Photos that make you think.

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
A photo from the royal archives, shared ahead of today's events
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All I see is two Grandparents, happy together.
 

Vortex-G

Swinger
I'm not sure if they already had to hold the rank of Sgt as the Sgt aircrew rank wasn't used before May 1940.

Small numbers of Direct Entry Sgt Pilots were recruited from the mid 1930s in addition to those who volunteered from the ranks. It was only non-pilot crewmen who remained as junior ranks until the policy changed in May 1940 when all aircrew were at least Sgts.
 

Waldeck

Old-Salt
Well,HM is now feeling what is happening to any British/any other nationality because of Covid. It's shit but everyone is taking at the hit.
It is bad, my wife and I because of our age know a lot of people stuck in hospital and family are unable to have much contact with them. A friend who is in her 80's with no family, a very tough woman with polio has been in for 6 or more months, because she has trouble getting around is stuck in a hospital. We get messages from her to come get her out, very sad. A lot of people will not report sick because they don't want to spend their last moments alone in hospital. I have no idea what it must be like in 3rd world countries, maybe they handle it better, who knows.
 
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Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
One photographer's personal portrait project of U.S. World War II veterans and their stories.


I'm Jeffrey Rease, a professional photographer based in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. I began this portrait project in April, 2019. It has become my passion to meet and photograph as many WWII veterans as possible—anywhere—and share the images and stories here and in print exhibitions yet to be determined. As a small gift to thank them for what they did so many years ago, I provide digital files and large prints for each veteran and their family. And I want to share those images and stories with you here.

The Greatest Generation

 
Several stories stem from this photo, so I’ll compress things a bit.

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It’s Thursday 27 January 1944 in a municipal cemetery in Lüben, Germany (now Lubin, Poland - not to be confused with the much larger Lublin.) The deceased was bombardier Lt Ewart Theodor Sconiers. He died in a mental hospital in the town on 24 January. A prisoner of war since October 1942 and held at nearby Stalag Luft III at Sagan, he had slipped on an icy patch and a large wooden splinter had been forced into his ear. This became infected, the camp staff did not have antibiotics and the infection started to affect Sconiers’ brain. His behaviour became erratic and bizarre leading to one (incorrect) diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the Germans were persuaded to send him to the Lubin hospital where he died on 24th January.

The German camp staff permitted six officer prisoners to attend the funeral and provided an American flag. The hatted officer standing apart from the coffin bearers is Colonel Charles G Goodrich, Senior American Officer at Sagan. Lt Milton M Stenstrom who had been pilot of Johnny Reb Jr with Sconiers as bombardier on 21 October 1942 when it was shot down by flak over Lorient is the officer facing the camera, with half his face obscured. Sconiers was one of 7 crew who had been aboard the predecessor, Johnny Reb, 97th Heavy Bombardment Group, on the very first Eighth Air Force heavy bomber raid on 17 August 1942 when the target was Rouen. They flew on the 19th as a diversion for the Canadian landings at Dieppe. The following day, 20th August flying in Dixie Demo they hit Amiens, then on 21st August, back in Johnny Reb, they suffered casualties over Rotterdam when Sconiers and his pilot won DSCs. A timing cockup meant that the 12 bombers of the 97th and their planned fighter escort arrived over the target at different times, leaving the big birds at the mercy of about 25 Luftwaffe fighters. A cannon shell through the right windscreen killed co-pilot Donald L Walters and seriously injured pilot Richard S Starks.

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The Starks crew with the original Johnny Reb. In the back row left to right are Lt Harold "Shorty" Spires. He would escape and evade after Johnny Reb Jr went down over Lorient in October 1942. Ewart "Ed" Sconiers who died as a PoW in January 1944. Lt Don Walters - he would die aboard Johnny Reb over Rotterdam on 21 August 1942, and Richard Starks who was badly wounded over Rotterdam.


Sconiers had some pilot training before washing out and being reassigned as a bombardier. He climbed into the cockpit, pulled the body of Walters out of his seat, and with occasional advice from Starks who was drifting in and out of consciousness he piloted Johnny Reb to a two-engine emergency landing at Horsham St Faith. Starks would never fly combat missions again, though his medical grade allowed him to fly non-combat in the US.

Johnny Reb, a B-17E was replaced by a B-17F which the crew dubbed Johnny Reb Jr. When her time came over Lorient two months later all crew survived, Sconiers managing to parachute on dry land whilst the remainder ditched, being picked up by a French fishing boat, the crew of which handed the fliers over to the Germans at Quimper. The navigator, Harold “Shorty” Spires managed to escape and reached Switzerland but the others went into the bag, the three remaining officers being sent to Sagan.

The hatless officer with prayer book was a Scottish Padre who had been captured in Tunisia in 1942 whilst with 2nd Parachute Battalion. Murdo Ewen Macdonald was adopted by the American contingent at Sagan as “Padre Mac” as they had no prisoner chaplain of their own - he was later awarded a US Bronze Star and became a celebrated preacher and theologian, a friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, until his death in 2004.
Standing behind Mac can be seen an NCO guard and almost completely obscured, a Luftwaffe officer.

After the war the US military commenced the colossal, still ongoing, search for any missing remains. Though the officers who attended the funeral were able to be explicit about Sconiers’ grave location, the Soviet occupiers were unhelpful. When more information was forthcoming it transpired that Sconiers’s grave and remains had been moved as the cemetery had been razed and turned into a park. My own speculation about this is that the obliteration of the cemetery may have been connected with the massacre of 500 mental patients in Lubin by the Red Army in February 1945.

As there were no clues as to where Sconiers’ remains might be, the US declared him missing and commemorated his name on a memorial wall at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery in Belgium.

And so in due course the internet age arrived. A hobbyist researcher in Gdańsk/Danzig 200 miles from Lubin posted pictures of French military graves in the city. One of these did not bear the usual rubric of “Mort pour la France” - and the name was Edouard Sconiers.

1619381397783.png


This was brought to the attention of the DPAA, the US Defense PoW/MIA Accounting Agency, and applications were made to French and Polish authorities to open the grave and submit any remains to testing. There was initial reluctance from them to disturbing the grave, but the Poles did allow some remains to be examined without them leaving Poland. Dental records checked out, and this persuaded the Poles and French to allow the remains to be sent to DPAA labs at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where comparison with DNA from known relatives confirmed that Ewart Sconiers had been found.

His first grave had been in a corner of the cemetery where there were several French graves, and the most likely scenario is that the Poles/Russians allowed their removal to a concentration cemetery in Gdańsk before razing the Lubin site. Perhaps whoever moved them decided to include the lonely American grave too. As Sconiers was generally known to colleagues as “Ed”, a contraction of his middle name, maybe somebody had written this on to the original flimsy cross at Lubin, and this was taken as an abbreviation for the spurious French Christian name.
Sconiers was brought home to his home town of Defuniak Springs, Florida, and with considerable ceremony and VIP attendance was reburied on 27th January 2018, the 74th anniversary of his first funeral in Lubin.

1619381542282.png


Four F-15s from Eglin AFB flew a Missing Man manouever, perhaps never more appropriate.

Sconiers' name remains on the Henri-Chapelle memorial, but a "Promise Kept" rosette has been added.



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Edit: I have added another pic taken from a slightly different angle, because it shows swastikas on a wreath ribbon.
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Was it sent by the commandant of Stalag Luft III at the time, Oberst von Lindeiner, who was described by Americans as "an old-school aristocrat with some 40 years of army service. Courteous and considerate at first sight, he was inclined to fits of rage. He was, however, more receptive to POWs requests than any other commandant." ?

After the British "Great Escape" of March 1944, von Lindeiner was replaced.

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Several stories stem from this photo, so I’ll compress things a bit.

View attachment 568249

It’s Thursday 27 January 1944 in a municipal cemetery in Lüben, Germany (now Lubin, Poland - not to be confused with the much larger Lublin.) The deceased was bombardier Lt Ewart Theodor Sconiers. He died in a mental hospital in the town on 24 January. A prisoner of war since October 1942 and held at nearby Stalag Luft III at Sagan, he had slipped on an icy patch and a large wooden splinter had been forced into his ear. This became infected, the camp staff did not have antibiotics and the infection started to affect Sconiers’ brain. His behaviour became erratic and bizarre leading to one (incorrect) diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the Germans were persuaded to send him to the Lubin hospital where he died on 24th January.

The German camp staff permitted six officer prisoners to attend the funeral and provided an American flag. The hatted officer standing apart from the coffin bearers is Lt Milton M Stenstrom who had been pilot of Johnny Reb Jr with Sconiers as bombardier on 21 October 1942 when it was shot down by flak over Lorient. Sconiers was one of 7 crew who had been aboard the predecessor, Johnny Reb, 97th Heavy Bombardment Group, on the very first Eighth Air Force heavy bomber raid on 17 August 1942 when the target was Rouen. They flew on the 19th as a diversion for the Canadian landings at Dieppe. The following day, 20th August flying in Dixie Demo they hit Amiens, then on 21st August, back in Johnny Reb, they suffered casualties over Rotterdam when Sconiers and his pilot won DSCs. A timing cockup meant that the 12 bombers of the 97th and their planned fighter escort arrived over the target at different times, leaving the big birds at the mercy of about 25 Luftwaffe fighters. A cannon shell through the right windscreen killed co-pilot Donald L Walters and seriously injured pilot Richard S Starks.

View attachment 568250

The Starks crew with the original Johnny Reb. In the back row left to right are Lt Harold "Shorty" Spires. He would escape and evade after Johnny Reb Jr went down over Lorient in October 1942. Ewart Sconiers who died as a PoW in January 1944. Lt Don Walters - he would die aboard Johnny Reb over Rotterdam on 21 August 1942, and Richard Starks who was badly wounded over Rotterdam.


Sconiers had some pilot training before washing out and being reassigned as a bombardier. He climbed into the cockpit, pulled the body of Walters out of his seat, and with occasional advice from Starks who was drifting in and out of consciousness he piloted Johnny Reb to a two-engine emergency landing at Horsham St Faith. Starks would never fly combat missions again, though his medical grade allowed him to fly non-combat in the US.

Johnny Reb, a B-17E was replaced by a B-17F which the crew dubbed Johnny Reb Jr. When her time came over Lorient two months later all crew survived, Sconiers managing to parachute on dry land whilst the remainder ditched, being picked up by a French fishing boat, the crew of which handed the fliers over to the Germans at Quimper. The navigator, Harold “Shorty” Spires managed to escape and reached Switzerland but the others went into the bag, the three remaining officers being sent to Sagan.

The hatless officer with prayer book was a Scottish Padre who had been captured in Tunisia in 1942 whilst with 2nd Parachute Battalion. Murdo Ewen Macdonald was adopted by the American contingent at Sagan as “Padre Mac” as they had no prisoner chaplain of their own - he was later awarded a US Bronze Star and became a celebrated preacher and theologian, a friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, until his death in 2004.
Standing behind Mac can be seen an NCO guard and almost completely obscured, a Luftwaffe officer.

After the war the US military commenced the colossal, still ongoing, search for any missing remains. Though the officers who attended the funeral were able to be explicit about Sconiers’ grave location, the Soviet occupiers were unhelpful. When more information was forthcoming it transpired that Sconiers’s grave and remains had been moved as the cemetery had been razed and turned into a park. My own speculation about this is that the obliteration of the cemetery may have been connected with the massacre of 500 mental patients in Lubin by the Red Army in February 1945.

As there were no clues as to where Sconiers’ remains might be, the US declared him missing and commemorated his name on a memorial wall at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery in Belgium.

And so in due course the internet age arrived. A hobbyist researcher in Gdańsk/Danzig 200 miles from Lubin posted pictures of French military graves in the city. One of these did not bear the usual rubric of “Mort pour la France” - and the name was Edouard Sconiers.

View attachment 568241

This was brought to the attention of the DPAA, the US Defense PoW/MIA Accounting Agency, and applications were made to French and Polish authorities to open the grave and submit any remains to testing. There was initial reluctance from them to disturbing the grave, but the Poles did allow some remains to be examined without them leaving Poland. Dental records checked out, and this persuaded the Poles and French to allow the remains to be sent to Defense labs in Nebraska, where comparison with DNA from known relatives confirmed that Ewart Sconiers had been found.

His first grave had been in a corner of the cemetery where there were several French graves, and the most likely scenario is that the Poles/Russians allowed their removal to a concentration cemetery in Gdańsk before razing the Lubin site. Perhaps whoever moved them decided to include the lonely American grave too. As Sconiers was generally known to colleagues as “Ed”, a contraction of his middle name, maybe somebody had written this on to the original flimsy cross at Lubin, and this was taken as an abbreviation for the spurious French Christian name.
Sconiers was brought home to his home town of Defuniak Springs, Florida, and with considerable ceremony and VIP attendance was reburied on 27th January 2018, the 74th anniversary of his first funeral in Lubin.

View attachment 568242

Four F-15s from Eglin AFB flew a Missing Man manouever, perhaps never more appropriate.
Thankyou for a very interesting & informative post.
 
Several stories stem from this photo, so I’ll compress things a bit.

View attachment 568249

It’s Thursday 27 January 1944 in a municipal cemetery in Lüben, Germany (now Lubin, Poland - not to be confused with the much larger Lublin.) The deceased was bombardier Lt Ewart Theodor Sconiers. He died in a mental hospital in the town on 24 January. A prisoner of war since October 1942 and held at nearby Stalag Luft III at Sagan, he had slipped on an icy patch and a large wooden splinter had been forced into his ear. This became infected, the camp staff did not have antibiotics and the infection started to affect Sconiers’ brain. His behaviour became erratic and bizarre leading to one (incorrect) diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the Germans were persuaded to send him to the Lubin hospital where he died on 24th January.

The German camp staff permitted six officer prisoners to attend the funeral and provided an American flag. The hatted officer standing apart from the coffin bearers is Colonel Charles G Goodrich, Senior American Officer at Sagan. Lt Milton M Stenstrom who had been pilot of Johnny Reb Jr with Sconiers as bombardier on 21 October 1942 when it was shot down by flak over Lorient is the officer facing the camera, with half his face obscured. Sconiers was one of 7 crew who had been aboard the predecessor, Johnny Reb, 97th Heavy Bombardment Group, on the very first Eighth Air Force heavy bomber raid on 17 August 1942 when the target was Rouen. They flew on the 19th as a diversion for the Canadian landings at Dieppe. The following day, 20th August flying in Dixie Demo they hit Amiens, then on 21st August, back in Johnny Reb, they suffered casualties over Rotterdam when Sconiers and his pilot won DSCs. A timing cockup meant that the 12 bombers of the 97th and their planned fighter escort arrived over the target at different times, leaving the big birds at the mercy of about 25 Luftwaffe fighters. A cannon shell through the right windscreen killed co-pilot Donald L Walters and seriously injured pilot Richard S Starks.

View attachment 568250

The Starks crew with the original Johnny Reb. In the back row left to right are Lt Harold "Shorty" Spires. He would escape and evade after Johnny Reb Jr went down over Lorient in October 1942. Ewart "Ed" Sconiers who died as a PoW in January 1944. Lt Don Walters - he would die aboard Johnny Reb over Rotterdam on 21 August 1942, and Richard Starks who was badly wounded over Rotterdam.


Sconiers had some pilot training before washing out and being reassigned as a bombardier. He climbed into the cockpit, pulled the body of Walters out of his seat, and with occasional advice from Starks who was drifting in and out of consciousness he piloted Johnny Reb to a two-engine emergency landing at Horsham St Faith. Starks would never fly combat missions again, though his medical grade allowed him to fly non-combat in the US.

Johnny Reb, a B-17E was replaced by a B-17F which the crew dubbed Johnny Reb Jr. When her time came over Lorient two months later all crew survived, Sconiers managing to parachute on dry land whilst the remainder ditched, being picked up by a French fishing boat, the crew of which handed the fliers over to the Germans at Quimper. The navigator, Harold “Shorty” Spires managed to escape and reached Switzerland but the others went into the bag, the three remaining officers being sent to Sagan.

The hatless officer with prayer book was a Scottish Padre who had been captured in Tunisia in 1942 whilst with 2nd Parachute Battalion. Murdo Ewen Macdonald was adopted by the American contingent at Sagan as “Padre Mac” as they had no prisoner chaplain of their own - he was later awarded a US Bronze Star and became a celebrated preacher and theologian, a friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, until his death in 2004.
Standing behind Mac can be seen an NCO guard and almost completely obscured, a Luftwaffe officer.

After the war the US military commenced the colossal, still ongoing, search for any missing remains. Though the officers who attended the funeral were able to be explicit about Sconiers’ grave location, the Soviet occupiers were unhelpful. When more information was forthcoming it transpired that Sconiers’s grave and remains had been moved as the cemetery had been razed and turned into a park. My own speculation about this is that the obliteration of the cemetery may have been connected with the massacre of 500 mental patients in Lubin by the Red Army in February 1945.

As there were no clues as to where Sconiers’ remains might be, the US declared him missing and commemorated his name on a memorial wall at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery in Belgium.

And so in due course the internet age arrived. A hobbyist researcher in Gdańsk/Danzig 200 miles from Lubin posted pictures of French military graves in the city. One of these did not bear the usual rubric of “Mort pour la France” - and the name was Edouard Sconiers.

View attachment 568241

This was brought to the attention of the DPAA, the US Defense PoW/MIA Accounting Agency, and applications were made to French and Polish authorities to open the grave and submit any remains to testing. There was initial reluctance from them to disturbing the grave, but the Poles did allow some remains to be examined without them leaving Poland. Dental records checked out, and this persuaded the Poles and French to allow the remains to be sent to DPAA labs at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where comparison with DNA from known relatives confirmed that Ewart Sconiers had been found.

His first grave had been in a corner of the cemetery where there were several French graves, and the most likely scenario is that the Poles/Russians allowed their removal to a concentration cemetery in Gdańsk before razing the Lubin site. Perhaps whoever moved them decided to include the lonely American grave too. As Sconiers was generally known to colleagues as “Ed”, a contraction of his middle name, maybe somebody had written this on to the original flimsy cross at Lubin, and this was taken as an abbreviation for the spurious French Christian name.
Sconiers was brought home to his home town of Defuniak Springs, Florida, and with considerable ceremony and VIP attendance was reburied on 27th January 2018, the 74th anniversary of his first funeral in Lubin.

View attachment 568242

Four F-15s from Eglin AFB flew a Missing Man manouever, perhaps never more appropriate.

Sconiers' name remains on the Henri-Chapelle memorial, but a "Promise Kept" rosette has been added.

View attachment 568278

Edit: I have added another pic taken from a slightly different angle, because it shows swastikas on a wreath ribbon.
View attachment 568305

Was it sent by the commandant of Stalag Luft III at the time, Oberst von Lindeiner, who was described by Americans as "an old-school aristocrat with some 40 years of army service. Courteous and considerate at first sight, he was inclined to fits of rage. He was, however, more receptive to POWs requests than any other commandant." ?

After the British "Great Escape" of March 1944, von Lindeiner was replaced.

Bodenplatte, thank you for posting this and all the others of a similar nature. I always enjoy reading them and the tales of these exceptional men are truly fascinating. Have you considered publishing them in a book? I'd certainly purchase it.
 
marie-louise-moru-dite-lisette-avait-17-ans-quand-elle-a_5644941_676x337p.jpg



An indomitable 17 year old...
 
A prisoner of war since October 1942 and held at nearby Stalag Luft III at Sagan, he had slipped on an icy patch and a large wooden splinter had been forced into his ear. This became infected, the camp staff did not have antibiotics and the infection started to affect Sconiers’ brain. His behaviour became erratic and bizarre leading to one (incorrect) diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the Germans were persuaded to send him to the Lubin hospital where he died on 24th January.

Truly, we take antibiotics as lightly as we do at our peril.


After the British "Great Escape" of March 1944, von Lindeiner was replaced.

Did he suffer a similar fate to his fictional counterpart?
 
Did he suffer a similar fate to his fictional counterpart?
Came close to it, but survived the war.
He was taken to London for interrogation after the war, but was cleared of any sort of involvement in the murder of the fifty escapees. In fact he had previously entered into a pact of honour with one of his staff that he would take his own life if ever he were ordered to execute prisoners.
After his release he contributed to the costs of a memorial to the fifty.
He died in 1963.
 
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View attachment 568358


An indomitable 17 year old...
A fascinating and moving story. Thanks for posting it.
It makes me think how lucky the UK was that it wasn't occupied and how many stories like this one there would have been, if it had been.
My daughters Godparents are from Jersey, and their parents still say there are families on the island with a dodgy past from the time of the occupation.
 

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