Staff Sergeant P.W.B. Musitano, Glider Pilot Regiment

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by ElaMus, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    Hello to one and all,

    I write in regards to finding out more about my grandfather and what he did in his life.
    My GrandFather was P W B Musitano who I knew as Bill.
    I found this article on this site..
    and hoped whoever found this may be have more information about this.
    I think the article refurs to Operation Tonga
    Or indeed if anyone knows anything about Bill please let me know.
    Many thanks for your time
    Elaena Musitano
  2. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    Elaena, the report relates to your Grandfather being captured 67 years ago tomorrow - D-Day.
  3. Paul Pariso

    Paul Pariso Very Senior Member

  4. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum Elaena - enjoy!


    ElaMus likes this.
  5. kingarthur

    kingarthur Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the forum Elaena, enjoy
  6. GPRegt

    GPRegt Senior Member

    Hello, Elaena

    Welcome to the Forum.

    When Kevin Shannon and I were writing One Night In June, which tells the story of Operation Tonga, your Grandfather sent us his account. It's a great story and in more detail than his Escape Report. If you email me through the GPR site, see my signature below, I'll scan the pages from the book and send them to you.

    Steve W.
    ElaMus likes this.
  7. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member


    Welcome......I'm happy to see GPR has seen your post because if anyone knows the story it will be Steve......
    ElaMus likes this.
  8. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Welcome Elaena, nice to see you are being looked after:)
  9. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello and welcome Elaena

    ElaMus likes this.
  10. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum

    ElaMus likes this.
  11. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member


    You might be interested in the attached form which goes with your Grandfather's Escape and Evasion report


    Attached Files:

  12. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    This website is amazing, to have such warm welcomes, and view so much information, so easily, is truely a great testiment to this sites creators and contributors.
    This truely is a wonderful place, where everyone has great respect for each other and its clear all are good people, hardly surprising as we all obviously are here in memorance and respect to all our brave men and woman, who have risked their freedom and lives, to keep our country safe, but most importantly to protect our nation with all its people, and inturn promote freedom and liberty around the world and where possible to stamp out those who try to opress others.

    Its great to be part of something so possitive.

    Elaena Musitano
  13. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    John Thanks so much for this,

    This form is wonderful, its definetly Bill's handwriting, (Bill is what he liked to be called, although his name was paul). Its so nice to see this and find out that he actually escaped. I knew he was captured by the Germans, but I never knew he escaped, he really played down all he did.
    Its amazing these reports are still arround, where would you advise I go to see if I can find out anymore about my grandfather.

    Many thanks


    You might be interested in the attached form which goes with your Grandfather's Escape and Evasion report

  14. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member


    I've attached copies of his Escape and Evasion report which I'm certain that you'll find interesting.
    I would also suggest writing to the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop which holds some very interesting information on members of the Glider Pilot Regiment.


    Attached Files:

  15. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    Wow this is all so exciting, when I first put my fishing post I never dreamt of hearing anything, let alone within a month of posting..
    Thank you so much for the suggestion about the Museum of Army Flying, I will be onto them after this.

    Thank you so much once again, its also so amazing as all this diging as rekindled my memory of my grandfather I can actually see him from my minds eye without the aid of a picture, this rekindling of connection is amazing. Thank you

    Warm Wishes Elaena

    I've attached copies of his Escape and Evasion report which I'm certain that you'll find interesting.
    I would also suggest writing to the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop which holds some very interesting information on members of the Glider Pilot Regiment.

  16. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    HI there John,
    been a long time since been here
    Hi there John,
    sadly after I joined this site, I lost record of it, now after finding it again, Id love to chase up things
    Where do you think you may have found my Grandfathers escape and evasion report
    Many thanks
  17. Ludo68000

    Ludo68000 6th Airborne D-Day

    Dear Eleana,

    you can find you Granfather Escape and Evasion report at the National Archives at Kew, in the file WO208/3348
  18. sirjahn

    sirjahn Member

    Your Grandfather was wounded, captured and sent to Rennes EPS hospital (aka Stalag 221w, Frontstalag 221 austelle, Rennes Military Hospital) Here is my records of that stay. The hospital was liberated by the US 13th Infantry Regiment on 4 August 1944.

    SSG 7625958 Musitano, Paul William Barnes GSW back entrance and exit wound, Glider Pilot Regiment Arrived hospital 12 June Glider Pilot after healed stayed on in Hospital became carpenter on 28 July arrived hospital 13-Jun-44 discharged from hospital 28-Jul-44

    Here is a brief history of the hospital.
    Rennes Military Hospital was set up by the Germans in a school building on the street Rue Jean Mace' in 1940. Initially it held British and French Colonial troops wounded in the France campaign of 1940 and later Tuberculosis patients from Indian troops captured in the desert campaign. Wounded commandos and sailors from the St. Nazaire raid in March 1942 also were treated here prior to being moved to permanent POW camps.

    The building had been built in 1916 and was used in WWI as a convalescence hospital by the British during that war. The school building is still there used as a High School and was extensively renovated in 1997. The Rennes Military Hospital was known under several aliases (EPS Rennes, Frontstalag 221 W, Lazarett Rennes) during WWII and is often confused with another Prisoner of War (POW) Holding Camp on the southwest edge of Rennes called Lazarett 133 or Frontstalag 221.

    Across the narrow street from that school was the Rennes Gestapo Headquarters. In the backyard, which is now a playground, the Germans had air raid shelters dug underground. The stairways, rooms etc. inside were quite modern for the time. The Hospital was primarily used for seriously-wounded American and British airborne POWs, but there were later some wounded from regular infantry divisions in there. Approximately 1300 wounded POWs transited or stayed the Hospital prior to liberation treated by some 90 Allied and French medical staff.

    The medical staff consisted of 7 American, British, and French doctors aided by about 50 full and part-time personnel, nurses and nuns who spoke little or no English plus some support staff, and 78 soldiers who were aid men or orderlies in their units. Medical attention was fair but lacked sufficient medications. Sanitation was also fair with no infestation of Lice but flies were a problem. Food was unbelievably poor quality and quantity. The staff was badly overworked and about half of the injured POWs leave their beds to assist the staff with the many of the bedridden patients who were immobilized, paralyzed or blinded.

    Regardless of this, there were POW barbers in that place, running water (the tap water was safe to drink), a laundry service (albeit with very limited soap), a semblance of showers- pipes with holes in them, at intervals, which squirted-out water, flushing toilets, etc. Prior to this the hospital was in a girls' school which was modern for the 1940s.

    The primary doctor was Professor, Doctor Eugene Marquis a chief consultant and operating surgeon before the Allied doctors came and remained in that capacity until the Americans took Rennes. He gave his services constantly – working daily from 0830 – 1230 hrs and from 1530 – 2030 hrs. He saw every patient every day and brought female nursing staff into the hospital and housed them at his office down the street; he also did his best to get food and extra medical supplies for the patients. He was supported by at least two other French doctors and several support staff.

    Major Malcom Oxley RAMC, and Captain Douglas Nelson RAMC, were the British military doctors working on Allied wounded. At first a Captain Ernest Gruenberg of the 101st Airborne was the US doctor. But Captain Gruenberg was Jewish and when this was discovered in late June he was sent away to Germany and Captain Lester Kolmann of the 29th Infantry Division, was brought in as his replacement. Germans were fascinated by the Allied medical techniques using blood plasma transfusion, penicillin and sulfa drugs to which they had no equivalent training or medication.

    Major Phil Gage, XO of 1/501 PIR was the ranking US officer at the Hospital and had lost his hand in the fighting near St. Georges de Bohon on D-day morning. The British had several different ranking officers during the period who rotated out to the Stalag so eventually Major Oxley was the default Senior Officer.

    The Hospital was an offshoot or Annex (Ausstelle) of Frontstalag 221 based in Bordeaux and was labeled Frontstalag 221 W in POW correspondence. The Germans started with a Captain Stabsarzt Lummp in charge but he quickly became overwhelmed by the work and the POWs suffered from his lack of administrative skills. Lumpp’s attitude was to take the easy way out in the face of difficulties. He seemed afraid to make a fuss with higher command. In late June Major Doctor Oberstabsarzt Ernst Enzinger arrived to take over and things got better but were still bad.

    Guards in Hospital and Frontstalag 133 in Rennes mostly elderly Austrian, Polish/Latvian and troops with bad morale and appeared to be waiting to be taken prisoner by Allied forces and reiterated their wish for the war to end. They were most likely from the Landesschuetzen Battalion 907 which formed on the border of Germany and the Protectorates of Boehmen and Maehren with Polish replacement.

    There appear to have been German wounded kept for a while at the Hospital as well on the 3rd floor and were treated by German doctors and French staff.

    There were at least three French and one Polish Doctor POWs looking after the wounded Colonial troops since 1940. Before the casualties from D-Day and later arrived, the hospital was used as a Tuberculosis Sanatorium for British Indian POWs. These men were cared for by a group of 5 captured Indian medics who later stayed on to treat the Allied wounded from D-Day.

    The majority of the wounded reached the Hospital 4 to 5 days after being wounded. They had all been treated previously by the local German medics. In most cases, primary excision of wounds; packing with sulpha drugs; splinting of fractures was done by Germans prior to arrival. In most instances of fractures of the lower extremity, travelling casts had been applied were most made of concrete not plaster. Each patient was accompanied by some form of medical document with much the same details as Allied medical paperwork, including recording injections of morphine, injections of anti-tetanus and in some instances anti-gas gangrene serum.

    The majority of the wounded reached the Hospital in a grossly infected state – a few patients arrived with maggots crawling over them. The casualties were either naked, or half clad, and all had the dust of battle upon them. The reason for this seemed to be that clothing had been cut away from the wounds, and had not been replaced. Hospital clothing such as shirts, pajamas, etc. was unavailable, and the staff had nothing to give them when they arrived. All complaints and demands for some sort of clothing were replied with “impossible c’est la guerre” by the German administrator. A number of POWs arrived that should have been stabilized before transport and subsequently died or had complications from their wounds.

    Discipline among the POWs in the POW hospital was, in general, of a very high order. With the Gestapo Headquarters right across the street POWs would tease the SS guards from their windows about the progress of the war. Once these guards umbrage and took pot-shots at some of the patients leaning out of the windows teasing them. The German Administrator then issued an order to restrain patients from going to the windows. On 1 August the Gestapo left their headquarters hurriedly leaving a quantity of wine and liquor and radio sets behind them. The French brought the wine and food stocks they found there to the Hospital and also the radio sets which were later sent to England.

    Bread particularly, but food in general was very short and of poor quality, and POW guards had to be placed on the passages leading to the kitchen to prevent hungry walking wounded from snatching raw vegetables. Two hospital cats went into the pot early on and rats were hunted for adding meat to stews. There was no tobacco for the first few weeks and POWs resorted to using grass and bush clipping wrapped in paper. The French POWs in the Lazarette were on a better ration scale than the new Allied POWs and they could also buy food outside because they were on parole. They would sometime share their leftovers with the POWs.

    Food was lacking of quality and quantity, it was unsuitable for most of the wounded and for the orderlies who had to do the hard work. When Allied doctors first arrived at the hospital the calculated calorific value of the food was estimated to be about 600 calories, which was about 1/8th the calories needed for a normal soldier. Eventually it rose to estimated caloric value of 1200. To a great extent the food could not be supplemented except now and then – as no Red Cross parcels came through and objections were made by the German Administrator to the Allied doctors buying food from the outside either with what little money they had – or on I.O.U.s which doctors promised would be met by the Allies upon entry into Rennes.

    When the fall of Rennes seemed imminent, Major Enzinger arranged for food to be looted from the Gestapo Headquarters opposite (and what was secured was enormous and included Red Cross packages). When it was clear supplies of food would not reach the hospital much longer – and in fact they did cease on 1 Aug 44, the French Staff and Allied aid men continued to loot the Gestapo HQ. Furthermore Major Enzinger would not leave when he had orders to quit until he had formally handed over the hospital to French Col. Poirier, who was from the Vichy district Ministry of Health (MOH) and he placed Lieutenant Jean Fourier in the hospital as his representative.
  19. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    Thank you soooooooooooo much Ludo
    Its so wonderful
    I feels like Im getting close to Bill again
    He was such an Amazing Cool Brilliant Individual.
    I am so excited to fill in all the blanks
    Many thanks
  20. ElaMus

    ElaMus Junior Member

    Thank you so much for ALLLL this information Sirjahn

    I am so blown away for this!!

    Bill always told me the major dent in his back was from a cannon ball lol but he did say the germans shot him in his derier.

    I always remember being shocked when he told me the germans were great as they sent him to hospital and gave him physio every hour and that the British Airforce wouldnt have given him this...but to hear the actual detail of the hospital just shows what a hero Bill was
    he wouldnt have told me how much he suffered.
    His release photo shows him really happy clearly, but he's so thin and clearly suffered, but he never complained about anything, he made everything sound fun and an adventure.
    He always found the positive in Life

    Thank you soooooooooooooo much

    Many Many thanks


    4jonboy likes this.

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