Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 11, 2013

A war story with a lot to say

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Yet another Veterans Day has arrived but one equally important as the last for a Pauls Valley man who has quite a war story to tell.

Glen Murray may be 92 years old but he continues to offer a few glimpses into his experiences as a prisoner caught behind enemy lines back in World War II.

Murray remembers the day very well when on their last mission to bomb Berlin the B-17 plane he was in was shot down forcing him and others to parachute out at the edge of a small German village.

His first thoughts went right to the heavens.

“It was real quiet,” Murray said about the parachute ride down.

“It was just me talking to the Lord. I was scared and called out to God. I didn’t know these people or their language.

“I heard a voice very clear to me that said Glen, ‘I’ll be with you,’” he said.

“He was with me there and to now. There were many times it was a life and death matter and he was always there.

“We serve a great God. You don’t really understand what he does until you’re in a situation like that and you call on him and he answers you.”

Once on the ground Murray says he saw two German soldiers approaching the crash site. Strangely that wasn’t what scared him the most. It was the people of the village, who he was sure would kill him and any other American soldiers if they got their hands on them first.

Instead, it was the soldiers who took Murray to his first prisoner of war camp, where he was placed in solitary confinement.

“They put me on a slab and all I had was a blanket,” he said while speaking at a Pauls Valley Kiwanis Club meeting. “It was very cold.”

When he was interrogated Murray stuck to his orders and told them very little. He described the questioning then and later as always being “vicious.”

“All they got out of me was my name, rank and serial number,” Murray said. “They would try everything, but that’s all they got from me,” he said even when the questioning was done with the lives of fellow Americans being threatened.

“A lot of us got very good at just giving them our name, rank and serial number.”

When he was later being transferred to another camp he was handcuffed to another solider. They and others were taken off a train and forced to run a 5 kilometer distance to the camp.

“If you didn’t make the run or fell you got a bayonet in the back. We counted 47 bayonet wounds for one of the soldiers.”

At this next camp the interrogations continued as the Germans wanted to know the Allies’ “secrets” and “plans of attack.”

“Anytime that we were moved there were always dogs and bayonets and rifles,” he said.

There he was again placed in solitary confinement and only given one cup of dehydrated cabbage soup a day, plus three slices of bread so poorly made it contained sawdust leading to rapid weight loss.

“Once I was in the camp I would sometimes find a few bugs in the soup. I was always excited when I got that because it meant more protein.”

At 22 years of age Murray wound up being a prisoner of war for about 14 months.

He remembers clearly the day he was freed. It came when General George Patton and his men took out the Germans and liberated everyone in the camp.

“You talk about a beautiful day. We first learned about it when they walked into the camp,” he said.

“General Patton walked in. He was maybe 40 feet away from me. I wanted to run up and give him a hug but I didn’t think that would be the best thing to do.”

Murray described the scene as this “great joyous noise” cascading from all around as the prisoners celebrated their newfound freedom.

He and his wife Betty of more than 60 years have since gone back and visited parts of the areas where he was held prisoner as the images of those dark days remain strong.