The Wartime Memories Project - STALAG 9c POW Camp



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Information.
Stalag 9c was situated at Bad Sulza. The Kurhotel was used as the commander's office for the POW camp.


This is the the only photograph we have. John was a bandsman, he is the one on the end with the accordion. Does anyone recognise him or any of the others?

My wife's uncle John Cook served with the DLI during WWII and was taken prisoner in 1939. He remained in captivity until 1945. Sadly John died in 1982 but his brother Joe Cook who served in the Royal Navy is still alive. We are trying to find out any information regarding John and any others who might have been in the camp with him.



Does anyone know where I could find Australian Leslie Patrick Burton of the 106 Squadron RAF. He was a prisoner in Stalag 9c after Dec 1944 sometime. His plane was lost over the Dark Forest on the 4-12-1944. He is an Australian citizen and was a rear gunner on the Lancaster bomber. He was on a flight to Heilbronn Germany when the aircraft went missing and crashed somewhere near the Dark Forrest, Germany. He was the sole survivor of the Lancaster Bomber crew. My husband's Uncle was one of the crew who didn't make it. We would love to speak with him, a near relative or someone who may have known him in Stalag 9c. Many thanks,

Genelle Griffin

UPDATE: Genelle, I can supply you with a lot of hard copy information and an interview, on DVD, done on our ANZAC Day three years ago, just prior to Pat's death in which he describes his mates in the crew, the crash returning from the raid on Heilbonn and his time as a POW when he was eventually liberated by the yankees. He knocked off a keg of beer from a club over there, that the crew consumed, and got away with it. He tried the same stunt when repatriated, but the cops put 2 and 2 together somehow and nailed him.

Peter Burton

UPDATE

Genelle has is now in touch with Peter and received the information.



This is a picture of my Granddad William Albert George Berry 6090261 POW's number 1354 sent home to his mum's house in November 1944. He was unable to bring many photos back with him as he had his kit and Red Cross supplies.

Name of the man on the back of this photo is- Gnr. C. F. Welch 9639. William Albert George Berry is bottom left. He was taken prisoner early and spent most of his wartime there I believe. Is there anyone who can help with the whereabouts of the two men that are crossed in the Photo. As they were close friends and would like to chat to them.

This is another picture taken at Stalag 9c dated 1941.If there are any relatives whom recognise this gentleman please let me know so I can pass on the information onto my Granddad.

This gentleman is John Hunt (Johnny) of the 45 Battalion he was good friends with Granddad But lost contact does any-body know the location of him.

Granddad has many stories of his times at Stalag 9c and I would like to reunite him with some of his old pals if any of them are still around.




This is my Uncle Charlie B. Sambridge who was held in Stalag 9c.

Barbara Ready



I just talked to my Dad today, he is going through some tough times as it is the 60th year anniversary of his liberation (April 4, 1945) from Stalag IXC.

My Dad's name is Louis (Lou) Knight, a New Zealander, who was captured in Greece after his leg was almost blown off. When fit for travel, he was put on a train and taken to Germany. He ended up in Stalag 9C in the salt mines at Bad Sulza.

I know that Dad would love to have any contact with people that were there at the time. He would also love to be able to contact any of the US GI's that liberated him (the land was later traded to the Russians when Berlin as divided up, and became East Germany). If any one has any ideas of which US battalion or regiment were the liberators, maybe I could try and contact someone through the internal affairs here in the US.

Thanks for any information. My Dad assumed that everyone was dead and gone that were with him, but obviously not!

Bruce Knight.

UPDATE:

A year ago I placed a small article on your website, and this has gathered attention from various people who have contacted me. My Dad (Lou Knight) was a POW there. One of these contacts, who’s Dad was also at the camp, provided some sketchy details of the American division that liberated the camp at Bad Sulza. This then led to much research (I live in the US, although my Dad, who still lives, is a New Zealander), and I finally tracked a colonel down who was a part of that liberation force. He maintains a network of friends, some of who are German. One of these is in contact with me now, and wishes to create a memorial to all those people who were in Stalag IX-C- on the present day site, which is now a swimming pool (salt bath).

Lou Knight's War History

Service # 14254 P.O.W. # 39589 New Zealand Army

On October 2nd, 1940, Lou boarded a special troop train in Greymouth (New Zealand- his place of birth), and started the first 5 hour leg of a journey that would eventually take him deep into Germany as a Prisoner of War (POW), after a close encounter in the Greek port of Piraeus, Athens. This story spans half a decade, and is symbolic of many of whom gave their freedom willingly, in order to stop the atrocities of the Nazi aggression.

Lou's last recollection of leaving his Dad (Tom Knight), a big bushman, was him standing on the station platform alone from the others, his hat pulled down over his face to hide his emotions. Some five years later, when Lou returned to Greymouth, Tom was in the exact same place, once again his hat drawn down over his face. After all, " 'real' men don't cry"…..

Into Burnham Military Camp - October 1940:

"There is nothing glamorous or clean about war…. It is dirty- it is vile and rotten. It fills your silly brain at times, even [sixty] odd year later, with its horror. It sneaks back into your mind sights you have seen. It has a habit of revisiting about two or three AM when you should be resting, and my God, the same old shock and fear comes with it.

Old Mother Nature, however, has a way of covering these things. Wherever you find a group of old soldiers together, you can bet they will be recalling the humor of things they experienced- much happier and more healthy don't you think?"

Lou left for Wellington via a ferry on November 7th 1940 and left for overseas on November 8th. The ship was the Batory (a Polish Ship) 4th Reinforcement - 3 sections to this. Lou was in the 1st section - C.900- which was 2/3 Maori. The Achilles was an armed escort, also the Manganui with Division Calvary troops on board. They had three days in Sydney, Lou's first trip away from New Zealand.

"On our last night in Sydney, my cobber and I went into a corner shop for a pie and coffee. There was only one other in the shop, a young Aussie soldier. He joined us and said he knew we were on our way again next day. We asked if he was going too. He said "No way", his old man had one of the biggest sheep farms in New South Wales. He said the price and importance of wool in wartime was huge. He said this was the third time he had got to Sydney, but he knew the old man would have him released. "he can't do without me. I bent his car a bit so he is hanging back this time to make me suffer a bit, but I know I will be coming back off the 'Orion' tomorrow morning"

Five days in Perth -with escorts to Perth, Hobart and Canberra. Strathaden met them at Sea off Melbourne and Strathmore met them off Adelaide enroute to Perth. Orion troopship in Sydney harbor with Australian troops-she joined the escort. Manganui transferred Division Calvary troops to Orion at Sydney then left for unknown destination.

Next left Perth to Colombo (2 days). About 1 day out of Colombo, Australian navy was relieved by South African Navy 8th December. Indian Ocean deep blue color in contrast to Canberra escort which was sparkling white - left escort on path through the four troopships -the band played Waltzing Matilda - Great Farewell.

"On the third day out of Ceylon [Srilanka] the naval changeover arrived. Two South African cruisers come into sight. We sailed two-by-two in daylight. Orion and Strathmore followed by Batory and Strathaden. The Perth turned outside the convoy, but the Canberra came down the middle between the four troopers, her crew all lined up both sides of the deck and her band playing 'Waltzing Matilda'. The sight of that beautiful white cruiser on the blue Indian Ocean was a sight I will never forget. There [were] a few damp eyes everywhere. You get some funny ideas when you are on your way to war."

"When we arrived at Colombo, the sergeant-major gave us a lecture. He said to try hard to behave ourselves for a change. 'Keep off the bloody beer, because combined with the heat it will knock you twice as silly as you are now'. We wandered up a street, my Mate and I, and spotted two Aussie soldiers carrying another Aussie between them. As they passed we had a look at who they were carrying. Would you believe it? It was that boy from the Sydney pie shop. Daddy must have been really annoyed about that 'bent car' ".

On to Suez.

"In Ceylon the heat is as hot as hell." Christmas Day 1940 - Arrived Port Suez then by train to Cairo and Maadi Camp. Got tonsillitis and was put into camp hospital about 10 days - on guard duty at Helwon hospital about 2 or 3 weeks. Went to Italian prison camp on guard duty than back to Maadi for training (route marching). Left Alexandria for Greece on Breckenshire - British naval supply ship.

Athens - 3 days in Athens - marched 12 miles from Piraeus to the fir forests and city - headed north in cattle trucks than by trains for Katrine - then up to Olympus Pass with Jackie Robinson (from Camerons) -there for three days then picked up by a twenty-sixth Battalion truck headed to the Yugoslavia border for three or four days (Monastir Gap). Left on retreat , Aliklon river crossed and threw everything in the river except rifles on command from Colonel Page-then walked all night to open ground and a massive bonfire where all haversacks were burnt - then headed south walking to Larrisa (about 70 miles) New Zealand engineers commandeered a train. We all got aboard, Aussies and N.Z.s and English; -found out how to drive the thing - went all through the night until dropped off and all re-assembled into units - Lou was in the twenty-sixth Battalion and headed off to the coast and then headed north again, bombed all the way by German aircraft.

"A platoon of men in a rile battalion at full strength would be, counting its officer, sergeant, corporal and lance-corporal, 36 men. And, you know, every platoon had its mouth organ player, gambler, 'motor-mouth', rebel, general hard case, and its resident clown. Wherever you were, and no matter how grim things were, there was always that clown. He could make you giggle while the sweat of fear was still wet on you.

We had been chased by those damn Stukas all down the west coast of Greece one afternoon. We took cover in a little valley full of olive trees, the whole company. The Stukas must have stayed above for a half-hour, and machine gunned the area methodically. After they went we found the only thing they had hit was our water tank truck. There would, I think, have been about four men cuddled up under an olive tree about the size of a gorse bush where I was. One bloke was moaning about wetting himself. I think that every one of us said "join the club". Then this bloke (the clown) said 'This reminds me of my mother-in-law. When we got married we went to live with her in Hokitika. When I over stayed at the pub, as happened now and then, she could hit you with a plate off the dinner table even before you got in the back door. She had a better aim than those buggers who have just left us".

The second night at this place. Lou woke up and couldn't speak-had Greek diphtheria- Lt. Colonel Rusty Page took one look and sent Lou to a cave where Army medics sent him and others to the Athens New Zealand general hospital by truck. There about two hours later Germans arrived in the city-Lou was told to get out -went to the harbor and boarded the Hellas. Stukas bombed the harbor- about 1200 were on board, army and civilians - about 800 were killed including wounded who died later. The Hellas sank in Piraeus harbor. Dad still recalls the German stukas diving for the ship, and the one they forgot up in the sun- which dropped it's bomb right down the funnel. Dad was talking to a small boy. He smiled at Dad and said not to be afraid. He said "It will be alright". Just a child. Waking up to his leg hanging by shreds of tissue and the ship listing badly, all that saved him from falling overboard and drowning was the body of that small boy wedged into the railing. It was as if he knew.

Lou was taken to National hospital in Athens - raided a week later by Germans. Lou's vivid memory was the smell of diesel from the tanks. The Germans were unaware of Lou and other Allied soldiers who were patients. The Greek offices tried to get the nurses to leave, but they wouldn't leave their stations and responsibilities. One night a German soldier made a pass at a Greek nurse leaving the hospital, whereby she slapped the German on the face. All hell broke loose, and this German officer started screaming and running up and down the hospital- then noticed Lou and the other Allied soldiers. Next thing there were whistles and yelling up and down the hospital.

Lou became an official P.O.W. - later taken again to Kokionia youth detention area for eight months- broken femur (thigh). In mid- December he was loaded on an Italian Red Cross Ship and taken to Salonika hospital for three months then by hospital train to Egendorf and on to the P.O.W camp at Bad Sulza for two weeks then to the Salt-mine at Sondershausen for about two years, then on to another salt mine at Springen. A sister mine nearby was used to store wealth from churches, museums etc - Eisenhower, Patton and other generals saw this loot.

Prison Camp Food - German black bread (dark-brown) sometimes a potato or soup made out of potato peelings- coffee made out of walnut leaves - thank goodness for Red Cross parcels!!

Just this past weekend I talked to Dad- every time I do, new memories come back to him on top of those many thousands that he has already talked about. He remembered that they grew tobacco there in Bad Sulza, and the Germans just loved chewing it- so the very badly wounded prisoners were out on light duty stirring up this tobacco and water mixture in a huge outdoor hole (vat). Since they had only one leg, or even just half a leg, they were no security risk so the Germans would leave them for periods and go sit down and talk among themselves. So, when the Germans weren't looking, the prisoners would piss into the tobacco mixture- some would induce vomiting, and they would all spit into it. This was to be later dried and chewed by the German army!

Dad said that at some stage they discontinued the tobacco operation, and a German soldier came by and said it was such a shame, since the tobacco that they chewed from that vat tasted so much better than the stuff made commercially. If only they knew!

Lou often speaks of his time in the prison camps in Germany. After the Normandy D-Day invasions they were told by the guards that an invasion had been attempted, but had been crushed, and every single allied soldier had been killed.

Various other propagandas were told to them, most consisting of half-truths that implied that the allied countries were losing the war. One day they were even told that England had been invaded and the King was in a prison camp not far from Bad Sulza!! But one day, all the prisoners in the camp watched what they could not believe. Air raid sirens started- they used to test them but they were never used in anger. What Lou and the others saw remains in their heads even to this day. The sky became black with allied bombers, the ground shook from the massive rumblings of their engines. It was like night time in the middle of the day. This was a big day for them, as they realised that the allied forces were indeed pushing into the German heartland. The Americans had arrived! The next day they returned, and the day after that- every day for weeks, they became so common that no-one even looked at them any more. They could only imagine what was about to happen.]

British bombers on way to Dresden used Sondershausen as a turning point on way to bomb the city- the noise of hundreds passing over was huge. The bomb doors were open and P.O.W.s could see the bombs. From the massive fires in Dresden- Lou read a letter from his parents by the sky lit up. [Seph old German soldier salt mine at P.O.W. camp Herr Wolf head of the mine (chief engineer) at Springen.]

"A Red Cross rule that a POW who had been wounded had to be seen by a doctor once a year was observed by our hosts. So on this particular day four of us, under guard, had walked four miles down our little gravel road to catch the train from Dorndorf to Eisennack. We stood on the station among all the Germans going to work in the City of Eisennack, until our guard got funny and said 'Honest decent German people going about their lives should not have their day ruined by the sight of you trek-sacks (bags of dirt), so get behind the station'. From behind the station we heard the train whistle in the distance and almost at the same time heard that awful scream of diving aircraft, followed by a hell of a loud explosion. No more train. Then coming up the rail line was a great spiral of dust with two RAF fighter-bombers playing 'follow the leader', low enough to raise the dust. Just past the Dorndorf station one of the German great highways or 'Autobahns' they called them, crossed over the rail line on a very high and wide overhead bridge. The two planes whipped past the station in a hail of dust and gravel, then would you believe it- dived under the bridge. Then stood on their tails and gave a little victory roll, then vanished into the blue sky. To watch for another train or another boiler to bust, I suppose. On the station, one old Frau fainted and most of them had cuts and bruises from the gravel flying about. The guard said we should all get going fast out of sight before we were hung on a lamp post. So we did, and walked back over the little road quite fast. 'Look', the wee Scottie said. 'they're here'. Looking down the road all you could see was the shadows of willows waving in the early morning breeze. Then something else- long lines of men coming in the guttering on both sides of the road. It was all over….. ". Liberated April 4, 1945.

April 4th, 1945. General Paton arrived, took to old hotel (Fulda) for 3 days. Five New Zealanders on one plane (first plane ride), two hour flight to Great Missendon in Buckinghamshire.

Lou recalls that his last POW camp was in the Rhone Valley, near Springen. As Lou writes above, Dorndorf is where the Americans found them in an underground shelter. The Americans thought that they were Germans hiding at first. From there the POW's walked for about 1 ½ hours and stayed for 3 days in a town on the other side of the river. They were then taken by truck about 80 mils away to an airfield where they left by British aircraft and flew to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, a large Royal Air Force base at the time.

Over night, clean clothes, took train to Magate. Lots of mail, late back to Broadstairs. Towards end of July 1945, took the Sterling Castle to Wellington, ferry 'Wahine" to Lyttleton, train to Greymouth in the last week of July.

My Dad is 87 as I write this, and in failing health with emphysema, partially from smoking all his life. But the dust in those salt mines must have had a lasting effect too. Some things stand out in his mind, and were often the subject of dinner table yarns. My mother, sister and I would sit with mouths wide open as the stories poured out. One I will never forget is his first impression of the Americans, who had seen many unforgettable sights on their march through Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. Their hand and arms were shaking and trembling, and they were just boys- most of them.

And another story- about those fine ivory knives that we had in our cutlery drawer at home when we grew up. Given to him by a German family after liberation, and how they also gave the POW's all the food that they had.

These were unique times. My Dad has but one wish- that they never be allowed to happen again. Regardless of the countries involved. Too much was given and lost by so many to go un-noticed.

Dad arrived home to Greymouth a changed man. As he hugged his family he looked around and observed the locals going about their business. They had no idea of what had gone on over there. Then, a local clergyman- Canon Aubrey- walked over, shook his hand, and said 'Welcome home, soldier". The long journey was over- but not quite. Every night it would come back. It still does- a smell, a sound.

Never a better father could a son wish for. He gave up so much for all of us, just like he had done so in 1940. He is forever indebted to the Americans that saved him.

Words in inverted commas are from my father's letters to me. The story as told could occupy an entire book. These are my memories of his story.

Thanks for getting me started, Bruce Knight.



Recently I returned from a farm in East Germany which in 1944 was a branch camp of Stalag IXC, Zweiglage, Wildetaube. This sub camp was for sick and injured POWs. Whilst there I had sight of a log book which was left behind by CQMS W C (Bill) Ferguson who I believe was in the Royal Canadian Regiment. I am trying to trace the family as there is much in the log book which could be of immense interest to them. I am already in touch with the RCR who are trying to help.

Does anyone know of Bill Ferguson or his family.

I met these Germans concerned whilst on holiday in Madeira last January. They speak no English and were pleased to find an English person who could speak German and I promised to try to help. They invited me to stay for a few days.

As an amateur musician one page include bugle calls, the meaning of which must have escaped the German guards, interested me.

Below I give a list of most of them:-

  • Smoke gets in your eyes:     Cigarette issue
  • They cut down the old pine tree:     Forest party
  • Quartermaster's stores:     Food parcel issue
  • Drink to me only with thine eyes:     Beer issue
  • Trees :     Wood issue
  • Pack up your troubles :     Kit bags
  • A hunting we will go :     Delousing and kit search
  • Bless 'em all :     Room leaders
  • Laurel and Hardy theme song:     D.U.'s
  • Home sweet home :     Private parcels
  • Oh you nasty man :     G. Flow
  • Come to the fair :     Entertainments
  • Gaumont British News :     Prop. (Molsdorf)
  • Shoe shine boy :     Boots in (Molsdorf)
  • Post horn gallop :     Parcels at the station (Molsdorf)
  • Let's put out the lights :     15 mins to lights out
  • Be like the kettle and sing :     Hot water issue
  • Old King Cole :     Coal issue?
  • I cover the waterfront :     Water (Molsdorf)
  • Three blind mice :     Eye cases for hospital (Molsdorf)
  • Popeye the sailor :     Spinach issue
  • Volga boatman :     Piano moving gang
  • Take me to the ball game :     Sport
  • 15 men on a dead man's chest :     Parcel carrying fatigue
  • Here comes the man with the mandolin:     Mandolin band
  • Faith of our fathers :     RC church
  • Onward Christian soldiers :     C. of E.
  • Oh! Canada :     Chain gang
  • Tea for two :     Tea issue
  • Two lovely black eyes :     Boxing
  • A letter from lousy Lizzie :     Mail
  • Wagon wheels :    :     Unload wagon
  • The love bug will bite you :     M.O.'s inspection for lice

I am trying to trace relatives and/or friends of those who were in this small sub camp at Wildetaube near Greiz in East Germany in 1944.

I have the names of 15 who were there including some from the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

  • Joe B Simpson, 40 Gilbert Street, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand
  • Fred Wallace, Lloydminster, Alberta
  • E B Sambridge, 70 the Crescent, South Tottenham, London N15
  • Jack Dannatt, 12 Sloane Street, Mavickville, NSW
  • J C Arnold, 265 Roundway, Tottenham, London N17
  • Bruce G Hamilton, 1028 - 18th Ave. S., Nashville, Tenn.
  • W R Evans. 48 Bland Street, Ashfield, Sydney, Australia
  • E J Greenway, 46 Paradise Road, Clapham, London SW4
  • Andy Skyme, Penshaw Villa, Blaina, Monmouthshire, England
  • Norm Beaton, 9 Fisherfield, Port Skee, Isle of Skye
  • Jim Oakley, c/o Mrs B Holt, 55 Park Close Road, Alton, Hants, England
  • F J Collins, 126 Lollard Street, Kennington, London SE11
  • S Watt, 36 Ainslie Place, Perth, Scotland
  • Bill Weddell, 51 Winnington Road, Longfield Ave., Enfield, Middlesex, England
  • H Heaton, 14 Poplar Grove, Westloughton, Bolton, Lancs.

Any help would be appreciated.

John B C Bennett


UPDATE:

Bill Ferguson has been located. He is now 93 years of age and sounding hale and hearty on the telephone. One of John's letters was forwarded to him and he rang up very excitedly from California where he now lives. He, his son and the son's wife are coming to stay with us in Tunbridge Wells in April en route for East Germany to revisit the farm where he was released on 16 April 2005. The German TV company MDR is planning to make a 1/2 hour documentary including the official handover of the diary to him on 16 April, the 60th anniversary to the day, in Wildetaube.

Among the pages in the diary is a group photograph:

Bill Ferguson is third along from the left in the back row.



Daily Rations

letter of warning'

The POWs seem to have given the guards a hard time when possible this is a note of warning dated 21.7.40. Pay Day!






I am searching for information on POWs who were in Stalag Luft 9C from Sept 1944 to Jan 1945. I am trying to find anyone who may have known my aunt, US Army 2nd LT Reba Z Whittle who was a POW at this time. She was a flight nurse on a C47 transport that was shot down near Aachen Germany. She worked in the stalag's prison hospital with the lead British doctor. The only thing I know of him is he was writing his fiance in Liverpool. I would appreciate any help or leads on where I could find someone who was there at the same time or knew her. Thank you for your help.

Reba Davis


I have a friend named George Robb who is in his eighties and has just lost his wife. He is Scottish and in the time he spent as a POW, over three years he has yet to meet up with someone from Stalag 9C. Can you help? His story is amazing, I live two doors down from him and love to hear all his stories. He escaped 3 or 4 times while there, spent many days in solitary confinement, worked in the salt mines, furniture factory and other areas.

His is still sharp as a tack and his memory is great, but he is un-happy the way the British army prepared him for war leading to his capture and imprisonment He does not know I am writing this, because I wish it to be a supprise and to help him get over the death of his wife of over forty years. Thanks Steven Higa Steven Higa



As the 60th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid approaches I am trying to gather further info on my Uncle who was in the 14th Armd Tank Bn. (Calgary Tank Regt.), wounded and captured 19 August, 1942. His details follow.

Regt. No. M27002 Trp. POWERS, Leslie Arthur, DOB 17 May, 1918 Vancouver, BC, Canada. POW No. 43060, Stalag IX-C, assigned Arb. Komm. #'s 865, 1049 and 1170, exact dates and duration's unknown. No's were garnered from mail censors reports.

Liberated 5 May, 1945 at Winterberg (?) (marching) believed to have been by the British, listed his previous camp as IX-C Bad Sulza. This info is taken from a photostat copy of his original "Register Form For Recovered Allied Prisoners Of War" dated 5 May, 1945.

Would anyone out in cyberspace have any further info on the work parties listed or where Winterberg was ? All info will be greatly appreciated.

Ted Courtenay BC, Canada



My Grandfather was a POW in Stalag 9C for over 4 years. He was captured in a town called Franlow with the 7th BATTILLION ARGYLE SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS.

He was put to work in the saltmines and is still alive and well. I am trying to gather was much information as possible for him, can anyone help? I would be particularly interested to obtain copies of any photographs.

Craig O`Connor



Photographs

Stalag 9C 2nd right back row, Lally. Front row 3rd from left, Cooke U.S.A.




List of Prisoners

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