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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S/Sgt. James Richard Williams, Jr. of Eufaula, Ala

S/Sgt. James Richard Williams, Jr.  
Eufaula, AL
398th Bomb Group - 600th Bomb Squadron
Left Waist Gunner on B-17
Stalag Luft I,  North Compound III

Enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 10/7/42. Shot down November 26, 1944 on a mission to Misburg, Germany. Departed Dulag Luft - Wetzlar on Dec. 23, 1944 for the train ride to Barth. He arrived at Stalag Luft I the day after Christmas, 1944. 

Email his family at


After the war Dad returned to his hometown of Eufaula, Alabama where he lived for the remainder of his life.  He met and married Barbara "Peggy" Pressley from Americus, Georgia.  They have 4 children (3 daughters and 1 son) and 5 grandchildren.  He was a wonderful, kind and giving man who was adored by his family and friends.  He had a massive heart attack at age 56 and passed away on June 10, 1979. 

He was one of the POWs that did not wait to be evacuated from Stalag Luft I. He told our Mother that he and some other men left the camp, found a boat and rowed across the water.  From there they met up with some Russian camp followers and rode with them for awhile. He said they scared him to death with their drinking and the random firing of their guns into the air.   Eventually they made their way to the Allied lines and were then sent by jeep to Camp Lucky Strike in LeHarve, France.  Upon arriving there he learned that the 8th Air Force had airlifted the POWs out of Barth shortly after he left and now he was last in line to get on a liberty ship to return to the home to the states!  


Flying B-17G   # 42-97740  on November 26, 1944

Capt. Gene Douglas Pilot, CA Washington, DC
1st Lt. Charles Zimmer Co-Pilot Flushing, NY
Capt. Harry Nelson Lead Navigator Milwaukee, WI
1st. Lt. Randy Anderson Check Navigator Worcester, MA
1st Lt. Norman Kottke Lead Bombardier Stewart, MN
2nd Lt. Aaron Kuptsow Radar Navigator  (Mickey) Philadelphia, PA
Tech/Sgt. Opher Rumney Engineer Manchester Depot, VT
Tech/Sgt. Jim Strafford Radio Operator Portsmouth, OH
Staff/Sgt. Dick Williams Waist Gunner Eufaula, AL
Staff/Sgt. Phern Stout Tail Gunner Lockwood, MO

We have been unable to locate Mr. Charles Zimmer's family.   Any information you have will be welcome.

Members of the Zimmer Crew at Drew Field

The picture on the right shows our Dad with other members of the Zimmer crew. They trained together in Tampa and flew 29 missions before they were shot down on November 26, 1944.  After a brief glimpse, when the doors were opened for a second in solitary at Dulag Luft in Oberursel, they never saw or heard from each other again.  Dad went to Stalag Luft I, The others were sent to Stalag Luft IV. 


Dad and Zimmer crew at Drew Field - 1944
  From left to right, Dick Williams, Jr. of Eufaula, AL,  Jim Strafford of Portsmouth, OH, Phern Stout of Lockwood, MO. and Opher Rumney of Manchester Depot, VT

Dick Williams, Jr. a waist gunner on a B-17 during World War II and a Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany.

Daddy at Drew Field - 1944

Pictured above is Dad at Drew Field in Tampa, FL. during his training days

WWII Army Air Force gear

Dad's Dulag Luft ID Card
Dad's Prisoner of War German Identification Card (obtained after the camp liberation).

Roommates in the camp

North 3 - Barracks 7 (Block 307)  Room  "unknown"          

Roy G. Coleman

Aurora, Nebraska

Robert W. Craver

Rochester, NY

James J. Daugherty

Pittsburgh, PA

Henry P. Delvecchio

East St. Louis, Illinois

James O. Dickenson

Lexington, Nebraska

George F. Green

Shenandoah, PA

CarmIne M. Guillo

Boston, MA

Robert A. Jahn

Matteson, Illinois

Clifford Lee Mussehl

Beaverdam, Wisconsin

Hillman D. Oden

Dallas, Texas

Lauren N. Porter

So. Gate, California

Emery E. Salyards

Sandy Point, Idaho or Spokane, Washington

Frank E. Schnurstein

Forest Park, Illinois

Harry R. Shirey

Elwood City, PA

John Sikich

Conway, PA

R. C. Simpson

Handley, West Virginia

David L. Smith

New Franklin, MO

Louis M. Smith

Seattle, Washington

Bernhardt E. Sopha

Detroit, MI

John S. Stariknok

Springfield, Vermont

Rocco L. Stefano

Buffalo, NY

Valentine Villanueva

San Antonio, Texas

Frank Ward

Tulsa, Oklahoma

James RIchard Williams

Eufaula, Alabama

     Barracks 307 at Stalag Luft I      Robbers Roost -  Kriegie land bedroom    Kriegie kitchen - barracks 307

Drawings from Clifford Lee Mussehl's YMCA Log book.

Dad with his parent around 1926 - Mr. and Mrs. James Richard Williams, Sr. of Eufaula, Alabama

Dad at 4 with his parents
Carolyn Edwina Roberts Williams and James Richard Williams, Sr.


Eufaula Tribune - missing in action article

Eufaula Tribune - 1945 - Reports on Dad's MIA & POW
Missing in action article
Eufaula Tribune -  January 2, 1945 

Dick and Peggy Williams - Wedding Day - March 3, 1949

Dad and Mom 
March 3, 1949

Dick and Peggy Williams of Eufaula, Alabama - 1979


Mom and Dad 
Taken a few months before he died.

Williams Family Home in the late 1800's 

Family home
This is the house he grew up in. This photo was taken in the late 1800's.

Memory Booklet on my father and his WWII days.

A gift from and made by Amy Baker (daughter of Curtis Chapman)

Memory Booklet by Amy Baker

Memory Booklet by Amy Baker - Page 2

Memory Booklet by Amy Baker - Page 3

(click to enlarge and view full size)

Memory Booklet by Amy Baker - Page 4

Memory Booklet by Amy Baker - Page 5

Memory Booklet by Amy Baker - Page 6


Eufuala Tribune - Eufaula, Alabame 1945 - Dad is a prisoner of war in Germany

Hometown newspaper article reports he is a Prisoner of War

Click here to read letters from his parents while he was in England, prior to his MIA/POW status.


B-17 G specs

General info on B-17

B-17G Specs

General Info on B-17

The Aluminum Overcast

B-17 of the 398th   

 B-17 with the markings of the 398th Bomb Group. 

398th Bomb Group insignia

398th Bomb Group
Nuthampstead, England

Damaged B-17 of the 398th during World War II

One of the most famous photos of a B-17 - This B-17 of the 398th Bomb Group (my Dad's group) incredibly made it safely back to base in spite of considerable damage. (click on photo to enlarge). Dad was in Nuthampstead the day this one arrived back from Cologne and I can't help but wonder what he thought when he saw it.   The pilot, Lt. Lawrence Delancey was awarded the Silver Star.  The bombardier was killed instantly.   Click here to read the details in the Award of the Silver Star to Lt. Delancey.


From our guestbook:

Name: Anne Bennett Carpenter
Hometown: Opelika,Alabama
Sent: 1:54 PM - 6/27 2000
Growing up in Eufaula, Alabama, the twin daughter of Gay and Clarence Bennett, M.D., I spent many happy family holidays visiting in the home of Aunt Carolyn and Brother Dick and seeing Barbara, Jim, Doris, and Mary growing up.  Dick Jr. was always so pleasant to be around, with such a sweet smile. He carried his memories of the War Camp well. I loved him and his family and still do love his children and Aunt Peggy.   I would love to meet Allison and the other children.

Name: Doris
Hometown: Eufaula, AL
Sent: 9:27 PM - 6/18 2000
Happy Father's Day Daddy!! I miss you so much.

Name: Doris
Hometown: Eufaula, AL
Sent: 10:52 PM - 5/26 2000
I visit this page occasionally and was drawn here tonight I guess because of the Memorial Day weekend and thoughts turned to Daddy. So far I have not made it through the site without crying...I guess I inherited that sentimental stuff from Daddy...he did love his family so. I love the letters you have added from Nannie and Poppoo (I remember rummaging through Mom's boxes last year when we discovered those letters!) You did a great job recapping the jest of the letters. I'm so glad that you and Mom went to the reunion...not only to have been there firsthand and witnessing the place that held our father captive but also I'm glad that you and Mom shared the experience together. As we get older there are fewer and fewer chances to really bond with a parent. This was one of those times for you and Mom...Daddy would be pleased. 

From:   Earl Baker
Hometown:  Eufaula,Alabama
Sent: 8:22PM   -  5/8
I did not meet Mr. Dick Williams until after the war. But I remember him as a fine gentleman that always applied the golden rule to all his business dealings.

Name: Doris Williams Fowler
Sent: 6:00 PM - 2/27 2000
Thank you for honoring Daddy's life and service to his country. Your tireless research has filled in a blank spot we all had regarding his short life. I feel certain that this web page is once again making him proud of his daughter! I'm proud of you too big Sis!! 



Duties and Responsibilities of
Excerpt from the Pilot Training Manual for the B-17 Flying Fortress

The B-17 is a most effective gun platform, but its effectiveness can be either applied or defeated by the way the gunners in your crew perform their duties in action.

Your gunners belong to one of two distinct categories: turret gunners and flexible gunners.

The power turret gunners require many mental and physical qualities similar to what we know as inherent flying ability, since the operation of the power turret and gunsight are much like that of airplane flight operation.

While the flexible gunners do not require the same delicate touch as the turret gunner, they must have a fine sense of timing and he familiar with the rudiments of exterior ballistics.

All gunners should be familiar with the coverage area of all gun positions, and be prepared to bring the proper gun to bear as the conditions may warrant.

They should be experts in aircraft identification. Where the Sperry turret is used, failure to set the target dimension dial properly on the K-type sight will result in miscalculation of range.

They must be thoroughly familiar with the Browning aircraft machine gun. They should know how to maintain the guns, how to clear jams and stoppages, and how to harmonize the sights with the guns. While participating in training flights, the gunners should be operating their turrets constantly, tracking with the flexible guns even when actual firing is not practical. Other airplanes flying in the vicinity offer excellent tracking targets, as do automobiles, houses, and other ground objects during low altitude flights.

The importance of teamwork cannot he overemphasized. One poorly trained gunner, or one man not on the alert, can be the weak link as a result of which the entire crew may be lost.

Keep the interest of your gunners alive at all times. Any form of competition among the gunners themselves should stimulate interest to a high degree.

Finally, each gunner should fire the guns at each station to familiarize himself with the other man's position and to insure knowledge of operation in the event of an emergency.




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