American POWs transit points in Normandy

Discussion in 'American' started by sirjahn, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    I am interested in figuring out the German transit points and routes for moving captured US (and by extension British) personnel from the battle areas of Normandy back to the Frontstalags or Dulags in June and July. It appears to me that initial paratrooper POWs north of the Douve River were sent thru Valognes to Cherbourg for sorting and then south through Briquebec and then onwards to various places.

    South of the Douve is a bit more of a tangle and seems like most went to a place called Notre Dame d'Elle (Starvation Hill) the location which I haven't been able to pin down. Then on to either Paris for unwounded or Alecon for wounded and from there I don't know much.

    The offical locations in France at the time were -
    Luftwaffe Lazarett Beauvais France 49-02
    Dulag OB Chartres France 48-01
    Frontstalag 122 Clermont France 45-03
    Frontstalag 221 St. Medard France 45- 0
    Hospital Le Calvaire Pont-Chateau France 47-02
    Kreigs Lazarett Caen France (458) 49- 0
    Kriegs Lazarett Amiens France 50-02
    Frontstalag 221 W Rennes France
    Lorient POW Camp Lorient France 47-03
    Luftwaffe Lazarett Paris France 49-02
    Dulag Luft POW Camp Chalons-Sur-Marne France 49-04
    POW Camp St. Nazaire France 47-02
    Reims Military Hospital Reims France 49-4
    Rennes Military Hospital Rennes France 48-01
    Transit Camp 133 (probably located in Rennes, France as Lazarett 133)

    I assume that the Germans had specific plans for where to collect POWs but I haven't been able to find anything that shows where these points would be.

    The reason I am interested is because my Father was one of those POWs. Wounded and captured on D-Day afternoon he was moved through the local German battalion aid station and there back to Cherbourg (I assume). From there he claims to have been taken on a train with other POWs (the only train line open from Cherbourg goes to Briquebec where the line was cut). He was crossloaded onto a wood-burning ambulance which (I believe) almost made it to Le Haye du Puits before being strafed and destroyed. He was then patched up again and sent on to Rennes Military Hospital. This hospital received many of the initial wounded POWs from the paradrops.

    So does anyone have any ideas on the movement paths of POWs?

    Dale
    LTC USA (Retired)
     
  2. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    Hello Dale,

    Did you mean you couldn't pin down the location of Notre Dame d'Elle or of Starvation Hill? Assuming there was only one "Starvation Hill", then the two are in completely different places.

    Notre Dame d'Elle is a few kms east of St Lô:

    http://maps.google.fr/maps?hl=en&sugexp=les;&cp=17&gs_id=h7&xhr=t&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bpcl=37189454&biw=1920&bih=934&q=notre+dame+d%27elle&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x480bb952319e48e5:0x40c14484fb96ff0,Notre-Dame-d%27Elle&gl=fr&sa=X&ei=ZiWSUK2VL6W00QXhw4CwAw&sqi=2&ved=0CHkQtgM

    whilst Starvation Hill was near Tessy sur Vire, south of St Lô, at la Chapelle sur Vire:

    http://maps.google.fr/maps?hl=en&sugexp=les;&cp=17&gs_id=h7&xhr=t&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bpcl=37189454&biw=1920&bih=934&q=notre+dame+d%27elle&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x480bb952319e48e5:0x40c14484fb96ff0,Notre-Dame-d%27Elle&gl=fr&sa=X&ei=ZiWSUK2VL6W00QXhw4CwAw&sqi=2&ved=0CHkQtgM

    Hope this helps somewhat.

    Cheers,

    Sean
     
  3. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    Most of the POW E&Es seem to use that point interchangeably that is why I think they are the same place. And your Google map points are also the same. :)
     
  4. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    Oops....:blush:

    Sorry about that.
    Put the same link in twice. I can't seem to get a proper one to work for la Chapelle sur Vire, but if you click on the link below for Troisgots, then zoom in, la Capelle is about a km to the SE.

    Starvation Hill (the camp) itself was the building with the large garden, the main building runnning more or less SSW/NNE about 150m back (west) from the river.


    http://maps.google.fr/maps?hl=en&gl=fr&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bpcl=37189454&biw=1920&bih=934&q=troisgots&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x480beac6d5538dad:0x40c14484fb962a0,Troisgots&gl=fr&sa=X&ei=W1OSUKmBDISGhQfcjIGQAQ&ved=0CHgQtgM

    Cheers,

    Sean
    [hr]
    A picture is worth a thousand words.... this should work.


    [​IMG]
     
  5. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    I found where it was after a bit of searching. The open field at Notre Dame d'Elle seems in contridiction with the E&E descriptions of being a monastary. I don't see anything around there looking like a collection of buildings for a monastary. Do you know of any monastary in the vicinity?

    Obviously Starvation Hill has a collection of religious buildings as the name Chapelle implies. So yes I am a bit confused with the location/locations.
     
  6. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Hi Dale and Sean,

    While looking through the massive photo archive on the CEGES-SOMA site, I came across a number of American POW photos mixed in with a larger collection of British Airborne POW images. These British POW photos appear to have been taken around Arnheim in September 1944 but the American POWs below are obviously out of place for Arnheim:
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    The cross circled in red on in the gate ironwork seen in photo #4 above sent me to have a look at the 'Starvation Hill' building at la Chapelle sur Vire below:
    [​IMG]
    ...zoomed to below:
    [​IMG]
    Note the small 'A' roofed building at the back which I believe is a good match for that seen in photos #3 and #4 above. Photo #4 confirms a three storey building with six windows per floor and is a good match for the 'street view' from the road below:
    [​IMG]
    The two windows in the gable facing the road are post war, but apart from that and the new gateway, I believe photos #3 and #4 are taken at 'Starvation Hill'. My guess is that #5 and #6 are also taken at this location. IIRC, there was another location which was a stable complex; Sean, is this other location what you term "Notre Dame d'Elle"? Photo #1 might fit a 'stable' description. Photo #7 showing 29th ID prisoners could be at either or indeed at some unknown third location.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  7. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Nice find, Pat,

    I think you're spot on (again :) ) with the Starvation Hill photos.

    As for the other pictures, I think the two with the 29ers were both taken in the same location.
    It's sunny in both pictures ;)
    There are possibly the same guys in both pictures.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The guy above Blue in the close-up could be the guy two to the left of Red in the other photo.


    What do you think?

    The barn/stable is made of masse (mud) which is very common in la Manche but it may still exist.
    Notre Dame d'Elle isn't very big.

    Cheers,

    Sean
     
  8. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    There appears to be another match of another fellow in two other shots. Note the same tear in the left sleeve of the coat.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Hi Guys,

    Any possibility of IDing the airborne guys?

    Pat
     
  10. Jpz4

    Jpz4 Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    Nice identification Pat, answer a years old question.
    Couldn't the other 82AB photos have been taken in the same area, but just show different buildings?

    The 29ID guys are also in the German newsreel of 28 June '44. They appear to be guarded by GvB troops. I'm guessing these shots were probably taken west of the Vire but no further than the Taute. I'll check the German sectors to determine the eastern boundary of GvB.

    Here are some stills (I'll upload more later)

    GvB symbol (no idea what Löfel [= spoon] stands for.
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    [hr]
    (only ten images allowed per post)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    GvB cuffband
    [​IMG]

    Close up
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Niels and all,

    Ah, that's it!

    So 175th Inf Rgt near Montmartin en Graignes, 13th June might make sense?


    Also, the masse buildings are especially common (more so than "very common") in this area. If only it were in colour, as the mud has a reddish hue round there.

    Sean
     
  12. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Hi Guys,

    Niels, I am pretty sure the 'stables' building (if that’s what it is) is not part of the 'Starvation Hill' monastery or convent property. Below is an extract from IGN cover flown in 1947:
    [​IMG]
    I still only see the main building and the smaller perpendicular one to the rear. The other shapes which might look like building are, in my view, just garden vegetable plots. There is a curved path leading to the fountain on the front lawn but I doubt if it leads to stables under the trees on the SE corner of the property.

    The only positive identification of any airborne POW that I am aware of is that made by Dwayne T. Burns in his book "Jump Into The Valley Of The Shadow", when he shows a still from the Paris footage on page 106/107:
    [​IMG]
    Dwayne identifies his buddy Pvt John H. McGee as the prisoner at right, closest to the camera. See this page on the 508pir.org site. Both men were members of F/508 PIR.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  13. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Hi All,

    Does anyone know where the 'friendly fire' incident happened when P-47s attacked the POW truck convoy? IIRC, something like seventy or eighty POWs were killed or wounded.

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  14. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    So could that 'stable' be from Notre Dame d'Elle? Do we have any aerial shots of that location?
     
  15. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Sean, your 'A' tack on Google Maps here for Notre Dame d'Elle appears to show the north eastern corner of a maize (corn) field. Is the building gone?

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Pat and all,

    The "A" tack is just Google's marker for the village of Notre Dame d'Elle, rather than a specific building. Is that what you mean?

    The only elements of 17.SS anywhere near there in June '44 were the recce battalion. The moved up east of Forêt de Cérisy and on 12th June headed back west to where the rest of the division had headed, ie Carentan area.

    I think the combination of US 29th Div and 17.SS points more obviously to further west, as Notre Dame is a bit off for both formations.

    One of the stills Niels posted refers to a Divisional collection point, which would seem also to exclude the recce battalion.

    There is a still in the divisional history of 17.SS which appears to show PoWs of the same group. The caption reads (roughly translated) "the first American prisoners from 29th Division, north of Vire and Taute canals".

    Cheers,

    Sean
     
  17. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    I wonder if any pictures were taken at the Cherbourg collection point. Initially it seems that POWs, wounded and whole, were sent to the area of the hospital in Cherbourg. After seeing that Cherbourg would most likely be cut off the Germans started shipping out the POWs probably around 9 or 10 June using trains and trucks. The rail line was cut by Briquebec fairly early and so POWs were trucked from there onward. Some of those POWs seemed to end up in both Notre Dame d'Elle and Starvation Hill as well as going all the way to Paris. Or in my Dad's case to the POW hospital in Rennes.
     
  18. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Hi Guys,

    Sean, where did you get Notre Dame d'Elle as a possible location?

    I have read descriptions of captured American glider pilots from the 'far flung' group in the western Cotentin, being brought to the Trappe Monastery just north of Bricquebec:
    [​IMG]
    I am not sure if they were brought solely because they were injured or because it was a designated staging point for POWs. Note the old Cherbourg railway track (now a cycle pathway) arrowed in red. Unfortunately there is no 'street view' cover at the Monastery - a target for Brian's trip in May perhaps...;)

    I'll keep digging...

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  19. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Hello there,

    From Dale's post at the beggining of this thread which spoke of Notre Dame d'Elle and Starvation Hill as being the same place.

    Cheers,

    Sean
     
  20. sirjahn

    sirjahn Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    In regards to Notre Dame d'Elle I did a quick search and the first POW that mentions that location indicated it was a monastery, Robert Young, 121 Engr Bn, 29 ID. There are several others with the same location.

    Regarding the strafing attack. Attached is an excerpt from Jack Schlegal 508th PIR E&E on the P-47 attack south of St. Jean de Daye.
     

    Attached Files:

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