Food; Poor and Red Cross parcels supply were not adequate.
Clothing; Clothing supply is insufficient.
Health; Medical doctors were: Capt. W.E. McMee, Louisville,
KY. 1st Lt. Julian E. Boggess, Macon MS. Capt. H. J. Wysen, Youngstown, OH. Capt. Robert Pollock, England. Capt.
Leslie Caplan, Detroit, MI. And very little medical supplies were on hand.
Religion; The padres were Rev. Anthony Jackson, Isle
of Guernsey. Rev. T. J. E. Lynch, England. Rev. Rex Morgan, South Wales, England.
Mail; Mail arrived irregularly and all mail came and
went through Stalag Luft III, as Stalag Luft IV did not have a post office.
Work; NCOs are not required to work by the Geneva Convention,
only to volunteer.
Camp Leaders; American man of confidence, Frances Paules,
Landsdale PA. Lager A, Richard M. Chapman, Daytona Beach FL. Lager A, Willard C. Miller, Carencro, LA. Lager C,
Frances Troy. Lager D, Frances Paules.
POWs; 606 British. 147 Canadians. 37 Australians. 22
New Zealanders. 8 South Africans. 1 Norwegian. 2 French. 58 Poles.
5 Czechs, and the balance were Americans.
General Info; The first 64 POWs arrived May 14, 1944
when Stalag Luft IV was officially opened and on July 18 and 19, 1944, and 2,400 Americans and 800 British arrived
from the closing of Stalag Luft VI at Hydekrug in East Prussia.
Camp; Was placed in the center of a clearing of a pine
forest. The camp was divided into 5 areas, compound or lager A-B-C-D and the vorlager, which housed the Germans
personnel barracks and the infirmary, food, hospital, clothing and Red Cross parcel storerooms.
The POW area was dormitory type barracks,
having 10 sleeping rooms with 16 POWs with two tiered bunks in each room, but instead had 24 POW's and three tiered
bunks, and some of the men sleep on the floor. Each room had a small coal stove for heat, and was only used part
of the day (mostly at evening before lights out.) Each barracks had a two hole latrine for 240 POW's to be used at night
only, and each lager or compound has two open air latrines with two 20 holers back to back with urinals, and the
stagnant pits were drained by the Russian POW's and spread on the fields outside the camp area. Each lager had two
outside wells with pumps to provide drinking and washing water and the water was tested and showed to be potable, but there
were no cases of typhoid or cholera. There were no facilities for bathing or delousing and there were parasites, fleas,
lice, bedbugs were very common.
Food; Food was daily ration of bread (and the contents consisted
of 50% bruised rye grain, 20% sliced sugar beets, 20% tree flour sawdust) and 10% minced leaves or straw.)
Some margarine, boiled potatoes and some soup mixture of potato, turnip, carrot, dehydrated sauerkraut, rutabaga,
kohlrabi and some meat (mostly horse meat.)
The POW's received cooked barley and millet several
times a week. Red Cross parcels were received once in a while and were divided between 4 to 6 POWs.
Medical; No dental facilities and the hospital had a
little over 100 beds. There is one bathtub in the hospital and no bed sheets; no facilities for major surgery, no
Xray, and sick call was 1030 to 1200 hours daily, and each lager had a makeshift dispensary. July 17, 18, 19, and
August 5 and 6, 1944. Americans and British were treated who had been bayoneted, clubbed and bitten by dogs, while they
were forced to run from the railroad station to the camp, a distance of 3 kilometers (one POW who was bayoneted, his
medical tag read "sun stroke", because he had been given a tetanus anti-toxin shot. No POW's died from this ordeal,
but it was estimated that over 100 POW's were treated for wounds and dog bites, and one POW had over 60 wounds and
General condition of POWs; The average weight loss was
15 to 20 pounds before the forced March in February 1945. POW's were locked up in their barracks from 4:00pm until
the next morning 7:00 am. Upper respiratory, tonsillitis, diarrhea, skin diseases, diphtheria, jaundice, tuberculosis,
meningitis, hemorrhoids, arthritis and 15% to 20% with war wounds.
German personnel; Oberst Leutnant (Lt. Colonel) Aribert
Bombach. Commandant-Hauptmann (Captain) Walter Pickhardt. Security Officer-Feldwebel (Sergeant) Reinhard Fahnert.
In charge of POWs, also other guards were Big Stoop, Upsteen, Green Hornet, Squarehead, Cowboy, Smiley, Hollywood
(one eye) and many others. The Germans ate the Red Cross parcels and the best of the food while the POWs were on
extremely short rations.
Jan. 28,1945 a train load (mostly sick and wounded)
were taken to Stalag Luft I at Barth, Germany and Feb. 2, 1945, another train load was taken to Nurenberg, Germany.
Final evacuation of Stalag Luft IV; The rest of the
camp was walked out starting Feb.6-7-8, 1945 (their captors told them the march would last only three days and for
most it lasted three months) as you could hear and see flashes of the Russian guns from the east. it was the coldest
winter in Europe in that century. It was 15 degrees and 14 inches of snow on the ground and they walked northwest across Poland
and through Swinmunde and into old Germany and across the northern part of Germany to almost Hamburg. Some rode train
and some were put in camps along the way (Fallingbostel) and many died along the march. Many were never in a heated
building after leaving Stalag Luft IV and they slept in barns, beside the road, in forest, and never had their
clothes off or a bath. Many lost 1/3 of their body weight and some walked as much as 600 miles.
Water (often contaminated) POW's drank from ditches
beside the road or ate snow when available. The Germans provided very little food and the POW's have to scrounged
their own meals and firewood to cook and often finding no more than a potato or kohlrabi to boil. Trading cigarettes
or watches or whatever they had to trade with the farmers along the way. The POW's ate charcoal to help stop dysentery
and every POW became infected with lice and pneumonia, diphtheria, pellagra, typhus, trench foot, tuberculosis and
many other things ran rampant among the POW's. the Germans sometimes provided a wagon for the sick and when a wagon
was not available and POWs fell out along the road, then a German guard would drop back and later you would hear
a shot and the guard would come back into formation alone. throughout the ordeal marchers hung together and helped each other.
They developed a buddy system in which two or three sleep and ate together, and eventually, however, the long-awaited
liberation came - in various ways. Some POW's escaped and hid out until they found an allied unit. The British and some
by the Americans liberated others and some had the misfortune to be "liberated " by the Russians, which sometime
meant additional days of confinement at soviet hands.
Finally, in the spring of 1945, the
hideous march was over. From beginning to the end it spanned 65 to 86 days and estimated 600 miles, and many survivors
went from 150 to 90 pounds and suffered injuries and illnesses that plagued them their entire lives. There is no
way of knowing how many died on the march, though often overlooked by history, the death march across Poland and Germany ranks
as one of the most outrageous cruelties ever committed against American fighting men. Fittingly, a memorial to these
brave soldiers now stands on Polish ground where Stalag Luft IV once stood.
Courtesy of the late Leonard Rose,