Allied airmen at Buchenwald concentration camp
Between 20 August and 19 October 1944, 168 allied airmen were held prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp. Colloquially, they described themselves as the KLB Club (for Konzentrationslager Buchenwald).[page needed] Of them, 166 airmen survived Buchenwald, while two died of sickness at the camp.
As allied air forces took control of the skies over Europe in the summer of 1944, Adolf Hitler ordered the immediate execution of allied flyers accused of committing certain acts. The most common act was to be captured in civilian clothing and/or without their dog tags by the Gestapo or Secret Police.[page needed] These airmen had been shot down mainly over France, but also over Belgium and the Netherlands and were turned over to the Gestapo and Secret Police – by traitors within the French Resistance – while attempting to reach England along escape routes such as the Comet and Pat Line. A notable traitor within the French Resistance was Jacques Desoubrie, who was responsible for betraying a significant number of allied airmen to the German authorities.[page needed][page needed]
These captured airmen were given the name "Terrorflieger" (terror flyers), and were not given a trial. The German Foreign Office however, expressed concern about shooting prisoners of war (POWs) and suggested that enemy airmen suspected of such offenses not be given the legal status of POWs. Following this advice, the Gestapo and Security Police informed these captured allied airmen that they were criminals and spies. Using this justification, 168 allied airmen from Great Britain, United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica were taken by train – in overcrowded cattle boxcars – from Fresnes Prison outside Paris, to Buchenwald concentration camp.[page needed] After five days in the boxcars, they arrived at Buchenwald on 20 August 1944.[page needed][page needed]
|Nationalities of the 168 airmen|
|2 New Zealander|
Buchenwald was a forced labour camp of about 60,000 inmates of mainly Russian POWs, but also common criminals, religious prisoners, including Jews, and various political prisoners from Germany, France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. For the first three weeks at Buchenwald, the prisoners were totally shaven, denied shoes and forced to sleep outside without shelter in one of Buchenwald's sub-camps, known as 'Little Camp'. Most airmen doubted they would ever get out of Buchenwald because their documents were stamped with the acronym "DIKAL" (Darf in kein anderes Lager), or "not to be transferred to another camp".[page needed] After the war some of the airmen recounted that officers of the German Air Force had visited Buchenwald a few days after an Allied air raid on Weimar in late August 1944 to assess the damage inflicted upon the armament factory adjacent to the camp. According to these recollections the German officers talked to the airmen and saw after it that they were transferred to the POW camp. Years later veterans identified Johannes Trautloft from photos as one of the officers and credited him with saving their lives. Until now it was not possible to verify this story with archival records. In his war diary Trautloft does not mention the events. The Gedenkstätte Buchenwald stated that a visit by Trautloft or other officers might have happened and that this might have influenced the decision making process what to do with the airmen. On the other hand, there might have been no connection whatsoever, because the decisions were not made by a single officer like Trautloft.
To address the constant stress, long appells (roll calls), boredom, insecurity and apprehension, it was decided amongst the 168 airmen to hold formal meetings to give them a sense of purpose and order. Thus, the exclusive KLB Club came into existence with several chapters; Canada, United States, Great Britain, and Australia/New Zealand. Elected representatives of each nationality held separate meetings to collate the previously scattered efforts of those who had proposed address lists, meetings after the war and other pursuits. The meetings at Buchenwald displayed the 168 airmen's militariness and solidarity, forming a bond that brings them together more than 60 years after the liberation of Buchenwald.
At one meeting, it was agreed to design a club pin. The winning design, put forward by Bob Taylor from Great Britain, showed a naked, winged foot, symbolising the airmen's barefoot condition while in the concentration camp. The foot is chained to a ball bearing the letters KLB, with the whole mounted on a white star, which was the crest of the Allied invasion forces. Canadian airman, Willie Walderam, also wrote the poem titled, A Reflection, about Buchenwald (see below). On the night of 19 October 156 of the 168 airmen were transferred from Buchenwald to Stalag Luft III by the Luftwaffe. Two airmen died from sickness at Buchenwald, while the remaining 10 were transported in small groups, over a period of several weeks.
In the book 168 Jump Into Hell, the purpose of the KLB Club was described as being to perpetuate the comradeship already shown by the flying personnel of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada, by the interchanging of pamphlets, ideas and visits. More than 30 years later, in 1979, 4 Canadian KLB members made the first serious attempt to trace all club members. Of the original 168 members, only 28 have not been located or accounted for.
|New Zealander||Cullen, Malcolm Ford||78388||Died 5 September 2002.|
|Lamason, Phillip (Phil) John||78407||Senior Officer (Squadron Leader) at Buchenwald concentration camp. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Portrayed in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky. Died 19 May 2012.|
|Australian||Fairclough, Mervyn James||78427||Died July 1964, Katanning Western Australia.|
|Gwilliam, James (Jim) Percival||78423||Died 11 August 2002.|
|Johnston, Eric Lyle||78421||Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 25 August 2003.|
|Light, Kevin William||78381||Died 19 July 2008.|
|Malcolm, Thomas (Tom) Alexander||78379||Died 15 February 2002.|
|Mills, Keith Cyril.||78405||Died February 2012, Mackay, Queensland.|
|Mills, Robert (Bob) Neil||78426||Died 8 August 1990.|
|Perry, Raymond (Ray) Walter||78356||Died 26 November 1997.|
|Whellum, Lesley (Les) Keith||78442||Died 23 May 2003.|
|Jamaican||Guilfoyle, Michael (Mike) A.||78393||Not located after World War II, but a Captain Michael Guilfoyle flew for Air Jamaica in 1966.|
|Canadian||Atkins, Harold||78440||Only Canadian KLB member not located after World War II|
|Bastable, Harry||78378||Deceased 23 September 2007|
|Clark, Don||78364||Deceased 30 April 1988|
|Comptom, G.A. Edward||78434||Deceased|
|Carter-Edwards, Ed||78361||Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 22 February 2017 in Ontario Canada.|
|Fulsher, Frederick W.||78418||Deceased|
|Gibson, William (Bill) R.||78394||Addressed the Canadian Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs about Buchenwald, in February 2000. Deceased|
|Grenon, Leon (Leo) T.||78438||Died September 1994|
|Harvie, John D.||78412||Co-wrote the book "Missing in Action" about Buchenwald. Died 5 January 2011.|
|Hetherington, Stanley (Stan)||78436||Died 16 October 2005 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada|
|High, Dave||78422||Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones.|
|Hodgson, Thomas (Tommy) R.||78424||Deceased|
|Hoffman, Charles Richard (Dick)||78429||Deceased|
|Kinnis, Arthur (Art) G.||78391||Co-wrote the book "168 Jump into Hell" about Buchenwald. Died 20 January 2011 in Victoria, British Columbia.|
|Leslie, Donald (Don) E.||78404||Interviewed in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald|
|McLenaghhan, J. Ralph||78373||Deceased|
|Prudham, James E. (Pep)||78374||Died 2000 in Scarbrough Ontario.|
|Shepherd, Ernest G.||78372||Deceased|
|Smith, James A.||78428||Died 29 July 2013|
|Sonshine, E.R. (Joseph)||78343||Died 13 March 2005 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.|
|Walderam, Willie A.||78402||Wrote the poem, "A Reflection", about KLB and Buchenwald. Deceased|
|Watson, Earl Carruthers||78431||Deceased|
|Willis, Calvin E.||78342|
|British||Angus, Jack W.||78390||Not located after World War II|
|Barham, Leonard P.||78432||Not located after World War II|
|Baxter, Stuart||78384||Not located after World War II|
|Bennett, Geoffery||78344||Teacher at Caludon Castle School Coventry|
|Blackham, Thomas Henry (Tom)||78380||Senior British officer (Flight Lieutenant) at Buchenwald. President of the KLB Club Great Britain chapter. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 6 April 2003.|
|Booker, Stanley Albert||78370||Co-wrote the book "168 Jump into Hell" about Buchenwald|
|Bryden, Robert (Bob)||78365|
|Chapman, E.W. (Ken)||78409||Died 29 June 2008 in Sussex.|
|Chinn, Albert J.||78433||Not located after World War II|
|Clark, John||78385||Not located after World War II|
|Dowdeswell, Philip||78410||Not located after World War II|
|Fernandez, John Joseph||78352||Died December 1992|
|Gould, Terrance||78386||Not located after World War II|
|Harper, Robert||78414||Not located after World War II|
|Heggarty, Patrick W.||78420|
|Hemmens, Philip D.||78383||Died in Buchenwald from septic aenemia, rheumatic fever and pneumonia on 18 October 1944.|
|Hughes, Ronald R.||78347|
|Jordin, Douglas F.||78341||Not located after World War II|
|Joyce, Reg W.||78401|
|Leverington Ronald (Ron) L.||78382||Still alive in November 2011.|
|Lucas, Lewis J.||78389|
|MacPherson, Alexander J.||78435||Not located after World War II|
|Marshall, Wilfred||78417||Not located after World War II|
|Measures, Dorak K.||78413||Deceased|
|Mutter, Neville E.S.||78375||Died March 2001|
|Nuttall, Cyril Worsley||78366||Died November 1990|
|Osselton, John N.||78371||Not located after World War II|
|Percy, Douglas C.||78411||Deceased|
|Phelps, Edward K.||78419|
|Reid, John D.||78387||Not located after World War II|
|Robb, Ian A.||78415|
|Rowe, Andrew||78408||Not located after World War II|
|Salt, Frank||78345||Not located after World War II|
|Sharrate, William D.||78397||Not located after World War II|
|Spierenburg, Splinter Adolph (Dutch)||78443||Dutchman flying for the RAF. Spoke fluent German and regularly acted as an interpreter for Lamason. Not located after World War II, but a P/O Splinter Adolphe Spierenburg (born 17 May 1920 in the Hague) who joined the RAF in 1942, shot down over France in May 1944, and was subsequently sent to a concentration camp, died April 1997, in England.|
|Stewart, James (Jim) A.||78416||Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones.|
|Taylor, Peter D.||78425|
|Taylor, Ralph John (Bob)||78376||Designed the KLB Club pin. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones.|
|Vinecombe, Frederick S.||78377||Celebrated his 103rd birthday in 2017, alive and well in 2018|
|Ward, John D.||78396||Not located after World War II|
|Watmough, George F.||78439||Not located after World War II|
|Wesley, Laurice||78399||Not located after World War II|
|Williams, Llewelyn||78437||Not located after World War II|
|Allen, Roy||78357||Co-wrote the book, "In the Shadows of War" about Buchenwald. Main character in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky. Died 1991|
|Appleman, Stratton M.||78314||Deceased|
|Bauder, Warren F.||78196||Interviewed in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald|
|Beck, Levitt C.||78286||Died in Buchenwald from purulent pleurisy on the evening of 29 November 1944.|
|Bedford, Richard L.||78283|
|Bowan, Chasten (Chas) E.||78336||Interviewed in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald. Died 30 December 2016.|
|Brown, Robert W.||78295|
|Bozarth, James Walter||78340||Deceased|
|Carr, Frederick W.||78318||Deceased|
|Chalot, John A.||78278|
|Coats, Basil A.||78308||Deceased|
|Cowan, Frank Kirby||78271||Died 23 December 2009|
|Crouch, Marshall Jr. E.||78277||Deceased|
|Dauteul, Donat F.||78324|
|Dearey, Ralph W.||78316||Deceased|
|Duncan, James H.||78300||Deceased|
|Edge, William L.||78267||Died 1996|
|Fix, Karl Ellsworth||78313||Deceased|
|Fore, James W.||78349|
|Freeman, Elmer (James) C.||78359||Died 2 August 2012, Niceville, Florida|
|Friel, Edward J.||78309|
|Granberry, William L.||78312||Deceased|
|Hanson, John P.||78280||Not located after World War II|
|Hastin, James (Jim) D.||78354||Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died February 2005|
|Heimerman, Lawrence A.||78334||Deceased|
|Hilding, Russ D.||78326|
|Hoffman, Robert B.||78350||Deceased|
|Horwege, Glen L.||78281||Deceased|
|Horrigan, Roy J.||78321|
|Hunter, Harry F.||78337|
|Johnson, Robert T.||78272|
|King, Myles A.||78279|
|Larson, Merle E.||78363||Senior US Officer (Captain) at Buchenwald. Died 1998.|
|Little, Bruce S.||78301|
|Ludwig, Everett F.||78339||Deceased|
|McClenaghan, J. Ralph||78348||Deceased|
|Martini, Frederic C||78299||Active in KLB, VFW, POW groups. Deceased 1995 in Bradenton, FL.|
|Masters, Lovell O.||78290||Deceased|
|Mauk, William E.||78298||Deceased|
|McLaughlin, Daniel (Whitey) G.||78338|
|Mitchell, Gerald E.||78307|
|Moser, Joseph (Joe)||78369||Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Co-wrote the book "A fighter pilot in Buchenwald" about Buchenwald. Interviewed in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald. Died 2 December 2015 in Ferndale, Washington|
|Pacha, Arthur M.||78288|
|Paxton, S. Keith||78320|
|Pederson, J.W. (Charles)||78351||Died 23 July 1986|
|Petrich, Michael R.||78325||Interviewed in the History Channel's 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald. Died 23 April 2006 (Long Beach, California).|
|Phelps, Byron F.||78331||Deceased 10 January 2012|
|Pelletier, Arthur J.||78335|
|Powell, William (Bill)||78296||Original President of the US chapter. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 10 September 1997 (Bella Vista, Arizona).|
|Reynolds, Leo J.||78292|
|Richey, G. Thomas||78317||Died 2 June 2004|
|Ritter, Edwin W.||78311||Spoke Polish. Deceased.|
|Robertson, Charles William||78327||Died 25 October 2005|
|Rynerd, William H.||78358|
|Salo, Laurie H.||78270||Deceased|
|Smith, James W.||78323||Deceased|
|Scharf, Bernard T.||78353||Spoke German. Not located after World War II.|
|Scott, George W.||78330||Not located after World War II.|
|Shearer, Donald R.||78332||Died 21 February 2019|
|Straulka, Paul A.||78268||Deceased|
|Suddock, Dwight E.||78273||Deceased|
|Sypher, Leroy Henry||78276||Deceased 4 February 2006|
|Thompson, Warren A.||78329|
|Vance, Ira E.||78360||Deceased|
|Vincent, Edwin H.||78310||Deceased|
|Vratney, Frank||78328||Spoke Czech or Slovak.|
|Watson, John Paul||78333|
|Wilson, Paul J.||78297||Deceased|
|Wojnick, Ray J.||78367||Deceased|
|Zander, Arthur E.||78368||Deceased 15 July 2009|
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