|Stalag VII A: Oral history|
A.L. (Bud) Lindsey
A Soda Jerk Goes to War
By A.L. (Bud) Lindsey
In recent years I have read more than one report or story concerning the actual liberation of Stalag VII A by Patton's 14th Armored Division. In a book written by Kenneth Simmons, supposedly General George Patton sent a staff car under a white flag to Moosburg to negotiate the surrender of the camp. According to his story, a meeting was held but the German commandant turned down Patton's request to surrender at the insistence of a colonel in the S.S. who was present with the German delegation. An American general, Major General Smith, a member of Patton's staff, then informed the German delegation they would attack at 8:00 AM the next morning. The ensuing fight for the camp and Moosburg included fighter planes strafing the guard towers.
Another report obtained from the interrogations of former POWs, told a slightly different story of the same event. In this story, the contact between the commandant of the German forces and Patton's Division was initiated by the Germans, sending a vehicle occupied by two Swiss representatives, the German commandant, an officer from the S. S. and a British representative from the POWs to the American lines. After a meeting with a general from Patton's Division, the plan was rejected by the American general. Immediately after the vehicle returned to Moosburg and the prison camp, the battle started. This report of the battle of short duration does not mention the use of fighter planes, but does mention the death of one POW which happened, according to the story, when a shell hit a barracks.
My recollection agrees with the notes which I made on the day after the liberation in my little address booklet. I was in the North lager at the time, which was next to a large cultivated field containing potatoes. That morning I saw a German soldier running across the field, heading away from the advancing American forces, carrying what looked like an ammunition box, but no rifle. I remember hearing the small arms fire, which included the sounds of burp guns firing and the slower BARs of the Americans, but do not remember hearing the sound of cannon fire. I certainly would have remembered fighter planes strafing the guard towers. However, earlier there was smaller plane, such as a Piper Cub spotter, flying over the camp.
At any rate, we were free and we were very happy!
WESTERN UNION TELEGRAM DL5 23 GOVT=WUX WASHINGTON DC JUNE 3 521P MRS. ESTHER I LINDSEY 1103 SOUTH CHINA ST BRADY TEX= THE SECRETARY OF WAR DESIRES ME TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON PVT LINDSEY ADRIAN L RETURNED TO MILITARY CONTROL 29 APR 45= J A UL10 THE ADJUTANT GENERAL
V-Mail letter, dated may 14, 1945, France. The return address is: Pvt. A.L. Lindsey 38559376, RAMP, 1103 S. China, Brady, Texas. (This was written from Le Havre, France, Camp Lucky Strike, while waiting for ship back to the States)
WESTERN UNION TELEGRAM DH 14 42 GOVT=WASHINGTON DC JUNE 19 1120P MRS ESTHER I LINDSEY= 1103 SOUTH CHINA ST BRADY TEX= THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY DIRECTS ME TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON PVT LiNDSEY ADRIAN L IS BEING RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE NEAR FUTURE AND WILL BE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU UPON ARRIVAL= J A ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL
I don't know if the young American girl, who showed up at Stalag VII A only two days after we were overrun by the American forces, was in uniform or not. She may have been some type of correspondent or with the Red Cross. Needless to say, there was quite a throng of smelly, dirty and otherwise uncouth POWs crowded around.
There is a name in my little address book, Mary Small, ARC, from Boston, Massachusetts. This could have been the young lady and she must have been from the American Red Cross, thus the acronym "ARC" in my book after her name.
I was told, or perhaps read in an account of the events of April 29, 1945, that the Red Cross showed up with doughnuts and American coffee. If this is true, I missed the whole thing. Certainly I would have remembered being offered a doughnut.
The action of the American tank which ran through the main gate at Stalag VII A that morning on April 29, 1945, was only symbolic as the camp guards had all but ceased their duties as guards of POWs. For the last few days the guards in the North Lager had been letting groups of POWs out into a potato field which bordered the camp to dig potatoes. They would count off a group, let them through the fence, then count them back in.
General Patton visited Stalag VII A soon after the American forces overran the camp. He was sporting his famous pearl-handled six-shooters and speaking, so I heard, in rather graphic language when referring to the Germans, stating he was going to whip certain parts of their blankety-blank anatomies all the way to Berlin. I did not see the General during his visit.
After the excitement of our release ebbed somewhat many of the former POWs took a tour of the small town of Moosburg, one of which was myself. A few of the newly freed men evidently found something to drink stronger than the local water, commandeered the local fire truck and drove around town yelling and taking on. What I really wanted more than anything else was a slice or two of white bread, but none was available. The arriving American forces were not equipped to feed or otherwise take care of the problems involved with such a great number of men, though the individual soldiers handed out what supplies they had with them.
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