S/Sgt. James L. Craig (POW)

Full Name: James L. Craig
Service number: 3544050
Rank: S Sgt
Function: Tail gunner
Birth date & Place: May 10, 1924
Residence: Warren County, Virginia
Age: 76
Education: 4 years of high school education
Profesion: not available
Family: James M Craig (father) Nellie G Craig (mother) Gertrude N Craig (sister)
Award: Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal , Air Medal with to oak leave clusters, American Campaign Medal,European-African-Middel Eastern Campaign Medal,World War II Victory Medal. Gunner badge.
Cemetery: Arlington National Cemetery Arlington Arlington County Virginia, USA Plot: Section 68 Site 2767 James L Craig (1924 - 2000) - Find A Grave Memorial
Date of death: Apr. 1, 2000
Place of Death: not available
Mission data: Date: 10 January 1945 Mission: 241 Serialnumber: 43-38668 Callsign: BI-T Type: B17-G Date: 10 January 1945 Destination/Mission: Bombing Bridges Cologne afterwards inflight mission changed to bombing bridges Neuss Mission: Bombing bridges. MACR: 11580
Status: POW Dulag Luft near Grosstychow

Other Info:

James L. Craig was a Staff Sergeant in the Army during World War II. James resided in Warren County, Virginia before enlisting on November 20, 1943.

At the time of enlistment, James was 19 years old, had 4 years of high school education and was single, without dependents.

Two years later, James was captured by the Nazis while serving in Germany, and was sent to Dulag Luft near Grosstychow, Prussia where 647 other American POWs were held. James's capture was first reported to the International Committee of the Red Cross on January 10, 1945, and the last report was made on May 22, 1945.

Based on these two reports, James was imprisoned for at least 497 days (1 year and ~5 months). The average duration of imprisonment was 363 days. Ultimately, James was returned to military control, liberated or repatriated.


Note: Interment date 4-11-2000. SSGT US Army. Veteran Service Dates from 10-20-1943 to 11-28-1945. Information extracted from the National Cemetery Administration's National Gravesite Locator. http://www.cem.va.gov/



Dulag Luft
Near Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
Interrogation Camp

Dulag Luft was the first stop for most United States Army Air Force Personnel captured in German occupied Europe. Newly arrived POWs were usually told "Vas Du Das Krieg Est Uber" - "For You the War is Over." Hardships, suffering, deaths, illness, etc., in subsequent POW camps, proved that our POWs were very much a part of the war until their 1945 liberation.

Location: There were three installations: Interrogation center at Oberursel; Hospital at Hohemark; Transit camp at Wretzlar


POW Strength: From 1,000 per month in late 1943, to an average monthly intake of 2,000 in 1944. The Peak month was July 1944 with over 3,000 Allied Airmen and paratroopers. Since solitary confinement was the rule, the capacity of the camp was supposedly limited to 200 men. Strength on any given day averaged 250.

Camp Description: The camp had four large wooden barracks. Two of the barracks contained about 200 cells eight foot high, five foot wide wide and twelve feet long. Each cell held a cot, table, chair and an electric bell for the POW to call a guard. The third barrack contained the administrative headquarters. The fourth barrack, an L-shaped structure, held the interrogation offices, files and records. The camp was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and the perimeter was not equipped with floodlights or watchtowers.

Interrogations: Each prisoner was held in solitary confinement for a limited period of time - usually four or five days. During rush periods as many as five men were held in a cell. The interrogators used various methods in an effort to obtain operational information from the captured airmen. Most POWs gave only the information required by the Geneva Convention - Name, rank and serial number. After interrogation the men were sent to a transit camp and then to their established POW camp.

Liberation: On 25 April 1945 American troops overran Oberursel. The camp had already been vacated by German personnel and records destroyed or moved elsewhere.

Stalag Luft IV
Gross Tychow, Poland
(Enlisted Men)

Location: At Gross Tychow, Pomerania, in the center of a clearing, 20 km south of Belgrade

Opened: First 64 arrivals on May 14, 1944. Officially opened two weeks later

POW Strength: On 18-19 July 1944 the number of prisoners was doubled with the arrival of 2,400 American and 800 British from Stalag 6 at Heydekrug, Germany. (See Stalag 6 story - The Evacuation of Stalag 4 - The "Heydekrug Run"). In October 1944 there were 7,089 American and 866 British prisoners.

Camp Description: Five compounds separated by barbed wire fences. The main camp (Vorlager) included the infirmary, food and clothing storerooms. Compounds (Lagers) A, B & C contained Americans only. Compound D contained Americans and British. Men were housed in wooden huts, each hut containing 200 men. Most huts had three-tiered beds but some had no beds and men slept on the floor. None of the huts were properly heated. Latrine facilities were inadequate and there were no shower baths. There were two barbed wire fences ten feet high surrounding the camp. Between the two fences was another fence of rolled wire about four feet high. Fifty feet inside the wire fences was a warning wire. Prisoners could be expected to be shot if they crossed the warning wire. Posted at close intervals were armed guard towers with search lights. Guards with dogs patrolled the perimeters.

Evacuation and Liberation - the "Death March": On 28 January 1945 a train load (mostly sick and wounded) were taken to Stalag I at Barth, Germany and on 2 February 1945 another train load was taken to Stalag 13D at Nurnberg, Germany. In February 1945 the Russian offensive threatened to engulf Stalag 4. On 6-7-8 February 1945, about 6,000 prisoners were ordered to leave the camp on foot with only a few hours notice. It was a march of great hardship. The POWs, in groups of 250 to 300, were marched long daily distances on starvation rations. The men lived in filth and slept in open fields or barns. Clothing, medical and sanitary facilities were inadequate. Hundreds of men suffered from malnutrition, exposure, trench foot, exhaustion, dysentery, tuberculosis and other diseases. Not all of the Stalag 4 groups traveled the same route or at the same pace. Many of the ill or exhausted prisoners were assisted by stronger prisoners. Some POWs escaped and hid out until they found an Allied unit.The initial portion of the march ended on 30 March 1945 near Hannover, Germany. Men were then transported in box cars to Stalag 2B (a Ground forces enlisted man camp) near Hemerstein. They were then forced to make a second march on April 6th that doubled back on their earlier route. The main column encountered British troops on May 2, 1945. East of Hamburg. The "Death March," from beginning to end, spanned 86 days over an estimated 600 miles. Approximately 1,300 perished from disease, starvation, or at the hands of German Guards. The heroism of these men stands as a legacy to American Airmen and has never been properly recognized.