Prisoner Of War No. 1568
Honor Our Veterans🇺🇸 Colonel Charles R. Patten, Sr. US Army Air Core 1936-1950
Stalag Luft III POW Camp
POW for Two and a Half Years
Photo # 1 is a letter that my grandmother sent to my grandfather while he was in the Stalag Luft III POW Camp. It is typed as requested on Prisoner of War Post (Stationary). It was stamped “returned to sender". Can you imagine getting a letter like that returned?!
The Nazis were moving the POWs constantly towards the end of the war and the Red Cross had no idea where they were so the families were "lost" as to where their loved ones had been taken or if they were alive.
My Grandfather’s Veteran Story:
In June 1943, then Captain Charles R. Patten, Sr. had been notified he was to be promoted to Major, but it had not yet come through at the time of his last flight with the USAAC (US Air Force was the US Army Air Core) 423rd Bomber Squadron/306th Bomb Group. The promotion meant he would take a ground job and would not be flying anymore. He substituted for another airman for this flight to accumulate enough missions to be sent home.
On June 13, 1943 his plane, SKYWOLF, was shot down near Bremen. He parachuted and survived only to be taken prisoner by the Nazis. The Nazis wanted to know what a captain was doing as a waist gunner (the position for which he substituted himself)
They kept him for 16 weeks asking questions. During those 16 weeks The War Department listed him as MIA because the Nazi's did not put him into a POW camp nor did they notify the Red Cross until after the interrogation.
To my father’s surprise, my grandfather chose to open up to me about what he experienced during those two and a half years. It was a conversation sparked by my unique choice of wardrobe in the 80’s; combat boots and a short flowered skirt. He told me about how the top laces of his boots ripped open due to the force of his parachute deploying. My running cross country lead him to tell me about how he stayed alive in Stalag Luft III. He ran everyday and that (and his wife & son back home) gave him the will to live. This is just one veteran’s story out of how many?