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Prisoner of war.

On the 5th of January 1945, Joe and Larry Poston were taking care of wounded comrades, between the towns of Dairomont and Rochelinval. Joe and Larry had gotten the order to stay with their wounded comrades and wait for the litter bearers. Late in the afternoon Larry decided to go back to the aid station and bring help.

Joe was all alone with his wounded comrades and he could see that there were Germans on both sides of his position. In the early morning of the 6 th of January, Joe heard Larry should: “Chick, don’t fire! They have a gun in my back”. Joe went for his gun, but he could see that there were Germans all around him. Joe, Larry and the wounded GOYA’s were taken prisoner and started marching to the rear. Joe doesn’t know what the Germans did with the wounded GOYA’s. The Germans took Joe and Larry from one place to another. During the night, Joe and Larry had to stand in ice cold water, ankle deep. Joe remembers that it was very cold. Earlier he had wrapped his jacket around the cold feet of one of the wounded GOYA’s, so Joe had no jacket to keep him warm. Later Joe and Larry got mixed up with about 35 gunned downed airmen and they were taken to a POW camp for air crews, Dulag Luft.

In Dulag Luft, Joe and Larry were kept in solitary confinement and hardly got anything to eat. Furthermore they both had to go through interrogation.
In Dulag Luft, Joe and Larry were kept in solitary confinement and hardly got anything to eat.

Furthermore they both had to go through interrogation. During these interrogations Joe was threatened to be killed three times. Finally Joe and Larry were put on a truck to be taken to another place. During this trip, a English Spitfire came over and strafed the truck. Joe was hit by a round in the back of his neck. After this trip, Joe and Larry were put on a boxcar. The conditions in these boxcars were pretty bad. Most of the prisoners had diarrhea , there wasn’t a toilet and they were packed like sardines. After traveling for four and a halve day the train arrived at Stalag IVb, located about 60 miles south of Berlin.

Joe and Larry were the only 551 st paratroopers that became Prisoners Of War.

There were about 20.000 POW’s in this POW camp, French, Poles, Americans, British and Russians. According to Joe the Germans kept the prisoners on a starvation diet.
While Joe was in this POW camp his thoughts went out for his wife Jean, who by now was informed by the US Army that Joe had become a POW.
It was during this time that Joe wrote the lyrics for the song “All my life”.

Finally the Russians came and liberated the camp. Joe and Larry would follow the Russians soldiers on their march to the West and they both were always looking for food. Joe: I saw a German man once in a town. He took out a pouch with a small cigar like a cigarette in them. I tried to be polite and asked him for one.
He refused. A Russian soldier saw this.
He hit the German and gave the pouch to me. I still have it today.

After many days of traveling by foot, Joe and Larry made it to the Elbe River. The Russian soldiers wouldn’t let Joe and Larry pass to the other side were US troops were waiting. Joe, Larry and some other prisoners made dash across a bridge to the US side of the river. They used a hay cart and when the Russian got wise, the too several shots at Larry and Joe, but they made it safely to the US side. After getting on an airplane, Joe and Larry were flown to Camp Lucky Strike where Joe was hospitalized and treated for frozen feet, pierced eardrum, lice, skin disease, dysentery and malaria. His wound to the neck and shoulder couldn’t be treated. Joe’s weight had gone down from 155 lbs (70 kilogram) to 115 lbs (52 kilogram)…..

In July 1945, Joe finally returned to his wife and daughter in Massillon, Ohio.