John Kyler was a POW in Stalag
Luft VI from 2/21/44 to 7/15/44, Stalag Luft IV from 7/18/44 to 1/29/45
and Stalag Luft I from 2/8/45 to 5/13/45. He has written that he
was 2 days in Belgium, 1 week in Frankfurt for interrogation and 21 days
of box car and boat travel.
My father was captured and held in Belgium for 2 days
then taken to Frankfurt for interrogation at Dulag Luft, and on February
21, 1944, became a POW at Stalag Luft VI in Hydekrug, East Prussia. He,
with hundreds of others, left Hydekrug on July 15, 1944. They were
jammed in the hold of a boat, the Masuren, at the seaport of Memel and
taken on a two-day trip to Swinemunde, in deplorable conditions. They
were then loaded in boxcars and taken to Stalag Luft IV in Kiefheide, a
24-hour ride. They were shackled together at their wrists and ankles in
twos and after exiting the boxcars, they were forced to run 2 miles up
the road to the camp while being bayoneted and bitten by dogs if they
fell behind. If they tried to run they would be shot by the
Germans waiting in the woods for the opportunity.
Dad was in Stalag Luft IV until January 29, 1945, at which time he
was transferred from there on a treacherous ride in boxcars to his final
destination, Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany, where he arrived February
8, 1945. He would end his time as a German Prisoner of War at Stalag
Luft I when liberated by the Russians on May 1, 1945. Per my father's
log book, he was flown out of Barth on May 13th, 1945, in a B-17 to
France. He landed at Lyons and went by truck to Rheims where he stayed
overnight. He was flown out of Rheims on the 14th by C47, landed in
LeHarve and traveled to Camp Lucky Strike, 20 miles in from LeHavre.
This was the last time my dad would fly in any sort of plane.
Stalag Luft IV
His daughter writes, "In my father's belongings he kept a
couple of small notebooks while he was a POW. He wrote verses and drew
pictures of planes and the camp. He wrote a verse about the Englishman
that was struck by lightning called "Fate" that I noticed on your map of
Stalag Luft IV. He has the man's name written under the verse as written
in memory of him. My father was such a humble man and never thought he
was a hero. My mother said that he didn't feel he was a hero because he
survived. I guess he's like so many of you veterans of that era. He put
his experience behind him. In his journals he has drawn dog tags with
names and addresses on them. I'm not sure which camps that they are
from. I want to know more about my dad - the side he never talked about.
I'd love it if I could find someone that knew him during his service
time. I want to find out enough that I could publish a book in his
memory. I'd love to publish a book with his drawings and verses. I am
just in awe of them. My dad was my hero and a wonderful person to
everyone without anyone ever having known of his war experience. I
treasure and am so glad that my dad kept the things that he did after
all these years. I only wish that he was here to talk to me about them.
I would love to hear from anyone that may have known of my father. "
here for more information
Pencil and Pipes from POW camp
Tickets from Stalag Luft I
Kyler's statement of interview of recovered personnel
Form letter sent to some Stalag Luft I POW's
parents by a repatriated POW in April 1944
|The 2005 Trip to Stalag Luft I
I recently was part of the tour to visit Barth on
the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Stalag Luft I.
This was the tour mentioned on your web site with Ellis
Gibson (Gib). I just felt compelled to write you and
thank you for the opportunity. I wish that you girls
would have been there.
My father passed away May 4, 2004, without having
talked about his wartime experience and I began
searching for information. When I became aware of this
tour I felt it was the perfect opportunity to perhaps
find someone that may have known him. I took with me
copies of my dad's YMCA logbooks which he had written
poems and had drawings in and copies of whatever
information that my mother had and sought information to
build on his story. I had the foundation.
There were 5 ex-POW's with us and none of them were
with my father which was expected but I was enthralled
with any information that they shared with me. We
visited the train station in Frankfurt and it was quite
an experience to be there with and listen to the
ex-Kriegies take turns in talking about what they
remembered. I could determine from their recollection
the track that my father would have been brought in on.
I then returned to the station early the next morning
before our departure to walk covering as much of that
area as possible certain before I left that I had at
least stepped in one spot that my dad would have.
We continued to retrace steps when we arrived at what
was the interrogation camp, Dulag Luft, first stopping
at the train station and then at the camp site. with the
Administration Building still being there and a chemical
factory across the street still being there, I knew that
I was looking at the same buildings that my dad had.
Our visit to Barth was most memorable. It was an
emotional time for everyone, our first visit to what was
Stalag Luft I. We all hugged and cried and gazed out
into the field and at the steeple in the distance. It
was a time for reflection. I was unsure of which
compound that my dad had been in. We visited the air
strip and the railway station in Barth. The following
day was the memorial service at the concentration camp
in Barth and the ribbon cutting at the museum. I was
able to talk with Helga Radau, of whom I had heard so
much about. Although the museum was buzzing with people,
she took me into a little room to look at a book
containing a list of compounds and names to look for my
dad's name. Dad's name was in the book but it was not
affiliated with any compound. It was listed under "Hydekrug",
which was the first camp that he was in, Stalag Luft VI.
I was disappointed as I wanted to focus on his compound
when we returned to the site but I felt a little better
when I viewed a tape in the museum of the POW's being
loaded into the B-17's and I thought I saw a man that
looked like my father. We rewound it several times and
each time I thought that he looked and stood like my
dad. I should be receiving a copy of the tape as I want
my mother and aunt to view it to see if I was right or
just wishing it to be him.
When we returned to Stalag Luft I, I walked all
compounds and stared at the steeple from every direction
satisfied that I had viewed it at one point from the
same angle that my father had.
The evening was like a reunion as Vasily Bezugly and
his grandson, Andrew, were there from Russia; Dr.
Nichol's children, Jan, Judy and David; a German Dr's
Son, Thomas; Ejvind Jensen, from Denmark; Helga, Sigrid,
and Martin, a historian (I gave him information on my
dad in hopes he may be able to help me). We had a
wonderful group of people (Ex-Pow's, wives, daughters
and son) and I felt that we had become family. We were
all there for the same reason and I feel sure that we
will keep in touch. I know that I have a long road ahead
of me to gather information on my father but after this
experience even if I never find anyone that knew him, I
have learned the story's of others.
This trip was everything that I hoped that it would
be. When I was planning it, I referred to it not as a
vacation, but as a mission and I feel that I extracted
as much as I possibly could from it. It was quite a
journey for me and I felt as though at times that I had
become my father. My dream is to some day write a book.
I have dad's log books but I need to build his story
around the poems and drawings. I sometimes don't
understand what drives me or why I feel that I have to
know everything about that time in my father's life that
he never spoke of. All I know is - I just do. I know
that you girls know how I feel. It's obvious from your
web site. I feel committed to help carry on the legacy
of the greatest generation.
I just wanted to let you know what an incredible trip
that we had and because of the time that you have put
into this worthy cause all these years, you made it
We were still in Germany on May 4th which was the one
year anniversary of my father's sudden death. After we
left Barth, I wrote a poem on the bus that I thought I
would read to everyone in memory of dad. After dinner,
we all went to the lobby and they all let me remember
dad with them. This is what I read them:
Written in loving memory of
my father, John R. Kyler, POW
#1277, who passed away one year
ago today, May 4, 2004. Read and
remembered with my friends on
the tour to Stalag Luft 1
I knew not a soul but I knew
my own heart
I needed to journey out of the country to
No doubt in my mind, it was the right thing
So much about dad as gunner & POW that I
hadn’t a clue.
A few facts that I’d gathered important to
With God’s grace and some luck – to collect
info to bring back.
Back and forth at the train station – I
stepped all over the place.
I left confident that at some point I’d
stepped in dad’s space.
I can only imagine and picture him here
So young and courageous – full of suffering
I wanted someone to remember – to recall his
I wished to hear stories of him from roomies
– but it would not be the case.
But it really didn’t matter because of
I heard stories of you and your dad’s and
felt my dad was near.
Uncertain of dad’s compound – I walked
South’s edge and North 1-2 and 3.
I ventured cross the field certain that he
I stared to the heavens slowly turning
around – not sure why.
But I was thinking all these years later –
I’m seeing the same sky.
I was mesmerized by the steeple and glanced
from every direction.
I’m sure I caught the same angle as dad from
one of the sections.
I accomplished what I’d hoped for – I felt
For brief moments I became him – feelings
that I cherish still.
One year ago today – just like that – dad
But what a tribute to remember him with you
Ex-Kriegies from Stalag Luft I.
2007 Update: His daughter writes us, "I have to tell you a
little about the last year and a half in my research. Since I wrote you,
I've located my dad's pilot who I believe is the only remaining crew
member. I've located the radio operator's wife and she sent me a picture
of my dad's crew so I can now put faces with the names that I've studied
from the MACR. She also sent a photo of dad in training in the State of
Washington. Her husband and dad were close friends during training and
also were in the same POW camps - VI, IV and I. Mom and I have ridden in
a B-17, I've jumped out of an airplane, and my mom and I spent 3 weeks
retracing dad's route this past September and October. We went to
Podington, England, the airfield dad's bomb group flew from; then to
Belgium - the crash site and areas relevant to dad & crew members
(talked to 2 witnesses who saw my father parachute into a garden); then
to Barth and it was even better the 2nd time for me and then to the
former Stalag Luft IV camp site in Poland (we walked on the road the men
(including dad) were run up the hill "Hydekrug Run"). Needless to
say, it was an incredible trip and I will tell you as much about it as
you would like to read.
I ask myself how did he feel
But why do I need to know?
I did not even know him then
As it was a lifetime ago.
I could not discern for I was not there
My feelings could never be like his.
To witness as my father did
An impossibility is what it is.
My walk freely across the empty grounds
That now are open as can be…
It’s nothing like the crowded compounds
Caged by wire as far as the eye could see.
The wretched confinement, hunger and cold
Extreme hardships most will never know.
I can only imagine the deprivation
Of all those courageous men so long ago.
My leisurely ride in a B-17
On a bright and beautiful day…
To being shot at in a ball turret
Cannot compare in any way.
Many thought it to be crazy
That I would jump out of a plane.
But it was to honor my father
So it was heartfelt-not insane.
I am compelled to persevere
And trace his route the best I can
The path of a boy who went to war
And returned home a man.
The vague depiction in my mind
Is a delineation of each trial
Although it is during different times
I feel admiration and love in every mile.
In my pursuit of my father’s story
I do not know what I hope to find.
For it was not me and I was not there
But I play his role in my mind.
I am so proud of all the heroes
And the sacrifice they made…
To win for us our freedom,
A gift I would never trade.
Forever heroes to future generations
This is the goal in which I strive.
To assure those brave now weary men
That in our memory they will survive.
by Candy Brown
Written in Memory of my father, John R. Kyler.
here for more information about John Kyler