World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

The Poetry


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

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Poetry and Quotes from the diaries of World War II Prisoners of War


High Flight 

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds,-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God

This poem was found in many of the Kriegies' YMCA issued diaries.    Written by John G. Magee on September 3, 1941.  Magee was born in Shanghai, China, of missionary parents-an American father and an English mother, and spoke Chinese before English. He was educated at Rugby school in England and at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut.  He won a Scholarship to Yale, but instead joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in late 1940, trained in Canada, and was sent to Britain. He flew in a Spitfire squadron and was killed on a routine training mission on December 11, 1941. The sonnet above was sent to his parents written on the back of a letter which said, "I am enclosing a verse I wrote the other day. It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed." He also wrote of his course ending soon and of his then going on operations, and added, "I think we are very lucky as we shall just be in time for the autumn blitzes (which are certain to come)."

Magee's parents lived in Washington, D.C., at the time of his death, and the sonnet came to the attention of the Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish. He acclaimed Magee the first poet of the War, and included the poem in an exhibition of poems of "faith and freedom" at the Library of Congress in February 1942. The poem was then widely reprinted, and the RCAF distributed plaques with the words to all airfields and training stations.

The reprintings vary in punctuation, capitalization, and indentation from the original manuscript, which is in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Some portions are faded and difficult to read, but the version above follows Magee's as exactly as can be made out, following his penciled note on another poem, "if anyone should want this please see that it is accurately copied, capitalized, and punctuated." Nearly all versions use "...even eagle," but careful scrutiny show that it was "ever", formed exactly like the preceding "never."

President Ronald Reagan quoted from the first and last lines in a televised address to the nation after the space shuttle Challenger exploded, January 28, 1986. 


"There's a mission today"

by S/Sgt. Edward A. Greenlaw of Tacoma, Washington - North 1 Compound

There's a mission today - you're scheduled to fly.
So you wait by the ship and look at the sky.
It's cloudy up there and the wind starts to blow.
But the mission ain't scrubbed - get in and go.

Your nerves are on edge, you cuss and you sweat,
if this damned ship flies you lose your bet.
But the ship takes off and you settle down
and cast a longing glance at that lovely ground.

The ship will fly while the engines run
so you take your post at your trusty gun
and check to see if it's working right.
If the round ain't short nor the head space tight.

You check your chute and try your phone
It doesn't work and you have a groan
You struggle and test with the blasted thing
And it's finally fixed for you hear it sing

You call the pilot and tell him you're set
And the radioman breaks in on the net.
The rest of the crew all check in turn
Except the nose, they'll never learn.

You've joined your squadron and joined your group
the vapor trails are as thick as soup.
Your breath comes short and you check your hose
and cuss like hell cause the damn thing's froze.

You clear the ice and you breathe again
It's the life for birds - but not for man.
Your face is cold and your masks too tight
so you pull it off and fix it right.

You're climbing fast as you look behind
To see if the Squadron's all in line.
Formation looks good and is staying tight
So you figure everything's going all right.

The hours pass slow till you're nearly there
Your eyes smart and burn from the ceaseless glare
Of a sun that's cold as a chunk of ice
For the temperature is far from nice.

You've never seen it so damned cold.
It tightens you up with a square hold.
Your fingers freeze to the grips of your guns.
You wonder who said that flying is fun.

But you stick it out and stay at your post
If you leave your gun the reports read "lost"
If heaven's this cold you'd choose to dwell
In the hottest furnace they've got in H*ll.

The pilot call that your getting close
Re-check your guns and oxygen hose.
You pull your helmet and flak suit tight
And pray to God that all goes right.

Navigator calls you're on the I.P.
But your eyes are froze and cannot see.
So you pull out the ice and frozen lash
And you see a fighter come in like a flash.

You grab your gun and fire a burst
The b*stard's gone down but he's raised a thirst
That burns in your throat and your mouth goes dry
As you spot another way off in the sky.

You line him up in the ring of your sight
And get all set for a d*mn good fight.
He's coming in and doesn't stop.
Till you hear the upper start to pop.

Then there's  a puff and a burst of flame
And you add that fighter to your engineer's claim.
Now your rid of two but you call in more
You cuss and pray that their aim is poor.

It makes you mad and you feel mean
But you think of home and places you've been.
It's just a thought and it passes fast
And you fire like H*ll as a Jerry dives past.

You never know if you knocked him down
No time to watch him, keep looking around.
They're swarming  now like angry bees
A "twenty" come through and you feel its breeze.

They make their attacks in a steady pass
And you're willing to bet they've got your *ss
But you track 'em in and get their range
You're enjoying yourself 'tho that sounds strange.

It's fifty below but your wringing wet
And your forehead's covered with frozen sweat.
With a final pass the Jerries drop back.
Then you know d*mn well you're heading for flak.

It's coming up now and bursting fast
And coming so close you feel its blast.
So you make yourself small and try to pray
And hope that this is your lucky day.

Your bombardier calls, you're on the run
You wait to hear that the job is done.
The "bombs away" comes over the wire
But you're watching a ship go down on fire.

The stuff is still bursting thick and black
And you cuss the guy that invented flak.
It pounds on the ship like an angry surf.
You're scared to h*ll, but you keep you're nerve.

You're skipper is wise, he's dodging the stuff
But there in the tail the riding is rough.
The ship is hit cause you feel the lurch.
Your guns swing free as you lose your perch.

You feel her lurch and start to drop
And over the 'phone comes "feather the prop!"
Smoke streams back from Number Two
But your pilot is quick and pulls her through.

Now she's under control and flying level
That skipper of yours is a cool headed devil.
You're out of the flak and the ship still flies
And you look behind at the smoky skies.

The group behind is in flak now
And catching H*ll from stern to bow.
You watch two ships go falling down
They both blow up when they hit the ground.

But you're feeling good 'cause you've got your hide
You've beat the flak, no fighters in sight.
There's still three engines running good
You're heading for home and think of food.

The pilot calls at twelve thousand feet
Pull off your mask and turn down the heat.
You strike a match and light a fag
Inhale deep that first sweet drag.

Soon you're over the field and circling round
Then into the pattern and on the ground.
Then take her up to the parking place
You've made it again with the good Lord's grace.

Clear your gun and raise up its cover
Then scramble out to look her over.
The ground crews there with a silly grin
They ask "Where in H*ll have you been?"

She's full of holes from nose to tail
But she went and came and didn't fail.
Just above where your head has been
You could drive a truck thru the vertical fin.

But it's time to brief so you grab a truck
And you realize you've had good luck.
Talk the mission over on the trip to group
Where S-2 briefs and gets your "poop".

Your job is done so down to the tent
Then head for chow like a man h*ll bent.
Those empty seats sort of spoil the meal
You've lost some pals, but it doesn't seem real.

You wait a while and watch the door
But they don't come back like they've done before.
So you try to forget it and think of tomorrow
You've paid for the flight but not the sorrow.

It's cloudy tonight and looks like rain
But the bulletin board reads "OP" again.
The target tomorrow? It's hard to say
Sweat it out again in the usual way.

This story goes on, it has no end
You lose a ship and you lose a friend.
Maybe some day you won't come back
And they'll chalk you up to 'fighters and flak'.

It's a hell of a life and you feel the strain
But you'd do the whole thing over again.
Still you pray for the day when there'll be no war
So you can see what in h*ll you've been fighting for.

You're doing your job. You're winning the fight
Doing your best to make things right.
Just hope you'll live thru it and someday see
That "lasting peace in a world that's free"


Can You Take It?

by Anonymous - this poem was found on the wall of a solitary confinement cell at Dulag Luft, the German interrogation center where all POWs shot down were taken to be questioned..

It's easy to be nice, boys
  When everything's O.K.
It's easy to be cheerful,
  When your having things your way.
But can you hold your head up
  And take it on the chin.
When your heart is breaking
  And you feel like giving in?

It was easy back in England,
  Among the friends and folks.
But now you miss the friendly hand,
  The joys, and songs, and jokes.
The road ahead is stormy.
  And unless you're strong in mind,
You'll find it isn't long before
  You're dragging far behind.

You've got to climb the hill, boys;
  It's no use turning back.
There's only one way home, boys,
  And it's off the beaten track.
Remember you're American,
  And when you reach the crest,
You'll see a valley cool and green,
  Our country at its best.

You know there is a saying
  That sunshine follows rain,
And sure enough you'll realize
  That joy will follow pain.
Let courage be your password,
  Make fortitude your guide;
And then instead of grousing,

  Just remember those who died.


You can always tell a Gunner by his greasy hands and vacant stare - and
You can always tell a Bombardier by his manners debonair - and
You can always tell a Navigator by his pencils books and such - and
You can always tell a Pilot - but you can never tell him much.

by: George Lesko                                  


They shall not grow old, As we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, And in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.


An Escort of P-38's
- by: Tech. Sgt. Robert H. Bryson (KIA on a mission to Messina)
(The line re being rejected apparently referred to his draft board.)

Oh, Hedy Lamarr is a beautiful gal and Madeleine Carroll is too;

But you'll find, if you query, a different theory amongst any bomber crew.
For the loveliest thing of which one could sing (this side of the Heavenly gates)
Is no blonde or brunette of the Hollywood set,
                                          but an escort of P-38s
Yes, in the days that have passed when the tables were masses of glasses of Scotch or champagne,
It's quite true the sight was a thing to delight us, intent on feeling no pain.
But no longer the same, nowadays in this game, when we head north from Messina Straits
Take the sparkling wine........and every time just make mine
                                         an escort of P-38s
Byron, Shelley and Keats ran a dozen dead heats describing the view from the hills
Of the valleys in May when the winds gently sway an army of bright daffodils.
Take the daffodils, Byron; the wild flowers, Shelley; yours is the myrtle, friend Keats.
Just reserve me those cuties, American beauties............
                                          an escort of P-38s
Sure we're braver than hell; on the ground all is swell. In the air it's a different story.
We sweat out our track through the fighters and flak - we're will to split up the glory.
Well, they wouldn't reject us so Heaven protect us and until this shooting abates
Give us the courage to fight 'em...and one other small item,
                                           an escort of P-38s
P-38 planes



As Flak Goes By - Author unknown

You must remember this
That flak don't always miss
And one of you may die.
The fundamental thing applies
As flak goes by---

And When the fighters come
You hope you're not the one
To tumble from the sky
The odds are always too damned high
As flak goes by---

110's and 210's knocking at your gate
Come on you jokers, come on kill that rate
And should a bomb hang, salvo don't wait
The targets passing by---

It's still the same old story
A tale that's too damned gory
Some brave men have to die
The odds are always high
As flak goes by.

You'll Never Mind - Author unknown

Come on and join the Air Corps
It's a grand branch so they say
You never do no work at all
Just fly around all day---

While others work and study hard
And so grow old and blind
You take to the air without a care
And never never mind. (chorus)

You'll never mind, you'll never mind
Come on and join the Air Corps
And you will never mind---

We are a bunch of heathen
We do not give a snap
For the groundlings point of view
And all that sort of crap
We want about 10,000 ships
Of every other kind
And then of course our own Air Force
And we will never mind. (chorus)

Come on and get promoted
As high as you desire
Your riding on a gravy train
When you're an Army flier.
And just when you're about to be
A general you will find
Your ship blows up the wings fall off
But you will never mind (chorus)

A Handsome Young Airman - Author unknown

Oh, a handsome young airman lay dying
Surrounded by wreckage he lay
And the mechanics who stood all around him
Swear these are the words he did say, did say.

I never should have joined the Air Corps
Mother, dear Mother knew best
For now I lay here in the wreckage
Pratt Whitney all over my chest, my chest.

From the small of my back take the crankshaft
The piston rods out of my brain
The cylinders out of my kidneys
And assemble the plane again, again

When the Board of Inquire assemble
Tell them the reason I died
Was a very flat spin that resembled
The maximum angle of glide.

Here's to the land that bore me
Here's to the land that I love,
To fight for death and glory
And to die in the sky's above.

Stand by your glasses ready
For this is a world full of vice
Drink to the dead already
And here's to the next one that dies.

I never should have joined the Air Corps
Mother, dear Mother knew best
For now I lay here in the wreckage
Pratt Whitney all over my chest, my chest.


A similar version

Fortress Blues

Why did I join the Air Corps?
    Mother, dear Mother, knew best.

Here I lie 'neath the wreckage,
    A Fortress all over my chest.

If you ever lose an engine,
    And you don't know which way to turn,
Just reach right up on the dashboard,
    Push the button marked spin, crash and burn!

The Fort is a very fine airplane
    Constructed of rivets and tin,
With a top speed of over 100,
    The ship with a headwind built in.

If you ever run into ack-ack,
    Or a Messerschmidt makes a good pass,
Just pick up your chute and start walking;
    To hell with the crew, let 'em crash.

Why did I join the Air Corps?
    Mother, dear Mother, knew best.

Here I lie 'neath the wreckage,
    A Fortress all over my chest.

Beside A German Waterfall - Author unknown

Beside a German waterfall
On a very bright summer day
Beside a shattered airplane a navigator lay.
His pilot hung from a coconut tree
He was not yet quite dead
So listen to the very last words the navigator said.

We're going to a better land
Where everything's all right
Where whiskey flows from telephone poles
Play poker every night
We'll never have to work again
Just sit around and listen
We'll have beaucoup wild women
Oh death where is thy sting.

Thanks for the Memory - Author unknown

Thanks for the memories, of flights to Germany
Across the Northern Sea, with blazing guns
We fought the Hun, for air supremacy.
How lucky we were!

Thanks for the memories, of Me-109's
And Flak guns on the Rhine
They did their bit and we were hit
So ended our good times...we miss them so much!

We drifted far out of formation
We jumped-and what a sensation
And now we sweat out the duration
Our job is done, we had our fun.

So thanks for the memory
Of days we had to stay, at Stalag Luft 1A
The cabbage stew which had to do
Till Red Cross Parcels came
How thankful we were.

So thanks for the memory
When "D" Day came along
We changed our marching song
From "Forever and a Day" to "War ain't Here to Stay"
We thank God for that!

Title and Author unknown

It was late in the evening
The guests were all leaving
O'Riley was closing the bar,
When he spotted this woman
This Red headed woman.
Get out, you can't stay where you are
She shed a big tear in her bucket of beer
As she thought of the cold night ahead.
When out of the crapper
Stopped a gentleman dapper
And these are the words that he said--

Her mother never told her
The things a good girl should know.
The ways of means of Air Corps men
And how they come and go.
Now age has stolen beauty
And time has left its scar.
So think of your mother and sister boys,
And let her sleep under the bar.



Roll Call Thoughts 
This poem was found in the photo album of a Stalag Luft I German intelligence officer, Heinrich Haslob known as "Henry, the butcher" to the POWs.  Henry had lived in New York prior to the war and had worked as a butcher.  The author is unknown.

We've stood in the rain, the snow and the sleet,
We've stood there for hours with nothing to eat
And why have we stood there, so "Browned off" and mad?
Because Unterofficer Noyes just couldn't add.

We've dug nice long tunnels through miles of sand.
Made fancy clothes and hid in tin cans.
But why have we failed to leave "Kriegie" Land?
Because Henry the "Butcher Boy" is always on hand. 

We don't like this camp, so windy, so bleak,
And the barking of watch-dogs that bother our sleep.
Oh, Major Von Muller please give us a break;
Just call of your Blood-hounds and let us escape!



A Gunner's Day
- Author unknown 
 Waist Gunner

A gunner's day is never done,
Up at dawn before the sun.
With the roar of engines in his head,
Wishing he could have stayed in bed.

Chow at four, fried eggs and such,
Won't have time to eat too much.
Briefing at five, the crew is all there,
And ever anxious to be up in the air.

See to your chute, ammunition and guns,
For the boys all know its not for fun.
Jerry will be there high up in the blue,
Waiting for someone, perhaps for you.

Take off at six or maybe at six-thirty,
Hope no one has a gun that is dirty.
Form with the group at 12,000 feet,
See the formation, they really look neat.

Put on your mask the air is getting thin,
Off to battle, some with a grin.
Were over the water, now test your guns,
Enemy coast, here comes the fun.

Flak at six and flak at twelve,
Look out! you hear the bombardier yell.
Here come Fighters, coming in low
Maybe they're ours, don't shoot till you know.

P-58's and P-38's
Our escort is here, they're never late.
They're fighting fools, each man and his ship.
There is never a Jerry they couldn't whip.

The air is cold just fifty below, 
Turn up the heat so you don't freeze a toe.
A sharp lookout boys, the target is near
We don't care to meet the enemy here.

There is the target, plenty of flak,
Bombs Away! Boys now we turn back.
Coming out of the sun, there  are enemy ships,
Aim true boys, we've still got more trips.

There goes one down, another one too.
Our Fighters are busy to see none get through.
There one flames in the sky, as another goes down
The pilot bails out, he makes it safe to the ground.

Then in our tail our guns start to roar,
There's blood on your guns, you shoot as before. 
Your ship is hit but still flies through the air,
You think of your loved ones and whisper a prayer.

Smoke from the target leaps high in the sky,
We'll show the damn Jerries we know how to fly,
The Fighters have left us, the few that are left
Our Fighters got some, we got the rest.

We've been up six hour, two hours to go
Though were doing 200, it seems very slow.
England at last, the tail gunners learn
We think of our buddies who will not return.

We're over the field the crew gives a sigh
We have finished another to do or to die.
Wheels touched the ground with a screech and a bump,
Our ship brought us back over the hump.

We're tired, dirty, thirsty and sore,
The sun has gone down an hour before. 
First clean your guns, do it good boys
For that gun's life is mine or yours.

A sandwich and coffee, your chute you turn in,
Down to the briefing room, turn in your gun.
Two meals, both in the darkness of night,
Get on your nerves, but you're still ready to fight.

The mess hall is warm in the cold of night,
You sit down to eat, talk between bites.
You talk of Fighters, theirs and ours, too
And of the boys that didn't get through.

Of ships going down exploding in air,
The bullets that missed your head by a hair.
Your ship full of holes, guess Joe is in bed,
He has a flak fragment lodged in his head.

Then head for your sack at nine or ten.
A letter from home, another from her.
I love you she wrote, then you know you've won,
A gunners day is never done.


FOR YOU DER VAR IST OVER - Author Unknown 

When your bombs are gone
And the course your on
Promises a view of Dover
You'll get a surprise
When you realize
"For You Der Var ist Over"

When you chute slaps your back
With a jerk and a smack
As you light on the verdant clover
You feel with dismay
That starting this day
"For You Der Var ist Over"

As you march thru town
With an uneasy frown
Cause the guard has folks in Hanover
You get the idea
That in this area
"For You Der Var Ist Over"

When the harmless Flak
Breaks your "Libs" back
No longer a skyward rover
And your hearing them say
In their guttural way
"For You Der Var ist Over"

Then when your a Kriegie
And no longer free
When you would like to be a rover
You look for the date
When they will open the gate
And the damn Var ist Really Over.


A poem by 2nd Lt. Meredith D Fink   Bombardier
Shot down over Austria, Nov.2, 1943 "Lady Be Good" B-17
Stalag Luft 1 (North compound),  from Nov. '43 till May, 1945 

We are the men who no longer fly
Mid the threat of fire and flak
We are the one's who are forced to stand by
To the fight we can never go back

Our small domain is encircled by wire
Not even the ground can we roam
To wait quietly by the war does require;
Please God-Why can't we go home?

On days when the weather is very clear
And we gaze into the sky
Sometimes we can see what our captors fear!
Our own planes flying by!

Then we on the ground see the scorching flak,
So send up a silent prayer
To ask him to guide them safely back
Our classmates in the air

They are the brave boys we flew with
Some of whom have yet to die,
Others will come here to join us,
While the rest continue to fly

Some day when the war is over,
And we hear the battle is won
Let's hope that he'll have a record
Of the various deeds we've done




They say he died in glory,
What ever that may be.
If its dying in a burst of flame,
Then glory's not for me.

In the briefing room this morning,
He sat with clear eyes and strong heart,
Just one of many airman
Determined to do his part.

My buddy had the guts alright,
He sought not glory nor fame.
He knew there was a job to do,
My crew all felt the same.

But death had the final word,
In its log it wrote his name.
For my buddy died this afternoon
In glory - in a burst of flame.

(Dedicated to Mike Shanley who gave his life ditching on his 6th mission)

KRIEGIE THOUGHTS -  Author Unknown 

Barbed Wire! Barbed Wire! Barbed Wire!
To the North, South, West and East
Will it always hold me captive
Without hope or joy or peace

Must I ever curve this eager flame
That burns within my chest
Or know once more the joy of home
With pleasant hours of rest

Such questions to my mind do crowd
When deep in thought I sit
But ever with it comes the cry
It won't be long, don't quit

And so it goes from day to day
A never changing scene
But someday soon I will leave it all
As though it were a dream.


A DREAM - Author Unknown 

Last night I held a lovely hand
A hand so soft and neat
I thought my heart would burst with joy
So wildly did it beat
No other hand unto my heart
Could greater solace bring
Than that dear hand I held last night
Four Aces and a King.

ONE HAS GONE - Author Unknown 

We drink to him as comrade must
But it is still the same old story
A coward goes from dust to dust
A gunner from dust to glory.


The following poems reflect the effect starvation had on the prisoners.  Virtually every waking minute was spent obsessing on food. 

The Kriegie Pledge -  Author Unknown 
I think that I shall never see
A meal that won't appeal to me!
Admitted that in days gone by
I've left a crumb of apple pie
Or a tiny scrap of meat
On my plate I didn't eat!
But now it is my firm resolve
To make all food that's near dissolve
That any dumb and wasteful fool
Might leave around to make me drool!
And I'll never hesitate
To clean the scraps all off my plate!
Meals are missed by fools like me,
But never again - I guarantee! 

By:  Lt. Larry Phelan,  Stalag Luft III,  dedicated to his wife:

I dream as only captive men can dream
Of life as lived in days that went before;
Of scrambled eggs, and shortcakes thick with cream;
And onion soup and lobster Thermidor;
Of roast beef and chops and T-bone steaks,
And turkey breast and golden leg or wing'
Of sausage, maple syrup, buckwheat cakes,
And chicken broiled or fried or a la king.
I dwell on rolls and buns for days and days,
Hot corn bread, biscuits, Philadelphia scrapple,
Asparagus in cream or hollandaise,
And deep-dish pies - mince, huckleberry, apple.
I long for buttered creamy oyster stew,
And now and then, my pet, I long for you.



Kelly get your barracks bag,
  The shipping list is here.
We're sailing on the first tide,
  For home of yesteryear.

But Kelly strained no muscle
  To join the homing flocks.
He was packed before a tiny stove,
  Beside a Red Cross Box.

Kelly, we are sailing
  The bitter war is done.
We are off to the USA
  To sweethearts and to fun.

But Kelly turned a deaf ear
  His stubbornness he kept.
" I should sail for anywhere"
  "With all these groceries left".

It's a sad sad tale they tell these days
  Along the bowery streets.
Of Kriegsgafangen Kelly
  And his parcel full of meats.

Some men love adventure
  And some love curly locks,
But Kriegsgafangen Kelly
  Loved his faithful Red Cross Box


  Kriegie Sonnet -  Author Unknown 

Chocolate candy, ice cream cake.

Soda sundaes and milk shakes,

Rare beef roast, Boston baked beans,

White bread toast, fresh garden greens.

Red ripe tomatoes, shrimp salad and steak,

French fried potatoes, Cape Cod clam bake,

Chicken and dumplings, hot dogs long,

Hamburgers with onions, coffee strong,

Spaghetti ravioli, Parker hose rolls,

Cold Coca-cola, sweet donuts with holes,

Oyster stew and chicken chop suey,

Candid yams in sauce all gooey,

Corn on the cob, turkey and dressing,

You've finished the job and brother,

That's messing!



P.O.W Blues -  Author Unknown 

They said when we left Dulag
   Barth is real refinement.
But when we reached Stalag One
   They gave me solitary confinement.

They parked us on the Baltic Sea
    In Barracks cold and drafty.
The coal ration is "kapoot"
    And the wire drives us daffy.

We're mighty close to Sweden,
   The land of ice and snow.
But when I see the barbed wire fence,
    I know that I can't go.

I'd like to leave my kriegie pals,
   This place really stinks.
But those who try to take a stroll,
   Are sure to get the "klink".

We're always digging tunnels,
  To pass the time away.
But a jerk we call a ferret,
  Caves them in most every day.

The Jerry bread is awful,
   The turnips are still worse.
The barley is full of worms,
   And it makes us all curse.

At roll call every morning,
  Block six is always late.
For the kriegies lay in bed at night,
   And have a big debate.

The hauptman tries to tally us,
   While the colonel take P.T.
The way the Jerry's miscount us,
  Sure seems funny to me.

I take my vitamins each morning
   And then I eat my stew.
It sure broke down my resistance,
   And now I have the flu.

We have the Jerries running now
   On the land and on the sea.
And I sure hope ole Ike or Joe,
  Will come and rescue me.


And the story begins...

     At one time there dwelleth in the land of the Romans a group of strange men who flitted here and there in the sky and maketh like the birds.  For such was their business to bring succor and protection to their brethren who lumbereth about on more unwieldy wings and they were called birdmen.

     And one morning as the sun first shineth on the hut of the sleeping birdmen, the CQ entereth therein and he sayeth.  "Arise for the time of briefing is at hand." And he hastily departed for he was wise in the ways of the birdmen and with much cursing and murmuring they arose and appeased their tender bellies on fish heads and rice.  For alas, such was the manner of their quartermaster who walked about on paddled feet.

     Wherefore the birdmen windeth their way to the briefing hut wherein they beheld strong markings on the wall.  Many were the red spots on the plan of the enemy's stronghold. And their gaze fell upon the handwriting on the wall for such it was and they sayeth one to another, "No, this cannot be."  And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth and the sound of murmuring suddently ceased as the "Great White Owl" entereth the room and he spoke to them saying.  "Yea, verily wing upon wing of our big friends must go forth this day and assaileth the enemy and let us not laggeth behind for he who stayeth is lost."  And there was one among them who was called S-2 who claimeth to know the way of the enemy but he knoweth not and he goeth not. And he spoke to them in riddles and they believeth him not but they sayeth one to another, "Wherefore he speaketh this for he knoweth not the odds by which we reapeth in the end" and still another spoke to them of the winds and clouds but he confuseth them and they believeth him not.

     And they leaveth the briefing room some entereth the little house in great haste and others entereth the bigger house in greater haste.  This they departed of their winged steeds wherein they entangled each of them with boots and straps.  After a confusing manner and each was known to the other by various colors and numbers that they may know their place.  And in the manner each after the other breaketh the bonds of the earth and one among them runneth fast but lifteth not, for the R.P.M. runneth away and the others wondereth of his good fortune and still another returneth for his temperature riseth but he waxeth cold.

     And as they cometh to the appointed place their big friends are gone before them and the birdmen are troubled, for lo their fuel dribbleth fast and as they draw nigh to the target they beheld many and numerous flashes amongst them.  And they weaveth and swoopeth to escape the flak for such it was called. And "Red One" called the "Great White Owl" and sayeth "Whether shall we turn. Canst thou not lead us out?" and the "Great White Owl" sayeth, "Oh, ye of little faith why dost thou murmur against me?"  And at this time great multitudes of the enemy birdmen descended on the big friends and the forts were clobbered for such was the custom in those days.  And they calleth forth the little birdmen to come forth and give them succor and they all came forth except one who came fifth he speaketh of having a Focke-Wolfe on his tail.  Whereupon each of the birdmen turneth this way and that way and were lost one unto the others and great confusion reigneth and "Red One" calleth the "Red Two" saying "Where are thou?" and "Red Two" answereth saying "Lo and behold, I spinneth out and am lost onto thee."  Then they say one to the other "Hitteth the silk!" and the parasols fluttered earthward.  Thus they came to Kriegieland.




THE  GODS  FALL  DOWN - by Ralph Parker

When Zeus did quaff his nectar
And brave Mars, his portion too
This ancient world had never heard
Of prune and raisin brew

The heavens then were peaceful
When the Gods sat down to dine
Honey-mead was drink enough
None thought of prune-juice wine

Apollo coaxed his lyre --
Playing soft celestial tunes
Godly company waxed gay enough
Without distilling prunes

But soon a stated weary Zeus
Looked down on earthly peril
And marveled at downed airmen
Sipping thunder from a barrel

His eyes stood wide in wonderment
"These must be fighting demons
Who fill the air with battle cries
And scorn delirium tremens"

"Ho, Mercury, with winged feet,
Fly swiftly down to earth.
Seize me a cup of their strange mesh,
I feign would judge its worth"

Thus bid, the faithful messenger
Sped down to do his task.
Unseen by joyous revelers
He filled a golden flask.

He bore it swiftly to the sky
Unto his master's feet.
Impatient Zeus, drank deeply
Of this errant earthly treat

Zeus' throat belched flame and ashes
Lightning played around his throne
And the heavens split asunder
With his piteous, piercing groan

Olympus Mount swayed crazily
Consumed by liquid fire
Gods toppled from their glory
Into Hades' stygian mire

"Oh why, Zeus your visit?
To this dirth domain of horrors"
Quoth Charen, master of the river Styx
On Hades' stygian shores

"Taunt me not" Zeus sadly answered,
"For I did not crave a boon
I sought to sip the wonders
Of a foul fermented prune"

"Bring me balm to sooth my temple
Which is throbbing near to burst.
Ne'er again will I petition prunes
To quench my foolish thirst"

"Those mortals have the best of us
Tho' they are mad as loons --
To make their mead of thunder claps
Distilled from rancid prunes"


For Ever More
By Fran Chumley - 1944  - Wife of Stalag Luft I POW Perk Chumley

I rushed home from work with an eager heart
To find a V-Mail waiting.
It had the news of places he had been
And not a word of hating.
He had a war he was helping to win
And doing a good job too.
If only they'd given him half a chance
To show what he could do.

He told what he could of his missions,
And told of all the thrills
I should have enjoyed this with him,
But it sort of gave me chills.
One day the letters stopped coming
And I didn't know what to do
It wasn't like him to stop writing,
And then I sort of knew. 

I thought back over our eight happy months
Of arguments, laughter and tears,
Eight happy months I would never trade
For any amount of years.
I didn't dare think, yet I had all the faith
I knew he wasn't dead,
Then the long waited message arrived one day

Missing in action was a terrible blow,
I didn't know what to do.
Yes, I cried and cried some more
But still I sort of knew.
I settled myself to just sit and wait
For the news that was yet to come.
My news I thought was pretty bad,
But not as bad as some.

After waiting for two long unhappy months,
The message arrived one day.
It was the news I had been praying for
So I was Happy and gay.
"In Germany", the message read
"Your husband's a prisoner of war".
To me that's music to my ears,
He is mine for ever  more.

Perk and Fran celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2003.

NEW KRIEGIES  -  Author Unknown - probably John R. Johnson


“Kriegies Up!” and everyone ran

            To see new “Kriegies” invade “Kriegieland”

“Who won the Series? Who’s President now?

            What target was it?  When, Where and How?”


“Water,” they cried, “We’re dying of thirst,

            We’re starving to death and that’s not the worst.

Where’s Joe and Patton, and our fighting men?

            You’ve been down four weeks! Where have you been?”


“Is anyone there from the 398th?

            Is your crew alive?  What was their fate?

What do you fly?  What’s the newspapers say?

            Think we’ll be home by New Years Day?”


Soon we were settled in Kriegie routine

            Spam, corned beef, potatoes and klim

Rutabagas, cabbage, callorobies and stew

            How many we were! How little we knew.


SKIES ABOVE  -  Author Unknown - probably John R. Johnson


Day in, day out, that same routine

            We dream of home, of those we love

We dream of food, of drink and song

            We dream of flights in skies above.


Someday, someday, we will return

            To all those things we’re dreaming of

To all those things so dear to us

            And frequent flights in skies above.


Day in, Day out that same routine

            A man’s dreams and tho’ts of love

There’ll be no flak or fighters up

            When we fly again in skies above.

FIGHTING 303rd  -  Author Unknown 


Silence you barbed wire Yankees

And I’ll try and tell you how

The 303rd out of England

Made good a solemn vow.


It seems the bombs of previous raids

Including some pretty tough flights

Had not always been on target

Tho the outfit always showed fight.


The brass hats sitting in London town

Decided that we could do better

They told our Colonel as much

By way of a red hot letter.


The Colonel showed the letter to us

And spoke with hands on his hips,

“We’ll get our bombs on the target today,

Now run and climb into your ships.”


We soared to the West

At the break of dawn

A group of Forts on their way

To a target in France, away beyond Nance

T’was an airport at Cognac that day.


For hours we flew and everyone knew

As we thundered on in formation

Our Colonel was right, t’would be a tough fight

And we all felt that winnie sensation.


Down through the Bay of Biscay we soared

Turned in toward land at Bordeaux

Then thru the din of the engines roar

Heard  “Fighters at 6 o’clock low”.


We beat them off, but not without loss

Don’t ever sell Jerry short

The Forts that caught Hell, that New Year’s Eve

Were the ones that tried to abort.


Then thru the smoke and a wall of flak

The target at last was seen

And one of the reasons we didn’t get back

Was due to that “Flacky” black screen.


Down thru the valley of Hell we rode

Each man with a prayer on his lips

Each pilot fighting to hold his place

In that fighting flight of ships.


Our 3 leading ships, all mortally hit

And trailing red blazes of flame

Flew onward in perfect formation

The air corps was out winning fame.


Our lead bombardier, was Waldo

A gutty guy from the South

And as 88’s burst all around him

A curse leapt from his mouth.


His sights on the target were perfect

And as blockbusters dropped from the racks

Tons of death fell, blowing the target to Hell

What had been hangars now looked like shacks.


We wheeled and headed toward England

Many hundred of miles away

Out of that Valley of Death we charged

On that eve before New Year’s Day.


The rest is a nightmare of fire and guns

But our boys were fighting mad

We knew that Jerry had paid the price

But by Jerry we had “been had”


Our friends in England await us

But their waiting they know is in vain

For the sun was deep in the West

And their hearts were heavy with pain.


Tis said not a ship returned that night

And you all know the reason why

Yes the 303rd out of England

Had fulfilled it's solemn vow.


P-4-7  -  Author Lt. E.C. Buckley 


They told the kid, a ‘38’s the thing

It’s got two props and guns that sing.

It’s got plenty of range, and can carry a load

And it’s a friend to have on a combat road.

But, the kid looked up and said in revolt,

“You take your ‘38, I’ll take a ‘Thunderbolt’.”


Then they said, “The Spit’s mighty sweet

And for maneuverability  it can’t be beat.

It met the Luftwaffe at its best

And records show it passed the test.”

But the kid just answered, with a smile and a shrug,

You take the Spit, I’ll take a ‘Jug'.”


Then they said, “Those two are pretty hot,

But they don’t have what a ‘51’s got.

It’s got the guns and it’s got the speed

And more damned gadgets than you ever need.”

The kid looked up and shook his head

“Keep them both, Mine’s a Jug instead.”


The kid spoke, “Your ‘38s sweet,

Your Spit’s pretty hot and the 51’s neat,

But, listen fellows, I’ll make a bet

Just fly those ships, they’ll kill you yet.

And when you’re up in “Pilot Heaven”

I’ll still be here in a P-4-7.”



A KRIEGIE'S THOUGHTS  -  Author Unknown - probably John R. Johnson


If you feel like a martyr

And your flying days are thru,

Just buck up like you oughter

And gaze up in the blue.


For some day soon they’ll let us out

We’ll return to native shores,

And rend the air with mighty shouts

And vow to leave no more.


But after we’ve been home again

And seen our families all,

We’ll soon decide this ain’t our style

And answer the “Airman’s Call”


To Fighters, Forts, & Twenty-Fives

To Liberators strong.

And soon we’ll come to realize

The air’s where we belong.


So in spite of what you’re feeling

And despite the cares before,

Just make the sky your ceiling

When the Kriegies fly once more.


C-47 - Author - John R. Johnson C-47 Pilot


You can talk about your Fort’s, Their Thunderbolt escorts,
And of the peashooter’s deadly score
But when it come to serving, the Transport is deserving
A little praise and credit in this war.


The A-20 has it’s speed in dives, there’s precision bombing in B-25’s
The Marauder also has it’s share of fame,
But when it comes to flying – admit there’s no denying
The transport has its value in this game.


Yes, they’ll buzz those pearly gates, in their Lockheed 38’s
Thrilling the pretty angels with their stunts,
St. Peter will come running, when he heard the motors humming
And he’ll hang a welcome sign out front.


But when we get to Heaven, in our old C-47
And taxi up to crack the cargo door,
The chariots will come dashing to take our load of rations
Then send us through the skies for more.


Yes, we men get no rest, filling out our manifest
We’ll fly twelve hours a day and then
We’ll come home tired & gray, dodging mtns along the way
Our welcome being, Well done my men.


Now we don’t hope to live forever, someday our life line will be severed
We’ll sail away into the blue
To join the lovely chorus, of those who’ve gone before us.
To a promised berth upon his crew


WAITING - Author Unknown

When your far away from the one you love 
Stop and gaze at the heavens above,
Whether the time be the sun-scorched noon
 Or a frosty night with a glittering moon, 

And there up above in that realm of space
I see not the sun or the moon, but a face
A beautiful face with a tender smile
Which tells me she’s waiting to make life worthwhile. 

Perhaps tonight from her windowpane
She’s gazing aloft, on her lips my name.
As she prays to God, way up above
To watch o’er, keep safe, and return that love. 

So when you’re feeling alone and forlorn
Watch into the night and the wakening morn,
And remember that westward across the blue
She’s watching and waiting, the same as you.


Little Silk Worm  - a poem found in Leland Potter's POW journal

Little silk worm - so very small,
You saved me from an awful fall.
Tho you're such an ugly thing,
I owe my life to your man made wing.

It's In The Cards  - a poem found in Leland Potter's POW journal

You may belong to many Clubs,
You may have a big Heart,
You may wear many Diamonds,
But it takes more than a Spade,
To dig out of a Kriegie camp.
Bailing Out  -  Author Unknown 
I'm bailing out, I've had my share
Of all this thunderous flak filled air.
We've lost two engines - one and three
Can't see no future here for me.
I hate to leave, but can't stay
With half our tail shot away,
Not to mention little things
Like gaping holes in both our wings.
Our fuel tanks are leaking fast,
And they say that #2 can't last.
What was that I heard them shout?
Number 4 is conking out?
Well bugger me, I see no reason
To stick around if it's 'open season'
On Forts like this, so here I go.
I'm bailing out - -  Cheerio!


Breathes there the man - - -   -  Author Unknown 
Breathes there the man who claims he wasn't
Scared of fighters, or claims he doesn't
Feel cold tremors up his back
When face to face with bursting flak?
Or shows a grin and says that he
Doesn't care if the target is "Big B?"
Oh yes, there are a few who state
They've had no fears up to date,
Fighters? Flak? And places they
Were briefed to fly over today?
Oh no, they have no fear of these
For they are gunners, if you please.
Bold and fearless, though these few claim
I hesitate to write their name
Upon this paper pure and clean.
So for you people that are green
Of all the dangers entailed in flying
These few men are strictly lying!
Amen - Author unknown

Oh, all you fallen fliers who’ve done battle in the sky,
You’ve seen your ships a burning and you’ve seen your buddies die.
You’ve watched tracers spitting from a fighter’s wicked snoot,
You’ve fumbled for a ripcord and felt the popping chute.

You’ve lost your friends and freedom,
You’ve lost both limbs and blood,
But through it all you’re a better man,
With a stronger faith in God.

The Pilot and the Bombardier  - Author unknown

The pilot and the bombardier were walking round the wire,
A German search had turned them out into the mud and mire.
It is a funny place to be, they said, for any Army flier
If I could build a ship of klim and make the wings of spam
I wouldn’t stay, the pilot said, in this place where I am
I’ve got it, said the bombardier, we’ll make it run on jam.

We’d fly right home, they both agreed, and land at Selfridge Field,
We’d eat a crate of strawberries that Rita Hayworth peeled.
And drink so much, the pilot said, our blood would be congealed
And then we’d hit a restaurant and order sirloin steak
It would be even bigger than an ordinary lake
With eggs on top, the pilot said, or else my heart would break.

Lots of beer, said the bombardier, or is that understood?
And for dessert I wonder what would be surpassing good
Ice cream, of course, pistachio, in portions like Mount Hood.
And when we’ve eaten all we can we’ll tour the smart night spots
We’ll invite the girls we’d like to make in twenty dozen lots
And drink the scotch we’d like to drink in straight quadruple shots.

I think I’ll bathe in Grade A milk to cleanse that Jerry stain
The bombardier said he’d prefer a tub of pink champagne.
Imagine taking baths like that along with Lola Lane
With all the money we’d collect I’d buy a Cadillac
Custom built along the lines I dreamed up on my sack
Give me a smoke, the pilot said, you still owe me a pack.

And as they took another turn the air raid warning blew
That kind of thing encourages the goons to hurry through

Do you suppose, the pilot said, they found our raisin brew?

A Liberator’s Lament  - Author unknown

Early one crisp September morn the planes begin to roar
Into the wild blue yonder, they were going out to war
The target, it was Kassel and as such was highly cursed
And they, we Old Man’s terrorfliegers were out to do their worst.

We formed the three-ship section and then we formed the six
But when we tried to form the group the leader did some tricks
The inside ships were stalling, the outside did 210
The Old Man grabbed his microphone and yelled “Now listen, men
Though this looks like a milk run mission I want you all to know
When I go on a mission it’s bound to be a show
The bunch ahead I’m sure you know is a flying fortress group
So about the way we’re gonna fly now I’ll give you some poop
The Jerries they are tricky, they know that we’re too new
They’re expecting us to straggle and they’ll get us if we do
So this is what we plan to try if Jerry starts a fuss
We’ll fly so close to the group ahead they won’t know which is us”.

Flying over Munster where Jerry’d laid a trap
The Old Man took his tin hat off and laid it on his lap
He turned back to the engineer and this is what he said:
“If something must be shot away I’d rather lose my head”.

The flak was thick around us, the fighters they were worse
But above the roar of battle you could hear the Old Man curse
The vibration of the turrets made the instruments all dance
The colonel was so frightened he darn near filled his pants
Now Collar grew so anxious that his sights were synchronized
He sat there sweating drops of blood as all hell filled the skies.

The bombs dropped out from all the ships, the crisis finally passed
The Old Man yelled “Get out of here, and brother I mean fast!”
We never completed that mission, though our Air Medal has a star
And we knew the crews were wishing that the group would build a bar
Because when a man has done a job that takes both guts and spunk
The one thing that he’d like to do is go get stinkin’ drunk.

No matter at all how brave you are, no matter lad how bold
A flyer’s great ambition is to die from growing old
And when the flak is mighty thick though he’s a fighting man
The place a guy should like to be is back home on his can.
Bomber Crew - Author – Alex Boyd RAF navigator

The drone of engines irritates
Dry mouthed and taut, the crew await
The climax, each in his own way.

The gunners wet their lips and peer
Nervously into the night, while fear
Creeps us behind us like a ghost.

We can not help ourselves, we are
As leaves in Autumn. Modern war
Has little room for private fears.

Impersonal, no God of Wrath
Compels us. Sirens mark our path
And trembling cellars curse and pray.

The tension cracks. A bright cascade
Of crimson bursts the night. Afraid?
No more than that, much more than that.

The night becomes a drunken mass
Of noise and color. Seconds pass
Like hours. We lurch & help increase
The chaos down below, then leave
All dignity behind, and weave
Hurriedly from that hostile place.

The clouds reflect the distant glow
Of shattered houses, streets that flow
With molten tar and leaping flames.

Young eyes are dull and purple patched
With faces drawn, old age is matched
By gross fatigue and weariness.

At last the engines final roar
And fumbling fingers seek the door
The night still surges in our ears.

The night is gone
Scarlet the east that sets the sky aflame
In rainbow dawn shame
Or does the night withdraw from us.

For You The War Is Over   -  Author Unknown 


For you the war is over, the flyer heard the phrase

But it took a while to sink in, for he still felt slightly dazed.

Short hours ago his plane had roared thru the skies above so blue.

With tons of lead in her belly and a damn good fighting crew.


For you the war is over, you can make it what you please,

Solitary confinement, rough treatment – or else a life of ease.

The information that you give, can hurt you not at all, - so

What is the phrase you Yankees use?, Oh yes! Come On, Play ball.


We can give you food and cigarettes and quarters as good as your own

Or else some lead from a firing squad and a grave marked unknown.

Your commander we know to be Col. Blank, you flew with the umpteenth group,

All of your training was done out West, you see, we have all of the poop.


The Jerry told him so damn much, the airman’s head just reeled,

Then the voice began again; “Now just where was your field?”

He was still a kid with his life ahead and didn’t want to die,

But just as he opened his mouth to speak, a scene flashed by his eye.


The boys of his group were back at the bar, and the old toast rang on high,

“Here’s to those who have gone before, and here’s to the next man to die.”

Then the bombs rang down from blackened skies and the crater where they fell,

Were the gates thru which his buddies fell to swell the ranks of Hell.


He tried to laugh but it wouldn’t work, he hoped it was just a bluff,

But if this Kraut was telling the truth, it certainly was gonna be tough,

He was scared it’s true, but what the hell, he'd played the game and lost.

He'd laughed at death up in the sky, so now he’d pay the cost.


For me the war is over, Bud, you’ve sure got something there.

But there are a million more just like me, and they’ll sure be in your hair.

You got me where you want me, so you can put me ‘neath the grass,
But the last words you’ll hear from me Major are, blow it out your ___. 



Expendables of War   -  Author Unknown 


We’re the expendables of war, there never is an end.

When supplies run low send in for more planes, guns and men,

Supplies are expendable overseas they said when we left the port

And sent us off to England, for flying in a Fort.


We flew for many a fighting mile over the Jerryland.

Replacement come and then they’re gone like grains of drifting sand.

Here today and tomorrow gone,  that is the golden rule.

Send an M.I.A. to the folks back home, the effects to the pool.


The lucky ones were brought to Barth to rot in a Kriegie Kamp.

To live each day and at night to lay in a room that’s cold and damp.

I’ll bet there’s less of home’s comforts here than you’ll find in all creation,

But for all of that, it’d be really rough, if it weren’t for our Red Cross Ration.


The days we spend in a straw sack or taking exercise.

At night play cards or draw a map and tell each other lies.

We’ll be a hell of a bunch of happy crew the day the war is ended

We’re the expendables of war and boy are we expended.



Hitch in Hell   -  Author Unknown 


I’m sitting here and thinking of the things I left behind.

And its hard to put on paper what’s running thru my mind.

I’ve flown in a batch of airplanes over a hell of a batch of ground.

A drearier place this side of hell is waiting to be found.

But there’s one consolation, sit closer, while I tell

When I die, I’ll go to heaven, for I’ve done my hitch in hell.

The angels all will greet me, the harps will start to play.

It’s then you’ll here St. Peter say loudly with a yell,

“Here take this soft front seat, Milt,

You’ve done your hitch in hell.”


Thompson kriegie

From Cyril Thompson's Wartime Log. Compliments of Kevin Greenwood

Stalag  -  Author Unknown 

Sing a song of Stalag
Days that never end.
Tons of balmy "Kriegie"
Nearly "round the bend".
When the gates are opened
The government will sing
If that's the cream of Britain
O death where is thy sting.

The Underground Army Air Corps   -  Author Unknown 


With our hands on the Klim can

As we dig thru the mire,

We will go eight feet down men,

And then head straight for the wire,

And when the good work is finished

And we leave one hour hence.

You can bet the way is clear men,

From the barracks to the fence.


As I sit in the cooler

Filled with dust, dirt and grime,

Just two weeks to sweat out man,

Bet I’ll escape for sure next time

With no food or zigaretten

The time does move so slowly

So t’hell with the diggin
I’ll just wait for Uncle Joe.


God's Minute

I have just one minute
Only sixty seconds in it
Forced upon it, can't refuse it
Don't seek it, didn't choose it.

I'll give account if I abuse it
Suffer if I lose it
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it.


A Combat Airman's Prayer

Please dear God, just let me soar
O'er green and yellow fields, once more
Where there'll be on dirty clouds of black
Bringing forth the anguished cry of 'flak'.

Where sight of a speck out in the blue,
Will not mean "watch it - fighter or two"
As out of the sun streaks a blazing Hun
To make every man jump, and with a blazing gun.

Endeavor to pay another life
To the devil who started this world strife
If you don't think this too much a boon,
Please dear God, please make it soon.


  Clinton A. Gruber

When, ev'ry night, in my tortured dreams,
I try and try to sleep, it seems,
I hear a super natural cry,
Straight out of hell it seems to fly.

And then my muddled senses make,
A gallant effort to awake.
My trembling body - sunken deep,
In arms of Morpheus; heavenly sleep.

What is this cry? - Oh mournful note,
Some ghostly, mad musician wrote,
Responding to Satan's accolade,
I hear it now - "Parade! Parade!"


 Lest we Forget
Author Unknown

The hours spent in forced content,
The long awaited Big Event,
The written letter that ne’er appeared,
The folks at home at last had heard,
The sandy soil so easily flown,
The spots field and the trodden path,
The weekly showers and bucket bath,
The baseball games and passing girls,
The long haired men with feminine curls,
The huge moustache and shaven head,
The solid boards and straw filled beds,
The shuttered windows and systematic search,
The tunnel diggers with mud besmirched,
The Klim can pans and makeshift lamp,
The fireless stove when days were damp,
The Red Cross Parcels and Jerry Rations,
The Red Cross clothing and self made fashions,
The turnips, cabbage and lowly spud,
Many times wet and covered with mud,
The margarine, jam, cheese and fish,
Which made a rough untempting dish,
The weighty bread we had to toast,
That rivaled the food in bitter taste,
The modern plays and concerts, too,
The plaques, works of art, and Barley glue,
The postern towers and bright spotlights,
That searched the camp throughout the night,
The sirens wail and droning planes,
The flying boats and whistling trains,
And last but not least in the G.T.O.,
Our Kriegie friends, every Tom, Dick and Joe.



By an unknown prisoner, written on the wall of his solitary cell. The poem was taken from the book, Prisoner of War: My Secret Journal, by Squadron Leader B. Arct. 

You know there is a saying

That sunshine follows rain,

And sure enough you'll realise

That joy will follow pain;

Let courage be your password

Make fortitude your guide,

And then instead of grousing

Remember those who died.




The following was posted on many of the doors into rooms at Stalag Luft I


Be prepared to listen as well as talk!

We have known gallant men who have bailed out of every type of aircraft, under every type of circumstances with every type of chute, from every altitude, with any number of props feathered.  We have eaten better, and, worse food than you.  We know better stories, have known more women and more generals.  We can be more dignified or more undignified than anybody else in the whole camp.

Your are very welcome, come in friend !


 Miscellaneous Quotes

"Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die for it, that the protected shall never  know."  by unknown POW (reported to be found inscribed in a solitary confinement cell). 

"The whole nine yards" expression comes from the fact that some WWII fighter planes carried nine yards of belted ammunition

"When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, We gave our today"

" To really live one must almost die"

" I would not like to go through it again - But I am proud to be so severely tested and proved adequate".

 In the Air War over Europe;     "The sky was the arena and only God sat in the bleachers"


The kriegie orchestra at Stalag Luft I produced all their own arrangements and even found time to compose a few songs as well.  Probably the most popular of these compositions was “Low is the Sun”, words and music by POW John Lashly of the South Compound.

by John Lashly

Days have their worriesLow is the Sun by John Lashly

Nights have their furies

But in between times its dull

            I hate to seem alone

            So hate to dream alone

            Evenings bring such a lull, so –

Low is the sun as slowly it leaves the sky,

Low is the moon as night draws nigh,

So is my heart whenever the day is through

Once a day, every day, evenings bring thoughts of you

            Each long shadow whispers -

            You must be lonely too

            But my heart keeps saying

“Don’t go back, your through”, so –

When in dusk I sit around just for fun

Its to think of you, only, lonely, when low in the sun.




The Air Force Song -  Full Lyrics

by Robert Crawford, courtesy USAF Heritage of America Band

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun now!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Additional verses:

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,
Sent it high into the blue;
Hands of men blasted the world asunder;
How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!)
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before And bombers galore. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

 Bridge: "A Toast to the Host"

Here's a toast to the host
Of those who love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old,
Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!


Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true;
If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)
Flying men, guarding the nation's border,
We'll be there, followed by more!
In echelon we carry on. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

 Notes: Crawford didn't write "Hey!"; he actually wrote "SHOUT!" without specifying the word to be shouted. Wherever they appear, the words "U.S. Air Force" have been changed from the original "Army Air Corps." Words in parentheses are spoken, not sung.




“Voices of the Mighty Eighth”
(Of combat crews who never returned)

No graves or markers in the ground to show or tell their tale.

Yet I still hear them in the wind-their voices never fail.

Blown to bits and pieces -scattered in the skies.

They tell me—please do not forget, we live behind your eyes.

And yes they do-I hear their call-their voices strong and clear.

Each one is burned upon my soul-forever-year to year

The debt we owe to all of them, we never can repay

But listen—cherish peace and love and live them every day.


This came in the mail in 2000 at the Massachusetts 8th Air Force Historical Society chapter, it was signed simply “A survivor”.

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