GENERAL REPORT ON STALAG 4B
It was policy of the enemy to segregate R.A.F. personnel from Army personnel within the camp area and this practice was followed at Stalag 4B. The following account, therefore, deals only with living conditions and recommendation as affecting R.A.F. personnel. They were billeted in five large bungalows. These bungalows were sectional buildings of wood built of brick and cement concrete foundations. The doors were patched and covered with bitumen felt. The bungalows were in two sections, A and B, these sections being divided up, a fireproof building housing the ablutions to which there was access from each section. Both A and B sections had a day and night latrine attached to their extreme ends. Section A measured 82 ft. 10 ins. long, 40 ft. wide and 10 ft. high to the ceiling. There were five windows to each side. Section B measured 99 ft. 2 ins. long, 40 ft. wide and 10 ft. high and had six windows to each side. The night latrines were of the earth closet type. Day Latrines These latrines were brick built and housed earth closets. They were situated approximately 30 ft. from barrack buildings and the occupants of four bungalows had to use one latrine.
In each section there was one brick stove with an iron plate. Coal issue of 25 Ks. per section was for use in the two stoves and the boiler in the ablutions. It was definitely insufficient to keep the bungalows warm and combat cold and damp.
The artificial lighting in each section consisted of five electric points. Four 25 Watt electric bulbs were allowed. Lighting was insufficient.
This was extremely poor and only a few sections had a constant supply. This resulted in occupants of other bungalows crowding in to use them. In the ablutions in each bungalow there were three taps, one of which supplied the boiler. The ablutions consisted of six cement concrete troughs for washing. Each trough having four row sprays, a total of twenty-four sprays. Very few of these sprays ever carried water.
Both the night and day latrines were the usual German type and had to be pumped.
General drainage of the camp was exceedingly poor. The bungalow drainage was bad with continual floods through stoppages in pipes and trapped gulleys. These gulleys were not filled with grips. The waste water from the bungalows was carried down the main road. Very bad smells resulted.
Conditions were far from satisfactory due entirely to the difficulties mentioned above and also to the excessive over-crowding of the bungalows making air supply demand very low. The average number of men per section of bungalow was 198. At one time there was a peak figure of 293 men per section. For sleeping three tier beds were provided, but at times due to over-crowding, it was necessary for two men to sleep in each bottom bed and three men to two beds on the section and third tiers.
Casualties and Deaths
Of a total death roll of 60 men in the camp, five were members of the Royal and Imperial Air Forces. Two of these men were killed within the confines of the camp and the other three died from illness.
F/Sgt. J.E. Jones, R.A.F., No.610981, P.O.W. No.222403. F/Sgt. Jones was shot by an enemy sentry. F/Sgt. Jones was in the confines of a coal shed when the sentry opened the door and fired without warning hitting Jones in the stomach, and killing him. Date - April, 1944. Sgt. H. Mallory, R.C.A.F. No.R113624, was struck by a low-flying aircraft whilst walking around the football field. Date - 30th April, 1944. [Pencil note: 222739 - Mallory's POW number]
Sgt. Charles Smith, R.A.F., No.917722, Sgt. Edward F. Wood, R.C.A.F., No.118384, Sgt. Geoffrey Turnbull, R.A.F., No.1533387.
The first 74 men of the Royal Air Force arrived from Dulag Luft on August 14th, 1943. They were the only British troops in the camp at that time. In August 1943, 105 men of the R.A.F. and Paratroopers arrived and from then on until the middle of January 1944, regular drafts of men arrived from Dulag Luft until the strength reached nearly 1500. From that date until the time of liberation the strength of the Royal Air Force personnel only fluctuated slightly. At the time of liberation it stood at 1593 including 33 officers awaiting transfer to Oflag.
Unfortunately, Education has provided one of the largest problems on this camp owing to the lack of accommodation. However, innumerable obstacles have been overcome and a high standard of results have been maintained. Out of a total teaching staff of 36, the Air Force provided 10 teachers. The number of Air Force students has also been of good proportion to the total and a large number of men, utilising the books of the Technical Library, formed themselves into groups, and also did private studies in their bungalows.
The R.A.F. personnel have partaken with good representation in all sports played on the Camp and they have always maintained a high standard of sportsmanship. The R.A.F. have played representative games of Football against the ARMY and the other countries represented here. The Canadian section of the Air Force also afforded entertainment to the camp with their games of Basket Ball, soft-ball and baseball. In addition to the above mentioned games, Air Force have been well represented in the following Cricket, volley-ball, table-tennis, swimming, Rugby, etc.
The entertainment of this camp has always maintained a high standard and can be divided into three categories.
(a) Theatre We were able to obtain the use of one end of a bungalow for use as a theatre and after all beds, etc. had been removed, alterations were made and a stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and tiered seating accommodation for over 500 men was provided. The Air Force have always been well represented both in the acting and on the producing side. In addition to Plays, Musical Comedies and farces have been produced and a section, called the Experimental Theatre Group, operated with success.
Dance band, symphony and light orchestra shows have also been heard and here again, the Air Force has participated.
(b) Hut Shows These comprise of small bands of men, moving from hut to hut and providing entertainment to the occupants. They were in the form of variety shows, curtain club shows and radio plays and they proved of inestimable value during the long winter nights.
(c) Hut Lectures This is a similar idea to the item mentioned above. An individual man would lecture to the occupants of a hut, either about his personal experiences or perhaps of his work before joining up.
These lectures were popular and provided means of filling idle moments.
In addition to the above, we also ran a "Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Hour". This was given over to lectures and debates.
D.P.S. P.O.W. (Information).
Room 128, Bush Hse. N.W.,
Conditions in Stalag IVB were always bad, but with the approach of the Russian armies they became even worse. On Friday 13th April, 1945, the German authorities handed over interior control of the camp to the British Officers and Lt. Jessop, Q.V.R. assumed command of the whole camp. F/O. Hunter took command of the R.A.F. on 23rd April, 1945. Up to the time of departure of the Germans the R.A.F. Officers had held no positions of authority in the camp as this was essentially an N.C.Os. camp and all control was exercised through the Man of Confidence, W/O. J.W. Meyers. This was the normal procedure in such cases. In the time following this the R.A.F. under F/O. Hunter played a great part in restoring and keeping order in a large camp which contained prisoners of all nationalities. The action of the R.A.F. was so noticeable that on several occasions they were thanked by the British Officer i/c Camp.
By 25th April conditions in the camp had become almost intolerable. The barrack areas were filthy, the latrines full and the lighting and water supply systems had broken down. The position became so bad that a meeting was called by F/O. Hunter and it was decided that the R.A.F. should become an individual unit responsible to its own officers and N.C.Os.
This was done and the organisation of the R.A.F. section of the camp on Service lines was begun by F/O. Hunter. As the reports show he was splendidly backed up by all the men under his command and 12 hours later things were greatly improved in the R.A.F. compound.
Such an example naturally had an effect on the Army prisoners: within 24 hours discipline and order had improved by a hundred per cent; rations were brought in; the sanitation attended to; and altogether the whole establishment was put on a proper military footing.
R.A.F. prisoners also provided many guards and workers for the whole camp. This arrangement persisted until the final evacuation of the camp.
Throughout the whole of this period the R.A.F. prisoners maintained excellent morale and discipline, and behaved in a way to bring credit to the Service. I am sure that much of this was due to the efficient leadership and command exercised by F/O. Hunter. During the whole difficult period the behaviour of F/O. Hunter and his command was exemplary.
[Signed] (A.J. TRUMBLE)
LIST OF CASUALTIES AT STALAG IVB
RECOMMENDATION FROM STALAG 4B.
7th June, 1945.
Warrant Officer Littlefield, E.C., R.C.A.F. P.O.W. 24773.
Warrant Officer Littlefield has acted as Chairman of the Red Cross Section of the Camp since his arrival in Stalag 4B in August, 1943. He has at all times conducted himself in a proper manner.
Due to Warrant Officer Littlefield's excellent judgement and management we were able to carry out our regular weekly distribution in an efficient manner and in a minimum of time.
His records were always up to date and open to inspection at any time. Never in my time at Stalag 4B was there any trouble about shortage of parcels or receipts. He headed a large organisation and acted as chairman at all times. I cannot let his valuable work go by unnoticed.
I highly recommend him for his untiring duty. Under him the following men also had responsible positions:-
1) Warrant Officer Sellars, Royal Australian Air Force:
Warrant Officer Sellars held the position of i/c Stores which were situated outside the Camp in the town of Muhlberg. Here, he was billeted and at all times conducted not only his work but his personal behaviour in a most excellent manner. He handled all consignments and was able to ensure that when transport was available we were able to get it. I recommend him, knowing this work will not go by unnoticed.
2) Warrant Officer Wilson, Royal Australian Air Force.
Under Warrant Officer Littlefield, Wilson was i/c of the parcel mechanism inside the Camp. Working with a staff of six, he prepared each week a parcel for issue, and handled any complaints, shortages, etc. He was also responsible for the Doctor's stores of Invalid Food and Medical parcels.
His excellent work and efficient organisation was once again highly appreciated by myself and the Senior British Medical Officer.
3) Warrant Officer Makarewicz, R.C.A.F. No. R.97584.
When we first entered Stalag 4B, W/O Makarewicz became head of his Escape Committee. Along with a few Army personnel, they concentrated on getting men out of the Camp and back to England. He spent numerous days planning ways and means for other fellows to get away. He inaugurated the switch-over system and carried out his duty as head of the Escape Committee for nine months. After this, a re-organisation took place and Sgt. J. Seddon became the head of the organisation with Makarewicz as his assistant. Together, they planned and helped all men who escaped through the official Escape Club. Naturally, with a Camp as large as ours, many men escaped who did not contact the official Club. When possible, he helped these men too.
At all times, he conducted himself in a proper manner. I highly recommend him for his valuable service.
4) Warrant Officer Harding, R., R.A.F.
W/O Harding acted as Compound Leader of the R.A.F. in Stalag 4B, and carried out the administration in a most excellent manner. He co-operated with me at all times to keep the Army and the R.A.F. together, and at all times was available for any job that came up. His judgement and foresight were excellent. He was respected by all and together we were able to hold the control of the R.A.F. Once again, I highly recommend Warrant Officer Harding.
5) Warrant Officer Royall, B., Royal Australian Air Force.
W/O Royall looked after the interest and welfare of all men who were either awaiting or undergoing sentence in the jail. He also looked after personal kit etc. of men who had escaped. His work was a 24-hour day job, and he also helped tremendously with information he was able to get from men who had returned to the jail from escaping. He acted as part of the official Camp Escape Club. When there were 60 men awaiting jail, which means a period of 2/4 weeks in a confined area, it is understandable that all their needs must be looked after. W/O Royall did his job excellently and I highly recommend him for his contribution to the Camp.
No.R.59567 Warrant Officer Jack Washington Meyers, R.C.A.F.
I would like to draw particular attention to the splendid work of this Warrant Officer during his period of imprisonment.
While he was with me at Stalags Lufts 3 and Luft 6 he played an extremely important part in camp life, particularly in the sporting side of the camp. He was instrumental in getting basket ball, ice hockey and a number of other sports going.
At the end of July 1943, W/O Meyers was posted away from Stalag Luft 6. I had no close contact with him after this date but I heard of the good work he was doing from a number of sources and make a report herewith.
After leaving Luft 6, W/O Meyers travelled to Luft I, Stalag 7A and finally to Stalag 4B where he remained until he was liberated. On arrival he found 75 newly captured airmen of the Royal and Dominion Air Forces in the camp and was asked by them to take over the organisation as far as they were concerned. This he did in a most excellent manner. With the fall of Italy prisoners of all Services began to flow into 4B, and by the end of 1943 there were some 20,000 allied prisoners in the camp, 1500 of them being airmen and airborne troops as the Germans insisted on treating air troops as members of the R.A.F.; 9,000 army N.C.Os remained in the camp with the airmen while the rest of the 20,000 of the rank of Corporal and below were despatched by the Germans to working parties in the area. All this entailed a considerable amount of work and for a time it was done by W/O Meyers in conjunction with an army camp leader.
In February 1944, the good work of W/O Meyers was recognised when the whole camp, British and American Army and Air Force, elected him as chief Man of Confidence. He then took over the administration of the whole camp which was by then divided into 4 separate compounds. After D-day there was another great influx of British and American prisoners and by this time the administration of W/O Meyers had complete control of internal affairs so that newly arrived prisoners were deloused, fed, and housed as rapidly as possible.
The Ardennes offensive in December 1944 brought many more men to the camp and the strength increased to over 13,000. Conditions at Stalag 4B were extremely bad. Up to the end of 1944 the Germans attempted to treat British and American prisoners in the same manner as they had treated the Russians. An example of this was an order which attempted to force all British N.C.Os to salute German N.C.Os. This order was not carried out and continued protests were made by W/O Meyers in the face of threats from the enemy. Eventually, the Germans had to relax and by the beginning of 1945 the prisoners had things much more their own way. This was due mainly to the untiring efforts of W/O Meyers.
In the normal life of the camp, W/O Meyers was instrumental in getting sport, recreation and education functioning. He also played a great part in stimulating the work of the Escape Committee and in assisting escapes so that the enemy were always in trouble due to these activities.
Throughout his imprisonment W/O Meyers measured up to the standards and traditions of his Service and was an inspiration to every prisoner in the camp.
[Signed R.P.L. Mogg. W/O. RAF]
Late Adjutant Luft 6 & Stalag 357.