|Stalag VII A: Oral history
|John Vincil Thompson
After the Liberation of Moosburg
We weren't getting any food after our liberation on April 29, so after several days Jack Dealey and I gave up and began to hitchhike. Soon a blue truck stopped, and driving it was Major Salzarulo, our block commander at Stalag Luft III. He recognized us despite how dirty we were. We ended up with 10 guys in that truck, and we headed on out to the west to get away from the front. Major Salzarulo still had a gold leaf on his collar, so he had some rank even though he was dirty like the rest of us—and he had painted U.S. Air Force and some numbers on the truck to make it look official.
Along the way we saw soldiers who gave us food. They were from support divisions behind the front lines. They gave us all kinds of food and gave us some Czech rifles because we passed some pockets where members of the SS were still resisting. Finally we came to the 1st Air Force, a fighter squadron that was moving its base from England to France, and they said we could drive on into France. They told us that the stuff we had accumulated, including the truck, would sell on the black market in France for $7,000—but they wanted the truck to help them move some of their personal things, and they said that if we gave it to them they would get us a flight to Reims, France. We made the deal, and they brought in a B-17 that picked us up right away. The pilot apparently had just arrived overseas and wanted to impress us, so he flew low and showed us where the trenches had been in World War I. We were all pretty nervous since the last time we had flown, we had been shot down. We debated bout yanking him out of there, but nobody had flown a plane in at least a year and we were anxious to get home alive.
We landed in Reims on May 8, the day the peace treaty was signed there. The streets were full of people singing and parading arm in arm. It really was a big party. We found our way to an officer's club and went inside. A ball was going on, with the women in long dresses, and soon a major was ordering us out because we were filthy. Some people heard our conversation and discovered we had been POWs, and then we were the center of the party for the rest of the night.
The next day we caught a train into Paris, where there were more celebrations going on. The trains weren’t running but somehow we ended up taking one to Camp Lucky Strike in LeHavre, where POWs were catching boats to go back home. We were on our way home before some POWs got out of Moosburg.
John Vincil Thompson of Kansas City, MO.
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