Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How old were you when you were taken prisoner?
A. I was 20 years old.
Q. How could an 1801 map of Germany be useful to plan POW escape routes in 1944?
A. Actually, it was very useful. It had roads, rivers and villages in great detail. You would want to use secondary roads and pathways to avoid capture.
Q. Why did you write this book?
A. As a result of a question my nine-year-old granddaughter, Nicole, asked me in 1998.
Q. How did you remember all the details shown in your story?
A. While in the service I had a habit of writing letters or notes whenever we had a break. I kept a secret daily record or "Log" of our experiences and used this for an accurate reference as I wrote this story.
Q. Was the German food good?
A. No! German rations generally were limited to some very poor military black bread, watery soup, and 2 or 3 small potatoes, and ersatz coffee, per day, if we were lucky. This critical problem was obviously a major concern for our existence.
Q. Did you receive mail from home regularly?
A. No, I had only one letter - just 16 days before we were liberated. After we were liberated I received 5 letters that Irene had written three months earlier. She had written to me every day.
Q. Did you get packages of food or clothing from your family or relatives?
A. None, even though many packages were sent.
Q. Did you receive International Red Cross food parcels?
A. We were supposed to get one food parcel per man per week, but that never happened. The contents of the various Red Cross parcels from different countries and how we split up a parcel between several hungry POWs is detailed in this Log. I honestly do not believe I would have survived without the Red Cross parcels.
Q. What was the weather like?
A. Generally the weather was similar to what I experienced in central New York, except the winter of 1944-45 set record low temperatures in Germany.
Q. What were the barracks like?
A. Terrible! They varied some from one compound to another; but were poorly constructed. These unheated, un-insulated, one-story buildings housed over twice the number of POWs for which they were built.
Q. What were your beds like?
A. If you can call them "beds." We called them stacks. They were wooden and wire-framed units holding twelve bug-infested POWs. More graphic descriptions are in the Log.
Q. Did each barracks have bathrooms and showers?
A. I have to grit my teeth and hold my tongue when asked this type of question. I believe I had three showers while a prisoner. We had one slow-flowing water faucet for 240 men.
The Aborts (outside latrine) cannot be described politely here - my book does a better job.