|Stalag VII A: Oral history|
A.L. (Bud) Lindsey
A Soda Jerk Goes to War
By A.L. (Bud) Lindsey
Our normal day started before daylight, the exact time could not be noted by myself as the young German guard had requested my Elgin back in the Vosges Mountains in France. But, we did not need watches as the Germans set our schedules and knowing the time was unnecessary. We were roused before daylight, filed out of the barracks and stood in ranks for "rappel" (roll call). If we were slow exiting the barracks, the Germans would send in a guard dog to hasten the process. Naturally these dogs were German Shepherds. After the roll call we would have a short time to go to the latrine. We received a cup of a hot drink which the Germans called coffee, bearing no resemblance to Folger's, Maxwell House or Early Bird brands. One report stated that the ersatz coffee was made from oak leaves and coal. The best you could say of it was it was hot. That was breakfast.
We would then be ready to be called out to march to the railway depot in Moosburg, only a short distance from the camp. We would be loaded into the famous 40 and 8 European boxcars for the trip to Munich. These box cars were designed to hold forty men or eight horses, hence the name 40 and 8. The Germans must have called them "100 and 8" as they would crowd about 100 of us in each car. As the weather was very cold it was beneficial that we were so crowded in order to share each other's body heat and perhaps a parasite or two.
Weather permitting, we slid the large doors of the boxcars open so we could have some air circulation and see the countryside. The short distance between Moosburg and the railroad terminal at Munich was pretty, with woods, fields and some small streams. We even could see deer grazing in some of the fields, which were viewed by us a potential meal rather than as a part of the scenery.
Most of the German guards were older - perhaps veterans of WWI - some being in their forties. Some may have been wounded previously and the guard duty at Stalag VII A would have been considered as easy duty. None could speak English and none of our group could speak German, except for a very few words, so we and they utilized signs and body language to communicate. Ted Doty, one of the men in our tier of bunks, recently reminded me of a guard whom we called "Charlie." Charlie was one of the older guards and was a good sort. We were lucky when we drew Charlie as one of the two guards who drew the duty of guarding a group of ten POWs while working Munich as Charlie, and other guards of his temperament, would allow the POWs to trade with civilian women which was verboten. We recalled one cold morning as we boarded the boxcars in Moosburg and the guard Charlie was designated to be in our box car. The boxcars were rather high off the ground and it was a giant step to get into the opening. Charlie had some trouble getting in so he handed his rifle to one of us, we helped him in and politely handed back his rifle. I've often wondered if Charlie - we never knew his real name - survived the war and, if so, how he spent his life.
WESTERN UNION TELEGRAM DJ119 33 GOVT=WUX WASHINGTON DC MAR 9 355P MRS ESTHER I LINDSEY 1103 SOUTH CHINA ST BRADY TEX= REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS STATES THAT YOUR SON PRIVATE ADRIAN L LINDSEY IS A PRISONER OF WAR OF THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT LETTER OF INFORMATION FOLLOWS FROM PROVOST MARSHAL GENERAL= ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL.
It is interesting to me that the telegram advising my family of the fact I was a POW was dated March 9, 1945, more than three months after my capture in Southeastern France. I have no idea as to the delivery date of the single letter home from Stalag VII A, written in late December of 1944.
We worked most days in Munich with the days off being on Sunday and when the trains could not run because of the damage caused by the air raids of the previous day or night by the British and American Air Forces. It was very evident the war was being won by our side, the good guys, as at night we could see and hear the raids by the British RAF on the rail yards in Munich and Augsburg. Some days there would be a steady stream of contrails from B-17s visible in the sky.
The only German aircraft we observed in the sky over Moosburg was one of the early jet fighters, one of the few which the Germans manufactured. The pilot would fly, more than on one occasion, at a low altitude near Stalag VII A and disappear in the distance with a roar. Of course, we did not know, other than the object being an aircraft, what in the Sam Hill was that.
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