World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I


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Bruce Knight Bockstanz – Highlights of Life

Letters to and from Bruce during the years 1940 thru 1945.  From his carefree college days to training as a navigator on a B-17 to life as a prisoner of war in WWII


Original letters and documents are in regular typeface.
Bruce’s comments that were added 1998 are in italics.



Sept - Freshman At Oberlin College

10/25/40 (to Mom, Dad & Ruth) Spanish difficult, especially speaking it in class - Dad and Dick (Bodycombe) will visit - roommate is Bill (Poteet) - Tilly (Lehman) was live-in help at home (1320 Grayton, Grosse Pointe Park, MI)

12/16/40 - (to family) Asked Mom to get a Christmas present for Jean (Whitehead) (she was a fellow frosh from Cooley Hi in Detroit. Later, she was society editor for Detroit papers), asked for ties for myself. I had a sprained ankle. I had these often. Sent laundry home. Planned to study 2 hours per day while home. Had dentist appointment with Dr. Stoliker. A mean man with a pick! Dad back from Chicago. Probably attending a meeting of the Sanitation Associates, a trade organization, of which he was perpetual president. Planned to work during holidays at Bob’s. Was that the C.F. Smith grocery on Kercheval?


3/5/41(to family) Spent week-end at Chance Creek, owned by the college located about 10 miles away. It featured a cabin on a small river. Was invited to attend by one of the ‘organized houses’. Part of a process similar to ‘rushing’ of potential pledges at colleges when they have fraternities.

12/7/41 - Pearl Harbor Day!


1/3/42- Returned to Oberlin early from Christmas vacation for basketball practice. Stayed alone in a cold Beacon House, (the organized house that I joined).

1/7/42 - College considering three terms per year to enable us to go right through the year until called for military service.

3/14/42 Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at Finney Chapel on the ‘stake of youth in reconstruction’ - “we must start planning the peace now”.  As I remember it, she objected to some of the questions and called Oberlin ‘a hotbed of isolationism

3/15/42 - Am planning on the summer term, or possibly 1/2 if the courses that I want are not offered. Could earn 8 hrs.. Credit for the half term.

3/26/42 - On baseball team at Oberlin. Bill Schmidt may visit this week-end.

7/4/42 - I was sworn in to the Army Air Corps at Briggs Stadium.

11/15/42 - Talked with an Air Corps. Rep who indicated that I would probably not be called to active duty until the end of this school year. There is a large back log waiting to be called. Had wisdom teeth pulled.

12/28/42 - Bob Bosely and Bill Unkefer are fellow sophomores and ‘brothers at the Beacon House.


2/5/43 - Classes started today. Am taking map reading, accounting, labor and the economic system and business administration. Last terms marks: statistics - B, labor - B+, psychology - C+, public finance - C+, accounting - A+. Average was ‘84’ - (82 is a ‘B’ average). Marks were better than I remembered!   The air force advises that they plan, in the near future, to take us out of collage, give us some basic training and then probably send us back to a school of their choice. They will probably give us 2 weeks notice. Bill Unkefer visited. He is now a pre-med. Student at Wayne U.

2/12/43 - Went to Otterbien College for a basketball game.   John is home on leave from Air Corps.

Biloxi, Miss. – USAAF Keesler Field - Basic Training

3/2/43 - Assigned to a ‘Flight’ of 200 recruits and quartered in a wooden barracks. Learned how to salute, how to respond when a commissioned officer is encountered and making a bed, army style.

3/5/43 - Have been on active duty for one week. Basic training is at Air Corps technical school, Keesler Field, Mississippi (near Biloxi)

3/9/43 - Drilling and calisthenics every day. Weather very cold except for 4 hrs. when it gets very warm.  I remember I wear an overcoat to the drill field. Later in the day we were sweating in shirt sleeves!  Base was also for pilots in their final training before combat. They trained in ‘newer planes’, P-40’s, B-24D’s and P-51 mustangs. Climbed through a damaged b-24. I just managed to fit into the rear gunner’s nest. Kane Senda, a Neisi, is now at Dennison. He was a good friend while he was at Oberlin. His Japanese-American parents, U.S. citizens, were in an interment camp after being removed from their California home.

I’m in the 58th training group, flight #20. I’m a private, serial no. 16083096. Upon our arrival at camp a corporal, who knew, and used, all the ‘army’ words advised us that “you college boys may think that you’re kay-dets, but you’re just buck-ass privates to me”. It amazed me to see how quickly some of the ‘college boys’ began using the corporal’s limited vocabulary of four letter words.

3/21/43 - Letter to John & Barb - thanked them for sending a pair of air corps sun glasses. Practicing our marching for a review by a visiting general. Our squadron has ‘been running off with the honors for appearance and marching’! Spent 17 hrs.. On KP passing out butter and cleaning up. The second time, we worked only 16 hrs.! (pulling dishes out of the ‘china clipper’. President Wilkins (Ernest Hatch) has offered to pay the entire cost of college correspondence courses for all Oberlin men in the service.  I never was able to take advantage of the offer, although I did try to do so while in prison camp. He answered all letters that servicemen wrote, including a campus picture with his replies. Dick Bodycombe is on active duty

3/19/43 - General Marshall, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, is expected this week-end to review the troops. Our squadron of 1,000 was judged the best (of 45 Sqdrns..) In a practice review today, we received a red, white and blue ribbon to hang from our ‘ guide pole’.

Cookville, TN. - Tenn. Polytechnical Institute

3/31/43 - Sent to Tennessee Polytechnical Institute in Cookeville Tenn.. (now Tennessee Tech.). We are part of a 500 man contingent. I’ve been made a corporal in our group of 100. I handle roll call for my ‘file’ of 6 men. When we go on guard duty, I am corporal of the guard and am excused from carrying a rifle back and forth.

4/7/43 - Starting classes at TPI. They divided us into 4 four groups based on our test scores. I’m in the first group, so I’ll probably be one of the first to pre-flight school.  Actually, the next step was the classification center at Nashville.  I was introduced to a southern breakfast delicacy, brains and eggs. I enjoyed them the first day. Then I found out what I was eating!

4/18/43 - Was invited to the Presbyterian minister’s home for Sunday dinner. Dick Bodycombe is going to the U. of Pittsburgh in the Air Corps program. He told me later that he worked out with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Frankie Frish, the manager, wanted him to sign a post-war contract as a pitcher.

5/5/43 - Am taking a course in navigation. “I don’t think that will influence them when it comes to classifying us”. Wrong! Dad was planning to visit during the last week in May, but I probably will be shipping out about that time. Bill Unkefer has been accepted into medical school at Wayne. Bob Bosely is in the Navy Medical Corps and is getting his pre-med. Undergraduate work at Oberlin.

5/6/43 - Had my first flying lesson. “The air was extremely bumpy and it was difficult to keep the plane level”. Received a stripe for each sleeve. Still legally a ‘private’, but considered a corporal. GP Woods Presbyterian Church is looking for a minister. Received pay of $37.50 (for month).

Nashville, TN. - Classification Center

5/18/43 -Left Cookeville for the classification center at Nashville. Tests will include, mentals, coordination, physical and psychological. Signed up to buy a war bond every 3 months for $18. We are now known as aviation cadets, although it won’t be official until we get to pre-flight school.  Bud Daniels has left Bockstanz bros. Co. To go into service.  Quartermasters, I believe. He spent most of the time in India. Bill Schmidt and Bill Kriedler have been visiting Mother and Dad. Bob Cortelyou (Oberlin) is in the army. Correction, we’re aviation students, not cadets yet.

5/27/43 - Tested 20-30 on eye test. Did fine on tests for color-blindness, convergence, field of vision and depth-perception. They fit me with lenses that corrected my rating to 20-15. Almost sure to be classified as a navigator.

5/31/43 - It’s official. I’m a navigation student. “very well satisfied and anxious to get started”. Thrilled with a $300 birthday gift from the folks and candy from Ruth. Got birthday cards from Mary Mac Kenzie, Winnie & Bert, Al & Evelyn, Nancy Schmidt, Bill Schmidt, and John & Barb, including a $15 check. Bob Dixon, who was councilor of my dorm at Oberlin, gave me my psychology test here.

6/6/43 - Spent my birthday doing guard duty at the prison on the field. Also had 18 hrs. On K.P. duty. Expect to be sent to pre-flight at Monroe, LA or Miami Beach any day. At that time, I’ll be promoted from ‘enlisted man’ to ‘aviation cadet’. Pre-flight lasts about 9 weeks. June Bockstanz married a major. 

6/12/43 - Heard from Dr. Fitt, minister at GP Memorial Church and father of friend, Alfred.

6/25/43 - Just back in Nashville after a week at home. Mother did not look well. Wrote to Barb’s brother, who has applied to the Air Corps. He was MIA during the Battle of the Bulge in Dec. 1944.  Dick Bodycombe is getting training in piper cubs at the U. of Pittsburgh. He’s due here in Nashville on 7/5.  While at the U of P, he worked out with the Pirates. Frankie Frish had lunch with us when he attended the 1945 World Series in Detroit. He wanted Dick to sign a contract.

7/1/43 - Still at Nashville. I’m working in town at the tire ration office, typing forms. It was easy work and the meals and snacks were great!  I’m invited to the Mc Cords for the evening. They have a daughter!   I think that they were friends of Dad’s. I don’t remember the evening.  The cadets that were selected as pilots are leaving today, probably for Maxwell Field in Alabama.

Monroe, LA - Selman Field - Pre-Flight Navigation

7/8/43 - Am leaving tomorrow for navigational pre-flight, probably at Monroe, LA. Called on Bob Dixon, my councilor at Oberlin. Received my monthly pay of $37.15.

7/14/43 - Am at Selman Field, Monroe, LA. Studying Morse Code and aircraft identification. Had a simulated altitude test to see if I could cope with the low pressure at heights up to 28,000 feet. Passed.

7/18/43 - Also studying math and navy identification. Hearing lectures on the duties of an officer. Pre-flight will last about 9 weeks, followed by 6 weeks of gunnery school. Then back to Selman for advanced navigation. War news is improving.

7/19/43 - Dad advises that he has bought the cottage in Algonac from Grandma Goschenhofer. There is a test on ‘aircraft identification’ tomorrow. They flash an image of a particular plane on a screen for 1/5 of a second. It might be at any angle. Letters indicate that mother’s health is improved. I’m now making $75 per month!  My highest pay in the USAAF was $225/mo. While flying combat and while in pow camp ($150 2nd Lt. pay plus $75 ‘flight pay’).. Temperature hit a high of 119 degrees today. 

7/24/43 - Am on the post baseball team. We practice every day at a minor league ball park. A major side benefit is that I miss drill, parades and calisthenics. Most of the players are permanently assigned to the post. ‘Buddy’ Blair, who played for the Philadelphia A’s last year, is the shortstop and several others have had minor league experience. Dick B. was classified as a pilot and will leave Nashville soon. Have been here two weeks and will go into Monroe for the first time tomorrow. 

8/8/43 (To John B, at Langley Field) - John’s 24th B.D. tomorrow. He’s a 1st Lt. Making $166.67/month plus $40 subsistence. I have finished 4 of the 9 weeks of pre-flight training at Selman field. Next comes 5 weeks of aerial gunnery and 18 weeks of advanced navigation. By enlisting on 7/4/92, I missed being included in the ‘flight officer act’ by 4 days. Therefore, if I get through training, I’ll automatically become an officer (and a gentleman! ) Bill Schmidt is a corporal at Camp Lee, VA. His job is a truck driver.

8/9/43 - The G.P. Woods Pres. Church has a new minister (Andy Rauth, who served many years).

8/22/43 - Had tests in physics and map reading. Have given up playing baseball on the camp team, due to lack of time. Tomorrow, we have a test on the computer, the devise which navigators use to compute the necessary data to keep the plane on course. I think that it was a non-electronic card with dials and slide-rule like adjustments.  I told my parents that I was voting for Roosevelt in the 1944 presidential election.  I’m sure that Dad was not too happy . Like many business men, he didn’t like the ‘New Deal’ programs. As it turned out, I didn’t get to vote anyway.  Had a photo taken with fellow cadets Charlie Blyth of Ogden, Iowa, Joe Anthony from Pittsburgh and Clark Beecher from Buffalo. I still have the photo.

9/21/43 - Finished pre-flight. Will go to gunnery school at Panama City FL on 9/21. Have a date with ‘a real southern belle’ for the graduation dance. She’s a very good dancer and equally pretty with wavy blond hair and blue eyes. I was the dance chairman and had my pick! Can you believe that I don’t remember a thing about that dance or my date!  Mother is going to Virginia. To visit John or Ruth, who I think was in school there?

Gunnery School at Panama City FL

9/28/43 - Now at aerial gunnery school at Tyndall Field, Panama City. FL. Ruth is at school in Stratford, VA.

10/3/43 - First anniversary of John and Barb’s wedding in Wichita. Studied the browning 50 caliber machine gun and the Bendix gun turret. Had a squadron picture taken. Spent the day on the beach.

10/15/43 - Attending gunnery school at Tyndall Field, Panama City, Fl. Learned about machine guns and gun turrets. We have to know how to ‘field strip’ (completely disassemble) the intricate and many-pieced browning 50 caliber m-2. It fires rapidly 750-850 rounds per minute). The recoil is hardly noticed. Learned how to diagnose the reason for a malfunctioning gun. Also did skeet shooting with a shot gun and did target shooting with 45 caliber pistols.

10/26/43 - Flying and shooting at tow targets. Will do ‘camera missions’ in B-24’s and B-27’s. P-40’s will dive at us! The camera will record how accurate we are. Mother is attending her ‘study club’ I believe that they discussed books that they each had read. Ruth is attending the Stratford School in Virginia. Wrote to Oberlin’s president, Ernest Hatch Wilkins, who writes regularly and always encloses a campus photo.

11/2/43 - Have finished aerial gunnery school and will return to Selman Field for advanced navigation. Our flight training has been in B-34 Vega Ventura Bombers. We fired at tow sleeve (30’x3’) from turrets and from hand-held guns. Each of us had bullets that left a different color on the target. My scores were well over the total needed to qualify. This was my first real flying experience. While awaiting my turn to fire, I enjoyed the scenery. Tyndall Field is located on a tree covered island. The contrast of the blue water, white sand and the greenery of the vegetation stands out colorfully. I was interested in seeing how roads, trails, streams, buildings and people looked from the air. As they told us in pre-flight, you can tell the path of a stream by the heavy vegetation along its banks, even if the water is obscured. Next, we had a ‘camera mission’. We flew in a formation of three B-34’s. An AT-6 dove on us, simulating battle conditions. Played basketball with a squadron team against a team of shipyard workers in Panama City. We won!

Advanced Navigation at Selman Field, Monroe, LA

11/21/43 - Just finished the first week of advanced navigation at Selman Field, Monroe, LA. Typical day:

5:45-1st call, 6:00-reveille, 6:05-chow, till 7:15- clean-up time, 7:30-11:15-classes, 11:20-12:30-chow and free time, 12:30-parade, 1:00-4:00-class, 4:00-5:00-p.t., 5:15-chow, 5:45-10:00 study & free time, 10:00-taps.

We have seven instructors for our flight of 45. Classes are run efficiently and business-like. They are strict about our personal appearance. Minimum of parades and drills. Courses include meteorology, maps, charts and plotting courses, pilotage (navigation by observation of points on the ground, the driftmeter (an instrument that tells how much the wind is blowing the plane off course.

It’s 17 weeks until graduation and 2nd Lt. Bars. I’m due for a 10-day furlough at that time. I receive pm newspaper. Asked for the Detroit News, Sunday edition. Received a letter from Ruth ?, John Fergueson’s fiancée (Oberlin). 

11/28/43 - Am the "charge of quarters" for the day. Work in the orderly room answering the phone, giving out passes and doing a bed check at ‘lights out’. The GP Woods church sent a Christmas card and a handkerchief. John had a minor operation.

11/30/43 - Disappointed in a navigation test score of 74, after receiving a 97 the first week. 96 on a meteorology test. Shooting stars and getting fixes.

12/14/43 - Flew my first training mission. It was a four hour flight over Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. It was a beautiful, clear day and I didn’t get lost. Tomorrow’s flight will be to calibrate our instruments to correct any errors. Received several Christmas presents from home. My average grade for the first three weeks was 82%. Sent best wishes to Mrs. Kujath, our neighbor, who is recuperating.  Typical day is classes in the morning, lunch, 3 more hours of classes, PT, retreat, supper and evening classes. We get one night off per week.

12/25/43 - Christmas day in Louisiana  You’re probably sitting around opening presents about this time. I can picture the way you are spending the whole day, because the Christmas program in our family hasn’t changed at all since the very first that I remember. It’s good that it hasn’t, for some of my fondest memories are of the days when the whole family got together. I surely regret having to be away from you today, but of course it can’t be helped. You and all the family have made my day as nice as it could possibly be by all the presents and cards that you’ve sent. I really do appreciate everything. (stationary and a stocking from home. Cadet insignia, gold Lt’s bars, wings and a compass from J & B.

Have flown four missions in the first 6 weeks (12 weeks to go). Got just a passing grade on the 3rd mission, but did very well on the 4th, when I was ‘first navigator’ on the flight out. It was my job to direct the pilot so that he would come in over a bridge to the south of Homer, small town about 200 miles distant on the Oklahoma border. The first navigator does this entirely be instrument readings and calculations and is not supposed to look out of the window. It is really not very complicated. You read a drift meter to tell you how much the wind is blowing you off course, an airspeed meter, a compass, a thermometer and several other instruments, record the results in a log and finally apply the necessary corrections and computations, finally emerging with the direction in which you want the pilot to head to get to your destination.. I made it sound harder than it really is, for once you get onto it there is no real difficulty. We arrived at our destination about 1 1/2 minutes early and about 3 miles to the left. 

On the way back, we ran into bad weather -clouds both above and below - difficult to read drift - 3 1/2 hrs. In air 

“And thanks again for all the things that you have done to make my Christmas a happy one and also for being the swellest family anyone could hope for. I really mean that. There’s only one family that I know of that rivals ours in the ability to get along together and all the other things that count. The other family is the Unkefers” 

12/31/43 - In 8th week of advanced navigation. Have flown 5 times and have ‘done about as well as anyone’. Classroom work averages a ‘B’. Have received letters from Betty Bachelor, the Jones and the Colters. Expecting to get home in March for 10 days. I’m watching my step, because every ‘gig’ increases the chances of becoming a ‘Flight Officer’ instead of a 2nd Lt. (no gigs, so far). In the last mission, I did what is called ‘following the pilot’. I did all my calculations by merely watching the various instruments and making my computations from the results. The idea is to teach the various types of navigation separately so that we will understand each of them. Ultimately, the navigator can use any combination while in flight. It’s a sound idea. This week we’re working on radio navigation and learning the 52 navigational stars. 


1/8/44 - Snow and cold in Monroe, LA! - Flew two 4 hr. Missions practicing instrument flying. I was the ‘first navigator’ (the one who directs the pilot. I brought the plane in 6 miles left of the target and 1 minute late. That was over a course of 250 miles. Dick Bodycombe should be at basic training on his way to becoming a pilot. Sure hope that he makes it. Ruth is back at school in Virginia. Current address: a/c BKB, 16083096, FT. 42, Class 44-4, ACD, Selman Field, Monroe, LA.

1/16/44 - Working on celestial navigation. We have to distinguish between several time systems (Greenwich civil, Greenwich mean, local civil, local mean, local zone, Zinderal and a few others). Have had forty hours of meteorology and find it the most interesting course that I’ve had. Ruth had a problem with her appendix and was delayed in getting back to school. Mother is giving a book report to her study club. Books I’ve read recently: USA by Dos Pasos, The Battle Is The Payoff by Ralph Ingersoll, God Is My Co-Pilot and Undercover by John Carlson. The latter deals with Father Coughlan and with the racial tension in Detroit. Bill Schmidt has joined the Army Air Corps. Am writing to tell Bill about ‘how to get along in the Air Corps!

1/27/44 - Scheduled flight canceled by heavy rain. Next week, we start buying our officer uniforms. We are allotted $250 towards the purchase. Jim Barnes’ family sent me a bible. The armed forces may get to vote in this year’s elections. The Federal Govt. would have to handle the ballots.

1/31/44 - Flew a 200 mile training mission into Arkansas. On Saturday I went to a dance in town that was sponsored by a Baptist church. I don’t remember the occasion. The night in Panama City that I remember was a ship builders’ ball. It was not a church social. The locals assured us that we didn’t have to worry about the 12 pm curfew. We were escorted back to town by the M.P.’s!  

2/6/44 - Flew 3 missions this week. Am planning on flying home on March 18, although the graduation date is uncertain.

2/13/44 - Had a good mark on this week’s exam and flew a successful mission. We’ve had almost all of the navigation theory by now and the big test remaining is to put it all into practice. Bill Schmidt has arrived at the Nashville classification center. It’s good to have him in the same outfit as Dick and I.

2/28/44 - We have five more missions that we must fly before graduation. Weather has been a problem. We have been prepared to fly 16 times in the last few weeks and have completed only 2. We had to land in Kansas City and abort one mission. We’ll probably be flying right up to graduation day.

Planning to drive to Chicago when I get my leave. Bill Schmidt was classified as a Bombardier. Now if Dick, Bill and I could get together, we’d have the beginnings of a bomber crew.

We have some input as to the type of bomber that we prefer. I’ve just about made up my mind to request a B-25 or B-26. They respect our request as much as possible, but they have quota to fill for each type of airplane.

3/7/44 - Have two more missions to fly. Missions in the last two weeks totaled some 5,500 miles. I was impressed by the Corpus Christi Air Base. Graduation is in two weeks. Am planning on a leave at that time. Plan on driving to Chicago and taking a train from there. Eleanor Colter is attending college. Bill and Carol Carlton are stationed here. Will call on them.

3/12/44 - On Tuesday, we will turn in our cadet uniforms. As we can’t wear officer’s uniforms as yet, we’ll go around in P.T. outfits. This is very symbolic, because everyone else knows that the fellows so garbed are set to graduate. They really look on with envy. I know, for I did it for five classes! On Saturday morning, we will get our bars and wings. Anxious to get home on leave.

My leave was canceled and I was ordered to report to Sioux City, Iowa, immediately. It was one of the biggest disappointments in my life. When I got there, they said I wasn’t needed until my original leave was up. I got home for a few days before reporting back.

4/6/44 - Am now at the 393rd Combat Crew Training School, Army Air Base, Sioux City, Iowa. I returned from leave via train, and immediately started training with my crew. 

Monday night we went on a cross-country hop to Topeka, Des Moines and back. Imagine, my first time in a B-17 and I had to take a long trip like that - and at night, too. On top of that, my ‘flight navigator’ was along, checking me out. I really worked and managed to bring us in o.k.

Then yesterday morning, we flew out to the badlands of South Dakota on a gunnery mission. On the way out, the flight navigator, in another plane, was leading our formation. Consequently, the rest of us were merely playing follow the leader and keeping behind his ship. On the way back, I assumed that the same set-up was in effect, so I was only keeping an approximate record of our position. Over the badlands, it’s almost impossible to navigate anyway. Well, about 20 minutes after we had left the gunnery range, I looked up and ahead, where the instructor’s ship should have been. But it wasn’t there! It was then that I realized that there had been a change and that I was now the lead navigator.

It was quite a sensation I can assure you. Not only did I have my plane to get back, but there were now five others depending on me. I managed to pick myself up all right and brought us back on time, but I had to work like mad all the way. It was doubly difficult, for I was flying at high altitude for the first time and it’s quite a job to get used to the oxygen mask. 

Mother is planning to pay me a visit.

4/15/44 - Mother’s visit is scheduled for her to arrive on the 21st. I reserved a room in the best hotel,. We’ve been flying a series of short missions in the past few days.

4/20 - To Dad - Mother should be on her way here very soon now. I’m really thrilled at the prospect of seeing her again. I only wish that you could have made it too, dad. He had a convention in Chicago. I’m scheduled to fly tomorrow night, so I won’t be able to meet her at the station. If the weather stays as bad as it’s been for the last two days, I’ll still be able to meet her.

I had my big mission the other night - a celestial trip to Manistique, Mi. It was about a thousand miles in all and a real work out for me. On the way back, we ran into a heavy layer of fog and had to come down in that. We were the last plane to make it back to our base. Most of the others had to seek alternate landing places.  Luckily, my ETA was close and we were on course, so we had no real difficulty in finding the place. You may have heard that a plane caught fire in the upper peninsula of Michigan. That plane was on the same mission as we were. All the men, but one, have been rescued.

I took out an allotment of $144/month to be deposited in the Mfgs. Nat. Bank of Det. The $144 represents my base pay. Besides that I’ll be receiving flying pay and rations plus overseas pay.

4/23/44 - Mother and I are just completing another swell day. We’ve had very good luck with the weather, as I haven’t flown since she got here.

Yesterday, we stepped out and saw Earl Carol’s Vanities! Then in the evening we went out to the post and listened to the dance music at the officers’ club. I keep telling Mother that I am making more money than she is, but still have trouble paying for anything. She’s always trying to beat me to the check.

How are Erna and Frieda (Bockstanz)? (They lived in Chicago).

5/15/44 - Just pulled into my new base at Kearney, Nebraska after an overnight train trip from Sioux City. We slept in GI Pullmans and the trip seemed very short.

We’re not scheduled to stay here very long. We are going to get a ship here and fly it to our theater of operations. As yet, we have no good idea of where that will be, but the odds are that it will be England. We’re all very much pleased over the prospect of flying our own ship over. In this way, we’ll become much more familiar with it than if we had to wait until we got to our destination. Now that the time has come to go across, we’re all quite pleased over the prospect. Our entire crew has been working together efficiently and we have developed a lot of confidence in each other.

When I leave here, my mail will be censored, but I’ll tell you all that I can.

Mother is no doubt on her way to Virginia. (to be with John and Barbara when the baby is born).

I’ll try to call both down there and to Detroit before I leave here. I don’t believe that you could get a letter here before I leave., so wait until I send you my new address.

I’ll keep you posted on the latest developments, and in the meantime, please don’t worry about me.

5/18/44 - Well, we’re all set to go, Dad. The plane is loaded down with all the new equipment that they have issued to us. I guess its o.k. to tell you that we are going to England. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to this trip as a real experience. You’d be surprised how much in stride the whole crew is taking the trip. The whole route is so well planned that there will be nothing to it. The confidence of youth!   We’re taking a very scenic route to the east coast.

Did you get the card with my app.. Address?

You should see the stock of candy that we’ve laid up for the trip. We’ve also been able to buy a whole box of gum!  We also had several bottles of spirits. When we landed in Wales, tired and elated over the completion of the long trip, the M.P.’s said that they would watch over our belongings while we had coffee. When we returned, all of our candy and spirits were gone!

Can’t think of anything else to tell you now. I just wanted to let you know that I was leaving. You can use your discretion as to whether to tell mother. She mentioned once that she didn’t want to know when I was making the trip. So long for now. 


Lt. B.K. Bockstanz, 0-716282
New York, New York

Shortly after taking off on the first leg of our trip to England, we had a fire in the #3 engine and had to make an emergency landing. Chuck Quinby, the pilot, brought the heavily laden B-17 into the Omaha City Airport. It was located on an island in the river and very small. He made one big circle while losing 9,000 feet for a remarkable landing. Earl Duplechein, the engineer was quickly out of the plane with a fire extinguisher. He had the fire out before the fire truck arrived. So much for the ‘well planned trip’!

5/24/44 - Life has been luxurious since the forced landing in Omaha. We came back here the next day and while we wait for the plane to be repaired, we have absolutely nothing to do. Joe Bernstein , the bombardier, found some very wonderful people in Kearney (Dr. & Mrs. Gilmore and daughter, Pauline), who have just about adopted us. We’ve spent just about every evening with them. 

We don’t know what’s in store for us. My guess is that we’ll fly out of here again in about three days. It’s possible that we’ll be shipped by boat.

5/29/44 - Mother is at Langley Field, Va with the expectant parents.

We don’t know when we’ll be leaving, but it probably will be soon. The Gilmore’s have been wonderful to Joe and I. They’ve invited us to dinner several times and taken us to their Country Club for golf. Did you find out who it was that buzzed the street in a B-17? Maybe it was Herb Beever.

Chuck Quinby, the pilot just received his 1st Lt.’s bars

We flew the same B-17G as on the previous start that ended in Omaha. Our route was Sioux City to Bangor to Gander to Valley Wales. We arrived on 6/2, my 22nd birthday.

6/4/44 - Well here I am on a very comfortable English train on my way to some base. The trip over was quick and uneventful, despite some rather bad weather. Of course, I can’t tell you much about it now.

I like, what I’ve seen of England, very much. The people seem most industrious and at the same time, cheerful and friendly. It’s quite remarkable after all these years of war.

(To Dad) I wrote to Mom down at John & Barbara’s. Of course, I haven’t heard anything about the baby. Sharon Lee was born on June 6th, D-day.

6/7/44 - At a temporary base.

6/11/44 - Still waiting assignment. Restricted to our post because some unknown individual in our barracks destroyed some govt property.

6/15/44 - I assume that you (Mother) are back home and that the J. N. Bockstanz’ have a week or two old baby. Sending money orders totaling $260. You can see that I am growing rich . We certainly haven’t much to spend it on. I avoided the crap and poker games that went on continuously while we were waiting assignment. Some of the participants didn’t realize the true value of the British ‘funny money’ that they were playing with. I think that it was a five pound note that was worth about $20 that stacked up in the pots. One of the five letters that I received was from Jean Whitehead, thanking me for the wallet and handkerchief. Thanks for taking care of it for me. Is Ruth home now (for the summer)?

6/20/44 - I still can’t get used to the length of the days here. It’s about 11:00 pm and it’s still light. At this time of year, we have only about 5 hours of darkness each day. Haven’t seen much of England so far. There’s a college registry in London that I’d like to see in order to check for Oberlin fellows that are over here. We don’t know any more about where a particular APO is located than a civilian does. Have to close, because the black-out is in effect.

6/22/44 - Sprained an ankle in a softball game, but I went two for two! Have been moving around England a lot and have received only one letter from you. Received a birthday card from Grandma G. How’s Aunt Vera? Enjoyed picture of Vyrena and her two husky sons.  

6/26/44 - This will be my permanent (ha!, didn’t anticipate that I’d soon have a German address) address in the ETO (96th BG, 339th BS, APO 959, %PM, NY, NY). Studying Spanish, to pass the time.

6/29/44 - (from Grandma G.) Your mother is glad to be home and thinks her first grandchild is wonderful. Of course, I’m not proud to announce my first great-granddaughter! Am going to Leland to visit Mrs. Mc Leod. Bert (Jones) and the two Colter boys are at camp at Brighton. Phyllis, Evelyn and I went to Turner’s. Going to U.S.O. to make sandwiches. Ruth is working at Hudson’s. She is quite interested in a new boy. Your dad is so interested in Algonac. Royal Colter works at Numay Body Co. Al Jones drives trucks or ambulances to other cities on week ends. We are all praying for your safety.

7/3/44 - Today, I received your June 1st letter from Langley! I believe that d-day disrupted mail service. Grandma G.’s letter of the 18th let me know that Sharon has arrived. The day that you wrote (6/1), I was on my way to England. Had one of the biggest experiences of my life, but it’s military information.  (probably referring to the Trans-Atlantic B-17 flight). The army paper ‘Stars and Stripes’, gives us excellent coverage of the news. Read with interest of Dewey’s nomination and, of course, was not at all surprised. But, Brinker for V.P.! It would be bad enough to one or the other in our top offices - but both of them!!  (I was for FDR for a fourth term. “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream”.

One of the first things that strike a newcomer to the ETO is the ever-present pin-up girl. Every building and barracks has its collection. It’s good for the morale.

7/5/44 - (From Ruth.) (This is the first letter to be returned, marked ‘Missing In Action’)  I’m going around with this boy, Fred Buchbinder, and he is real nice. Mother likes him a lot. Still write to Bud Donelley. 

7/10/44 - Just returned from a wonderful couple of days in London. Went with the rest of the crew and stayed at a Red Cross hotel. Heard a sermon by a s. African at the Central Baptist Church. Visited Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament Bldg. and Westminster Bridge. While standing on the bridge and old man described the stories behind the various sights. He showed us where Sir Walter Raleigh placed his coat for Queen Elizabeth, and the spot where she had his head chopped off when he refused to marry her! He also showed us #10 Downing Street and Allied Headquarters. In appreciation, we gave him a crown piece and a pack of American cigarettes.

Later, we went to a dance at a Red Cross club. Met a nice gal there and spent a very enjoyable afternoon dancing and furthering Anglo-American relations. Went to a movie and then to a Chinese restaurant. She works at Lloyd’s of London as a telephone operator. She stays up one night in every six doing the same job for the British fire control commission. That means she doesn’t get any sleep for 48 hours. That’s quite rough, but no m0re than most of the British are doing. Bought a radio. Wonder who ended up with it!        

7/12/44 - (From John at Langley) - By now you should be in the full swing of things over there and really pitchin’ ‘em where they will do the most good. Let us know how it is going and what it is like in actual combat. Barb’s mother visited to help out with the new baby. When she gets back to Wichita, her son, Jack, plans to be home on furlough before going overseas. (He was killed in the Battle of the Bulge in December). Sherry is five weeks old and growing fast.       

7/13/44 - (My last letter from England - to Gram G.) - What a life! I’m lying here in solid comfort, after a good roast beef dinner and listening to some good American swing music over my newly acquired radio. (I did get some use out of it). The life here is not at all bad. The missions are tough, there’s no denying that, but it helps a great deal to know that you have a comfortable place waiting for you upon your return.

Dad must have a very efficient staff in his office now, with both Betty (bachelor) and Eleanor (Colter) working there. They are a couple of smart gals. I received a very good letter from Eleanor. 

I ‘m anxious to see photos of mother and the new baby. Fibber McGee just came on the air, so I’ll close for now.

7/12/44 - (From Mother) This letter and several that follow, were returned marked ‘Missing In Action’. Received your letter of July 6th, today. The air mail comes through faster than V-mail. The ‘Lee’ in Sharon Lee’s name is a tradition in the Puckett’s family. They are distantly related to Gen. Robert E. Lee. Her grandparents are southern democrats and call the baby ‘Sherry’ I don’t like the nickname as I hate to think of the baby having the same name as a wine. Barbara says that it suits her sparkling personality. Lois (Colter) and Winifred (Jones) have the leads in a play at the covenant church.

7/17/44 - (From Mother) June Bockstanz Smith & her husband, Major Smith have a baby girl named Terrell. Dorothy and Ed Christian have a baby boy. ‘Hope you’re not in too much danger from those awful robot bombs’. Someone named ‘Hickey’ flew a B-17 low over the house. He was a friend of the Murtaughs. Grandma G. visited Leland, Mi.  

7/18/44 - (From Mother) Received my letter about my visit to London. “Weren’t you afraid of the ‘robot bombs’? We’ve heard so much about them that we didn’t think that they would allow you to go into the city. Sally Morton is going to be married. The Clark girls and Jean Mc Connachie are involved in showers, etc.). Mother is president of a board that organizes the women’s groups in the church. She also is planning the book review programs for her study club.

Ruth had a date with Don Place, who is in the Navy at Grosse Isle. She’s more serious about ‘Fred’. They got rid of all the cats except ‘Dagwood’. Enclosed was a clipping announcing that Dolf Neeme had graduated and is twin-engine pilot.

7/19/44 - 10:20 am - Bailed out over Germany

7/20/44 – Captured

7/22 - Jail in Koblenz

7/25/44 - Wetzlar interrogation center - Dulag Luft

7/24/44 - From Dad at Morrison Hotel, Chicago for meetings of the sanitation associates and the national sanitary supply assn. He called Freda and Erma Bockstanz. “Thinking of you constantly and hope everything is going nicely for you”. Little did he suspect that as he wrote those words, I was in a lice-infested jail in Koblenz!

7/27/44 - (From Mother) Dad at DEA party at Ralph Wilson’s house. Aunt Myrta Bockstanz reports that Keith is going into service. Stanley is a sergeant and chief radio technician in the 46 C.A Mother is sending cookies and snacks to me. Dad reports that Ralph Wilson, Jr. is in command of a mine sweeper. “We are much encouraged by the war news”. I was in solitary confinement at this time.

7/29/44 - Transferred to a camp at Oberusel, NE of Frankfurt.

7/29/44 - (From Mother) We haven’t heard from you for over a week and how we do miss those letters from abroad”. Gram G. hasn’t been well. Jean Whitehead (Oberlin) called mother. She is working for the Detroit Times.

8/1/44 - Telegram received by from the adjutant general. “The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son Second Lieutenant Bruce K. Bockstanz has been reported missing since July nineteen over Germany”.  

8/2/44 - Ruby (Mrs. Paul) Wright wrote a comforting note to mother.

8/2/44 - I wrote a ‘kriegsgefangenenlager’ card. “I hope that by the time this reaches you, the news of my complete health and safety will have reached you by other means. Bailing out was a real thrill. Since then we have received good treatment and the Red Cross has made life rather pleasant. Don’t write here, as I will be moved to a permanent base. I’ll write again soon. German postmark 8/8/44. 

8/5/44 - arrived at Stalag Luft I, Barth Germany about this time, where I would remain until liberated. 

8/12/44 - Dad received a letter of encouragement from George Couillard.

8/15/44 - “I’ve already written two letters and two cards, so no doubt you already know of my safety. I’m taking courses taught by fellow POWs. Also reading books and playing softball and basketball. Please save the newspapers. Make a contribution to the Red Cross for me. That’s the least that I can do to show my appreciation for all they have done for me”. (German postmark was 10/4/44).

8/17/44 - “I hope that I have not caused you too much anxiety. I was greatly surprised to meet Ernest Bockstanz of Ludington, Louis’ youngest son, here at this camp! Write to his family, just in case they haven’t heard from him. My personal belongings should be sent from my base. Please note the addresses on the letters and in the coverless address book and write some letters explaining my set-up. Particularly to Pres. Wilkens (Oberlin) and ask him to cancel the course that he was arranging for me at the U. of Chicago. (Postmarked 10/1/44).

9/3/44 - (From Mother) We haven’t your address yet but I thought I would have a letter ready to send when we hear. Gram G.’s health has improved. Mary Mac Kenzie visited. Sally Morton was married. Betty Bachelor and Eleanor Colter are both working at Bockstanz Bros. Co. Jean Whitehead invited Mother to lunch. Dick Bodycombe was home on furlough. Dr. Fitt (minister at GP Memorial) and Andy Rauth (GP Woods Pres. Church) send regards. Bill Schmidt is still in training. Mr. Quinby (pilot Chuck’s father ) called on Dad and they keep in touch. “I am wearing your watch, darling, and have such happy memories of my last visit with you”.

9/6/44 - (To Gram G.) - “I’m in the best of health and leading a fairly comfortable existence. Have been swimming a couple of times (I don’t remember that!) (postmarked 10/4/44)

9/9 - I have taken up coffee drinking. one of the items that we receive in Red Cross food packages. Other items: Spam, corned beef, treat(?), butter, sugar, cheese, powdered milk and, best of all, chocolate.

9/12/44 - (To Ruth) Wished her a happy birthday. Wrote card by the light of a Kriegie lamp (a cloth wick saturated with oleo from a Red Cross package.

9/18/44 - Since I last wrote I have moved from a tent (the last three words were censored!) to a permanent barracks. I’m squadron sports director. We laid out a softball diamond.

9/26/44 - The block softball team, that I organized, won its first two games. Our block had the use of the phonograph supplied by the Red Cross.

9/26/44 - Mother received a letter from Mrs. R. M. Gilmore of Kearney, Neb. She explained that I had dated their daughter, Pauline, and visited in their home while stationed in Kearney. They were concerned when Pauline’s letters were returned marked MIA. Mother answered.

10/3/44 - We spend our time reading, cooking, playing a few sports and attending some classes. We’ve formed an organization called ‘The Michigan Club’ and we plan to get together after the war.  (We never met after the war. Guess that we had better things to do.)

10/6/44 - Had a hot shower today. (next two lines were censored.  I probably wrote that showers were a rare pleasure). Hope you get to see the World Series, Dad. Feeling fine and thinking of you all.

10/14/44 - Dad received a post card from someone in New York. "Last night radio Berlin broadcast a message to you from 2nd Lt. Bruce K. Boxton. As best we could hear, it was ‘Dear Folks, this will probably be the first news you have of my safety and good health. Don’t worry too much. I am at a permanent camp, Stalag Luft I, Germany. Very comfortable. Contact the Red Cross. Write to all my friends. I am limited to four letters and three post cards a month. I am thinking of you all, my loved ones." (I didn’t make a broadcast, but someone read a card that I sent).

10/19/44 - Hoping to hear from you soon. I have been reviewing my economics, Spanish and economics so as to be ready for my return to Oberlin. Have been following the American league pennant race. We get our information from newly arrived POWs.. Latest info is that the Tigers have won. (Our news source turned out to be wrong. The St. Louis Browns won. But I was home to see the Tigers win in 1945).

10/26 - (From Betty Caldwell of Oberlin) Received a lovely note from your mother giving me your address. Am teaching second grade in Cleveland).

10/27/44 - Expect to hear from you soon. Need books and pencils

10/29 (Betty Caldwell) - Is taking typing. Hopes to hear from me soon.

11/6/44 - (From Mother) Have finally rec’d your address. Many people are asking about you. Sherry is five months old. Ruth sends her love. Algonac Cottage has had several improvements. Your Christmas present will be a donation to the Red Cross, in your name. We are grateful to the organization for looking out for your welfare.  (From dad) Ray Armstrong was here this week. Bill Schmidt and Lavern Fluitt (Navy fighter pilot, who was lost in the pacific) were home about a month ago. Dick Bodycombe may get home soon. Ted held played for the Purdue U. Football team while attending school under a military program.

11/9/44 - (From Betty Caldwell) Have written quite a few letters, but several have come back. Will keep trying. Bruce, the leaves are just beautiful at school now - reminds me of those beautiful fall days when we used to go out under the trees and talk like mad. Sure miss those times!

11/12/44 - (From Mother) - Jean Whitehead (Oberlin) and Sally O’Connor (GP) send greetings. Fran Friewald married ? Hoyt. Lt. Ralph Wilson (now the owner of the Buffalo Bills) married Janet Mc Gregor in St. Clair, Mi. Mother hopes that I have received word from home.. “we were so pleased to receive your message that you broadcast on Oct.. 13. (I didn’t broadcast. Germans must have read a letter that I wrote). The friendship guild of the GP Woods Pres. Church is sending a handkerchief via Mother.

11/13/44 - (My kriegsgefangenenpost postkarte to Gram G.) I was remembering the family Christmas traditions.

11/14/44 - Christmas card from Mary Helen Mc Neill (Oberlin).

11/17/44 ((Eleanor Colter) she pledged a sorority at Wayne. Larry is running for 9th grade class president.

11/18/44 -(My letter to family) - Still hadn’t heard from home. Asked for photos. Made fudge from ingredients from Red Cross parcels. The stove in our room serves the dual purpose of heating and cooking. We altered the stove with dampers, hand-made & hand operated blowers, etc., for cooking).

11/18/44 - (From M. H. Mc Neill - She was at the Riverdale School of Music, N. Y. City. I received this letter on 2/22/45.

11/19/44 - (From B. Caldwell) - Had news about Tom Waugh and Bob Cortelyou of Oberlin.

11/23/44 - (From Mother) - Grandmother, Mrs. Lancaster and Mrs. Kujath are sending Christmas gifts. She asked if I had seen Ernie Bockstanz. (I was rooming with him). His mother heard his broadcast. Stanley, Keith and Glen Bockstanz are together in the USA, so far. Bill Schmidt and Dan Cronin called on folks. A week ago.

11/26 (My kriegiepost) - “Am eager to hear when and how you heard of my safety”. A library of books sent by the YMCA help pass the time..

11/30 (From Mother) - She’s glad that she visited me in Sioux City (just before I went overseas). Ruth is back at G.P. High. Family is spending Christmas at the Scotten’s. Bill Unkerfer’s sister, Francis, was married a few weeks ago.

4/16/45 (Shirley Clark) Saw a letter that I wrote. Dick B. has left for parts unknown. Bill S. has gone back to Lincoln after 10 days at home. He has about 3 months of training. Dan Cronin was home at the same time “and we really had a week of it.  (3 lines were censored. She must have mentioned something military ).  Bill Savage when he gets home in February. Miriam & Mae Jean are still around.

12/5/44 - ‘Hope to hear from you soon. (only) four out .the sixteen in my room have rec’d. Letters from home. We have made a monopoly game. Reminds me of playing for the first time. The family and the Christians were gathered around the dining room table on Hollywood. I have a log book from the YMCA. One section will list the food that I’m going to devour as soon as I get back! Hot fudge, peanut butter, malteds, milky ways, for instance.

12/8/44 (M. H. Mc Neill) Writing while listening to Burns & Allen, Fibber Mc Gee and Molly and Bob Hope. Said that she was reading my favorite newspaper, ‘PM’. “Barnaby, the letter to Dear Joe and the pin up picture are up to their usual standard”.

12/10/44 (Abe Bodycombe, Dick’s father) - Have forwarded your address to Dick, who is enroute somewhere. Saw football game, Mich. Vs. Wisc. With Bill Schmidt and my dad. Ohio State won the big 10. “Work hard and be philosophical, things could be a lot worse. Think of us poor civilians!!.

12/12/44 - From Ens. Cliff Fluitt, USNR, torpedo squadron 47, % fleet P.O., San Francisco, Ca to my parents) - “I’ll take a rain check this year, but look out next year!!! (Cliff was MIA on a flight in the pacific area).

12/13/44 (Nancy Schmidt) Bill is in Lincoln Nebraska. Cliff Fluitt is in California. Mother, Dad, Mayreen and Aunt Helen send their love.

12/13/44 (Mary Mackenzie) “It’s funny, but when I first heard that you were missing, there was no doubt in my mind that you were safe. Fran Friiewald and Jack Hoyt are to be married next month. I’m working for the army ordinance.

12/14/44 - (Kriegiekart to parents). Hope that John, Barb and Sherry will be with you. I’ll be there in spirit. We’ve been putting aside food for weeks in preparation for a Xmas feast. The best present I could get would be a letter.

12/15/44 (Kriegpost to Dad) - “I’ve been thinking of how I miss Sander’s hot fudge, a ride in the olds, dancing to Harry James at Eastwood, Sweitzer’s malted milks, a U. of M. football game, a Tiger baseball game, a movie at the Fox - but all these are trivial compared with the way that I miss my loved ones.”.

12/18/44 (M.H. Mc Neill) - “Wondering how and where you are and when you will get this. Wrote the Provost Marshall for package labels, but they’re only for the next of kin. I hate to bother your folks anymore, but think I will write to see if they have any extra”. Betty Caldwell is teaching in East Cleveland. Lorraine Pruitt is a surgical steno at the Mayo Clinic. Priscilla Shaw married Grant Chave

12/20/44 (B. Caldwell) -”Have been having my old front teeth fixed. I’ll really be a beautiful when next I see you”. Bob Cortelyou is in C.C.S. Received a lovely card from your mother and she mentioned your Aug. 15 letter (I still had not heard from the folks).

12/25/44 (Kriegiekart to Dad) - “The Christmas present I’ve been hoping for arrived today in slightly altered form. It consisted of two letters from Betty Caldwell. She mentioned that she had received my address from you. I can now be sure that you have received definite word about me. Next mail call I’m counting on several letters from you”.

12/44 - Christmas card and campus photo from Ernest Hatch Wilkens, president of Oberlin college.

12/44 - Christmas card from Pauline Gilmore.

12/28/44 (Pauline Gilmore, Kearney Nebraska) - Went to an officers’ dance at Grand Island. Her date wasn’t as good a dancer as me!


1/11/45 -(Mom) - Ruth received my birthday card on 1/11. Rec’d a letter from Paul Nulton’s parents (waist gunner). Dad is keeping care of my business affairs. He is president of the National Sanitary Supply Assoc. Mother is president of the women’s groups at church.

2/8/45 (Lorraine Yalade) New member of the woods church.  I didn’t know her, but her letter was delivered among the 12 that I received all the time I was a POW.).

2/23/45 (Pauline Gilmore) -”I can hardly wait until I see you again, and, brother, if you don’t come to Kearney to see us, I’m going to be furious, (and I can really get mad!) If Joe is with you, tell him “greetings” for me. We sure loved having you here last spring. I never had more fun in my life. In honor of you, Putt has started a record collection". (Joe Bern and I visited Pauline and Putt shortly after returning home).

2/24/45 (Bill Unkefer) His sister, Francis was married to Emmett. Helen’s husband Merrill has gone overseas.

5/8/45 (To folks) “ Happy V-E Day! We’ve just heard Prime Minister Churchill’s speech announcing that the war (in Europe) is finally and defiantly over. The Russians have been here over a week and living conditions are much better. It’s a great feeling to be a free man again. Hover, the waiting to be flown out is hard to take. At least it won’t be long now. So get ready for a big homecoming. I don’t know what the set-up will be when I get back in the states, but you can be sure that I’ll be home as soon as possible. Give my love to Gram and also.... I’ll send this via a visiting party. It should beat the old ‘jerry mail service’”

6/3/45 (From Eva Bernstein) They heard from Joe on 5/25. He is in France and expects to be home soon.

5/31/44 (From Mrs. Duplechain) Have received word that Earl had been freed.

6/45 (To folks) “By land, by sea and in the air, I’m coming home! So be ready. Everything is being done to get us home (as POW’s, we had priority after the wounded) all these events seem at times unreal. I’ve looked forward to going home for so long that it’s hard to believe that I’m doing just that”

6/8/45 (To folks) Just returned from my 2nd trip to Paris and am now getting ready to take that boat ride, at last. Am sending a couple of gifts.  (I went to the Channel factory in Paris and bought perfume. They didn’t have the famous no. 5, but said that no. 10 was better. I think that they cut no. 5 in half. I didn’t get any rave reviews from the recipients).

6/14/45 (To folks) This is it at last! I have finally managed to get on a shipping list and will board a ship tomorrow, so now I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I will be home in two to three weeks. We dock on the east coast and proceed to Ft. Sheridan, Chicago. After short period, we will then be turned loose for 60 days. While killing time, I have gone to Paris twice and have had several trips to Rouen and Le Havre. There are G.I trucks going everywhere and it’s easy to get around. Paris is the most beautiful city that I’ve seen it was good to see a city that shows almost no effects of war. There are only a few bomb damaged or bullet-riddled buildings.  (Retreating Germans ignored Hitler’s orders to blow up the city). We flew over Aachen and Cologne on the way out of Germany and saw the destruction of those cities. Rouen and Le Harve also have large areas that are totally destroyed”

6/29/45 (Card from Mrs. Schwaiger) Art arrived home this morning. He heard that Finnegan and Quinby are also home.


55 years later Bruce Bockstanz is chosen as Grosse Pointe's Pointer of Interest on July 13, 2000

Bruce Bockstanz - Pointer of Interest  7/13/2000 - Grosse Pointe, Michigan


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