1940. Franco-German war Oflag XB. Memories of the Captain Draper File carried out starting from documents of Mr. Jacques Mercier, whom we thank warmly. E. and R.Cima.
Photograph of 1940. Captain Draper, Major of Metrich (A17 - SF Thionville)
One reads “168” on the kepi and “167” on the legs of collar!
Explanation: in 1938 the captain Jean-Marie Mercier is affected with the first company of the 168e RIF (regiment with three companies), with the strengthened work of Metrich. In 1939, with the arrival of mobilized, each company of time of peace increases by manpower and becomes a regiment; the first company of the 168e RIF of the time of peace becomes the 167e RIF, the second company keeps to it my 168e RIF and the third company takes the name of 169e RIF. The captain thus passes from the 168e RIF (time of peace) to the 167e RIF (time of war) and… guard his kepi of the time of peace.
After the capitulation of France, under the terms of the decision of the Commission of WIESBADEN, in July 1940 the captain takes the way of Oflag XB, with many other officers of various units.
When, for health reason, it turns over to France at the beginning of 1943, some of its documents accompany it. And his/her son, Jacques Draper, make some to us divide some relating to Oflag XB.
Departure of Metrich
Departure of Metrich
Certificate of the commander of Metrich
The 1e July 1940. The Major Lauga, Ordering the A17 work, certifies that: Mr. Captain Jean-Marie Draper, of 167e IH, belonged to the crew which having ceased fire on June 25th at 0:35, received the order on June 30th, 1940 to constitute itself captive under the terms of the decision of the Commission of WIESBADEN.
The high command of the German Army granted to him the honors of the war and the authorization to preserve in captivity its weapons and luggage.
Testimony of war
The original document measures 8cm X 17cm
“June 1st, 1941. I write Whit Sunday today. Time “is beautiful. Why sums us still here whereas “would our presence be so useful elsewhere? For “how long sums us condemned to “to live still here? We have well the hope to re-examine “France soon! But it is not a certainty. “However it is necessary [-] favorably. For “my share, I see myself returned before the end of the year; “quite front, in August for example, I will be nearby “of you for on August 28th! Why not? “Here soon a year that I am here! Time passes and that “things have been held for one year. One year ago “I was still with the work, trustful in our success “in spite of the German advance in North. It is only “on June 13th that I started to understand. With this date “we remained abandoned in our works, alive “on the reserves and awaiting surrounding. I had “still confidence despite everything. June 15th, on order, of “detachments left the works, they were not “far. The 17 we were to leave too. The colonel [-], “on agreement with its neighbors decided some differently. Our “mission was to resist until the exhaustion of the ammunition. “There was only to carry out it. With regard to the work “about Metrich, we were so to speak not worried “by the enemy. However it was around us. “The 15 one [-] to be [-] Nancy; I knew since “that he had arrived. The 16, German were in Nancy “We were blocked, but decided with resistance. Us “could hold 3 months. Until the armistice we have “drawn. We were also bombarded, but us “risked anything with 40 meters under ground. There was thus “nothing low register for us. Our only concern was the fate “families. June 17th, the TSF taught me that them “German had crossed the Seine in Melun and with “Fontainebleau. Where were you then? It was the beginning “[-] “I then remained 13 nights without sleeping. June 26th, “after the armistice, I have a glimmer of hope. In “close part, I heard the colonel of the conditions “armistice: we would not be prisoners. I in “cried of joy. Alas! my satisfaction was of short “lasted. The gun had been keep silent. The sun lit the beautiful one “Lorraine countryside but we were always there waiting “that our fate was regulated. June 30th we learned that “the commission of Wiesbaden had decided that us “let us be interned. It is colonel Marion (?) who was useful “of liaison officer, we dedicated it to the hells! “It was necessary to yield the place to German. All our “efforts, all the work of several years went thus “to pass in other hands! However, them “German ensured us that our internment “would be short. The war was going to finish, English would be “beaten before 6 weeks. The general von Liking [-] Cdt. “the 45ème army corps thus regulated the conditions of our “departure. - To honor firm perseverance with the troops “Maginot line the officers would leave the weapon in “white (sic). We carried our luggage. The departure “was fixed at July 4th morning. The troop ravelled “in front of the colonel. Moving moment. We were “defeated and it had to be given up the ground that us “were to defend. German was then very “worthy. A German colonel attended the procession “but it was not with him that the honors were “returned. He was there only to represent the army which “was going to occupy the works. No mortuary “in its attitude. For our soldiers [-] “they had still the pride not to have been “bored. The enemies had been able to pass behind “us but the line was intact. “We were to embark in Besch (?), small station “immediately after P [-] the way was done partly with foot “for the troop. Personally I was transported by car “because. De Besch (?) a train brought us to Trêves, our “stay in this place was of short duration, 5 us it “left to go to Mainz, where we did not remain “that a few hours on July 6th and the 7 we were “in Nienburg which I never left since. “The oflag X B, a field of 10 hectares, about “square, with some buildings to shelter us “a belt of barbed wires supervised by some “sentinels. Our life, I have it already summarily “exposed. Since July 7th it did not vary. Of “Nienburg I know only the way of the station “With the camp to have done it once. When I it “will remake in the other direction, it will be certainly for “to return to France. How it is as quickly as possible! “The beginnings were painful. Piled up to 24 in one “room in full summer. Like bed a straw mattress “on boards. Like food, the morning “a cup of glandine (juice of nipple). At midday one “soup lunch box or a dozen apples of “ground with a sauce plate. Never of meat. “Drink: water. The evening a small piece of “sausage (of liver of fish, or roll or of “pork rind). It was all. No physical exercises “but with this mode there one should not fatten. “My grease founded, my weight decreased. “That was nothing, it was the lack of news “which tortured me over all. I had written “on July 6th of Mainz a special chart, but “I had not been able to give my address. The 11 I had written “a chart with Fontainebleau (it was to arrive only it “September 11th). We remained then until the 11 “August without writing. We could then send one “chart in free zone; I wrote in Tonneins with all “chance on August 20th even authorization even “destination given to my correspondence. I was not “fortunately not the only one with being private news. “Which joy when I finally received on September 30th “a first letter of Clermont. You were unscathed “after all the adventures which you have of undergoing. “It was the main thing.
Photograph memory of the occupants of room 4, hut 6
From left to right: First rank: ROBITAILLIE; DRAPER; THEQ; BALLEUX; DAVOINE; RICHARD Second rank: OUVRARD; BOURLARD; TELLIER; MAERTEN; RAYNAUD; RICHELET
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Invisible ink of the Captain Draper
Jacques Draper: “During his captivity my father addressed some letters in any discretion to us, by using an invisible process of ink (or almost). The controller of the mail of the oflag, naive, at least at the beginning, suspected nothing (or perhaps it is rotten completion). But people speak… the noises run and spread themselves in the oflag… the controller awakes, finds the trick astute; he laughs severely: ah! ah! ah! … And my father finds himself punished little glorieusement: one or two months private of mail. We received an opinion of the commander of the oflag which pleasantly informed us.”
Jacques Draper: “One soaks a sheet of paper in water. One poses it on a hard surface, kind glazes or freezes. One poses, over, another dry sheet and one writes on this one with a pencil, while supporting well. The wet sheet preserves the print of the writing, kind makes in filigree. One makes it dry and one sees nothing any more, or almost. One makes use of it then to wrap something, for example the band of sending of the newspaper: the Hyphen. The recipient, smart, who is with the current, soaks the sheet in water and, ô miracle, the filigrees reappear. One arrives at reading… painfully.”
Before putting this document on the site I tested the process. It functions. R.Cima