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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U.S.S. Admiral H.T. Mayo

Daily Publication

June 21, 1945

This was a Special Army Edition. 

Pictured on the cover is Captain Roger C. Heimer, USCG.

The Admiral Mayo was carrying 5,000 former German Prisoners of War back home to the United States. 

The ship picked up the POWs at LeHarve, France and transported them to Boston, Massachusetts.



     The MAYO is carrying her first "payload."

     Just so many troops?  Look again, sailor.  Look with your eyes and with your heart.  What do you see now?

     The majority of them are kids in years.  Look older, don't they?

     Take another look.  Get a load of those shy, friendly smiles.  They haven't been able to smile like that in a h*ll of a long while.  Germany's prisoners had little to smile about.

     Watch those lads in the chow lines, --fresh meat and vegetables -- ice cream--the works.  See anything left over on those trays?  Does your heart good, does it not?

     Have you stopped a while to chew the rag with them?  They want to talk with you.  H*ll, you've got a good American face.  You talk the same language.  Maybe you hail from the same home town.  You're a friend of mine.

     All of these lads are going home -- some to stay -- others to move on.  All are completing a cycle.

     Two, three, five years ago, they were studying geometry -- sweating it out over a tough "final" -- helping out on the farm -- running a lathe -- courting their best girl -- "cutting a rug" -- watching the Dodgers and the Giants.  They were individuals then, but they look pretty much the same don't they?

     They've been funnelized.

     America went to war, and from a thousand cities and towns and hamlets they flocked to join up.  Call it mass production of humanity, call it what you will, but these lads were poured through a military funnel.  "That Joes boy who lives down the street" became Private So and So.  "That boy who goes with Mary Smith" became Lieutenant This and That.

    And the funnel was pointed at the heart of Germany.

     On a dozen different fronts, with a dozen different outfits, they flew their planes, dropped their bombs, manned their guns, dug their foxholes, and -- were captured.

     The war in Europe ended.  These men -- yes, they're men now, for they did one h*ll of a lot of living while they were over there -- were released.

     And so the second phase of the funneling process is like the first, but in reverse.

    The MAYO is now the funnel.  Into her compartments poured these thousands of men -- not from their home towns or cities or hamlets, but from concentration camps and prison camps and recently from U.S. Army camps.

    The funnel is now pointing at the warm heart of America.

    Back they'll go, completing the cycle, to their homes, to their friends and families, to go on studying geometry, helping out on the farm, running a lathe, courting their best gal, "cutting a rug", watching the Dodgers and the Giants.

     Do you get the idea of the whole thing sailor?  When you helped them over the gangway at bomb-torn Le Harve, when you stood with them in the chow line, when you stopped to listen and to talk -- when you did these things you were making them happy, helping them back to normal life that is close ahead but so d*mned far behind.


We who man the MAYO are sincerely glad we had the opportunity to say "Welcome" to you of the Army who have been our guests.  When you cross our gangway to set foot on American soil, our best wishes will go with you.  In the years to come, the recollections of this voyage ---- yours! and ours! will be pleasant.



Johnnie Comes Sailing Home -- on the MAYO

They were waiting on the dock for us -- about 5000 of them.

Our first passengers, and each one looked more beat down than a Division Officer after Admiral's inspection.

Upon seeing those high top GI shoes come aboard, our first uncharitable concern was for that new paint on the MAYO decks.

But that was before Liberty, Equality and Curiosity set in.  The Army took one look at the virginity of that new paint, smiled philosophically, and got out the souvenirs.

From then on it was every auctioneer for himself, and a lot of cargo was sold strictly American.  For every Nazi knick-knack which emptied out of the duffle bag cornucopia, there were waiting: one ship's officer, seven sailors and unabashed commerce.

One of the medium of exchange was sleep.  For two hours rest on a real mattress, a Corporal would trade any sailor two packs of Polish cigarettes or one Youth Movement arm band.  After the trivial loot had been transferred from duffle bag to our bag, the real trading began, and if Hitler ever stages a come back in the Bronx or Peoria, he'll find that a whole arsenal of Lugers, cameras, Iron Crosses and SS Impedimenta has already been ferried across for him.

Then there was the chow line!  Finding the end of it was like hunting "X"  It began in the foc's'l, and ended in the foc's'l , with 5000 patient faces between.

Good luck soldiers, when it comes time for your last swap;  the Mayo trip for Boston Commons!  and THANKS FOR EVERYTHING!


What Goes On Inside the Mayo

If you were to take the entire population of a town the size of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and put it on board a ship 608 feet long, that displaced 24,000 tons, and traveled through the briny deep at 25 miles an hour, you would have to admit that you had accomplished something out of the ordinary.

Inside this huge structure, however, is a veritable beehive of activity, one that has the makeup, equipment, and modern conveniences of that most ultra-modern city.

A ship's service store which wells everything from cigars to ladies' silk stockings, does a tremendous business; as does the clothing store which can completely outfit any member of our crew.

A group of experts who can do a neat job of arc-welding, or wield a hammer and saw from which will emanate library shelves or a portable stage for entertaining troops.

A fire-fighting unit that is made up of expert ex-firemen from back home.

Our engine rooms, there are two of them, are formidable things to see, manned by engineers, electricians, firemen, and water tenders.  With a machinery plant that cost approximately $ 5,000,000 the engineering department is  responsible for 20,000 horsepower, 80,000 gallons of fresh water every 24 hours, as well as 18,000 kilowatts of electricity.

Our gigantic fuel tanks have a capacity of over one million gallons of fuel oil, which is  enough to take the Mayo around the world, plus:

106 vent systems, 30 miles of piping, over 300,000 rivets, 190 miles of welding, and a huge fresh water storage tank that will allow 800,000 gallons of emergency supply, complete a top-notch engineering project.

When it comes to show, well the figures we are going to give you are astounding.  For example, it took 5,000 lbs. of ham to feed the troops in one single day.  It took 2,000 lbs. of pork sausage for one breakfast alone.  And speaking of one breakfast it might interest you to know that it requires 14,780 fresh eggs... it took all night to crack them.

A few other items we might mention are that yesterday's menu called for 7,000 lbs of potatoes, 2,500 lbs of sugar, 1,800 loaves of bread, 1,000 lbs. of coffee, 2,000 lbs. of pears, 800 lbs. of rice, 540 lbs. of butter, 350 gallons of ice cream, 1,000 lbs. of milk powder, -- and 12 lbs. of that precious little black stuff that you can't get in the States, -- pepper.

All of our foodstuffs come from a gigantic warehouse that has over a quarter of a million lbs. of meat, 170,000 lbs. of flour, 100,000 lbs. of sugar, potatoes, and fresh vegetables each, and approximately 400 tons of canned goods. 

If you should be taken ill, even seriously, although we hope this never happens, our hospital, complete in every detail, with treatment clinic, x-ray lab, pharmacy, biological lab, and operating room, can handle any medical situation.

Beyond the horizon, by day and night, in fog or rain, our seeing-eye Radar is able to indicate the approach of another ship to the navigator.  Our ship is steered by a man who turns a small wheel; electricity transmits his instructions to a great hydraulic ram which swings the rudder, weighing many tons, from side to side.

We have, as you know, the best band in the service, made up of some of the leading musicians from the most famous dance bands in the country.  The best radio programs obtainable are sent out over our loud-speakers for the entertainment of all hands.  On a good sunny day, you won't find a better sun-bathing beach anywhere than on the decks of the USS Admiral H. T. Mayo.


Know Your Shipmates

"R" Division

Male Call Comic Strip -
See below to read a larger version of it.
As a Coastguardsman Sees It...

Looks as if all of us in the Coast Guard have dispelled completely any ideas we might have had about the job we are doing being merely our duty, and we have definitely thrown the thought out of the porthole that we are doing you, the Army, a favor.  It is acknowledged that WE are the benefactors as much if not more than YOU, the Army.

From the second the first units of those khaki-colored figures started tramping up the gangway, just a little worn and weary looking, -- but with an eyeful of hopes and a barracks bag of smiles, we noticed right off the bat, the constant friendliness and whole hearted spirit of cooperation.

This set the ball rolling.  Then later on seeing the fellows at chow, -- with that look in their eyes, seeing them crowded around our band or just standing over the rails, noticing the quiet almost shy mannerisms they show -- then hearing of the experiences they have been through.  Things that have been learned of only through the movies or between the covers of books and in the headlines of newspapers have been brought to us in person.

Then it struck us.  Why look at what we're getting in on. Look at this fellow with 276 discharge points, and this guy, why he was blown right out of his plane and didn't regain consciousness until it was almost too late to pull the cord.  See that guy over there, he has been in seven of Hitler's choice prison camps over a period of twenty-three months.

This is it!  This is our experience, our honor and joy...and when we pull into Boston, if you don't think the crew is going to have butterflies in its' collective stomach, -- you're crazy.

Lloyd Conway, BMlc, says, "This is my first trip on a troop transport and from what I can gather it will be a pleasure to have a part in carrying back to the United States the boys who have far more than just a rest coming to them."

Merle Caldwell, SM2c, who hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and served on attack transports when the war was at its high point, said, "This is the best behaved group I've ever transported."

"What amazes me about them is their patience and the way in which they never complain". said James Bigham, Ylc, of the personnel office.

Vic Mature, readily admitted that for the first time in his life it was a pleasure to get up as early as five in the morning so that he and his mess cooks could have 8,000 breakfasts ready for the G.I.'s.  "They're one h*ll of a swell bunch", said Vic, "and I get a real kick out of doing things for them."

Lt. John O'Laughlin, disbursing officer, said, "If all the army guys pooled their souvenirs, they could probably offer a little competition to the bargain basement at Macy's," as he bought two daggers.

"Think of all the guys on this ship that have been in tighter spots than Humphrey Bogart in all of his pictures put together," said Paul Muller, MMlc.

Henry Zalenskq, MoMM3c, from Detroit, Michigan says that he has talked to several of the fellows and from the conversations he gathered, -- "I am sure they have earned the best that people back in the United States can give them."

"I think that the fellows are a swell bunch, and are surprised to see that everything is going so smoothly, said Pf. Melvin Knife, USMC, Dayton, Ohio.

In short we of the  Mayo never want to hear any disparaging remarks about the army, -- they're tops!





As A Soldier Sees It...

by T/5 Al Glass US Army

Thousands of GI's waiting impatiently for a ship at the embarkation camps didn't expect much.  After all, with millions of troops being redeployed, with our shipping strained to the utmost, what could a lucky bunch of homeward bound soldiers expect?

Clambering up the gangplank, bag over shoulder, they entered the gleaming white passageways of the Mayo and experienced many a pleasant surprise.  Brand new, immaculately clean:  Look at all that open deck space to lounge around on,  Fresh water showers!!  Who ever heard of such a thing before on a troop transport?

But that wasn't all.  Chow time came and the first meal aboard.  The boys had not had a meal like that in ages, each dish in a separate section of the tray.  Meat that tasted like meat, peaches like peaches, not all jumbled into an unappetizing hodge-podge a la GI mess kit.   And with each succeeding meal they found out just how good the chow really was.  Ice cream, fresh fruit and a million things that they hadn't eaten in ages.

There were more surprises to come, Music over loud-speakers.  A hot swing session by a solid band every afternoon.  Movies on deck at night.  Who ever would have thought that a busy Captain would take time out to have a chat with his passengers and make them feel right at home?

Whether going home for discharge or 60 day furlough after months in prison camp, the GI's on board all agreed that they Mayo was without a doubt the best troop transport that ever sailed the seven seas.

2nd Lt. Dick Miller, AAF, with 20 months overseas, 12 of them as a POW, said "The chow is swell and the crew treats us fine.  I came over on the Queen Mary but this is the finest transport I have ever been on."

One GI remarked that of the three transports he had been on this was the first time he had ever seen the skipper of one.  He said he enjoyed the skipper's  chat and was proud to be a member of the team.

T/5 William P. Fry, has 35 months overseas, and agrees with Lt. Miller, and he doesn't even have a sack!! "Everything is okie-dokie with me."

Pvt. Charles Libby, Easton, Pa., had a different angle.  "When the going got rough over there, many of us turned to prayer.  I am thankful that now, going back to the States, we are able to thank God adequately with the church services performed by  Chaplain Grant.  It felt like a Sunday at home."

"It's easy to tell that Ben Harrod and the Coast Guard Invaders are the best band in the service.  I don't doubt  it a bit that the band is made up of members from the biggest name bands in the country," says Lt. Bert Ripley, AAF, of Dickenson, ND.  " I am satisfied with everything."

Pvt. Simon Thomas commented upon hearing Captain Roger C. Heimer, USCG, talk to the passengers.  "This is the first time I have heard such a high ranking officer speak to all hands so intimately.  I made me feel good and put us all at ease aboard the Mayo."

A word of thanks in writing was received from T/Sgt. Harry T. Brundidge, Jr.. 276 point RAF and AAF veteran, who spent 22  months as a POW in various prisons camps (including Stalag Luft I), "It is agreed by all of us that the officers and men of the Mayo have set a brand new standard of living for troopships.  We all hope that this fine example of cooperation, friendliness and general concern for the welfare of troops in passage will be adopted by all troop ships."

And so think most of the passengers aboard today.  No matter what troops or where she may carry them, the Mayo will never fail to make her cargo feel at home, caring for the men with the best available.

Cartoon by Art Smedley - Stalag Luft I POW



Male Call Comic Strip


POWs going home on the Admiral Mayo   
 Prisoners of war going home on the U.S.S. Admiral Mayo - 1945 -  From the book  - Fighter Pilot by Mozart Kaufman

POWs on the Liberty Ship Admiral Mayo 
     From the book  - Fighter Pilot by Mozart Kaufman  -  Mozart is sitting on the right in a lounge chair.




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