Captive For Months
October 22, 2009, 10:00 PM
It was seven months he’d just as soon forget, but a stretch he can’t get out of his mind. Bill Fry of Aberdeen spent that amount of time as a prisoner of war in Germany.
The World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. can bring back so many memories. If you were to take a snap shot any time during his stretch in captivity, you’d be hard pressed to find any hope.
"Well there's nothing to look forward to; you're looking at one thing, ‘will I survive or won't I,’" Fry said.
Fry was part of an army division charged with taking over towns, waiting for reinforcements and moving on to the next. But after overtaking one German town reinforcements didn't show up in time.
"I mean we had guns but we had no ammunition. We had nothing to eat, no water, no nothing. We were just sitting ducks," Fry said.
When German forces came, Fry was captured. They killed others.
"The guys that was out in the fox holes, they brought them big tiger tanks in and just spun them around and killed them, buried them alive," Fry said.
And Fry's time of little hope began. The German captors forced him and other prisoners to march throughout the country. Temps fell below zero.
"We didn't have no place to sleep,” Fry said. “In fact I slept with horses; I had slept with cattle; I slept with everything to get warm."
The prisoners were starving. If they couldn’t continue, they didn’t see the next day.
"They'd shoot them. Break an arm, you couldn't take care of yourself, they'd shoot you," Fry said.
Fry credits, in large part, his young age at the time for getting him through the seven months. But that wasn't a guarantee either.
"Every once in a while they'd line you up for roll call. Never knew when they was going to do it. And they'd just go down the line and look at you,” Fry said. “And if they don't like your looks they just shoot you. Yeah, they don't ask you a question or nothing, they just shoot you."
Eventually the march, which left so many dead, brought him to Parchim, Germany.
"I worked on this airport. Well they gave us so much road in the trees to move for each guy with a shovel. If you didn't get it done, you wasn't around the next day," Fry said.
"And if you took off, why they'd shoot two guys for every one that took off," Fry said.
Fry describes living hour to hour, never knowing if he'd see the next until Russian forces showed up and liberated them, followed by the English and Americans.
Now, more than 60 years later, there are still things during his seven months under German captivity that he can't talk about.
"I won't tell nobody. I've never told my kids,” Fry said. “I don't, I don't want them to know."
Fry said 280 people were held captive with him; less than fifty survived. Fry was obviously one of them.
He can visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. despite his seven month stretch more than 60 years ago when each hour seemed so hopeless.
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