Harold Marsh

 

Unit : 101st Airborne Division.

Camps : Stalag XIIA, IVB, IIIC.

 

Harold Marsh was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, and was captured several days after landing in Normandy, June 1944. The following is his log of his experiences thereafter:

 

 

I was captured June 11. I lost my watch, fountain pens, pencil, cigarettes. On the jump I lost my Musette bag containing extra ammunition, rations, kodak, cigarettes. I was taken to the front lines and held until dark. After dark we were moved to a stockade close to Cherbourg. We were fed hard tack and tea. In the afternoon we got thick barley soup and all we could eat. Thursday June 15 we got a thick slice of bread, a slice of cheese and a little piece of meat. That was the German ration for our five day march of death. We marched close to 100 miles. Arriving at Starvation Hill Monday June 19 we were all ready to drop. Here we got greasy water twice a day. Sometimes milk in the morning. Thursday night June 22 we left by truck for another camp. Saturday June 24 we arrived at Allencon. This was a very nice camp run by a Canadian Captain. Rations were good too. Cereal, coffee, jam, and bread (6 and 8 to a loaf) in the morning. Pea soup for dinner and supper. We were required to work every other day filling bomb craters or clearing landing strips.

 

Tuesday July 11 I went by truck to another camp at Charters, France. Here we received coffee, bread (5 to a loaf) and margarine. For dinner we got a small portion of soup (beet tops and potatoes). Tea in the evening. Saturday July 15, I received my first Red Cross parcel. We got one between two men.

 

Monday July 17 we left and Wednesday we arrived at Chalon. The camp was in an old French barracks. It was pretty there and were told the next camp would be permanent. Here we received coffee in the morning, soup at noon, bread, (5 men to a loaf) margarine, sometimes jam and tea.

 

Monday July 31. We got another half parcel along with 25 cigarettes. The first smoke issue since capture.

 

Wednesday August 2 we left by box car and Friday we got to Stalag XII-A The first camp inside Germany. It is located near Lindberg. Here we slept in tents on the ground. We got bread (4 and 5 to a loaf), tea and jam in the morning. Cabbage soup with a few potatoes for dinner and supper. Once a week we would get boiled spuds. Sunday we would get meat for supper.

 

Sunday August 13 We got a Canadian Red Cross Parcel between three men. No cigs.

 

Sunday August 20 We got our first parcel per man. Mine had seven packs of Chesterfields. My first American cigarette since 'D' day.

 

Thursday August 24 We left and Saturday we arrived at Stalag IV B near Muhlberg, Germany. It was an organized British camp and was the best I was ever in. Sunday morning we received two parcels (Canadian) for seven men. Monday morning we got a Canadian parcel for each man with 50 cigarettes. This camp was really organized and parcels were issued every week. Our rations were drawn at noon. Usually cabbage soup and boiled potatoes were issued at eleven O'clock and bread (6 and 7 to a loaf) margarine, sometimes jam or meat and sugar. Boiling water was issued four times daily for making tea or coffee. But all good things come to an end.

 

Tuesday September 19 We left and Wednesday we arrived at Stalag III-C, an American Non-Com camp. We get coffee at 6:30 in the morning, Potato and Pea soup at noon, bread (5 and 6 to a loaf) margarine (meat on Sunday, jam on Tuesday, cheese on thursday) and sugar at 3 O'clock. Coffee at 5. Wednesday evening we would get a hand full of boiled spuds.

 

Today is Friday October 13. No Red Cross parcels or cigarettes since I've been here and prospects aren't very bright.

 

Sunday Oct. 15- Parcels arrived from Geneva and will be issued tomorrow. One per man.

 

Monday Oct. 16. I received mine with five packs of Old Golds.

 

Sunday Oct. 29. another American parcel with five packs of Raleighs.

 

Well Jerry started off the month of November with a big inspection. Seems as though someone had too many cigarettes or to much meat. So they had to collect some of it.

 

Sunday Nov. 5 we were given 3 cig. per man by Jerry. They were extras that they took off the boys in the other compound.

 

Thursday Nov. 16. Winter has started in Germany I guess. The first snow of the season. It is really pretty but we are about to freeze.

 

Thursday Nov. 23. We celebrated Thanksgiving today. 91 parcels were left over from the last issue so they were divided between the two compounds and the kitchen prepared a thick soup for dinner. The raisins and prunes and jam stewed up into a spread. The salmon and pate and margarine were mixed into another spread. We also got the Jerry issue of margarine and cheese. All this on 1/6 loaf of bread. The cheese in the parcels was issued 4 blocks for 100 men. Cigarettes were issued 4 per man. The soup was the best I believe I ever had since being a P.O.W. The Chocolate and milk was made into cocoa.

 

At the end of this month I will have $506.65 back pay coming. I hope.

 

Parcels arrived yesterday (Nov. 27) from Geneva. 1965 came with two more carloads on the way. The issue is one for two men. Steve and I get ours tomorrow. Clothing, blankets, athletic equip. and musical instruments have also arrived. These G.I. blankets are really a Godsend for it is getting pretty cool these nights. But maybe all this will be over by Christmas and we can all go home.

 

Friday Dec. 1.- Red Cross clothes were issued today. I got 2 pair long underwear, pair gloves, 2 handkerchiefs, an old shirt and a pair of socks.

 

Wednesday Dec. 6. Received 1/2 a Red Cross parcel today. Got roast beef for a change. Word also came in that 2100 more parcels arrived from geneva. Looks as though we are going to be all right now.

 

Letters are coming in and I am anxiously awaiting word from home. It has been six months since I have received a letter.

 

Tuesday Dec. 12. Received a Red Cross parcel today- Five packs Camels.

 

Sunday Dec. 17.- 2350 Christmas parcels arrived a few days ago so I guess we will have something for Xmas. There are 5600 regular food parcels on hand.

 

It is a beautiful day out. The sun is shining for once and is warming up.

 

Monday Dec. 18. Christmas parcels will be issued next Sun. On the condition that every thing will be eaten by Tuesday. Our company won the 6 man football championship today. I get my 1/2 parcel tomorrow.

 

Tuesday Dec. 19. The YMCA representative visited the camp today. He watched the boxing bouts and then made a short talk wishing us a Merry Christmas and that he hoped we would all be back in our own country soon. Red Cross parcels were also issued today.

 

Saturday Dec. 23. The sun has been shinning the few days and has really been swell, altho it has been pretty cold. The nights are clear and cold, but never the less pretty with all the stars out and the moon shinning. Some how a fellow seems to notice things like that more closely in a place such as this.

 

Monday December 25, 1944-Christmas Day- We were issued a Red Cross Xmas parcel yesterday. Boy they are really swell to. It sure doesn't seem much like Christmas but these parcels are really appreciated. In a place like this I think this Christmas will be remembered and appreciated. It is more than any of us expected. Jerry left the lights on all night last night and we saved our coal ration for a week so we could have a fire Xmas day. We ate and sang Christmas carols all night. This was one Xmas dinner I didn't have to wait until 2 O'clock to eat. I had turkey, plum pudding with cherries and cream, bread, butter and tea. I ate toasted cheese sandwiches all last night. Went to bed at 4 this morning. We only had one roll call today. We gave our soup to the Russians today. Also, each man gave two cigarettes. Tomorrow is another day but it will be just like any other day around here. It seems like that after all the good things we have had today sometimes I forget and think I am back home where tomorrow will bring something new. Going to some job somewhere and home in the evening by a warm fire with a radio or a good book to read. Here, the weather is pretty cold. We never get enough coal to even warm the stove so a P.O.W. usually spends most of his time under his blankets trying to keep warm. I have the most trouble with my feet. But I guess I better cut these pipe dreams and turn in. Thursday Dec. 28. Things are running smoothly again. We are getting 1/2 parcel Sunday and the lights will be on all night to celebrate new years.

 

Sunday night Dec.31. This is the last nite of 1944. We got our parcels this morning so we are eating up a storm tonite. The Capt. gave us a stump this afternoon so we have it nice and warm for once. Oh yes, it started snowing last night and the wind came up this afternoon so we will probably have to dig ourselves out in the morning. It is really pretty tho. We also have almost 12,000 parcels on hand.

 

Tuesday Jan. 9.- Received Red Cross parcel today. 6 packs cigarettes.

 

Sunday Jan.14. It is a nice day out. The sun is shinning but the ground is covered with ice. Friday I started to school. First year Algebra. Something to pass the time at least. There are German, French and History classes.

 

Saturday Jan. 27. We haven't had any lights the last two nights and the guards have started to wear their steel helmets on post. It must be because of the Russians. They are reported to have made a break-thru and are 80 Kilos from Krustrin.- Had a big snow last night. Got a G.I. overcoat, wool knit cap, G.I muffler and a sun-tan shirt, and two pair socks. Got issued safety razor and sewing kit the other day.

 

Tues. Jan.30. The Russians are reported to be 35 kilos from here. We have orders to pack and to be ready to move tonight or tomorrow. Looks as though we will be free before too many days if we stay here. The Russian P.O.W.s moved this morning.

 

Wed. Jan. 31 8 O'Clock Wed. nite. I am back at the barracks again after two unsuccessful attempts to evacuate. We left this morning at about 8 marched about 2 miles and ran into a column of Russian tanks. Several of our boys were killed or wounded before they recognized us. We came back to camp and after awhile they tried to move us to Kustrin but we didn't even get out the front gate when we run into machine gun fire and had to come back and take shelter. The Russians went on by and drove the Jerries back. They left tanks and Guards in camp to protect us and as soon as it is safe we are to be moved- Where I don't know-But the best part of the whole thing is that we are in Allied hands and maybe see the States and Home soon.

 

Mon. Feb.5- The Russians led us out Sat. nite and to a village where they told us to take over any house for a place to sleep. The name of the place was Zorndorf. The town was evacuated so we really had a field day. Steak, potatoes, jam, preserves and even fried chicken. We left the town about 2 O'clock this afternoon in small groups to march to Lansberg about 40 kilometers away where transportation will be waiting to take us to Moscow and from there to the States. But I am getting ahead of my story. Tonite we are 15 Kilos from Lansberg and we are in a house cooking steak, potatoes and coffee. It is about 8 O'clock now. The Russians told us to take anything we wanted.

 

Wed. Feb. 7- There are 11 in our group. We came thru Lansberg yesterday and stopped at a house on the outskirts for something to eat. We are here now resting up for our march to Posen. No one seems to know what we are to do. But I guess the safest thing to do is to get as far back as possible. We killed a Hog this morning so I guess we will eat a few days. Most of us picked up bicycles and we are planning on traveling that way. Yesterday we killed four chickens for a nice meal. There is an old man and woman here in this house. The old lady makes bread for us and it is really good. Am beginning to pick up a little German from them too. The Russians want us to grab a rifle and go to Berlin to meet the Allies.

 

Friday Feb.9.- We are still at the same house outside Landsberg. We finished the hog today so we are living on potatoes and I am making a little fried bread now and then. We are leaving for a new home in the morning if everything goes right. The town is about 30 kilos from here, just one step nearer Posen. We all have bicycles now so maybe we can make it in good time.

 

Tues. nite Feb. 13. Crossed the border into Poland this afternoon. We left Landsberg Sunday morn with bicycles and rode close to 40 kilos past Friedberg. Yesterday we were picked up by some Russians and held most of the day but allowed us to continue toward evening. Today we crossed into Poland to a place called Drawsko. The Polish people took us in and feed us and gave a bed for the night. A branch of the Red Cross is supposed to be located in a town 38 kilos from here. that is our goal for tomorrow.

 

Thurs. Feb.15- We are in a small town by the name of Filehne waiting on a train for Warsaw. Our bicycles are holding up pretty well. I've only had one flat so far. We are planning to leave in the morning. Trains have stopped running.

 

Sat. Feb.17- We are in Rogasen tonight. We rode our cycles 65 kilos today and boy am I tired. The Polish Red Cross gave us supper and a place to sleep tonight. Our goal is still Warsaw-- 250 kilos away. Should make it in 5 days if our cycles hold out. We also passed thru Czarnakau today.

 

Tues. Feb.20- Ate too much bread last nite and got sick. We rode 14 kilos to Wongrownetz and stayed in the Red Cross until the train pulled out. We took our cycles with us in the box car. This ride took us 40 kilos to a town Gniezno. Here we left our cycles with the station master in exchange for a ride in a coach. This ride took us 24 kilos to Wreschen. Caught another train right away straight for Warsaw. This morning we are 54 kilos from our goal. Sure hope we make it.

 

Sat. Feb.24- Got to Weochy that night and stayed in private houses. The next morning we walked to Warsaw 8 kilos away. Talk about a town being flattened Warsaw is. We walked thru Warsaw and across the Weichsel river on the ice and into Praga where we stayed in the Red Cross all night. The next morning we walked 18 kilos to Rembertow where the Americans were collecting to take a train to Odessa. We got there just in time to get our names on the list. We got on the train and pulled out this morning. We have to be in Odessa by the 27th to catch a boat for home.

 

Thur. Mar.1- Arrived in Odessa this morning. There are 3 American ships in the harbor but when we board them remains to be seen. The Russians gave us soup twice a day on the trip. Also issued Chocolate, tobacco, bread, cheese and candy. We are now in a building in Odessa waiting to board ship.

 

Sat. Mar.3- Got 2 packs American cigarettes this morning. A transport is scheduled to arrive sometime between the 4th and the 6th and we will board and go direct to the States.

 

Sunday-Mar.4- Got our first GI chow today. Rice and coffee for breakfast, 'C' rations. Stew and shredded wheat for dinner, and chicken and dumplings for supper plus coffee.

 

Monday Mar.5- The boats are here and we will board as soon as the Russian P.O.W.s have unloaded. Also got 2 packs of butts this morning.

 

Wed. Mar.7- Boarded the English ship "Morton Bay" this morning. We are to go to Alexandria to transfer to an American ship and we will be 12 days from the States. We were issued 3 packs buts yesterday. Got a pack of Lucky Strike, the first since "D" day. Also got a bar of chocolate, stick of gum, 2 lifesavers, bar of soap. It is rumored that we will draw a 5 * partial pay for PX supplies. The ship pulled out less than an hour after we boarded. The Black Sea isn't very rough tho. Should hit Constantinople by morning.

 

Thur. Mar 8- Tonight we are in dock in Constantinople, Turkey. We came thru the mouth of the Black Sea late this afternoon. Here in the harbor we can see all the buildings lit up so pretty, buses, street cars and American autos are running as if nothing has ever happened. It sure is pretty and I can hardly wait to get home to see if anything has changed. Here on the ship we have breakfast at 7:30 - dinner at 12:30 - supper at 5:30 and cocoa at 8:00. Today we were given 2 Pound partial pay so I plan on eating chocolate tomorrow. We are leaving for Alexandria, Egypt sometime tomorrow.

 

Fri. Mar.9- Left Constan- This evening about 5. Sure is a narrow straight. Are definitely not going to Alex-.

 

Tues. Mar.13- Am in a camp at Port Said. We arrived about 10:30 yesterday morning. We are in an American camp - American chow and everything. Attended a stage show and two movies (Up in Mabel's Room - His Butler's Sister) last night. Had a can of beer and a coke also. Signed for a $50 partial pay. Are supposed to get all new clothes today. It is rumored that we will board ship for America the 16th. Sure hope so.

 

Thur. Mar. 15- Have been having a real time here. Got issued a complete G.I. outfit including candy and cigarettes. They are throwing everything at us. Have been to town twice (Port Said). Sure is a grand an glorious feeling to be free once more and to be able to walk around. Bought a watch for 450 Piasters - a bag for 127 Pt. We were restricted today so will probably board ship tomorrow.

 

Sat. Mar.17- Are on our way to Naples today. We should be there by tomorrow night or Monday morning. I kinda hated to leave Port Said. The soldiers and Red Cross girls were so good to us. They even throwed a big dance for us our last night. Our camp was near Port Fuord on the Asia side of the canal. I gave the name of the place I want to visit on furlough so it shouldn't be to long after we land in the States. O yes this is the ship "Samira".

 

Wed. Mar.21- Arrived in Naples this morning. Red Cross waiting for us as usual. Gave us another Toilet kit and doughnuts. G.I. trucks took us to the "Block House". After filling out a batch of papers we were given passes. Also given $75 P./P.

 

Fri. Mar.30- Boarded the U.S. ship "Mariposa" for Boston this morning. This is the last leg of our journey and boy am I glad.

 

Sun. Apr.8- Arrived in America this evening. The long trip is almost over. Had some good times and some rough times but this is paradise. Hope to get at least 45 days leave.

 

 

My thanks to Pete Peterson for this account.

 

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