Christmas 1944 in a POW Camp

Main Image: The folder in which the 1944 Xmas Fare menu on this page was kept, although why it has the date 1945 on it is a mystery. Albert Charles East is ‘ACE’, named after his initials. It is not known who ‘CALLY’ was, although the design shows that he was a wireless operator/air gunner. He cannot have been one of Ace’s crew as they were all killed apart from the bomb aimer Ridley Brown.

Albert Charles East, always known as Ace after his initials, was a member of the Steven crew, 97 Squadron. He became a prisoner of war after being shot down in January 1944 over the Dutch island of Texel.

By the end of the year he was being held, along with thousands of other Allied prisoners, at Stalag IVb, Muhlberg-on-Elbe, one of the largest prisoner of war camps in Germany. To keep their spirits up, many of the prisoners created elaborate menus of their Christmas meals.

Amongst Ace’s papers is this programme for Christmas 1944, including a beautifully designed skit on hotel menus, one page of which can be seen below. The meals seem to consist mostly of cigarettes.

See also: New Year’s Eve, Stalag IVb, 1944-45.

Ace returned home safely to his family some four months later.

From the Archive’s collection of Albert East’s papers and memorabilia, kindly donated by his son and daughter, Paul East and Joan Champion, in 2021.