Donald E. Mitchell, Mission December 25, 1944

15/12/1942 - I took the oath in the Nashville courthouse with Howard and Pierce Brown. My enlisted reserve SN was (14199977).

4/6/1943 - I reported to Keeler Field, Biloxi, Miss. For basic training - G. I .cots, G. I. latrines - Drill- Drill - Drill, Physical Training (PT), Kitchen Police, (KP), Dress Parade - Post Exchange (PX), mess hall, theatre, visit to ramp with Jack, Jim Mills, Horace Mull, Bill Gold, Wesley, Bob Maydon, Copeland, Dick and Glen Miller.

5/6/1943 - C.T.O, UT., cafeteria, gymnasium, stadium PX, tacks, hotfoot - Larry Parks, Marshall, classes, PT, swimming, obstacle course, cross-country marching, marching songs, coeds, drugstore, Gerry Roach, Lee Valde, Capt Stone, Sqd - I, dress parades, open post, guard duty, weekend pass, coke machines.

8/1943 - We received our classification in Nashville, moved into tarpaper barracks - it was hot. Two hours of physical training (PT) and drill. Lt Sheppard - conducted another night vision check and then we went to the PX and got some ice cream. After being issued our Cadet uniforms and equipment, we were authorized weekend passes. A group of WAC, (Women Army Corps) officers saluted us as were leaving on pass.


DONALD E. MITCHELL, 2ND LT. 0834470, POW #7312, STALAG Luft #1, BARTH, GERMANY:

12/25/1944 - On Christmas day, while flying as copilot in a B-24 Liberator Bomber over Austria we were forced to abandon ship at 1205 hrs due to engine problems. We were loosing altitude rapidly and the prospect of a forced landing on the rock-strewn snow covered terrain, thrusting up below, didn't exactly appeal to us.

I landed with a jolting thug beneath some pine trees only a few yards from precipitus bluff, which I had been attempting to avoid by dumping air from my parachute during decent. The sound of shots and the whistle of bullets about me as the Tyrelean Volkstrem had a little target practice, using me for a target, further complicated this action.

Minutes after I got my feet on good old terra firma, a smiling enthusiastic group of Austrian mountaineers surrounded me. The first one to reach me could, to my surprise, speak English, and was very voluble in making me as welcome as possible. He assured me that he was no Nazi. (Paul Trentinaglia, I later learned) He and the others made great haste to disentangle my shroud lines from the pine saplings and hustle me off to their comfortable farmhouse nestling on the side of a gorge and a few hundred yards from my landing spot. I had gone down near NIS, Austria (A small village about 20 miles from the Italian border, nestled in the heart of the TYRELEAN Alps) December 25th, Christmas night. Three hours later, I was turned over to the GESTAPO, stationed in the valley below. My first night in Germany, Austria, that is, was spent in a small prison camp a short distance down the valley (where Bart and I were reunited). That night will live in my memory long years to come.

2/26/1944 - We were moved a short distance and reunited with rest of the crew, after a night there we were moved to a cell at a Luftwaffe training field at Bad-Aibling, a short distance from Rosenheim, Germany.

12/29/1944 - We departed for an interrogation center located at Oberursel, just outside of Frankfort on the Main. We spent two nights in transit, arrived there on New Years Eve, 1944.

1/3/1945 - After three days in solitary confinement, I received my interrogation.

1/4/1945 - I was moved to a transit camp at Wechsler, 20 miles North of Frankfort, where we were processed and shipped of to Stalag Luft at Barth, Germany.

1/9/1945 - After five days of travel, we arrived at Stalag Luft #1 at Barth, Germany. Twenty-four men crowded together in one room about 24' X 24'; we slept, cooked, ate our meals and spent 95% of our time in this space. The weather kept us indoors except for trips to the latrine and roll call twice a day in the middle of the compound.

Cases of strained nerves and the clash of personalities, varying from a breny bred Jew to an Oregon rancher, seemed sure to develop into numerous quarrels and fistiecuffs, but although minor arguments were thick and heated, they never developed into blows. Almost everyone managed to stay on friendly terms with the other 23 men.

The remark ability of this may not seem so apparent, but elaboration is unnecessary to any ex-Kreigie (German prisoner of war).

The daily German rations consisted of 1/7th of a loaf of barley bread adulterated with weed pulp; approximately 1 quart of stew made with rutabagas, potatoes and cabbage, with occasional additions of horse meat and or salt. 1/28 of a pound of oleomargarine and a spoon full of sugar per man. This was not always to be relied upon, except in the case of the bread, but was sometimes supplemented with small amounts of synthetic jam made from coal tar and cheese.

The Red Cross Food Parcels were the thing, which made a bearable existence out of our imprisonment. Normal ration was one parcel per man per week. However, shortstopping by the Germans resulted in us getting about half of this amount. During one period (3/27/1945 – 4/27/1945) we were forced to live exclusively on German rations.

A graphical diagram of morale in the camp would show a steadily rising curve during Russian's January offensive followed by an orderly decline when they paused at the Odor River and a drop to rock bottom when the Red Cross parcel supplies ran out toward the last of February 1945. This continued until Eisenhower's offensive opened in the West and breaching of the Siegfried line followed by General Hodge's bridgehead across the Rhine and General Patton's spectacular drive to, across and far beyond the Rhine coincided with an increase in German rations and the coming of spring, heralded by 4 days of beautiful weather, brought morale almost to the previous high.

3/27/1945 - The arrival of beautiful CCV parcels, plus an upswing in news from the West brought morale to a peak never before attained. The news continued to be unbelievably good from the fighting fronts. However, we were all saddened by the news of President Roosevelt's death 4/12/1945.

That night the RAF furnished us a little excitement by pulling a raid about 30 miles to the Southeast. Explosions and the glow of burning buildings were easily heard and seen from our window. It lasted only a short time and did not approach, for fireworks display, the raid on Stralsund the previous month.

4/13/1945 - A Squadron of 88's flew into the near-by airfield and from them we received daily hotrock buss jobs plus enough noise at night to make sleeping difficult.

4/15/1945 - Sunday's German ration was bean soup:

Here is Joe's menu, put together using items from Red Cross parcels:

Breakfast - Cold cereal with cream and sugar plus raisins, three half slices of bread with butter and j am plus a cup of rich hot chocolate.

Lunch - Boiled ox-meat on buttered bread, cheese and prune sandwich, coffee sandwich, coffee and fudge.

Dinner - Spam and cheese canape's, cabbage slaw with cheese sauce, dried vegetables, stew flavored with butter and liver pate, meat pie with creamed com beef sauce (size servings, 4x3x3"), creamed potatoes and turnips, coffee cake, coffee with cream.

The after dinner snack, which no one was able to eat tile the next morning, was a large Toll House cookie with whipped cream, and hot chocolate. Everyone in the room was full for the first time in our sojourn at Barth Germany. Clutch, ate several other men's leftovers and got so full that he force himself to get rid of it. Baron and a couple of the others were sick the next morning.

4/17/1945 - I experienced quite a pain in my right kidney last night and all day today. Saw close range the ME 262 moving like a bat out of HELL.

4/19/1945 - I'm feeling swell, Russians seem to be making some progress toward Dresden. Ivey is quite

Optimistic, he wants to increase his bet to $50.00 now.

4/20/1945 - Air raid alert from 10:30 to 12 o'clock last night. We heard rumbling until daybreak. Three or four of our guys went over to, read to the less fortunate Kiegies, this week. Suspense I suppose, that poor guy in Bk 2 with his face burnt away is really a gruesome sight. Another alert sounded at 13:25.

 

4/30/1945 - Plenty of excitement today, Germans seem to be destroying military installations.

Plenty of explosions and air activity. Germans, possibly evacuating the area.

5/1/1945 - We were up this morning at 0230 hours, heard Americans talking outside the fence.

The Star Spangle Banner was being lustily sung in the next compound. Shouts of joy were coming from everywhere.

The Germans had evacuated; American MP's were in the towers! The day turned out to be quiet but that night we were again electrified by the announcement that the Russians had arrived. (Scary) (American personnel, under command of Col Zemke, who had taken control of the camp)

5/2/1945 - I was disgusted at the sight of supposedly civilized American soldiers, my fellow Kreigies, turning into an uncontrollable mob, smashing property left and right, like children in a tantrum. The great majority took their liberation sensibly, but the scenes of pillage and destruction I witnessed, makes my blood boil.

5/3/1945 - The Russians arrived in force today. There were many tales brought back from town, of wild scenes, but from all I saw, they were a well-behaved outfit. D.D., Joe, Dusty and I rowed across the bay to inspect a fishing slope; we talked of sailing it to Sweden.

We received Russian orders this afternoon, to prepare to evacuate at 2000 hrs to Sevastopol, the orders were later rescinded, but it gave us a scare

5/4/1945 - forget about marching out, all that was a big misunderstanding. We will evacuate by air as expected. Order has been restored, the airfield is being cleared; an allied hospital is being organized and

Red Cross parcels are being issued. We have the run of the peninsula, plenty of food and cigarettes and ample opportunities to slip into town. Some foolhardy souls did and spent the night, they could have been killed.

A concentration camp was discovered under the nearby airfield. Stories told to me by eyewitnesses were revolting. How anyone could exist under such conditions seems impossible.

German High Command Orders, found in the camp headquarters, after the Germans evacuated, directed the execution of all Kreigies before evacuation. The Jewish boys were separated from us, part of the German plan to move them to the concentration camp under the airfield.

5/5/1945 - I've been eating all day. Even Red Cross parcels fail to excite me. Clutch and I went on a coal-forging trip and saw an American jeep from the 9th Army roll into camp with a major, Captain and two non-commissioned officers (NCOs) on board. (9th Army liaison) They brought news that the Germans were tiring and would be beat shortly. Monty is supposed to visit the camp tomorrow, Monday,

5/6/1945 - I had KP today; went to church and Thanksgiving services; showers opened; Russian movie shown.

5/8/1945 - Germany surrenders; an anti-climax for us, but we still did our share of celebrating with flare pistols. Still no definite news on evacuation.

5/911945 - Col Zemke quotes General Borizof as saying, "we will be going out within 4 days. Passport difficulties and international red tape is holding us up".

5/11/1945 - Letter from GIC Weir saying arrangements are complete; planes due at 1400 hours May 1ih.

5/12/1945 - Our fly out aircraft was changed to B-l7's this morning. We almost killed ourselves celebrating when the first B-1 7 hove into sight. Several of us were going into the hall to listen to a BBC newscast just as the 1400 time hack was coming over. The first of two planes arrived. Later that day, several groups of B-1 7' s flew in and out evacuating most of the British personnel. We were told to prepare to leave the next day.

5/13/1945 - (Mother's day) this beautiful warm spring day saw me (us) wave good by to STALAG LUFT #1. We loaded into Russian trucks and were off in a cloud of dust. The town of Barth looked very peaceful as we passed through. A few of the people smiled and waved and all the children were very friendly.

We arrived at the airfield, picked up our packs, counted through the gate and spent an hour or so lying in the deep rich grass of the airfield waiting for our airplane. When it arrived, we filed aboard, the engines revved up and we were off.

We circled over the old camp and pointed our nose westward toward the Atlantic and home. We flew over Restock, Wilmar, Hamburg, Breman, Osnbruck, and Cologne in Germany. Each German city we passed over seemed just a little more devastated.

The Ruhr valley was in terrible shape. At Duisburg, we turned and flew down the Rhine River, bridge after bridge was down, all twisted masses of wreckage, collapsed into the water. Cologne was nothing but a big pile of rubble.

As we circled over Cologne's famous Cathedral at about 1500 feet, I tried to pick out one building with a roof on it but it was an in-possibility. A site I will long remember.

We flew west from Cologne, over Devon and the Siegfried line forts. The battle marks consisted of demolished buildings, shattered trees, hundreds of trenches, tank tracks, etc, which littered the countryside.

Then we flew over Belgium, Luxemburg and France, where time had already healed much of the countryside.

When we arrived at Leon France, we landed at an American airfield. Some of us were treated to white bread, jam, fruit juice and beer and got some magazines and newspapers to read while waiting for trucks to carry us to the transient camp at Rheims. Believe me, it was really a treat. Of course the Red Cross girls were there, as usual, passing out lemonade and just standing there letting us look at a real American girl, Oh beautiful!

Huge trucks soon arrived to take us to Rhiems. We arrived there about midnight and after getting a tent and cot, we got into a chow line and tasted real food for the first time in six months, saw German Kreigies washing our mess kits. Believe you me, I was ready to hit the sack that morning.

5/14/1945 - We were given a typhus shot, loaded aboard a C-47 aircraft and flown to LeHavre; trucks took us to Camp Lucky Strike at St. Valerie. Sixty thousand men in tents waiting processing for embarkation for the states.

5/15/1945 - We are standing by, ran into Able and Faith tonight, I learned that RD was here. Sam Wilcer had learned that Joe Buckvich had come to the 450th Wing. Camdarg had 136th in 21711945. Cpt Wood went down and talked to Wyse and Dobsen.

5/16/1945 - Still standing by, got a bug inspection. I Saw a USO show; talked to Faith and Aida a long time, they last saw Oelslager leaving for Barth, but as far as we know, he never arrived. Bart was last seen about 20km from Moosburg on the march, he was in pretty bad shape, but they think he should have made it.

5/18/1945 - Saw Enlaw today, he looked to be in good shape.

5/19/1945 - Oelslager, Steve, Bart and Kantrman came over, boy what a surprise! They had some real tales.

5/28/1945 - Moved to Dayer for processing. Doctor doesn't think I have anything wrong, hope he is right.

5/29/1945 - Finely made up my mind to go to England. Looks like it's the only way to get out of this place, I will see some more of the continent anyhow. Mowry and DD make up the party I'm going with.

6/4/1945 - Flew to Attleboro, 452nd base.

6/6/1945 - To London reindeer club.

6/7/1945 - To Edinburgh, Red Cross Club.

6/13/1945 - To London, Cromwell place.

6/15/1945 - To Southampton, 18th redeployment center.

7/6/1945 - To Plymouth, LST - 497.

 


19 MARCH                                                                BARTH GERMANY

1945                                                                            STALAG LUFT #1

NORTH 3, COMPOUND

ROOM 13, BLOCK 309

ROSTER:

NO NAME/                   RANK                                     SERIAL #                               HOME ADDRESS

01 Ivey, Maury H.           1st Lt  0-664188 1120 West Main Street, Dennison, TX.

02 Mann, Elton F.           1st Lt  0-768612 115 N- Hardesty, Kansas City, MO.

03  Rutherford, John L.   1st Lt  0-822273  3311 N 6th St. Philadelphia, P A.

04  Traynellis, K.A.          1st Lt 0-819349  565 Cliff St. Cliffside Park, NJ.

05  Aldridge, J.S.              2nd Lt  0-82886  401 Stiles Ave, Mapleshade, NJ.

06 Carrol, Paul L.             2nd Lt   0-774532  --------- --------, Laurens, Iowa

07 Carpenter, John W.      2nd Lt   0-823309  2034 Earnest St. Jacksonville, Florida

08 Everheart, John E.        2nd Lt   0-555966  Box 407 Roswell, New Mexico

09 Fulton, Bruce W.           2nd Lt  0-707595  201 Erlanger Road, Erlanger, Kentucky

10 Hedstrom, Raymond D. 2nd Lt  0-714079  5659 Bartmer Ave. Martinsville, V A.

11 Macksey, Earle               2nd Lt  0-1172532 310 2nd Ave. West Oskaloosa, Iowa

12 McCutcheon, RB.            2nd Lt  0-829246 1 Starling Ave. Martinsville, V A.

13 Mitchell Donald E.          2nd Lt 0-834470   P.O. Box 525 Cookeville, Tennessee

14 Mowry, Duane D.           2nd Lt 0-2060567 702 East Division, Audubon, Iowa

15 Neider, Joseph M.          2nd Lt 0-708748  1746 Manzanary, Rivera, California

16 Kreigies, RH.                  2nd Lt  0-771776 Box 797, Boise, Idaho

17 Stephenson, J.R              2nd Lt  0-2063494  Toledo, Ohio

18  Williams, Don D.            2nd Lt 0-827767    Russels Point, Ohio

19 Williams, George E.         2nd Lt  0-714243  3215 2nd St. St. Clair, Pennsylvania

20 Winger, H.B.                    2nd Lt  0-2057067 403 Main St.West Middlesey, PA

21 Baronowski, G.A.             F/O      T-129529  15742 Finch Ave. Harvey, Illinois

22 Silvey, W.R. Jr.                  F/O     T-127501   8452 Dante Ave. Chicago, Illinois

23 Smith, Bowman L.            F/O     T-127679   511 Clark St. Maryville, Tennessee

24 Harvey, Charles               F/O     T-33796733    Philadelphia, P A


CONTENTS OF AMERICAN RED CROSS PRISONER OF WAR FOOD PARCEL #10

ITEMS             WEIGHT       FOOD POINTS

Powdered Milk    l lb             70

Margarine             1 lb             70

PORK Luncheon Meat    12 ozs             70

Corned Beef*             14 ozs             70

Liver or Chicken Pate             6 ozs             40

Tuna Fish or Salmon             7ozs             35

Sardines **             3.25 ozs       20

Cheese             8 ozs             60

Jam      6 ozs             60

Peanut Butter ***     8 ozs             60

Crackers             7 ozs             60

Cereal ****             6 ozs             70

Meat and Vegetable Stew             12 ozs             60

Prunes             1 lb             40

Raisins *****             1 lb             70

Sugar   8 ozs             60

Chocolate Bar             8 ozs             120

Coffee 2 ozs             60

Cigarettes             5 pks             50

Vitamin Pills             8 days             ?

* = Sub for Spam. ** = Sub for Tuna or Salmon. *** = Sub for Pate? **** Sub for crackers. ***** Sub, unknown.


EMOTIONS TO REMEMBER:

The queer silence after the parachute opened. Shouts and puffs of smoke on the ground, Volkstrum units shooting at me.

The peaceful appearing countryside.

The explosion when our B-24, (old 63) hit the mountainside.

The shock of landing in knee-deep snow in a pine thicket.

My relief and astonishment at the welcome by Paul.

Sliding down the trail to the farmhouse. The agile farm children on their skies showing off for the American. The excitement and friendly curiosity of the women and children.

The betrayed feeling at sight of the trooper.

The cold shoulder and sullen cooperation given him by the local civilians.

376 ARCHIVES

At the 2017 reunion, the board approved the donation of our archives to the Briscoe Center for American History, located on the University of Texas - Austin campus.

Also, the board approved a $5,000 donation to add to Ed Clendenin's $20,000 donation in the memory of his father. Together, these funds begin an endowment for the preservation of the 376 archives.

Donate directly to the 376 Endowment

To read about other endowment donation options, click here.

2018 REUNION

DATES :  TBD

CITY : Dayton, Ohio

HOTEL: TBD

2018 reunion details


previous reunions

For Sale

The Other Doolittle Raid


The Liberandos


Three Crawford Brothers


Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior


376th Bomb Group Mission History


The Last Liberator


Full Circle


Shadows of Wings


Ten Men, A "Flying Boxcar," and A War


I Survived Ploesti


A Measure of Life


Shot Down In Yugoslavia


Stories of My Life


Attack


Born in Battle