World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

Allison's Thoughts

 

World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I


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A Granddaughter's Speech  

Allison - granddaughter of POW

Imagine: Itís the day before Christmas.  Normally, you would be singing Christmas carols with your family and wrapping gifts.  But, this year is different - very different.  Youíre walking barefooted down a street in an unfamiliar country.   Guards are pointing guns to your head as civilians spit on you.  This is what my Grandfather experienced during WWll when he was around my age and this is why Iím proud of him.  First, Iím going to tell you about my Grandfather, then Iíd like to tell you about his personal experience as a Prisoner of War in Germany and then Iíd like to tell you why America needs to have more respect for POWís.

My Grandfather, James Richard Williams, Jr. was born in 1922 to a prominent family in a small town called Eufaula, Alabama.  He enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and initially became a gunnery instructor at Drew Field in Tampa, Florida. There, he was chosen to be a part of a special B-17 crew. This plane had a very secret invention installed in it. This invention was called radar. My Grandfather was sent to Langley Air Force Base for FBI clearance, flew secretly to Ireland and eventually landed in an Air Force Base in Nuthampstead, England as part of the 8th Air Force. There he flew 29 out of 30 required missions. The target of his next to last mission before being allowed to return home, was Misburg, Germany where Hitlerís oil refinery was located. This mission was critical and a high priority. The mission was successful, but just after bombs away, they were hit and the plane caught on fire. The crew jumped out and landed close to each other. After a few minutes, they were surrounded by German civilians who hit, kicked, spit and cursed at them. He marched all night to Frankfurt where he became a POW.

In all sense of the word, my Grandfather really was a prisoner. His life as a POW was tough. It was winter, so the weather was cold, but he didnít have enough clothes or blankets to keep him warm. He was held in solitary confinement for 30 days where he was interrogated by Hitlerís best men at least twice a day. It was just his luck to arrive at the camp at the beginning of the starvation period when each person received only 800 calories a day. The men were so weak, they couldnít even get out of bed, yet every morning they were called for roll call where they would stand at attention for hours in the snow. From this, my Grandfather got frostbite on his toes. He also had a German rifle butt shoved into his back, which caused him pain for the rest of his life. But, thatís not the only thing that stayed with him. The tolls of a POWís life last for a lifetime. Due to starvation, my Grandfatherís stomach was always a problem. For the rest of his life, he never got a decent nightís sleep because he would wake up with stomach pains. Also, when my mom was a little girl, she would be sent to wake my Grandfather up from a nap. But, she was not allowed to touch him or yell his name. She had to very quietly say his name at the bedroom door, because if startled awake, he would come up fighting.

As you can tell, the misery and turmoil my Grandfather experienced in Germany affected his life forever. But my Grandfather was not the only person who had to live with these kinds of memories. There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who are still suffering from their own personal POW nightmares. These men live everyday without the respect that they deserve. They were interrogated about secret missions and weapons and were sent to solitary confinement just like my Grandfather. I believe Americans everywhere should take care to remember those who secured our freedom by temporarily losing theirs. Learning about my Grandfatherís history has given me a deeper respect for all POWís. I wish that I had gotten the chance to talk to my Grandfather and hear about his experience first hand, but he died before I was even born. I hope your Grandfather is still alive, maybe he has a history that you can be proud about, the same way I cherish my Grandfatherís memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.