Diary of Raymond Brown
Raymond was a member of the 106th Infantry Division. He served in A Battery, 590 Field Artillery Battalion. His prime duty was to pull a 105 mm howitzer with a 2.5 ton 6 x 6 truck. This material was copied directly from the diary he kept while a prisoner of war of the Germans. The diary was hand made from paper given us once or twice for toilet paper. The paper was records of POWS being shipped. Each page was 3.5 x 6”. The diary being written as the events took place it is a fairly accurate record.
Prayer Meeting, Stalag 9B, Bad Orb, March 21, 1945
10/9/44 Left Camp Atterbury, Indiana
10/10/44 Arrive Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts
11/10/44 Left Camp Miles Standish from Boston POE on USS Wakefield.
11/17/44 Arrived Liverpool, England.
11/18/44 Moved to Glouchester.
11/29/44 Boarded LST 517 (landing ship tank), after Red Cross had given us coffee and doughnuts. Watched diver cut cable from propeller. Chained the trucks and guns to the deck. We sailed that night. I lived in my truck cab. Ate very well on the LST. Arrived next day at Le Havre. . Stayed in bay till we lost 2 anchors due to a severe storm. Sailed back to England.
12/4/44 Arrived back in England for new anchors.
12/5/44 Got off the LST to visit Red Cross where I received coffee and doughnuts. HO Battery was there. Jones and I met Lt. Col. (Lackey?) told to get back on the LST
12/6/44 Sailed Monday. Getting very tired of ships. I was on KP. Ham and meat loaf. Sore mouth. Ate very good. Made Christmas Cards. Excellent Navy food.
12/7/44 Arrive Le Havre. Sailed up the Seine River.
12/8/44 Wrecked German equipment all along the south bank of the river. Drove off LST.
12/14/44 Snodgrass and I slept with Service Battery.
12/15/44 Snodgrass and me with truck A-13 and B Battery truck went 50 miles behind our lines for coal. Visited Belgium, bought cards and had fun. Owe staff sergeant 37 pounds.
12/16/44 Battery fired all night. All hands on the guns at 7:30 AM. Looked for my truck. Talked to Capt. Pitts. Returned and was digging fox hole. Germans zero in on us. 3 shellings, one 1:00 AM, two 3:00 AM. 9:35 number 3 gun shelled. Also shelled mess hall. Capt. Pitts checked all guns. 12:30 -13:30 shelled during fire command. One shell just missed ammo pit, hit Asher. Knocked Kozan off camouflage net. Stayed low until Winter called us into dugout. Then shelled hard. Capt. Pitts killed in front of the mess hall. Our ammo pit blown out. Duds on top of hut, shell holes all over. Gun number 3 out. Major Meadows and Lt. Creel drove by in jeep. 5 German tanks direct fire. 3 rounds to 5th section house (where Pete House slept the night before). Slept with Snodgrass again. Shelled all night. Went with ammo detail with Sgt. Harris. Someone gave us pork and gravy from the LST. Went to bed.
12/17/44 Battery got march order and A battery moved with B Battery north west to a command post where we met anti-tank outfit. Prepared to fire, but didn’t. My truck generator froze. Burned up fan belt. A Battery moved to meadow area, but abandoned A-i (truck) and gun north of Oberlascheid. German patrol occupied Oberlascheid. Stayed in meadow area until 1700. Abandoned both 5th section trailers (ammo). Moved with Charlton (truck A-5) to forest area north of Oberlascheid. T5 Charlton and myself found a dugout with logs on the roof - just big enough for two. Cleared wet hay out. Left all my gear in (truck) A-i3 so used Charlton’s bedding. Spent a very quiet night. Got rations and heated drinks with candle. The rest of the gun crew went on patrol. All infantry now. There was a big aid station in the forest.
12/18/44 Got up and went with Sgt’s Harry Hicks, Charles Young, and Winters to get my truck. Infantry was moving back to Oberlascheid. Infantry Col. stopped us from getting truck. Said to wait till town was take. So went back to the forest. Later Battery moved back to meadow area and went into firing position. Lt. Losh went forward. Fired by radio. Hicks, Charlton, Wagner, Harris and Carl Clouser, driving, went for A-i 3. Found it and drove to gun position. Carl pulled me a little. Needed fan belt.
Motor Sergeant Vester Mixon went to work on the truck. Put gun into position. Enemy tanks were supposed to of been sighted. 422 Infantry passed through our position. Battery 105’s fired 1 round with charge 3, 2 rounds charge 4 and 3 charge 5. Drove Germans from Oberlascheid. Received march orders. Germans landed I shell just behind gun position. Simer drove my truck to gun position. Battery moved to north outskirts of Oberlascheid. Were told snipers were ahead. Battery pulled into position. Moved with A-13 (gun truck) to 5th Section (Ammo section.) Dug in. Was a tired kid. Hill, from Kentucky, and I ate corned beef, and stayed together. Big fires west and east. Our Battery received march order that night. Hicks led me to gun. Very dark. Battery moved to Oberlascheid and stopped by orderly room. Was shelled by church. The men were realty tired. Berp gun (German machine gun) and hard fighting on our south. Finally moved back to command post where 423 Infantry (Regiment) had motor park. Pulled into field and waited. Charles Young and Winter wanted to take off. Lt. Roden said no, $100,000 equipment couldn’t be lost. Then told us we were going to make a run for it. Everybody said good luck and started off. Battery and infantry moved to camouflage net and turned west. Pulled into big field. There met cannon Co. They took off. Took rotor from trucks and breech blocks from guns. Ate 3 cans K rations. Battery decided to move with infantry. Dismounted guns and trucks and started to move. Lt. Creel as leader. I got a full box of carbine ammo off Harris. Got raincoat off Fred (Martinez). Also full canteen of water. About 100 yards from trucks Lt. Col. Lackie (battalion commander) stopped us and ordered us back to our trucks and prepare to move. Finally got them started. Helped to get them started so Simes drove my truck. I got on Charlton’s truck with Kai M Lew as machine gunner. We moved about 300 yards and stopped. There we stayed till daybreak. I was exhausted so went to sleep.
12/19/44 Woke about 5:30 and walked to front of column. A-13 (truck) leading vehicle. Simes and Lt. Coleman and section. There picked up a can dry apricots and filled pockets of raincoat. Worked way back to A-6 (truck.) Gave apricots away at A-6. There last seen J. 0. Adams on a jeep with 50 cal. machine gun. He was one of our gun sergeants but was transferred to 423 cannon company. Then walked back to A-i 3. It was daylight now. They put gun in position and moved A-i 3 up the hill. Fourth section stuck in marsh bottom. Never saw them again. Went up to my truck and found a jeep abandoned. I had a pair of 10-50 field glasses and an M-1 rifle I got from the infantry. White fired 50 cal. machine gun and put hole in hood. I laid my carbine down and went to latrine. Came back and no gun. Started to look for gun and I was shelled from other side valley. Never saw carbine again. Corp. Clifford Citron took by error - had 2.
Germans shelled us 3 times. I crawled through pines and found half fox hole and spade. Soon had a slit trench and got in. Three infantry boys took over spade, dug in. The Germans shelled long time. Medics said give up. Then Major Tits said throw down guns and come out hands up.
Buried ammo, knife, grenade. Lost everything I owned. Lot of boys killed and wounded.
Walked out and Germans told us to throw steel hats, web belts, ammo, knives away. Also had pair pliers thrown away. Marched past blown up trucks. Jones hit in the ear. Young had helmet blown off. Our 105 blown out again also ammo. Saw one fellow dead and many wounded.
Lined up and walked to small town south of Oberlascheid. There seated again and found my little knife and roll of tape. Young kids and horses and wagons on every street. Then filed into shelled church where Jungerman finished apricots and ate part of 0 bar (emergency ration.) Stayed until night. Then put in big yard and told no one escapes or else. Laid in piles to keep warm. The boys sang By The Light Of The Silver Moon till the German said “You must stop that singing, our fighting men can’t sleep.”
12/20/44 Got up at 6:00 and walked 42 miles to Gerolstein. Stopped at Prum and now ate snow and beets (white beets probably picked up along the road). I had slippers inside my overshoes. Arrived Gerolstein 10:30 (PM), exhausted. Slept outside with Sgt. Ed Young.
12/21/44 Ate two bags rye crisp and can cheese, 7 men to a can. While lined up in Gerolstein met others from my battery and got in line for train. Got on train 1800. 60 men to car, car had held horses. Met Joe N. Y.
12/22/44 Our train passed many bombed places.
12/23/44 Trained stopped early morning. Stayed in rail yard all day. Water very scarce. We were bombed by RAE that night. Car doors froze shut. Went out window to open door. In bombing 8 killed, 37 wounded. It was very terrible, car shook like a rattle. Ate early that day. Bread, butter, molasses.
12/24/44 Still in yard. Moral very low. Afraid of bombing again. Watched our planes start German Christmas Present (bombing.) Ate 1830. Train again moved at 1930. Received a wonderful Testimony through prayer. Merry Christmas. Moved to Bad Orb.
12/25/44 Arrived in Bad Orb. Town guard came to meet us. Marched up hill to IXB Prisoner of War. We had our first hot meal in 9 days. Fed at Russian mess hall. Issued tin bucket. Had sliced carrot soup. Tasted like T bone steak. Moved to Barracks 42. Next day moved to barracks 24, across from kitchen. 42 became officer’s barracks. Camp was originally a French, Russian, and Serbian camp. We were only to stay here 2 or 3 days tell we were taken to an American P. W. camp.
In peace time it is a children’s summer camp. It lays in a little dip on the hill tops. We are about 4 km from the small town of Bad Orb. Bad Orb in German means resort. We are 31 miles east of Frankfort (am Maine.)
The camp is surrounded with pine trees and looking out and down the canyon (towards Frankfort) on a clear day is beautiful. There are approximately 50 buildings in camp and approximately 8,000 men. The sanitation is very poor, but we have the best drinking water from mountain springs. Our guards are from the L Co. 633 Regiment. They are from 40 to 55 years old wearing World War I service ribbons, and old rifles and bayonets.
1/28/95 Sunday morning. All was quiet, no coffee, guard did not unlock our door. Guards running around in full field equipment. Helmets and grenades. 900 (hours) we fell out and clothing looked at. Marched up behind 43 barracks. All POW’s there. Germans had machine guns out. Looked bad. Then the chaplain told us the kitchen had been broken into and German guard hit in the head 9 times with ax. The Germans said no food or fuel till the guilty men were found. They were looking for men with bloody clothes. Stayed out in the snow until 1130, then returned to barracks. A bloody field jacket was found in barracks 42. Cooks sent to kitchen to prepare food. Cooks started cooking at 1500, Everyone thankful. Had bread and margarine first and served oatmeal (soup) later that night. Thanked god!
1/30/44 Chaplain Sam Neel spoke on 10 Commandments. Hoping and praying nothing like that ever happens again. Peace come soon. Rumors of Red Cross packages.
1/31/45 Wednesday morning. Detailed unloaded 700 packages. Barracks got theirs that evening. Four men to a package. Contents:
1/2 sugar 8 qt’s milk (powdered)
5 smokes prunes
salmon meat and beans
13 vitamin tablets 12 crackers
Everything was divided equally. It was Christmas for the Men. Everybody traded. Meat was eaten first. (unknown word) were just wonderful. Men stayed up to I AM. Finally ordered to bed. Cooks go on detail at 200. Smokes exchange of barter:
O bar = 3 cigarettes coffee = 3 cigarettes 1 cup sugar = 5 cigarettes
4 prunes = 1 cigarette coffee = 3 cigarettes butter = 3 cigarettes milk = 6 cigarettes cracker = 1 cigarette Smokes sold at 200 Franks each
Five packs = 21 jewel watch
1 cigarette = (daily) portion of bread and margarine.
2/6/45 After the noon soup, planes started bombing Bad Orb. At 1300 3 or 4 planes came over camp, one German. The two American planes (P-47) opened fire on him as he dove on camp. He was smoking as he came in. I was standing outside barracks 43. German plane diving straight towards me. American opened up, tracers were coming straight towards me. I dove in barracks 43 doorway. Machine gun fire hit barracks 23, 22, 24 (mine), and mess hall. Also open field (between) 27 and 26. Two men from my barracks killed, 4 wounded. Barracks 26 had 1 killed. Russians, French, and Serbians hit too. The American planes were not strafing our camp.
3/11/45 Monday. Life continues very regular as a POW. At the present I have a cold and cold feet. We are waiting chow now, 1015. They cut our rations, now 250 grams bread, 295 grams spuds. The camp has 3,000 Yanks now. They have shipped boys in all last week. We can also hear artillery fire. God give us peace soon. Chaplain Neel gave Protestant services this morning.
3/20/45 Tuesday. Worked at German Gym all morning. Filled straw into bags. Smelled good. Seen frying pan full spaghetti. “Boy” something is in the air. Pray it is good. Planes bombed and strafed west south west this morning. British POWS coming in to camp. Walked back from Breslow on Russian Front. God give us peace soon.
3/14/45 We were told Red Cross packages had arrived at Bad Orb. They were ordered January 15, 1945. Most of them were good, but a lot were spoiled. They had been bombed and strafed. We returned packages to Serbs and 200 went to our hospital. This time there were 3 men to a package. I was on detail unloading them. Got extra chow. Everybody was happy. I got four portions of milk. Eve of 13th. Package saved life of 5 men in hospital, malnutrition. We thank God and American Red Cross.
3/27/45 Rumor of (Red Cross) packages from British saying they were in Bad Orb. Maybe one man to a package, no more than two to one. Everything looked fine. The Chief American Man of Confidence said it was true and we would get them Tuesday Morning (must have days mixed up.) Well Tuesday came and so did the Air Force Planes. I told the British boys there goes Red Cross boxes. Sure enough a few planes hit Bad Orb. The Germans said wagon horses, trucks and the packages all burned up and the church at Bad Orb is burning. So at first no packages at all. Then Wednesday night packages came in, eleven men to one package. Ha Ha, I have other ideas what happened to packages. Oh, well, liberation close at hand. Oh Boy!
4/1/45 EASTER SUNDAY. We attended church and prayed for peace and liberation. Our thoughts were of home and we spent the day looking for the Yanks. About 4:00 PM the shelling started at Bad Orb and area. It was very terrific and lasted till dark. The guards took off running and on trucks. The MP’s (American and British prisoners) took over the camp but they all came in about 11:00 PM (some did not return to barracks until after 44th Division arrived.) We were then told to be careful and it was possible that in the morning we would be Free Men. I went to sleep that night and except for the bugs had a very good night.
4/2/45 I got up the next morning, cleaned up, and walked up to the top of the hill by barracks 42. As I stood there I heard tanks rumble and ran down to the mess hail. Then I heard they were American tanks. Eddie came and said they were our tanks. We were liberated at 8:00 AM April 2, 1945. God Bless the Yanks.
My Prayer for Peace Delivered April 2, 1945
“Oh God, the Eternal Father, this day we bow before Thee in thanksgiving for the peace that you have delivered unto us, through our faith and prayers to Thee.
We give thanks from our hearts that the suffering of men and the destroying of His Works has been lessened.
We also pray for our comrades who, in the other fields of operations, are yet striving for their goal, that soon, ‘Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Man’, may echo the four corners of the globe.
With our hearts full of blessings we ask these favors in the name of thy beloved son, Jesus Christ.
Special List of Fellow Kreegies
Chaplain S. R. NeeI Henry Roper
Lambrith College 516 Bicknell Ave.
Jackson, Tenn Centralia, Ill
(Have his current address)
Keith R. Matson
Joe Farrar Salah, Wash.
1059 E. 39th St.
Brooklyn, 10, NY
2 Harvard St.
(Have his current address)
Table I -- List of Key Events
Dec. 16 My gun position shelled
Dec. 19 CAPTURED
Dec. 25 ARRIVED STALAG 9B, BAD ORB
Jan. 10 Officer move out
Jan. 15 Non-corns moved out
Jan. 28 Guard hurt
Jan. 30 Church (Tues.)
Jan. 31 1/4 Red Cross package
Feb. 6 Camp strafed
Feb. 8 400 men left for 9C
Feb. 25 Sung in choir (Sun.)
Feb. 26 200 POWs, 80 Rus., 100 Amer., 20 Fr.
Mar. 14 1/3 Red Cross package
Mar. 20 Russians leave camp. British POWS enter from Russia
Table 2 -- Menus
CARROTS SOUP Sliced carrots, horse meat, water, spuds, margarine
2. GREENS SOUP Beet tops, horse meat, water, margarine
3. SPUD SOUP or PEA SOUP With horse meat, margarine
4. OAT MEAL SOUP Spuds and meat
5. 5 tiny boiled potatoes - towards the end.
MORNING Coffee, black
NIGHT Bread, margarine. Lunch meat or jam 4 days a week. Tea, black
Coffee and tea were imitations, rather bad, but hot!
300 grams of bread each day
Table 3 -- Good Things To Eat
1. Oatmeal and raisins
2. Dog in Blanket
3. Corn Fritters
4. Chocolate Marshmallows
5. Cheese Cake and Pie
6. Pan Cakes with Fruit
7. Eggs and Bread
8. Melted Cheese
10. Fried Mush and eggs
12. Fried Tomatoes
13. Lunch Meat and Egg
Table 4 -- Burials at 9B
5 men buried
3 men buried
1 man buried
2 men buried
2 men buried
I man buried
I man buried
3 men buried
2 men buried
I man buried
1 man buried
Mar 7, 45
Mar. 12, 45
Mar. 13, 45
Mar. 20, 45
Mar. 22, 45
Mar. 23, 45
Mar. 24, 45
Mar. 25, 45
Mar. 27, 45
Mar. 28, 45
Mar. 30, 45
2 men buried
3 men buried
2 men buried
Last 2 men died today. 2 were saved by Plasma when Yanks arrived. 34 men were buried during our stay here. Most from Pneumonia and malnutrition.
J. F. Smith, died 2/5/45 Edwin M. Lich, died 3/12/45
Table 5 -- Other Notes
Hair cut - Mar. 12, 45 Previously cut Nov. 7, 44
Camp quarantined - Mar. 10-20
Camp quarantined - Mar. 24-
Received 1,000 Sulfa Drug Pills from Red Cross
Boys very optimistic today -- Mar. 26
Acquired Yellow Jaundice -- Mar. 22
Germans reported fighting in Hammelburg -- Mar. 29
Patton’s coming, God speed the boys
Red Cross packages, 20 to a man -- Mar. 30
Artillery fire in the valley -- Mar. 31
Rumor tanks in Bad Orb. Hooray, come on Patton.
Easter Sunday--Liberation Day -- Mar. 31
9B liberated April 2, 1945. We thank God for this great Occasion.
Eating GI chow now. “C” rations
Leaving Stamm 9B April 9, 1945, this is the 112th day as a POW
We left camp at 5:30 PM and drove through Bad Orb. Then we went to a little town of Lieblos where I got a hot shower and clean clothes,
Moved to 94th Hospital where I had my first GI meal. We had Vienna sausage, corn and beans, chocolate pudding, white bread and jam. Also got almond chocolate bar. Everything is swell.