P.O.W. Red Cross "Wartime Log"

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by David Layne, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    In the past I have posted parts of my father's Wartime Log.

    I have found one of an American Flyer who like my father was in Stalag Luft III.

    Descendants find diary of WWII POW | www.tennessean.com | The Tennessean

    The niece and nephew of a World War II prisoner of war were able to view the actual pages of the long-lost wartime log of their uncle Monday at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville.

    2nd Lt. Hardy A. Mitchener Jr., a navigator in the Army Air Corps from Nashville, was on a bombing mission over Germany in May 30, 1944 when his B-17 was shot down. He kept a detailed diary while the Germans held him as a prisoner of war.

    "My grandmother and mother talked about the diary," said Skip Sawyer, of Murfreesboro. "They had seen it. But when (my uncle) died (in 1957), his wife left with the diary. We had never seen it."

    Sissy Worley of Houston Texas, Sawyer's sister, found the diary on the Tennessee Virtual Archive Web site (TEVA - Tennessee Virtual Archive) by typing in the name of her late uncle.

    "I just Googled his name a few years ago and (parts of) the diary came up," Worley said.

    Sawyer remembers his uncle describing how he and the plane's pilot were the final two airmen on the bomber after it got hit.

    "The pilot pushed him out, and (then the pilot) jumped out," said Sawyer, recalling the story his uncle told.

    Mitchener and two other soldiers in the bomber parachuted to the ground but were captured by the Germans and imprisoned at Stalag Luft III near Sagan, Germany (now Zagan, Poland).

    While there, Mitchener kept a detailed, illustrated account of his stay.

    "They tell about food, daily life and cultural life (as a prisoner of war)," said Gwynn Thayer, state archivist. "What is incredible to us is its artistic merit and specific events which happened to him and to fellow prisoners (further documented by oral histories and other accounts)."

    She said the diary was acquired by the Tennessee Historical Society a number of years back from a manuscript dealer on the open market.

    After Thayer showed the brother and sister the war journal, Sawyer brought out war documents, letters and medals that were handed down to him from his grandmother and mother.

    "It's the mother lode to an archivist," said Thayer, looking at the items Sawyer brought. "I'm going to go through this and record everything. Ultimately, I'll write about this."

    Mitchener was moved from one POW camp to another when the Russians approached that location in January 1945. He was ultimately freed and was discharged from service in December 1945.

    Sawyer, now 61, recalled his uncle.

    "He was my hero. I liked to talk to him about the B-17 bomber," he said. "I was only 8 when he died."

    A copy of the Wartime Log can be viewed here.

    TeVA - Tennessee Virtual Archive
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Found this too David !! he was stationed in England and he's buried with some famous people ... Hank Snow being one of them !! :)

  3. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    A prisoner of war’s journal returns home

    OTTAWA — A couple of years ago, Maureen Jones Manningham’s mother handed her a mystery.

    It was a journal stamped with the words “A Wartime Log,” given to her father, Howard Jones, by a fellow prisoner of war as they were force-marched across Germany early in 1945.

    George Gidney asked the Canadian flight lieutenant to bring the journal to his family in England as prisoners and their captors fled west from the Polish border with the Red Army advancing from the east. Gidney was emaciated and suffering from dysentery.

    Jones died in 1980 believing Gidney had died on the march.

    But this weekend, Jones’s wife and daughters handed the journal to Gidney’s daughter, Marilyn Buttery.

    “I just want to give it a big hug,” says Buttery, who arrived in Ottawa from England on Saturday. “I think it’s sad that they didn’t know the other survived.”

    For Jones, the war ended on April 11, 1945, after he was liberated by American soldiers. He was flown to England to recuperate, but couldn’t find Gidney’s family in the bombed-out chaos.

    In London, he met an English girl named Sheila, married her within five weeks and brought his war bride and the journal back to Canada.

    Life went on. The couple had four daughters. The journal remained in a box.

    Jones never talked much about being a prisoner in Stalag VIIIB, but his daughters Maureen, Kathleen, Bernadette and Monica were fascinated by the stories and drawings it contained.

    There was a dramatic account of preparing for a bombing raid in 1942, watercolour cartoons, pencil portraits and a record that traced the towns and villages on the death march, ending with a final grim entry about an abandoned brickworks the prisoners were using as shelter: “This is hell.”

    Manningham, a retired diplomat, considered donating the journal to the Canadian War Museum, but decided against it. The journal belonged to Gidney’s family, but she had to find them first.

    “It’s history. But it’s also personal,” she says.

    The Jones sisters had developed a mental picture of George Gidney. From the lively literary style of the bombing raid account, they believed he was a well-educated RAF officer.

    “The writing was so moving. When you read it, you were stepping into his mind,” says Manningham.

    They also thought he was an artist. The pencil portraits of a man, a woman in a nurse’s uniform and a pensive young girl were either done brilliantly from memory or from photographs.

    The cartoons poked fun of the squalor and meagre eating in Stalag VIIIB. In one, a soldier holds a rat above a frying pan declaring “Meat today.”

    Manningham contacted POW associations and the Canadian Red Cross Restoring Family Links program, which helps families re-establish contact after wars and natural disaster.

    She found Harry Buckledee, an Englishman who had also been a prisoner of war at Stalag VIIIB. He replied that he knew a Gidney, but this man was a private in the army.

    Buckledee’s information didn’t square with Manningham’s mental picture of an artistic intellectual airman.

    One day last year, her cell phone rang and an woman with an English accent said: “I think I’m the person you’re looking for.”

    Buckledee had touched on the truth. Gidney was a private, a “desert rat” who had served in north Africa and Italy before he was captured. He weighed only 80 pounds when he was liberated but recovered. He married in 1946, had a son and two daughters and died in 1982.

    Gidney was a mild-mannered man with a mischievous streak who worked as a electrician, using some of the skills he picked up in a course given by one of the other prisoners in Stalag VIIIB. He didn’t talk much about the camp, but told his daughter he had kept a diary.

    Letters and e-mails flew across the Atlantic.

    Manningham e-mailed images of the pencil portraits on Remembrance Day.

    “These pictures arrived ping, ping, ping,” says Buttery, who recognized her grandfather, aunt and cousin from war-era photographs she had seen before. “I cried.”

    The journal was not, as Manningham first believed, a diary in the day-to-day sense, but a pictorial journal with contributions from friends. The air raid account was by Henry “the Horse” Hucklesby of the Royal Air Force.

    Mysteries remain. The cartoons are unsigned. The drawings have a scrawled signature that looks like “Hamish” with an illegible surname.

    Meanwhile, Gidney’s family wrote to him at Stalag VIIIB under the name AE Danes, and a photo in Buckledee’s book, For You The War is Over, identifies Gidney as Danes. Buttery and Manningham suspect Gidney and Danes agreed to an identity swap so the real Danes could attempt to escape.

    Buttery is contemplating eventually donating the journal to the Imperial War Museum.

    “This is what happened to an ordinary boy,” says Buttery. “They had a different war from everybody else.”A prisoner of war’s journal returns home

    A British woman travels to Ottawa to retrieve her father’s wartime log. Joanne Laucius explains how the journal’s story is as interesting as its contents.

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