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Special Home > Guide to the Ormond A. Roberts Papers, 1942-2000

Guide to the Ormond A. Roberts Papers, 1942-2000

Collection number: MC 179

Size: 2 boxes (0.50 cu.ft.)

About Ormond A. Roberts (1913-2005)

Ormond Armstrong Roberts was born on June 14, 1913 in Dover, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph C. and Mary L. (née Armstrong). He attended Dover High School and then the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 1937. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 1942 and saw service in North Africa. He was a First Lieutenant in the 168th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division when he was captured in February 1943 at the battle of Sidi Bou Zid in Tunisia and taken via Naples and the Brenner Pass, initially to a British grand blessé camp for a while and eventually by train to Oflag 64 prisoner-of-war camp in Schubin, Poland (Oflag is an abbreviation for Offizierslager or officer camp). He spent 27 months as a P.O.W. In August 1943, Roberts took charge of the cobbler shop. The camp was evacuated in January 1945 and the inmates marched to Southern Germany. Roberts was liberated on May 9, 1945 in GAZ Bavaria International Hospital Zone (the captain who commanded the unit that liberated the camp was Guy Petrazani, from Nashua, NH and coincidentally a UNH classmate of Roberts). Ormond Roberts died in 2005.

P.O.W. Oflag 64 was located in Schubin, Poland (the German name for the town was Altburgund). A small camp of roughly 10 acres, it was designated as the location for all American Army Ground Force officer prisoners captured in Africa and Italy, and later France. Most of them were young lieutenants and captains; the average age of the camp prisoners was 27. Most were college-educated, many with advanced degrees. In civilian life they had been doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, journalists, artists, ranchers, musicians, and one of them had even been a former commandant of a U.S. military school. In June 1943 when it was first opened the camp had only 150 American prisoners, but this number rose to 1500 by the time it was evacuated in January 1945.

About the Ormond A. Roberts Papers

The collection consists of correspondence, four notebook diaries kept by Roberts during his imprisonment, three publications concerning Oflag 64: an oral history account by General John K. Waters of his experience in the camp (1980); Roads to Liberation from Oflag 64 by Clarence R. Meltesen (1987), and Oflag 64: The Fiftieth Anniversary Book (1993), material from the annual reunions of Oflag 64 inmates, and a collection of artefacts.

Of special interest are two letters. One is dated June 11, 1945 and is written by Col. Thomas Drake, Commanding Officer of the 168th Inf. Regt. and in it he recommends Roberts for the award of the Bronze Star Medal for his “unselfish devotion to the comfort of his unfortunate comrades” in repairing hundreds of shoes while at the camp. Apparently, according to a note appended later by Roberts, no action was taken on this recommendation.

The other, dated January 3, 1946, from Karl Herbert, a former guard at Oflag 64, inquires whether Roberts made it home okay. “I like to remember especially our last march, and you may be sure I felt always happy to have a helping hand for you and your comrades. I believe I have done everything I could to make your and your comrades’ life more tolerable in camp. Therefore I do not want to forget, ever in my life, this comradeship which fate has forged.”

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ormond A. Roberts Papers, 1942-2000, MC 179, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donations: Ormond A. Roberts, May 23, 1997 and June 8, 2001 (Accession number: 2001.21)

Related Material

Meltesen, Clarence R., Roads To Liberation From Oflag 64, San Francisco, 1987.

Oflag 64: The Fiftieth Anniversary Book. Evanston, Ill.: Evanston Publishing, Inc., 1993.

Collection Contents

Series I: Papers, 1942-2000

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 Correspondence, 1942-1947:

Letter, Ormond Roberts to his parents from Algeria, December 2, 1942

Letter, Ormond Roberts to his parents from Oflag 64, March 18, 1943

Postcard, Ormond Roberts to cousin Marion Martin in Dover NH from Oflag 64, July 27, 1944 (Roberts has appended a note that says “We were allowed four of these a month. P.S. and three letters”)

Typed letter to Ormond A. Roberts dated June 11, 1945 from Col. Thomas D. Drake, War Department, Washington, D.C., and countersigned by Lt. Col. John K. Waters and Capt. Stephen Kane, chaplain, recommending Roberts for the Bronze Star Medal. (Roberts has appended a note “no action was ever taken.”) Also carbon copy of same and envelope.

Typed letter to Ormond Roberts from Karl Herbert, a German guard in the cobbler shop in the camp, from Bensheim, Germany dated January 3, 1946. With envelope.

Same letter, date altered to August 8, 1946 and forwarded by Lt. Charles F. Borland in a letter dated October 12, 1946. Roberts has written on the accompanying envelope “I never replied to these letters.”

Announcement from Pete and Mary Knapp from Sibley, Iowa of the birth of their daughter Connie Joanne on March 22, 1947

Box 1, Folder 2 Three notebooks, 1943-1945:

Variously list letters received (and records dates sent and dates received), books read, names and addresses, Thanksgiving Day menus for 1943 and 1944, food items and tobacco in store, pay received, itinerary when being marched from Poland to Southern Germany after evacuation in January 1945 and subsequently after liberation. Also some diary entries.

Box 1, Folder 3 Ormond Roberts’ notebook with handwritten notes taken from various books on forestry and related topics
Box 1, Folder 4 Various typed entries from Ormond A. Roberts’ diary
Box 1, Folder 5 Items related to Roberts:

local newspaper clipping about his capture; scrap of Christmas greeting “from your fellow townspeople of Rollinsford”; YMCA certificate of recognition for “Outstanding work in Cobbler Shop”, dated December 20, 1944; acknowledgement of same in a memo listing all the recipients; a letter of verification of Roberts’ status as a Prisoner of War, dated December 27, 1984; completed application form for living ex-prisoner of war benefits

Box 1, Folder 6 Copies of documents:

7 page document re Oflag 64 from the State Department file, 1945; 7 page document re American prisoners of war in Germany, prepared by Military Intelligence Service of the War Department, 1944; list of Stalag locations with map of distribution of prison camps; photocopy of 1944 list of casualties from the bombing of Oflag 64 on December 23, 1944

Box 1, Folder 7 An Oral History: The John K. Waters Papers. An interview conducted in 1980 by William C. Parnell, Col. USA with Gen. John K. Waters, Gen. USA, Ret. about his Oflag 64 experience.
Box 1, Folder 8 Various printed articles about individual former P.O.W.s – Paul Goode, Jack Van Vliet, Abraham Baum, Gaither Perry, Donald Graul, Jim Sherman – and copy of the March 23, 1997 issue of Book World containing letters to the editor re the Enola Gay exhibit originally denied and then opened at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima
Box 1, Folder 9 Oflag 64 reunion programs and lists of attendees
Box 1, Folder 10 Fragment of Ex-POW Bulletin, February 1998 and Post Oflag 64 Item, Fall 2000
Box 1, Folder 11 Obituary notices for Henry Soderberg, Gen. John Knight Waters, John T. Jones, and Verris Hubbell
Box 1, Folder 12 Miscellaneous papers:

Two coupons or vouchers to be used as money in the camp, one worth 1 Reichsmark and the other 5 Reichsmark; business card from The Ulster Iced Drinks Company stamped “Geprűft” in German; cover of Smithsonian, November 1992 issue on “The Jeep”; joke letter in fractured German complaining that the “last two pecketches ve got from you of coffee vas mit rattschidt gemixt”; National Geographic pull-out on “The Face and Faith of Poland” with map of the country

Series II: Items, 1944-1997

Box 1, Folder 13 Various three-dimensional items:

Ormond A. Roberts’ dog tag; “Kr gef Offz Lager” (Kriegsgefangene Offizierlager) prisoner of war officers camp dog tag #1560; YWCA medal awarded December 20, 1944 by Col. Paul R. Goode, Senior American Officer at Oflag 64 “in recognition of …outstanding and meritorious services and …commendable performance” (see Box 1 Folder 1 above); Prisoner of War Medal; Rifle regiment Maltese Cross; leather wallet; Ormond Roberts’ Oflag 64 pin from 1997 reunion; Dotty Roberts 1986 reunion nametag

Box 2
Box 2, Item 1 German bierstein (Roberts obtained this in Bavaria in 1945 in exchange for a packet of cigarettes)

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