Excerpts from Joe O’Donnell’s Diary of Days Spent in Stalag Luft IV-Part 2

(Posted: March 18, 2012)

Following is a continuation of excerpts from Joe O’Donnell’s diary as written in his publication of “The Shoe Leather Express” Book 1. 

From Page 82:

“Saturday, November 18, 1944 – Cold and snowing today.  At about 6:50P.M. we had a roll call inside, also a file check.  The Jerrys brought in the identification cards with our photographs, etc., on.  No wonder they call us gangsters.  By the looks of those pictures they’re not far from wrong.”

“Sunday, November 19, 1944 – Rained the biggest part of the day.  Went to church this afternoon, roll call.  The gramaphone was in the barracks again tonight. (Memories return.)”

“Monday, November 20, 1944 – Went to the camp show today, pretty good.  Two fellows were shot this morning, reasons unknown.”

“Tuesday, November 21, 1944 – Rainy and a high wind today.  No letter last night.  Same routine today.  All library books were called in due to the fact that too many were missing.”

“Wednesday, November 22, 1944 – Rain.  It is rumored that we will go on full parcel of Red Cross next week.  Chow is now 6:30 P.M.  Library not open yet.”

“Thursday, November 23, 1944 – Heavy snow this morning, rain this afternoon.  We have now a dart board in the barracks.  Not very good though.”

“Friday, November 24, 1944 – Rain.  Full Red Cross parcel came in today.”

“Saturday, November 25, 1944  – Rain and warm.  Nothing much ado today.”

“Sunday, November 26, 1944 – Cloudy.  Flak practice took place several miles from here.”

“Monday, November 27, 1944 – Cloudy.  Finished reading “Chad Hanna”.

“Tuesday, November 28 & 29, 1944 – Nothing of interest happened.”

“Thursday, November 30, 1944 – Today is Thanksgiving Day.  We have more than the people back in the States to be thankful for, albeit not in the food line.  The food today will not give us any avoidupois.  Our thanks today went whole heartedly for being alive.  “Death to the ascetic is great, but life to the agnostic is greater.”  Tomorrow twenty dollars the richer I will be.  Explanation in tomorrow’s entrance.”

“Friday, December 1, 1944 – Hargrove – From my home town bet me that the war would be over this date.  He was wrong, which puts me right and twenty dollars to the good.  The weather is usually the same, some days it gets a little warmer.  Today a barracks leader forgot himself and gave the Heil Hitler salute to one of the Jerry officers.”

“Saturday, December 2, 1944 – There has been little mail in all this week.  A great disappointment to all.  Went for a hike in the country today (yeah).

“Sunday – Thursday, December 3,4,5,6,7, 1944 – Fair weather throughout the week.  It rained for several afternoons, 1 day of snow.  New men have come into the compound.  We have now 24 men in our room.  A gym class has been started in the Red Cross building.  The days seem to be going fast but there is very little to accomplish, so the days all practically considered useless.  Today is the 3rd anniversary for the States being at war.  December 7, 1941.  The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  My eyes are going bad.  I’ll have to quit reading.”

“Friday, Saturday, December 8 & 9, 1944 – Rain.  Same inactive daily routine and tomorrow will be 7 months since I’ve been shot down.  How time flies.  C rations came in today.  We’re given the Russian prisoners here.  A full Red Cross parcel for Christmas.”

“Sunday, December 10, 1944 – Received a letter from Mom today.  Sure glad to hear from her again, played cards all day.”

The following is found on Page 83:

“Monday & Tuesday, December 11 & 12, 1944 – Light rain yesterday.  This morning we woke up and found an inch of snow.  Snowball throwing was the main activity of the day.  I got conked on the beak and quit.”

“Wednesday, December 13, 1944 – Getting colder.  Not much happening.  Guns were heard again today.”

“Thursday & Friday, December 14 and 15, 1944 – Temperature this morning was 15 degrees above 0 degrees.  All four pumps in the compound froze.  A few scarfs and sweaters came in today, also some winter socks.  It is rumored that we will receive a Christmas parcel consisting of pipe, tobacco, turkey, cranberry sauce, etc.”

“Saturday, December 16, 1944 – New man came in today.  Room total now 25.  A new compound is supposed to open soon.”

“Sunday, December 17, 1944 – Bitter cold again today.  The ground is covered with a layer of ice and a layer of snow.  So far two fellows have fallen with serious results.  Another fellow slipped and slid beneath the guard rail.  He was shot at but not hit.  I cut May’s hair today.  I could have done better if I stood back and threw knives at him.  The fellows are baking what they call cakes.  Ghastly results.  Wallace cut Bruce’s hair last night.  It looks like a bowl was his guide.”

“Monday, December 18, 1944 – What a tormenting day!  The boys check out several trumpets, saxaphones and clarinets.  They’ve been trying to play them all day long.  Peace oh everlasting peace–Nothing new, nothing old.  Tasted candy for the first time in 7 months.  Pretty good too.  Give my regards to Broadway.”

“Tuesday, December 19, 1944 – I received 3 letters tonight.  One from “Mil”, 1 from “Nell” and one from Dot Reney.  Oct. 14, Carole’s birthday, 3 years old.  October 5, Dad Cook’s birthday.  A barracks caught fire the other night, no serious damage though.  September 19 “Mil’s” birthday today.”

“Wednesday, December 20, 1944 – Flak practice all yesterday and today.  There was also an air raid last night.  Bomb flashes were seen over Stettin.”

“Thursday, December 21, 1944 – Only 3 more days till Christmas.  Seven months ago today we moved, rather arrived at this camp.  Luft IV.  Terrific air raid last night.  It nearly knocked me out of bed. 10:30 – 11:15.”

“Friday, December 22, 1944 – Bitter cold.  Froze my feet.  The temperature was below zero.”

“Saturday, December 23, 1944 – Only two more days after today until Christmas.  We will get a Christmas parcel with a few extra things in it.  Mail in last night.  Joe LeBeauf got his first letter in over 7 months.”

“Sunday, December 24, 1944 – We are allowed out in the compound until 1:00P.M.  Tonight is Christmas Eve.  First great event of the day and there were many answered roll call, next we got our Christmas parcel.  The invalid box contained – cigarettes, coco, coffee, chopped ham and eggs, beef, butter, chewing gum, crackers, milk, bouillion, sugar, etc.  The Christmas box contained 1 pipe, tobacco, cigarettes, mixed nuts, candy, fig bars, wash rag, honey, butter, tea, 2 pictures, variety game, rouellete, cards, turkey, cheese, vienna sausage, pudding, bouillon, deviled ham, chewing gum, etc.  It was a great day.  All the fellows were just like a bunch of kids on Christmas morning.  Everyone was smoking a pipe – we got hot water all day long from the mess hall – at 5 o’clock we went to the camp show – It was one of the best put on – yet.  They had puppets, music, singing, jokes, imitations.  It lasted a good two hours.  We came back to the barracks ate and sang Christmas carols.  The Jerrys went around wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.  Allen was sick.  His bunk is on the floor so I gave him mine to sleep in and Mays and I slept together.  12:00 Midnight – MERRY CHRISTMAS.”

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