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Laurent Rizzotti 22nd November 2005 19:57

Allied airmen in Buchenwald

168 airmen, that were captured by Germans while trying to evade capture in France, probably all wearing civilian clothes when they were caught, were not sent to POW camp but to the concentration camp of Buchenwald in April 1944.
156 left this camp on the 18-19 Oct 1944 and 10, that were sick at the time of the transfer, left later and all went to POW camps. Two men of this group died in Buchenwald. Depending from source, they are said to have been sick at the time of transfer or to have died before.

The two men are Flg Off Philip Derek Hemmens of 49 Sqn RAF and 1st Lt Levitt C. Beck, Jr of 514th FS, 406th FG USAAF.

The American Battle Commision gave the date of death of Beck at 29 November 1944.
On the other hand the CWGC shows Hemmes death date as the 18 October 1944, and that date is just the last day the group remained in the camp, so I wonder if the real date of Hemmes' death is unknown and it was administratively set as the 18 Oct 1944 (maybe the last day he was seen alive by the other POW). If anyone know more of the subject I'm interested.

Thanks in advance.

Dennis Peschier 22nd November 2005 20:30

Re: Allied airmen in Buchenwald
I scanned this from "Footprints in the sands of time"by Clutton-Brock, page 81.

Two airmen would never make the journey trom Buchenwald to Sagan: Flying Officer P.D. Hemmens RAF and Lieutenant Levitt C. Beek USAAF. Hemmens had contracted septic aenemia, rheumatic fever and pneumonia . . . When he first developed septic aenemia he was placed in hospital, but nothing was don except that his joints were opened up using a knife. He didn't have the strength left to fight off the subsequent infection.. . .' Though his official date of death is given as 18 October, the tru date is believed to have been 27 September.
Beek 'succumbed to purulent pleurisy . . . on the evening of 29 November 1944' . Both were remated, their ashes lost forever.
Five weeks after the main party had gone to Stalag Luft III the ten remaining at Buchenwald (apart trom Beek) - one Australian, three Canadians and Six Americans - were considered fit enough to travel and had all arrived at Sagan by 29 November 1944. Flight Sergeant TA. Malcolm RAAF had no recollection of his journey there, being dangerously ill with the disease erysipelas. Ed Carter Edwards had been sent to work on the railroad. I was to weak to work and with the help of a Belgian doctor managed to evade the working party.' The doctor, Kurt Barrs, having managed to manipulate the camp records to show that Ed was dead, told him to keep out of sight, which was not to difficult in the large camp. Flying Officer H.D. Bastabie RCAF had pneumonia, and stayed in the Sagan

hospital until the first week of January 1945

Hope this helps,


Laurent Rizzotti 23rd November 2005 18:10

Re: Allied airmen in Buchenwald
Thanks Dennis, just as I thought Hemmens' official date of death, as for many concentration camp inmates, was "choosen" by the administration after the war at it was impossible to know the true date.

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