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

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