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


If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if possible.

 Sign or view our Guestbook

Visit our
Online Store




If you would like to
  help us keep this website online, please click on the above PayPal link, where you may make a monetary contribution to this site using your credit card.  Thank you.



Stalag Luft I - E-mail us

Click to send us e-mail


Capt. Sam Webster Capt. Kenneth "Sam" Webster
Pilot - B-24
445 Bomb Group - 702 Bomb Squadron
Shot down Sept. 12, 1944 on a mission to Hanover, Germany


Stalag Luft I - South Compound
Barracks 1 - Room 9
KGF # 5845




Sam passed away June 16, 2005

Click here to e-mail his family


Kenneth Webster, called Sam, spent 10 months in a German prison camp by the Baltic Sea

By Andrew McGinn
News/Sun Staff writer

    Days after his 21st birthday Kenneth Webster was re-baptized a terror flieger - a bleak term for Yankee pilots who descended from the heavens at 160 miles per hour to annihilate the Nazi hate machine.
    Terror flyer.
    That what it translates to.
    To think, terror or not, most people have just called him Sam for the last 78 years.
    An all-American moniker if there ever was one.  And this Sam has an all-American story to match.
    A job as a photo engraver. A family man.
    A stint as a bomber pilot. A prisoner of war.
    Not an unusual story, by any means, but what separates this Sam from a million other Sams came in the form of a gift from the YMCA in June 1944.
    The gift was a "Wartime Log" as the red ink on its hard cover suggested.
    With the log, our Sam revealed a little about the times, and a lot about himself, as he sat for a hungry 10 months in a frigid Nazi prison camp off the Baltic Sea.
    All the boys received the gift as "a special remembrance from the folks at home", but how many are still around?
    Both boy and book, that is.
    After 28,489 days, Sam Webster is still kicking - and so is that battered log, which he now keeps in the kind of bag with a yellow-and-blue make green seal.
   "The red, white and blue meant something." Webster said, glancing at his five-decade-old Nazi mug shot. Prisoner No. 5845.  "We did the best we could for our country."

   In the beginning

    At the start of the second World War, Webster was working as apprentice photo engraver at Springfield's Crowell-Collier Publishing Co.
    A year later, he found himself classified as an Army Air Corps pilot, even though he'd never even been on a plane before.  That hardly mattered to him.
    "At that time, you thought that was your duty - to go fight for your country," he said.
    Still, even though it was his duty to fight, he had a certain role in mind.
   "I wanted to be a hot rod fighter pilot," Webster said with a boyish smile.
   No such luck.
   He received his wings on Dec. 4, 1943 and after transition school the government handed him a B-24 bomber fresh from the line - one of 19,256 built between 1939 and 1945.
   Dubbed the Liberator, the B-24 could fly faster, farther and carry a bigger bomb load than the popular B-17.
   "I was proud when I looked out my window and saw our country's emblem on the wing, " he said.
   Webster soon joined the 445th Bomb Group across the pond in Tibenham, England.
   Jimmy Stewart - yep, the actor - was a member of the same group, but a different squadron.
   A seemingly-endless ocean now separated Webster from his pregnant wife.

Q or Queenie

  At age 21, Webster flew his first combat mission in May 1944 with this B-24 Q for Queenie.  Pulverizing a Nazi rocket site somewhere in France was the initiation.
   "The easiest mission I ever flew," he recalled.  "I thought this would be a snap.  Nothing to it."
    Next mission was over Germany.
   "My whole concept changed," Webster said with the kind of chuckle that still sounded a little nervous after all these years.
    He didn't think much about the missions he flew.
  "You wipe that from your mind," explained Webster.  "You must hope you're getting rid of the baddies."
    Sometime later -- on his 22nd mission of the war to be exact - Webster's new B-24, the Dixie Flyer, took a direct hit on the way to pound a target in Hannover.
   He would later scribe a poetic account of the event in the aforementioned log.

   Off we went into the wild blue yonder,
  The mighty force , on a journey of plunder.
  We started with 12, on our mission of old,
  Flying formation into goonland so bold.
  Up came the flak, to mar the heaven,
  They all looked around and now they're 11.

  "I forget what the hell we were supposed to be bombing," Webster said shaking his head. "We never made it."
   Engines one and two were knocked out, half the crew was dead and an attempt to make Holland failed when the Flyer came within a thousand feet of the ground.
   Webster and crew bailed out - that is , without any prior parachute training.
   "When I pulled the rip chord, I thought I broke the chute," he bellowed.
   On the ground, it didn't take long for the Nazis to gather up the surviving crew.
   "I got womped on the head when I first got captured," he said.
   Webster still carries what he firmly believes is rifle butt-inflicted bump on his head.
    With both legs wounded from flak, he had to be carried by comrades.
   Before they were imprisoned however, the captured were paraded through Stuttgart.
   The enemy soldiers, he remembered, had to protect them from angry civilians.
   "I was a scared kid," said Webster. "One old guy had a cane and the only word he knew was son of a bitch."
    At the prison camp Stalag Luft I, Webster said hunger was horrible - much more than any SS guard, who Webster said were "bad asses."

    Soup, bread, potato peels

    The 8,939 Allied POWs were only given dehydrated vegetable soup and bread made from potato peels and sawdust each day.
   Red Cross parcels they received weekly when they first arrived would be stolen by Nazi soldiers as the war drew to a close.
  One guy in camp, Webster remembered, fed his rations to a stray cat. Needless to say, when the rations came up short, the cat came up missing.
   "The guys next door, they had a fried cat meal," he said, laughing.
   His log painstakingly details life in the camp -- from the exact contents of an American Red Cross parcel to drawings and poems.
   As Allied shells got closer, the Nazis were seen abandoning their guard towers.
   Before long, Russians had liberated Stalag Luft I, and Webster was home, log in hand.
  "I was a hometown boy," he said. "Glad to get home."
 Notes his log:

    They said our death was our glory, but they lied.
   The glory was in living, not dying.


The Webster Crew:

The Webster Crew - World War II

Lt. Samuel Smith Navigator Chelsea, MA
Lt. Henry Van Abnan Bombardier Long Island, NY
Capt. Kenneth E. (Sam) Webster First Pilot Springfield, OH
Lt. Jack Sherman Co-pilot Bronx, NY
S/Sgt. Wendall Knapp Asst. Radio Operator and Upper Turret Gunner Washington, MO
T/Sgt. Robert Brennan Radio Operator and Waist Gunner Eureka, CA
S/Sgt. Edward Kowlaski ** Armor and Tail Gunner Brooklyn, NY
T/Sgt. Haskel Shaver First Engineer and Waist Gunner White Pine, TN
S/Sgt. Thomas Cleary Asst. Armor gunner and nose gunner Bayonne, NJ
S/Sgt. Julius Angelo Ball Gunner and Asst. Engineer Hartford, CT

** S/Sgt Kowlaski did not fly on the day they were shot down.

Sam Webster's prisoner of war ID card issued by the Germans.

Sam's first plane - Q for Queenie

Kenneth "Sam" Webster's  POW ID Card

 "Q For Queenie"   Sam flew this plane on his first mission.

Sam Webster looks at memorial at the site of his B-24 crash in World War II.

Grave marker of Thomas Cleary - WWII     Grave marker of Julius Angelo - WWII
 Sam visits crash site in Ameland.  The people of Ameland have erected a plaque to commemorate the crash site. Thomas Cleary and Julius Angelo's grave markers. They were originally buried by the people of Ameland.

Sam Webster - 2001

Kenneth "Sam" Webster in 2001


The Websters dine with the Mayor

Mayor honored the Websters with dinner on Ameland on November 12, 2001

Bailing Out by Sam Webster

 Layout of Sam's room at the POW camp

Bailing out by Sam Webster

Sam's room layout at Stalag Luft I


How the Germans saw the Airmen in WWII



WHAT AN HONOR                

By  Ruth A. Webster  (wife) of Capt. K.E. (Sam) Webster

       After 57 years Capt. K. E. (Sam) Webster looks back and has many memories of his 4 ½ years of service in WWII.  My husband was then a young 19 year old, that wanted to help the country he loved. He passed the Aviation Cadet exam and entered the Army Air Force on Dec 4th of 1942. He then went through flight training and received his wings in December of 1943.  He then  had to go through B-24 transition school at Smyrna, Tenn.

     He got his crew in Salt Lake City Utah and went through phase training at Boise Idaho.   He joined the 445th Bomb Group at the end of May 1944.  He flew 21 missions and was shot down going to Hanover Germany on his 22nd mission. His plane was hit by flak in the left wing.  It knocked out his 1 and 2 engines. He tried to get back to England but he couldn’t hold his altitude and gasoline was pouring out of his plane. Then he tried to get to Holland , but was still losing too much altitude.  He saw an island and said it looked like the “ Garden of Eden”.  It was  Ameland, one of the East Frisian  Islands off the coast of Holland.

      They bailed out at about 500 feet.  They were receiving ground fire from the low altitude.  When his chute opened, he saw his plane the “Dixie Flyer”  crash and burn.  He then floated over a fence and landed in a marshy field.  It was a very short parachute jump.  The Germans were there immediately and told them “For you the war she is over".  He remained a prisoner at Stalag Luft I until the end of May 1945.

      Four men of his crew were killed. Three are buried on Ameland and one was sent back to America. On November 1, 2001, we flew to England to attend the 54th convention of the 2nd Air Division of the Eighth Air Force in Norwich. This was Sam’s first time back since his 1944 stint as a 1st Pilot with the 445th  Bomb Group - 702nd Bomb Squadron. which was at Tibenham, about 15 miles from Norwich. This year’s convention was scheduled to coincide with the dedication of the New Eighth Air Force Memorial Library, the first having been destroyed by fire in1994.  The new library is spectacular.  It has to be the most outstanding facility in the world.  We were in awe when we first set eyes on it.   The trip brought back many memories for Sam of the places, missions and the lost comrades.  He will always remember the crew that he lost.

     One of the side trips we made was to the American Cemetery at Madingly.  It was bitter cold walking around, so we went into the smaller reception building for awhile to warm up.  Sam was tired and needed to sit down.   A gentleman sitting to his right did a double take when he saw Sam’s nametag, Sam Webster  445 Bomb Group 702 Sq.   The gentleman looked at Sam and Sam looked at him and he asked Sam if there was more than one Webster in the group and Sam said "No".  A bit hesitantly the gentleman tapped Sam on the arm and asked if he flew out of Tibenham.  He said, "Yes". The man said, "Is that you Skip?", which is the name the crew always called Sam.  The man's eyes widened in surprise and he said, "I am Ed Kowalski, I was your tail gunner."  Both Sam and Ed were a bit overcome, since each one thought they were the only survivors for over 57 years.  Ed had not flown on that last mission. The only time he had missed being with his crew.     

    We felt so very honored in England.  The City of Norwich granting the honorary “Freedom of the City Medallion", for the first time to a foreign military entity underscores the depth of our truly unique relationship with the City of Norwich and the County of Norfolk.  We were proud of the medallion and wore it everywhere we went. People came up to us on the street to shake our hands and say thank you for what you did for us. It was very moving.  One night we got back to the Hotel late and were tired so we decided to sit in the lobby for awhile. Others joined us. One young man must have shook all our hands 5 times and said if it had not been for you good people I wouldn’t have been here.

      People in restaurants wanted to send over bottles of champagne, we said we were on medication and were drinking coke.  They said to give them a double of whatever we were drinking. Before we left that restaurant two other couples stopped to talk and shake our hands and say thank you for what you did for England. We would be remiss if we didn’t give a big thank you to David and Jean Hastings and Evelyn Cohen for the wonderful job they did putting everything together and giving us a trip of lifetime. We all are deeply indebted. We know you all must need a long rest from such a gigantic job, well done. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

     When we left England after all the honors they bestowed on us we flew to Amsterdam Holland.   Met by two young men, Rene Metz and Gerlof Molenaar from the Historical Society from Ameland. They drove over 80 miles to pick us up.  Then we took the ferry to Ameland.  We stayed in the beautiful Hotel the DeJong. The first day there we were honored at a breakfast with the 2nd Burgemeester (mayor) . Sam was given a tie with the city crest and other gifts from the city. After we had eaten they took us out to where Sam’s plane had crashed and had an unveiling of a plaque the city had put up to honor the crash site. They had Sam unveil it. They had also planted a tree in his memory, and had a bench placed there for all that come to see the plaque to rest on.

    The media and the news were on hand to honor him. . After we all got into the cars and left there we were taken to the museum, where they had the thick glass window that had been installed in Sam's new B-24-J.   it was cracked so bad the day of the crash that Sam couldn’t look out and see his engines. The glass was seven layers thick. They had a plaque on it and wanted to take pictures with it with Sam. The plane had armor plating on the side and back of the pilot's seat and this is what saved Sam’s life, as the flak came under the armor and hit him in both legs.

    When he parachuted out of the plane that was the first time he had used a chute.  When he pulled the ripcord he thought he had broken it. The ripcord pulls free when you open your chute.  One of the most amazing things we saw was a bride dress and a flower girl dress that were a beautiful white with hand sewn flowers on the dresses.  We learned that they were made from Sam’s parachute!

   They did many interviews and took many, many pictures.  The 1st Burgemeister,  Paul Berhoeven, (mayor of 4 cities dined us royally).  He gave me cards and said if any of our children, grandchildren or great grandchildren were coming to Ameland for them to see him and he would take good care of them. While we were in Ameland we received so many nice gifts and they wouldn’t let us pay for a thing. We did get to take everyone out for a good dinner and paid the bill.

   This ends the saga of our marvelous and memorable adventure.    

Return to Kriegies



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