Skip to content
In the European theatre of World War II, close to 94,000 American soldiers were taken as prisoners of war (POWs). Douglas D. Reid, my father-in-law, was shot down over Berlin on June 21, 1944. He became a prisoner of war that day.
Growing up in Queens, New York, Dad enlisted, attended Officer Cadet School, was given the rank of First Lieutenant and served as a bombardier. He was one of ten crew members when his plane, a B-24 H, was attacked; two of the men were killed. The aircraft went down in a very unusual place—the west runway of Johannisthal airport in Berlin. Dad believed that landing in this location saved his life, even if it was going to be a life in a prisoner of war camp.
The best the family can deduce is that Dad was first taken to Dulag Luft, an interrogation camp. At some point, he was eventually moved to Stalag Luft III, a prison camp run by the Luftwaffe. On January 27, 1945, Hitler ordered the evacuation of the camp for fear that it would be liberated by the Russians. Dad and his fellow prisoners were forced to walk for hours through a blizzard with winds driving near-zero temperatures. Dad suffered frostbite.
Eventually, the prisoners were marched into Staling VII, a nest of small compounds that were built to hold 14,000 prisoners but now had 130,000 POWs. On the morning of April 29, 1945, Patton’s troops broke through the barriers and they were freed.
My father-in-law never spoke about his time there or the hardships he faced. He came back to New York, married, raised a family, ran his own business and played golf to a 6 handicap.
He and his fellow soldiers were part of the Greatest Generation that Ever Lived. We owe each of them our eternal gratitude.