home: Brillion, WI 54110
Thank you so much for your letter of September 4th. I had received a letter from Leonard Rose in August, so I was aware of your interest in the POW camp in St. Wendel.
First of all, I would like to tell you that my wife, Melva, and I made a trip to Germany in 1972 and drove to St. Wendel in search of the camp that was called Stalag-Luft No. 6. However, we could find no trace of the camp, but we did visit your city. Unfortunately, when we asked for information, no one could help us. I have a large map of Germany hanging above my desk with St. Wendel marked with a big arrow, so I am reminded of your city very often.
More than 53 years have passed since I was at St. Wendel, so my memory is faded. But I can remember being there in mid-August to early September, 1944.
It is interesting to note your name as Roland Geiger, since we have about 25 people with the same last name as yours in our little town of 3,000 population. We are of Germany ancestry and I was from a family who spoke German - in fact, I could speak very little English until I was six years old.
Unfortunately, the German I spoke was a mixture of English and German. But, when I was captured (I landed in a lake near Berlin) and I used the best German I knew and I think it probably helped save my life.
My memories of St. Wendel are limited, but still very vivid. We were held in a building that was previously used as a garage for repairing vehicles. There were similar buildings nearby that continued to be used by the German army to service cars, trucks and motorcycles.
My impression was that it (the camp) was hastily converted to a military prison camp and was only a temporal arrangement. When we left three weeks later, there weren't any other prisoners waiting to take our place.
I can remember any of the landmarks that you mentioned in your letter - the big monastry at the top of the hill - or the two hospitals. We really didn't get to see much of the city, either from the yard around the garage, or on our way to the camp or when we left. We did experience a lot of air raids (by the RAF and US bombers) while we were there, so we assumed that there must have been some military objective nearby.
Even though I am 74 years old, I still have a keen interest in the history of Germany in WWII since I spent almost a year in your country in 1944-45. We were on a forced march for 86 days from Stalag Luft 4 near Stettin near the Baltic Sea to an area south of Hamburg when we were liberated on May 2, 1945. We had marched somewhere between 600 and 700 miles along the Baltic and south-west during that time.
As I mentioned, Brillion is a small town in Northeast Wisconsin about 100 miles north of Milwaukee about 30 miles south of Green Bay (home of the 1996 Superbowl Champions). My wife and I have lived here all our lives.
We are both retired in 1983 and we are still in the same house that we built in 1964. We have two daughters, both married and four grand-children.
Hopefully, you had a good time and a nice visit while you were here in the States. We had two trips to Germany since WW2 - one in 1972 and again in 1985. We enjoyed your country and your people, especially since my earlier visit was less pleasant.
Mit freundlichen Grussen
8th AF 351st BG 508 BS
Pilot: Lt. Pattison
Plane: "Umbriago" ==> "J" in a triangle
1. on August 6th, 1944, over Berlin
2. to a small civilian jail near Berlin. Then to Oberursel and Wetzlar
3. I think by train
4. don't remember
5. sorry, I can't
6. as I remember about 3 weeks from August 15th to September 5, 1944
7. I think about 200
8. all US Airmen (non commissioned)
9. it was an abandoned garage with a ground floor. There was a fence around it and guards were posted.
10. we were put in box cars (40 x 8s) and spent five days en route to Stalag Luft IV
11. we had many air raid warnings. I don't know if there was a military target nearby. However, no bombs ever hit our camp - no one was injured - but we were scared.
12. yes, in 1972
13. again, I'm sorry I can be of no help. Unfortunately, I have very few mementos from my POW-life in Germany.
B-17 G # 42-102971
8AF 351 BG 508 BS
target Berlin, airfield of Brandenburg
type of mission: heavy bombardement
base: AAF Sta 110
weather: small cumulus top estimated 6 bis 8000 feet, visibility good
06.08.1944, ca. 1230, bei Berlin
P Pattison Paul F. 1Lt O-753921
Co Parker Francis H. 2Lt O-750829 KIA
Nav Roberts Leonard B. 1Lt O-702178 KIA
Bomb Chamberlain Roland H. 2Lt O-887028 KIA
TT Bullock Clyde U. TSgt 39550204
ROp Riemer Winfred O. SSgt 36806537
WG Smith John R. Sgt 37354448
BT Espinoza Frank L. Sgt 39243233
TG Bessanson Clarence A. Sgt 38167272
Statement by BT Espinoza:
1Lt Paul F. Patterson was in officer's camp in Germany. All of us (those who didn't die) bailed out, were in Stalag Luft 4 - Germany. And all five of us were in constant contact till liberated (Bullock, Reimer, Espinoza, Smith, Bessansun).
Plane was strafed rom 6 o'clock. At 20,000 by fighters, it set plane one fire and were ordered to bail out.
KU 667A (or 887A)
personal property of Sergeant Clyde Bullock (listed)
personal property of Paul B. Pattison
document by Airfield-HQ 79/III, Werder, Havel, A. Kother, Captain