Page 2 of 13 Sep 1918 Issue of Postville Herald in Postville, Iowa

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Postville Herald (Newspaper) - September 13, 1918, Postville, Iowa The Postville Herald Postville Iowa. Outwitting the Hun a a a ,--.----- by lieutenant Pat o Brien copyright 1018, by Pat Alva. O Brien 11 from a prison Camp o Brien watches last fight and fatal fall of chum Paul Raney. o Brien a resident of Momence hi., after seeing Teer Vlee in the american flying corps on the mexican Border in 191g, joins the British Royal flying corps in Canada and after a Brief training period is sent to France. He is assigned to a Squadron in Active service on the front. He engages in several hot fights with German flyers from which he emerges victorious. Finally in a fight with four German flyers o Brien is shot Down. He Falls 8,000 feet and escaping death by a Miracle awakes to find himself a prisoner in a German Hospital with a Bullet Hole in Mouth. Chapter in continued. When my chummy enemy first started conversation with me the German doctor in charge reprimanded for talking to me but he paid no attention to the doctor showing that some real americanism had soaked into system while he bad been in the v. S. A. I asked one Day what he thought the German people would do after the War if he thought they would make Germany a Republic and much to my Surprise he said very bitterly if i had my Way about it would make her a Republic today and hang the do Kaiser in the and yet he was considered an excellent Soldier. I concluded however that he must have been a German socialist though he never told me so. On one occasion i asked for name but he said that i would probably never see again and it did t matter what name was. I did not know whether he meant that the germans would starve me out or just what was on mind for at that time i am sure he did not figure on dying. The first two or three Days i was in the Hospital i thought surely he would be up and gone Long before i was but blood poisoning set in about that time and just a few hours before i left for Courtrair he died. One of those Days while my wound was still very troublesome 1 was Given an Apple whether it was just to torment me knowing that i could not eat it or whether for some other reason i do not know. But anyway a German flying officer there had several in pockets and gave me a Nice one. Of course there was no Chance of my eating it so when the officer had gone and i discovered this san Francisco fellow looking at it rather longingly i picked it up intending to toss it Over to . But he Shook head and said if this was san Francisco i would take it but i cannot take it from you i was never Able to understand just Why he refused the Apple for he was usually sociable and a Good fellow to talk to but apparently he could not forget that i was enemy. However that did not Stop one of the orderlies from eating the Apple. One practice about the Hospital impressed me particularly. That was if a German Soldier did not stand much Chance of recovering sufficiently to take place again in the War the doctors did not exert themselves to see that he got Well. But if a Man had a fairly Good Chance of recovering and they thought he might be of some further use everything that medical skill could possibly do was done for . I Don t know whether this was done a under orders or whether the doctors just followed their own inclinations in such cases. My Teeth had been badly jarred up from the shot and i hoped that i might have a Chance to have them fixed when i reached Courtrair the prison a where i was to be taken. So i asked the doctor if it would be possible for me to have this work done there but lie very Curtly told me that although there were several dentists at Courtrair they were Busy enough fixing the Teeth of their own men without both in ring about mine. He also added that Al would not have to worry about my Teeth that i would t be getting so touch food that they would de put out of commission by working overtime. I wanted to Tell that from the Way things looked he would not be wearing out very soon either. My condition improved during the a ext two Days and on the fourth Day of Ray Captivity i was Well enough to write a Brief message to my Squadron reporting that i was a prisoner of War and feeling Fine although As a matter of fact i was never so depressed in my life. I realized How Over that if the message reached my comrades St would be relayed to Niy Mother in Momence 111., and i did not want to worry her More than was absolutely necessary. It was enough for her to know that i was a prisoner. She did not have to know that i was wounded. I had Hopes that my message would be carried Over the lines and dropped by one of the German flying officers. That is a Courtesy which is usually practice on both sides. I recalled How patiently we had waited in our Ai drome for news of our men who Hod failed to return and i could picture my Squadron speculating on my Fate. That is one of the Saddest things you but the constant casualties among your friends Are very depressing. You go out with your flight and get into a muss. You get scattered and when your formation is broken up you finally Wing your Way Home alone. Perhaps you Are the first to land. Soon another machine shows in the sky then another and you patiently wait for the rest to appear. Within an hour perhaps All have shown up save one and you begin to speculate and wonder what has happened to . Has he lost Way has he landed at some other Ai drome did the huns get when darkness comes you realize that at any rate he won t be Back that night and you Hope for a Telephone Call from telling of whereabouts. If the night passes without sign or word from he is reported As missing and then you watch for casualty to appear in the War office lists. One Day perhaps a month later a message is dropped Over the line by the German flying corps with a list of pilots captured or killed by the huns and then for the first time you know definitely Why it was your Comrade failed to return the a he last went Over the line with Squadron. I was still musing Over tills melancholy phase of the scout s life when an orderly told me there was a Beautiful Battle going on in the air and he volunteered to help me outside the Hospital that 1 might witness it and i readily accepted assistance. That afternoon i saw one of the games fights i Ever expect to witness. There were six of our machines against perhaps sixteen huns. From the Type of the by Lush machines i knew that they might possibly be from my own aerodrome. Two of our machines had been apparently picked out by six of the huns and were bearing the Brunt of the fight. The contest seemed to me to be so unequal that Victory for our men was hardly to be thought of and yet it one time they to completely outta neutered the huns that i thought their Superior skill might save the Day for them despite the fact that they were so hopelessly outnumbered. One thing i was sure of they would never give in. Of course it would have been a comparatively simple matter for our men when they saw How things were going against them to have turned their noses Down landed behind the German lines and Given themselves up As prisoners but that is not the Way of the e. F. C. A Battle of this kind Seldom lasts Many minutes although every second seems like an hour to those who participate in it and even onlookers suffer More thrills in the course of the struggle than they would ordinarily experience in a lifetime. It is apparent even to a Novice that the loser s Fate is death. Xjly_0_2_s_5_i___2-�___e-i-i 3/uout. Arlen Pao Kad in Tranle. Reported Miu Alna i7-8-17 Ray 3 halts pyjamas. I Ghert. 4 Veata. % Pra. Pants. 3 prs. Combinations. 1 night shirt. 9 towels. 1 or. Shorts. 1 or. Putters. 3. Prs. Breeches. I or. Trousers. 1 strap. 1 suit civilian olo thaa. 1 Belt. 1 Tunis. 1 american tunic. 1 or. Ankle boots. 1 British warm coat. 3 or. Goggles. 1 Sara Browne Belt. 1 Cane. 1 Box dental face. 3 blankets. 3/llsut. . Floa Anding to. 56 Squadron Royal flying corps. Photograph of official memorandum giving an inventory of the personal belongings of o Brien which were turned Over to lie tenant Raney when o Brien was reported missing on August 17, 1917. Form the hardest and Saddest duty of course the germans around the Hospital were All watching and rooting for their comrades but the English too had one sympathizer in that group who made no Effort to stifle admiration for the bravery countrymen were displaying. The end came suddenly. Four machines crashed to Earth almost simultaneously. It was an even break two of theirs and two of ours. The others apparently returned to their respective lines.  the wound in my Mouth made it impossible for me to speak but by Means of a Pencil and paper i requested one of the German officers to find out for me who the English officers were who had been shot Down. A Little later he returned and handed me a photograph taken from the body of one of the victims. It was n picture of Paul Raney of Toronto and myself taken together poor Baney he was the Best Friend i had and one of the Best and games men who Ever fought in France. It was he i Learned Long after who when i was reported missing Hud checked Over nil my belongings and sent them Back to England with a signed memorandum which is now in my Possession. Poor fellow he Little realized then that but a Day or two later he would be engaged in inst heroic Battle with me a helpless onlooker the Bame German officer who brought me the photograph Ulso Drew a map for me of the exact spot where Baney was burled in Flanders. X guarded it carefully All through my subsequent adventures and finally have Ever been called upon to execute to confirm to them in person the tidings of poor Paul s death. The other British Pilot who fell was also from my Squadron and a Man 1 knew Well lieutenant Keith of Australia. I had Given a picture of myself Only a few hours before i started on my own disastrous flight. He was one of the Star pilots of our Squadron and had been in Many a desperate Battle before but this time the Odds were too great for . He put up a wonderful fight and he gave As much As he took. The next two Days passed without incident and i was then taken to the intelligence department of the German flying corps which was located about an hour from the Hospital. There i was kept two Days during which time they put a thousand and one questions to me. While i was there i turned Over to them the message i had written in the Hospital and asked them to have one of their flyers drop it on our Side of the line. They asked me where i would like to have it dropped thinking perhaps i would give my Ai drome away but when i smiled and Shook my head they did not insist upon an answer. Ill drop it Over declared one of them naming my Ai drome which revealed to me that their flying corps is As efficient As other branches of the service in the matter of obtaining valuable information. And right Here i want to say that the More i came to know of the enemy the More keenly i realized what a difficult task we re going to have to lick . In All my subsequent experiences the fact that there is a Heap of fight left in the huns still was thoroughly brought Home to me. We shall win the War eventually if we Don t slow up too soon in the mistaken idea that the huns Are ready to lie Down. The flying officers who questioned me were extremely anxious to find out nil they could about the part America is going to play in the War but they evidently came to the conclusion that America had t taken me very deeply into her Confidence judging from the information they got or failed to get from me. At any rate they gave me up As a bad Job and i was ordered to the officers prison at Courtrair Belgium. Chapter v. Connected with service in the it. F. C. Turned it Over to father and Mother Lou Don t care much what happens to when i visited them in Toronto to per the prison Camp at Courtrair. From the intelligence department i was conveyed to the officers prison Camp at Courtrair in an automobile. It was about an hour s ride. My escort was one of the most famous flyers in the world barring none. To was later killed in action but i was told by an English airman who witnessed last combat that he fought u game Battle und died n hero s death. The prison which had evidently been a civil prison of some kind before the War was located right in the heart of Courtrair. The first building we approached was Large und in front of the archway which formed the main Entrance was a sentry Box. Here to were challenged by the 6entry, who knocked on the door j the guard turned the key in the lock and i was admitted. We passed through the archway and directly into a courtyard on which faced nil of the prison buildings the windows of course being heavily barred. After i had Given my Pedigree my name age address was shown to a cell with bars of the windows overlooking this courtyard. I was promptly told that at night we were to occupy these rooms but i had already surveyed the surroundings taken account of the number of guards and the locked door outside and concluded that my chances of getting away from some other place could be no worse than in that particular cell. As i had no hat my helmet being the Only thing i had worn Over the lines. I was compelled either to go bareheaded or Wear the red Cap of the bavarian whom i had shot Down on that memorable Day. It can be imagined How i looked attired in a British uniform and a Bright red Cap. Wherever i was taken my outfit aroused considerable curiosity among the belgians and German soldiers. When i arrived at prison that Day still wore this Cap and As i was taken into the courtyard my overcoat covering my uniform All that the British officers who happened to be sunnl_0 themselves in the courtyard could see was the red Cap. They afterwards told me they wondered who the Bug Hun was with the a nudge on Mouth this Cap i managed to keep with me but was never allowed to Wear it on the walks we took. I either went Bare headed or borrowed a Cap from some other prisoner. At certain hours each Day the prisoners were allowed to mingle in the courtyard and on the first occasion of this kind i found that there were 11 officers imprisoned there besides myself. They had Here interpreters who could speak All languages. One of them was a Mere boy who had been born in Jersey City n. J., and had spent All life in America until the beginning of 1014. Then he moved with folks to Germany and when he became of military age the huns forced into the army. I think if the truth were known he would much rather have been fighting for America than against her. I found that most of the prisoners remained at Courtrair Only two or three Days. From there they were in Var ably taken to prisons in the Interior of Germany. Whether it was because i was an american or because i was a flyer i Don t know but this Rule was not followed in my Case. I remained there two weeks. During this period Courtrair was con stoutly bombed by our airmen. Not a single Day or night passed without one or More air raids. In the two weeks i was there i counted 21 of them. The town suffered a great Deal of damage. Evidently our people were aware that the germans had a lot of troops concentrated in this town and besides the Headquarters staff was stationed there. The Kaiser himself visited Courtrair while i was in the prison i was told by one of the interpreters but he did t Call on me and for obvious reasons i could t Call on the courtyard wag not a very popular place during air raid s. Several times when our airmen raided that Section in the Lief committee or not i Don t knt at any rate these gifts Wero to Lgth useful and Wero very much elated. One Day i offered a Button off a uniform to one of these belgian us enl As n souvenir but a Goruino it Mil saw me and i was never nil owed to go near the visitors afterwards. The sanitary conditions la _ prison Camp were excellent i Atit Oral proposition. Our night Honti i discovered that i had been Cap. Turd by this was n novel experience to at Ami one that i would have been in willing to Ivo missed because la the flying corps our Aird Romes Are i number of Miles Back of the lines i we have Good billets and our acquaintance with such things As cooties Ati other unwelcome visitors is very Usa item. When i discovered my condition i made n holler and roused the guard and right then i got another example of German efficiency. This guard seemed to be even Mote perturbed about my complaint than i myself evidently fearing that new Otic be blamed for Iny condition. The commandant was summoned i and i could see that he was very angry. Someone undoubtedly got a severe reprimand for it. I was taken out of Iny cell by \ guard with a Rifle and conducted about a Quarter of a mile from the prison to an old factory building which had been converted into an elaborate fumigating Plant. There i was Glen a Pickle Bath in some kind of solution and while i was absorbing it my clothes bed clothes and whatever else had been in my cell was being pot through another fumigating process. While i was Wolting for my things to dry it took perhaps half an hour i had a Chance to observe about one Hundred other victims of cooties German soldiers who had become infested in the trenches. We were All nude of course but apparently it was not difficult for them to recognize a us a foreigner even without my uniform on for none of them made any attempt to talk to me although they were very Busy talking about me. 1 could not understand what they were saying but i knew i was the butt of most of their jokes and they made no Effort to conceal the fact that i was the subject of conversation. When i got Back to my cell i found that it had been thoroughly fumigated and from that time on i had no further trouble with cooties or other visitors of the same kind. As we were not allowed to write anything but prison cards writing was out of the question and As we had no Reading matter to speak of Reading was nil. We had nothing to do to pass away the time so consequently curds became our Only diversion for we did fortunately have some of these. There was t very much Money As a Rule in circulation and i think for once in my life i held most of that not due to any particular ability on my part in the game but i happened to have several Hundred francs in my pockets when shot Down. But we held a lottery that was watched without quit intense interest As that. The such. Call that stuff ten which with them is Ulm a National institution. Sometimes with this meal they gave us butter instead of Jam and once in a while we had some kind of canned meat. This comprised the usual run of eatables for the Day i can eat More than that for breakfast 1 in the Days that were to come i Learned that i was to fare considerably worse. We were allowed to Send out and buy a few things but As most of the prisoners were without funds this was but an empty i took advantage of the privilege to scud my shoes to a belgian Shoemaker to be half Soled. They charged Murks-$5 drawing was always held the Day before to learn who was the Lucky Man. There was As much speculation As to who would win the prize As if it had been the finest treasure in the world. The great prize was one third of a loaf of bread. Through some arrangement which i never quite figured out it happened that among the eight or ten officers who were there with me there was always one third of a loaf of bread Over. There was just one Way of getting that bread and that was to draw lots. Consequently that was what started the lottery. I believe if a Man had Ever been inclined to cheat to would have been sorely tempted in thl instance but the game was played absolutely Square and if a Man had been caught cheating the chances Are that he would have been shunned by the rest of the officers us Long As he was in prison. I was fortunate enough to win the prize twice. Me 20 As he was travelling with other prisoners toward  prison Camp in the heart of Germany o Brien conceived the idea of leaping through the car window in a desperate attempt to Gal Liberty. There was Chance in a thousand that would escape death capture. O Brien Chance ing ment. One he or retook the read Thea to a exploit in the next install &0. Facsimile of the Check Given to i u. O Cason when they we Bren " a a a leu team Vwg. Few prit0iltr ten to big continued

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