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. Verne Woods - B-17 pilot with 91st BG & POW

Lt. Verne Woods 
91st Bomb Group - 324th Bomb Squadron
B-17 Pilot
Stalag Luft I - North I Compound



Email Verne at




Mendelsohn Crew during World War II

Mendelsohn Crew  

Standing are (L to R) ball turret gunner Larry Hull, tail gunner Donald Frans, pilot Stuart Mendelsohn, co-pilot Verne Woods, waist gunner Stanley Sadlo and radio operator James Quinn.  

Front row - waist gunner Roke Lieberman, bombardier Harold Fox, navigator William Borellis, and engineer/top turret gunner Richard Hensley. 

Borellis is holding their mascot Eager Beaver that they took to England with them and who accompanied them on one mission.



The Death of the Black Swan - This is what we in Stalag Luft I called a "horror story". Each of the 9000 prisoners there had a horror story to tell.  Experiencing the "horror" of being shot from the sky was the universal prelude, the rite of passage if you will, to our incarceration. In addition to the episode that brought us to the German stalag, we prisoners usually had a collection of additional horror stories from earlier missions that we'd survived. So in Stalag Luft I we were satiated with horror stories -- sick and tired of hearing any more of them.  As a result, we became sensitized against subjecting anyone to our horror stories and this inhibition lasted well into the post-war years.  But in recent years, I find myself to be a garrulous old veteran, telling my December 31, 1943, horror story to anyone who might pause to listen


Remembering Stuart Mendelsohn - Most young American males in 1941 saw the attack on Pearl Harbor not as a National calamity but as an appreciated transition. Adventure was promised. That promise could best be realized, so I reasoned, as a pilot in the US Army Air Corps. Soon after Pearl Harbor, I took a battery of tests, passed, and on April 1, 1942, was sworn into Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. But before I reported to Santa Ana, California, I, at age 21, and Onie Belle Patrick, eight days past her 18th birthday, were married. Our first months of marriage must not have been especially happy ones for Onie, a little teen-age waif living alone in unfamiliar western towns far from Memphis while I, on near-by military bases, completed the various stages of pilot training. In April, 1943, a graduate of the class of 43-D, I received my pilot's wings and the brass bars of a second lieutenant. At an airbase near Blythe, California, I was introduced to the Boeing B-17 and to my combat crew.

bullet The Last German Soldier at Stalag Luft I  I've often wondered if others in North Compound I who witnessed the scene that I describe here remember it as I still do, a sadly dissonant note to the joy of liberation.


E-mail and the Terrorflieger  - On the Internet newsgroup,, World War II battles are refought, the FW-190 and the Zero face off in imaginary dogfights and the Sherman, Tiger and T-34 tanks compete again for engineering supremacy. Recently, when the forum took up the subject of the best WWII TV documentaries, I joined the discussion with this:


The Greatest Generation Reunites - Verne walked away  away from Stalag Luft I before the B-17s arrived to evacuate everyone. Just one of his 15 roommates joined him on the trip to the British Lines.    Tom Brokaw's  "The Greatest Generation Speaks" book recently led to him finding that roommate after 50 years.


Article published in the Foreign Service Journal - April 2004 article


Memorial Gardens in Savannah, GA - 8th AF museum

 Plaques in the Memorial Gardens
Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum in Savannah, Georgia


Verne and Onie Woods


Mendelsohn Crew placque at 8th AF Museum in Savannah, GA

Verne and Onie Woods - 2001  


Roommates at Stalag Luft I :

     Beam, J.B., Co-pilot, B-24, West Virginia
     Encinias, M, Pilot, Spitfire, New Mexico
     Guzilowski, C.J., Bombardier, B-24, New York
     Harrelson, J.D., Pilot, Spitfire, South Carolina
     Jankowski, C.J. Bombardier, B-1, New York
     Kupka, C.A., Co-pilot, B-17, Iowa
     Mauzy, K.S., Pilot, B-17, Maryland
     McBroom, W.P., Co-pilot, B-17, West Virginia
     Nixon, R.R., Co-pilot, B-17, Alabama
     Smith, H.M., Navigator, B-24, New York
     Smith, K.D., Pilot, B-17, Oklahoma
     Spencer, M.J., Navigator, B-17, Iowa
     Turk, F.D., Pilot, B-17, Washington


Mike Encinias and Melvin Spencer in 2003

Mike Encinias and Melvin Spencer - 2003


 Visit Verne's personal website

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