call. I got a pair of size eight and one half shoes from the British Red Cross. Three men on a loaf of bread, butter, rice and greens at 11:30. Thinner soup at 5:00.

May 15, 1944

Shipment rumors are about. Got two thirds of a loaf of bread from an old 1923 dollar. They also sold cigarettes. A nutty German comes into the compound on a bike and waves a pistol around and hollers. I bought ----------for a bit of butt tobacco from the garbage heap. I also found seven or eight radishes and ate them. They were pithy, but edible. Packed my belongings for shipment tomorrow. (Two blankets, mess kit, canteen, helmet and sewing stuff.)

May 16, 1944

intended to carry 40 men or 8 horses

We got up at 4:00 AM. Had three on a loaf of bread with coffee and jam for breakfast. Was searched and fed good macaroni soup at 9:00. Walked about five blocks to a train. Fifty of us were locked up in a 40 x 8 boxcar. Left Montova at about 5:00 PM. A five gallon pail was provided us for a urinal. It was so crowded we could not lie down. Two P.O.W.s cut a hole in the side of the car, but to no avail. When we stopped, irate guards under arms searched us and they deprived us of our bread ration. Others got theirs at 3:00 PM. There were three cars deprived of bread and water. We stopped several times because of air raids. We were lucky we were not bombed or strafed.


May 18, 1944

At 9:00 AM the scenery is mountainous with more wooden houses. We got a canteen cup for a urinal for all fifty of us. At 1:00 PM we crossed the border after passing through several tunnels. Still no bread or water!

Camp at Moosburg

May 20,1944

We got three men on two loaves of bread and three on meat. At about 8:00 AM, we also got water. We arrived at Camp Moosburg at about 9:00 AM. Moosburg was one of the largest P.O.W. camps in Southwest Germany. It could accommodate about one hundred thousand prisoners. We were all interrogated and assigned to barracks with wooden bunks and a sack of straw to be used as a mattress. There were all types of prisoners here, usually sort of divided up by the country of origin.

The Red Cross parcels were twelve inches by eight inches by six inches, weighing ten pounds. They contained four packs of cigarettes, a D-ration chocolate bar, a box of sugar cubes, a package of cocoa, instant coffee, a can of sardines, evaporated milk, a can of salmon, corned beef, liver pate, Spam, American cheese, a box of raisins, powdered milk, dry biscuits and Oleo. The boxes were not identical, but similar.

 

 

At about 9:00 AM, we got sweet tea. I had to turn in $15 invasion money. I got three boiled spuds, German meat and kraut; also eight men on one large loaf of bread. Received a Red Cross parcel #17. Just like Christmas! Lots of trading all night in the hall. Many got sick from eating rich food. I traded carrots for two eggs (powdered) and five biscuits for one can of eggs.

May 21, 1944

Everyone seems to have an excess of rich food

May 22, 1944

I met a fellow from Burlington, Wisconsin. He is Lavern Cate's cousin Kenneth Potter. (Lavern was dad's brother-in-law)

Was deloused and moved to Transit Compound. Met Dale and the rest of the bunch who left Laterina in April. Are they ever fat compared to us. Fried eggs and warmed spuds for supper. I traded two oz. of tea for one thousand grams of German bread.

May 24, 1944

Made a bread knife out of scrap iron.

May 25, 1944

Went on spuds detail today; lots of spuds. Got a tooth brush, soap, comb, sewing kit, and razor blades from the Red Cross; also two postcards. I sent Sis one.

May 26, 1944

Went on gravel detail today. Got a bundle of wood. Some guys have made clever little blowers out of tin cans to enhance their little fire pots made for cooking.

May 27, 1944

Made potato pancakes with a grater I made from a sardine can.

May 28, 1944

Went to church in the hall. Baked a kind of pie with milk, eggs, margarine, jam and pancake flour. Shortened a pair of pants for a guy and got cake flour for doing it. Traded two cigarettes for some dehydrated soup. Jerry gives us tea, a tablespoon of sugar and five or six on a loaf of bread and a vitamin pill at 11:30. We get soup and three boiled spuds once a day, a spoon of margarine three times a day and sometimes a slice of cheese or bologna. "Christmas" almost every Friday at 11:00 AM. The Red Cross parcels arrive. The food is good. I got a loaf of civilian bread across the fence today for twenty fags [English slang for cigarettes] and nearly lost it.

May 30, 1944

Sure had bad gas pains the last two days. I got a canteen and cup; they were not the same ones I turned in. This one had a penknife wrapped inside of the canteen.

June thru August 7, 1944

 

Transit Camp at Moosburg Continued

June 2, 1944

I got a Canadian parcel today. Traded ten fags for a can of KLIM, real butter and one quarter pound of blood cheese. It seems strange not to be picking lice out of your clothes everyday since we got here.

June 8, 1944

Got OD pants, underwear, wool undershirt and handkerchiefs, socks, an overcoat and a sun tan shirt, all from the Red Cross. I made a necktie from some extra material from the shorts. Got deloused. I took off for the latrine so fast that I had my shoes on the wrong feet. Read the New Testament every day, as usual.

June 10, 1944

We were issued a Scottish parcel today.

June 11, 1944

Went to church service, as usual got two loaves of bread Friday and sold one for twenty fags and two ounces of tea while on "ration detail."

June 13, 1944

Rumors are coming quite steadily about an invasion. Our planes came over the northwest in large numbers today. This camp is quite well marked as a P.O.W. camp. I am to be shipped out tomorrow. I have been eating all opened canned stuff. Made a good pot out of two KLIM cans this week. Been having lots of gas on my stomach of late, (too much food).

Stalag VII B, Memmingen, Germany.

 

June 16, 1944

Arrived at Stalag VIIB, Memmingen. Registered, had my picture taken, and was issued prisoner # 12048. Received a British parcel. Got nothing on the four hour train ride in boxcars again. The country is nice but cool. I slept in a large tent on wood shavings. We carry all of our possessions with us wherever we can.

standing at far right is the commandant of Stalag VIIB Memmingen, Germany

 

 

 

June 18, 1944

Still in a tent; one hundred seventy of us. We have two or three roll calls a day. They seem to find little things to make big issues over. We do get pretty good food; lots of kraut and quite a few boiled spuds in everything. Twenty-five men to a pound of margarine or a spoon full of jam once a day. Three to six men to a loaf of bread. We got some fried hash with kraut this noon. Some kind hearted American took up a collection of fags for the German Compound Sergeant yesterday


June 19, 1944

It has rained every day for the past week. I shaved yesterday.

June 20, 1944

You get more opportunities for trading if you go on work details. Worked on spud detail picking up potatoes in the fields. I worked near the airport. Saw lots of bombcraters and wrecked airplanes. Traded ten cigarettes for twenty French biscuits. Bought a pocketknife for fifteen cigarettes and sold it.

June 21, 1944

I went out on spud detail again today, but was unable to get any to keep. I saw a German plane going faster than the speed of sound.

June 22, 1944

About three hundred of us were loaded into boxcars for shipment to another camp. I got one third of a loaf of bread and a piece of sausage. Was able to see out through a crack when we went through Memmingen; a nice looking town. Saw small kids in uniforms. Maybe school clothing.

Augsburg, Germany

June 23, 1944

We arrived in Augsburg, a larger city, at 9:00 AM. Met others at work camp # 663B on the edge of town. They had left Moosburg before us. We got kind of a cold reception from them. There is lots of bomb destruction here. South Americans gave us spuds over the fence. Germans issued one-quarter loaf of bread at night. Lots of arguing over pieces. Jerry said OK, but buddies not?

June 24, 1944

old coffee. Worked on shelter, a bomb shelter of sorts, not even large enough for the number of P.O.W.s. No dinner. Got a Canadian parcel at noon; had to share two to a parcel. Some ladies next to the camp try to slip us chunks of bread. I got from a buddy a small one thousand grams of soap. We saw a Jerry rocket plane again. The guard says it travels at twelve hundred kilometers per hour. It makes me concerned. No work this PM. Got blood sausage, oatmeal, fried spuds, pickled beets, tea and one quarter loaf of bread - OK.

June 25, 1944

Worked in town today. Dug into ruins for Singerrat 3 op ??

June 26, 1944

Traded a loaf of bread for soap.

June 27 to 30, 1944

Sent English soap out and got one and one half loaves of bread back. Working in a cemetery that had bomb damage. One GI wheeled a cart full of dirt around with a nice skull on top for some time. I got one and one half bottles of beer. Sold two cigarettes for two marks and bought six bottles of lemon soda, six boxes of matches and have one hundred twenty pfennigs left. We are able to have one of the German guards go to a nearby store to buy things for us if we have German marks (money). The people nearby treat us surprisingly well. They give us bread, beer, etc. The Secret Police clamped down on trading and searched us for cocoa, tea and soap. I think they are jealous that we have some of these commodities. (My notes are not legible here) Rumors that Allies -----------.

July 3, 1944

I sold soap for two marks and two kilo bread stamps. We voted to appoint Henry Kaufman as our interpreter and camp leader. Henry was also in the 45th Division, 157th Regiment, Company K. He was also captured at Anzio and could speak German quite well. He had been in most all of the same prison camps in Italy that I was. Henry was Jewish, but was able to hide that fact from the Germans.

July 4, 1944

I went with the guard to the store and bought bread. The civilian lady gave three of us a bag of bread and cake. I am still on the cemetery detail. Some of the Germans are hostile towards us when we walk to work, making threatening remarks and spitting at us. It is a good thing we have the German guards with us!

July 5, 1944

Worked on the shelter in camp and put more earth on top for added protection. Lots of air raids, but so far no bombs near us. I got three and one half bottles of beer (pretty weak) at work detail today. I got an American 10# parcel today. It is really good. Worked on the shelter again tonight. Electric lights came on tonight. I got paid six marks and donated it toward a keg of beer. Water isn't always turned on. We went swimming in a small pool for ten pfennigs. I made a pocket in the back of my combat jacket. Sewed a zipper in the seam. It makes a good secret storage place where I can carry trading goods.

July 9, 1944

Sure drank a lot of beer today and got a headache out of it. The boys put on a little show in front of all of us.

July 10, 1944

I worked with the cemetery detail. I'm still looking for a NAZI swastika armband. Traded Canadian and English tea and twenty fags for a wristwatch and four and one half leaves of tobacco. Plea was made to turn in all coupons and maps with threats of a shakedown of all tools. One was caught with a bayonet.

July 12, 1944

We had a two-hour raid with lots of ack-ack, but no bombs here.

July 13, 1944

Changed work detail. Now work in bombed out apartments. Had a two-hour raid over Munich again. Our shelter isn't finished yet. We have POW letters on the roof of one of our buildings, so it gives one a bit of assurance in the daytime.

July 14, 1944

I got an American food parcel again today.

July 15, 1944

I got a strawberry jam ration and three bread rations for two soaps and five fags. The water was off. I got a bottle of beer tonight.

July 16, 1944

Hear bombing from 9:00 to 11:00 AM, one wave dropped bombs on the other side of the city. Rumors of Stimpson arranging for a truce conference (propaganda).

July 17, 1944

Went on a new detail working for the nuns in bombed church. Get tea and bread in the forenoon and afternoon and eat lunch there. I met a nineteen year old Ukrainian, nice looking. Gave me cheese, onion and radish. She has been working for Jerry for two years. I bought a pair of wool socks for twelve fags. Sent a Frenchman for 1000 grams of bread and he brought me 2000 grams. All the civilian allies give us a salute and V. German civilian's attitude is more aggressive lately.

July 18, 1944

Went on detail, a defense type of operation. I told the guard that we couldn't work on that type of thing. Watched Russian women shovel coal and wheel sand and cement; we went back to camp. Went to a bombed warehouse in the PM. Saw Russian females loading scrap iron. Had an air raid at 10:45AM. No bombs here, but we could hear them seven to ten miles away. Didn't feel too well in the evening. Something I ate.

July 19, 1944

Had two air raids in the AM. Fires were started on the West Side of the city. Worked in camp in the afternoon. Kaufman left camp with a prisoner who had gone off his rocker. They took him to the hospital, a mental institution.

July 20, 1944

Worked in a bombed warehouse, a six story building. All the material was on the ground floor. Had an air raid from 9:00 to 11:00. No bombs here. Slept as usual. Rumor came that civilians in Moosburg killed twenty-five Yanks. Got Canadian parcels; fried spuds and carrots for supper. We had to shovel gravel for our washroom after supper.

July 21, 1944

We stay in camp when we have air raids early in the day.

July 24, 1944

Had an air raid from 12:00 to 1:00; no bombs here. Had beer in the AM and PM on work detail. Worked on air raid shelter in the evening.

July 26, 1944

Rumor that Ribbontrop, Churchill and Roosevelt are in Switzerland. Had a raid tonight. Heard bombs and went back to sleep. Bought KLIM for forty cigarettes.

July 27, 1944

Guard says the war will be finished in three weeks. Rumor from French; push in Normandy sector. Sugar and jam issued. Bought lemonade for work. I saw Russian women pulling a plow today. Got English food parcels today. There was another air raid alert last night.

July 29, 1944

I didn't hear it, but the guard unlocked the doors during an alert so we could go into the shelter if we wished. I got eight 500-gram loaves of bread and ration stamps for Canadian coffee. I made a shelf by my bunk for my parcels, etc. Had blood in my stools yesterday and today. Always have beer or soda on detail. The doctor buys bread for us. Gave the guard American propaganda sheets dropped by planes in the PM. I washed my shirt yesterday. We had a show in the kitchen tonight (Can't read the entries in my notes). They have been shipping out P.O.W.s. Twenty or more going tomorrow. Our guard has invited us to visit his home when the war is over.

August 7, 1944

We left Augsburg after being thoroughly searched. We took our parcels in the boxcars with us. Thirty-nine in ours. I have an American parcel box filled with my possessions.
(My notes are not legible at this point)

 

August 8 thru August 31, 1944

Memmingen

August 8, 1944

7:30 AM. We didn't travel much overnight. Arrived in Memmingen. Walked to the stalag, was searched and had tea. The guards bought four barrels of beer, as the water mains are broken, -kaputt and water is only turned on a couple times per day. Saw some bombed out buildings. Lots of arguments over English and American parcels.

August 9, 1944

We sleep on straw and wood shavings in a large tent. We have two German blankets per person. The water is turned off because the water mains were bombed. We got 3.2 beer; thirty men per barrel. Had an alert, but no bombs.

August 10, 1944

I was drafted to a fifteen-man detail. We walked seven kilometers to a farm and were split up and worked from 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM. We had pancakes the size of silver dollars and lettuce sandwiches. The table was set with three bowls and spoons. Had a bowl of milk and a loaf of dark bread with a dab of real butter. I wonder if they always eat like this. I think Grandma has taken a liking to me. I washed after supper and have more or less made myself at home. Can't Ka-pish their lingo worth a darn. (This was in Bavaria, not the part of Germany where Grandma Lange was from, so they spoke a different dialect. They liked the idea that I had a German grandmother.)

I worked for a time in a field near the airport and saw eighteen planes scattered about. Lots of bomb craters. Had an 11:00 AM alert as usual. Raked hay with a wooden rake, loaded one load and we moved it up by the barn. We fed seven cows and one young ox.

August 11, 1944

The kitchen doesn't seem to be very well stocked with dishes. We finished work at 6:30.

August 12, 1944

Didn't feel well today, went on sick call (GB) got two days NICHT-ARBITE. Still no food parcels. (Can't read my notes)

August 14, 1944

Went on sick call again. Didn't see the doctor. I bet Archie Shultz a motorcycle buddy seat cover that I would visit him in Lansing, Michigan before he would visit me. Got American parcels, two men per box. Everything was opened or punctured, even the cigarettes. I went to get half soles on my shoes, got two kg of bread with food stamps from town. Got a month's supply of parcels.

August 15, 1944

Worked at a new farm today. The eats were not so good and there was not so much work either. Had a twelve-year-old kid and a female Pole with me.

August 16, 1944

It hailed like the German guard predicted. Also got wet, as the tent leaks. Got one half of an American parcel. Had a bomb alert at 10:00 to 11:00. Heard bombs.

August 17, 1944

Dinner was not good. The kid was scared and crapped on the floor during the air raid. I worked in oats in the PM. Carried bags of oats into the attic of the house, up a narrow rickety stairs.

August 18-19, 1944

Had shirts on in the sun all day. The tent still leaked and we still sleep on wood shavings. We cut around Jerry planes. We used a scythe to cut the hay. They get upset if it isn't cut short enough.

August 20, 1944

I wrote eight cards and a "V-mail" letter today. This is the first opportunity we've had to write to people. Got shoe polish and had a chance to go swimming.

August 21-22, 1944

An eighteen-year-old German gal and a nineteen-year old Russian worked with me. Bought cheese and chocolate this week. Had a chance to become "involved". Not worth the risk. The cider is not so strong here; I can drink more. I gave the Russian gal chocolate and the Pole some cigarettes.

August 23, 1944

Worked for a different farm with a Polish P.O.W. and a nineteen year old Russian gal. Not so much work here and more eats.

August 25, 1944

Parcels Tuesday and Wednesday. Alarm at 1:00 AM.

POW money was worthless,because there was nothing you could buy with it.

August 26, 1944

Got paid 4.20 "lager money"". Finished work on the farm.

August 27, 1944

We got new straw to sleep on.

August 28, 1944

The detail worked in town today. We took the roof off a damaged building. I had two "brotzeits" and three beers.


Arrive in Agawang

Click on map for larger image

August 29,1944

Went out with twelve others, was searched and rode third class with a sergeant and guard and no parcels with us. We arrived in Agawang after a hike from the railroad station at Gessertshausen.

We were put in a room with thirteen single beds with a feather type mattress and a lighter feather type coverlet. We still carried our blankets and other meager possessions. A mixture of male and female Germans came to pick us for work.



Agawang POW's
Back row: Joe Wolbert, Garfield, NJ; James Stone, Tolu, KY; John Tichner,Fayetteville, WV; Leonard Shoemaker, Wilmington,DE; Otis Tanner, Alma,GA; Glen Showalter, Harissonburg, VA
Front row: Lawrence Van Camp (H Company, 157th Infantry Regiment), Akron, OH; William Wilt, Webster, PA; Edward Smith, Endicott, NY; George Sweada, Bayonne, NJ; Harold Stahl, Danville, PA.

Ray Sherman, Bellville, WI; and Archie Schultz, Lansing, MI; were "Absent without leave" when the photo was taken.

Maria Krause got me for her farm work. Her husband was on the Russian front. She has two children, George and Maria, as I remember; about six and eight years old. They lived with the husband's elderly parents. No one could speak English.

The house was attached to the stable; of stone construction with a tile roof. An outhouse sat over a cement pit, which contained manure from four or five cows and three oxen. Chickens can roam through the kitchen and stables. The people we worked for fed us at their table. At night we all returned to our room and were locked in. There were bars on the windows and door. Our trousers and shoes and jackets were taken by the guard and locked in another room every night. The guard is quartered in a room above where the thirteen of us live.


Herr Joseph Krause and Family- 1957
Frau Maria, Herr Joseph, Grossmutter , children Maria and George

The House of Joseph and Maria Krause
the barn is attached on the right.

Agawang Gasthaus served as Lager #449-B for
thirteen American POWs.
 

The POWs were housed in the rear
corner of the gasthaus. The door
in the rear corner next to the
chimney was the entrance to the
POW quarters. The door and windows
were barred and covered with
barbed wire.
August 31, 1944
We were searched again this morning and then we all walked to our destination where the farmers were in charge of us. There are people all over the fields and roads, so escape is out of the question. The food was good where I worked. We started at 8:00 AM and worked until 6:00 to 8:00 PM. On my farm we had a cloth tablecloth and they said grace before the noon meal. We have a "brotzeit" in the forenoon and afternoon. Usually ersatz coffee and bread is served.

Road to the Krause house and barn, POW Lager (not in photo) is off to the right.

September thru December 1944

Work at Krause Farm Continued

September 1, 1944

I plowed behind a team of oxen after watching the grandfather do it, using a light rope and verbal commands. Maria gave me an old pair of trousers to wear during the day at work.

September 3, 1944

We had chicken for dinner, the floor was scrubbed and flies were being killed. She bakes white bread or biscuits every two days. They are good. I saw a Frenchman who worked there a year.

September 4,1944

Still plowing with the oxen. Frau Krause washed my shirt and handkerchiefs for me. We heard bombs in the distance. It could be Augsburg.

Krause's barn

September 5-6, 1944

We cut hay with a scythe and hauled it to the barn. Grandmother gets upset because I don't cut the hay close enough to the ground. One day when I was about to go and cut a load of grass for cattle feed, I was hitching up the oxen to the wagon. Grandma was standing at the rear of the wagon with her feet spread apart. I heard water running. I looked back and sure enough, she was relieving herself. The first time this occurred I was rather surprised! After that it was sort of routine.


September 7, 1944

The Krauses had their own threshing machine, which was driven with an electric motor. We threshed in the PM today.

September 10, 1944

Grandma got word that her son is missing on the French Front. The guard says that we can't talk to civies or Poles on our day off.

September 12, 1944

Approximately one thousand bombers came over today! We could hear the bombs being exploded. Am still threshing. I feed the machine and have to remove "binders", which are made of a swatch of grain around the bundle. Lots of thistles. I had to carry oats in bags of about seventy-five pounds each up two flights of stairs. Frau Krause washed my shirt and trousers today. Boy these people are stubborn and thickheaded.

September 16, 1944

Today we spread out manure piles with a fork. Also started plowing out spuds. I bought ten eggs for ten cigarettes.

September 17, 1944

Frau Krause gave me a liter of milk and four eggs and a kilo of flour. I made a raisin, milk, egg and flour pie. I also made cookies with chocolate chips. Didn't have baking powder, so used some toothpowder. They were edible. We had a small wood cook stove to heat things in our room.

September 18, 1944

I went seven kilometers to Gessertshausen to a dentist in the PM to get a tooth filled.

 

September 20-30, 1944

Finished digging spuds Saturday. These farmers sure are dumb. No matter what I do, it's wrong. Sunday during grace, Grandma tried to pick up something off the floor. It was soft cow shit! She said "Sacrament" right in the middle of prayer. I made a custard and meat pie Sunday. On Monday I went to the dentist again. He put a permanent filling in the tooth. It still hurts.

October 1, 1944

Grandma wants me to learn to use the scythe, but I tell her I won't be here in the spring. I dug a hole to store rubes (cow beets).


Tuesday. Nearly everyday they hold services for some veteran. The church is right next to our lager. The congregation wears black.

Agawang Catholic Church


Agawang's main street west of Lager

 

Planes came over Wednesday, so we didn't turn the cows out until about 2:00 PM. It was common practice to turn out all the animals in the village for grazing. The children would watch them and bring them back in the evening to be put in the stables.

Thursday. The Americans have advanced to Koln. We still hope it is finished in November. I asked for an arm full of fire wood and nearly broke Grandma's heart. "Lawrence only asked for half as much." (Lawrence was the Frenchman who worked for them before.)

October 7, 1944

Five of our bunch got letters from home.

October 8, 1944

I made a raisin pie and cheese cakes.

October 9, 1944

I went to the dentist in the PM with the Frenchman's bike.

October 11, 1944

I had a good cold and slept in for three hours. Turned in my lager money for civi marks.

October 12, 1944

I refused to work and slept in. Frank Saboril visited me.

October 13, 1944

I went to the doctor and got three days G. B. (Gold Bricking). Five of us went with the guard to Dinkelscherben on the train to get shoes, sweaters, towels, handkerchiefs and scarves.

October 15,1944

We made quite a hit in town with all our new clothes.

October 16, 1944

No work in the PM. We played ball in the yard.

October 17, 1944

We threshed in the PM.

October 21, 1944

I made a raisin pudding. Bought fifteen eggs. Went to Kutzenhausen on the Frenchman's bike. Bought two rings from Rooskies for forty cigarettes.

October 24, 1944

I went with Grandfather to Gessertshausen hauling bags of oats on a wagon with oxen. I lost one of my rings today. Planes dropped five bombs just outside of Agawang. We explained that they were just returning from targets and didn't want to take them back so they dropped them harmlessly. We had to fill in the craters.

October 27, 1944

I got a pair of wooden shoes with leather uppers from Frau Krause.

October 29, 1944

Got a letter from Dot. A German officer came into camp and blew his top about us not working enough.

October 30,1944

Rumor that sixty thousand planes would come over on November sixteenth.

October 31, 1944

We made another trip to Gessertshausen with grain.

November 1, 1944

We refused to get up at 5:30. The sergeant came and agreed with us. They also wanted us to open all of our tin cans and puncture them, but we won out. Freitag, so we didn't work except to do chores.

November 2, 1944

We cut up hay and straw real fine with a machine for animal feed.
We butchered a pig and saved the blood for sausage. The official came and stamped the meat. They can't kill their own stock without permission.

November 4, 1944

Another funeral today. I got nine letters from home tonight. The lager got twenty-five units of coal for all winter.

November 5, 1944

Bombers come over every day. Art cut my hair. It's long enough to comb now. (I had it all cut off when I was deloused). Wrote to Mom. Got a month's supply of parcels. Six were opened; cigarettes and cheese were missing. Bombs were blamed.

November 7, 1944

We went out with the whole dorf to dig out a ditch along the road. I got wet.

November 8, 1944

We refused to go to work. The guard chased us out with his rifle and bayonet. It snowed a little. Rumor- F.D.R. was re-elected. We finished the work on the roadside.

November 10, 1944

We drew names and two others and I went with the guard on the train to Memmingen. Got pants, shirt, undershirt and drawers, caps and shoe polish, buttons and safety pins. It snowed quite a bit; about one and one half inches.

November 11, 1944

Got twelve letters and wrote two cards. My English shoes came back from repair with sixty-seven hob nails and toe and heel plates.

November 13, 1944

Hauled mist and straw and plowed alone.- Boy! These brats have no manners.

November 18, 1944

Lots of dive-bombers around. We are working in the woods grubbing out stumps about five kilometers from the dorf. A forester for each farmer marks the trees. Nothing is wasted. We make small bundles of pine boughs and grub out stumps. We learned to use the "stuck isen," a three foot chisel to cut roots. Frau Krause gave me schnapps a couple of times. "Don't tell Grandma."

December 1, 1944

Got a swell package from home.

December 6, 1944

We got a Ping-Pong set, boxing gloves and some phonograph records.

December 8, 1944

Borrowed a phonograph player. The guard has let us keep our pants and shoes at times lately. We bought the phonograph for one hundred and thirty cigarettes.

December 20, 1944

We butchered a pig again and helped with all operations.

December 23,1944

I cut my left ring finger when I was filling the soat machine. We went to Buch to have the wheelbarrow repaired.

December 24, 1944

I gave the kids one half pound of chocolate, Grandma a pencil, some coffee and soap. In the evening they lighted candles and gave me a nice plate of cookies and schnapps. The Americans have lost ground is the rumor of the past week. This makes all of us P.O.W.s feel low. We bought four liters of wine and a bottle of schnapps with cigarettes. We had Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off.

December 29, 1944

We tipped a huge load of mist over and broke the coupling pole, over on the other side of Kutzenhausen. The kid says, "Don't tell Grossmutter."

December 31, 1944

I sewed zippers on my trousers. It snowed about three inches.

The Red Cross gave us a shipment of toothbrushes, some puzzles, playing cards, shoe polish, toothpaste and some games. Included was a small chess board about five inches square and one inch thick.

1945

January 1 thru April 12, 1945

January 1, 1945

We got two days off. Still had to do the morning chores.

January 7, 1945

Agawang Postoffice on the west side of town

Got a letter from Dottie and Aunt Mae; Fred died. I got new blouses and new shirts. Two parcels per man for January. Also books.

January 22, 1945

Snowed and drifted. Went to Kutzenhausen brewery for yeast. Rapp (nearby neighbor) is OK. He has a nice daughter and he wanted me to work for him. We talked a lot, I didn't understand it all. He gave me a beer.


January 23, 1945

We shoveled snow from the roads with all the dorf people. (No snow plows here). The whole village gets out and shovels. I made a snow plow for George out of a couple of boards. Am making a doll house for Maria.

January 26, 1945

More snow in the AM. I made old snow pants for Maria.

January 27, 1945

Made a doll cabinet for Maria.. Rooskies are doing swell! Our lager 663-B in Augsburg was said to have been hit and burned completely in ten minutes on the seventh.

January 28, 1945

Got a letter from Mom and Lillian D. and Ray S. I cut a hiding place in my chess set for diary. Lawrence brought me a map and took my watch to get it repaired. Played chess and Ping-Pong.

February 1, 1945

Got a new guard. He woke us with his rifle the first day. Van, Tincher and I went to Memmingen with the guard on the ninth and got GI blankets, tooth brushes, etc.

February 15, 1945

Hitched up a young steer to try to get him broke to work. We had him pull a log.

February 17, 1945

Got a compass needle from a French prisoner from a neighboring town who was working in the same field as I was. Am putting stuff in hayloft. Art quit smoking. We are saving our cigarettes and biscuits, etc. All the guys talk about escaping, but Art and I are quiet and are doing something about it.

February 27, 1945

About one thousand bombers passed over and dropped a couple of bombs about one half mile from my fields. All the farm buildings are located in the dorf. Each farmer has strips of land scattered around the village; no fences. This way no one has better land than his neighbor. I guess it has merit.

February 28, 1945

We have been hauling and spreading manure by hand. You unload it in piles on your strips of land, then later spread it out. (They don't have spreaders). Also have been in the woods, working on our marked trees. Zenci was out too. I think she must have been farmer Rapp's daughter.

March, 1945

Worked in the woods quite a lot, with no gloves. Did chores, cleaned the barn, etc. studied a geography book which had a pretty good map of the area. Archie worked for a blacksmith. He brought a hacksaw blade. In the middle of the night, we tried to saw window bars, but it was too noisy. We didn't want the other eleven guys to know of our plans. The hasp on the door had screws, which we loosened and put candle wax on when we weren't observed. We could reach through a broken pane and reach the screws. We made plans to escape at night when the moon was full, on March 19th. Art's boss had two backpacks in his shop which we would need for the food I had hidden in my haymow.

On the 18th, I got an opportunity to rip out the map which I thought was of use.

 

First Escape

Art went back to the shop in the evening of the 19th and stole the packs. We had extra shoes and trousers hidden in our beds. All was ready! When we determined that all were asleep, we got dressed and worked on the screws on the hasp. One would not come out. We were desperate and gave the door a jerk. It opened!

We collected our blankets from our beds. We wondered if the guard in the room above us might have awakened. We were out of the door and headed for my haymow. In short order, I picked up our food and we were on our way south towards Switzerland.

We traveled at night and avoided towns. When it was almost daylight, we would find a secluded spot to spend the day. Twice during our travels, we met people on the road. No one spoke. If we saw them in time, we got off the road to avoid them. One time when the moon was obscured, we ran smack up against a high, woven wire deer fence. We laughed about it. We hid in the haymow of a couple barns. Mostly we stayed in woods during the day. Archie was sick one day.

We had a sizeable river to cross, the ILLER. We knew the bridge would likely be guarded, so figured on crossing elsewhere. When we got to the high bank and got down to the water, there was a rowboat! We used it and were thankful to say the least! We only traveled at night, heading for Switzerland.

Early in the morning on April 2nd, we were washing in a little creek when a teenager with a rifle and two older Germans came upon us. The young fellow wanted to shoot us. We were paratroopers! We finally convinced them we were escapees from a P.O.W. camp.

We were stripped down to our underwear and marched through the center of town. They put us in a stable and guarded us until an armed policeman came and escorted us to a jail in Ravensburg that was cut into the side of a mountain. We were booked by a couple of policemen and heard them say, "These birds won't fly out of here." We went down a corridor, through four heavy ancient doors, each locked with a large ring of keys. Our cell had two iron cots suspended from the wall. They let us use our own blankets. It was a cold and primitive dungeon type cell. They kept us over night until they contacted the military, which sent two soldiers who apparently were on leave and on their way home.

We boarded a train and got to Ulm. The tracks had been wiped out where we were supposed to go. The two soldiers held a conference and we were marched down the tracks to where an open, partially filled gravel car was parked. We were ordered into it, with the guards on one end and Art and I on the other. They held another discussion, which we could not hear, during which I prayed for our lives.

We were ordered out of the car. I'm sure they intended to shoot us. If they had shot us, nobody would have known about it. The Germans had no knowledge of our whereabouts. The U.S. government didn't and our P.O.W. buddies had no idea where we were. We were just lucky again! I can't remember how far we walked, but after a conference with some other German soldiers, we were taken by another train to Stuttgart, where there was a P.O.W. transit camp. The P.O.W. transit camp was said to be "5-A."

We were questioned, searched and put in a room which contained French P.O.W.s. We could hear voices through the walls. There were Americans, recently captured, but they wouldn't give us any information about the progress of the war. They thought we were Germans trying to extract information!

March 31, 1945
Allied troops were making progress. The retreating Germans began taking their prisoners with them so they would not be reunited with the advancing Allied troops.

April, 1945

The camp was evacuated on foot, all eleven hundred of us. There were many guards and dogs. We had threats and warnings about any escape attempts. At night we were simply put in an open field with no effort for shelter. Machine guns were placed so all avenues of escape were covered. We were on very short rations. They gave us a cup of ersatz coffee and four or five men to one loaf of "sawdust" bread per day. A loaf of bread was about the size of a brick.

I'm not sure when the evacuation started. It might have been April 1st or 2nd. I didn't make diary entries every day. We were getting weaker and weaker and more desparate.

We agreed to try to escape at the first opportunity. Once we cross the Danube River, we'll try to get to Agawang or Memmingen. If we escape on the West Side of the river, we'll try to get to the allied lines. Several prisoners fall down because of weakness everyday. If they can't or won't get up and continue on the march, they are shot or bayonetted.

Art an I buddied up with three other Americans. That way we had more warmth and blankets at night. In desperation for a drink of water, some prisoners would try to scoop water from puddles along the road. They were often bayoneted or struck with rifle butts. We could hardly stop to relieve ourselves without recriminations.

 

April 13 thru May 29, 1945

Second and Third Escapes

April 13, 1945

We were allowed in a large sheep barn for shelter. Art and I told the other three P.O.W.s about our plans to escape. They said it was too risky! They wanted no part of it!

 

Second Escape

After dark we bid the other three American P.O.W.s good luck and slipped out the door just behind the walking guard, crawled through the wooden gate and lay behind the chicken coop until the guard's back was toward us. Then through the fence and wormed our way into the field where the sheep were. As soon as we got amongst the sheep, they scattered, to our dismay! We were lucky no shots were fired. After crawling about fifty yards, we put on our shoes and were on our way.

We were in the area near Dillingen, so we were headed towards Agawang.

April 14, 1945

We hid out in the haymow of a barn. We have no food.

April 15-16, 1945

We found a garden and dug up some potatoes they had planted. We ate the spuds raw. We sweat out a bombing raid in a hay barn near Gobblingen at about three AM. In the morning, we went into town and found the burgermeister. We told him about our situation. He told us how to get to a P.O.W. work lager which was nearby. It was occupied by French and Russians. They fed us good and wanted us to stay and work with them. We were able to convince the guard to call the guard at Agawang to come and get us. They gave us good thick soup and some beer. We were about seven kilometers from Augsburg. There were lots of alarms.

April 18, 1945

The guard came at nine AM on his bicycle. He took out his pistol and showed us it was loaded. Then he told us to march. We walked and he rode his bicycle. We got to Agawang at three PM. We got a good reception from the townspeople who saw us and also from the P.O.W.s. There were no parcels. We had some pieces of mail. The work lager had new guards. Our former guard was transferred. It's too bad; he was a good guy. He didn't puncture our Red Cross food tins like he was supposed to, so the food kept longer and we could hoard them for our escape. The Germans had searched for us on horseback and when they couldn't find us, reported that we had been shot. The other P.O.W.s said we were thin.

April 19, 1945

Art's parcel from home had all been eaten. I went to Sauer's guesthause to work. They had good food, good female and Pole female; not much work. Art works in Unternefsreed on farm.

April 21, 1945

I took a wonderful bath in a porcelain tub! Thirteen new P.O.W.s came to the lager from Moosburg.

April 22, 1945

Not much work here. People are scared stiff. Got Maria's picture.

April 23, 1945

The guards woke us at two AM. We must leave for Memmingen. We were given three days rations. Going to load personal stuff on a horse drawn wagon. There was lots of activity in loading. We had determined that we weren't going if we got an opportunity to do otherwise.

Third Escape

At five AM we both approached the wagon from the rear, while the guard walked to the front of the horses. We ducked around the building and were gone! We hurried down a small streambed and were soon hiding. We found a swell place in the woods to dig a couple of slit trenches for safety. After dark, we got a shovel, carried dirt in a blanket and dispersed it. We made a couple of contacts in town and got some bread.

April 24, 1945

We made three contacts at ten PM. Stayed in an upstairs bedroom. Two AWOL Jerries stopped for something to eat, but left after a time. She gave us her husband's nine-millimeter pistol and seven rounds.

April 25, 1945

At night, we went to the woods for packs and blankets, then came back to the building for food and shelter. We agreed to stay in the haymow, not in the bedroom. It was too risky to stay in the house. We got good food from this lady. Art got aquainted with her when he worked for the blacksmith.

April 26, 1945

We were in the haymow, when at 5:30 PM we heard motorized vehicles. We heard the lady shout, "Americanishe Panzer!" We peeked out and saw some thirteen vehicles going on the road. They were not familiar to us, but we went out to greet the Fourth Armor Division. The first thing I asked for was a pair of socks and a K-ration. We were taken to Horgau to Division Headquarters.

April 28, 1945

Art and I were taken with two Englishmen to the Twenty- first Reinforcement Battalion South of Wurzburg.

PWX Camp #1, Mannheim, Germany

April 29, 1945

We got tired of waiting for transportation, so Art and I took off on our own for Mannheim. We arrived at PWX Camp #1 at about six PM.

May 1, 1945

We saw lots of Stalag VII-B men. They were liberated by American troops. Prisoner files, photos, etc. were taken from Stalag VII-B. Someone gave me my P.O.W. registration photo. We got shoes and clothing and all the food we wanted.

May 2, 1945

German P.O.W.s are on KP duty, cleaning rooms, etc.

C-47 transport

May 8, 1945

We left Mannheim on C-47's. Thirty men in our plane plus other gear and supplies, including our barracks bags from January seventh or eighth.

Art got airsick. I spent the entire trip by the window at thirty thousand feet. I could see craters, trenches and other fortifications and bivouac areas. One could notice the different colors of tile roofs. The German's were red brick color and the French had many blues. We flew near Paris and landed at Le Havre. Got coffee and doughnuts, gum, matches and cigarettes from the Red Cross.


May 10, 1945

We got to camp Lucky Strike where we were deloused, given new clothes, went through lots of processing and answered lots of questions. I got cognac and wine from celebrating French whenever we were on the streets.

May 11, 1945

I sweated out a Red Cross line about two blocks long for hot cocoa and a cheese sandwich. There are sure lots of ex-P.O.W.s here. A large percentage are officers.


Red Cross tent, Camp Lucky Strikes

May 15, 1945

We left on trucks to La Havre, boarded an LST at 6:22 PM and went to a transport ship in the harbor, the MS John Ericsson, of Swedish registry. We left the harbor after dark on the sixteenth of May 1945.


MS John Ericsson

May 17, 1945

We docked at South Hampton, England at about noon. I bought PX rations from the ship's store. All the candy you want! I got a box of Hersheys, Baby Ruth bars, Walnettos and two cans of peanuts and a bottle of hair oil, all for $2.87. Boy! We get wonderful food. Had ice cream twice, chicken and everything!

May 18, 1945

Ship departed at about 7:00 PM.

May 19, 1945

I ate very little breakfast. While getting rid of it in the latrine, a guy asked if I was seasick? I said no, just homesick.

May 20, 1945

I ate an apple, but got rid of it suddenly.

May 21, 1945

I ate an orange, which I had saved up. It stayed with me!

Arrived in New York Harbor

May 29, 1945

Had tears when I laid my eyes on the Statue Of Liberty. Our ship was greeted by some tug boats shooting streams of water in the air. We docked at the forty-second street pier amid cheering people and Red Cross persons serving coffee and doughnuts.

I didn't record anything in the diary after getting back to the United States. I was shipped out to Fort Meade and got new uniforms. Made a trip by train back to Wisconsin for about a week, then went by train to Miami Beach, Florida for a thirty day R & R at a nice hotel, all meals included! I think it was the Poinciana, just off the beach. Then it was back to Fort Meade where I was promoted to the rank of corporal and worked with recruits until I was discharged on October 26, 1945.

Comments


By "#1 Kid", in age only, Rita

I was not aware of the details of my dad's P.O.W. experiences until I read the hard copy of his diary published by his good friend George. The reading of this has explained many things in my growing up years and has given me a better understanding of my dad and the man he is.

One thing that surprised me was his sharp shooter abilities because the only times I have seen him pick up any sort of firearm was when he marched in parades with the American Legion.

I feel bad that he wasn't able to get into the mechanized division on a "byke". His love of motorcycles continued after his discharge. Mom and Dad took several vacations on the Harley. I remember going to the Harley club meetings outside of Madison, Wisconsin, and also to motorcycle rallies as a small child. To this day, the sound of a Harley brings back many memories.

My younger sister, Sonjia, and I have both inherited dad's "inventiveness"!! We both have the ability to figure out how to do something we want done without written instructions. THANKS, DAD!

To the citizens of Agawang, Germany who knew my dad as a P.O.W. .... I thank you for your kindness to him. And a very special thanks to the Krause family.

     
     

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