The Wartime Memories Project - STALAG X1B POW Camp

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Stalag XIB was located at Fallingbostel

General Montgomery's Ninth Division liberated Stalag X1B in early 1945.

I am looking for information on my uncle Frederick Weller, Warwickshire Regiment, incarcerated at Stalag X1B and repatriated to hospital in Cambridge.

My father-in-law, Walter Smoron was a corporal in the US army in the 109th Texas infantry, and landed on the Salerno beachhead on 9th September 1943. He spent 5 days fighting and evading Germans before capture. He and about 20 other boys were caught and sent to a German farm camp somewhere in Germany called Stalag 11B. He was a POW for 19 months until liberated on 14th April 1945. The farm was no picnic. But he always says others had it much worse.

My grandfather, Arthur F. Herber was at Stalag X1-B, prisoner number 201421 which I found on a little wooden square that he wore around his neck, he was captured December 18th 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded by shrapnel on his right elbow and 3 machine gun bullet holes in his right leg. He was liberated by the British April 14, 1945. He made it back to the United States and passed away in 1979 at the age of 72. Many of the times giving credit to the British doctors in camp for saving his life. My grandfather never talked much about the war so I decided 3 years ago to research his war years. About 2 years ago I was able to receive his medals from the US Government which consisted of a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European Campaign Medal with 3 Stars. During the war his home address was 2318 Prince Street, Dubuque, Iowa, USA. If at all possible, I would like to obtain any information that you may find on my Grandfather.

I am looking for information on my uncle Frederick Weller, Warwickshire Regiment.

He was incarcerated at Stalag X1B and repatriated to hospital in Cambridge.

Keith Harrison

My late father, Pte Charles Hicks was held in Stalag 11B at Fallingbostel. He was with C Company 2nd Battallion 1st Airborne Division The Parachute Regiment. He was taken prisoner at Arnhem Sept 1944 and repatriated to England in April 1945

Charles saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Italy as well as at Arnhem.

After repatriation to England and r&r in Cornwall, Charles forged a career in agriculture and emigrated to Australia in 1957. He passed away in July 1997, 5 months short of his Eightieth birthday.

Tony Hicks

My father-in-law, currently aged 79 and recently returned from the 60th anniversary celebrations at Arnhem, has viewed your website today and would like to add his details to your webpages, as he was held POW at Stalag 11B following the Battle of Arnhem:

Private Joseph Mawdsley, 1st Battalian Border Regiment, Army number 14672551, he was aged 19 during first air landing brigade at Arnhem. Originally from Aughton, Lancashire he was captured at Oosterbeek, transferred to hospital, and then by railway to Stalag 11B.

Lynn Mawdsley

I was captured at Arnhem and ended up at Follingbostel where my leg was amputated by the MO whose name was Huddleston.

Pte. G.A.Baker. 1st Batt. Paras.

My father, Leonard Charles Heavens, was a prisoner at Stalag 11b from September 1944 until its liberation in the Spring of 1945. He was a tank driver for the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry ( Sherwood Rangers ). Len passed away in February 2002.

Steve Havens.

When I was in the 4th Batallion K.O.S.B. (52nd Div) I set up a hotel where, all the British prisoners we released from Stalag XIB were relocated. However, being Scottish, we routed out some whisky from the cellar and as the prisoners came in we offered them a dram! Subsequently after several people had gone through they encouraged me to drink with them. At first I refused but after a few more had come in, I succumbed and took a nip with them. The consequences for me were great. My Adjutant called me up to check how things were and I slurred my words. He was over in a shot to find me intoxicated!! He asked me what was happening - touched me and I collapsed!! In the morning we were all on a charge and I was reduced to the ranks!!! I was sent to C company where I had to fight for my living! I hope the released prisoners will remember their drink and be grateful. I wish them all the best. Anyone who remembers this it wonderful to hear from you.

George McLeod.

My father, Stanley Benjamin, MD, who passed away in 2004, was held in Stalag 11b from the time of his capture at the Battle of the Bulge until the end of the war. In 1982 I recorded an interview with him on one of the only occasions he would agree to talk about his experiences. I am now transcribing the interview and would be willing to provide excerpts if anyone is interested. I would in turn be interested in learning what internet resources exist about this camp. I have seen a number of personal memoirs and recollections on line that mention it, since it was apparently the largest of the German POW camps. By now, any survivors are in their 80's. Is there a list of resources on this camp? Thanks.

Interview with my father, Stanley Benjamin (z''l) recorded 3/26/82 in Boston

Context: Growing up, we knew that our dad had been wounded by shrapnel in the left leg, received a purple heart, was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and spent the remainder of the war in a German P.O.W. camp. However, beyond an absolute rule that we were not to have toy guns in the house and observing him grow restless and easily upset when unexpected fireworks went off on July 4th, he would not speak to us about his war experiences. Finally in 1982, when he was 57 years old, he agreed to allow me to interview him about his war experiences during a visit to Boston. Several years later he was reunited with two other survivors from his company and he began to talk about the war, though he still didn't discuss the truly horrible aspects. He used to say that G-d allowed him to live through the war so that he could meet our mother. The following is a transcription from the 1982 interview. Minor editing has been done solely to eliminate confusion and make the text easier to follow. An "S:" in parentheses indicates a question asked by me. Editor comments are also mine, but were made during the transcription process.

-Sheldon Benjamin, February 29, 2004

(this is an excerpt from the much longer interview covering the events leading up to his capture on January 4th 1945 and through the liberation of Stalag XIB April 16, 1945 and his transfer back to the United States)

We went through to Metz and were replaced by the 44th division. And we were pretty weak. It was already pretty close to Christmas time. When we went down to Metz we were supposed to get R&R, clean uniforms. I had a black wavy beard back then. There was another fellow who also had a black wavy beard like mine and he took a direct hit from a German 88 shell. It just splattered him and nothing was left from him. They thought it was me that was hit. 2 days later they were typing a letter to send back to the States that I had been killed in action. I walked into company headquarters. They didn't know who was killed. I told them it wasn't me and told them who it was. From that day on I was clean-shaven. I shaved my beard off. And that's why I never liked beards.

We had taken Sarreguemines and gone back to Metz. It was almost civilized. They had showers. We scrubbed up and were eating well. Our company was down to maybe 40 men. We didn't get the full complement but this time-they flew in about 100 replacements (not by ship, but by airplane, we needed replacements real bad. We got long wool GI stockings and were filling them with anything we could find. We gave pep talks to the new recruits. We told them that combat wasn't that bad if they just kept their heads down. Remember I was 19 1/2 then. These were already old men 25-6 or even 28, but they had never been in combat and their basic training wasn't very good because they were trained rather rapidly.

While at Metz I got a message on the radio that we were to pull out for Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne were encircled by British. In 10-12 hours our equipment was in fighting condition and we were on our way. First we went up through Belgium. I thought Belgium was pretty nice because we even had ice cream cones in one of the towns. We went on to Bastogne. As we got closer to Bastogne, we would liberate a group of guys and they would kiss us and say she's all yours. Finally we took Bastogne. Near Bastogne there was Woodzeh (? a little town). We would take a lot of these little towns. I remember the communications sergeant. We would run wires between one company and another. He was sharing a hole with me one night and we were discussing the food in the next town. When we took a town, the other guys would go souvenir hunting, but he and I would usually go for rabbits and chickens. They would keep rabbits and chickens in little pens. We didn't like the food in the GI cans. We were always looking for something that we could cook up. The day before we had gotten a bunch of chickens and rabbits. That was the first time I ever ate rabbit. It tastes a little like chicken. We tied the chicken and rabbit together and fried them up. All the officers came to eat… including some of the enlisted men if they could get away from their positions. We'd French fry up some potatoes. And pickled eggs… they had pickled eggs in some of the basements. This was our relaxation. The Germans would have eggs and pickled beets and things like that we would dig up. We even got some rare wine on occasion. And we would really have a nice feast.

One of the nights… this was near Bastogne, not too long before I was captured. I was already 3 months in combat and getting to be one of the oldest men in our company. That's how fast our turnover was. And, I was talking to the communications sergeant. I said, you know…pretty soon…. You've been here as long as I have and we're getting to be pretty old men around here. I wonder when our number is going to be up. And while we were talking, a shell hit the tree above us, took his head off, our communications sergeant, my cooking mate. I don't even remember his name now. I have a mental fog on his name. But he was … I see his face but I can't remember his name. That's what time does to you. He dropped in my arms. The top of his head was missing. And I was yelling…. Where the Hell are the medics? Whenever you need them they're not around. I used all kinds of fowl language. And a guy comes up to me and says, "let him alone, he's dead." And this was one of the times I lost my composure. I was hollering for the medics and he was in my arms. Nothing there but an empty head. (S: You could see it?) Yes! He was in my arms! And the guys took my radio over. My commanding officer, Bill White, told me, "you don't have to be on the radio today. You can go take a rest someplace."

And then we kept going forward. I said to Bill (the C.O.). Why do you keep going in front of the guys. How the Hell do you know what's going on if you're out in front. You're supposed to be in back directing. You know, seeing which way the troops are going. You can't see what's going on from the front. You can't see where to place men. He said, "they follow me where I go." And they did follow him.

Company A, I don't know if you're familiar. A battalion has 3 companies, A, B, and C. Ever since I had joined them, Company A was a spearhead company. It was a triangle with A at the point and B and C behind. And they thought that Company A was doing such a grand job that they would reverse the triangle, and put Company A back in the reserve kit and put B and C up in front. Well B Company commander was a goof off. He couldn't read a map or something. C Company was to our right. B company was on the left. And we were back in the triangle. I was on the radio and the company commander of C Company kept trying to make contact with B company but couldn't contact them. He kept looking, talking, and we got from regimental headquarters, a call came up on the radio for us to go forward and fill in the hole (because B company hadn't shown up). Apparently the Germans had made a nice big trap for us. It was like a horse shoe. We had all these fresh recruits now who'd joined us at Metz who really had never been under real heavy fire until this particular time. And the Germans opened up with bazookas, with machine guns, with everything, cross-firing. I was on the ground and kept hollering to the guys. But they were mesmerized. They walked right into the fire. They were just cut down like somebody took a knife and cut 'em through the middle. And you kept hollering and showing them the tree trunks where the bullets were hitting to get down. You could see the height. And I was on the ground here and they didn't get down. But they kept coming. So we called back for our weapons platoon to start firing at the guys in front of us. But the weapons platoon saw the trap and they took off and left us. The weapons platoon "strategically withdrew." One of our "strategic withdrawals." So we had 2 platoons left up there in the cross-fire. White was there with me and they were just mowed up to beat heck. When there was about 20 guys left alive (meaning 36 were already killed) and half the survivors were wounded we decided to surrender. So we put up a flag and I started to… and Bill White was just shot through the hip from every direction. I didn't get hit yet. No, wait… we didn't surrender yet. Bill White was all shot up. And we decided to try to go forward. We went forward just a little bit and their 88 shells started tearing us up. You know what an 88 shell is? 88mm… it's a canon. You know our Howitzers? They are 75 mm. Our Howitzers go in a big trajectory. The 88's go in a straight trajectory. And they were just shooting the Hell out of us. And one of the shells… I hit the ground… and the guy behind me hit the ground… and the shell got me in the leg. I thought it tore both my legs off, cause I had no feeling from the waste down. I turned around. The guy behind me had no head. It was gone. And, I started tearing up the radio. We had decided then that the thing was up and we were going to surrender. That's when we decided. I started tearing up my radio, throwing parts all around. And all of a sudden while I was there this gun is sticking at my head saying "hend ahokh!" Hands up. I looked up. It's only a 31 mm gun the Germans had, but it looked like a canon at my head, and he says, "Nix." So I left the radio alone, but I had already jammed the channels and tore parts and threw it all around. (S:That's what you were instructed to do?) Sure, you don't want them to get our communications equipment. That's an important piece of equipment. They could monitor all our channels. So I succeeded in getting that done. And Bill White was just bleeding like anything. He had taken several bursts of machine gun fire right through the pelvis. And, as I put my hands up, they took my watch off, my graduation ring off and they started stripping me. Then they told me to get up but I said I can't get up. So a couple guys that weren't wounded got me up and dragged me, I had an arm around each of their shoulders. This was a guy by the name of Banning, from Youngstown. Don't worry, he said, "we'll get through this war." That's what he kept telling me. I said, "Will we?" You know where we're going? We're going to be guests of the Germans. I said, "you know I'm Jewish?" He said "don't worry, where you go I'm going to go" and he held his word.

(S: you knew about the concentration camps?) I didn't know about concentration camps, but we knew from what we'd heard from the Germans that they were Hell on Jews there. (S: you didn't know they were murdering Jews….). I didn't know what they were doing. I didn't know about Auschwitz or places like that. But I did know that they were killing Jews and it was bad. I ended up… They stayed with me. Our first interrogation, they wanted to separate us. He said, "he's wounded, I'll stay with him." He said "we were gonna get through the war together. We're going to get back to the States." Anyhow we did get separated at an aid station. This was near Lintz on the Rhine. (S: they didn't put you on trucks to take you away?). It wasn't trucks, it was horse carts! Old horses… they were saving gasoline. It was little carts they piled us on. I ended up… this would be interesting to you… I ended up at a first aid station. And they were going to operate on me. At first they said they were going to take my leg off and I said, "No…. leave it alone" They said it will get gangreonous and I said we'll take the chance. So he said, "alright we'll debride it." I agreed to debriding it. Now the surgeon that operated on me was a graduate of NYU. (S: A German?). The surgeon spoke English without an accent. I said, "What the heck are you doing here fighting for the Nazis?" He says I came to visit my family in 1938 and they wouldn't let me out of the country. So here I am. And the person who gave me the anesthetic was a graduate of U of Chicago. He also spoke without an accent. He, too, gave me the same story. Now the anesthetic they gave me was chloroform. They didn't even have ether. They had something like an ether mask and poured the chloroform over it. He told me not to worry, he'd take good care of me and you will wake up from this. We won't take your leg off. They debrided it. They saved the shrapnel for me. They cleaned it up and put a splint on. The splint was none too clean. It had little lice on it. Anyhow, they wrapped it and put a splint on and I was taken to a German hospital in Lintz on the Rhine. It was in a school or church. Before that when I was interrogated. Before I got to the surgery.

Before they separated us… when they were interrogating me, I was interrogated by a Frenchman. He had a French uniform on. He asked me my name and I gave him my name, rank, and serial number. He looked at my dog tags and he says, "what's the H stand for?" I said, "you know damned well what it stands for." He said, "H…Yudeh!" I said, "what the Hell are you doing here interrogating for the Germans? You're a collaborating bastard. And I thought they were going to shoot me there and then. Because I had no fear of death at that time because I never thought I'd get out of this alive. Because I was Jewish, I thought my end had come. I had no fear. I said exactly what I felt. I called them all bastards. And I called them a lot worse words that I won't use in front of you. I used some 4-letter words. Maybe you don't know that I am capable of using 4-letter words but I was capable at that time of using everything that I had learned and it all came out. And all the Frenchman did was say, oh o o oh..Yudeh is bad here. I said, "Yudeh my ass." I am wearing an American uniform and I'm an American and anything you do to me you will be doing to an American. Well, this is as far as it got.

Then I had the operation. And I was then taken to some sort of a barn where I was laying there. The person who took care of me was German medical student. His name was Carl Errie and he is a doctor today. He was a sophomore. He was very nice. He talked in English. I knew some German. He told me his education was also interrupted. He wanted to be a doctor also. After the war he wrote to me for addresses. I still had a D-bar. Inside my 3rd shirt. In fact I had 2 D-bars but they were too rich for me to eat. He brought me a nice vegetable soup, a piece of white bread and butter with jelly on it. And I was able to eat the soup, the bread and butter, and the milk. We talked and exchanged addresses. He said he was sorry it happened to me. When I was in med school I did get a letter from him, asking for a Gray's anatomy textbook which they had a shortage of there. He also asked me for a histology textbook. And he was nice to me. I've never heard from him again. But I have a feeling that he's living today. If I ever see a German doctor by the name of Errie, I will be sure to make an inquiry. I sent him a letter in Heidelburg. He was a med student. He may be practicing in the states for all I know. A lot of them came here.

Anyhow, from there…. Oh, incidentally, while we were there-where I was operated on-Bill White actually died there. My dog tags had the wrong blood type. They had me as Type B when I was actually Type A. A positive. Anyhow, they saw that our dog tags had the same blood types on them, and they did a direct - now, he would have died from hemorrhage anyhow - but they did a direct transfusion from my vein to his vein. Arm to arm transfusion. They pulled out 10 cc's with a syringe and pushed in 10 cc's, pulled out 10 cc's … they put 500 cc's that way from me. And, ah, I must have been a pretty healthy guy in those days. I think I was, to survive everything I've gone through 'til now. Anyhow, he died. At that time I didn't know what a transfusion reaction looked like. But when I think back of how shortly after that he started shaking and had a convulsion and died, I'm sure that he had a transfusion reaction. (S: Was he conscious?) He was lying there. He knew he was getting my blood because he told me thanks for everything I was doing. In fact I looked up his parents afterwards. So we found his parents. You know, Jerry's (his older son's) middle name is William after him. I don't know what happened to the wife. They both died. (S: you used to be in contact with them, right?) Yes, we were in contact with them (editor: with his parents, actually). We'd go down to visit them and they came to visit us. (According to our mom, they were not in Columbus and they only visited a few times, but his parents were trying to meet all of the men who they could find who had been under Commander White, and they were very nice).

But, ahh, anyhow… from there I went to another hospital. Estel (the hospital?) was on the Rhine at Lintz and this hospital was run by some nuns. I had a funny- well I used to play chess with one of the German wounded. He had one leg and we would talk about their army and our army. One day a big visiting doctor - a general- was making rounds in the hospital. He came into the ward. We had just been fed and I was eating. He came in and the other guys stopped eating and jumped up to attention. I couldn't get out of bed so this guy says to me-he stops beside my bed and says: "Don't you know I'm an officer?" I say, "yes, sir." He says, "when an officer walks into the room you come to attention." So I said, "Sir, in our army, if you are wounded and are a patient, an officer wouldn't come into the room and ask you to stop eating. An officer has more respect for the patients." He got red in the face and stalked away from me.

Anyhow, from there I was moved to the final place where I was held prisoner, Stalag 11b. (S: what town is that near?) The hospital was near Olpé. Hanover was about 30 miles from there, but the name of the town right by the prison camp was Olpé (actually he later said and we confirmed it was Fallingbostel). We were in a train. It was marked with red crosses. They took my boots and gave me straw shoes to wear. They said, "our men will have more need for the boots than you will." So I didn't get my nice leather combat boots which were warm. I got a pair of straw slippers. They put us on this train and we were on our way to prison camp, and frequently, they parked our red cross train between 2 ammunition trains. So our fighters up above wouldn't drop bombs on us because of the red cross, but then they also wouldn't drop it on the ammunition trains either. I remember coming through Hanover and there was nothing left of Hanover except for a few scraggly buildings. It was a flattened city. When I got to the prison camp, I was carried into the camp by a Russian because I couldn't walk yet. The Russians were prisoners that the Germans had taken and were working there in the prison camp. They had Russian women in one compound and Russian men in another compound. And when the Russian men wanted to have sex with the Russian women they would let so many men into the women's compound. When our train arrived, this big Russian comes up to me and says "Little Tovarish," and he picked me up in his arms and carried me in. No need for these things (the stretchers). He just picked me up and carried me in and he laid me on a cot.

The wound never closed while I was in prison camp. It was just oozing and it was wrapped. The dressings were paper. It had lice. I would stay up at night trying to keep the lice out of the wound. (S: it didn't become infected?) The lice must have helped keep the infection down-or the maggots. The lice and the maggots were there because the pus kept moving from spot to spot. (S: The pus walked around?) The maggots sort of did, yes. It got so I could hobble on the leg. I heard that there was a group of doctors captured- a whole medical division-they had dressings and everything- and they were right next to us in the camp. (S: Americans?). British… no, Argentines…no…they were Australians. I remember the Aussie accent. We were lined up. I had to wait an hour in line to get to 'em. And he put a cloth dressing on it. That felt so good… a regular gauze dressing. The prior dressing the Germans had given us was like the paper on the inside of a candy box---quilted paper. With roles of paper like crepe paper you use for decorations for the bandage. The Aussies had real cloth gauze and they put a nice dressing on my leg. I was real proud of that dressing. I would show it to everybody.

It's also interesting that some of the Palestinian Brigade were in a compound near us. At that time there wasn't yet an Israel. The way I found out about it (their being in our camp)… A Limey (sic) comes into the compound (the barracks where I was) and says one of your countrymen are in the compound across the way. Well, I hobbled out there and wanted to talk to him. But the only word I could say to him was "shalom." He couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak Hebrew and he couldn't even speak Yiddish. So we communicated in sign language. He understood "shalom." But we kissed each other. We were happy to see each other. Then they moved the Palestinian prisoners out and I didn't know what happened to 'em after that.

While we were in that prison camp we also did a little business. Red Cross parcels would come in…. The Germans did not feed us enough really to subsist on. If you can imagine me weighing 125 pounds! I had weighed 168 pounds stripped… solid muscle, really solid. I could pick up a 150 pound person and run with him on my back. That's how solid I was… and now I can't even pick up 50 pounds and run. But I was down to 125 pounds, really skin and bones, because our daily rations were a big cup of so-called coffee-it wasn't coffee… it seemed to be made out of, well it wasn't even chicory flavor… it was made out of acorns or something like acorns; we had a bowl of soup given to us at midday, which occasionally had a horse bone in it, maybe some horse meat, but it was mostly something that looked like big sugar beets that they used to feed the animals-that was the soup; and we had 2 slices of bread; and on Sundays we got 6 little boiled potatoes with that fare, and that was our rations. But in addition to that we would occasionally get a Red Cross parcel. By the Geneva Convention we were supposed to receive one parcel per man per week… that's what the Red Cross was sending to the prison camp. The parcels had vitamins, crackers, canned meat, canned cheese, cigarettes and things like that in it, and it also would have instant coffee. What we actually got was one parcel for 4 prisoners each month. The vitamin pills I would keep. The cigarettes I would trade for bread if I could get it. We had people go out to trade it. I did have one trick I pulled. I traded a German guard a can of coffee for a loaf of bread. I took the coffee out and filled it with brown sand and sprinkled the brown coffee on top of the sand, closed up the can, and showed it to the German and the soldier got me a loaf of bread and threw it over the fence, and I threw the can of coffee (which was really sand) over to him. I didn't see his face when he opened it but he never got back (at me). He could have shot me if he found out. But he didn't know who gave it to him (editor: he later explained that the trading was done with others in the prison yard so one could melt into the crowd immediately after the transaction). I didn't ask questions. I had the bread and he had the sand. For a pack of cigarettes we could get a loaf of bread. But then we had inflation even in the prison camp, because when the American paratroopers came through and the airmen came through, they apparently had a lot of cigarettes. And when they came into our prison camp, they offered the Germans two packs of cigarettes for a loaf of bread, so we were immediately knocked out because we had one package of cigarettes for four people that came in a parcel and four of us would split the bread when we traded the cigarettes for bread. And when they came in and offered two- they had cartons of cigarettes, these guys! And they offered two packs of cigarettes for a loaf of bread that immediately knocked us out of food; some were in a bad way. Inflation hit us during the war when we were prisoners of war [chuckles]. Same thing. They doubled the price for the bread.

Roosevelt died while we were in prison camp. And we did have a service. All the Americans came out; there was a service for him when we heard he died. Incidentally, I should tell you that we did have communications with the outside. They- the guys- were able to get different little parts of radios and some of them were very handy with their hands and we were able to make radios which we hid inside of these- you know the powdered milk came in them, Klem milk, so in the Klem cans we would have the radio parts, and it took about four cans to make up a complete radio. For the antenna they had wire strung up all over, but we did pick up that Roosevelt had died, and we had a service for him. We couldn't transmit, but we could pick up. We had no transmitter but we were able to pick up broadcasts.

I was in the hub of a lot of activities because I had a big mouth in those days. (S: What do you mean?) You know… I was wounded… I always had ideas of what we could do. I couldn't do a lot of this radio stuff myself, but I could tell others who had the know how to put the radio together what to do. I helped get a lot of the stuff together. (S: How did you get the parts?) They had parts. (S: But how did you get them?) I never asked 'em. Some of the guys went out on working parties. You know the sort of thing you see on MASH or Hogan's Heroes, the humorous stuff? Well that brings back a lot of stupid things we used to do. The guys who were not wounded would go out and they would come back with things they would steal from the Germans and bring them back to us.

In fact, we even had a mass break out plan. And guess who was helping to instigate this? There were so many people dying of typhus in the prison camp that we thought we'd get typhus from the lice. We thought we wouldn't make it through another summer because of the typhus. Winter wasn't so bad. But it seemed like the epidemics would spread in the warm weather. There would be 2 or 3 guys found dead in the latrine every morning. You'd go out in the morning and carry the dead out of the latrine. We didn't think we would make it through. So we were planning a break out. We thought the Germans were getting weak at that time anyhow. (S: How were you planning to do it?) We didn't know exactly yet, but we were planning something. The guys going out on the working parties were to bring back some stuff. We were going to overpower the old guards that were left. The Germans were leaving their weakest guards, their wounded, etc. to guard us. So we figured we could do it.

We had this service in the compound for Roosevelt. The guards started shooting around to get us back inside but nobody moved. The guards finally took off their hats when they realized what we were doing. Even the German soldiers took off their hats and stood at attention while we had the service. After the service we went back inside.

We didn't' waste anything in the camp. We used to brew tea from tea leaves, and after about 8 boilings of the same tea leaves I'd dry them out and smoke them! And that tastes terrible. Just try smoking dried tea leaves!

And when we were liberated - we knew when the British were coming in. (S: you mean you heard on the radio?) Well, they didn't know it was in the milk tins...the Klem tins from our Red Cross parcels. (S: they didn't search for them?) No, because we were not transmitting. They didn't know we had radios and they didn't open the milk cans. (S: there were no surprise searches?) Only if they had information about something in the barracks. If we had had a transmitter they would have wondered where the source was and started looking for it. But we were just receiving. We knew General Montgomery wasn't very far away. We heard a week before that he was heading our way. And we were all making plans. One day we heard the guns in the distance. Soon we looked out and saw the flashing of fire as the guns were firing over our heads. Then we saw all the Germans taking off. They left some really sick guards behind…. guys with one eye, one arm, one leg, etc. Those were our guards. When Montgomery reached the camp all he found was cheering prisoners and no guards. (S: What happened to the guards? Did you guys do anything to them?) Those old guys? They just left on their own. We didn't do anything. When Montgomery got really close they took off. They were probably captured down the road a piece.

Anyhow, Montgomery's army came in. (S: When was that?) It was around April… April, 1945 (S: do you remember the date of the liberation?) No, I don't. I didn't know what date I was liberated. I know when I was in the Seventh General Hospital, on VE Day, May 8th… I knew that. (S: Independent sources date the camp's liberation at April 16, 1945). (S: Can you recall if it was Passover at the time?) No I had no idea about Passover. All I knew was they were there! It was a very rainy day when Montgomery's tanks drove up there. (S: Do you recall what date you were captured at Bastogne?) I was captured on January 4th outside Bastogne.

As for Montgomery… we got word that we were all supposed to come out in the rain to hear a speech by Montgomery. I didn't know what Montgomery looked like or who he was. I said, "who is the creep that wants us to listen to him talk on a day like this, in this kind of weather?" And he (Montgomery) turns around and says to me, "I don't blame you, son." And I looked up and saw all the stars on his shoulder, and I thought, "Oh, my G-d, what did I do now (laughs)?" Anyhow, he says, "I don't even think I am going to make a speech." And he cancelled it. And then somewhere along the line after that I made up my mind. You know, I was pretty shook up and nervous half the time, but I'd made up my mind that nobody was ever going to know that I was a nervous character. I was going to have a complete outward appearance of calm no matter what the emergency was. I think I had made up my mind about this before I was even captured. (S: What do you mean by nervous?) Well, you know, being upset about things. (S: Were you having nightmares?) No, I don't remember nightmares. I didn't have nightmares until I got home. At that time I was just shaky. I was going to keep my calm, whether a German was talking to me, or whether everybody was talking to me. I made up my mind and I practiced this. I kept myself calm so I could react in an emergency. It did help me. I think it helped me survive.

After we were liberated, they de-loused us… we had 2 or 3 de-lousings. You know… showers…DDT…you know that's unspoken of here, but we were sprayed with DDT… in our heads, in our armpits, in the ass. Then we took hot showers, got clean clothes, and a few days later we were de-loused again. Hot showers… DDT… In the meantime, they took us out to the army kitchens. We went to the mess lines there. I thought I would eat well. I took two plates and had 'em fill them up and I took 2 bites and puked it. I couldn't eat! My stomach wouldn't accept decent food anymore. And then we were finally flown to England. On our way there, the pilot thought he'd have fun with us and he says, "you know, you guys are supposed to be going to the Seventh General Hospital in London…," but he said, "I've just gotten orders to turn around and we're going to Japan." Everybody rushed for the cockpit. Then he said, "I was only kidding." Well, anyhow, we got to the Seventh General Hospital. They were forcing vitamins on me. Every time I turned around a beautiful nurse gave me a glass of orange juice… a cup of hot chocolate… 2 or 3 vitamin pills… Incidentally, see how I have lots of hair now? At that time my hair was growing very thin with this malnutrition stuff and I consulted the doctor. And I said, "Look, I can't go back to the States bald. You gotta do something to make my hair grow back." He said, "nothing I can do about it." Anyhow, when I started eating and getting nutrition, I started to fill out. I must have weighed 130 pounds by that time already, and I actually weighed a lot… 150 by the time I finally got home. I was about 3 weeks in the Seventh General in London. Then, when I found out that there was a group going via Scotland back to the States, I got hold of my papers there in the office… I volunteered to help out in the office… I told them I didn't have much to do in my spare time, so I typed my own travel papers up and that was the end of my volunteering. I typed up all the guys that were with me in that group. Prior to that I was going to London at least every other day.

I remember I was at the Seventh General Hospital on VE Day. I remember that day. I had everybody sign a balloon. The Red Cross had some balloons on their carts and I appropriated the balloon from them. I had everybody in the ward sign a balloon and I blew it up. I brought it back but it deteriorated. After the Seventh General Hospital, I got on the flight that I had arranged. That was a little sneaky because you had to wait…. the officers got to fly first and they bumped the enlisted men. But the prisoners of war had priority equal to officers. I got on a plane and we went to Scotland. That was my first view of Scotland and by G-d it looked like an American city. We landed in Glasgow. From Scotland we flew to Iceland. In Iceland I remember the beautiful girls wearing real silk stockings. From Iceland we flew to Newfoundland and from Newfoundland we went to New York. It was the army base, or maybe we landed at (Idlewild) and they bussed us to the base. I remember that was where I had one breakfast after another. We had breakfast when we left Scotland, ham and eggs in Iceland, bacon and eggs in Newfoundland, and then when we got to Mitchell Field… that was it, we landed at Mitchell Field in New York. They had already finished serving lunch and all they had left was bacon and eggs, so we had bacon and eggs again. It was from Mitchell Field that I called home to let them know that I was back in the states. I talked to my mother and my sister.

Sheldon Benjamin

My father in law, now deceased, was imprisoned at Stalag XIB until liberation in 1945. He was POW for 6 months from capture after the Scheltd battles. Taken POW mid-December 1944 and spent most of his time in this Stalag He was 52 Lowland HLI - George Curdie from Kilmarnock.

Jay Ward

My mother's Uncle Ted Phillips was at Stalag X1b after going on the 'Death March'. I have a photograph that my Mother gave to me which she got from a newspaper, cant remember which one.

The photo is of the day they were liberated. I have cut out and enlarged the picture of Ted.

I dont know any more information about him, would be interesting to know more about him and the Death March.

Steve Ricks

I am the son of R.S.M.Lord who was at the stalag. I am still in touch with Ray Sherrif, who is jumping at Arnhem again next year. There is a move to rebuild the gates of the camp. It is being organised from Germany, the Iraq war put it back. If there is anyone who would like any information please contact me. I look forward to hearing from anybody who is connected in any way.


I was on a forced march from iv to 11b which consisted of men from dunkirk who were p.o.w.'s from the beginning. There were also men from yugo. whom I met and let one yugo american go back with them. I saw the English tanks called the red devils chasing a small kraut tank that could turn on a dime evading capture. To me, it looked very funny.

David Spindel.

My Uncle was a prisioner in stalag 11b after he was captured at the Battle of the Bulge. He is very greatful to the English medical team who took care of his wounds. He is just now getting to where he will talk about that time in his life a little bit. I would like any information you have on the hospital ward of this particular camp. I am a teachers aide at a high school in America and we are doing a project on WWII. This information would help me personalize the project for my students, also it might help give my uncle some closeur. His name was PFC Raymond Egg or (Eck) we changed the spelling but I'm not sure exactly when.

Dixie Crowe USA

There are 17 names on the 20 Reichmark note that was paid to my father, Ernest Hamlett, for 7.1/2 months labour in the Bad Grund lead mine in Germany, from September 1944 to April 1945. The names are those of the prisoners who shared a hut at Stalag XIB. Some names are illegible. These men were captured at Arnhem by the Germans. Each of these men received a similar note, signed by the others. They signed them so that they would have a souvenir to remember each other by. The notes were worth nothing.

Private Albert Edward Smallman, No. 14583529. POW No. 118245 Border Regiment, reported wounded and missing in Action 20th September, 1944, Tyldesley, Lancashire

W. Taylor, 1st Para TECD, 1ST airborne RECCE squadron, Oldham

Lance Corporal E. W. Ball, No. 4751030. POW No. 117586 7th K.O.S.B., A Company, South Wales (Cardiff)

Private V. Lilley, No.3194627 POW No. 117262 7th K.O.S.B., Anti-Tank Platoon, Berwick Hospitalized at Apeldoorn, walking wounded, left hospital Sept. 26, and presumably captured then.

J McLintock, 7th K.O.S.B., C Company, Glasgow (conflicting information suggests that there was a Cpl James McLintock, 14211211, No. 9 Platoon, C Company who was killed at Arnhem on the Oranjeweg/Bothaweg crossroads on 23/9/44 aged 24 of Johnstone, Renfrewshire.) Buried in Arnhem/Oosterbeek War Cemetry 21.A.16 Could the signature have been read wrongly? It is hard to read. Or maybe someone else is buried under his name. I think maybe the name is not McLintock if he was alive and kicking in Stalag XIB

Lance Corporal V. Heywood, T1469067, POW No. 118235 253 R.A.S.C. Air Despatcher, Manchester

Private Joseph Kenworthy, No. 4467370, POW 118066, Border, reported wounded and missing in action 20th September 1944, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire

Private Ernest Hamlett, Signaller, No. 4462122, POW 118075 1st Airborne, 1ST Battalion, Border, Manchester (June 17,1914 - May 27, 2002)

A…..unreadable………could be Thomas… begins with G…Glasgow?

Private A. F. Thomson, No. 3190512, POW 117415, Motor Transport Battalion HQ OF 7TH KOSB … Wounded. Treated in hospital at Arnhem.…(looks like BLACKMO…..)

R. Mills 1st RA field, 1st Airlanding light regiment - now passed away

B. K. Jones, 1st Airlanding, Light Regiment, Bolton - now passed away

Private Frank Clegg, No. 3451679, POW 118264 1st Border, reported wounded and missing 23rd September, 1944, Oldham, Lancashire

Private John Kelly, London (this is what he put on the Reichmark) This is what others have suggested: No. 3595395 POW 117724 Despatch Rider, 1st Border, HQ Company, reported missing 26th September, 1944 Bolton, Lancashire Is it the same man?

There are 8 more Kellys listed in XIB (South Stafford, RAMC, border, KOSB, RE, RA)

G. Lovatt (??) 1st ALRECCE, chesterfield

Private G. H. Smith-Carter, No. 5125393, POW 117957, 156 Para, Mansfield

G. Jackson 2 (OBMM)HLA/TBRRA (2ND Oban Anti-Tank Battery) Hamilton - passed away

Looking for more information. Can anyone help?

A tribute to Ernest Hamlett.


If you have a story which you would like to share, or a website dedicated to a POW camp or prisoner of World War Two please get in touch. Add Your Story

List of Prisoners known to be held in this Camp

  • Pte. G.A.Baker. 1st Batt. Paras. Read his story
  • Lance Corporal E. W. Ball,7th K.O.S.B., A Company.
  • Stanley Benjamin. MD Read his story
  • Georgie Booth. RAF
  • Sgt. Rene Caron
  • Private Frank Clegg, 1st Border Rgt.
  • George Curdie. 52 Lowland HLI
  • W/O Dixie Dean. RAF
  • PFC Raymond Egg (or Eck)
  • L/Cpl John Clifford Everall. DCLI
  • Ernest Hamlett. DLI & 1st Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, Border Regiment Read his story
  • Leonard Charles Heavens. Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Sherwood Rangers. Read his story
  • Arthur F. Herber Read his story
  • Lance Corporal V. Heywood, 253 R.A.S.C. Air Despatcher
  • Pte Charles Hicks. C Company 2nd Battallion, 1st Airborne Division, The Parachute Regiment. Read his story
  • Thomas Hook. D Coy 5th KOSB Read his story
  • G. Jackson, 2 (OBMM)HLA/TBRRA 2ND Oban Anti-Tank Battery.
  • B. K. Jones, 1st Airlanding, Light Regiment.
  • Private John Kelly
  • Private Joseph Kenworthy, Border Rgt
  • Pte Arthur Letchford. 2nd Para Bn. (Captured on the Arnhem Bridge)
  • Private V. Lilley, 7th K.O.S.B., Anti-Tank Platoon
  • RSM Lord
  • G. Lovatt 1st Airbourne RECCE.
  • J McLintock, 7th K.O.S.B., C Company
  • Leonard Martin. Company F. 413th inf. 104th Inf Div. Read his story
  • Private Joseph Mawdsley, 1st Battalian Border Regiment Read his story
  • R. Mills 1st RA field, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment
  • Private Fred Moore Read his story
  • Leonard Mugridge. Devonshire Regiment
  • Thomas Murphy
  • Edward "Ted" Phillips.
  • Fred Scott
  • Larry Slattery RAF
  • Private Albert Edward Smallman, Border Regiment.
  • Cpl. Walter Smoron. 109th Texas Inf. Read his story
  • Private G. H. Smith-Carter, 156 Para.
  • David Spindel
  • W. Taylor, 1st Para TECD, 1ST airborne RECCE squadron, (Oldham)
  • Private A. F. Thomson, Motor Transport Battalion HQ OF 7TH KOSB
  • Frederick Weller. Warwickshire Regiment. Read his Story
  • Sgt John Wickens. medic. 156 Para Bn.
  • MP Harry Wilce. British 1st Airborne Division

If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.


POW Camps Index

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