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JAMES ''Teddy / Jim KAVANA, 2ND ARMORED CO. H , 67 REG, Ft. Benning 1941

Coming Home Penna S. Glovanni (Macerata) near Camp 59 Savina News Teddy is OK

Last Name: `
First Name Middle Initial:
Nick Name:
Street:  5921 - 100TH AVE N City & State: PINELLAS PARK, FL E-Mail:  jkavana@tampabay.rr.com
Zip: 33782 Phone:  (727) 546 0265 Spouse: KATHERINE ( Deseased)
Conflict: WW11 Service Branch: ARMY Unit: 2ND ARMORED CO H 67 REG
Theater: ETO Where Captured: TUNIS Date Captured: 12/23/1942
Camps Held In: CAMPP 50 ITALY / SAVINA PALERMO NAPLES How Long Interned: 270 days
liberated / repatriated: Escaped Date Liberated: 09/19/1943 Age at Capture: 24
Occupation after War:  PLUMBER

Military Bio:

When Teddy Kavana arrived in Boston, the first thing he did was call his brother. The first thing his brother did was faint. And it’s no wonder his brother fainted. Kavana, a platoon tank commander in World War II, had been missing in action for two and one half years. First his family and friends had been told he was missing in action. Then they were told he was presumed dead, and finally after a year told he was dead. While his family thought he had died, the 23-year-old was actually being held a German prisoner of war (P.O.W.) and as a P.O.W. he never quit fighting so that he could return home. Now, still youthful looking but in his sixties, Kavana is a retired plumber. He spends his days golfing and gardening, while enjoying his home on the lake. But for two and one half years life for him was unlike anything he had ever experienced before.

The dark haired, sharp-featured man said he was in a defensive unit outside of Tunis fighting the Germans, but the Germans broke through and took his tank prisoner. “I was the only one left in my tank, and I was taken to the hospital in Tunis. I woke up three days later, Christmas morning,” said Kavana. Thus began his two and one half-year plight. “Life as a P.O.W. was not good,” said Kavana. “I went from 155 pounds to 105 and I was 89 pounds when I got back to the states after two and one half years. We didn’t have much to eat, and, we were confined to a camp with guards all around the wall, so we ate the Commandant’s dog.”

The price of eating even something as crude as a dog was painful. For punishment, Kavana said he “was put in the stooping chambers, which were chambers where you couldn’t sit down and you couldn’t stand up.” Those put in the chambers were forced to stay in them for 21 days then allowed out for a day and then put back in for 21 more. To make life even harder, Kavana’s training under General Patton in the Hell’s on Wheels second army division had taught that if he were taken prisoner he was supposed to create problems for his captors. And create problems is exactly what he did. He escaped five times, dropped a handful of metal bedpans behind a German officer to scare him, broke into the Italian government owned winery and granary and distributed its contents to the Italian people. He dressed as a priest so he could walk through town and walked almost the entire length of Italy through the snow with British coats wrapped around his feet in an attempt to reach his own forces.

But when Kavana made life difficult for the Germans, they made it even worse for him. “I wasn’t a very good boy when I was there so they had to chain me in the middle of the street to a telephone pole and I’ve still got the scars on my arms from the chains. When Kavana finally escaped by digging a tunnel with 144 others he made his way home. Of those 144 only seven made it. Now, over forty years later, Kavana has tried to put his experience behind him. He rarely attends P.O.W. functions but instead prefers to spend his time at home. “But I did go to a P.O.W. golf tournament once,” he said. Other than that, Kavana would rather move on and think about the future instead of the past.

My Message to Future Generations:

Message to Come
Final Discharge Page 1 Final Discharge Page 2

The Evening Star, Peekskill NY Thur. Jan. 28th 1943

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