From: Cynrik De Decker - Brusselbaan 184 - 9320 Erembodegem Belgium|
Erembodegem, 31 December 1990
To: Mrs Mary Akins 560 Mt. Hood Dr. Hemet, CA 92343
Thank you so much for sending me the information and the photographs of Jimmy. They were most interesting, and I've made copies of them.
Two weeks ago, I interviewed the leader of the Evasion line 'EVA'. He's 75 now, but still very clear in his mind. He also escorted Jimmy, Bill and Henry from the Gare Central in Brussels, when they arrived from Ypres. He was the man who organized the whole escape line, this line helped 118 airmen. He was the one who recruited Ms Van Hove and Hubert. I think I begin to understand why Jimmy and Dolgin were betrayed, and not Henry Dzwonkowski. To explain it shortly:
You know that the members of the line didn't knew each other, because when they would be caught by the Germans, they could talk when tortured. Only Charles Hoste, the man I interviewed, knew them all, but they didn't knew him, except the few man men who were the 'Wellfare'. They did not hid pilots, but they followed the instructions Hoste gave, and they talked to the pilot's and the people who hid them, to know what they need (razor blades, food, medical help, books...). As you know, Hubert (nickname for Jean Pfortzenheim) was the 'Wellfare' between Hoste and Van Hove. The 'Wellfare' between Henry Dzwonkowski and Hoste was Gaston Matthys. I could understand from the words of Charles Hoste that Gaston didn't like Charles Hoste, and that he liked to set a separate line. I found out that Gaston Matthys knew that there was a traitor, Rene, and that he found the way to put Dzwonkowski on another escape line, the 'Comet' line. But normally, Gaston had the duty to inform Charles Hoste, because he was the leader... Hoste confirmed me that he never heard about this from Gaston, and that's why he didn't knew that there was something strange going on. And so, he put Jimmy and Dolgin on the line of Rene Van Muylem. After the war, Hoste told me that Gaston would like to keep the upmost medals for him, and so they never became friends. Unfortunately, Gaston and Hubert are both dead now.
A second interesting point is the story of Henry Dzwonkowski, the ball gunner of Jimmy's plane. As we know, he stayed at another address, together with Albert Bremer, another gunner of a B-17. who crashed the same day, the 1st of December 19434 only 20 miles of Jimmy's crash.
One day, the 'Wellfare', Gaston, alerted Charles Hoste that something strange was going on in the house of the two evadees. So Hoste went personally visiting the two airmen -something he never did before because he could give up his anonymity. No, not Henry was the troublemaker, but Albert Bremer. His parents were immigrant Germans, and he was so angry of being an German-American flyer who had to bomb Germany, the country were his family still lived. When Bremer joined the USAAF, his wanted to fly against the Japs, and not the Germans ! So, while he was here in Belgium, staying several months in a house, he wanted to surrender himself to the Germans, hoping they would understand his situation, and probably provide him a nice job in the German air force. But he couldn't understand that with doing so, he betrayed his fellow, Henry, and the Belgian people who helped him as much as they could! So Charles Hoste had to play rough game. He should post outside the door an invisible' armed resistance fighter, and if Bremer ever wanted to escape his hide-out, he would be shot down without hesitation. Bremer was very calm when he heard this, but Charles Hoste wanted to be sure, so he radioed England and asked what ~to do. 'Send him as fast as possible through France to Spain was the answer. And so they did, together with Henry Dzwonkowski.
Next interesting point. I've just received a letter from Mrs Taylor. There are a lot of pictures of Ed, together with a copy of his false I.D. and a letter, dated 1952, in which someone from Brussels, the policeman Jean Adnaens, asked Ed Taylor to contact him, because this family never heard something from him since he left their home in 1944. This letter was the proof that Ed Taylor stayed for some time in Brussels, a few miles from were his co-pilot and bombardier stayed ! I'm trying to find this Mr Adnaens. He or his family is probably still alive.
And then something else. I wrote the Archive of the city of Solingen, target of the 8th Air Force that day, to have some more information about that bombardment and the results. I received a letter from the historian of Solingen, in which he wrote that his city never was bombed during that period! He only had in his archives information about some bombardments in 1942 and 1944. Were the pilots misled, and did they bombed another city, thinking it was Solingen ?
I've also found (in the Retired Officer) that there is a Service at the National Archives in Washington where I can find the Escape and Evasion Reports of Dzwonkowski and
Taylor. I'll order a copy of it, but this can take several months. I also asked if they don't have a report about the stay of Jimmy and Bill in Belgium, but they only could provide me with the copy of a little file, which contained a few lines information, which I already knew.
So, you see, there are still plenty of things to do the following months. So everyone has to wait a little longer for the story of 'the Pickup Crew' ! Bill Morris, the tail gunner, wrote me a letter last week, in which he informed me that he wanted to come to Europe in 1991, and that he'll probably come to Belgium. If you want so, I think this would be a marvelous moment for you to come also. I hope the story would be finished by then. Mr Charles Hoste told me that it was such a pity that he wasn't informed when you visited Belgium. If you, or other pilots and/or relatives of airmen he helped should come, he told me that he would come to meet them. Whoops, I've forgotten something, the local historian from Staden let me know that he is on the trail of Vermandere's daughter, who has to know also what her father did during those years.
And here in Belgium live goes on slowly. We have a cat now, Maurice (with red hair, we could name him Rene, but Maurice sounds much nicer). Maurice breaks everything that's in his way (flowers, plants, model airplanes etc.) and likes climbing, especially Christmas trees, whose coloured balls and lamps are his favorite objects for the moment. Every evening, when we arrive home, we find the results of his destructive character on the floor. But it's a very nice cat. Ann cooked Mexican last Friday, she prepared it from her memories of what she learned in your kitchen ('enemy territory') and I have to admit it was almost as good as your cooking (can you write us some recipes for vegetarian Mexican meals, please ? We looked for Mexican cooking books in Brussels, but couldn't find one.) Ann and I really miss hot Hemet, and your hospitality. We hope that we can show ours some time.
So, dear Mary, we hope that everything is all right in your new house, that everything is in order by these busy days. Ann and I want to wish you and your family all the best for 1991, a good health, much friendship, and let's not forget, peace.
Ann and Cynrik
Lt. J. R. Akins
News, Headlines and Communiqués
Paris falls. August big month. Last week many big advances east of Paris, Marne, Chateau, Heirry, Rheims.
September 1 and 2
Verdun, Arconne, Nancy, Dilppe, approaching Calais and Abbeyville. L. Havre surrounded. Swiss border reached from south.
Big gains. East of Paris on into Belgium. Brussels, Antwerp fell during week driving on N.J.N.E., LeHavre, Calais, Cologne surrounded and bypassed. Abbeyville J. Dieppe.
Nix good news. Battle of Aachen. Romania kapoot!
Russians advancing in E. Prussia. Hungary.
Patton and 3rd advancing. 15th to 18th offensive from Holland to Switzerland.
Last of November
Rhine reached. Strassberg - taken - advance on Saarbruken. Russians in Hungary on Budapest and N.E. W. of Danube. Also Czech.
Week before Christmas
German offensive in Belgium. Pretty weather here Dec. 18th to 30th. Then snow and cold. Ground frozen.
Much colder. By 15th German offense in W. stopped.
Big Russian offensive in N. announced food shortage in camp. Russians south of Warsaw and west of Baranov. Reached Cracow by 17th.
Warsaw Falls! Russians N.W. Cracan within 20 miles of German border. Many, many Russian Divisions. "Ost front offensive comparable to invasion of Mongol Hordes.
Cracon J. Lodze - captured 65 miles west of Lodze. Driving toward Posen. German border reached N.W. of Cracow, 30 miles from Breslau.
About 6,000 Red-X parcels arrive.
Nix Red-X parcels. No mail. No lights or water (off and on). Russians 60 miles west of Oder in Breslau area. 30 from Stettin for over a week now. Big drive with Breslau. 100 km. From Dresden.
Nix good news. No food. 1 parcel for four men week ending 22nd.
Potatoes only. Much hungry - Ruff! Water off and on. Nix lights.
February 23 or 24
Big offensive begins on western front.
March 4, Sunday
W. front going good. Rhine reached 2nd or 3rd. Krafield, Trier, Munchen Gladback and many other places taken. Brit. And U.S. 9th joined up. Opposite Dusseldorf and Cologne. Russians reach Baltic between Danzig and Stettin. Also a place 90 km. Northeast of Stettin. Driving west toward Oder.
February 22 to March 4
¼ red X issue for the week. Still hungry. Nix lights. Water on most of time. Coal supply low. Light snow March 4th.
¾ Cologne in our hands. Patton reaches Rhine north of Koblentz. Bohn reached by 1st Army. No Germans west of Rhine between Cologne and Dusseldorf.
March 7, 8
No potatoes, bread, margarine, coffee and little barley on 7th. Rutabagas and bread pudding on 8th.
Three days ration spuds. Still no Red-X parcels. Last for one was in January. Allies on Rhine for 100 km.
Germans have one beachhead east of Oder. Russians driving on Stettin. March 9th lights on from 8 to 9:30.
March 11, Sunday
Germans finally admit beachhead east of Rhine across from Bohn. Took place Wed. March 7 at 4:30 p.m. Bridge still intact. Patton in or near Koblenz Patch on offensive in S. Big offensive preparations in north. Russians take Kusrin and advance on Dawzin.
In west beachhead over Rhine extended. Patton driving south over Moselle and Patch on offensive. Still no parcels. Spuds in 14th.
Many spuds came in. Enough till April 6. No parcels.
March 18, 19 - Sunday
Patton still going south of Marcelle. Also 35 miles southeast of Mairz. Patch still on offensive.
Another birthday. Only potatoes. Jerry soup and bread, and not enough of it. Nix Good!
Good news on western front. Kaiserlauten, Saarbrucken, Mainz, Wurms.
Germans west of Rhine only a beach head. Ludwichsaven, Wurms, and Mainz kapoot! Attempts made at Rhine crossing. 1st nice warm day. Still no food.
March 25 - Sunday
Good news. Rhine crossing in north at Wessel. Patton across in south. Hamburger and good soup from kitchen.
March 26, 27
Still good news. Patton bypassed Frankfurt and St. Fighting in Frankfurt. Patch also across. Other crossings and airborne landings north of Rehr.
Red-X parcels arrive 11:00. ¼ per man today. My first parcel today (March 27) since last of January. Still nice weather. Coal supply gone, only coke and wood.
More good news. Patton 70 kms. East of Frankfurt, Hodges and yet in Wetzler area. Linked up with 3rd at Frankfurt. 100 km. Front east of Rhine. Also ground gained in north. Russians 45 km west toward Austria. St. Fighting in Danzig and Gydnia. More Red-X parcels in. Enough for 1 per man for week ending March 31. Still have spuds and fair soup. Gradually getting over hunger spell.
More parcels. Total of about 25,000. Still spuds till April 6. Brit. 2nd and U.S. 9th through. 1st reached Marburg and Patton 20 km east of it. Received another six cartons of cigarettes today.
Three more carloads parcels (18,000). Also 1,000 personnel. Good news. Brit. 35 km. West of Munster. 9th going east along N. Ruhr. Attempt crossings at Dusseldorf. 1st 40 km. Southwest of Cassel. (unconfirmed 50 km southeast Cassel). Russians into Austria. Danzig J. Gydnia captured. Good food.
Eight more carloads parcels (20,000). Much good food! Allies still going in west near Munster and south of Cassel. 1st and 9th linked up. Rohr cut off! Patch still going. Captured Heidelburg. Russians still going in south. Big Burner Week.
April 1 - Easter
Church in theater. Bad weather. Good food. Good news. 1st and 3rd 75 km southeast of Cassel. 2nd 8 km. West of Rhine. 10 km. West of Munster. 9th between Munster and Hamm and still going east. Patch still going. More Rhine crossings south of Ludwichshaven. Russians on 70 km. Front into Austria. South of Weiner north.
Brit 2nd 60 km. Northeast of Emmerich. 50 km. East Munster. 9th still going. Reached Bielefeld. 1st driving toward Erfort. In south forces turned toward Munster. Ruhr pocket closed. Time moved ahead one hour April 2. Ost. Russians forming pinch movement on Vienna,. 15 km. from it. Also near Pressberg north of Danube. 340 km. between fronts. Still much good food. One per man per week now. One million in Lubech with American trucks. Approx. 60,000 kin camp now.
Brit 2nd 16 km. from Osnabrook. Can. Driving toward Zuider Zee. Gap 50 km. now. 9th driving east from Biblifeld. Linked up with 1st Ruhr pocket closed. 3rd on Kassel and toward Erfort (about 50 km) - Ost. Going on Vienna. Also driving on Pressburg. 325 km. between fronts. Max Schmeling visited camp today. North compound mess hall burns.
290 km. between fronts. All armies still advancing new Erfort. Patton regrouped and headed toward Leipzig.
285 km. between fronts. All still going well. Russians about have Vienna. Brit. Going toward Emden and Hanover.
280 km. All still going okay. 35 miles from Hanover. Patton on past Erfort. Patch going balls out everywhere. Brit and Can. Attempting to cut off Holland. Toward Bement and Emden. Russians closing on Vienna. Captured Pressberg. (Watch them in north - anytime now). 4,800 more parcel, more spuds.
2nd and 9th going north. 55 km. from Bremen. Patton west and south of Erfort and Elsewhere to east. 8th AAF bombing ahead of him at Leipzig area. Patch in Worzbufg. B/Thru between Karlsrhu and Stuttgart. Another big week!
April 8 - Sunday
Russians in south suburbs of Vienna. 2nd nearer Bremen. 9th north of Hamlyn and south of Ithav. Pushed 30 km and are south of Hanover. Patton is okay. Northwest of Coberg. Patch attacking Sweinfurt after. 25 km. advance in one day. 7th between Stuttgart and Nuremberg. Also between Stuttgart and Karlsrug (much food today. 1st time since parcels arrived that I was almost full - 1/3 can Spam per man. Many mashed spuds with cheese and pate gravy, plus cake, etc.)
270 km. between fronts. 14 km. from Breman. 10 km. from Hanover. 90 km from Hamburg. Really balls out. Russians in Vienna. Coming in north soon!
Red hot news. Simpson and 9th in and south of Magdeburg! Crossed Elre there after 85 km advance in one day. Patton north and south of Erfort. Encircled it and 20 km. east of it at Weimer. Canadians on Zuider Zee and 2nd fighting in Bremen. Ruhr pocket further compressed. Still eating good!
President Roosevelt dies - yesterday. Good news in west. Wittenburg reached. About 85 mile advance. Approximately 100 km. Front on Elbe. Fighting in Magdeburg and south of it. 160 km. between fronts in north - 215 between Patton and Russians. 170 km from front in north to Barth. Russians preparing for offensive in north. Any tick of the clock now.
9th has beach head over Elbe south of Magdeburg. 75 km front south of Magdeburg. 15 km. from Leipzig. 10 km from Halle. 25 km from Nuremberg. No news of Wittenburg. Many rumors this Saturday night.
Still going. Church service and memorial for Roosevelt (open air service)
Expected Russian offensive east of Berlin begins after heavy artillery preparation. Much inf. And air support. In west, Canadians reach North Sea and cut off Holland. Brit. Nearer Hamburg. Patton nearing Chimnitz, east of Leipzig.
100 km. between
70 km between. Russians 30 mi. from Dresden. Also few miles southwest of Berlin and northeast. Beach heads over Oder south of Stettin. Leipzig and Magdeburg gone this week. Dessau reached. Patton in Czech.
Russian 15 km from center Berlin. Fighting in superb. Almost wounded. 45 km. between fronts. Allies crossed Elbe at Wittenburg but returned. Fighting in Hamburg. Dressau cleared. Russian strengthening beach head at Slatter.
Distance between fronts ??? Probably linked up in Dresden area. Hitler and Goebels in Berlin. Fighting in south of city. "As Berlin goes - as goes Europe."
Russians encircled Berlin. Reached Potsdam and near Brandenburg. Russians now hold 20 km stretch south of Stettler.
Russians reached Brandenburg. Closing on Berlin.
Russians B/thru 35 km. west of Stetter. Situation more acute in Berlin. Templehof airfield reached.
Russians and allies join up northwest Dresden. Deep penetration west Stetten. Over 2/3 Berlin gone. Expect Russians here in two or three days!!!
April 29 - Sunday
Russians at new Brandenburg and Aukland. 4.5 km. from here. Linked up in more places. Brit. 2nd cover Elbe southeast Hamburg. Bremen cleared. Also Regensburg and Augsburg. 30 miles from Munich, Berlin about finished. Much anxiety and rumors here. Can't be long.
Big day. Much excitement and rumors. Russians 85 km. or less. New Russian POWs expect tank here tonight or tomorrow. Jerries pulling out. Many explosions at flak school or German blow up the place before leaving. Barth open city. Brit 2nd joining on Luberk.
Russians here! Two arrived tonight at 10:05 in touch from Strasland. Russians main force new and may be here tomorrow. Kriegies took over camp early this morning about 1 o'clock after Germans evacuated. Kriegie in guard towers, etc. Limited to B.B.C. today and night. Hitler and Goebels death announced.
More Russians arrive. Russians on home has us open gates and everyone goes out and raises hell and celebrates. Part of fences torn down. Also some guard towers. I went to Barth tonight 5 to 9 p.m. Big show. Tanks in town and many wagons and G.I. trucks. Russians really took over.
Martial law restricted to our peninsula. Allies and Russians linked up at Rastock. Berlin fell. Italy and Austria surrender, 900,000. Col. Zemphe contacts America and say we will fly out.
0800. col. Henderson tells us to be ready to fly out. Northwest Germany surrenders to Montgomery effective 0800 tomorrow.
Three Russian generals wait here. Big show. Also an American colonel arrives in Jeep to discuss evacuation plans.
May 6, Sunday
Church services (last one here, we hope).
Russian movie (Crimean Conference). We are told to stay in camp.
Russians entertain us with show. Very good. Brit. Lt. Col. Arrives from allied lines saying we will fly out soon and sit tight and be patient.
V.E. Day. War in Europe officially ends tonight at 12:01. Cease-fire order yesterday and here we still sit! Much discontent and low morale. Many have left already on foot and otherwise. Two American majors arrive from line and gave another pep talk. Visited airfield this morning.
May 13th - Sunday
B-17s arrive and we've flown out T.O. 0830. Landed 1400 at Laon Airfield. Trucks to airfield southeast Rhine. Left Rhines midnight 13th by train for Le Havre via armies, etc. Armies tent city near LeHavre midnight 14th.
Camp Lucky Strike
Visited Brussels June 1st and Paris. Returned to Lucky Strike about 5th or 6th and sat till June.
American Red Cross Food Parcel
Klim 1 lb. can Corn beef 12 oz. Cheese ½ lb.
Spam 12 oz. Salmon 7 ¾ oz. Margarine 1 lb.
Coffee 2 oz. Sugar ½ lb. Soap 2 bars
Pate 6 oz. Jam 6 oz. Prunes 1 lb.
K2 biscuits 7 oz. Choc (D-bars) 2 4 oz. Cig. 5-pack
Sometimes raisins instead of prunes. Peanut butter for pate. Tuna for salmon. M&V stew for cornbeef.
Canadian Red Cross Food Parcel
Klim 1 lb. can Choc. 5 oz. Cheese ¼ lb.
Cheese ¼ lb. Pepper ½ oz. Coffee/tea 4 oz.
Butter 1 lb. can Sugar ½ lb. Prunes 6 oz.
Jam 1 lb. Raisins ½ lb. Cornbeef 12 oz.
Sardines 8 oz. Spam 12 oz. Salt ½ oz.
Salmon 7 ¾ oz. Soap 2 bars Crackers 8 oz.
Cig. (Eng.) 50
British Red Cross Food Parcel
Meat roll 1 lb. *Apple pud. 12 oz. Cond. Milk 12 oz.
*Pdrd eggs 2 oz. Cheese 2 oz. *Oatmeal ½ lb.
Tea 2 oz. Pilchards 8 oz. Sugar 4 oz.
Crackers 2 oz. *Bacon 12 oz. Choc. 6 oz.
Stew 12 oz. *Peas/carrots 8 oz. *Dried fruit 8 oz.
Margarine 1 lb. Jam or syrup 12 oz. Cocoa 4 oz.
*Indicates not contained in every parcel
American Christmas Parcel - 1944
(4 issued to 5 men)
Turkey 12 oz. can Salted nuts (assorted) Fruit bar
Plum pud. 16 oz. can Vienna sausages Dates
Butter Cherries Deviled ham
Chewing gum Cheese Playing cards
Bouillon cubes Pipe Tea
Pipe tobacco Honey Game
Jam Wash cloth Mixed candy
(Per week, when available)
Bread 2425 gms (1 loaf=1800) Margarine 150 gms
*Sausage 100 gms Potatoes 2800 gms
Cheese 62 gms *Cabbage 600 gms
Sugar 175 gms *Barley 200 gms
Salt 175 gms *Meat 140 gms
Jam 175 gms *Carrots 600 gms
(453.6 gms = 1 lb.)
These rations severely cut after January 1st as some received no more. Bread cut to 1800 gms in 1945.
Kriegie Meals (8 man combined)
Breakfast 2 toast, butter, jam, coffee
Lunch 2 toast, fried spuds, fried span (2 cans), coffee
Supper Barley pudding (with prunes, breadcrumbs, sugar and milk)
2 toast with cheese and pate spread, coffee.
Breakfast 2 toast, butter, jam, coffee
Lunch 2 toast, mashed spuds with pate, gravy and fish patties (2 tuna,
3 sardines, spuds and crumbs), coffee
Supper 2 toast with cheese and pate spread. Jerry soup. Raisin cake
(box cereal and ½ box crackers, sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa) with thick milk whip, coffee
Breakfast 2 toast, peanut butter and jam, coffee
Lunch 1 toast, mashed spuds and gravy (made of 1 can cornbeef, 1 M&V
Stew, margarine, milk and cheese), coffee.
Supper 2 toast (with cheese and pate spread). Barley pudding (with American cocoa milk and sugar) Good!! Coffee
Kriegie Meals on Easter
8 man combine
April 1, 1945
Breakfast 2 toast, peanut butter, jam, coffee
Lunch 1 toast, 2 cans meat and beans with box of baked beans from
home. Scalloped potatoes baked with cheese, milk and butter. Coffee. Good!
Supper Jerry soup (good). Hamburger with 2 thick slices of bread,
Spread with melted cheese. Big prune pie with much thick whip!
Damn good! Coffee.
(Thus ended a banner week for us. Good news and many Red-X parcels arrived. Really good after a month's starvation rations and we were more hungry and weak than ever before in our lives. We thank God for this food).