Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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The Globe Gazette
Mrs. John NOZICKA, 830 15th S. E., received greetings from her son, Lt. Benny J. NOZICKA, from Paris saying that he would soon be on his way home. This is the first direct word received from Lt. NOZICKA since he was released from Stalag Luft 3 recently. The news of his liberation had been received here through the Red Cross the latter part of May. He was taken prisoner by the Germans a year ago.
The Globe Gazette
3 MONTHS AFTER RELEASE
"Wanted to Visit Around While I had a Chance,"
Said L. B. Nozicka
Second Lt. Bennie NOZICKA, liberated at the Mossburg prison camp, more than 3 months ago, after 11 months in German prison camps, has just arrived in Mason City from Europe. He will spend a 60-day leave here at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John NOZICKA, 830 15th S. E., before reporting to a redistribution center in California.
Lt. NOZICKA, taking advantage of a couple of leaves given the returnees after being flown from the prison camp to Le Havre, France, had spent part of those 3 months visiting Paris and placed of interest in England and Scotland. He left for the states from Bristol, England, on a navy fighting ship and landed in this country 9 days later.
"We saw everything there was to see from Edinburgh, Scotland, to London, England," said Lt. NOZICKA, added that he hadn't wanted to miss the opportunity of "visiting around" as he probably wouldn't have a chance to do so again.
He said they traveled by themselves (by rail) and visited whatever places they took a notion to. "And traveling was both easier and cheaper there than it is here," he said.
Transportation was free. RTO's (railroad transportation officers) were in every station and all the released prisoners needed to say was that they were POW's and they were given transportation to wherever they wanted to go.
Lodging and meals also were cheap because the Red Cross had taken over all the hotels in England, he said.
Of all the places visited he liked Edinburgh the best. "Really out of this world," he said. He had enjoyed the gardens and parks around the city and a large beautiful castle overlooking it. The people were friendly. He had been surprised to find how Americanized they were. "They followed American ideals and our speech very closely, whereas the English were more independent, going on in their own way.
"We had seen Bob Hope in Tidworth near South Hampton and had spent some time at Bournemouth, seaside resort on the English Channel. At one place in England we had run across Lee USHER, also on his way back to the states from prison camp."
The 2 had gotten together through Lt. NOZICKA'S traveling mate, the bombardier of his crew, who had seen USHER in his RCAF uniform having dinner at the Red Cross and had asked him if he was from Canada. When USHER replied "no" that he was from Mason City, the bombardier had remarked about the coincidence, that his co-pilot was also from there. And the 2 were brought together.
"All in all," said the lieutenant, "I sort of made a round trip of Europe." He had landed in Italy upon first arriving overseas, April, 1944, and had flown missions over Europe from there, and was on his way to Munich, Germany, on his 15th mission when captured.
Their plane, a B-24, was shot down over the city of Saalsburg, Austria. They hadn't had time to jump out but were blownout by the explosion and the whole crew landed scattered in various parts of the city.
Three of the crew were killed - the pilot, engineer and the radio operator. Three others were wounded and 4 escaped with minor injuries, Lt. NOZICKA one of them. They were captured immediately upon hitting the earth, he said.
He was in 3 different prison camps. First at Sagan, near the Polish border, they were marched from there at the Russian advance to the camp at Nuremberg. From there they were marched to Moosburg at the American advance.
Nuremberg was the worst of the camps, he said. The Red Cross parcels didn't come through because the railroads had been blown up. The place was dirty, ill-kept and very crowded. They were bombed constantly, by the British at night and by the Americans in the daytime. He was there 2 months and it was there he lost the most weight.
He had tried to escape on one of the marches but had been found in a barn and returned to the line. That was between Nuremberg and Mossburg.
"We were surprised to find the German civilians so willing to help," the lieutenant said, telling how they had given the soldiers potatoes and eggs in exchange for small bits of chocolate, tea, soap, etc. "It was quantity and not quality we wanted," he said. "It showdd the Germans had plenty and could have given us more in the camps."
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2013
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