World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

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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 few tips for researching:


 
  • To verify an American prisoner of war and learn the camp he or she was held in search the United States National Archives -  American Prisoner of War database.  Search by last name or last name first, no comma then first name.   Please note this information is by no means compete or necessarily accurate - it is the best they could do from trying to reconstruct information from several sources considered official.  I have found many POWs that I know were in Stalag Luft I listed in other camps.  In some cases they may have been at the camp listed for a short while and then transferred to Stalag Luft I. Many POWs were moved around a lot, especially as the war progressed and the camp they were held in was in danger of being overrun.
     
  • To verify a RAF/RAAF/RCAF/RNZAF/SAAF and Occupied Countries  Prisoner of War Database 

     
  • If starting from scratch, you should first try to locate the service memberís military service records in your families records. If you can not locate them then you can request a copy of the their military service records.  Click here to initiate a request for Military Service Records from the National Archives eVetRecs  online.  You will need to print and mail to obtain the copies, they are not delivered online.  Or you may download and print this form at  http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf or contacting the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), St. Louis, MO to request "Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records", at the following (314) 538-4261 or fax (314) 538-4175.   Please be aware that many records were lost in the 1973 fire.  But this is a good place to start. Here is more information about this form.

     
  • If you are researching an Army Air Force service member, once you have identified the group or unit he served with you should try to contact his Bomber or Fighter Group Memorial Association to obtain basic information, like crash date, crewmembers, etc.  Many of these groups now have websites. To find the group's contact person search the internet to see if they have a website.  If you do not know the group number, try to find the discharge papers which will indicate the Group or Squadron (there were usually 4 squadrons to a group).


  • Missing Air Crew Reports are invaluable and one of the most easily obtainable reports from the government.   I can not stress enough how valuable this report will be to you in your research.  To obtain your copy of a WWII airplane crash simply send an email to inquire@arch2.nara.gov  or regular mail to:

    National Archives and Records Administration
    Textual Reference Branch
    8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    Phone 301-713-7250

    Give them as many details as you know about the crash,  such as crash date, Bomb Group, crash site (if known), pilot, etc. and of course the address you would like the report mailed to.  They will then mail to you (it takes about a week) the full governmental report on the crash, including eyewitness accounts and any German documents (in English) that they acquired after the war.  It may come on micro-fiche, so you may have to go to your library to read and /or print copies.  They also will send you a bill for $5.00 for this service along with the documents.  Click here for a full description of the MACR report ( or scroll down to the bottom of this page).  Here is a link to search for MACR numbers by date of crash.

  • The MACR also contains the names of the other crew members on the plane when it was shot down. You may wish to contact them or their next of kin.  There are several ways to try and contact them.  The quickest way is check with the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization and see if they are a member.  Send them an email with the name and the military group they were assigned to and ask them to check their membership directory and let you know if that person is or ever has been a member.  If they find them in their records they can provide the current address, phone number and the POW Camp they were held in. 
        
     
  • If that fails you could try doing a "people" search  on the Internet  using Switchboard.com or Whitepages.com (of course this really works best if it is an unusual name, etc.).  You also might try searching the AOL member directory.  If these fail you can write to:

 Department of Veterans Affairs
 Records Management Center
 P. O. Box 5020
 St. Louis, MO 63115

They can not give you an address, but can forward a letter to the last known address for the Veteran.  Again you must give as much info as possible about the veteran (military group, dates of service, area of service, etc) so they can locate the proper person you are looking for. 
 

  • Once you learn the crash site, you should write to the town's archivist or historian, who can assist you in trying to locate any accounts of the crash.  Ask them to forward your letter to a historical association in the area and/or hand your request to a local newspaper which could publish a note asking eye-witnesses to contact  you.  However, you will have to give them as many details of the crash as possible (exact crash location, day, time and other circumstances, which you will find in the MACR).  There are surprisingly many people still alive that witnessed these crashes and researchers are having good luck finding them. (On a personal note I have just located two eyewitnesses to my Dad's crash.) Click here to read the eyewitness accounts of my Dad's crash.

  • The American Ex-Prisoners of War has a monthly publication called the Ex-POW Bulletin that is mailed to all its members, as well as published on their website.  Try placing an ad in their  "Looking For" section.  There is no charge for placing the ad.  Here is the link to that page on their site http://www.axpow.org/lookingfor.htm 
      

     
  • Visit the Dad's War site or Army Air Forces.com site for more tips in researching.
     
  • Replacement of Medals:
     
    Veterans may request issuance or replacement of their medals and awards.  Family members may only request medals and awards of living veterans by obtaining their signed authorizations.  For deceased veterans, requests will be accepted from next-of-kin (unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran).  Military Awards and Decorations contains instructions and addresses for submitting requests.  A sample authorization is also included for review.

    To obtain the Prisoner of War medal - see this page on our site


     

Good luck in your search for information, I am sure it will be worth every hour you put into it.  In doing so you will meet some wonderful people, some of whom may have wondered for 50 plus years whatever happened to your loved one.
 



 


RECORDS OF MISSING AIR CREWS

In October 1942, Headquarters, Army Air Forces (AAF) undertook a 7-month study of the methods used in World War I to account for airmen reported missing in action and of the sources currently available for the same job. It was determined that those methods and sources were not adequate to World War II air war activities, and in May 1943 AAF recommended the adoption of a special form, Missing Air Crew Report (MACR), to record the facts of the last known circumstances regarding missing air crews. The MACR was also designed to relate that information to facts obtained later and from other sources, with the aim of determining the ultimate fate of missing personnel.

The War Department approved the AAF recommendation, and on May 23, 1943, the Adjutant General directed that within 48 hours of an official finding that an aircraft or any member of its crew was missing and had last been seen in combat or over enemy-held territory, an MACR be prepared by the station from which the aircraft had departed. These forms were then sent to Headquarters, AAF, in small batches and numbered consecutively there. The Casualty Branch, Headquarters, AAF, served as a central collection point for MACRs throughout the war. In late 1946 all MACRs at AAF Headquarters were transferred to the Identification Branch of the Memorial Division, Office of the Quartermaster General. These forms were a valuable part of the Quartermaster Department's postwar program to identify missing American military personnel. AAF units continued to prepare and submit MACRs though 1947 and in January 1949 all of those postwar reports were turned over to the Memorial Division.

Most of the reports of missing air crews [MACRs], 1943-47, therefore, are reports prepared soon after aircraft were reported missing, but some were prepared after the war by both AAF and the Office of the Quartermaster General. A few were also prepared, more or less "after the fact," for crashes that had occurred before the MACR form was institutionalized in May 1943. The reports in the series are arranged numerically in case files. It should be emphasized that the dates in the series title, 1943-47, refer to the timespan of the investigations, not to the dates of the aircraft losses themselves; the series covers only wartime losses plus a very few that occurred immediately after the end of hostilities.

The MACRs generally are used best in conjunction with other records but in a very few cases may be the only documentation available concerning a given individual. Four indexes to MACRs are available, arranged according to the following:

1. Personal name of each crew member
2. Tail number of lost aircraft
3. Date of loss
4. Serial number of each gun mounted on lost aircraft

The indexes indicate the number of the MACR in which the indexed term is found. Index entries occasionally contain "extra" information, such as the service number of an individual crew member. The reports themselves have been microfilmed by the National Archives and are available for reproduction. The indexes have not been microfilmed.

Typically an MACR gives some or all of the following kinds of information about each crew member:

1. Name
2. Rank
3. Service number
4. Crew position
5. Name and address of next of kin.

The report also usually indicates the following:

1. AAF organization to which the aircraft was assigned
2. Place of departure and destination of the flight plan
3. Weather conditions and visibility at the time of loss
4. Cause of crash
5. Type, model, and serial number of the aircraft and its engines
6. Kinds of weapons installed and their serial numbers

Some case files include the names of persons with some knowledge of the aircraft's last flight. In some cases these are rescued or returned crew members. Few reports contain the full range of information, especially those prepared in 1943 and in 1947.

The MACRs are arranged numerically in case files from 1 to 16,708, with a small incidence of irregularities and gaps in the numbering. The duplication of numbers was rectified with the addition of suffixes--"a,b,c," etc. Only about 120 of the case files are actually missing.


 

From our guestbook:

From:   Terry Thomas
E-mail: reneefarm1@aol.com
Hometown:  Sadieville ky
Sent: 2:05PM   -  7/24 2000

      I too lost my father many years ago (41). I knew his B-24 was shot down over Vienna Austria in Sept. 1944. My father,2nd Lt. John E Thomas and the bombardier got out of the plane before it exploded. The seven other crew members were killed. Both survivors were hurt while they were landing and taken prisoner, first by the civilians, who tried to hang them, then by the Germans. They ended up at Stalag Luft III, and then Stalag Luft VIIA, with other crews from the 450th and 720th.

       My father never talked of the war after he came home so I had very little information to go on. After about 1 hour on the internet and a few phone calls, I found the bombardier my father was POW with, he was alive and well and overjoyed to talk with me. He (Dillard R. Cantrell) has sent me information and documents that I though were lost for ever. Also through him the navigator, who was pulled off the flight has called me, he too had stories and pictures which he has sent me.

      
  My mother, sister, and I will be forever grateful to these men for opening their lives and memories to us. Our father lives again, our tears flow , but we are overjoyed to learn about our dad, and the young men who sacrificed their youth and their lives to save the world.

P.S.  Don't ever give up your search, its out there!

Thanks,

Terry Thomas
787 Hinton Cemetery Rd.
Sadieville, Ky. 40370

 

 

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