Fifteen years ago I participated in publishing a book about the occupation of St. Wendel County, State of Saarland, Germany, by Patton's Third Army, XX Corps, 10th Armored and 80th Infantry Division. Every village of the county was described there, its situation in the war and finally the circumstances of its occupation. There was something special on the village of Bubach because in April 1944 a B-17 had belly-landed on a hill outside town. And the author of the Bubach article found a photo of this plane and it was published in the book.
My friend Klaus Zimmer from St. Ingbert-Hassel started research about this plane and the circumstances of its 'landing'. He found the 92nd Bomb Group and finally located five members of the former crew and the ME-109 pilot who was credited with the kill. In April 1996 two members - tail gunner Blaylock and ball turret gunner McKenzie - came to St. Wendel county for a special reunion in Germany - a really big event for both Americans and Germans. This also started my research on this subject when we found that more than 10 planes of different nations crashed in our county in Second World War. Other crew members of other planes came and also members of other units, f.e. of the 10th Armored Division.
Finally - in 1996 - I found a very short note in a book about military units in German towns saying that there was a Stalag Luft VI at. St. Wendel, my hometown. But whom to ask about his? There was no Internet access at that time. But I was given name and phone number of Leonard Rose, chairman of the Stalag-Luft-IV Historical Association. So I rang the phone and called him. He was very helpful. Yes, he told me, he knew of St. Wendel and he had a list of several veterans who were at St. Wendel in the war. Some of them had visited the town later but there was no evidence of a camp and no one seemed to dare to remember it.
Well, people didn't dare to remember there was nothing to remember. The flak area was a forbidden or secret zone. No civilian was allowed to enter and no one knew what was going on there. I finally located three Germans in St. Wendel and talked to them. They had their basic training in the flak area but in 1939 and then were commanded somewhere else (one of them told me his first contact to American flyers was in late 1943 in Schweinfurt when he was sitting at the other end of a 8.8-AA-gun). That was the closest information I could get. Everyone knew there was a flak position and there had been barracks. But that's all. No one ever heard of the camp.
Later I found a document written after the war listing all the different camps at or near St. Wendel, most of them work camps for Russian or French POWs. This document - courtesy of Michael Landau, Niederlinxweiler - states there was a camp in the flak area for British officers coming from the East, staying for about six weeks and then going back the east. And there was no name list of the prisoners. That's it.
Finally: this is not my end of work but a summary or better documentation of all the letters you wrote to me during the last two years to tell you that I did not forget you.
Thank you so much for your help.
St. Wendel, Germany, Feb. 28, 1945
South Eastern Region