THE HOSPITAL IN PARIS
When I got well enough, I asked the French woman who cleaned the rooms to put me in touch with the French underground. She must have told the hospital authorities. They apparently figured that if I was well enough to think about escaping, I was well enough to be moved. Within a week, I was informed that I would be moved to a hospital in Paris.
The trip was quite an experience because they sent with me a German guard with a rifle, and a male nurse. The three of us occupied a six-person compartment on the train even though everyone else was packed on the train like sheep.
One of those standing in the aisle was a German SS officer. He felt that he deserved that compartment more than we did so he slid the door back, drew his pistol, and told us to leave. The German guard that was with me worked the bolt on his rifle, and pointed it at the SS officer. They exchanged lots of German words. The officer left angrily. We occupied that compartment all the way to Paris.
My companions delivered me to the Hospital in Paris to the tenth floor, which was where prisoners were kept. When I first got there I was put to bed wearing a too-small hospital gown. A German Sister nurse came in to give me a bath.
While I was there I saw Fonteccio, who was the radioman on our ship. He was on one gurney and I was on another. We were in the hall together for a short time, and we got to talk. He told me that one of the waist gunners, the engineer, and the two of us were the only ones who got out alive. The rest had gone down with the plane.
Fonteccio was all right. In the States, he went to work in Houston for Ray Dudley, the father of the pilot who was killed when our ship went down. Dudley was the publisher of The Oil and Gas Journal.
As a youngster, I would never eat cabbage at home. I just didn't like boiled cabbage. One of the meals the German Sister gave me in the hospital was boiled cabbage covered in what looked like rat turds. (The rat turds were really caraway seeds.) I ate it and fell in love with cabbage from that moment forward.
I was given a duck to urinate in. It was removed once a day, or when it got full. One day I had to urinate badly, but the duck was full. So I stood up and emptied the duck out of the window. Later, when we left the hospital for the prison camp, I noticed my room had been directly over the main entrance to the hospital.
"I sure poured a lot of piss on a lot of Germans!" I thought.
I don't remember when I arrived or when I left the hospital in Paris. I was treated marvelously. They placed me in a very large tub of water. They had a hose they sprayed up and down my side while I was submerged in the water. It was sort of an early form of hydrotherapy. they could vary the pressure and would apply it to the paralyzed right leg.
After a while it became obvious that they weren't going to be able to do anything more for me and they decided to ship me to the prison camp.
I was put on a train with other prisoners in a boxcar. The car was called a "40/8," which stood for 40 sheep or 8 cattle. We were crowded, but not unmercifully so. There was no room to walk around but we had room to stand and sit down. The door was locked from the outside.
The sanitation facilities consisted of a bucket that was emptied at each station. They would open the door, ask us to pass the bucket out to be emptied and then, pass it back to us.
We were not priority traffic, and were shunted from siding to siding so that we would not hamper war material transport efforts.Back Next