Exit from STALAG Luft III and march to Luckenwalde

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Lindele, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    The attached report and the images were given to me by the son of a Navigator on Halifax bombers shot down over Mainz in 1942. All of this was recently discovered in his private papers. A couple of questions:
    1. Were the images taken at STALAG Luft III, and /or in Moosburg ?
    2.The "execution" scene seems too staged to be real. What do you think?


    Exit from Sagan, Saturday night 29.1.1945

    8pm Harrassed head of Birdie Barrett round door of Mess 10 “Prepare to leave
    immediately, Russians at Sternan bridgehead over the Oder about 60 miles away.

    3am Rollcall in deep snow outside block “1/4 hr notice. Bungy & Jacko made sledge out of windowsills & bedboards, Piers out of coal box, Flip out of another box.

    7am Started out of camp being issued en-route with 1 RC parcel per man

    9am March started

    2.30pm Halban – 18 kilometers. 3 hrs wait before getting into school house to find this written on the board of our school room:

    “To grunt & sweat under a weary life
    But that the dread of something after death
    The undiscovered country from whose burn
    No traveller returns, puzzles the will.
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Hus conscience makes cowards of us all,
    And this the native hue of resolution
    Is suckled o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

    Monday 29th. Jan

    9am Got ready to move – but don’t.

    3pm Roll call, snowing. Another night in school, v, crowded but warm & slept well on the floor in blanket sleeping bag

    Tuesday 30th.

    7am March off, sledges doing well including one Tony bought from a girl within 1/2 hr of leaving camp for a RC parcel.

    John, Robert Kee, Tony & Scotty do good work on the march buying bread for 10-20 cigarettes per loaf. 10mins halt per hour, 1/2hr for lunch at 12 & 3.30

    1.30pm Sichdichfur – 17 kilometers. 3 ½ hours wait until half of our 1000-odd packed into the lofts & outbuildings of a school. The other half were in the Catholic church sleeping in the confessional boxes, pulpit & organ loft. All around the gallery crosses to deaths from 1940 onwards. Cooked on fires outside under trees in snow. John bought a candle for 20 cigarettes otherwise no lights but fat lamps.

    Wed 31st.

    6.15 am March in dark. V. cold & snowing. All the way we have been passing or been passed by refugees moving west in farm wagons, very occasionally a car or a carriage & a few sleighs sometimes old men and women running holding on behind. But there’s no hostility, just resignation & we’re all in the same boat anyhow. We’ve also passed units of German forces, trucks, guns, SS troops in white battle-suits moving up to the front all very friendly & keen on the odd cigarette.

    6pm Muskau. 30 kilos. A hard day’s march & pull but the sledges still holding up well altho’ hard work on the hills and among the trees in the deeper snow there. After usual wait, billeted in a glass factory with every sign of a rapid thaw about to begin.
    Lots of French prisoners working in the factory where our mess fixed up in great comfort in the wood shop.
    Tony & Robert organised the Managing Director very adequately. We dried our clothes by the blast furnace in which they heat up the glass crucible. Watch glassblowers. We had a hell of a good time at this place having brews and eating like troopers being very glad we had the savvy to hump as much food as we had. 2 nights here. While we were waiting in the town before moving into the factory a German Luftwaffe security officer got the butcher to give the dogs (whom the guards had brought on the truck) meat & then the butcher brought out buckets of very hot “meat water” soup for the “kriegies”. The buckets were carried out by his fat little daughters shrieking with delight at all the excitement.

    Friday 2nd Feb

    Tony gets the carpenter to knock up a hand cart with solid wood wheels & hoop metal tyres & on to this we stowed most of the stuff from the sledges. Almost completely thawed. Soup issue then start march 12 o’clock. John & Sydney got another small handcart just outside the town (Muskaw) for some lumps of sugar and a bar of chocolate from some small girls. March 21kms to a small farm at Steindur. (last 2 hrs in dark carrying all our kit as both carts broke down within ½ hr of each other after about 15kms) Saw a very splendid sunset as we marched up a hill.) Slept in barn at Steinan. Rain & sdlush outside but quite good warm night in the straw. Charlie Boy got 6 boiled eggs
    out of a Frenchman – we shared them for breakfast.

    Sat 3rd. Feb

    Set out from barn at 9. Meet up with Balaria who had been in the other barns in the village and march AT 10. 7 kilos to Spremberg. Coming down the hill into the town John & Birdie Barret helped hold up a runaway refugee cart (none of these carts froim the flat Silesian country seem to have brakes). Have soup issued at Luftwaffe barracks then march further 3 kms to west station.

    Entrained in freight cars, 50 men per truck. Start 7pm. Slept in train & really very comfortable it was much more so than trying to sleep in a continental 3rd. class carriage. I no longer pity the 8 chevaux, 40 hommes

    Sun 4th. Feb

    Stayed all day in train which was mostly stopped owning to air raids until 5.30pm when we finally arrived at Luchenwalde. The engine driver had provided the “kriegies” with brews from the engine at times during the day. At one stop 2 German Foreign Office officials interviewed the SBO. 4 kilos march from the station to the camps a total march of 100 kilos.
    View attachment 130211 Stalag Luft III photos 1.pdf View attachment 130211 Stalag Luft III photos 2.pdf View attachment 130211 Stalag Luft III photos 3.pdf
  2. Son of POW-Escaper

    Son of POW-Escaper Senior Member

    Hi Stefan,

    It's a very long time since I had a look, but the "official" history of the Luft 3 evacuation is told in TS 26/348 at the National Archives.

    I know that my father was one of the lucky ones from East Compound to have travelled much of the way from Sagan to Luckenwalde by train. Even though the cattle cars were unheated (and, I believe, no food was provided during the trip, other than what the POWs carried for themselves), it was still a much better way to travel, and it shortened the trip dramatically, I believe. Oliver Clutton-Brock reported in 'Footprints on the Sands of Time' that Dad's mob arrived at Luckenwalde on February 4 (as you mentioned above). I believe that there were many more who spent much more time on foot, and whose journey took a great deal longer, in much tougher conditions.

    Robert Kee (author of 'A Crowd Is Not Company') was definitely in East Compound with my Dad, so it's almost certain that your fellow was on the same route/train as my father.

    I'm not sure why you ask whether the photos might have been taken at Moosburg. The ones with tents were likely taken at Luckenwalde (I'm guessing), but NOT at Luft 3. I've been to Luft 3, and I've never heard (or seen any photos) of tents there.

    Luft 3 was surrounded by tall, thin pine trees. The interior shots of triple-layer bunks could well have been from Luft 3. The sports field in East Compound (Luft 3) was much smaller than the one shown in the photo. And there are no trees visible, so I'm guessing that's not Sagan. Also, all of the huts at Sagan were on brick pilings, about 18 inches off the ground, with the gap open for all to see (and ferrets to inspect, which they did quite frequently). That's not visible in any of your photos.

    Sorry that I can't be of more help.

    Best of luck in your search/Merry Christmas,

  3. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Hi Marc,

    thanks for your information. I am almost certain that is much more than what my fellow knew so far and I will pass on your answer to him, I guess you don't mind.
    And I will get back with his response.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too.

    Son of POW-Escaper likes this.
  4. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Hi Marc,

    we like to extend the questions to ask if the photos were not taken in Luft 3 or Moosburg (the navigator was in both camps), in which camps were they taken? Does anyone know or even better has seen similar photos including the identity of the camps?

  5. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Pic 1.jpg Pic 2.jpg Pic 3.jpg

    Hi all,

    following the advise by some friends I have changed the pics to JPG files and changed the pics around so that you do not get neck-ache by tilting you head. Again, in which camp have these photos been taken?
    Does anyone know or even better has seen similar photos including the identity of the camps?

  6. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Hi all,

    just found a web site which includes all of above pics and many more, all supposedly from the POW camp Luckenwalde.
    Thanks to all trying to help identifying the pics for me.

  7. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    Stefan would you post the address of the site you found please?
  8. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

  9. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    For more photos that may be of interest, I would suggest searching the AWM collection - http://www.awm.gov.a...wm/collections/

    Simply typing in any of the camp names (Luckenwalde or Moosburg etc) provides umpteen photographs of life inside the camps or on the road during the forced marches in 1945

    That execution photo gets around -


    Two barechested Russian prisoners stand with arms raised in front of a wall, a German NCO in the corner prepares to give orders to the German soldiers on the far right to fire. Debris is strewn around their feet and the prisoner's shirts have been thrown in a pile next to a bucket of sawdust in front of them. This photograph was probably taken by a German officer, the camera and the film it contained was confiscated by an Australian, 426527 Warrant Officer (WO) Edward Burke, No 463 Squadron RAAF, after the prisoners at Luckenwalde Prisoner of War (POW) Camp, Germany, were liberated by Russian troops.

    PS - a few of the photos from the OP are held in the AWM collection, such as:


    The Irish Guards quarters at Stalag IIIA Prisoner of War (POW) Camp, Luckenwalde, Germany. An unidentified officer rests on the top bunk, personal items are scattered about on the lower two bunks.


    The donor of many the photos is identified as Edward Burke - he apparently used the camera that he confiscated to take shots after the liberation of his camp. Must have got a shock when the film was developed and it had the execution photo already on the roll.

Share This Page