Sunday, April 21, 2013

A letter of old…

This was a letter my Aunt Regina wrote to her friend in Scotland in 1945. It’s about my father ordeal as a POW


I've written the following as best as I could about what my brother has told us. I've written it and put it in my scrapbook as a lasting memory.

The names are those of his crew and "Sak" is my brother.

On July 30, 1944 the crew of "Our Belle II" was returning from his mission. About 11 o'clock the plane was hit by anti-aircraft guns, causing the wing to come off and the engines to catch on fire. No orders were given as to what to do. Each man was for himself. The turret gunner (caught in the wind force unable to move) did not mail out. The rear gunner was hit by flak and also couldn't bail out. Sak (my brother) was hit in the hip but bailed out with the other seven. He let himself drop for hundred feet before he opened his parachute because the plane was falling and he might have caught his chute on fire.

Sak and the pilot landed on a small island off Hungary, where a group of Hungarian people were having a picnic. The pilot injured his leg and Sak his leg. Both were taken by the people. The navigator (landed nearby) was hit in the head by a pitch fork and clubbed by the people. (He lived though) The radioman (my brothers best buddy) was shot through the stomach as he landed and died. Sak and the pilot were man-handled. Richardson, it is believed was hung by the frantic crowd. (My brother said they saw bodies hanging that day and believe he was among them.)

From this point the German soldiers came and the boys were sent to Budapest. Here they were questioned. The Germans, through their spy service, had already had their names, rank etc. Yet they questioned them for such minor details but the boys always answered, "You know better to ask that" or "we hit our target so you know where we went."

Sak was placed in solitary confinement, while some were put in dark rooms or in rooms where they couldn't stand up. Others were fed on one day and not the next. Levi Caldwell was chained and pulled by his hair to get information. The boys were slapped when they wouldn't answer. Sak's American cigarettes were taken from him and he was given three German ones in exchange.

After staying here three weeks, they were put on a train and sent to Germany. On the train, they were given a piece of hard salami, which was full of maggots, and a loaf of moldy bread. Both were thrown out.

In Germany they were sent to Stalag Luft 4 (near Baltic Sea). The first few months they stayed in tents, but when it got colder they were put in barracks. Their daily menu was: Breakfast - barley coffee; Lunch - soup made from weeds, grass, worms - served in a pail for 24 men - smelled and tasted lie soap and could not be eaten. Supper - potatoes, rutabagas, turnips or sugar beets (usually fed to cattle) occasionally, the boys would steal some bread or bribe the guards.

For recreation the boys would play cards (they made them from cardboard), ball and clean their barracks to keep them free of lice. Once in a while Red Cross packages came and the boys would be kept alive for a while. Some took up knitting and took old stockings, pulled the threads from them and embroidered. Still others took up studying German or French. Sak took a hair brush, pulled the bristles out and carved a cigarette case from it. He did it with a razor blade and Isabel, it's really beautiful.

None of the boys had to work, because the Air Force was considered a high military branch, due to Goerhing having been a pilot in World War I. Their mattresses consisted of sawdust put into covers the boys had made from bags.

The first 5 days, due to the diet, Sak's stomach swelled up and most of the boys got dysentery. Later on, their bodies broke out with boils - (my brother still has scars) due to malnutrition. Sometimes a Red Cross package contained raisins and jam, so the boys would take bread (made with sawdust) and mix the raisins and jam together, add soda bicarbonate pills and make cakes. Once in a while they got a chicken from a women in exchange for soap, and they would pack the chicken in mud, roast it; peel off the mud and feathers and eat it!

In February the Russians started their advance and the prisoners were forced to move. From February to March 30 they marched 830 kilometers planning an escape. They had planned their route etc. and three boys did leave. However, they stayed in a forest for four days and got so sick that they had to give themselves up and heaven knows what happened to them.

Also, while on the march, Sak said some towns were almost completely demolished, and only the foundations were left.

On May 3, 1945 the camp was liberated. Sak said all were happy but had expected the surprise. They had heard and seen Berlin burning 90 miles away as if it were a mile away. After being liberated, the men were stripped of their cloths, given new ones and sent to France, England and then home. The first few weeks they were given two meals a day (just a very little) to accustom them to eating. Then they were given 3 meals and finally 3 heavy consisting of creamy, rich foods and vitamins to build them up. Sak gained 20 pounds on the ship.

On May 31 he telephoned us from Fort Shedidan, Ill and said he's be home on Saturday. So we met him at the station Saturday. (the train was an hour late) Sak was very quiet at first but now is as he used to be.

He has received the purple heart, president citation, air medal, three oak leaf clusters and four stars for battle campaigns.

- He did not receive any of our mail or packages for ten months.

So you see, Isabel, why I say only miracles brought him back. He said "Saint Anne brought him back" (He wore a metal of this saint during all his trips etc.) but I told him the whole of heaven did and I guess that's true.

He also said he couldn't tell us everything, because there's still a war going on but I can't imagine anything else that he could add!

Bye now and love,


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Monday, April 08, 2013

It’s Puppy Girl

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There’s the Puppy Girl my fox friend who comes by most every night about 9 PM. After Puppy Girl stops by her daughter Sprout comes by. I can tell them apart by where they sit. They will sit for hours waiting for me to come out and great them. They seem to let every one else to eat before they come on the porch to eat. When I first saw the Puppy Girl I thought she was a kitty that had been hanging around because she was in the shadows and I couldn’t see her it was so dark out. I think I was going to get the laundry when I saw her. I pointed to the porch and said it’s okay. The Puppy Girl ran to the porch and started eating. I was amazed and so I stood there watching her. There’s three girls that come here all after 9 PM. Sprout will come the closest to me. She will come on the porch if I’m to one side. The new baby is a little shy but will sit on the steps waiting for me. If I toss them a treat they prance away until they get into the shadows then start running. It’s so cute watching them trotting off nice and happy. Another reason I thought it was a cat because they hop up on the cedar fence and walk down it like a cat. I need to rig up a camera outside with a flash. I can shoot from the porch but then I need a real bright flash. I have been using the flashes manually taking the foxes picture. It’s hard to get the frame in focus because it’s so dark. I want to get better photos of the possum. If I’m shooting through the door window I’m going to have to have the flashes on the outside. I have a couple TTL flashes and a couple flashes that plug into the wall that are pretty bright. It’s going to take a bit of planning and trail and error.

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New Little Buddy, Arrow

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Why it's the albino raccoon and the new buddy Arrow. I have to call her Arrow with the big smile. Arrow is the only creature that comes around that will eat the cats canned food. I'm very amazed at all the creatures that get along with each other. the albino raccoon is a female with little pink hands. She's not full grown yet like her mother who still comes by with her. It's nice seeing them together. There was five babies and mom that used to come around together last summer and fall. The possum has really unique hands and feet. They are all like opposing thumbs or multi jointed fingers. I haven't had that many hours of watching the possum. I think it's wonderful that it stops by. I'd like to see baby possums one day. the possum seems really calm and peaceful. I was bringing the skunks and raccoons a cheesy treat and tossed one to the possum. It seem to like the cheesy treat. Everyone seems to like the cats food. I know they like the more expensive cat food and will eat that first over the cheap stuff. I'm amazed at how the skunks get along with everyone. They might stomp their feet if someone gets too close. They don't spray every thing or everyone. the most you might get from a skunk is them stomping their feet at you. I've noticed when they see me they come over to see me to get a pet or scratch. I find them to be all very interesting. They like to be treated nicely and then they will treat you nicely. I really find the foxes as very intelligent creatures. They get along with the cats and raccoons. The skunks will stomp their feet at the foxes but that's about it. I think the skunks are spooked at how fast the foxes dart around them.

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Happy Buddy

Nothing like a little buddy smiling at you. This is one of my forest friends. It’s still young and was born last year. They grew up here eating the cats food and bugs in the yard. I find holes dug the the raccoons and skunks in the yard after they went for some sort of nasty bugs. The raccoons will snag moths right out of the air and munch them down. My cats do that also. It’s amazing when you have a raccoon that trusts you and will stick around when it sees you. I have been able to give them cookies and cat treats. One raccoon felt my warm finger and inspected my finger on all sides. I think it discovered that we are closer together then farther apart. I’ve found out them washing their paws if to soften their skin so they can feel things better. They don’t wash their food, that’s just a myth. I’ve seen shows about raccoons and my little buddies seem to be a lot different then the city dwellers. I’m the only human they have ever seen. As long as I’m kneeling down and being small they seem to except me a lot better. I’d be afraid to of something that was ten times bigger them me. Still these little buddies are very shy. That’s good because it help for their survival. They sure seem like wise creatures watching them. Mom teaches them the first year and I’ve seen them together the second and third year. Since my kitties and the raccoons grew up together they are good friends and you see them together all the time. Now to train them to pet the cats.

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Observations of Emotions

I was watching a porch full of skunks last night. Well not a porch full but three skunks on the porch and two skunks out by the water bowls. When I heard the two at the water bowls fighting. They are pretty good most of the time and don’t like fighting except when it’s about food. They always thing the other skunk that’s close to them wants to steel their food. So they make some noise to keep the other skunk away. The other noise they make is if a skunk is biting one of them. I could see the passive skunks by me panicking hearing a skunk in pain or being hurt crying out. the way they look at me, it’s like “Please help that skunk he’s hurting.” Or it could be, “Keep me safe here for being hurt.” People are afraid of skunks when they are so passive and easy going. They panic all the time that someone wants to do them harm. They really are a shy creatures when you get down to it. That’s just their way of staying safe. Since I live in the sticks, I’m the only human they have ever seen. These skunks once they got used to seeing me turned out to be good little friend. They like getting pets. It’s so cute when they stand on their back feet to get a better view. I’m amazed at what great sniffers they have. You can throw something they eat through the air, it can bounce away from them but they can smell the air and follow the scent down to where every the food item went. Skunks don’t see so well but good enough. They use their sense of smell to get around. I’ve never seen any animal with a better sniffer. I’m not sure why some skunks get alone with each other and some are so fearful and nip at other skunks. When I make friends with them they tend to get alone with each other a lot better.

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Little Buddy with the Bo-Boo leg. I don’t know where it lives but it’s getting it’s tail thinned by getting the hair caught on something over and over. It’s so amazing seeing them take a cat treat out of my hand and back up to eat it. They have small front hands and bigger back legs so they are like a wedge. It must be for hunting and dragging something out of the ground. They are good diggers and have the claws to do some digging.

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