They didn’t quite get the True POW picture
By Tom Morrow
During World War II, not everything was grim. In fact, there were occasions when naiveté turned to black humor. The late Jack Kellogg of Vista recounted some humorous, if not, unbelievable portions of letters received by British airmen while incarcerated.
Some of the logbook entries made by Kellogg, who was a U.S. Army Air Corps B-17 pilot, were made while he was a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III. They are historical if not somewhat hysterical. Jack arrived at Stalag Luft III two weeks after the famed “great escape” took place at the prison camp designed for Allied airmen.
“During my first two months as a POW, I shared a small room with six British RAF (Royal Air Force) officers,” Kellogg recalled. “There were many English flyers who had been incarcerated at Luft III for as long as four years.
He said daily German propaganda radio broadcasts beamed to Great Britain told English listeners how “fabulous” life was behind the barbed wires of a POW camp, describing it as a carefree life, consisting of frequent visits to area German tourist attractions. Jack thought it was amazing how gullible people can be if they hear or read something designed for information.
Kellogg found some of the letters from British wives, fiancée’s, lovers and family members were just a tad on the naive side, so he jotted down a few excerpts and kept them.
One wife wrote: “I am so glad you got shot down before flying became really dangerous.”
Another thought … “It must be wonderful for you to get away to holiday camps, enjoy cinemas and those lovely long walks we read about in the paper.”
One wife was concerned about keeping her husband abreast of the times: “I suppose you are able to get the hometown newspapers.”
Worrying about holiday cheer, one wife complained: “I enclosed some lovely mince pies, but the Red Cross sent them back.”
Confirming German news reports: “I read in a POW magazine that Kriegies (prisoners) dream only of food at that right. Could this be true.”
Curious whether her husband was really where he said he was and able to take in some of the countryside: “It seems almost incredible that you should be in the heart of Germany but you are, aren’t you?”
A bored housewife wrote: “It’s the same dull routine these days. Work in the a.m., come home, go to a dance or a cinema. It’s so monotonous. Still, I suppose there are a few things you do without too, so I have to do two weeks in the hospital and I can’t blame you this time.”
From a fiancé … “I’m getting married on the 29th so please think kindly of me on that day and wish me well.”
“I hope you will not return passion-dead. Glad you are having a rest. Personally, I’m working night and day. Did I tell you I got married recently.” — an ex- fiancé
“Hurry up and get back. When you do, you will be in the money and I’ll be in the mood. I married your brother and I am so happy to be in your family as I will be able to see you often.” — an ex- fiancé
A thoughtful wife: “It is not very nice to be a prisoner-of-war, but it is honorable. I am having an affair with a Canadian airman and he is having cigarettes sent to you from Canada.”
A departure from reality: “It’s strange when one is flying, one’s cares and troubles are forgotten.”
Did I tell you that: “You must stop writing to John. He has been dead for two years.”
An angry wife: “Your kit (duffle bag) arrived home and the first thing I saw when looking through it was a lot of photos of ugly-looking girls.”
A thoughtful wife: “I am not sending you any photos as they will just make you homesick.”
A tourist-minded wife: “Try to get to Dresden and have a look at the picture gallery. The Boomadonna is worth seeing.”
A wife who reads between the lines: “As you have been asking for a half-dozen pairs of socks in every letter, I must presume you are joking, so I am sending you pajamas.”
Jack shared these and many other stories from his exploits in central Europe. He was shot down and was captured a few days later and sent to Luft III, but not before being brutally beaten in a Hungarian prison. He was a good friend and I am grateful to have known him.
SCAG SEZ: The best way our elected politicians can govern is to keep their politics out of politics” – Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features.