Sunday, January 15, 2012
AMERICAN HITS SENTRY ON THE HEAD WITH A PICK HANDLE AND ESCAPED FROM HUN PRISON CAMP.
Shenandoah Evening Herald
June 20, 1918
By Lowell Mellet, UPI Correspondent.
With the Americans on the Marne. James A. Dunahue of Newark N.J. felt around in the dark till he got hold of a broken pick. Then he hit his sleepy German guard over the head and two days later, yesterday he made the following report to the second division HQ on what it is like to be a prisoner in the German Army:
“I went down the woods (Belleau Wood) and joined my command, what there was left of it. They were all spit upon and mixed up. I heard a whistle blow and went forward. Every time that a flare would go up I would drop down. There was a lot of rifle firing. Just ahead I saw four or five men and thought they were our fellows. I ran right into them and when I got there one of them hit me on the head with something. When I came to they took me up before an officer. He said, “How many Americans are there over here” I said thirty two divisions of Americans and forty divisions of the French he said, “Ach Schwein, Schwein.!”
BOOTED AND KICKED
‘Then they booted me and shoved me away. Going out I got a couple more kicks. They took ,me down the road a piece. Detachments coming along would give me the once over and say: “Ach American! Schwein. I don’t know how long I walked but it was a long time. I didn’t sleep all that night.
“Next morning I got an axe about the size of this helmet handed me and without anything to eat they put me to work cutting with them. They had machine guns all through the woods. Then they took me across an open field and back into another woods and had me cut more brush. They were digging emplacements. They were digging and setting machine guns in it and try it turning all around and then move to another place and then camouflage that hoe with brush.
“That night I tried to sleep in an old covering. About the time I would get started sleeping they would come along and give me a boot and take me to another place. Then they took me on another march.
HUNS IN YANKEE UNIFORMS
That evening three men in American uniforms walked up to an officer and talked with him. Then they turned and walked back toward the line. The about seven French soldiers or men in French uniforms walked up and talked to this officer and then turned and walked toward the line.
“They would give me soup and black bread to eat. That was enough to drive a man crazy. Then they would sit in front of me and eat cheese and bread and drink something that looked like coffee to tantalize me. They kept me chopping all the time, they had about 15 or twenty me carrying away the brush while I chopped it. They were using to camouflage the ditches they had ammunition in them.
TOOK CHANCE TO ESCAPE
“I was there about seven or eight nights. I could not keep track of the days. So between shoving me around and kicking me around. I thought I would try to escape and take a chance of being shot. So when another sentry came on I watched him and he sits down by a tree and looked like he was sleeping. I moved a bit an no move out of the sentry. He just kept right on snoring. Away. I just rolled over and got a little closer and still no movement from him. I reached right around and gets hold of an old pick handle. So I hit him on the head with the pick handle and not a sound or grunt out of him. I slipped right away then. Then I ran across those Red Cross dogs of theirs. They have a little canteen on both sides of them. I went on a little piece and stayed in the woods for a while when the dogs were around, but there was not a whimper out of them. They were just running around.
TRAVELED BY NIGHT
“I would go on and when I would run close to a bunch I would drop down and stay still until they had gone away, and then I would go on further. I would travel by night and lay hid in the woods by day. It took me two days to get up here. Well I kept on coming and one day I found a bag with some old hard bread in it and little pieces of cheese. I came across a stream and soaked the bread and ate it.
“I kept on coming until I got up where the shells were dropping all around me and thought it was all up with me.
“I keep[t on going through and then I heard a sentry, yell “Halt” and I said: “Don’t shoot: I am an American I went up to him and asked where Headquarters was, then I got an M.P. and he took me up to A.P. M.