“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

The Liberation of Stalag VIIA, at Moosburg, Part II

 

 

NOTE: This  account of the liberation of Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, Germany, on April 29, 1945, was posted by Glenn M. Strong nine years ago on the armyairforces.com site  (http://forum.armyairforces.com/Liberation-of-Stalag-VIIA-April-291945-m75144.aspx?high=Stalag+VIIA ) honoring the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation. An amalgamation of various sources, accounts, conversations, Strong’s piece captures the intense pandemonium, jubilation, and joy of that day. His father was among the POWs liberated. My father, Lt. John Cravey, was also liberated that day. Spittin’ Grits thanks strong for permission to re-post. He plans to create a presentation for next year’s 70th anniversary.

 

 

tower

The Guard Tower at Stalag VIIA,

Moosburg

 

 

In roaming the town, the 47th and the 68th uncovered almost a score of arsenals, loaded with German machine guns, pistols, rifles, panzerfausts, all sorts of small arms.
The tanks of S/Sgt. Claude E. Newton, S/Sgt. William T. Summers, Lieut. Hack and Lieut. Boucher led the chase through town; Moosberg was not all the battalion wanted. There was a bridge across the Isar River; and this bridge was blown as Newton's tank moved into the first span.

 

Among its own men liberated, the 47th found Tec/5 William Weichelt, Corp. Laufor Cobbledick, Tec/5 Edward Kulawiak, Corp. Gilbert Maines, Pfc. John Nestorek, Tec/5 John Wertz, Pfc. Verle A. Kruger, and Corp. Robert D. Hills.

German prisoners taken included boys of nine, fully uniformed and armed, and girls of 17 and 18 - also uniformed and armed.

 
By night, the Division was established along the Isar, and behind it were unbelievable scenes - mile long columns of German prisoners being marched to the rear, a light tank in front of the column and a light tank in the rear - each with its lights on full blast - and fields with 2000 Germans in a bunch, being guarded under lights, while among them lay the burned out German vehicles caught in the fight that morning, the German dead lying in grotesque positions as Graves Registration Officers moved among them preparing for burial - all the bloody incredible litter of a battlefield just passed, under the bright lights of the overwatching vehicles.

 
And through the streets roamed streams of Allied prisoners, newly freed and not quite sure what they wanted to do, but they wanted to do something.
They broke into liquor - schnapps and champagne and cognac and wine - in cellars and kitchens and wine shops and warehouses.

 
They got into food - chickens and pigs and lambs and geese, potatoes and eggs and ham and bread - in pantries and kitchens and living rooms and stores.
They found clothes - shoes and pants and shirts and coats - in closets and trunks and windows and suitcases.

 
Ex-PWs and ex-slave laborers, ex-concentration camp inmates, soldiers and civilians, men and women, young and old, from every nation in Europe, drunk or sober, crying or laughing, they roamed the streets that night and reeled along the sidewalks, singing, shouting, kissing, wearing tall silk hats gotten from God knows where, carrying stoves, geese, pictures, cross-bows and sabers.

 
Through that seething jam the American Army was trying to move back more German prisoners of war, columns four men wide and half a mile long.
And - up through the mad bacchanalia the combat troops were trying to move, tanks and endless lines of silent infantrymen from the 68th Armored Infantry Battalion, faces set and hardly seeing the weaving scene about them, eyes straight ahead and with trick men have who are going into combat of catching their lower lip and holding it caught between their teeth.

 
The dying nation dissolved into a snarling, giggling montage of human shapes, like a color fantasy on a movie screen where the eye is not able to see nor to understand, but only to snatch at endlessly shifting swirling jumbles of shapes of the wildest human emotions, and joy is translated into a dissolving cone of orange fading quickly into red and black and green and ravage

.
British ex-prisoners of war rode bicycles through the towns - freed prisoners took most of the bicycles and motorcycles and autos with which Germany was so well supplied. Slave laborers, men and women stood by every road, making a "V" with their fingers and grinning and throwing flowers. "Endlisch frei, endlich frei," said one, and a private first class of the French army introduced himself and gravely said:

"It is very fine that our governments understand each other, and our generals and ministers, but I would like to tell all the American privates first class that I am eternally indebted to them and eternally grateful."

 

NOTE: The introduction to this series here mentioned eating instructions handed out to liberated POWs. It is a yellowed crumbling document in the fragile scrapbook that my mother had put together. My sister, Susan Cravey, found the instructions and sent a photo of it to me. The content had to be transcribed.

She has the task of removing each item as carefully as possible and to put them all into high quality plastic holders or to put them on acid free paper. We hope to donate the contents to one of the U.S. Air Force’s musems.

 

POW Eating Instructions

 

HEADQUARTERS

CAMP RAMP

NORTHERN DISTRICT, NBS

COM Z, (?)TOUZA (maybe, STOUZA)

Surgeon’s Bulletin APO 562 1 May 1945

T O O U R R A M P S

T A K E T H E D O C T O R ‘ S A D V I C E

The Medical Department welcomes you - - with an armful of pills and paregoric! You have just been liberated from your enemy, the Germans. It is up to you now to liberate yourselves from your new enemy, - - your appetite and your digestive system.

After eating here several times you may begin to wonder what the score is, why the medics won’t let you gorge yourself with doughnuts and hotdogs complete with mustard and sauerkraut, about which you must have dreamed for months. You may begin to wonder why the mess supervisors won’t let you come back for seconds when you are still hungry. There’s a reason for it!

Most of you have been on a starvation diet for months. A regular diet consisting of coarse German bread and watery soup wen taken over a period of weeks and months does something to your stomach, digestive system, and entire body. You have lost tremendous amounts of weight, there have been changes in your digestive system, your skin, and other organs. You have become weak and are susceptible to diseases. You almost all have the G.I.’s.

The reason is that you lack vitamins and you have lost the proteins so necessary in building healthy, solid tissues and muscles. The lining of your stomach is sore, delicate, inflamed, and irritated. Your stomach has shrunk.

If you overload that weak, small, sore stomach of yours you will become acutely ill. Your belly will become swollen and painful. You will have cramps and your diarrhea will be much worse. Some of you will have to be hospitalized and even become very seriously ill. You must overcome this terrible craving of yours and curb your appetite. You must realize that to become well quickly and get back to normal you must eat small feedings and at frequent intervals until gradually you can once again tolerate a normal diet. The food you will be served is good and you will get more than enough. If you get hungry between meals go to the Red Cross for cocoa and egg-nog. Just don’t drink too much. The first kitchen you will go to will feed you a soft, bland, non-irritating diet. Your next kitchen will give you a diet which approaches normal. Know this for your own good.

The Medical Department advises you to obey the following rules and build yourselves gradually to the point where you can once again eat anything you want and as much as you want, without getting severely ill:

1. Eat only as much as you are given in the chow line.

2. Don’t come back for seconds.

3. Take the vitamin pills that are given to you in the mess

line (and swallow them).

4. Go to the Red Cross for egg-nogg (sic) or cocoa between

meals if you get hungry. Don’t drink more than one cup.

5. Don’t overeat. If you overload your small stomach you will

get sick.

6. Don’t eat candy, peanuts, doughnuts, frankfurters, pork,

rich gravies, liquor, spicy foods, or anything that you know

will make you sick.

7. There are three dispensaries in each of the three areas

where you will bivouac. If you move from one area to the

other, go to the dispensary in that area. Sick Call will be held

between 0800 – 1700 hours. After that come only for an

emergency. If you have trouble see your Medical Officer. He will be glad to help you.

For the Camp Surgeon:

(signature)

WALLACE W. BIXBY

CWC, USA,

Adjutant.

 

The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF
and USAF Careers Collection
clip_image002

The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF and USAF Careers Collection is protected by copyright©

The Liberation of Stalag VII at Moosburg, Part One

 

 

 

 

NOTE: This  account of the liberation of Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, Germany, on April 29, 1945, was posted by Glenn M. Strong nine years ago on the armyairforces.com site  (http://forum.armyairforces.com/Liberation-of-Stalag-VIIA-April-291945-m75144.aspx?high=Stalag+VIIA ) honoring the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation. An amalgamation of various sources, accounts, conversations, Strong’s piece captures the intense pandemonium, jubilation, and joy of that day. His father was among the POWs liberated. My father, Lt. John Cravey, was also liberated that day. Spittin’ Grits thanks strong for permission to re-post and will run Part Two tomorrow.

 

tower

 

 

It is 0600, 29 April. The attack of Combat Command A is due to be resumed at this moment. The command post is located in Puttenhausen, Germany.

 
The 47th Tank Battalion is eight miles to the southeast where it halted operations at 2300 last night. Lieut. Col. Bob E. Edward's 68th Armored Infantry Battalion is three miles north of the command post, having run into hard resistance late the preceding day and having been ordered to halt in Mainburg to avoid running into a known night ambush.

 
Soon now, reports should arrive that the battalions are moving, and the guns of Joseph J. Murtha's 500th Armored Field Artillery Battalion should be heard. At one minute before 0600 a strange group strode into the headquarters of Combat Command A, to meet Brig. Gen. C. H. Karlstad, Combat Commander. It consisted of a German Major, representing the commander of the Moosburg Allied Prisoner of War Camp, Col. Paul S. Goode of the United States Army and a Group Commander of the British Royal Air Force, the senior American and British Officers respectively, imprisoned in the Moosburg Camp; a Swiss Red Cross representative; and Lt. Col. James W. Lann. The German Major brought a written proposal from his commander for the creation of a neutral zone surrounding Moosburg, all movement of Allied troops in the general vicinity of Moosburg to stop while representatives of the Allied and German Governments conferred on disposition of the Allied Prisoners of War in that vicinity.

The German proposals were rejected and the party was given until 0900 to return to Moosburg and to submit an unconditional surrender offer - or receive the American attack at that hour; a CCA staff officer was dispatched to General Smith.


German SS troops moved outside the city and set up a defense perimeter. They opened the fight.

 
By 1030 the SS were lying dead in the fields and along the roads, grey-white faces and open mouths, twisted and staring sightlessly at the cold, blue sky above; and American medium tanks were roaring through the cobbled streets of the ancient city.

 
The 47th had split in two columns, one led by Maj. Kirchner and the other by Col. Lann; and Gen. Karlstad went into the city with the 47th. Gen. Karlstad picked up a German officer as guide, and with Lieut. Joseph P. Luby and Lieut. William J. Hodges took off for the prison camp proper.

 
The jeep mounted a .30 caliber machine gun; as it swung up, there were several score armed German guards outside. Luby rolled into their midst, his jeep stopped, and with his hand on the gun called: "Achtung!" The group surrendered.


General Smith arrived at the camp shortly thereafter; an American flag was raised.


Official estimates of the total Allied prisoners freed at Moosburg were 110,000, including an estimated 30,000 Americans, officers and men. Besides a series of seven prisoner of war camps, the Division captured a German garrison of 6,000 men at Moosburg.

 
Once the sharp, pitched battle by the SS was over, the German defenses crumbled. The 600-man 47th Tank Battalion took 2,000 prisoners; the 600-man 94th Reconnaissance Squadron took 2,000 more. Division total for the day was set at 12,000.

 
Scenes of the wildest rejoicing accompanied the tanks as they crashed through the double 10-foot wire fences of the prison camps. There were Norwegians, Brazilians, French, Poles, Dutch, Greeks, Rumanians, Bulgars. There were Americans, Russians, Serbs, Italians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Australians, British, Canadians - men from every nation fighting the Nazis. There were officers and men. Twenty-seven Russian Generals, sons of four American Generals. There were men and women in the prison camps - including three Russian women doctors. There were men of every rank and every branch of service, there were war correspondents and radio men.

 
Around the city were thousands of slave laborers, men and women.

 
All combined to give the 14th the most incredible welcome it ever received. The tanks were finally slowed to five miles an hour as they went through the camps - the press of men in front of them was so great. Men, some of them prisoners five years, some American Air Corps men prisoners two years, cried and shouted and patted the tanks.
"You damned bloody Yanks, I love you!" shouted a six-foot four Australian and threw his arms around a jeep driver.

 
A weary bearded American paratrooper climbed on a tank and kissed the tank commander. Tears streamed from his cheeks. The women had flowers, and they threw the flowers on the tanks and in the jeeps. Italians and Serbs, tired and drawn, jammed around the vehicles, eagerly thrusting out their hands to touch their liberators, weeping.
An American Air Corps lieutenant kissed a tank. "G*****n, do I love the ground forces," he said. "This is the happiest day of my life!" "You were a long time coming, but now you are here!" There were no words to express the feelings of these men.

As the German guards were formed in columns of four and marched away, each man carrying two or three loaves of black bread, some of the tankers took the bread from them and tossed it over the fences to the Allied prisoners.


Tec/5 Floyd C. Mahoney of C-47 freed his own son, a lieutenant in the Air Corps.

Part II, tomorrow’s post.

 

Allied Command-ed

The Allied Command at Liberation

 

 

Other sites: http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/indeng.html,

 

Honoring Two World War II Liberations

On May 7, 1985, a clear and sunny late spring day in Alabama, my father, my aunts (his sisters), my husband and children, our dog and cats, maybe my sister and cousin — all gathered outside on the patio to eat. Dessert was a huge pound cake I had made — dad’s favorite — with real butter and bourbon instead of vanilla. My paternal grandmother, who may never had had a drop of whiskey in her life, taught me that little trick. So, how did she know the bourbon would make a great substitute?
We were there to celebrate dad’s 70th birthday. Seems like we celebrated most occasions with food, lots of food.

After eating too much, I saw dad sort of staring into space. I asked him if he wanted anything.

Still kind of off in space he said, “You know, on my 30th birthday, I was wandering the streets of Moosburg with a friend from camp begging for food. He was an architect, as I recall. No thanks, I don’t need any more food.”
Preserving the Past for the Future
 
 
The tower at Stalag VIIA. More pictures are available at
 http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/indeng.html
 
At Thanksgiving 2012, my sister, Susan Cravey, first cousin, Emory Kimbrough, and I were in my study going through the fragile scrapbook my mother had put together during those years, trying to decided how to save and preserve all the pictures, telegrams, documents, letters, pieces of parachute, German money — all manner of stuff. I came across a yellowed crumbling piece of paper which was a handout to the POWs explaining how they should eat in the days after being liberated and in a starving condition. It read something like the following (on the Web at http://ww2db.com/doc.php?q=165):
 
Hints on Diet During Recuperative Leave for Liberated Prisoners of War
1 Jan 1945
As a result of the privations you have endured as a prisoner of war, you have probably lost weight, and it is natural to think that the more food you eat the sooner will you recover your lost weight and strength. But you must remember that your physique as well as your weight may be temporarily below par, and this includes your digestive system. Just as you need rest at first and your muscles require gradual retraining, so your digestive system requires rest at first and then retraining in the handling of the sort of foods you normally like to eat.
To get your digestive system back to normal as quickly as possible a few simple rules that you should follow, especially if you are having trouble with your digestion, are given in the dietetic instructions below. You should show these notes and the following instructions to anyone who is giving you your meals, so that they can understand why you have to be careful about eating for a time, and what they should give you to eat.

  1. Don't overload your stomach. Avoid heavy meals, and instead, eat small amounts frequently. Try eating three light meals a day, with three snacks of biscuits and milk variety - two between meals and one last thing at night.
  2. Remember that your digestion is weak, and at first give your stomach foods easy to handle.
    Eat: Foods such as milk and milk puddings, eggs, cereals, toast or bread, biscuits, preserves, cake, and fish and tender meat if you can eat these without discomfort.
    Avoid at first: Fatty or fried foods, bulky vegetables, raw salads or fruit, highly seasoned dishes, twice-cooked meats, pickles and spices, rich, heavy puddings and pastries, strong tea and coffee.
    Beer and other alcoholic drinks are hard on a weak stomach, and you should take these very sparingly, if at all, for the first few days at least.
 
Freedom
Tomorrow marks the 69th Anniversary of two major World War II Liberations that were occurring at just about the same moments on April 29, 1945: first, the unspeakable Dachau, on which much has been written and reported and which we can all honor in our own ways. (See http://www.thirdreichruins.com/dachau.htm, for example.)

And of Stalag VIIA, Moosburg, Germany. Moosburg, (sometimes spelled Moosberg), as that stalag has come to be known, was built to hold about 10,000 German Prisoners of War (POWs).

On 30 April, 1945, the New York Times wrongly reported: "Huge Prison Camp Liberated...27,000 American and British prisoners of war at a large camp at Moosburg."
The following day, the Times printed a correction: "The Fourteenth Armored Division liberated 110,000 Allied prisoners of war at Stalag 7A at Moosburg, instead of the 27,000 prisoners previously reported. This was Germany's largest prisoner of war camp."
 
Tomorrow Spittin’ Grits will honor that liberation of 110,000 German POWs, including my father, by running a two-part account by G. M. Strong, the son of another of those POWs, a piece which he wrote commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Liberation. Following is the Preface to his account:
 
Liberation of Stalag VIIA, April 29, 1945
Today is the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Stalag VIIA Moosburg, Germany. Thousands of Allied airmen and soldiers, as many as 80,000 were in the Lager (all nationalities). Some had been POWs for over 4 years. American and British airmen had been marched in the bitter cold in January from Sagan SL III and from SL IV. This was the single largest liberation of POWs in Europe and a day not to be forgotten. As one of Patton's tanks tore a huge hole in the wire, thousands of men were now free once more. As the American flag rose over the clock tower in the town there was first silence and then pandemonium of cheers and tears. Later, when General Patton came in and addressed the Kriegies, his first words to them were said to be, "I'll bet you sons-a-b*****s are glad to see me.” They were. My dad was one of them. Bless'em all.
 
 
The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF
and USAF Careers Collection


The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF and USAF Careers Collection is protected by copyright© 




























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