Less We Forget Poppy


The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.
A Canadian Hero

Less We Forget Poppy


Chapter 2: CAPTURE / PRISONER OF WAR / ESCAPE ATTEMPTS

Section 2.3 : STALAG VIII B : LAMSDORF

image of barbed wire

Immediately upon release from solitary confinement at DuLag Luft I set out for the LAMSDORF prison camp (StaLag VIII B ) near Oppeln on the River Oder in Silesia.

We remained at DuLag Luft for two more days then set out for the LAMSDORF prison camp (StaLag VIII B ) near Oppeln on the River Oder in Silesia.

P/O Creighton however went to prison camp SAGAN.

Map of Stalag VIIIB / 344

On 15th April 1942, after an exhausting rail journey we arrived at LAMSDORF / StaLag VIII B.

Wilkommen bei Stalag VIII-B

StaLag VIII B (see also second Web LINK) was situated about 3km from the small town of Lamsdorf – (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia.

The camp was located in the heart of German-owned Silesia a centre of coal mining, steel works and heavy industry vital to the military production of the Third Reich.
Unfortunately for the POWs, it was located about as far away from the front/neutral countries as it was possible to get!

Editor's Note:
StaLag or "Stammlager" = camp for enlisted men and NCOs
OfLag or "Offizierslager"= camp for officers
ILag or "Internierungslager" = internment camp
and DuLag or"Durchgangslager" = transit camp (until distributed to other POW camps)

StaLag VIII B was a big camp filled with prisoners taken at Dunkirk and Crete, but there were only 500 men in the Air Force compound. There were about 7,000 men in the Army compounds and a further 13,000 registered at the camp on work parties spread around the countryside.
(StaLag VIII B had become home to some of the first POWs from Poland in 1939, then to POWs from Britain and the Commonwealth from 1940. Later, the first Americans started to arrive, taken in the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaigns. Russians were not incarcerated at Stalag VIII-B. They had their own camps, some of which were close by. As Russia was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention, they were treated little better than animals by the Germans (and vice versa).)

Hubert Brooks' Stalag VIIIB / Lamsdorf Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) Card
Note the Early POW Cards had NO Photographs Attached To Them
Facilitating Identity Inter-change Between Prisoners

Document Courtesy Of: British Ministry of Defence DBS KI Records
Photo:  Hubert Brooks' German Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf Prisoner of War (POW) Card

Editor's Note: English Translation for Hubert Brooks' German Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf Prisoner of War (POW) Card
(Thanks to Christoph S. for assistance in translation.....)

Photo:  English Translation for Hubert Brooks' German Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf Prisoner of War (POW) Card

My first impression of StaLag VIII B was that it was huge covering many acres of land. Around the perimeter of the prison camp were two barbed wire fences each about 12 feet high but with the outer fence being a little higher. In between the fences was a coiled roll of razor sharp barbed wire. About 12 feet inside the barbed wire fence was a "trip wire" perimeter boundary, inside which it was forbidden to venture with the consequence of being shot by the ever vigilant guards. The gurads were located in towers about twenty feet high located at periodic intervals around the circumference of the camp. These towers were equipped with searchlights and machine guns.

In fact StaLag VIIIB Lamsdorf was said to be the largest Stalag in the Third Reich with many tens of thousands of prisoners.

Early May 1942, newspaper accounts Ref: 2.7 first started to appear detailing that I was a PoW.

In early May 1942 the Deputy Minister of Canada's Department of National War Services sent my mother a letter officially telling her that I was a PoW.

Letter dated 11th May 1942 from Dept War Services informing Hubert Brooks'mother that he was a PoW

Calgary Alberta Newspaper Article Describing Art Crighton Shot Down Over Germany

On 21–May–1942 the Military intercepted two letters from my Wellington crew mates telling of our capture:

Intercepted Letter from crewmate Parker telling he was a PoW in Stalag Luft.

(Editor's Note For Winston Parker's full story in captivity see the web site The Long March. Winston also has a PERSONAL WEB SITE, where purchase details for his book Saddles and Service describing his life, including war time service, can be found.)

Intercepted Letter from crewmate Patton telling he was a PoW in Stalag Luft.

And shortly thereafter on 26–May–1942 they intercepted my letter to my folks back in Montreal. I did not want to worry them about my bad landing during my parachute bail out so I said nothing about it.

Intercepted Letter from Hubert Brooks to mother telling he was a PoW in Stalag Luft.

Followed by a letter from the Red Cross re–confirming I was a PoW and being held at StaLag Luft. I'm sure at the time my parents appreciated every letter and notice even if it only re–confirmed what had already been stated.

Letter from Red Cross to Hubert Brooks' mother stating he was a PoW in Stalag Luft.

Sometime later in time, my mother received a letter from the Irving Air Chute Company telling her essentially that they were pleased that their product had worked and her son Hubert Brooks was now a member of the Caterpillar Club! I never did ask my mother how she reacted to this letter.

Irving Parachute Company Caterpillar Pillar Pin with Ruby Eyes Letter from Irving Parachute Company to Hubert Brooks' mother stating he was now a member of the Caterpillar Club.
On hearing of my capture, I laughed when I later found out that my sister Doris was widely quoted in the local Montreal papers as saying: "That I was too full of the devil for the Nazis to hold."

Picture of Hubert Brooks' mother, father and sister

At the time, I wish I had known that all of these messages were actually getting through to my parents. I just did not know. Had my letter gotten through, had the Red Cross notified them and so on?

image of barbed wire



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