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KLB Club

KLB Club

168 allied airmen who were held prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944
KLB Club
The basics

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Intro 168 allied airmen who were held prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944
Is Prisoner
From Germany
Type Crime
The details

Biography

Between 20 August and 19 October 1944, 168 allied airmen who were held prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp. Colloquially, they described themselves as the KLB Club (for Konzentrationslager Buchenwald). 166 airmen survived Buchenwald, while two died of sickness at the camp.

Background

As allied air forces took control of the skies over Europe in the summer of 1944, Adolf Hitler ordered the immediate execution of allied flyers accused of committing certain acts. The most common act was to be captured in civilian clothing and/or without their dog tags by the Gestapo or Secret Police. These airmen had been shot down mainly over France, but also over Belgium and the Netherlands and were turned over to the Gestapo and Secret Police – by traitors within the French Resistance – while attempting to reach England along escape routes such as the Comet and Pat Line. A notable traitor within the French Resistance was Jacques Desoubrie, who was responsible for betraying a significant number of allied airmen to the German authorities.

These captured airmen were given the name "Terrorflieger" (terror flyers), and were not given a trial. The German Foreign Office however, expressed concern about shooting prisoners of war (POWs) and suggested that enemy airmen suspected of such offenses not be given the legal status of POWs. Following this advice, the Gestapo and Security Police informed these captured allied airmen that they were criminals and spies. Using this justification, 168 allied airmen from Great Britain, United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica were taken by train – in overcrowded cattle boxcars – from Fresnes Prison outside Paris, to Buchenwald concentration camp. After five days in the boxcars, they arrived at Buchenwald on 20 August 1944.

Buchenwald

Nationalities of the 168 airmen
82 American
48 British
26 Canadian
9 Australian
2 New Zealander
1 Jamaican

Buchenwald was a forced labour camp of about 60,000 inmates of mainly Russian POWs, but also common criminals, religious prisoners (including Jews), and various political prisoners from Germany, France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. For the first three weeks at Buchenwald, the prisoners were totally shaven, denied shoes and forced to sleep outside without shelter in one of Buchenwald's sub-camps, known as 'Little Camp'. Most airmen doubted they would ever get out of Buchenwald because their documents were stamped with the acronym "DIKAL" (Darf in kein anderes Lager), or "not to be transferred to another camp". After the war some of the airmen recounted that officers of the German Air Force had visited Buchenwald a few days after an Allied air raid on Weimar in late August 1944 to assess the damage inflicted upon the armament factory adjacent to the camp. According to these recollections the German officers talked to the airmen and saw after it that they were transferred to the POW camp. Years later veterans identified Johannes Trautloft from photos as one of the officers and credited him with saving their lives. Until now it was not possible to verify this story with archival records. In his war diary Trautloft does not mention the events. The Gedenkstätte Buchenwald stated that a visit by Trautloft or other officers might have happened and that this might have influenced the decision making process what to do with the airmen. On the other hand, there might have been no connection whatsoever, because the decisions were not made by a single officer like Trautloft.

To address the constant stress, long appells (roll calls), boredom, insecurity and apprehension, it was decided amongst the 168 airmen to hold formal meetings to give them a sense of purpose and order. Thus, the exclusive KLB Club came into existence with several chapters; Canada, United States, Great Britain, and Australia/New Zealand. Elected representatives of each nationality held separate meetings to collate the previously scattered efforts of those who had proposed address lists, meetings after the war and other pursuits. The meetings at Buchenwald displayed the 168 airmen's militariness and solidarity, forming a bond that brings them together more than 60 years after the liberation of Buchenwald.

At one meeting, it was agreed to design a club pin. The winning design, put forward by Bob Taylor from Great Britain, showed a naked, winged foot, symbolising the airmen's barefoot condition while in the concentration camp. The foot is chained to a ball bearing the letters KLB, with the whole mounted on a white star, which was the crest of the Allied invasion forces. Canadian airman, Willie Walderam, also wrote the poem titled, A Reflection, about Buchenwald (see below). On the night of 19 October 156 of the 168 airmen were transferred from Buchenwald to Stalag Luft III by the Luftwaffe. Two airmen died from sickness at Buchenwald, while the remaining 10 were transported in small groups, over a period of several weeks.

In the book 168 Jump Into Hell, the purpose of the KLB Club was described as being to perpetuate the comradeship already shown by the flying personnel of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada, by the interchanging of pamphlets, ideas and visits. More than 30 years later, in 1979, 4 Canadian KLB members made the first serious attempt to trace all club members. Of the original 168 members, only 28 have not been located or accounted for.

Members

Nationality Name Buchenwald number Notes
New Zealander Cullen, Malcolm Ford 78388 Died 5 September 2002.
Lamason, Phillip (Phil) John 78407 Senior Officer (Squadron Leader) at Buchenwald concentration camp. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Portrayed in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky. Died 19 May 2012.
Australian Fairclough, Mervyn James 78427 Died July 1964, Katanning Western Australia.
Gwilliam, James (Jim) Percival 78423 Died 11 August 2002.
Johnston, Eric Lyle 78421 Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 25 August 2003.
Light, Kevin William 78381 Died 19 July 2008.
Malcolm, Thomas (Tom) Alexander 78379 Died 15 February 2002.
Mills, Keith Cyril. 78405 Died February 2012, Mackay, Queensland.
Mills, Robert (Bob) Neil 78426 Died 8 August 1990.
Perry, Raymond (Ray) Walter 78356 Died 26 November 1997.
Whellum, Lesley (Les) Keith 78442 Died 23 May 2003.
Jamaican Guilfoyle, Michael (Mike) A. 78393 Not located after World War II, but a Captain Michael Guilfoyle flew for Air Jamaica in 1966.
Canadian Atkins, Harold 78440 Only Canadian KLB member not located after World War II
Bastable, Harry 78378 Deceased 23 September 2007
Clark, Don 78364 Deceased 30 April 1988
Crawford, John 78406 Deceased.
Comptom, G.A. Edward 78434 Deceased
Carter-Edwards, Ed 78361 Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 22 February 2017 in Ontario Canada.
Fulsher, Frederick W. 78418 Deceased
Gibson, William (Bill) R. 78394 Addressed the Canadian Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs about Buchenwald, in February 2000. Deceased
Grenon, Leon (Leo) T. 78438 Died September 1994
Harvie, John D. 78412 Co-wrote the book "Missing in Action" about Buchenwald. Died 5 January 2011.
Head, Les 78430
Hetherington, Stanley (Stan) 78436 Died 16 October 2005 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
High, Dave 78422 Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones.
Hodgson, Thomas (Tommy) R. 78424 Deceased
Hoffman, Charles Richard (Dick) 78429 Deceased
Kinnis, Arthur (Art) G. 78391 Co-wrote the book "168 Jump into Hell" about Buchenwald. Died 20 January 2011 in Victoria, British Columbia.
Leslie, Donald (Don) E. 78404 Interviewed in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald
McLenaghhan, J. Ralph 78373 Deceased
Prudham, James E. (Pep) 78374 Died 2000 in Scarbrough Ontario.
Scullion, Patrick 78395 Deceased
Shepherd, Ernest G. 78372 Deceased
Smith, James A. 78428 Died 29 July 2013
Sonshine, E.R. (Joseph) 78343 Died 13 March 2005 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Walderam, Willie A. 78402 Wrote the poem, "A Reflection", about KLB and Buchenwald. Deceased
Watson, Earl Carruthers 78431 Deceased
Willis, Calvin E. 78342
British Angus, Jack W. 78390 Not located after World War II
Barham, Leonard P. 78432 Not located after World War II
Baxter, Stuart 78384 Not located after World War II
Bennett, Geoffery 78344 Teacher at Caludon Castle School Coventry
Blackham, Thomas Henry (Tom) 78380 Senior British officer (Flight Lieutenant) at Buchenwald. President of the KLB Club Great Britain chapter. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 6 April 2003.
Booker, Stanley Albert 78370 Co-wrote the book "168 Jump into Hell" about Buchenwald
Bryden, Robert (Bob) 78365
Chapman, E.W. (Ken) 78409 Died 29 June 2008 in Sussex.
Chinn, Albert J. 78433 Not located after World War II
Clark, John 78385 Not located after World War II
Davis, Eric 78346 Deceased
Dowdeswell, Philip 78410 Not located after World War II
Eagle, Douglas 78403 Deceased
Fernandez, John Joseph 78352 Died December 1992
Gould, Terrance 78386 Not located after World War II
Harper, Robert 78414 Not located after World War II
Heggarty, Patrick W. 78420
Hemmens, Philip D. 78383 Died in Buchenwald from septic aenemia, rheumatic fever and pneumonia on 18 October 1944.
Hughes, Ronald R. 78347
Jackson, Edgar 78392 Deceased
Jordin, Douglas F. 78341 Not located after World War II
Joyce, Reg W. 78401
Kay, William 78400
Leverington Ronald (Ron) L. 78382 Still alive in November 2011.
Lucas, Lewis J. 78389
MacPherson, Alexander J. 78435 Not located after World War II
Marshall, Wilfred 78417 Not located after World War II
Measures, Dorak K. 78413 Deceased
Mutter, Neville E.S. 78375 Died March 2001
Nuttall, Cyril Worsley 78366 Died November 1990
Osselton, John N. 78371 Not located after World War II
Peirson, Frank 78362
Percy, Douglas C. 78411 Deceased
Phelps, Edward K. 78419
Reid, John D. 78387 Not located after World War II
Robb, Ian A. 78415
Rowe, Andrew 78408 Not located after World War II
Salt, Frank 78345 Not located after World War II
Sharrate, William D. 78397 Not located after World War II
Spierenburg, Splinter Adolph (Dutch) 78443 Dutchman flying for the RAF. Spoke fluent German and regularly acted as an interpreter for Lamason. Not located after World War II, but a P/O Splinter Adolphe Spierenburg (born 17 May 1920 in the Hague) who joined the RAF in 1942, shot down over France in May 1944, and was subsequently sent to a concentration camp, died April 1997, in England.
Stewart, James (Jim) A. 78416 Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones.
Taylor, Peter D. 78425
Taylor, Ralph John (Bob) 78376 Designed the KLB Club pin. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones.
Vinecombe, Frederick S. 78377 Celebrated his 103rd birthday in 2017, alive and well in 2018
Ward, John D. 78396 Not located after World War II
Watmough, George F. 78439 Not located after World War II
Wesley, Laurice 78399 Not located after World War II
Williams, Llewelyn 78437 Not located after World War II
American Alexander, William 78287 Deceased
Allen, Roy 78357 Co-wrote the book, "In the Shadows of War" about Buchenwald. Main character in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky. Died 1991
Appleman, Stratton M. 78314 Deceased
Bauder, Warren F. 78196 Interviewed in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald
Beck, Levitt C. 78286 Died in Buchenwald from purulent pleurisy on the evening of 29 November 1944.
Bedford, Richard L. 78283
Bowan, Chasten (Chas) E. 78336 Interviewed in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald. Died 30 December 2016.
Brown, Robert W. 78295
Bozarth, James Walter 78340 Deceased
Carr, Frederick W. 78318 Deceased
Chalot, John A. 78278
Chapman, Park 78284 Deceased
Chessir, Douglas 78285
Coats, Basil A. 78308 Deceased
Coffman, J.D. 78319
Cowan, Frank Kirby 78271 Died 23 December 2009
Crouch, Marshall Jr. E. 78277 Deceased
Dauteul, Donat F. 78324
Dearey, Ralph W. 78316 Deceased
Denaro, Joe 78269
Duncan, James H. 78300 Deceased
Edge, William L. 78267 Died 1996
Fix, Karl Ellsworth 78313 Deceased
Fore, James W. 78349
Freeman, Elmer (James) C. 78359 Died 2 August 2012, Niceville, Florida
Friel, Edward J. 78309
Granberry, William L. 78312 Deceased
Hanson, John P. 78280 Not located after World War II
Hastin, James (Jim) D. 78354 Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died February 2005
Heimerman, Lawrence A. 78334 Deceased
Hilding, Russ D. 78326
Hoffman, Robert B. 78350 Deceased
Horwege, Glen L. 78281 Deceased
Horrigan, Roy J. 78321
Hunter, Harry F. 78337
Johnson, Robert T. 78272
King, Myles A. 78279
Larson, Merle E. 78363 Senior US Officer (Captain) at Buchenwald. Died 1998.
Little, Bruce S. 78301
Ludwig, Everett F. 78339 Deceased
McClanahan, John H. 78348 Deceased
Martini, Frederic C 78299 Active in KLB, VFW, POW groups. Deceased 1995 in Bradenton, FL.
Masters, Lovell O. 78290 Deceased
Mauk, William E. 78298 Deceased
McLaughlin, Daniel (Whitey) G. 78338
Mikel, George 78266 Deceased
Mitchell, Gerald E. 78307
Moser, Joseph (Joe) 78369 Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Co-wrote the book "A fighter pilot in Buchenwald" about Buchenwald. Interviewed in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald. Died 2 December 2015 in Ferndale, Washington
Pacha, Arthur M. 78288
Paxton, S. Keith 78320
Pecus, Steve 78315 Deceased
Pederson, J.W. (Charles) 78351 Died 23 July 1986
Pennel, Sam 78289 Deceased
Petrich, Michael R. 78325 Interviewed in the History Channel’s 2004 documentary Shot from the Sky about Buchenwald. Died 23 April 2006 (Long Beach, California).
Phelps, Byron F. 78331 Deceased 10 January 2012
Pelletier, Arthur J. 78335
Powell, William (Bill) 78296 Original President of the US chapter. Interviewed in the 1994 NFBC documentary, Buchenwald: The Lucky Ones. Died 10 September 1997 (Bella Vista, Arizona).
Reynolds, Leo J. 78292
Richey, G. Thomas 78317 Died 2 June 2004
Ritter, Edwin W. 78311 Spoke Polish. Deceased.
Robertson, Charles William 78327 Died 25 October 2005
Rynerd, William H. 78358
Salo, Laurie H. 78270 Deceased
Smith, James W. 78323 Deceased
Scharf, Bernard T. 78353 Spoke German. Not located after World War II.
Scott, George W. 78330 Not located after World War II.
Shearer, Donald R. 78332 Died February 21, 2019
Straulka, Paul A. 78268 Deceased
Suddock, Dwight E. 78273 Deceased
Sypher, Leroy Henry 78276 Deceased 4 February 2006
Thompson, Warren A. 78329
Vance, Ira E. 78360 Deceased
Vallee, Edward 78293 Deceased
Vincent, Edwin H. 78310 Deceased
Vratney, Frank 78328 Spoke Czech or Slovak.
Ward, Robert 78355
Watson, John Paul 78333
Williams, W.J. 78294
Wilson, Paul J. 78297 Deceased
Wojnick, Ray J. 78367 Deceased
Zander, Arthur E. 78368 Deceased 15 July 2009
Zeiser, James 78322 Deceased
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 08 Feb 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
http://www.flamboroughreview.com/news/article/43662
https://web.archive.org/web/20121015121919/http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=15151
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=15151
https://books.google.com/books?id=DbyjREeuE78C&dq
//www.worldcat.org/oclc/50559805
http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/fact_sheets/pow
https://books.google.com/books?id=1SdYB2rhzscC
//www.worldcat.org/oclc/34558799
http://buchenwaldflyboy.wordpress.com/chapter-8-buchenwald/
https://web.archive.org/web/20100508192749/http://bulk.resource.org/gpo.gov/bills/105/hc95ih.txt.pdf
http://bulk.resource.org/gpo.gov/bills/105/hc95ih.txt.pdf
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