Outdoors: tracking critters in fresh fallen snow

Journal Register file photo After you've finished shoveling or plowing, get out and identify, then follow, the tracks of animals and man that are found in fresh snow.

By CONNIE BRETZ

This is a continuation of the diary written by Phoenixville resident Mike Pesta during his time as a Prisoner of War during World War II. He spent four and a half years in the service during WWII. Pesta was shot down over Bremen, Germany, on Aug. 4, 1944, and the diary covers the final four months of his imprisonment.

Here are some more excerpts: POW 4137

Feb. 13, 1945: Went 18 kilos today. Snow, sleet and rain, yesterday. I saw a guy follow a pig down the road, and when no one was looking cut his tail off and ate it.

Today we didn't have a damn thing to eat, so we're out digging onions and eating them. Later we had some bread and corned beef issued. We were lucky and got some. Some of the others weren't so lucky. Vince isn't feeling too good today. John and Frenchy are giving out spuds (in the rain). We're just about living from day to day now.

Had two fellows drop out on the end today. One out completely and Bonner with a bum knee. Jerry promises can't feed you. Hope this war ends soon or we get to where we're going.

Feb. 14: 37 kilos in a driving wind and rain, then slept out in the open.

Feb. 15, 1945: No food around. Living on butts now, and only a few left.

Feb. 16: Had a stick and a half of gum and a kohlrabi we dug out of a farmer's mud patch to eat today. Been thinking of steaks, cream puffs and coconut custard.

Feb. 17: Went 18 kilos today. We're in a private barn, and am listening to Junior play the accordion, haven't had any food the last two days.

Feb. 18: Only supposed to do 18 kilos, wound up doing 30. Third day without food for us, and anywhere up to six for some of the others.

Feb. 24: Stomach is blown up like a balloon. Lay in bed all day. Yanks started a big drive; Russians have Berlin 3/4 surrounded. Hope it's over soon.

March 3: "You will not march until you get your parcels. You have my word as a German officer," quote the captain.

So we march 35 kilometers on empty stomachs.

March 4: Funny, I argue all day with the Lord, but at night I get around to thanking him.

March 14: We're using a poetry book for toilet paper.

March 15: We were sweating out our soup at 1545 when a wing of B-17s went over. Flak and all. They sure looked pretty up there. If they only knew how much they were envied.

March 18: A mess of fighters went across right after roll call, you can hear the "heavies" going over now. How I wish to God I was in one headed back for England, 41 days without a bath and wearing the same clothes isn't doing me any good.

March 22: Went through Danneberg today. What beautiful loaves of bread in that town. The guys look at a loaf of bread these days like they did at a gal back in the states. Don't blame them. I do, too.

March 26: Darn bugs are really bothering me. Have to get a delousing job soon.

March 27: 1400 and the air raid sirens cut loose, we were closed in.

March 31: These British around here sure carry a lot of rumors. "The war will be over in a week." Had a few American tanks captured near Hannover. We're about 30 miles from there.

April 1 (Easter): Hank (Bob Henry) is making pancakes from cereal, spuds, a few raisins, and water. Have to get a few of these recipes and mark them down. No air raid sirens left loose today. First time since we arrived that it was quiet. Going to bed at peace with everyone but the Jerries, although the Lord arose today and He forgave all his enemies.

April 5: I'm so damn hungry I could eat nails. Why in the hell don't these Jerries quit. The bastards are beat, and don't have a damn thing left, and they're still hanging on.

April 7: B-24s, B-17s and a hell of a big escort flying above us. Those planes sure look good. We're in a little town called Bleckman.

April 13: Heard President Roosevelt died from brain hemorrhage. If It's true, we've lost a good man, and so has the world. He did a hell of a lot of good for the states, and would have done more for us when we'd have gotten back. No food and walking in the sun isn't good.

May 2: Today is the happiest day of my life - surrender.

May 8: About a dozen C-47s came in. Got aboard one at 11:30 and at 11:43, May 8, our wheels left the soil of Germany. Headed for Brussels and home.

May 24: Am in England-bound packet.

Keystone Connie, with Valentine love, 610 933-0669. What a valuable diary! Thanks Mike Pesta.

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