Stalag Luft 6 and 4 Notebook – “Hold of Boat”

(Posted: July 8, 2011)


I had no idea what this meticulous drawing might be of until I showed it to other ex-POWs. They thought it to be the hold of the boat that my father and hundreds of others were transported in from Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug to Stalag Luft IV in Gross Tychow on July 15, 1944. It was apparent and inevitable to the men that they would be evacuated from Stalag Luft VI as they were in the path of the Russian’s as they advanced the front. The gunfire could be heard in the distance. The men had secretly been preparing for their exit fashioning backpacks out of shirts and trying to hoard any food items possible for their next venture into the unknown. Food had never been plentiful and holes were poked by the German guards in the cans to make sure that the prisoners didn’t hoard them for a planned escape.

One could never be free of fear of what the future held in store. No one could plan for the ambiguous journey faced by all. Could this be it – could they be on the road to imminent execution? They had to wonder every day if it would be the day that they would die. And now they were on the move to where? Would they be exterminated? The threat of the loss of life was constantly looming. They were well aware of the execution of 50 POW’s who had escaped from Stalag Luft III in Sagan. Warnings had been issued to deter any future escape attempts and the treatment of the POW’s would take a turn for the worse. The guards in charge of the escapees from Sagan were punished and the guards now wanted to make sure they did not have to face any punishment because of any prisoner’s escape. They would teach the POW’s who was boss. The elected “Man of Confidence” would no longer have a voice in governing the camp.

The route of the inmates began at the train station where the men were loaded into the infamous 40 and 8 boxcars and were taken to the Port of Memel in two different groups. One group of Americans was loaded into the hold of the old coal cargo ship Masuren and the British and the remaining Americans were transported in the Insteberg. I cannot be positive which old steamer that my father would have to board. I know that it is stated in his notebook that he left camp on July 15th and I have read conflicting reports as to which boat left on which date. What I do believe is that the conditions were no better in one than the other and the men were subjected to the same hardships. They did not depart from the port too many hours apart and they experienced the same discomfort and concerns regarding the possibility of the boats triggering mine explosions from the mines that were known to have been dropped in those waters.

The men descended into the dark dismal hold down a ladder. They were on top of each other. They would cry that there was no more room but the guards kept herding them down on top of the others. A single bucket was lowered for their waste which could not accommodate the numbers and it was believed that the same bucket was lowered with water. Consequently, they were given no food or drinkable water during the boat ride. Many of the men became sick and all were subjected to the heat and stench of the crowded bunkers. It has been told that on board one of these boats one of the severely depressed prisoners who could no longer tolerate the extreme conditions jumped overboard and was immediately shot by the guards. I’ve no way of knowing if my father would have witnessed this tragic end to the life of one who was obviously mentally disturbed and driven to such a suicidal act by the present situation and fear of the future. The deplorable conditions and brutal treatment of the prisoners who were transported so inhumanely from Heydekrug was additional physical and mental torture for this group of men who at this stage were enduring treatment as less than animals. This Baltic cruise took two arduous days before they would arrive at the port of Swinemunde.

Surely dad would not have been able to sketch this finely detailed picture while cramped in the overcrowded miserable atmosphere engulfed with dysentery and lice infestation. I imagine that staring for two days at this space would imbed the image in your mind and that is what appears to have occurred in my father’s case.

This transfer by boat of the prisoners from Stalag Luft VI to Stalag Luft IV is one of the very notable incidents experienced by this particular group of POW’s. The very presence of this sketch in dad’s notebook is indicative of this.

45 responses to “Stalag Luft 6 and 4 Notebook – “Hold of Boat””

  1. easy diets says:

    Hello, thanks a lot for the great post. I was hoping to sign up to your feed. However unfortunately it never seem to be working at all. Am I the only one with this problem? I’ll come back in a day or so to check back. Regardless thank you so much again for the article.

  2. Greetings! Thank you for your thoughtful post!

  3. jocuri sue says:

    Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, as well as the content!

  4. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, as well as the content!

  5. swatch swiss says:

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  6. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!

  7. I was very happy to seek out this web-site.I needed to thanks for your time for this excellent learn!! I positively having fun with each little little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you weblog post.

  8. I’m often to running a blog and i really respect your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and preserve checking for brand spanking new information.

  9. ipad 2 free says:

    Great review! You actually covered some curious things on your blog. I came across it by using Bing and I’ve got to admit that I already subscribed to the site, it’s very great 🙂

  10. my article says:

    Thank you for a great post.

  11. cool article says:

    Thank you for a great post.

  12. GREAT REVIEW! I pretty much agree with all you said in your post, especially at the beggining of your article. Thank you, your post is very useful as always. Plase check my free ipad 2 blog, hope you will find interesting information about free ipad 2 there! Keep up the good work! You’ve got +1 more reader of your web blog:) Isabella S.

  13. Mahuya Rama says:

    hey admin, your blog pages style is very good and i like it. Your discussions are extraordinary. Please keep them coming. Greets!!!!

  14. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  15. Hanan Loyal says:

    I would just like to let you know how much I learnt from your website Tweeted it.Hope 2 be back soon for some more goodies

  16. Hi!, Very interest angle, we were talking about the same thing at work and found your site very stimulating. So simply had to com?ment a huge thank you for all your effort. Please keep up the great work your doing!

  17. matt laclear says:

    Good points

  18. It’s good to educate – thanks for sharing your mind.

  19. Down Sketch says:

    Amazing, your post is really spectacular. I must say that from now your weblog will turn into one of my favorites. Keep it heading pal !

  20. Very inspirational post! Thank you!

  21. Thanks for the articles. Looks very good indeed. Will keep an eye out.

  22. Helpful post and thanks for sharing. Several things in here I have never thought about before, I want to use this moment to say that I really like this blog. It has been an excellent resource of knowledge for me. Thank you so much!

  23. Thank you for a great post.

  24. click here says:

    Thank you for a great post.

  25. Well put from a fantastic blogger

  26. + Hello Sir I love your posts alot. Will bookmark.
    Thanks for sharing. ;-D

  27. Can I just say what a relief to find somebody who really knows what theyre speaking about on the internet. You definitely know how you can carry a difficulty to gentle and make it important. More folks must learn this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant believe youre no more common because you definitely have the gift.

  28. rtyecript says:

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

  29. Pretty impressive article. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your opinions. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  30. Darius Dease says:

    Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.

  31. I love reading this blog. Keep up the good work!

  32. Ella Pilgrim says:

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  33. I believe this is a real great post.Really thank you! Maintain writing.

  34. Sam says:

    really liked what that you published actually. it really isnt that simple to discover great posts to read (you know really READ and not simply browsing through it like some zombie before going to yet another post to just ignore), so cheers mate for really not wasting my time!

  35. Alfred Baff says:

    Many thanks for an incredible submit, would examine your particular others content. thank you your thinking for this, I experienced a trifle struck by this article. Thanks again! You wanna make a good aspect. Displays the beauty through excellent info here. I do think if a greater number of people thought of it like this, they’d have got a better moment in time get the grasp ofing the difficulty.

  36. Ardisher says:

    Hi there absolutely everyone. I was just surfing the web for entertaining and arrived on your site. Wonderful submit. Many thanks an awful lot for sharing your practical experience! It really is fine to find out that some individuals nonetheless set in an effort into controlling their webpages. I’ll make sure you examine back again

  37. Uncovered your short article really intriguing without a doubt. I really liked reading it and you simply make really some excellent points. I’ll bookmark this web-site for the potential! Relly great short article.

  38. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is simply great and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the rewarding work.

  39. Dave Yatsko says:

    Very interesting. My father, John Yatsko, was one of the POW’s that survived that boat ride from Heydekrug. One of the more interesting stories is what happened after the POW’s landed at Swinemunde. Picard, the Stalag Luft IV commandant, forced the POW’s to “run” from the port to the compound handcuffed to 2 or 3 other POW’s through a forest. Dad didn’t know this but later I found out that the Germans had machine gun nests hidden in the forest hoping some POW’s would try to escape so they could kill them and not have to care for them at the camp. So far I’ve not had any indication that any POW’s tried to escape. If a malnourished, tired or weak POW would go down, he would take his buddies with them and the guards would sic dogs on them to bite them. If that didn’t work then the guards would poke them with bayonets, forcing them to get up and continue the run. Dad would always say “You can beat an American to within an inch of his life, give him a minute to recuperate and he will make a joke out of it”. He used this event as an example. When Dad went down, he said there was a dog about an inch from his face and the guard was hitting the dog with the butt of his gun trying to get the dog to bite my Dad. Dad got up and finished the run to the camp without getting bitten. The POW’s flopped to the ground and after a few minutes when they got to the camp and one of Dad’s buddies caught his breath and said to Dad, “Hey, Yats, why didn’t you bite that son-of-a-bitch dog in the face?!!!” That got a few giggles out of the men.

    I don’t mind being contacted by others to talk about “The Greatest Generation”.
    davidyat@roadrunner.com

  40. Remember History says:

    Thank you for your interesting comment about your Father’s experience in this infamous transfer of our Dad’s from Stalag Luft VI to Stalag Luft IV. It’s incredible that your Father survived that run up the road without getting bitten! Their perseverance and endurance is amazing! I have never heard of any escape attempts during that “Heydekrug Run” either. I was told by one of my POW friends, Oscar “Mick” Wagelie, that he credited Frank Paules, their Camp Leader, with saving many lives that day as he encouraged the prisoners to stay on the road and not try to escape. He knew that there were hidden machine gun nests in the forest. My friend also told me that he believed there were many dog bites and bayonet wounds that remained untreated and that there was also one death due to the injuries inflicted.

  41. Thank you for any other great post. Where else may anyone get that kind
    of information in such an ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent
    week, and I’m at the search for such info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.