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Stalag Luft III "I Wanted Wings"


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#1 disneydave

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:06 PM

I figured I better start posting or else you guys would think I'm just a phantom.

I thought I'd start with one of my most favorite items. I came across an issue of Popular Science five or six years ago that contained a copy of a postcard that was sent by a POW at Stalag Luft III to his girlfriend. The unique thing about the postcard was that it featured an image of Donald Duck behind bars and the caption "I Wanted Wings."

It took me about 5 years, but I was able to trace the history of the design back to the original POW who created the image. His name is Emmet Cook and he has become a very dear and close friend. And although we have never met in person, he has shared some great stories with me and he has given me (unsolicited) several items from his time as a POW at LUFT III.

wdgtwpopularsciene_postcard.JPG

The above is the image of the postcard, which appeared in the May 1944 issue of Popular Science. Through my research I was able to find out that the POW, Captain Robert Bishop, mailed this postcard to his girlfriend, Kate Brown. She forwarded the postcard to Walt Disney, who had insignia artist Hank Porter clean-up the design. I was able to secure copies of all of the resulting correspondence between Walt Disney and Kate Brown. The following image was also published in the magazine and shows the cleaned-up art, as created by Porter.

wdgtwfinalimage.JPG

Edited by disneydave, 25 June 2007 - 07:07 PM.


#2 disneydave

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:23 PM

Emmet served as a Bombardier aboard a B-17F named Holey Joe. The plane earned its nickname during a raid on Lille, after which the bomber had to make an emergency landing at an airstrip near the Cliffs of Dover with two dead engines and two wounded crew. After surveying the damage their ship had absorbed, one of the crew exclaimed, "Holey Joe!" The name stuck.

This is a photo of 2nd Lt. Emmet Cook, taken in England in 1942.

wdgtwcookportrait.JPG

In November 1942, "Holey Joe" and her crew were reassigned to General Doolittle's 12th Air Force in North Africa. On March 22, 1943, Emmet and his fellow crew were assigned to a replacement B-17 named Junior. Holey Joe was grounded with mechanical problems.

The day’s mission was a raid on the harbor at Palermo Italy. Emmet said, “Our crew was with the 352d Squadron of the 301st Bomb Group flying out of North Africa. [The raid] on shipping at the Palermo, Sicily Harbor...was my 32nd mission. Several ammo ships were blown out of the harbor.”

Junior and several of her crew would not survive the raid on Palermo. The B-17 was hit by flak. The bomber’s left wing caught fire and eventually tore-off, sending the plane into a spin. Five men including the pilot, co-pilot, engineer, radio operator and ball turret gunner were trapped and perished in the crash.

Emmet was able to bail out. “[I] had a rough landing in cactus as large as Texas cactus. [I] was captured by six goat herders, one with a gun. [They were] all very scared. The older one with the gun spoke broken English. He acted very nervous and scared. Later that evening they turned me over to the military.” The other two survivors included the Waist Gunner and the Navigator.

Emmet was incarcerated at Stalag Luft III, taking up residence in Block 108 in the North Compound. “I was impressed how well the senior RAF officers and USAAF officers were organized. I played on the championship softball team [and] did a lot of oil painting and cartooning in books. [I] ran about five miles every day, weather permitting, around the circuit. [I] stayed busy and in top physical condition despite the lack of food.”

The young Bombardier eventually joined the Camp’s Escape Committee and helped plan what would later be known as the “Great Escape.” Emmet recalled, “[My duties were to] map the camp and locate blind sports for gardens and a place to dispose of sand [from the tunnels.] [I] stayed busy working with Flight Lieutenant Brian Evans on maps. I thought [the escape] was a very dangerous idea and had it not been for an air raid that night in Berlin, causing the light to go out in the tunnel, the British would have emptied the camp. But, as it turned out, [the air raid] may have saved many lives.”

The following image shows the postcard Emmet mailed home to his mother in June 1943, informing her he was now a POW. The letter arrived home in Texas on August 30, 1943.

wdgtwluft3postcard.JPG

wdgtw2luft3postcardreverse.JPG

Emmet drew the Donald Duck image on the card. He told me that when the card reached the camp postoffice, other POWs were impressed with his creation and wanted copies made for their own use. Emmet said he drew many similar images in other men's YMCA diaries and postcards. Emmet was the creator of the design, which was soon adopted by many other kriegies as the camp's unofficial mascot. Any of the drawings signed "Mutt" were created by Emmet. Mutt was his camp nickname.

Emmet also drew a beautiful watercolor of the design in his YMCA diary and he created a patch using oil paints, which he sewed onto his POW jacket. I'll post images of both in the next day or two, as well as a Christmas card he made while in the camp and two black and white photos taken inside the compound.

One day a package arrived in the mail from Emmet. Inside was the postcard. I was quite surprised, floored actually, as I was not expecting it and he never told me the postcard was in the mail. When I phoned him to say thanks, he told me he knew I would treasure it - needless to say, I do. The postcard is one of my most treasured items and will never leave my collection.

Edited by disneydave, 25 June 2007 - 07:28 PM.


#3 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 09:10 PM

Dave

That postcard is AWESOME http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif


From one who truly appreciates it,

Kurt

#4 Jim Baker

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 12:48 AM

Incredible. Congratulations!!

Looking forward to the next installment. http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#5 Charlie Flick

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 05:06 AM

Dave:

That is a marvelous story and artifact. I am glad that it is your hands for preservation. Thanks for posting it.

Charlie

#6 bobgee

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 06:45 AM

DD - Fantastic relic.......Nice to know 'the rest of the story" about Donald and 'I Wanted Wings' artwork.
Regards.....Bob

#7 Bob Hudson

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 06:52 AM

This was a very popular image at Stalag Luft III. It appears in several of the POW Wartime Logs kept by POW's (these were hardcover blank books provided to POW's by the YMCA in Geneva).

Here's one such image which is in our Wartime Logs thread:

Posted Image

The number on the dog tag was the POW tag number for the POW who owned the log book. And as disneydave noted in that thread, "I have around 10 or 12 images of the design sent to me by various POWs."

I wonder: if lawyers ran the entertainment industry in 1944 they way they do know wiould they - instead of having an artists enhance the POW's art - instead drafted a cease and desist letter, "It has come to our attention that you have made an unauthorized use of our copyrighted work..."

So show us more disneydave. This whole area of "POW art" is quite interesting. I was unaware of it until someone showed me one of the YMCA books filled with images, some by the book's owner but also with many by fellow POW's. Many of he pieces surely quality to be some of the most fascinating folk art of the 20th century.

#8 disneydave

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 09:46 AM

Emmet's diary is quite interesting. He has dozens of autographs of other POWs including RCAF pilot Wings Day and Stanford Tuck. He painted the insignia of each Allied Air Force at the top of a page and had men from that country sign his book. He also did beautiful pencil portrait pictures of his roommates, color caricatures of the fellows on his camp softball team and other funny cartoons. His diary numbers some 140 pages.

Emmet carried that diary with him on the winter march to Moosberg but abandoned it one night while billeted in a farmhouse. He gave the book to a French forced laborer and asked him in broken French and English to mail it to an address in Texas. Several months after arriving home at war's end, Emmet received a package from the Frenchman containing his diary. The Frenchman quipped in a note that he had used the book as a pillow.

I have also corresponded with many former Luft III Kriegies including: Charles Huppert, Joseph Osterman, Tom Wilson, Robert Huels, Elmer Grams, Chet Strunk, John Kelly, Mitch Cwiek, Raymond Moulton, Charles Conner, Donald Eldredge, Chester Hoover and American Spitfire pilot Robert Rivers.

#9 disneydave

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 04:19 PM

Emmet was quite artistic and liked to dabbled with watercolor paints and pencil crayon. Emmet recalled in an interview with me, “I really don’t remember [how the design came about.] I always enjoyed Disney’s cartoons, especially Donald Duck. I suppose it was the frustration in Donald’s expressions. Believe me, there were many frustrated airmen at Luft III.”

The design captured the emotions of fellow prisoners. Like I mentioned in a previous post, many POWs approached Emmet asking him to draw the Donald design for them. “They loved it. Many wanted me to draw it on a post card so they could send it home. I drew it on letters that they sent home to their family. I soon had many requests to draw the same picture in other Kriegie’s logbooks. I drew it in many logbooks."

The very first Donald Duck "I Wanted Wings" Emmet did was in his YMCA diary:

blog_watercolor.JPG

Emmet signed most of his art with his nickname, "Mutt." The number in the dogtag in Donald's hand is Emmet's German issued POW identity number.

Emmet recounted, "I also did one in oil [paint] on a piece of Khaki pants…that I sewed to my British jacket.” [I drew] some 50 I suppose. [I] did a lot of postcards that the Kriegies sent home. I was told the German censors also enjoyed them. [I] was glad to do it." This is an image of that patch, which Emmet said will also be given to me.

blog_patch.JPG

Edited by disneydave, 27 June 2007 - 04:20 PM.


#10 disneydave

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 04:37 PM

Besides the Donald Duck postcard and several other items, Emmet also gave me all of the correspondence he sent home from Luft III. His mother had kept it all and it was returned to him after her death. There are 13 letters and 4 postcards and they reveal some of the highs and lows Emmet felt while a prisoner. They are a fascinating record of some of his thoughts, albeit censored, while he was a POW.

In one of the letters Emmet mentioned Dick Grice, a fellow POW. The men's friendship eventually made it back to the United States where it was turned into a newspaper article.

blog_paper_clipping.JPG

Dick Grice passed away earlier this year (2007). Here is a photo of Emmet and Dick taken by a German guard. According to Emmet the Germans took photos of the POWs all the time and gave them copies to send home. Emmet said this was quite common and was viewed by the Germans as a propaganda tool. Emmet is on the left.

blog_cook_grice.JPG

Emmet sewed two small photographs into one of the letters. The following photo shows a small AAF memorial the men built outside of one of the barracks. Emmet is on the left side of the picture.

blog_memorial.JPG

Here is the second photo. Emmet is second from the right.

blog_photo_2_emmet.JPG

#11 disneydave

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 04:39 PM

Here is another photo of the AAF memorial. The man on the left is Robert Rivers. He was an American Spitfire pilot whose plane ran out of fuel in North Africa. He made a forced landing behind enemy lines, crashed and was captured by German paratroopers. He and another POW almost made their getaway in Rome when their German guard left them to purchase some oranges.

Robert is on the left side of the photo, while John Roten, a friend of both Robert and Emmet is on the right. If you look closely, you'll see a German ferret in the left side of the picture to the right of the trees. When I enlarged the photo on my scanner I was able to verify the ferret had a shovel in his hand and he was poking at the earth, undoubtedly looking for signs of tunnel activity.

blog_rivers.JPG

#12 disneydave

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 06:41 PM

I am extremely saddened to report my friend Emmet Cook Sr. passed away this past Sunday, July 15th, 2007, at 10am. His funeral was yesterday.

He had many health problems, but at age 89 he lived a full life. While we never met in person we became good friends via the phone and he shared some great stories with me over the years.

I take comfort in the fact he is in a better place now, probably sharing a beer with the members of his flight crew that pre-deceased him.

#13 General Apathy

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:33 AM

Hi Dave, Jeez, I don't know how I missed all this thread the first time around, I have just sat here enthralled reading Emmett Cooks life story and fantastic photographs. He appeared to be the sort of guy you would have liked to be friends with, and for you he was a friend.

It's sad to think that these people die, as we all do, but what a life some of them lived.

Cheers ( Lewis )

#14 disneydave

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 07:10 AM

Thanks for the kind comments Ken, appreciate it.

I was thinking that when I have some more time I will post some more images out of Emmet's YMCA log - he was a fantastic artist. His son donated his diary to the Air Force Academy in Colordao.

I also have a great story to tell about Lt. Colonel Dan Sjodin...his unit, the 831st Bombardment Squadron, received a Disney-designed insignia of Timothy Mouse atop a B-24 with a bomb in his hand - Dan joined the Minnesota National Guard as a Bugle Boy when he was but 16. By age 23 he was the C.O. of the 831st with 36 B-24s and all the associated crew under his command. Just a fascinating story which I will try and post this month.

Cheers!

David

#15 disneydave

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 10:46 PM

Here's a Christmas card Emmet designed while at Luft III. He gave this to me several years ago.

card_front.jpg



#16 disneydave

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 10:48 PM

And here is the inside of the card. Dedmond was a fellow POW who had written a poem about a fanciful flying machine. I can't put my finger on the poem right now, but when I come across it I'll be sure to post same.

card_inside.jpg



#17 Ewartniece

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 03:29 PM

Emmet served as a Bombardier aboard a B-17F named Holey Joe. The plane earned its nickname during a raid on Lille, after which the bomber had to make an emergency landing at an airstrip near the Cliffs of Dover with two dead engines and two wounded crew. After surveying the damage their ship had absorbed, one of the crew exclaimed, "Holey Joe!" The name stuck.

This is a photo of 2nd Lt. Emmet Cook, taken in England in 1942.

wdgtwcookportrait.JPG

In November 1942, "Holey Joe" and her crew were reassigned to General Doolittle's 12th Air Force in North Africa. On March 22, 1943, Emmet and his fellow crew were assigned to a replacement B-17 named Junior. Holey Joe was grounded with mechanical problems.

The day’s mission was a raid on the harbor at Palermo Italy. Emmet said, “Our crew was with the 352d Squadron of the 301st Bomb Group flying out of North Africa. [The raid] on shipping at the Palermo, Sicily Harbor...was my 32nd mission. Several ammo ships were blown out of the harbor.”

Junior and several of her crew would not survive the raid on Palermo. The B-17 was hit by flak. The bomber’s left wing caught fire and eventually tore-off, sending the plane into a spin. Five men including the pilot, co-pilot, engineer, radio operator and ball turret gunner were trapped and perished in the crash.

Emmet was able to bail out. “[I] had a rough landing in cactus as large as Texas cactus. [I] was captured by six goat herders, one with a gun. [They were] all very scared. The older one with the gun spoke broken English. He acted very nervous and scared. Later that evening they turned me over to the military.” The other two survivors included the Waist Gunner and the Navigator.

Emmet was incarcerated at Stalag Luft III, taking up residence in Block 108 in the North Compound. “I was impressed how well the senior RAF officers and USAAF officers were organized. I played on the championship softball team [and] did a lot of oil painting and cartooning in books. [I] ran about five miles every day, weather permitting, around the circuit. [I] stayed busy and in top physical condition despite the lack of food.”

The young Bombardier eventually joined the Camp’s Escape Committee and helped plan what would later be known as the “Great Escape.” Emmet recalled, “[My duties were to] map the camp and locate blind sports for gardens and a place to dispose of sand [from the tunnels.] [I] stayed busy working with Flight Lieutenant Brian Evans on maps. I thought [the escape] was a very dangerous idea and had it not been for an air raid that night in Berlin, causing the light to go out in the tunnel, the British would have emptied the camp. But, as it turned out, [the air raid] may have saved many lives.”

The following image shows the postcard Emmet mailed home to his mother in June 1943, informing her he was now a POW. The letter arrived home in Texas on August 30, 1943.

wdgtwluft3postcard.JPG

wdgtw2luft3postcardreverse.JPG

Emmet drew the Donald Duck image on the card. He told me that when the card reached the camp postoffice, other POWs were impressed with his creation and wanted copies made for their own use. Emmet said he drew many similar images in other men's YMCA diaries and postcards. Emmet was the creator of the design, which was soon adopted by many other kriegies as the camp's unofficial mascot. Any of the drawings signed "Mutt" were created by Emmet. Mutt was his camp nickname.

Emmet also drew a beautiful watercolor of the design in his YMCA diary and he created a patch using oil paints, which he sewed onto his POW jacket. I'll post images of both in the next day or two, as well as a Christmas card he made while in the camp and two black and white photos taken inside the compound.

One day a package arrived in the mail from Emmet. Inside was the postcard. I was quite surprised, floored actually, as I was not expecting it and he never told me the postcard was in the mail. When I phoned him to say thanks, he told me he knew I would treasure it - needless to say, I do. The postcard is one of my most treasured items and will never leave my collection.



#18 Ewartniece

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 03:37 PM

Dear Disney Dave,
I have asked you this question recently but, for the life of me, can't find where within this website! So, forgive me for repeating.
I have recently discovered my uncle's WWII Journal from Stalag Luft III. In it is an original Emmett Cook..."I Wanted Wings"
It is in superb condition, with color, signed "Mutt," has my uncle's POW number, and is dated.

My questions:
1. Will it compromise its value if I cut it out of the Journal and frame it?
2. What is something like that worth?

Thank you very much...and for all your great research!

Please respond to my personal email, if you can:

pamwhitelock (at) att.net

Pam Sconiers Whitelock

Edited by ADMIN, 09 January 2009 - 08:31 PM.
Editted email address to help avoid spam.


#19 disneydave

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 07:42 PM

Hello Pam.

I'll send you a private email. Let me know if you don't receive it. My original reply was posted at the top of the Disney forum in the pinned "welcome" post.

Cheers,

David

#20 Steve Marks

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 01:38 AM

Here is another photo of the AAF memorial. The man on the left is Robert Rivers. He was an American Spitfire pilot whose plane ran out of fuel in North Africa. He made a forced landing behind enemy lines, crashed and was captured by German paratroopers. He and another POW almost made their getaway in Rome when their German guard left them to purchase some oranges.

Robert is on the left side of the photo, while John Roten, a friend of both Robert and Emmet is on the right. If you look closely, you'll see a German ferret in the left side of the picture to the right of the trees. When I enlarged the photo on my scanner I was able to verify the ferret had a shovel in his hand and he was poking at the earth, undoubtedly looking for signs of tunnel activity.

blog_rivers.JPG


Hello,

I have a question about the photos of the men in front of the USAAF memorial. Is it known for certain in which camp/compound those photos were taken? I ask because the huts in the North Compound of SLIII were set on brick blocks, and this hut is clearly sitting directly on a layer of logs, directly on the ground, so it seems impossible for that to be North Compound. Perhaps this was taken at SLI at Barth on the Baltic coast?

Thank you for your help,
Stephen Marks

#21 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:09 AM

Hello,

I have a question about the photos of the men in front of the USAAF memorial. Is it known for certain in which camp/compound those photos were taken? I ask because the huts in the North Compound of SLIII were set on brick blocks, and this hut is clearly sitting directly on a layer of logs, directly on the ground, so it seems impossible for that to be North Compound. Perhaps this was taken at SLI at Barth on the Baltic coast?

Thank you for your help,
Stephen Marks


This photo is definately from Luft III. There were many group photos taken at location of this barracks and it is documented in a 1948 book ( Clipped Wings ) about Luft III published by the men who were there. They took photos of the " Early Birds" using this spot to take the epictures.

Kurt

Edited by KASTAUFFER, 21 May 2009 - 06:12 AM.


#22 baker502

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:14 PM

What a fasinating thread, this guy had real talent and put it to good use for the moral our guys. What quality stuff.. Nice Job ...Paul

#23 disneydave

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 12:14 AM

Hi Stephen. Definitely Luft III - I was personal friends with Emmet Cook, now deceased, and with Robert Rivers, still alive. They were both incarcerated in Luft III and that is where the photos were taken.

Paul - thanks for the kind words. Emmet was a great guy and I miss him very much. He was a very talented artist. He sent me photocopies of art he created in his YMCA log / diary - just a fantastic artist who did gorgeous pencil portraits of all his roommates, as well as caricatures of other POWs, like the guys on his softball team.

Cheers,

David

#24 Dudrop

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 07:26 AM

Hi Dave,

Were most of the drawings , that you have found,of "I Wanted Wings" made at Stalag Luft 111The drawing of "I Wanted Wings" posted by Kastauffer in April, 2008 (POW airman illustrated journal) was drawn by a POW at Stalag Luft 1. Is this a rarity?

Thanks
John

#25 disneydave

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 10:02 PM

All of the examples I have in my collection were created at Luft III. I also know two airplanes sported the design on their fuselage - a B-24 and if I recall correctly, a P-51.

Cheers,

David


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