Stalag Luft VI

D-Day as a POW in Stalag Luft VI

(Posted: June 6, 2013)
Today marks the 69th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion! This is a page from my Father’s POW notebook.  Notice how he has notated June 6, 1944, differently than other days.  Even though he was behind barbed wire with German propaganda echoing in the air, he knew of the D-Day Invasion!!!  It was because of the POW ingenuity in the building of the crystal radios.  They smuggled parts into the camp to build the secret radios that they would keep hidden from the German guards.  It would drive the guards nuts trying to find out where they obtained their information!  This is proof that as isolated as the POWs were, through their perseverance, determination and innovation, they did everything they could to keep faith that they would some day have their freedom!

Warrant Officer Keith Oliver Perry

(Posted: May 6, 2012)

Keith Oliver Perry

Warrant Office Keith Oliver Perry was a Canadian airman serving in the 405th Squadron of the Canadian Royal Air Force in World War II.  He became a prisoner of war interned in Stalag Luft VI in Heydekrug, East Prussia.   The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that the 22-year-old airman died as a POW on August 23, 1943.   He is memorialized at the Runnymede Memorial – and on June 21, 2007, the Canadian Royal Air Force  paid honor to their fallen compatriot in an official dedication ceremony.  The ceremony was held in the Macikai Village Cemetery in the Silute District and was attended by the Canadian military personnel together with their counterparts from the Lithuanian Navy.  A monument dedicated to Warrant Officer Keith Oliver Perry was unveiled at the ceremony which was organized by the Canadian community residing in Lithuania and the Canadian Embassy.

I have written to my Lithuanian friend, Stasys, who is the historian, in 2007, who graciously agreed to guide me throughout the former camp area providing valuable information.  It is believed that the young WO Perry died from a disease.  The American Sgt. William Teaff died in Stalag Luft VI as a result of contracting diphtheria.  Dysentery also ran rampant in the camp.  My Father arrived in Heydekrug on February 21st, 1944.  It was months after the death of Keith Oliver Perry but I’ve a feeling that if Dad was still here and I asked him, he would  have known about the Canadian airman.

When I visited the camp area and cemetery in 2007 I remember the sadness that I felt for the POWs who lost their lives in Stalag Luft VI and whose remains lie in an undetermined location on the grounds.  I was heartsick  for their families.  There were two monuments which were not far from each other and they were identical.  One memorial was inscribed with the names of the Americans who died in the camp: Sgt. Walter Nies, S/Sgt. George Walker and Sgt. William Teaff.  The other was the memorial that had been dedicated just months before my visit in memory of Warrant Officer Keith Oliver Perry.  I knew of the demise of the Americans from documents that I had read but had not learned about WO Perry.  Just recently, his cousin sent an email via the web site and I have to say that it does something to me having contact with a family member of one of the young fallen heroes who I felt such great sadness for.  It could easily have been my Father who never made it out of the camp.  I recall, when I walked through the area, thinking that I would love to be able to tell their loved ones that I was there and I was thinking of their precious husband or father or brother or friend; of course the parents would have been gone by that time.  But I thought  of how tragic that it would have been for those parents to never have their precious child return home and how difficult life would have to be for them; a pain they would take to their graves.  I’m glad that I could pay homage to those who I thought about as I walked the sacred grounds.  They gave their lives for us and they should never be forgotten.  And we should never forget the sacrifices of the grieving families who would never see their loved ones again.

The “Heydekrug Run” – Stalag Luft VI to Stalag Luft IV

(Posted: March 5, 2012)

The following article is printed with permission  from page 74 of Joe O’Donnell’s “The Shoe Leather Express” – Book 1.   The famous event that is described byWarrant Officer Joseph Pamburn is a famous atrocity that my Father was also exposed to.  Dad was in this group of POWs and endured this brutal “run up the road” to Stalag Luft IV.



AN R.C.A.F. FIGHTER FIELD IN GERMANY: – Grim details of how American, British, and Canadian war prisoners were made to run a gantlet of slashing German bayonets were told Friday by liberated Canadian airman who survived the torture.

What the prisoners referred to as the “Stettin Janut” occurred last July, said Warrant Officer Joseph Pamburn, Canadian navigator from St. Boniface, Manitoba, when 800 Canadian and British and 1,000 American prisoners were made to run two miles from a train to a new camp.

Their route was lined with German marines who cut and jabbed at them with bayonets and pounded them with rifle butts, all the while yelling to them to escape – while other Germans waited to shoot them down with tommyguns if they tried.

The prisoners were moved from Stalag Luft 6 in East Prussia because of the Russian advances.  They were taken to Memel by train, then by boat to Swinemunde.

When they left the boat, Pamburn said, “we were loaded into freight cars, 24 men to a car.”

“We were on the train 24 hours, during which we had no food.” he added.

Finally removed from the train, they stood for an hour in blazing July sun, the Canadian continued.  Then young German marine guards lined their flanks with fixed bayonets and an officer yelled, “Quick March!”

“As we started running, stumbling because of our packs, the marines closed in on us,” Pamburn said.


“They slashed at our backs, shoulders and groins.  If a man stumbled or fell, he would get bayoneted or be clubbed with rifles.  The marines had German police dogs with them and the dogs would rush in at a fallen man, biting his arms and legs.”

“Everything began to swim before my eyes.  I stumbled, and a marine clubbed me with a rifle butt.  I passed out.  When I came to, a marine was standing over me with a bayonet.  I asked him why they were doing this.  He said, “Your fliers bombed our wives and children.”

Stalag Luft VI – Heydekrug, East Prussia

(Posted: January 10, 2012)

I’ve just completed the Lithuania portion of “my journal” recordings of my 2007 expedition detailing my visit to the former Stalag Luft VI Camp area.  It was Heydekrug, East Prussia, when my Dad was there and is now Silute, Lithuania.  Although Stalag Luft VI was the first of the three Camps in which my Father was interned, it was the last area that I was able to reach to complete the journey.  I was making a return trip, as part of a tour group, to the former Stalag Luft I and Stalag Luft IV areas and arranged to go to Lithuania before meeting up with the tour group in Berlin.  This entry about the first leg of the trip is detailed and maybe I’ll scale it down if I feel people are bored with it but for right now, it is what it was and that’s how I prefer it for the moment.  I’ve also added some of the dozens of photos that I took of the area.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words but the pictures can in no way do justice to the true value of my presence there.  I cannot even find the word that adequately describes the flood of feelings that I experience when walking where my Father walked as a POW.   From Lithuania, I traveled to Germany and that will be added at a future time.  This is the link to the page that I’m talking about:  The pictures are added at the end.

Stalag Luft VI – 2007

(Posted: July 23, 2011)

Following is an excerpt from my 2007 journal that I am in the process of adding to the web site. This was the year that I made it to the final area that I needed to reach to complete my mission – Stalag Luft VI (formerly Heydekrug, East Prussia; today Silute, Lithuania).

“What an effect that dad’s experience would have on him in his life – I can see in his existence as my father the things that certainly carried over from his camp life as a POW – not only results of his life as a POW but as a young man leaving his home and loved ones to defend his Country – to train as an airman and gunner and then to fly missions over enemy territory. It all combined to define his life as I knew him.”