I intended to post what Mark White wrote tomorrow.
Someone once told me…
Pierre, life is too short, start with the dessert.
So without further ado
This is especially for John Le May.
I know he had an American ex-prisoner friend and I hope he doesn’t get offended by the story.
The Erks in 403 Squadron had a much different opinion on American ex-prisoners than they had about the Canadian and British ex-prisoners.
403 Wolf Squadron
Advanced Landing Ground
B-154 Reinsehlen Germany 1945
“Whitey” on the right with an unknown Corporal
My father George White, known to his crew as “Whitey”, was a Leading Aircraftsman with RCAF 403 Wolf Squadron during the war.
The war was over.
The Germans handed over the airfield at Reinsehlen to the British without a fight on 17 April 1945.
It became known as Advanced Landing Ground B-154 Reinsehlen and before the war ended on 8 May (VE Day), Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft operated from Reinsehlen, including Spitfires of 127 (RCAF) Wing, No 403 Wolf Squadron.
The Journal I have says the 403 Squadron ground crews arrived at Base 154 on April 26 1945.
I have a number of pictures from the base at Reinsehlen during this time from my dad’s collection. I also have a great story from the Journal to share with readers.
403 Squadron on the Move
403 Squadron Arrival at Reinsehlen Germany 1945
Here’s the story.
In Germany, I got a British Army Motorcycle from an Army Dump for wrecked vehicles. A shell had hit the front wheel taking off a piece of the wheel and tire. Close by was another bike with the rear wheel wrecked – a quick switch of front wheels, and a couple of kicks and the motor ran perfectly. I painted our airfield sign on the back fender and I was mobile.
Salvaged British Motorcycle
This happened around the time our troops, who had been German prisoners, were streaming down from POW camps in Poland and Germany. Some RCAF personnel had commandeered German vehicles. Our crew got an Opal, open sedan type, folding canvas top, glass windows and the doors were painted light green. Some personnel got big German Mercedes staff cars, very fancy but the officers usually got them.
The prisoners streaming down were real survivors, half starved, lousy and had been on terrible root marches. They slept in the bushes like dogs – rain or shine. We were on half rations and we had no room in our tents.
The airfield was a very large grass field east of Hamburg. The Canadians, some Army and some Airforce were mixed with British. Many had been prisoners for a very long time.
The Americans on the other hand were mostly prisoners since the invasion, a completely different lot – sniveling and whining – we couldn’t stand them. Dakotas would keep coming in and take loads of them down to the Brussels area for delousing etc.
Dakotas and Prisoners at Reinsehlen
One day a big four engine transport came in and taxied down to one end where the Dakotas usually picked up prisoners. I thought, this aircraft may be in trouble so I went down to check it out.
Peace Party on Board
Ted Klapecki and Unknown American
When I got there, there was General Eisenhower with his Aide de Camp taking notes and interviewing a group of American ex-prisoners. He had four or five guards with him as well.
As the interviews progressed, the Americans were whining and sobbing away and you could see that Ike was getting embarrassed with them.
A group of British and Canadian ex-prisoners were standing back in groups watching the show. Finally, Ike waved them to come over and a Canadian soldier came up. Ike said – “Well son what camp were you in and what was the name of the Camp Kommendant?” The Canadian started swearing and saying “If I could get my hands on the son of a bitch what I’d do to him”.
And Ike said, “Now take it easy son, just give me his name and I’ll get the son of a bitch for you”.
Right about then, I took off back to our operations.
Eisenhower and Montgomery
Visit to 403 Squadron’s Airfied Reinsehlen Germany 1945
I wonder what they are saying…
Note: The aircraft in the picture, a M38 Miles Messenger, is Montgomery’s personal aircraft.
Here’s a link to a picture of Montgomery’s aircraft at the British War Museum.
VE Day Bonfire
Victory in Europe Day was May 8 1945
A VE Day Card from “Whitey” to his Girlfriend Rene