World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I



 

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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Lt. John R. Johnson - POW photo 1st Lt. John R. Johnson
Frankfurt, Kentucky
C-47 Pilot

Shot down September 18, 1944
Kriegie # 6127
Stalag Luft I, North II, Block ( Barracks) 2, Room 4

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GERMAN SAVOIR FAIRE
 

It was early Spring, 1945, at Stalag Luft 1a, Barth Germany. The Germans decided to ration our water supply. This meant that there would be less water for showers, etc.  Someone in our Compound, North 2, decided, since we were near the coast, that the ground water level would be near the surface. Krieges from one of the barracks across the open space from our Barracks- #2 ( I donít remember their  barracks number ) asked for permission to dig, collect ground water, let it settle, then use it for bath water.  

            The project was approved and digging was started out in the open area where we always gathered twice daily for "Roll Call" (head count). 

            At four o'clock  that afternoon we all gathered by barracks in rows of five men deep. "Roll Call" occurred when, as we stood at attention, the German Commandant  of the Compound goose-stepped down the front of each group, his head turned 90 degrees, counting the number of rows of five and assuring himself that there were really five in each row. His Sergeant duplicated the count marching behind us. Upon completion of each count, the Sergeant would march around the formation, face the Commandant, salute and report his count. If his count corresponded they would move on to the next group of Krieges.

           Halfway down the count, the Commandant stepped off into a void. When the Sergeant popped his salute to report, there was no one to report to. The Commandant was still clambering out of a hole in the ground. Up and out, he stood erect, brushed off his breeches, and continued his count. Then, his check with the Sergeant completed, they both  silently continued on to the next barracks formation.

             You guessed it! The group next to our barracks had lined up directly behind the hole that had been dug for ground water. It was still dry, so the Commandant did not get wet, just a little soiled. Probably the greatest surprise to us all was that he ignored the incident and moved on. There must have been over 1000 Krieges  choking to avoid laughing. Once the Commandant continued to the next group, grins spread wide over the great multitude of faces behind him.  I'm sure , however, that  he actually won a lot of respect for his savoir faire and the reaction by which he resolved what might have been an explosive situation. Needless to say, within the next half hour the hole was refilled.  Nothing like that was ever tried again.

 

Prisoner of War identification card with photos

John Johnson's Prisoner of War identification card

 

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