Advanced Landing Ground B-154, Reinsehlen Germany 1945

Editor’s note

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

***

Pierre,

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.

Cheers

Mark

403 Wolf Squadron

Advanced Landing Ground

B-154 Reinsehlen Germany 1945

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-001

“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.

 Mark White Collection Germany 1945-002

403 Squadron on the Move

 Mark White Collection Germany 1945-003

403 Squadron Arrival at Reinsehlen Germany 1945

The story is about the surprise visit of Supreme Commanders General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery to the base at the end of the war.

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.

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-004

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.

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-005

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.

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-006

Peace Party on Board

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-007

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.

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-008

Eisenhower and Montgomery

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-010

 Visit to 403 Squadron’s Airfied Reinsehlen Germany 1945

 

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-008-1

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.

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209739

 Mark White Collection Germany 1945-011

VE Day Bonfire

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-013

Mark White Collection Germany 1945-014

Victory in Europe Day was May 8 1945

A VE Day Card from “Whitey” to his Girlfriend Rene

 

Cheers,

Mark White

February 2014

9 thoughts on “Advanced Landing Ground B-154, Reinsehlen Germany 1945

  1. Most interesting information found on a link on Mark’s article

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinsehlen_Camp

    End of the war

    In 1945, during the final phase of the war, newly developed subsonic jet planes like the first jet-powered bomber Arado 234 were stationed at the airfield and the runway was extended by several hundred metres. At that time, many Ju 88 bombers were ‘parked’ at Reinsehlen, probably due to a lack of fuel and pilots.[3]:11 Isolated strafing attacks aside, the airfield was never attacked or bombed on a large scale, although it was known to British air recon.[3]:18 On 7 April 1945, a US bomber fleet numbering over 1,000 planes entered German airspace to destroy the remaining military targets before the advance of American ground troops. The airfield at Reinsehlen was on the target list, but due to cloud cover the bombers were unable to find it. As a last-ditch attempt to stop the advancing Allies, an anti-tank ditch was begun and farmers from the area were ordered to plow deep furrows into the airfield’s manoeuvring area to make it unusable. However, once British troops arrived, there was no resistance due to a lack of weapons and personnel. The Germans handed over the airfield to the British without a fight on 17 April 1945. A few hours before, German soldiers had burned the remaining planes. Damage to the airfield was quickly repaired by the British.[3]:18 It became known as Advanced Landing Ground B-154 Reinsehlen and before the war ended on 8 May (VE Day), Royal Canadian Air Force planes operated from Reinsehlen, including Spitfires of 127 (RCAF) Wing, No 403 (Wolf) Sqn that came to Reinsehlen on 28 April.[4]

    Post-war military use (1945-50)
    Immediately after the end of hostilities in the area, members of the Royal Canadian Air Force occupied the airfield Reinsehlen. In late April 1945, they expelled the families living in five neighbouring farms.[3]:82 Meanwhile, Wehrmacht ammunitions were destroyed, often endangering civilians nearby.[3]:83-84 In addition, some concrete roads, a runway and other facilities in the northwest were blown up. In the course of 1945 glider pilots started to use the remaining airfield. Reportedly, they were British officers stationed in the Lüneburg area.[3]:84 The Canadians remained in the barracks through the winter of 1945/46.[3]:83 Relations between the occupying forces and the DPs were quite bad, as glider draglines smashed repeatedly into crops and some fields tilled by the DPs were confiscated in 1947 for use by the Allied forces’ gliding club.[3]:84 The club also claimed the former ammunitions bunkers as storage space, evicting some of the refugees.[3]:36

  2. Found this on the Internet about Eisenhower and Monty…

    http://www.nps.gov/features/eise/jrranger/5accomp4X.htm

    3. Field Marshal Bernard Mongomery,

    British General in command of 21st Army Group, W.W. II

    Many in the Allied command considered Montgomery to be arrogant and self-infatuated, while he viewed himself as the world’s greatest military mind. He resented that Eisenhower was his superior, openly expressing disdain and privately belittling his generalship. Eisenhower displayed heroic patience in his dealings with Monty, but still came close to sacking him. Eisenhower was particularly frustrated with Montgomery’s refusal to make a move unless ensured that a vast superiority in troops and weapons guaranteed victory and maintained his reputation. Eisenhower respected Montgomery’s abilities though, and Monty, in his own fashion, found Eisenhower difficult to dislike. Montgomery even admitted that Eisenhower was the only one who had the personality to get all the Allies to cooperate and win the war.

    I can not forget his readiness to belittle associates in those critical moments when the cooperation of all of us was needed.

    To Pug Ismay,
    Eisenhower Diary Series Jan. 14, 1959

  3. These are interesting photos indeed. It is also surprising to hear the way prisoners were treated on returning from camps, many I would have thought, would have good reason to gripe. Perhaps not the welcome home they would have wished for.

  4. That has to be one of the most brilliant pieces of history recorded on WordPress that I have read.

    Without getting into the politics or relationship of Montgomery and Eisenhower, it was a poetic moment.

    Calling the Americans sniveling and whining, really makes one wonder, what was the stamina of those prisoners, when you compare prisoner of war’s stories from all wars, anyone sniveling and whining would have been dressed down rapidly.

    Enjoyed that post

    • Mark was afraid to offend John by releasing this untold story. Of course that’s only one story. There’s also Sandy Borland shot down by T – Bolt I posted.

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