The Long March From Oflag 64 to Hammelburg, Germany
In early 1944 Howard Holder and fellow POW, George Durgin, were in the throes of planning an escape from Oflag 64. Part of their preparation included how they were going to carry the food and water necessary for them to get to their destination, Danzig.
"George, who was super handy at mechanics, took a pencil and paper and designed an exceedingly practical knapsack about eighteen inches long, fifteen inches wide and four or five inches deep, which would hold exactly the amount of food and water we wanted to carry with us. George made his knapsack from some gunnysacking and I made mine from the old jacket of a pair of army fatigues. These packs took hours of sewing because we had to do it all by hand. George was very careful with his sewing so that when he finished the job looked like a machine stitch. I was a little more careless, and he swore mine would fall apart before we got halfway to our goal."
(Howard Holder, "Escape To Russia" Athens GA, 1994, Iberian Publishing Co. Pg 182)
Although Holder and Durgin never were able to follow through with their plan, Howard did keep his knapsack as you can see in the picture to the right. Special thanks to the Holder family for sharing this treasure with the Oflag 64 family.
Hope Langan (daughter of former POW 2Lt Vincent A. Grimes) recently had lunch with Kriegy Bill Sharpe and his daughter Cindy. During lunch she shared with them her father's Wartime Log.
Beginning in 1943, the War Prisoners Aid of the YMCA—dedicated to the spiritual, educational, and recreational needs of POWs—supplied blank journals for inclusion in Red Cross Aid packages bound for Europe. It was reported that they sent enough journals for every American POW. It is unknown how many actually made it into the hands of prisoners, or how many survived the camps, forced marches and the intervening years. Wartime Logs came with a cover letter containing the instruction to let the book be a “visible link between yourself and the folks at home.” The journals were coveted, bartered and traded. They created a precious forum in which to list frustrations and to sketch out hopes and desires. 2Lt Grimes' War Log contained many personal messages, pictures from the camp and a day by day description of the Long March. Many Thanks to Hope for letting Bill and Cindy view your family's treasure.
On the right is an example of an artifact that was donated to Friends of Oflag 64.
Lt Wilbur Blaine Sharpe carried this Bible with him when he was deployed during World War II and it remained on his person for the entirety of his wartime service. Sharpe was captured by General Erwin Rommel’s forces during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, in February 1943, and spent 19 months as a prisoner-of-war (POW) in Occupied Poland before escaping and making his way to freedom in January 1945.
We are particularly interested in collecting any and all personal articles, books, diaries, or recorded memories of former POWs relating to Oflag 64 as soon as possible, as they will be used as reference materials for designing the Museum. All Oflag 64 artifacts are considered to be significant and all Oflag 64 related artifacts are of value to the Museum.