IN AGAIN, OUT AGAIN – AN AMERICAN GI IS RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS FROM CAPTIVITY AND EXECUTION

From YANK Magazine

TORGAU, GERMANY—When Russians overran this town, two days before the link-up with the 1st U.S. Army, they liberated an American soldier who was serving his second term of confinement as an Axis prisoner.



Sgt. David T. Colin of St. Louis, Mo., was a civilian member of the National Broadcasting Company staff in Rome when Italy declared war on the U.S. Colin, along with several other American correspondents, was interned as an enemy national. Repatriated in late 1942 as an exchange prisoner, he returned to the States and joined the U.S. Army.

The Army sent Colin back to Italy with a Psychological Warfare unit. He was captured on the Franco-Italian border in October 1944, and sent to a Munich prison. On April 1, he was transferred to Fort Zinna, at Torgau, along with 35 other Allied PWs, to stand trial before the German Supreme Military Court on trumped-up charges of crimes committed against the German Army.

The Supreme Military Court passed judgement—usually death, as the prisoners were allowed no defense counsel—on German soldiers as well as Allied prisoners. During Colin’s stay at Fort Zinna, an average of 10 prisoners were executed daily—always at 1600, after only a half hour’s prior notice.

Colin had not yet been brought to trial when the Russians came but another American was saved from a firing squad by their timely arrival. He was Pvt. Willard Davis of Yukon, Okla., member of the 82nd Airborne Division, who had been captured in Normandy. Davis was awaiting execution on the charge of striking a German guard.

american soldier and russians

An American GI of the 1st Army with his Russian counterparts.



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