Stalag XVII B

Camp Lucky Strike

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Aerial photo of Camp Lucky Strike

After the American prisoners from Stalag XVII B were liberated in early May, 1945, they waited for a couple weeks in the Austrian forest and nearby aluminum factory until American trucks and planes arrived to transport them to Camp Lucky Strike on the French coast. This camp was one of the "Cigarette Camps" in France. After the Allied invasion of France in June, 1944, these camps were originally set up as gathering locations for troops heading into combat. When the war ended, these same camps switched from sending soldiers into combat to gathering and helping Allied soldiers returning from combat, including the tens of thousands of Allied ex-prisoners of war. Some of these camps also held German military prisoners. Camp Lucky Strike was one of the "Big Three", and the largest camp for handling liberated ex-POWs. Even after the last of the soldiers returned home, they were kept open to provide food, shelter and help to thousands of displaced civilians well into the 1950s.

The program established to help Allied soldiers returning from combat was called "RAMP" (Recovered Allied Military Personnel), and this acronym soon became the nickname given to all soldiers brought to these camps. Doctors checked all "RAMPS" thoroughly, and the ex-prisoners of war were given special care. Because these soldiers had been generally malnourished and mistreated, doctors and nurses had to control their diet carefully, and bring them back gradually to a normal diet.

When the doctors determined that an American soldier was well enough to return home, he was placed on a schedule to sail back to the United States aboard one of many ocean liners and troop transports that traveled back and forth between New York and France.

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RAMP registration form of ex-POW from Stalag XVII B