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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2nd Lt. Alvin G. Millspaugh

Co-pilot   B-24
15th Air Force
450th Bomb Group - 720th Bomb Squad

Stalag Luft I
North III - Block 5 - Room 5
Shot down on 5th mission -  November 6, 1944 at 12:09 - target Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

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Millspaugh crew in WWII

Standing L to R - Robert J. Mc Vay, Michael G. Pruvenok, Wayne R. Rinne, Marvin W. Doyle, Rocco L. Stefano

Kneeling L to R - George K. Maljanian, Alvin G. Millspaugh, Ireland R. Kearns, James H. Mouth

Not pictured - Joseph P. Matusavich (joined fight crew in Tunisia, North Africa)


The Crew

2nd Lt. Ireland R. Kearns
West Virginia
2nd Lt. Alvin G. Millspaugh
Oakland, Calif.
2nd Lt. George K. Maljanian
Providence, Rhode Island
2nd Lt. James H. Mouth
Bastrop, Texas
Cpl. Joseph P. Matusavich
Chicago, Illinois
Cpl. Robert J. Mc Vay
Homestead, Pennsylvania
Radio Operator
Cpl. Marvin W. Doyle
Roanoke, Virginia
Cpl. Michael G. Pruvenok
Gary, Indiana
Nose Gunner
Cpl. Rocco L. Stefano
Buffalo, NY
Ball Gunner
Cpl. Wayne R. Rinne
Warrenton, Oregon
Tail Gunner

To Rinnie:     Who never knew the end.

My Story

by Alvin G. Millspaugh

It was Nov. 6, 1944 on a milk run over Sarajevo, Yugoslavia when the fun really started for the young Alvin.  Our flight leader ( I can't remember his name) took us over the target 3 times before  "Bombs away".  After each run over the target those funny little black puffs of smoke got closer and closer.  The third time was the charm.  That's when one of Adolph's sharp shooters got one more for the Fuhrer.  Number 3 engine got hit and started burning.  Radio's out, intercom out, and we could not feather the engine.  Number 4 engine started running rough so we figured that it had also been hit.  With the aircraft on fire, the decision was made to get out.  This was my first sky diving experience, and I might add my last...  All the Army ever taught me about the parachute was to putt the "D-ring" and hope for the best.  It worked.  That beautiful while canopy blossomed forth like a white California daffodil. I must admit sky diving can be fun but I never was taught how to hit the ground.  With the wind blowing like hell I flew out from under the parachute and hit head first on a rock.  The Army always said "use your head" and I did!

     Shortly after, a German Captain in a Volkswagen Jeep drove up and said, "For you the war is over".  He got no argument from me as he and his men had those ugly looking machine pistols.  Nine of us made it.  Our tail gunner was killed.  I was taken to a German field hospital and was patched up.  The German doctor must have felt sorry for me as he let me spend the night in the hospital.  That was the last time I slept in a bed until we got to our P.O.W. camp.  Would you believe many years later I received the purple heart for that bump on my head?

     This was the beginning of phase one of my travels into the Heartland of scenic Europe.  I was soon to find out there were a lot more interesting phases about to take place.  Any my mama never told me there would be times like this.. As we had bailed out near the town of Mostar, the Germans interned us in the local jail house.  Four walls and a dirt floor.  This was it.  This was a learning experience for to survive in this "Arctic cold" climate.  IT was a little hard to stay warm.

     The days were a little on the dull side, but the activity picked up at night.  Lots of "fireworks".  We never figured out who won the shoot-outs, the Partisans or the Germans.  We were in those comfortable quarters for about two weeks.

     From Mostar to our P.O.W. camp we really had a "ball".  The scenic mountains of Yugoslavia and Austria covered with beautiful white snow, brisk clear cold air filling our lungs.  The wonderful transportation of the manicured box cars all "cozy" and warm.  There were nine of us to a car.  Truly the Germans thought of our comfort and well being.  Riding atop the open air flat cars one could really observe the beauty of the mountains and valleys.

     Our next stop after Mostar was Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. We were put up on the second floor of a warehouse next to the marshalling yards.  The same marshalling wards we had bombed a couple of weeks before. The timing was perfect.  Our friends of the 15th Air Force paid us a visit to help us on our way.  They gave us one hell of a send-off by dropping a big bunch of 500 pounders.  That bombardier had some good training somewhere.  Not one of those "eggs" came near our "penthouse", but he sure bent up a lot of railroad tracks.  If I knew who he was I would have given him my P.O.W. medal.

     After Sarajevo came Vienna, Austria. On this trip we rode in "air conditioned" flat cars.  Fun was had by all including the Germans!  Rain, snow, wind, ice.... you name it... we had it.  The partisans helped us along the way by taking pot shots at us.  I do not know where they learned how to shoot, but no one was hit....and they did scare the hell out of me!  When we got to Vienna, the Germans found a comfortable box car to spend the night in.  I do not remember how long we stayed there but I do remember we went through one big air raid and wouldn't you know it was the marshalling yards.  And as for our protection while sitting in the marshalling yards in Vienna and later in Frankfurt we were allowed to stay in the "bomb-proof" box cars.

     Then came the streets of Vienna.  Our guards marched us from one marshalling yard to another. Via --the center of town.  You would be surprised at the number of unfriendly people in Vienna, who wanted to work us over just because we busted up their town.  I can't say that I blame them, even the bricks were destroyed.  I flew on mission over Vienna and it was much more relaxing in the sky than in the streets of Vienna.  Just another little interlude in my "travels" through Europe.

     Next stop.....Germany.  From Austria into Germany there were lots of friendly fighter aircraft.  There was only one problem; they were shooting at us!!  Sure enough our train was hit but some good came out of it.  I was too scared to be cold anymore.  Seeing as the engine had some holes punched in it the Germans took us to a garden spot known as Austerestelle-west.  To those of us known as "kriegies", Austerestelle-west was the interrogation center (thought you might appreciate a little German lingo).  We were assigned comfortable little rooms, 5 ft. by 5 ft by 5 ft. high.  Just a little psychological and mental manipulation to help us to remember little details of our other life.  It was a big improvements over the manicured box cars.

     Then came Frankfurt-am-Main.  From the nice warm 5 by 5 interrogation room tot he beautiful snow covered city of Frankfurt, we stood pacing 3 days and 3 nights in the blowing snow trying to keep warm.  But thanks to our friends from the 8th Air Force, the temperature not only warmed up it got d*mned hot.  With the bombs dropping all around us the guards took us to an air raid shelter (d*mn nice of them!)  I do believe they did not want to get knocked off any more than we did.  The good people of Frankfurt did not seem too happy to see us.  H*ll, it was the 8th Air Force keeping them awake at night...not any of us nice guys from the 15th!

     In now appears that we are coming to the end of my world travels over Continental Europe.  Only one stop to go:  Stalag Luft I.  All I can say is "it was one H*ll of a ride while it lasted".  Thanks to the Army I did not need to go to college to further my education.  They paid me quite well for this hands on experience and would you believe I also got my flight pay...



The Day of Days

     Joe arrived at 10:20 on May 1st.  Also, news has been received that the "Great Bad Man (Hitler)" has done kicked the bucket.  We woke up this morning to gaze upon our own boys in the guard towers.  The jerries took off for parts unknown.  The camp is going crazy and we have the jerries radio and have picked up New York and now we are listening to the Hit Parade.  It seems the number one song is "Don't Fence Me In".  My God, but I am happy.  Six stinking months in this hell hole and here I am free.  The lights are all on, the fellows are all running around like mad men.  But the greatest thing is that those mad Russians are at the gate. "Kill the b*stards us my slogan.:  The boys are singing "Roll Out The Barrel".  They now have a Congo line, Lord what a madhouse.  I have chills running up and down my spine, we have food, and freedom to come and go as we please.  And now we are trying to figure out a means to turn the potatoes into Vodka and all get drunk.

     The Burgomeister at Barth committed suicide today by poison. But the whole town should take a suck at the gas pipe for all I care.  Tomorrow we can go outside of the fence and take over the d*mn countryside.  Some of the boys who have been down for eighteen months are shaking with happiness.  Can't say as I blame them.  I will not be able to sleep tonight.

     This is just a rough idea of how we feel: but I assure who ever reads this, this is the happiest day of my life.  For me the war is over.  You aren't kidding brother.  The Star Spangled Banner was just played.  Oh happy, happy day.

    A man who made a perfect day more perfect is Col. Zemke our commanding officer here at Stalag Luft I.  He is not only a great fighter pilot with 18 victories to his credit, but also did a superb job here at Kreigie land.  In contacting the Russians and keeping the jerries in hand, and is now working on getting us to England.  To him I owe much.  Zemke won the praise of the Germans by going under fire to pull women and children out of a train under a bombing and strafing attack.  He risked his life to do this.

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