Chapter 11

Stallag VII-A at Moosburg

Stallag VII-A at Moosburg was a very large camp as prisoners were moved 

here from al1 the other prison camps to keep them from being liberated. 

We found some of the men here who had dropped out from that first march 

from Sagan. All the barracks were full, and large tents were put up 

between the buildings and that is where Bruce and I found ourselves a 

place. They were large tents and we slept in rows down each side on the 

ground. We were on an incline and when it rained the water ran right 

through the tent sometimes in a real river when the rain was heavy. We 

finally gathered rocks and piled them up about three inches high and 

slept on top of them. One night I woke up during a downpour and found 

that my shoes were floating away down the small trench we had dug 

around our beds. I decided that between that and the water coming 

through the bullet holes in the tent I had better find a dry place for 

the rest of the night. I felt my way around in the darkness until I 

found a barracks building, then crawled around on my hands and knees in 

the pitch black among the bodies on the floor. I found a place and 

squeezed in between two bodies and fell asleep. When woke up I was back 

to back with someone and we both sat up at the same time. He was a big 

guy from India with all the robes and turban on his head, a big black 

beard on his face. He smiled (half his teeth were missing), I smiled, 

said "good morning" and got out as fast as I could.


There were prisoners of all nationalities here: Scots, Turks and 

Indians as well as English and American. There were about 27,000 of us 

so it was a large camp. Some of the Scots had their kilts and bagpipes 

and they would march around the open area we had for a softball 

diamond, playing the bagpipes. We played softball again here and I got 

a baseball uniform which I carried all the way home with me for a 

souvenir. I played third base because it was next to the latrine, which 

I needed again as I was once again suffering from diarrhea and 

dysentery. When I wasn't batting or playing third, I sat in the latrine 

and came out only when they needed me. My problems were probably caused 

by the bad water gotten on the last march and it was so bad that I had 

to run for the latrine every time I started to eat. During the worst 

times I gave my food away to Bruce or someone else who needed it.


I can't remember who was still with Bruce and I from our squadron in 

England or the camp at Sagan. It is possible that Ullo and Barlow were 

there with us, but it is only Bruce that I remember clearly. At the 

corner of the camp by our location the guard was a red headed German 

from Brooklyn who spoke with the Brooklyn accent. He was brought up in 

Brooklyn and had been drafted into the German army while visiting 

Germany. There was only one fence around this camp so we could go over 

and talk to him, sometimes giving him one of our chocolate bars as he 

had little to eat. One of the guys traded with him for a camera and 

film which he used to take pictures. I signed up for copies and 

received them several months after returning home. Those pictures are 

included in this chapter.


Moosburg had been a center for Red Cross parcel distribution and 

therefore food parcels were issued again one per week to each of us, 

thus providing adequate food again. We had no provisions for cooking so 

the art of making stoves from tin cans began In earnest. Some were 

simple and others very elaborate with wheels that turned by a handle to 

force air through the fire to increase the heat and help when burning 

green or wet wood. Bruce and made a simple one with two tin cans with 

the fire in the bottom one. It was a good enough setup for the little 

we cooked. The open areas between the barracks were filled with those 

little stoves at mealtimes. We were getting German ersatz coffee which 

was bitter and resembled coffee only by its color. We drank it because 

we needed something hot. There were also all kinds of cigarettes in 

camp when American cigarettes were not available. I tried some of the 

Turkish cigarettes and they were so strong it would knock your socks 

off. British and Italian cigarettes were also quite plentiful so I had 

plenty as I didn't smoke much.


We were only thirty miles from the concentration camp at Dachau, but we 

knew nothing about it at this time. After we had been here two weeks we 

began to hear the big guns to the west of us and knew that the American 

front was-getting closer and that we would soon be free. The rumors 

began again that we might be moved again to the east, but the Germans 

must have realized that there were too many of us to move and that the 

war would soon be over anyway. To the west of us was a hill with trees 

on the top and open fields on the slopes facing us. We began watching 

those fields waiting for the American troops to come. On Sunday morning 

April 29 the guns were a lot closer and we were very excited. The 

German guards had about all disappeared so we knew it wouldn't be long.


We were watching the top of the hill and saw the little L4 spotter 

planes flying low and directing the artillery fire. Bullets from rifle 

fire began hitting the camp and next to my bunk one guy was sitting 

against the center tent pole writing a letter when a bullet hit the 

tent pole and dropped into his lap. He put the bullet in his pocket and 

we headed for the trenches which were about six feet deep and ran 

throughout the camp. We looked up at the hill and the tanks were just 

coming out of the woods toward us. In my trench there were several 

British prisoners and of all things, at a time like this they had their 

little stove and were making their morning tea. Nothing could stop them 

from doing that.


Someone came running across the open space and jumped in the trench 

yelling 'Mail Call". I had a letter and when I opened it, there in the

trench, I found it was from Eastman Kodak Company telling me that a Job 

was waiting for me although not the job I had 1eft. They sent greetings 

and hoped I would soon return. I can't imagine how they knew where I 

was and what an odd time to receive that letter, with the bullets 

flying all around.

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