The Final Days

By April 1945 the war was almost over. The Russian army had entered Austria and the Germans were making plans to move all of the POW's in Stalag 18A and the satellite camps to a 'safer' location to the West.

Contents


The March from Wolfsberg
The March Today
Markt Pongau
Salzburg Airfield
Supply drops

Fred Coulter

"The Germans were rounding up all of the POW's in Oberwart to take them back to Stalag 18A. Me and Ron, another POW, (This could be Ron Tudor) hid until they had gone. That night we walked back to Bernstein. At one point we walked right through an SS camp, but we got through alright.

When we got to Bernstein, we went to the castle. The old Count took us in and we stayed there for about a week until the Russians arrived. The villagers in Bernstein suffered a lot then.

To stop the Russians getting too drunk, the Count broke all of the wine bottles before they arrived and would only give them cider to drink. He gave me a bottle of whiskey, telling me that he had been a Hussar himself.

When the Russians left, they took me and Ron with them. They marched us East as far as Budapest, where we decided to escape as we were going in the wrong direction to get home. So we gave them the slip and walked back to Oberwart, where we were picked up by some New Zealanders looking for stragglers."

Eric Fearnside

"At four o'clock in the morning, we heard the cries, "Raus! Raus!" and we were tumbled out of bed for the last time at Wolfsberg. Shivering with cold on the parade ground, we were told by the Commandant that we were being evacuated to a safer area. Taking only essentials, we marched off into the unknown.

At first, the going was easy, but as we reached the mountains, it became more tiring. After twenty miles we lay down where we were. A chap in the engineer's shed at the camp had invented a little stove made from two tin cans soldered together, and we all had one, so it wasn't long before the darkness was lit by dozens of stoves brewing up.

We scrambled over the Tauern Pass, bitterly cold walking through snow; twenty miles every day for eleven days.

We finally arrived at Markt Pongau prison camp, where the German guards offered us their rifles. The date was the 10th of May, 1945. The war had been over for two days."

The Long March

The Germans had decided that as many British prisoners as possible should be moved from their camps in eastern Austria farther west into the Salzburg redoubt area. They were to move towards Markt Pongau or, if necessary, farther west towards Landek. On 13 April the Russian forces were in Vienna and some of the prisoners were already on the march. Towards the end of the month the sick and unfit left Stalag XVIIIA at Wolfsberg by train and nearly all the other British prisoners had already set off on foot. Those in the Arbeitskommandos to the south and east of Wolfsberg were also on the move. On 23 April a column of 400-odd from Wolfsberg arrived at Markt Pongau, and over the next few days hundreds of men poured into the camp. Some had come from as far as Graz and had been on the march for a week or two. Like those prisoners who had travelled south through Bavaria, they had been able to obtain a good deal of food from local farmers; they had found tramping across a pleasant countryside in the spring under such conditions a rather agreeable break from the routine of prisoner-of-war camp life.

(Prisoners of War: W. Wynne Mason)

The Route

Mrs L Crawte has sent me a remarkable record kept by her late husband, Sergeant Harold Crawte, of the places passed through and the distances traveled on each day of the march from Wolfsberg to Markt Pongau

Day Location Distance (Km) Distance from Wolfsberg (Km)
1st Day Frantsach 3.8 3.8
  St Gertraud 5.0 8.8
  Twimberg 4.0 12.8
  Bad St Leonhard 7.2 20.0
2nd Day Reichenfels 6.4 26.4
  Obdach 9.6 36.0
3rd Day Weisskirchen 12.0 48.0
  Judenberg 6.5 54.5
  Rothenthurm 5.0 59.5
4th Day St Georgen 9.0 68.0
  Unzmarkt 5.0 73.5
  Sheifling 6.0 79.5
  Neiderwölz 4.0 83.5
5th Day Rest    
6th Day Teufenbach 5.5 89.0
  Gestutof 9.5 98.5
7th Day Murau 4.0 102.5
  St Georgen 5.0 107.5
  St Ruprecht 5.0 112.5
  Stadl 6.0 118.5
  Einach 3.0 121.5
8th Day Preditz 3.0 124.5
  Kendelbruch 2.5 127.0
  Ramingstein 2.5 129.5
  Madling 2.0 131.5
  Temsweg 6.0 137.5
  Lintsching 4.5 142.0
9th Day Rest    
10th Day Pichl 1.5 143.5
  Mauterndorf 5.0 148.5
  Tweng 10.0 158.5
11th Day Tauernpasshohe 8.0 166.5
  Untertauern 9.0 175.5
12th Day Radstadt 12.0 187.5
  Altonmarkt 4.0 191.5
  Reitdorf 3.0 194.5
13th Day Wagrain 9.0 203.5
  Markt Pongau 9.0 212.5
Map of the route Sgt Crawte's original document

marchroute.jpg (218627 bytes)

The Long March today

In August, 2002 my son Chris and I drove along the route of the Long March from Wolfsberg to Markt Pongau (now St Johann im Pongau). A journey which took the POWs 13 days in May 1945, took us just over 4 hours.

From Wolfsberg, Route 70 travels north, following the course of the Lavant river. At Frantsach the valley begins to narrow and steepen, with heavily wooded slopes on either side. The road continues to climb until Twimbeg where it passes under the viaduct carrying the A2 autobahn high above.

Just beyond Twimbeg, the road turns onto Route 78 and leaves the narrow valley for a broader upland. However it continues to climb, through Bad St Leonhard, to the highest point at Obdacher Sattel (954m). The road now starts to descend gently through Obdach and Kathal.

Beyond Kathal the rolling hills open out to reveal the broad flat valley of the Mur river that flows east and then south to join the Danube in Croatia. At Weisskirchen the road leaves Route 78 and turns onto Route 77 to pass through Judenberg. For the next 100 kilometers the road, now Route 96,  follows the Mur valley, travelling upstream.

In passing through the villages of St Peter, Unzmarkt, Teufenbach, Murau (now Route 97) and St Georgen, the valley narrows gradually but maintains its character. However, by Tamsweg (Route 95) it is obvious that the hills ahead are gaining in altitude and becoming mountains.

At Mauterndorf the road turns onto Route 99 and starts to climb. At Tweng the altitude is 1300m and the slopes are becoming steep and rocky. For the next 10 kilometers the road climbs, passing through tunnels to finally reach the top of the Tauern Pass at 1739m. The ski resort of Obertauern now sits astride the top of the pass.

Beyond the top of the pass the road drops steeply into a narrow gorge which opens out beyond Untertauern to reveal the town of Radstadt. Here the route turns onto a minor road and passes through Altenmarkt and Wagrain before a final climb and a drop down a narrow valley into St Johann.  

Markt Pongau

 

(Note - Markt Pongau is now known as Sankt Johann im Pongau, as it was before the war. It is a small town to the south of Salzburg. Postcard above supplied by John Puzey)

Although some marching columns did not get as far as Markt Pongau, a sufficient number arrived to bring the numbers to nearly 13,000. Since the capacity of the camp was reckoned by the German authorities as four to five thousand, it needs little imagination to picture the overcrowding of sleeping accommodation and sanitary facilities. A medical officer comments that there were ' sick men lying on the floor in every corner of the hospital'. Though Red Cross supplies were on hand they were insufficient to cope with such a mass of men for any length of time, and the food situation could soon have become serious again. On 2 May the German guards were withdrawn, though fighting was still going on in the adjacent areas where the German forces had refused to capitulate. As in most camps, plans had been made months before for such a situation and a properly organised scheme was immediately put into operation. But by 6 May it was apparent that the controlling of the cosmopolitan mass of men then in camp was becoming increasingly difficult. On that day several hundred prisoners broke out of camp and looted a German goods train. A Swiss representative who had been stationed at the camp for some time reports that order was re-established by the camp leaders without any serious incident with civilians. But it would have been unwise to have risked a repetition. A medical officer was immediately sent up to Salzburg to contact the American forces, and a party of American troops arrived the following day.

(Prisoners of War: W. Wynne Mason)

Dick Huston's Account

Dick Huston, from New Zealand was on the run on Crete until being captured in 1943. From there he was transported to Mauthausen concentration camp, then Stalag 18A. He was then transferred to a Work Camp in Graz (probably 107/GW). Here is his account of the journey to Markt Pongau and subsequent events.

Thanks to his daughter, Toni Lexmond.

It was not long after this that we started our march to get away from the approaching armies. They were still a long way off and we began to think there might have been an ulterior motive. Most of the men expressed relief at a chance to get away from the marshalling yards and there can be no doubt that there was considerable danger in working there. There was no hope of shifting us by train, for trains were prime targets for aircraft and operated on a stop-start basis. To be truthful, I actually enjoyed the walk, for it was more of a walk than a march, perhaps because of the challenge of organisation. I have spoken to other returned men who were on that march and they have no memories of hunger but found the cold at the beginning of the march hard to tolerate. I have also spoken to other men who were on similar marches up in Germany and their stories make me realise how fortunate we were to be in Austria.

 

I remember I was busy before we started the march, encouraging the men to eat less and store their food for what lay ahead. No one gave orders in such circumstances, it being a case of leading by suggestion. Many men did not want to leave the camp and I thought this was fair enough, that they had a right to make these decisions. Not all could stay, but we used the hospital as a reason for leaving a large number behind. Many were the arguments I used to the Commandant and finally, two hundred men were left there. “They will have to be left here or sent back to Stalag for they are not fit enough to walk”, I said.

 

Another thing I impressed on the blokes around that period was to intimidate the guards in a discreet way. Because we had been subject to so much propaganda it was now our turn to turn this knowledge to our advantage and frighten the guards into a greater degree of cooperation. It should be remembered that the guards were old men, the young men being at the Fronts. So the strategy was to ask the guards what would happen when the Russians came, or the British or the Americans. You look after me and I will look after you when this happens. Some of the guards had already become afraid of us, for some of their number had been sent to the Russian front on trumped up charges that the prisoners had manufactured. I also advise the men who were going on the march to carry as much warm clothing as they could as well as food, pointing out that the weight of food would dwindle as we went along, and that we could no longer rely on Red Cross parcels. So I think we were reasonably well prepared before we started.

 

I think the sergeant of the guards was named Weber and I believe I had control of him on the first day. Food did arrive for us on that first night, consisting of sausages and bread, but it was a pretty skimpy ration. I can’t seem to remember any rations after that but there could have been. Once we cleared the built up area of the city and were out in the countryside, we started to live off the land. This was made possible by the cooperation of the guard sergeant and the guards who were also benefiting from our foraging. I had offered the sergeant a reference in writing, after working on him for some time that might help him with better treatment at the end of the war. I was wise enough not to give it to him until the march was ended and it was only to the effect that he had treated us fairly while on the march. I also wrote out a whole lot of chits, “The British Government will repay to the people who have supplied food to this column of prisoners” type of thing, I cannot remember the exact wording but they worked like a charm. The recipients of these chits were warned not to display them until after the war and I cannot remember any hassles with them. They were not worth the paper they were written on but they did supply a lot of food to the prisoners.

 

All food collected in this way was shared and community cooking was done wherever possible. Foraging parties of ten men and one guard were sent out on each side of the road to the farms armed with the chits. Later, even the guards did not bother to go. I think that the fact that the farmers were prepared to help showed they knew the war was lost for them and I hope those chits reinforced that opinion. We also used the farm buildings for night shelter for I am certain that day stages were not set and when we arrived at a place that would give some shelter, and then we stayed. Even when we started the walk, or march, the weather was cold but as the days passed, the weather seemed to improve or maybe we had hardened to the conditions. No one seemed to be interested in us, no one told us to hurry so we made our own pace. We had no screaming officers trying to organise us and I think the guards appreciated this. As they were past their prime, our pace suited them.

 

The only men we lost on the march were those who escaped and there was plenty of scope for this. Ray Teitjen was one of these. It was my opinion at this stage of the march that it was more dangerous to escape than to remain with the column where we had safety in numbers. To support this opinion, I cited the small bands of escaped Russian prisoners who were roaming around in the country, raping and looting and generally stirring the people up. There were also fanatical bands of the Hitler Youth who were probably after the Russians for revenge, but who would not hesitate to shoot British as well. As it turned out, the advice was sound, because some British prisoners of war did disappear around this time, never to be heard of again. To me, it seemed this should not happen after years as a prisoner. I would never have tried to prevent a man for making up his mind and escaping, but I would have pointed out the disadvantages at this stage of the war. For sure, there was uncertainty staying with the column but believed even more so by escaping. We were six weeks, or was it two months on the march, I am not sure, yet it has not left a great impression on my mind. I cannot remember how many men did escape but I do not believe there were many. The guards did not seem to be aware that men had left the column, the odd occasion when they attempted a count would never have produced an accurate count and the apathetic way they carried it out was a sign of the times.

 

I had reason to doubt my opinions when we arrived at our destination, Markt Pongau. It was a large camp split up into two compounds. I had two reasons for doubting that I had given good advice, because I now remembered that Markt Pongau was in Hitler’s so called redoubt area where he was going to use prisoners when negotiating a peace. The second and greatest reason was that when we were put into a compound meant to accommodate three hundred and we were one thousand, we saw dead men lying out in the open in the compounds on either side and no one seemed to be caring. An English officer arrived and told me that typhus was rife in the camp and the dead were everywhere, but the British compounds had not been affected too badly as yet. There were only two other British compounds and they were not as crowded as ours.

 

I knew that you get typhus from lice and that if there were lice in the compound they had to be cleaned out quickly. I sometimes think I made the speech of my life that day, and think that in no small way, it did achieve the impossible. I pointed out that we were weeks, perhaps days away from freedom and we had a choice of dying like that, and I pointed to the dead bodies, or we could clean this place up until not even one louse could survive. If we did this, and I ensured that we did not receive contaminated food by cooking our own, then there was no reason why we should not all see England.

 

Those blokes cleaned that place up with water and elbow grease, for there was no soap. I did manage to get two coppers and we boiled water and sterilised what we could. The only difficulty we had on this exercise was that three English sergeant majors re discovered their ranks, and refused to help with the work, one of them being my interpreter. When I threatened to put them on charge when the war ended, they did muck in but with poor grace. However, they never used rank again. I saw the blokes in charge of the compounds on either side of us and managed, after a lot of heated talk, to get them cleaning their own compounds. On one side we had Russians who were in poor condition and yet they said they were receiving more food in this camp than they had received in any other. On the other side we had Americans, and I have never forgotten the lack of morale in that American compound. I was allowed a lot of freedom within the camp and found that every nationality opposed to Hitler, even the Italians, were there. I did not count, but there could have been as many as forty compounds there.

 

There was only one guard on each gate giving access to the road that went through the middle of the camp, with the compounds on either side. It also led to the administration block where the showers and delousers were situated, but these were no longer used and this may have been the reason for the typhus outbreak. Strange to relate, I can’t recall seeing a German officer while in the camp and the administration block looked deserted. Gone were the days of “Raus Raus” and there were neither parades nor counting as if the guards were afraid to enter the compounds.

 

Perhaps the British did believe that this could be a redoubt area and that the threat was real. I had seen the shambles of Graz and with access to the BBC news, knew that Hitler would find it impossible to reach Markt Pongau, but this was not to say that he could not negotiate from hundreds of miles away.

 

It must have been a week after we arrived at the camp that the English officer again paid us a visit and after complimenting us on the cleanliness of the compound, told me there was a meeting of compound leaders at the administration block. It turned out to be a meeting that you would never expect in a prisoner of war camp, and yet because this one occurred, I have no knowledge that similar meetings could have been held in other camps throughout Germany. There were no Germans present and yet they must have known of the meeting. Only compound leaders were present, and a few interpreters to get the message across to the different nationalities. A man who was referred to as the Colonel addressed us, but I cannot recall a name. He said he had come into the camp to organise resistance in case the camp was used as a hostage, or to protect itself against SS units who might try to exact vengeance for the loss of the war. The compounds would be armed but not openly, and each day the food carts would take concealed arms into the compounds.

 

There is no need to go through the day-by-day description of what happened over the next two weeks. It is enough to say that we did get some arms, mostly light machine guns that I had never seen before. Food came from the central depot with each compound trying to get more than the others. Ours having a big ration because of the numbers in the compound. It was not a lot, but I think the men accepted this because they knew they were only a few days away from freedom and I believe the men were disciplined within themselves, unlike when they first became prisoners. The fear of typhus was ever present, for some compounds had not cleaned up and men were still dying daily. The British officer wanted to take some hundreds of men from my compound but when I put it to them, not one man wanted to go, so no effort was made to force them. Maybe they were right, for we had not one case of typhus in our compound and all got back to England.

 

Only in the British compounds was the typhus epidemic kept in check and I believe this was brought about by better discipline, self-discipline. No one ran around screaming orders to achieve this, for the men had elected their own leaders and then, having elected them, supported them. If a commonsense proposition was put to the British prisoners it was normally adopted, provide the men they trusted put the proposition. This could not be said of the other nationalities in the camp, with perhaps the French being the exception. The Slavs and Serbians seemed to have a fatalistic outlook that certainly did not help them with a typhus crisis. The Italians seemed to rely on religious charms but it did not seem to help them. To me, the biggest surprise was the Americans, who once their tail was down, could not seem to get it up again. Many men died in their compounds that I felt could have been kept alive with better organisation and more discipline, something I had always thought the Americans were noted for.

 

The Colonel gave us reports of how close the attacking Allies were to us at our daily compound leaders meetings and then one day said we would be liberated by the Americans, which was good news to us as no one wanted to be released by the Russians. Too many stories were coming back of ill treatment of escaped prisoners by the Russians, and that they were giving their own released POWs a hard time.

 

A lot of what went on during that period is very hazy in my memories, but I have one memory I treasure, something that happened to reward me for any extra effort I may have made. One of the blokes came to me and offered me four small squares of chocolate and I was amazed that he still had some. He went on to say that he had been careful with his and a lot of the men still had some, and since I had managed to get so much food for them, would I please accept some chocolate. That to me was better than any decoration that could be offered.

 

When liberation day came, no one had to tell me that it was going to happen within hours, for the guards left. The Russians in the compound beside us left, but I asked my blokes to stay in the compound, and they did. Within two hours, a jeep arrived with Americans in it and we were officially freed, but were asked to stay in our compounds.

 

From an elevated point in our compound I could look down a valley and I could see some farm buildings being set alight by what appeared to be Russian soldiers. When I asked an American soldier what it was all about, he said they were the Russian prisoners from the camp and they had gone crazy. I had seen how the Russian prisoners had been treated and although it was wrong, I could not blame them. Their people at one time had been innocents too.

 

People have often asked me how I felt about liberation and I find it a hard question to answer. I felt a sense of relief rather than jubilation, Other men were running around slapping each other on the back, but I did not feel like doing this for I also had a feeling of sadness. I was remembering Crete, and most of all Maunthausen, and if I could have found somewhere private, I would have cried.

 

Views of Markt Pongau Camp

View of the camp (53kb) Group with Union Jack (12kb) NZ article marktpongau2.jpg (45kb) George Brown with group (52kb)
Tented Camp Union Jack NZ Article Tent Group My Father & others
stallag18a2.jpg (13717 bytes)  
Sidney Puzey group Sidney Puzey group Edwin Alderson group Joseph Conn group  

From then on the food problem at the camp was solved by distributing supplies of American army rations, and arrangements were made for the speedy evacuation of the released prisoners, of whom some 700 were New Zealanders. British liaison officers, one of them a New Zealander, were in the camp by 17 May, and on the 20th the ex-prisoners began to move by lorry to the Salzburg airfield for the flight to France and on to England. Most of our men from Markt Pongau and adjacent Arbeitskommandos seem to have reached England by the end of the month.

(Prisoners of War: W. Wynne Mason)

The following is an extract from the diary of L/Cpl F.H. Cooper, 4th Hussars. (Provided by his son, Cyril.)

20 April 1945: Departed Wolfsburg by passenger train to Seldwick. Changed to second passenger train to St Michael. Left St Michael in trucks attached to a German troop train, this train was attacked and the final 9Km of the journey from Bischoshafen was on foot.

22 April: Arrived Markt Pongau late stay in Forhagen overnight.

23 April: Transferred to NCO’s lager, Sgt Maj. Sudeby, 4th Hussars I/C.

Weather colder than Wolfsburg with snow. No facilities for cooking and very difficult to find bedding. There were issues of parcels and cigarettes. Camp buildings being torn down to provide firewood.

25 April: Many aircraft flying over but noted as unusual as they were not in formations but going over in droves.

30 April: Head count for bread issue said to be 3,500 English in the camp.

1 May: Air raid warning.

1,2,3 May: Snow and slush making life difficult.

5 May: Own police take over duty and police the town.

6 May: Visit by Protecting Power.

8 May: Americans arrive 08 15. An advance Section of Paras to police the camp.

9 May: Americans now taking over and enforcing discipline within camp, no one allowed out without a pass. A convoy arrives with parcels and a Colonel to take command of evacuation.

10 May: Major Lambe returned to the UK

19 May: First party of 2,500 men depart the camp for Salzburg Airfield.

25 May: Left Markt Pongau 0830 for Saltzburg Airfield. 113 lorries, 25 men on each.

 

St Johann in 2002

The village of St Johann im Pongau has changed considerably since 1945 but there are still echoes of those few days in May when the weary POWs waited for transport home. When I visited the town and tried to find the location of the camp shown in the photographs below, I was surprised to discover that part of the area is still inside a military camp with restricted access. 

Michael Mooslechner, an Austrian historian from Salzburg, has kindly identified the location of Stalag XVIIIC, Südlager (South Camp) and has sent me an aerial photograph of the camp taken by the RAF in April 1945.

18Caerial.jpg (36743 bytes) stjomap.jpg (122979 bytes)
Aerial Photo Camp location

After the Welcome Weekend in Wolfsberg in 2013, The Macauley/Simpson clan visited St Johann and, with the help of some kind locals, found the sites of the North and South camps of Stalag 18C and the location of several memorials and cemeteries relating to the Russians, Yugoslavs and French.

North & South Camps Memorials

Going Home

This left-hand picture is courtesy of Frank Hardy, an ex-POW. It was taken after the liberation of the camp at Markt Pongau in May 1945 and shows the POWs being taken from the camp on their way to Salzburg and a flight to the UK. The next two pictures are courtesy of John Gregory and show the POWs boarding Dakotas at Salzburg airfield. The last picture was brought back by Ernest Banton

marktpongau1.jpg (40kb) Fly home in a Dakota.jpg (65384 bytes) Fly home in a Dakota 2.jpg (67481 bytes)

The following two photographs were sent by Dan Donaldson, son of Tom Donaldson, 18 Bn, 2NZEF. I'm fairly certain that they were taken at Salzburg airfield. Tom is on the right of the group of three in the right-hand picture.

ddonaldson10.jpg (55958 bytes) ddonaldson11.jpg (61132 bytes)

The following photographs were sent by Kathryn Shepherd, daughter of Pte Ken Bee, RAOC. They appear to have been taken at Salzburg airfield, the POWs amusing themselves with some left-over Luftwaffe aircraft whilst waiting to be flown home. The first three photos show a Messerschmitt Me109. The last photo is of the wreckage of a Junk 88.

The following letter was written on 31st May 1945 from Bari in Italy. It was written by Roy Kingsley to his sister in Australia.

Supply Drops


The following passages are taken from the diary of Ben Haller Jr, a Bombardier with the 461st Bomb Group.

"On May 9, there was a call for volunteers to fly cargo missions to drop supplies to Allied POW camps in Austria. The purpose was not only to get food and medical supplies to these people as fast as possible, but also to arm them so they (both British and American soldiers) could officially be in charge of their camps and adjoining towns before the Russians could race in and claim they had "liberated" our people. My diary shows I flew on 5/9 to the Americans held in the German prison camp at Spittal, Austria, northwest of Villach. Dropped twelve 350# cans of supplies from 1,000 feet. Flew over the most beautiful country, mountains and lakes I've ever seen. Went over Klagenfurt where nothing is left intact. What a mess. The POW's waved wildly from barracks roofs and out in the roads."

"On May 10 or 11 I flew another one to Wolfsberg POW camp where the English fellows are. Saw streams of German trucks, guns and carts for miles pouring in to surrender to the Allied troops in this area. Dropped from 800 feet."

"I failed to make an entry for May 16 for my third and final Cargo Mission, which was excusable because when I returned to my tent in the 767th Squadron area there was a cablegram on my bunk informing me that our first child, Benjamin III, had been born at 12:15 a.m. May 9, just 14 minutes after the official surrender took place! I can't recall the name of the POW camp but it was again in southern Austria, near the Villach and Klagenfurt area. The volunteer crews carried no gunners, of course, although I think a few guys were allowed to ride strictly as passengers to see from low level the landscape we'd been bombing from high altitude and to be able to say they took part in those historic flights that meant little to anyone else, but everything to the POW's on the ground."

Gary Pearce, sone of Jack Pearce, RAVC, has provided the following Mission Briefing or 'Poop Sheet' for 24 planes from the 461st Bombardment Group detailed to drop supplies to a POW camp on 10 May 1945. Presumably the camp was Stalag 18A at Wolfsberg. The details come from Hughes Glantzberg, the Historian for the 461st Bomabrdment Group Association.

SUPPLY MISSION 10 MAY 1945

THREE (3) SHIP ELEMENTS

 

1. LIVELY (COL. ROGERS) 10 J

 

 

RADIO CHECK: 1112

#1. LIGHTBODY (TROMMER) 18 R

START ENGINES: A BOX 1115

    TETZLAFF 11 K

FIRST SHIP TAXI: 1123 FIRST SHIP OFF: 1130

    BOOZER 7 G

 

 

BASE TO DRAVOGRAD H 357 DIST 326

#2. RATHFELDER 2 B

          TIME 1340 ALT: CLIMB 7,000

    ARNOLT 12 L

 

   

(IP) DRAVOGRAD TO TGT (46-50, 14-50)

#3. WHALEN 24 E (THACKSON)

          H 335 DIST 17

    BARAN 27 H

          TIME 1347 ALT: DOWN 2,500

    MC MILLAN 38 S

 

 

RALLY LEFT THEN 2 - 360° TURNS CLIMB 8,000 ft.

#4. TRAETTA 32 M

          TIME 1412

    HOLLY 33 N

 

    WOODRUFF 34 O

TARGET TO BASE H 176 DIST 341

 

          TIME 1618 ALT: DOWN 5,000

#5. NIXON 41 B

 

    HALL 56 Q

 

    EALLACE 43 D

 

 

 

#6. BARCUS 54 O

 

    MISIUS 48 I

 

    LEDENDECKER 40 A

 

 

 

#7. LANGLEY 69 J (HESS)

 

    AUSTIN 74 O

 

    STEINBERG 67 H

 

 

 

#8. CAMERON 65 F

 

    BALLINGER 75 P

 

    CHENNAULT 63 D

 

 

LANDING: 2700 ft.

 

RADIO:  BOMBER COMMAND: 4885 KC

 

        US TOWERS 6440 KC

 

        “A” CHANNEL VHF BIG FENCE

 

                         FIGHTER BOMBER

 

                         WEATHER SHIPS

 

        “B” CHANNEL VHF 461ST BOMB GROUP

 

        “C” CHANNEL VHF 49TH BOMB WING

 

        “D” CHANNEL VHF DITCHING &

 

                  EMERGENCY OVER WATER

 

VISUAL SIGNALS: RED-RED ABANDON PRIMARY TARGET

 

                RED-YELLOW CLIMB

 

                YELLOW-YELLOW LEVEL OFF

 

                GREEN-YALLOW LET DOWN

 

AIRSPEEDS: 160 CLIMB, 160 CRUISE, 170 LET DOWN

 

TOWER FLARES: GREEN – START ENGINES, YELLOW – STAND BY SHIP, RED – STAND

BY SQDN OPNS

ALTERNATE FIELDS: ZARA, BIFERNO

GROUP LEADER: COL. ROGERS IN SHIP NUMBER 10 J

DEPUTY GROUP LEADER: MAJOR TROMMERSHAUSSER IN SHIP NUMBER 18 R

 

**NOTE 1ST SHIP CALL SIGN “CONTROL”             SQDN CALL SIGNS

             1ST 3 SHIP CALL SIGN “NEWSBOY 1”         764 – PHILLIP

             2ND 3 SHIP CALL SIGN “NEWSBOY 2” ETC.    765 – SAMSON

                                                     766 – WELLDONE

BOMB AT 150  IAS  2400 RPM                           767 - TOOLCASE

 

REMARKS:  SUPPLIES WILL BE DROPPED DIRECTLY ON THE POW CAMP.

CREWS WILL OBSERVE CAREFULLY GROUND ACTIVITY IN THE AREA OF THE POW CAMP.

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