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- Seaforth Highlanders 1st Btn
- Seaforth Highlanders 2nd Btn
- Seaforth Highlanders 4th Btn
- Seaforth Highlanders 5th Btn
- Seaforth Highlanders 6th Btn
- Seaforth Highlanders 7th Btn
- 51st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders
The 51st Division commanded by Major-General Victor Fortune formed part of the British Expeditionary Force at the start of World War II. With the capture of two of its brigades in France the division effectively ceased to exist. The 9th (Highland) Infantry Division was renumbered as the 51st and subsequently served in the North Africa campaign. From there it went to Sicily before returning to France as part of the invasion of Northern Europe. The 2nd and 4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders were part of the 152nd Brigade in the 51st Highland Division. After three years of training under Major General Fortune's command, the 51st Infantry Division departed from Southampton and disembarked at Le Havre in mid-January 1940. It was stationed in front of the Ouvrage Hackenberg fortress of the Maginot Line and had thus escaped being encircled with the rest of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk. It was then pulled back to a new line roughly along the River Somme, where it was attached to the French Tenth Army. For some time, it was forced to hold a line four times longer than that which would normally be expected of a division. The Division was attacked very heavily over 5–6 June with the major attack initially falling on the 7th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders before the other battalions of the 154th Brigade were enveloped. The Argylls' losses were heavy, the worst day for casualties in their history. Being overwhelmed the Brigade was forced to retire to the west. During this period, the 154th Brigade was detached to form "Arkforce" and was able to escape the German drive into central France and Normandy. However, the 152nd and 153rd Brigades were trapped, with French troops under General Ihler, at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, and surrendered on 12 June, along with the Division's commander. General Fortune was one of the most senior British officers taken prisoner in World War II. He was knighted by King George VI after the war. From the British point of view, the defeat of the 51st Division was the end of the Allied resistance during the battle of France.
More than 10,000 members of the 51st (Highland) Division were taken prisoner at St Valery. They were marched to Germany, via Belgium, following the route over which the Germans had advanced against them. Their destination was Stalag XX-A at Toruń,about 120 miles (190 km) north-west of Warsaw. Some were loaded into canal barges for part of their journey, but all eventually travelled by train in cattle wagons.
There were some notable escapes, mostly in the early stages of the march. Of the 290 British Army POW escapers who had returned to Britain by the end of June 1941, 134 were members of the 51st (Highland) Division.
23rd Oct 1942 Guns in Action
24th Oct 1942 Advance
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Adam John Hughes. Capt.
- Anderson Edward. Cpl.
- Anderson George William. Pte.
- Asher Alexander Gordon. Pipe Major
- Barr Eric Forrester. WO2.
- Beekman William.
- Betts Harold James.
- Billingham Albert.
- Blair James W. Major
- Booth Robert. Pte.
- Botley Roy Allen. Pte.
- Burr Robert James. L/Cpl.
- Cargill Donald Martin. Pte.
- Carruthers Andy. Pte.
- Christie James Finlayson. Pte.
- Clason George F.. L/Cpl.
- Coates Richard.
- Coffield John. Pte.
- Crawford Allan Stewart Warren. Sgt.
- Crawford Allan Warren. L/Sgt.
- Crawford Douglas Frederick Norman Hugh. Pte.
- Dawson Gordon. Pte.
- Dignam Isaac Joseph.
- Dobbing Charles Sherrington. Sgt. (d.15th Feb 1945)
- Dobie David Wilson.
- Duffy Charles G.. L/Cpl. (d.9th Feb 1945)
- Edwards James Alexander. Private
- Eichen Hyman. Pte. (d.15th Feb 1945)
- Fairley William Taylor. Cpl.
- Fawcett Albert. Private
- Fawcett Albert. Pte.
- Fawcett Albert. Pte
- Ferguson George Bartleman. Cpl. (d.8th June 1940)
- Ferguson John. Cpl. (d.3rd Oct 1944)
- Ferguson John Leggat. Pte.
- Ferrar Alexander. Sgt.
- Gemmell George. Pte.
- Gilmour William. Pte.
- Gordon William Logan. Pte. (d.16th May 1940)
- Grayson George. Pte. (d.19th Jan 1944)
- Griggs Frederick John. Cpl.
- Guess George.
- Hall Edward Lawrence. Pte.
- Hamlin Harry William. Pte. (d.23rd March 1945)
- Hardiment John Dennis. Capt.
- Hart Edward. Pte.
- Harvey William Gordan. Pte.
- Hastie Alexander Fyfe. Sgt. (d.22nd July 1943)
- Hawksley Eric. Pte.
- Hay George. Pte.
- Helliwell Arthur . Pte. (d.26th June 1944)
- Higgins Steve.
- Hill Sidney Horace. Pte. (d.7th May 1942)
- Hinton Fredrick Edward. Pte.
- Hobkirk Ian Kenneth Cockburn. Capt.
- Holtby Robert Leslie. Lt.
- Hornby John. Pte.
- Kinnear Duncan MacIntyre. Sgt.
- Laird Robert. Pte.
- Liddle Thomas Henry. Pte.
- Little Archibald. Capt.
- Macdonald Donald John. L/Cpl. (d.30th January 1944)
- Mackay John. Pte.
- Mackenzie James.
- Maclennan Simon.
- Maclennan Simon. Pte.
- MacPherson Roderick. Pte.
- Mason Bramwell. Cpl. (d.30th June 1944)
- McCorkindale James. Pte.
- McLean John. L/Cpl. (d.28th Mar 1945)
- Meadows Richard Walter. Pte.
- Mitchell James Anthony Emery Moore.
- Morrison Alexander.
- Muir John Rathlin. Pte. (d.20th May 1941)
- Mullen Joseph Hughes. Pte. (d.12th Jun 1940)
- New Joseph Alfred.
- Norton George. Pte.
- Owen Leonard James.
- Paddon Tom. CSM.
- Pinnell Alfred Jack. Pte. (d.10th Aug 1944)
- Pirrie Wiliam John.
- Porteous Lawrence Stokes. Sgt.
- Rawlings Reginald. L/Cpl.
- Reaper Robert Wood.
- Russell Thomas Dobbins. L/Cpl
- Sedgwick Kenneth.
- Sheehan John. Pte. (d.30th June 1944)
- Simpson Albert. Pte. (d.11th Jun 1944)
- Spiers Alexander. L/Cpl.
- Steele Robert Wilson. Pte.
- Stonier Adam. Pte. (d.30th January 1944)
- Sutherland Robert Thomas. Pte. (d.27th May 1940)
- Sutherland Willliam. L/Cpl.
- Tague Ernest. WO2 (d.22nd Sep 1944)
- Tomlinson Charles. L/Sgt
- Wall Jack.
- Walton George Geordie. Pte.
- Wannell William James. Mjr.
- Watson Alexander. Pte. (d.4th June 1940)
- Watson Henry Barker. Pte.
- Winn William Edward. Pte.
- Winter John Robert.
- Wright Charles. Pte.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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There are 5 pages in our library tagged Seaforth Highlanders These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Simon Maclennan Seaforth HighlandersSimon Maclennan of the Seaforth Highlanders was a prisoner at Stalag 9c.
Simon was my uncle, my father's brother; I would be interested in any info or pictures that might be available about him. Our family know very little about the time he spent as a POW, as understandably he would not talk about it. Any help would be much appreciated.George Maclennan
David Wilson Dobie Seaforth HighlandersI just remember my Dad, David Dobie, saying he was a prisoner of war. He said he was wounded and captured and escaped once or twice. If anybody knew my dad I would like to here some of the stories. Where he was in prison? He did not talk much about it so any information would be good. He did have medals but I don't know what happened to them. I would love to pass any information on to my kids.Fran Allred
Pte. Arthur Helliwell 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders (d.26th June 1944)Arthur Helliwell was my uncle who unfortunately died before I was born. I am making a trip to France to visit his grave. I would love to know more about what his unit and battalion were involved with leading up to and at the time of his death and through all of WW2. I would like to build up a picture in my mind so any information would be gratefully received.Phil Coleman
Sgt. Duncan MacIntyre Kinnear Seaforth HighlandersI am looking for any pictures anyone might have of my granfather, Sgt. Duncan MacIntyre Kinnear, he served with the Seaforths during WW2, but before that was a professional soldier, he later went on to serve with the Royal Army Catering Corps and volunteered for the Glider Pilot regiment for the Arnhem landings but was injured during a landing and was discharged.
Any info or pics would be gratefully received as I am keen to pass on my grandfather's memory to my son, whom I named Duncan Macintyre after him.Tam Kinnear-Swift
Pte. Fredrick Edward "Eyetie" Hinton 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersFred was my Dad, he fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Western Europe, he passed away in 1982. We think he was a real hero, as were all those lads !Raymond Hinton
Pte. Joseph Hughes Mullen 2nd Battallion Seaforth Highlanders (d.12th Jun 1940)Joseph's twin brother James joined up first and he followed. Joseph's death on 12 June 1940, age 21, is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France. col. 125. I am currently researching the circumstances surrounding his death on June 12th. Twin brother James returned home safely.John Mullen
Pte. Charles Wright Seaforth HighlandersMarion Wright
Capt. John Hughes Adam 7th Btn. Seaforth HughlandersMy Father joined on the 16th October 1939. rank of Private. By April 1940 he was a Corporal, by June 1940 he was a Serjeant. In Nov. 1942 he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Promoted to Lieutenant in May 1943.
Served in Normandy June 1944 until wounded on the 17th July 1944 (not known where or how). Promoted to Captain Feb 1945. Went to Germany 1946, before he was released June 46. My late sister was born in Fort George in Feb 1941 Attached is a photo of him and other 7th Seaforth's at the start line of Operation Epsom. My Father went on to serve with the Parachute Reg (ta) If anyone has any information relating to my father, please contact me.John Ayton Adam
L/Cpl. John McLean 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.28th Mar 1945)I am desperately trying to find out anything about my Uncle John Mclean as there seems to be some discrepancy about where and how he died.Monica McLean
Pte. George William Anderson 2nd Battalion Seaforth HighlandersMy Dad, George Anderson, was with the 2nd Seaforths at St Valery,51st Highland Division. He told me that at the surrender to the Germans in June 1940, the CO. Lt Col R.F.Nason spoke to the battalion and invited any man who wanted to escape to join an escape party being led by an officer. Otherwise, the battalion were going to be POW's for the duration. My old man volunteered and away they went through German lines. He had various adventures and close shaves with both Germans and French Nazi sympathisers, but the Maquis and the Resistance looked out for them and he made it back to the UK where he was sent up to Fort George to be an instructor to recruits.
Not fancying that, or the 3 stripes that went with it, he applied to get back to active service, but to his disappointment was posted to the Service Corps near Swindon. After D Day he was back ashore in France and then Belgium and Germany until the War ended.
Pre-war he had been in India, Egypt and Palestine with the 1st Battalion and his Company Commander was the same R.F.Nason, only that time he was a Major.
I would be most interested to hear from any ex-51st HD sweats who might know a bit more about the escape,or who perhaps knew my Dad who died in 1996.Bob Anderson
Private Albert Fawcett Seaforth HighlandersAlbert Fawcett was my uncle on my father's side. He moved to Scotland from Co. Durham in the north of England when he was a young man. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders from the Perth Infantry Office. I do have some information on him, but not a lot. He was a POW in Camp 344 at Lambinowice. Albert lived in Carnoustie until he died in 1986. He was married there and never came back to Durham. I do have a photo of Albert in his kilt which I am very proud of.Barry Fawcett
Pte. Edward Hart 2nd Battalion Seaforth HighlandersNed Hart was captured at Le Tot outside St Valery En Caux on the 13th of June 1940 and given Prisoner number 18573. He arrived at Stalag XXA on the 10th of July 1940 from Dulag then transferred to Stalag XXB on 30th of October 1940. He is reputed to have escaped on Long March and hid and worked on a Polish Farm. He was repatriated by the Russians who threw him in jail for a number of weeks. He hated the Russians more than the Germans.
There is a published story of a POW escaped from another camp who hid in XXB until the hue and cry died down before slipping away. Ned was a cook and hid the prisoner in a wall cavity behind the cooking cauldrons. He would get out to play football for exercise then return to his cupboard. Finally he slipped away unnoticed. Any details of this would be greatly appreciated. I've read Bill Inne's St Valery, also Doctor behind barbed wire.
In the photograph, are Seaforths at XXB with Ned third from right bottom row (discovered recently in the archives of a newspaper published in 1941)Jim Hart
Jack Wall Seaforth HighlandersJack Wall served with the Seaforth Highlanders and was invalided out of the Army in 1941 to Watford. Hertfordshire, he is my Grandad. He used to wear a green kilt and he used to do magic tricks in a pub called The Green Man. He courted a girl called Doris Boulger who is my grandmother. She fell pregnant in autumn 1941 and ran away to Leicester to have my mum. Jack Wall was never heard of after that. Does anyone know what happened to him? Any help would be gratefully received, thank you.Sarah Kinton
L/Cpl. George F. "Sailor" Clason MM. Seaforth HighlandersMy half brother, George F. Clason, took a discharge from the American Navy in 1939 while stationed in California and joined the Seaforth Highlanders and was shipped to England. I don't know where he first saw action but do know it went through Sicily and up through Italy. I do know he was in a building that was shelled and all were killed except him and he was not hurt. He got the MM medal for an action when he was behind enemy lines with a radio and stayed there while under heavy enemy fire and guided the allied artillery which resulted in heavy losses. He was a L/Cpl and was put in for a field commission but before he got it he was again behind enemy lines with a radio. The Germans sneaked up on him and took him prisoner and was sent to Stalag 7A.
When freed by the Americans on April 20th, 1945 he was sent to England and shortly later to Vancouver, Canada where they had a parade for him. I understand he was offered the commission if he wanted to stay in the service but declined because he wanted to come home to the U.S. Americans that joined a foreign service up to this time lost their citizenship. He was the test case in Congress that changed that.Alexander Hutton
Isaac Joseph Dignam Seaforth HighlandersMy Dad, Isaac Dignam, was a member of the Seaforth Highlanders. He was captured at Saint Valery, 1940, was interred in Stalag XXA. He did not talk too much about his time in the POW camp. He mentioned that he worked on a farm. And he mentioned the walk after being liberated. I'm trying to find out a little more about his time in the POW camp and would like it if we had a picture of him.Marshall Dignam
Cpl. George Bartleman "Ferggie" Ferguson 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.8th June 1940)I am the grandson of Corporal Geroge Ferguson, Seaforth Highlanders (722662). He died in France on the 8th of June 1940 age 32. George was one of the soldiers at Fort George, he was in the football team as their goalkeeper and taught the boxing team. I have never seen him, is it possible that out there somewhere that there is a photo of the teams and maybe of him?Ian Newton
Pte. James Finlayson Christie Seaforth HighlandersMy Grandfather James Christie was in the Seaforth Highlanders and was imprisoned at Stalag XX-B. I knew very little about his time there as he died when I was only 12. However, I have since come across some pictures of him in the Camp and discovered some basic information through www.ancestry.co.ukLorraine Garvie
Pte. Henry Barker Watson Seaforth HighlandersI am attempting to trace the military history of my grandfather for my father.
I have found out that my grandfather, Henry Watson was attached to the 6th, 9th and 2nd battalions of the Seathforth Highlanders. He was caught as a POW in possibly Sicily and was a prisoner of war between July 1943 & October 1945 at a Stalag in Germany. On his repatriation he was posted to the 7th Royal Ulster Rifles. It would be nice to see any pictures or hear any stories about my grandfather that anyone may have.Dean Watson
Kenneth Sedgwick Seaforth HighlandersMy father, Kenneth Sedgwick, was with the Seaforth Highlanders from 1938 through the war. He saw duty in Tobruk, Cyprus, and northern Europe. I know he was captured at one point and escaped when they were not looking. He made his way back to the coast and got a ride on a boat to get back to England.Libby Boykin
Sgt. Allan Stewart Warren Crawford Seaforth HighlandersMy grandfather, Allan Stewart Warren Crawford, born 28th November 1908 at 34 McLellan Street, Govan. We know he served with the Seaforth Highlanders and trained around the Strathpeffer area, possibly based at Fort George, and saw action in the Middle East or Palestine, during WW2. We also know he was a machine gunner, a boxer and attained the rank of Sergeant. He died of natural causes in Glasgow in 1997 and received a pension for his hearing loss (machine gun) in 1993.
What we don't know is his service number, what unit within the Seaforth's he served in and where this unit saw active service. An absolute bonus would be to find out if he received any commendations during his service time or if there was any photos of him or group photos of his unit before or during the war years. I'm conscious I could be at the beginning of a fairly lengthy period of searching but would love to have this info in time for my father's 70th birthday in October, to tell him about his father's war service and present him with some period momentos of the Regiment which I'm currently searching for, Glengarry's etc. All help or assistance will be very much appreciated by all our family.Allan Crawford
Wiliam John Pirrie Seaforth HighlandersMy granddad, William John Pierre, was born 1914 at 58 Innes Street, Inverness.
He joined the Seaforth Highlanders was a Japanese prisoner of war. He got the Burma Cross which he never received, so he told us. I would be so greatful to find out more.Diane Lansbury
L/Sgt. Allan Warren Crawford 2nd Battalion Seaforth HighlandersMy grandfather, Alan Carwford servede with the Seaforth Highlanders in WW2. We have received an extensive lot of info from the MOD in Glasgow and now know he was in the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders for the majority of his time (almost 18 years), from 1927 till demobbing in September 1945.
Between 1927 and the outbreak of war he served in India and Palestine (with periods in the UK as well - location unknown). Initially he was with in D company (coming 3rd in his class in 1928 and 2nd in class in 1932). From January 1940 till June 1940 he was with the British Expeditionary Forces in France (he was lucky and got away). From June 1940 till June 1942 he was in Britain, but whereabouts unknown, Strathpeffer - regrouping ??. From June 1942 till August 1943 he served in the Middle East, being wounded in Egypt in November 1942. From August 1943 till Nhe was in Britain, whereabouts unknown. From June 1944 till Sept 1945 I can't make this out on the paperwork it looks like 'WWE'?? In September 1945 he was demobbed. He attained the rank of Lance Sergeant but appears to have been a naughty boy and busted to private before going up again.
We also know he received a number of medals which the MOD has infomed us of ( x 6 ). Unsure if he would have got the 'Long Service or Good Conduct' medal due to previous bit of info. This was not noted as being awarded on the MOD notes. The last pieces of info we are trying to put together are: 1. Are their any pictures of the 2nd Battalion Seaforths anywhere? Even scanned copies would be amazing. Does anyone have info as to where the battalion was located when in Britain? When he was wounded in Egypt it has listed him as 'S.W'? Does this mean severely wounded or shot and wounded?. After he was wounded he was apparently located in an area called '106 S.A. Gurhorpt'? The writing on the paperwork is hard to make out. Is there any info on this location in the campaign briefs or have I misread the place?
Editor's Note: Between June 1944 and September 1945 2nd Seaforths were in the Western European Theatre, fighting from the Normandy beaches, through Caen to Le Havre, through Belgium to Anwerp and the River Maas passage, crossing the Rhine in March 1945 and pushing through into Germany.Allan
William Beekman Seaforth HighlandersMy Grandad, William Beekman, served in the Seaforth Highlanders, this is all I have. I'd like to find out more.Cherie
Pte. Hyman "Harry" Eichen MID. 7th Batallian Seaforth Highlanders (d.15th Feb 1945)My father Harry Eichen died on 15th February 1945 during a Battle in Reichswald Forest, Nr Cleve. He was part of Operation Veritable. I understand from an article in the Walthamstow Guardian that he was Mentioned In Dispatches for his part in capturing a German unit as he could speak German. I was 3 years old so never knew him. I have letters from his Captain and chaplain sent to my mother.
He is buried in the Commonwealth War Grave in Reichswald Forest and I was able to visit his grave in 1997, travelling from Australia. I wonder if anyone remembers him. He was 34 years old when he died and both he and his brother volunteered as soon as war broke out. I believe prior to being posted to the Seaforth Highlanders he was a gunner in the Royal Artillery.Gilda Mann (nee Eichen)
Pte. James "Hamish" McCorkindale 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersI have received confirmation from the ICRC that my father, James McCorkindale, was held as a prisoner of war in Stalag XX/A following his capture at St Valerey on the 12th of June 1940. He arrived at Stalag XX/A on the 9th of July following his transfer from a transfer camp. Known as Hamish he was a Bren gunner in the Seaforth Highlanders 2nd, service number 2823104, which formed part of the BEF. He was originally from Paisley and was a groom /chauffeur before the war.
Sadly, he passed away in September 1970. Like many other men who were held with him he very rarely spoke of his time in captivity but regularly said that his time on the farms and the families whom he worked for were bearable. If anyone recognises his name or has heard it mentioned in conversations with their loved ones I would be delighted to hear from you.Alastair McCorkindale
Joseph Alfred New Seaforth HighlandersI've just been given this photograph of my Grandad, Joseph Alfred New, who was a POW in Stalag IXC. From what I can gather from family stories he worked in the Saltmines and attempted escape on numerous occasions. He was from Dudley in the West Midlands and was captured in St Valéry in 1940. He is the gentleman bottom center of the picture. Unfortunately, due to the age of the picture and creases we have had to have the picture repaired, and as a result he may look slightly different.
He has passed on now, but I would love to hear from anyone who recognises any relatives or friends in the picture and has any interesting tales to tell which may have involved my Grandad. Please get in touch if you know anything which may be of interest to myself and my family.Stephanie New
Steve Higgins Seaforth HighlandersMy Grandad, Steve Higgins, was in the Seaforth Highlanders. He landed on the beaches on 6th June 1944, it was his 18th Birthday! He is from a small village called Hemington in Derbyshire. His family were farmers in the village. When he returned from war he married my Grandma, June Higgins nee Newell, she had been evacuated from London when war broke out. They went on to have 6 children, 5 daughters & 1 son.Julie Goode
Pte. George Norton Seaforth HiglandersGeorge Norton was my uncle, my father's brother; I would be interested in any info or pictures that might be available about him. Our family know very little about the time he spent as a POW, as understandably he would not talk about it. Any help would be much appreciated. I would be particularly interested to find out which POW camp he was in after he was captured, so that I might be able to build a picture of his experiences.Phillip A Lofts
Pte. Albert Fawcett Seaforth HighlandersMy Uncle Albert was my father's brother born in Coundon Gate, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, England in 1915. When he got to age of about 17 he left home. He went to Canoustie and he settled there,(why he went to Scotland we don't know). He meet my aunt and never came back to Durham.
He joined the Seaforth Highlanders (Albert Fawcett, rank Private, army number 2819926,pow number 5766, name of camp Lambinowice in Poland.
He joined up in Perth, records office number 16. I do have a photo of him in full dress uniform, which I am very proud of. Albert made Scotland his home, he married there in 1945 he worked there and he died there in 1987. He realy did love Canoustie,as my wife and myself do also. Thank very much.Barry Fawcett
Pte Albert Fawcett Seaforth HighlandersMy uncle, Albert Fawcett, was my father's brother. Born in New Coundon, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, England in 1915. When he got to the age of 17 he left home. He went to canoustie in angus scotland,he meet my aunt isabella laing and he settled there, albert fawcett seaforth highlanders rank ptivate,army number 2819926 pow number 5766 name of camp lambinowice in poland,he joind in records office in perth office number 16.i have two or three photos of him ,abert made his life in canoustie he lived there he married there he worked there and he died there he loved scotland.Barry Fawcett
L/Cpl Thomas Dobbins "Tom" Russell 2 Bn Seaforth HighlandersMy father, Tom Russell, served in the Seaforth Highlanders from around 1933 and was based at Dover Castle before the war, where he met my mother.He was captured at St. Valery, France in 1940 and forced to march to Stalag XXB in Poland where he remained until 1945. He never spoke about his time there except that he used to drive the "Countess" in a pony and trap to the village for groceries.
Unfortunatly, my father passed away in 1990 but I am planning a visit to the POW site in June 2013 and would appreciate any info before I go.
I also served in his regiment but I am greatly saddened by the decimation of these famous Scottish regiments.
It would be nice if anyone remembered my father, but of course there has been a long period of time passed and a lot of these brave men have now passed on.John Russell
Lt. Robert Leslie Holtby 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersRobert Leslie Holtby was comissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders on the 20th November 1943, he was 19 years old. Robert sailed out to join the 2nd Battalion at Anzio in May 1944. He told us that he arrived in the Anzio pocket in the morning, met his platoon at lunchtime and led his platoon into battle in the afternoon. He must have done well, because The London Gazette records his promotion to War Substansive Leuitenant, effective 20th May 1944. Shortly after this Robert volunteered for special duties and was posted to No 2 SAS for the remainder of the War, making mischief behind enemy lines leading a patrol of heavily armed jeeps.
He relinquished his commission in 1947, being granted the honorary rank of Captain and went home to farm at Dowthorpe Hall. He later joined the East Yorkshire Regiment Territorial Army and rose to command a Company as a Major, finally finishing his unformed service in 1958. However, he continued to serve the community as a magistrate, High Sheriff of Humberside and Deputy Lord Leuitenant.Giles Holtby
CSM. Tom Paddon 4th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersMy father in law Tom Paddon was a regular soldier in the Seaforth Highlanders and saw service in India and the area pre WW2. He then went with the British Expeditionary Force and was eventually taken prisoner at Saint Valéry en Caux He spent the rest of the war at Stalag 8b and his number in the camp was 16793.
If any one can help with more information as to the time spent there or any one has memories of him we would be very grateful. He never spoke about his time in captivity so maybe it was not a good time. He would be remembered as he was West Country man in a Scottish regiment. Please feel free to contact me.Mark Rix
Private James Alexander Edwards 6th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersJames Edwards was a Prisoner of war in German hands. He was interned in POW camp Stalag XXA from where put on move on 9th June 1940, according to a capture card and document dated 26th November 1940. He was admitted to Stalag XXD on 1st November 1940, according to a document dated 26th November 1940.Terry Lynch
Alexander Morrison 51st Highland Division Seaforth HighlandersMy father, Alexander Morrison, was at Stalag VIIIb from 1940 to 1945. He was with the 51st Highland Division (Seaforth Highlanders) and was captured at St Valery-en-Caux on 12th June 1940. He worked in salt mines.Gordon Morrison
Pte. Edward Lawrence "Barney" Hall 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersEdward Lawrence Hall was born in 1904 in Durham and joined up aged 21 after a bit of family trouble. I already knew he had served from 1925 to 1933, in India and Palestine, and was recalled for service in 1939. Today I read in his army records that he was in France from 13 Sept 1939 to 16 June 1940, and started Googling the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders for June 1940 as it felt a bit late for Dunkirk.I found various pages including yours and a lot of information about how most of the Battalion surrendered in the face of overwhelming force. My grandad must have escaped however as he was back in England from 17 June 1940 and was sent to Fort George in Scotland where he worked as a Carpenter and Joiner until 1944 when he transferred to the Military Police. He did not serve overseas again.
I suppose I'll never know how he escaped from France, but if anyone can suggest further avenues of research I would be very grateful.
Editor's Note: The 2nd Battalion was part of 152 Brigade, itself part of 51st Highland Division. The Division was further inland along with the French and not encircled at Dunkirk. The 154th Brigade suffered losses but were able to withdraw through central France. The other Brigades 152 and 153 were obliged to surrender along with the Divisional Commander at St Valery. Quite a few escaped on marches to POW Camps and it is recorded that 134 of the escapees who made it back to the UK by June 1941 were Seaforth Highlanders. Fort George near Inverness in Scotland was the Divisional Depot and a new Division formed and trained therefrom the 9th Division and survivors from France was formed and trained there being finally ready for action and embarking for Egypt in June 1942.Linda Hutton
Pte. Eric Hawksley 2nd Battalion Seaforth HighlandersPrior to WW11 my father, Eric Hawksley served in Palestine, in 1940 he was shipped out with the BEF, he was then captured at Le Tot in 1940. As the Germans were marching him to an unknown POW camp he managed to escape from the line near Doullens, after 36 hours he was recaptured (fortunately not shot). Ten days later near Loos he made another escape, this time with success. After travelling by night to Halluin he was found by the French resistance and was looked after by a Mme. M; there he remained in hiding until Feb 1941. Guided by Mme. M. they set out, they went through Corrie-Sur-Somme to Paris and to Bourges, there he was arrested by the Germans for trying to cross the lines without permission (obviously not realising he was English) he was fined a hundred Francs and put in prison, after two days Mme. M. obtained papers for him from the German Commandant and carried on without further incident. They travelled from St. Amand to Marseilles to Perpignan to Argeles and crossed into Spain, he was then arrested and placed in jail at Barcelona, Mme. M. remained with him until he was taken to Madrid then repatriated to Gibraltar, on the 19th of March 1941. All this time he was classed as missing presumed dead, until my mum received an unofficial letter stating he had been found, and then on the 16th May 1941 a telegram (which I still have) from my father to my mum saying he was on his way home.
I have in my possession a silver bracelet from Lt. Richard Broad to my father with an inscription on the back. At some time I am going to give this to the Seaforth’s museum at Fort George as they have registered an interest in it. He then changed regiments to the R.A.O.C. at Chilwell Nottingham his home town, there he remained to finish his 22 years colour service as a WO2. After he left the army he carried on working for them as a BIA, working in Germany and finally Whittington Barracks, Litchfield. He never really spoke of his time in the twelve months from capture to repatriation, the information in this letter was obtained from Kew Archives.Eric Richard Hawksley
Pte. Robert Wilson Steele 4th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersMy husband's Dad, Robert Wilson Steele served in the 2nd World War with the British Army in the 51st Seaforth Highlanders Regiment]. His Brother James Steele also served as well in the same Regiment. They landed at Dunkirk but Robert was captured at the beaches of St. Valery while his brother James made it on to one of the rescue boats.
What I know is that Robert had a long journey walking etc. to the Stalag IV A 40 POW camp. (M.Stammlager IV A ARB-Kdo 508) whatever that means? [Arbeits-Kommando means Labour Detail] He served for 5 long years and he once told us a story about the conditions there and the German guards made him dig out the latrines with an axe pick in the winter. Every time he chipped away at it he would get a mouth full and had to spit it out. When they were repatriated Robert said that the Germans treated them better than the Russians. As they got away they came upon a broken down German war truck and him and his mates found a camera, a German Army Uniform and a tin of biscuits. The Russians took the camera and the German Army Uniform off of them and the said to Robert Steele, give me the biscuits. He said "munga munga while rubbing his stomach". They said "give us them or we will shoot" So, starving he reluctantly gave them up. He also told us he rode on the top of the trains on the way home and one of the first things he did was eat a handful of salt.
If anyone knows of Robert Wilson Steele POW and any other stories about the 51st Seaforth Highlanders, I would be so interested. My cousin Davy Steele wrote the ballad The beaches of St. Valery. A must see on YouTube. Sadly Robert passed away in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, but had a good lifeWendy Steele
Pte. George Gemmell Queens Own Cameron HighlandersMy Grandfather George Gemmell enlisted 27.6.1940 in the 5 Bn Cameron Highlanders (TA). On the 24th April 1942 he joined L Det SAS, transferring to 1 SAS (A Squadron) 21.9.1942 to 1.2.1943. On the 10th of March 1943 he rejoined 5 Bn Cameron Highlanders then served with 11 Infantry Holding Bn (attached 9 Bn Seaforth Highlanders) from 1.12.1944 to 1.5.1946. He was released to Army Reserve 15.1.1947
I am interested in the specific battles in which he may have fought.Alex Ford
Albert Billingham 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders
Albert Billingham and the 17th Infantry Brigade including 6th Seaforth crossed the straits of Messina and landed in Italy on September 3rd 1943. By 2nd January 1944 they had returned to the west of Italy to take part in the operations to cross the Garigliano River. Unfortunately, Albert was captured in Minturno on January 18th and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including Albert Billingham, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
He survived the wreck with multiple wounds to his head, right hand and left leg. Once recovered he was sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.
Pte. Andy Carruthers 6th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersAndy Carruthers and the 17th Infantry Brigade including 6th Seaforth crossed the straits of Messina and landed in Italy on September 3rd 1943. By 2nd January 1944 they had returned to the west of Italy to take part in the operations to cross the Garigliano River. Unfortunately, Andy was captured in Minturno on January 18th and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including Andy Carruthers, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
He survived the wreck with bruising to his left leg. Once recovered he was sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.S Flynn
Pte. William Gilmour 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders
William Gilmour and the 17th Infantry Brigade including 6th Seaforth crossed the straits of Messina and landed in Italy on September 3rd 1943. By 2nd January 1944 they had returned to the west of Italy to take part in the operations to cross the Garigliano River. Unfortunately, William was captured in Minturno on January 18th and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including William Gilmour, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
He survived the wreck with slight wounds to both feet. Once recovered he was sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.
George Guess 6th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersGeorge Guess and the 17th Infantry Brigade including 6th Seaforth crossed the straits of Messina and landed in Italy on September 3rd 1943. By 2nd January 1944 they had returned to the west of Italy to take part in the operations to cross the Garigliano River. Unfortunately, George was captured in Minturno on January 18th and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including George Guess, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
He survived the wreck with a fractured upper left leg. Once recovered he was sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.S. Flynn
Pte. John Hornby 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders
John Hornby and the 17th Infantry Brigade including 6th Seaforth crossed the straits of Messina and landed in Italy on September 3rd 1943. By 2nd January 1944 they had returned to the west of Italy to take part in the operations to cross the Garigliano River. Unfortunately, John was captured in Minturno on January 18th and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including John Hornby, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
He survived the wreck but was captured once more and sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.
L/Cpl. Reginald Rawlings 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders
Lance Corporal Reginald Rawlings and the 17th Infantry Brigade including 6th Seaforth crossed the straits of Messina and landed in Italy on September 3rd 1943. By 2nd January 1944 they had returned to the west of Italy to take part in the operations to cross the Garigliano River. Unfortunately, Reginald was captured in Minturno on January 18th and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including Reginald Rawlings, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
He survived the wreck but was captured once more and sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.
Pte. John "Daisy" Mackay C Btn. No.11 (Scottish) Commando
Private John Mackay, son of Hugh Kenneth and Elizabeth Mackay and brother of Georgie Mackay, was a 16 year old farm servant when he enlisted with 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders in 1938. He left home on September 2nd 1939. In the summer of 1940, his time was spent patrolling remote sites in Wester Ross and Sutherland when he and some of his fellow soldiers decided to volunteer for the Special Service Brigade. He was then sent to Africa to join the 11th Commando.
John Mackay set off on his first patrol on 11th Oct 1941, destined for Kharga in the Libyan Desert. In Egypt, April 1943, the fit and healthy members of the Long Range Desert Group, of which John was now a member, were sent to train in Lebanon at the Mountain Warfare School. He was then ordered to fight for the Dodecanese Islands, and LRDG were sent to the island of Calino at the start of the campaign. On 20th October the Battle of Leros was underway, and British command gave the LRDG orders that the island of Levitha was to be captured immediately. On the night of 22nd October the commandos of ‘B’ Squad slipped into canvas assault boats and prepared to land on the nearby beach. Unfortunately they came under heavy machine gun fire and the end result was that there was no option but to surrender. John Mackay was officially captured by the Germans on October 24th 1943. The LRDG men taken prisoner on Levitha were first shipped over to Yugoslavia from where they began the long train journey to Germany. Private Mackay ended up a POW in Stalag 8b, Lamsdorf, Poland. In late January 1945 he made the journey to Trieste to work salt mines in northern Italy.
Once he was set free he had to make his way back to the British lines on foot, and once back in Britain he spent a period convalescing in hospital prior to coming home. John arrived at Fort George in March 1946, and was reunited with his family two months later.
Pte. Albert Simpson Seaforth Highlanders (d.11th Jun 1944)My Father Roy always wanted to see his brother Albert's grave. He died before he got the chance so I will be going in his place. He always thought that Albert had died on the beaches, but he actually died of his wounds in a makeshift hospital on 11th June 1944. Albert Simpson served with the Seaforth Highlanders.Angela Cole
Pte. Douglas Frederick Norman Hugh Crawford MM. Seaforth HighlandersMy father Doug Crawford served with the Seaforth Highlanders and received his MM on 21st January 1943. He was a stretcher bearer & received his medal for attending 2824600 Pte. Thompson & 3058511 Sgt. Wardlaw. I would like to know where the attack was and if Pte. Thompson & Sgt. Wardlaw were ok.Ian Crawford
Pte. George Grayson Infantry Seaforth Highlanders (d.19th Jan 1944)My granddad George Grayson was only 28 when he died on the 19 Jan 1944 at the Battle of Monte Cassino, leaving his 3 young boys, my dad only 3 years old, orphans and his wife bereft. She never married again. Granddad had a blood clotting condition and should never have been allowed to join up, but wanted to and so did, sadly, at the cost of his life.
We would love to find out out more about the circumstances around his death. Rumours are there was an explosion, and that he died in the field hospital. We always think of him and will forever be grateful for the sacrifice he made for his country. Never forgotten granddad, always loved and thought of.Gina Mayers
Pte. Robert Booth Seaforth HighlandersMy father, Robert Booth was 1 of 4 brothers, he was born in Newark New Jersey USA. He first joined up on the 21st September 1922 and served in India for 6 years from 1924 - 1932. He was then back home till 1939 and he was with the BEF in France from Oct 1939 to June 1940 when he was taken prisoner. He was transported to Luckenwalde, Brandenburg POW Camp and was there for the remainder of the war. He was discharged 21st April 1946 after serving 23 years 214 days. He told me that he was captured at Dunkirk during the evacuation he was pulled onto a ship and in the process his kilt had come off unfortunately the ship was shelled and sunk. He was then captured and sent to Stalag 111a.David Booth
WO2 Ernest "Pat" Tague Seaforth Highlanders (d.22nd Sep 1944)My namesake Ernest Tague was killed at Nijmegn on the 22nd of Sept 1944, he was was eldest brother of my mother Jenny Tague. My uncle was a regular and also a sportsman winning cups in Hong Kong in 1937 for boxing and also was a good single skulls sportsman. I remember him vividly on his last leave in 1944 when he came to see his mother and I remember how troubled he was at this time as he could not comfort his mother or say what he was doing. He was married to Margaret who lived in London and they had two children Marcus and Bee. I can imagine his feelings as when I packed my sea bags I had no idea when I would be back, difference then was we were in the toughest part of WW2.
He died during operation Market Garden when going to the aid of I believe an American unit that was cut off, it would seem that he and a large number of his company, 7th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, were killed at Nijmegen and all eventually buried at the war cemetery in Mierlo which I visited a number of times when business took me to Europe, I think I was the only member of the family to ever visit the grave. The telegram that arrived telling my grandmother of his death also killed her inside as she never was the same person again.Ernest Terry
Cpl. Frederick John Griggs 7th Battalion Seaforth HighlandersFred Griggs never liked to talk about his time in WW2. He did remember with affection his friends in the 7th Battalion in which he served from 18th of Jan 1940 until 28th of Jan 1946. He said that he originally joined up in the Someset Light Infantry, did his basic training in Weston-Super-Mere and then served with the 7th Battalion as a Signaller. He said that he was wounded in Eindoven, Holland on the way to the Rhine and was flown back to hospital in Morristown, Wales. He was just a few days past his 98th birthday when he passed and must be amongst the last of the Veterans from the Battalion. We would be grateful if anyone has any memories or information about him that we could pass on to his daughter and grandchildren. He is greatly missed.Jim Garrett
Pte. Richard Walter Meadows Seaforth HighlandersMy Dad Richard Meadows's Notes: I was 16 years old when this was taken at Cartmell in 1930. I was at camp with the 5th Manchester Regiment Territorials which I joined in 1930 because I had a row with my step father. I gave my wrong age so that I could join up. I said I was 18 years old. We had to attend the Drill Hall in Greenough Street Wigan two nights a week until we had a good idea how to drill with a rifle, and then we went to a place called Cork in Cartmell for two weeks camping where we had to do route marches till we had got hardened to a Soldier’s life. This was taken at the Border Camp Harts. I transferred to the Regular Army after we came back from camp. I was sent to the Castle Carlisle for 6 months training. When the 6 months training was over I was posted to Guadaloup Barracks Border Harts. This photo was taken outside the Barracks Room. I did 6 months and then I was posted to Palace Barracks Holywood Northern Ireland when I became a drummer in the band, and while I was there trouble broke out, but it was not as bad as it is now. Although there was a curfew on and we had to patrol the streets at night to see that everyone stopped indoors. The badge on my collar representing a battle, however, before my time.
The photo 1941 Corporal Meadows with his drummer - This was taken at Fort Widley near Portsmouth. In the meantime I had been promoted to Corporal to form my own pipe band out of the conscripts. We were practicing marching while playing for the church parade on the Sunday. It was whilst I was there that we were given instruction to train for active service in the Middle East and I found out that I would be expected to lead 35 men into Battle and I felt I could not take the responsibility for so many lives and I gave up my stripes and became Private Meadows again, and having been on active service I am glad that I did. I was transferred to the Seaforth Highlanders for the purpose of going into battle at El Alamein and I was wounded on the first push on the 10th of November 1942, about the same time our Alison was born. I was in hospital for 2 years and had 4 operations then I was sent to arrest camp prior to coming home.
I had been at the rest camp for 3 months when I got a letter from your mam… she thought I wanted to stay out there. The reason was that one of the chaps that was in my ward had been posted home. He had the same injury that I had and when he came home he was a traveler for Coleman Mustard. He knew my address because he had written a few letters for me when I was unable to write after my operation. He told your mam that I should be home as the medical officer had told him I was due for discharge. I wrote to the Medical Officer myself and I got a letter back telling me to report to the 15th Scottish Hospital Cairo. I had an interview with the O.C. of the next camp and explained about the letter but I was told off and told I would be in trouble when I got back for not going to the OC in charge of the rest camp. When I got to the 15th Scottish I told the Medical Officer I was in for trouble when I got back but he told me to forget it as I was going home after having another operation, which I did.Vera Meadows Entwistle
Harold James Betts Seaforth HighlandersMy father, Harold James Betts, was in the Seaforth Highlanders during WW2. He often mentioned marching across France but only told us that he was evacuated from Dunkirk some years after the war. In a small cupboard in our pantry was a tiny red tin which contained tomato puree, something unheard of in England at the time, and I remember he told me that he had carried it in his rucksack all the way across France. We never opened it. He came home to a wife and three children, and not surprisingly, nine months later a fourth child, another daughter, was born. (I am the fifth child, yet another daughter). Following Dunkirk my father was sent to a base in Scotland near to Crieff. My mother went up to see him for a week and during that time he was injured riding a motorcycle guarding a convoy. He refused to go to hospital until he had spoken to his wife. The lady who she was staying with told the soldiers that my mother was in the local cinema and the ambulance went there to find her. A notice went up on the screen asking Ada Betts to go to the entrance of the cinema and only after he had seen her did he agree to go to hospital. The surgeon, who had a German sounding name, became Dad's hero as he saved his leg which was badly broken. Incredible really that he survived Dunkirk then was invalided out after being badly hurt falling off his motorbike. Amazingly, the hospital was in what is now the very upmarket Gleneagles Hotel. Many years later, he and Mum visited the Gleneagles Hotel and happened to meet the actor who played Jed Clampet in the Beverly Hill Billies in the bar.
My father's Commanding Officer was called Christopher Miles and when my mother was pregnant with me they thought that perhaps they would have another boy, and I would be given his name. I arrived so they called me Christine in his memory.Christine Massey
Cpl. John Ferguson 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.3rd Oct 1944)John Ferguson saw action at El Alamein, as well as in Tunisia, Sicily and in the Normandy campaign. He was killed in action on 3rd of October 1944, age 36.Davy Hermans
L/Cpl. Alexander Spiers 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersThe memories are very few. My father Alexander Spiers enlisted as a suplementary reservist in 1936, and was captured while digging for potatoes together with two other soldiers, during the last days of St Valery. He was held as a POW in Stalag 20b. While working with horses and helping out as a "Blacksmith" of which he had no experience at all, he got kicked and a dislodged a kneecap. He was reunited with Seaforth Highlanders in 1946/7 when he was stationed in Hamburg, Melle and Buxtehude in Germany. He died in 1982
Pte. Donald Martin "Coker " Cargill Seaforth HighlandersLike most old soldiers, Donald 'Coker' Cargill preferred not to talk about his experiences during WWII till the passing of several decades had softened the more painful edges of his memories. But when he did decide to talk about his years as a Prisoner of War, so remarkable were his stories his family wanted them preserved.
They are tales sometimes so audacious as to be funny. Yet they are no less courageous for that. Was it this courage that ensured he lived to tell the tale? The quick-thinking that so often outwitted the Germans? Or the youthful brass neck that made even his captors laugh?
Perhaps all these things helped him survive where friends he served with did not. But maybe it was simply luck.. Because Coker considers himself a lucky man. Whatever tragic losses he has suffered in his life - and there have been several - he has, for the most part, held onto the natural cheeriness that's such an endearing part of his character.
Though he's now in his eighties, you can still picture him as the good-looking, cocksure 21-year-old who went off to face that great adventure, leaving a worried young wife and toddler son.
His smile is still infectious as he recounts the laughs he used to have, he and his comrades-in-arms, bluffing it out on the run from a POW camp. And if this account skims over the worst of his experiences - the horrors witnessed, the deprivation endured, the losses keenly felt - it's because that's how he chooses to recall them. At least in public.
Donald Martin Cargill was born in Edinburgh on the 21st April, 1918 and was brought up in Elgin by his granny Elsie Mathieson in a two-storey house near Lossie Green. He left school at 14. His first job was as a message boy for Pullars of Perth, who had a shop in Commerce Street at the time. Later he worked on a petrol lorry, and from the age of 18 had "odds and sods of jobbies."
"I was on the dole maist o' the time," he says. "Jobs were affa scarce in them days."
He married Millie in 1938. Encouraged by the bounty offered and the chance to travel, Coker had joined the Territorial Army. So when war broke out in 1939 he was among the first to volunteer for service.
"We didn't get called up", he explains. "When war broke out we just went down and reported to the Town Hall. We were in the regular Army then."
He enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders Territorial Unit, 6th Battalion. In it there were lads from all over Moray and beyond, and some older soldiers too. They were stationed at the Drill Hall, which was beside the Cooper Park (it's currently incorporated into a new library building) and did their training in the park in readiness to go to France.
War had been declared in the September, and Coker and his fellow recruits went first to Aldershot and then to France in early January 1939. Their task was to defend a gap in the Maginot line, a long stretch of fortress-like defences erected specially to protect France and Belgium against German invasion. Though determined to do their duty, it was a hopeless task for the ill-equipped young soldiers.
"We only had about 60 rounds of ammunition, an old rifle from the first war, and two Bren gun carriers for the whole regiment We were sitting ducks, no doubt about it. We'd about as much chance of stopping the Germans advancing as the Salvation Army would have!" he jokes ruefully.
While many of Coker's fellow soldiers made for mass evacuation at Dunkirk and a mention in the history books, he and his friend Lance Corporal Jim McCulloch were among the unlucky ones chosen to stay behind and defend the position.
"We were the boys that should have got all the praise," he points out, "not them that escaped in boats."
"Every day we were fighting rearguard action. We had been holding defensive positions for quite a while when the Germans broke through. There had been a big push in May 1940 so they went through us like a dose of salts.
"We lost a lot of boys. My best mate was killed just beside me. I aye mind him turning round to Millie in the High Street, before we left, saying, 'Dinna you worry, I'll look after him'."
Despite their resolution to fight it out "to the finish" the braveheart Scots who survived were taken prisoner instead. After a march of several days, their German captors herded them into a railway truck for the journey across Germany into Poland.
At Berlin they halted briefly so the Germans could show them off to jubilant crowds. Once in Poland they were taken to a Prisoner Of War camp called Stalag XXA near Marienberg.
This was a real Propaganda photo taken in Stalag XXA in 1943. The POW's worked in the camp laundry and were allowed to wash their uniforms and clothes anytime and could have a hot bath after work. My father Donald (Cocker) Cargill is middle back row.
What were conditions like in the camp?
"It was bad, but it could have been a helluva lot worse," says Coker.
Within the huts the soldiers maintained their ranks. Their Sergeant Major was still in charge and it was up to the men themselves to keep their Spartan accommodation as clean and orderly as possible.
There were 40-50 men to a hut and they slept in bunks, in rows of three.
There was little food. Once a day they'd queue up for a bowl of barley soup and a slice of bread. It was unappetizing fare. "But anything tastes good when you're starving," says Coker.
"We had a little loaf between 5-6 of us. As the bread got scarcer, more had to share. There was a lot of childishness," he says, euphemistically. "The boy that was cutting it took his life in his hands if he didn't cut it equally!"
Polish winters are hard. Sometimes it was 20 degrees below zero. Yet there were bright spots in the prisoners' existence. Some attempt was made to provide them with recreation.
Football games among the different nationalities in the camp were organized. Coker still has a medal to show for it. There was also a concert hall.
"Sometimes we didn't bother trying to escape because things were quite good in the camp," he says. But in the five years he was there he did try, five times.
The first attempt was in the winter of 1942.
"Me and my mucker got out of the camp all right", he recalls. "It was dark and it wasn't that well guarded. We got under the wire and away.
"We thought all the rivers would be frozen and we could cross them no bother. But the first ditch we came to, my mate fell through the ice. A run and a jump and he landed in the middle!
"I said we can't go on further, it's freezing. I'll go back with you. So we crept back in. It learned us a lesson though ….not to go in the dark for a start!"
Undaunted, they made their next attempt in the summer.
Coker and his mate 'Mac' - real name Jack Northmore - had been working in the camp laundry where they amused themselves by taking a razor blade to the seams of the German uniforms, nicking the stitches so they'd fall apart within a short time.
"The uniforms had come from Russia and were often very dirty, so the boss of the laundry thought it was too much soda in the laundry to blame!" laughs Coker. "He used to keep telling us not to put so much in."
"The Germans were usually easily fooled. I must say we were streets ahead of them as far as using our loaf was concerned."
This time, Mac and Coker didn't just nobble the uniforms: they filched them, bit by bit - a jacket here, a pair of trousers there, a belt - till both were fully kitted out in the perfect disguise.
"We thought this was a good enough idea, so we could travel through the day, as long as no-one asked to see our papers," says Coker.
"I was dressed as a Private but the uniform Jack had got was a Lance Corporal's, and that stopped a lot of lower ranking soldiers from checking us out.
"We just walked out. Nobody challenged us."
Congratulating themselves on the success of their daring plan, they yet knew they couldn't afford to be complacent.
"We walked all the time, but we used to keep ourselves smart so as to avoid attracting attention, brushed our boots and shaved and all that sort of thing."
They were looking for allies who might help them.
"Our idea was to get as near to Warsaw as possible because we might meet in with the Polish partisans fighting against the Germans. We would listen at windows to see if the occupants were speaking Polish or German. If they were Polish we would go to the door and explain we were British Tommies and ask if they had any food to spare, or cigarettes.
"We tried not to endanger them more than we could help. They just left food out for us. They aye had plenty of eggs. We lived on boiled eggs and slices of bread.
"Sometimes we would come across two or three British boys - other POWs - working in a field. They'd had Red Cross parcels. Jack would shout across to them and they'd tell us where the food was left unguarded at night when all the men were locked up."
On one memorable occasion, Cocker and Mac came upon a garden full of beautiful apples. Rather than steal them, they thought they'd do the honourable thing and go to the door offering to buy some with loose change they'd found in pockets while doing the laundry.
"When we went to the door it turned out to be the Burgermeister - the sort of mayor! He said, "Heil Hitler!"
"Mac asked, could you sell us some apples? He said, 'Certainly, for the sons of the Fatherland! Take what you want, for free!"
"That stripe on Mac's uniform was coming in affa handy," Coker chuckles.
Mac, who Coker describes as "a babyfaced ex-public school boy" had worked alongside a German and been taught to speak the language pretty well. Coker himself had picked up a smattering as he went along. Both Scots were also very fair, which helped them pass easily as Germans.
In the 2-3 weeks they were on the run, they covered a fair distance: 300-400km. In the end though, their empty bellies betrayed them.
"The way we were captured was, we had gone to this house to ask for food and a young Polish loon came to the door and said come in. And when we got in, two German soldiers were in there.
"We tried to bluff it out, and they didn't say anything, but we had an idea they knew there was something not right. They never challenged us like, but they smelled a rat and reported it to the authorities in the town we were headed for.
"The next day we were walking along and all of a sudden German soldiers with rifles were right across the road. This boy, an officer, came up on his horse and asked us for our papers and of course we didn't have any. He said, 'Who are you?'
"I said to Mac, 'Just tell the truth'. We said, 'We're just having a wee walk round, a bit of a holiday from the POW camp.'
"He listened and laughed and then he said, 'I was a POW in the last war, in Edinburgh, and they were good to me. So I will be good to you.'
"I said I came from Edinburgh and he was delighted. I said to Mac, 'You come from Edinburgh too.' He was a bloody Londoner!"
"That officer was right good to us though. He gave us soup, bread and fags. He kept us there for 2-3 days and said, 'Feeling fit now?' He sent for someone to escort us back to camp.
"It was an SS boy that came and I mind there was a post with a sign on it, he fired a couple of bullets into it. He couldn't speak English, so that was his way of warning us that if we were going to run he wouldn't miss!
"He took us on the train. There were a lot of Germans on leave and they were delighted at seeing two Tommies captured. They thought we would get shot when we got back."
Coker and Mac - still in their stolen German uniforms - eventually arrived at a special punishment camp where the officer in charge looked them over and remarked, 'Well, you look a damn sight smarter than my bloody shower!'
"He asked how long we'd been on the run, and when we told him he said it was marvellous. He showed us on a map where we'd been, how far away we'd got from the camp, and said he couldn't understand how we had gone so long without anyone asking to see our papers.
Because he obviously admired his new prisoners' spirit, and thinking to play a joke on their countrymen, he invited them to take the roll call of their fellow British POWs.
"We thought it would be a good laugh," admits Coker. "The men were told there were two new guards - pretty rough boys. So we took the roll call and we had to try not to laugh at all the dirty names they were calling us, not realising we could understand them.
"I aye mind this Glasgow boy, he was at the end of the line; he said, 'We'll soon sort out these square-headed bastards!'
"I just turned round and said, 'Look mate, just watch who you are calling a square - headed bastard, or I'll have you!' He was tongue-tied. The Germans were pissing themselves laughing."
As soon as the other prisoners grasped who they were, they crowded round them, asking questions. The British sergeant major even asked if they could vouch for another lad from north-east Scotland who'd also escaped from Stalag XXA some time back but who they'd kept in isolation for fear he was a spy, since no-one recognized him.
"Right away I knew who they were speaking about," says Coker. "The poor bugger had been kept away from everybody all that time."
Coker and Mac were sent back to Stalag XXA for court martial. They claimed they had simply "borrowed" the uniforms and were given the maximum 21 days solitary confinement with only bread and water and a plate of soup every third day.
"They had a queer system where you got 21 days for your first escape, I think; 10 days for your second and 7 for your third," Coker recalls.
"After your third you started at 21 again. It was something to do with the Geneva Convention."
While prisoners were in solitary their mates would smuggle in the odd fag to them through a hole specially made in the brickwork,or by leave it on a ledge for them to find. Then, when they came out, their Red Cross parcels would have been saved for them. Attempting escape earned men kudos - not only among their fellow prisoners but even with their captors.
The Germans had a grudging respect for Tommies whose records showed they'd demonstrated courage and cleverness in trying to escape. Each time an escapee was courtmartialled he'd offer up the expected response, "It's a soldier's duty to escape Sir!" and it was accepted that it was.
"Most of them were trying to escape. It was always the same boys," says Coker.
None of them thought of themselves as heroes particularly and their fellow prisoners didn't treat them as such.
Yet it must have been tempting to sit tight and ride out the storm rather than risk being shot. Some guards, who knew they'd be punished for failing in their duty, even tried to bargain with prisoners - give them the cushier jobs if they'd behave.
Men like Coker would still risk their lives repeatedly. Why?
"It passed the time," he answers, with a shrug.
So it was that the daring duo's next escape was not so much to avoid punishment as to bring it upon themselves!
"We were in a working party in a sugar beet factory and it was bloody hard graft; twelve hours at a time," explains Coker. "After about two weeks I said, 'Bugger this. I'm not staying here to do this. I'm getting out for Christmas.'
"It was night-time and the factory wasn't wired off or anything, and there were maybe four guards to 50 blokes. So we just escaped.
"I knew we would get captured but it was a lot easier loafing about in solitary than bloody knocking your pan in. We got into the town (Riesenberg), still in our British uniforms, and sat in the square smoking a fag. We got some funny looks like, but nobody challenged us."
After two or three days in the cold without much to eat, the squaddies were nearly on the point of giving themselves up when matters were taken out of their hands, Coker recalls.
"Two SS boys came and asked us for papers. We said we are just out here because it's Christmas. We were only about 7-8km away from where we'd started and one German soldier was told to escort us back.
"The boy was in a right rage. You're not supposed to tie anybody up but we did get tied up. It didn't strike us till later the poor bugger was missing his leave or something like that.
"Christmas, and here he was escorting two Tommies into the nick!" Coker laughs sympathetically, understanding only too well his enemy's annoyance.
"I had a marvellous escape after that," he says. "When the Russians were coming through, we wanted to meet them, so we escaped. All the prisoners were being taken back into Germany from Poland and so on. They marched for weeks and weeks. They had a helluva time of it.
"Well I escaped about two days into the march - me and about half a dozen boys. When we came to a big lot of trees we asked the guard if we could go for a piddle and we just never came back. There was nothing they could do about it - there were thousands of boys and only 50-60 guards."
By this time Coker and Mac had been split up. "It was fine when we were together," says Coker regretfully. "We aye escaped. They gave him a job in a working party so we were separated."
Coker and his new 'partners-in-crime' retraced their steps to the village where there were still some POWs in a compound.
"We stayed there and I mind there was a boy from Elgin there, a butcher by name of Mackay," recalls Coker. "One of our main meals was roast pork. He killed a couple of pigs and cut them up."
Unfortunately the first people to stumble across them were not Russians but Germans.
"They came all round the compound, and the German officer said, 'Who are you?'
"We said we are POWs, we have all got jobs here. He said, 'Where's the guard?' We said 'He's away to the village to try to fix up billets for us there. He just hasn't got back yet.
"The officer said, 'Just carry on.' He said, 'You will be going back to London and we will be going to Moscow'. They knew the war was over. We were going to wait for the Russians. Then this boy came and said, 'I have lost my two pals. The Russians were coming and they shot our own boys. They shot first and asked questions afterwards.'
"We'd heard stories like that already, so when he told us that we thought we'll just have to go. There was no use waiting on them. They might just have shot us.
"This German officer - a decent bloke - said: 'Well Tommy, if you want to wait for the Russians that's OK by us. But we have a train of wounded coming through any day now. We will get you onto that if you like and that will get you further into Germany.'
"So we said, 'Aye, bugger the Russians!' Life was cheap to the Russians. And that officer kept his word. He said, 'You can come now under escort.'
Coker and his fellow POWs were on the train for about a week with little water and even less food.
"As a matter of fact, I don't even know how we existed," he marvels. "One time we stopped and there was a trainload of neeps nearby so we went and helped ourselves. The guard let us."
The desperation of men who'd fall ravenously upon raw vegetables meant for cattle feed can only be imagined.
Indeed Coker has always suspected, though he can't be sure, that Russians who had been taken prisoner and were also on that train had been killed at some point and their bodies dumped in a mass grave, their captors not having the resources to keep them all.
Although POWs became accustomed to not having much to eat - and in some ways Coker looks back at that time as the period when he was fittest - it did make him angry later to see good food wasted.
"After the war we hated to see folk not wanting this and not wanting that," he admits.
The train took its miserable human cargo right into Fallenborstal, a big POW camp.
"After a couple of weeks there, me and a boy Craig from Buckie got out under the wire and into the wood and escaped," says Coker. "I ran up against the British Army tanks.
"I gave myself up to them and I was such a sight - I had khaki trousers on and only a vest. I had a helluva job to try and identify myself. I had no papers, nothing. The officer said, 'Where do you come from?'
"I said, 'I don't suppose you know Elgin? It's a small town between Inverness and Aberdeen.' This boy turned round and said, 'Excuse me sir, we have got an Elgin boy in our platoon, in a tank.'
"The officer said, 'Bring him up here.' I was quite confident the boy would recognize me.
"But he was looking at me, not knowing me, and I says to him, 'I see a family resemblance here - if I'm not mistaken you are a King, and your family stay near the college. You have a sister, Maisie.' He said, 'That's right.'
This was the boy who was supposed to be identifying ME and instead I was identifying HIM!
"I said, 'D'ye nae mind the ice cream cart that came round - d'ye mind who was on it?' He minded it, so that was another identification."
The British forces Coker had handed himself over to were on their way to liberate the Fallenborstal camp. Two or three days after that, he found himself on one of their lorries, then on an airfield and finally landing in High Wickham in England.
He'd a few days in which to be checked over, spruced up and kitted out in a new clean uniform before being allowed home to Elgin on leave.
"Some poor boys didn't get home - they wouldn't let them because they weren't fit. But I was fine. I was as fit as a fiddle" he declares.
In fact it was his birthday the day he was travelling home. When he landed in England, he'd sent Millie a pre-printed telegram announcing when he'd arrive. Only he and one other soldier, a Jackie Wilson, were expected.
Coker's "distinguished service" had been mentioned in Despatches - a great honour - and news of his remarkable exploits had spread.
"I just stepped off the train and there was a wee crowdie," he remembers. "I didn't realize it was me they were looking for. The bloody streets were lined."
Millie was there to greet him with son Donnie, who by now was six or seven. Coker's daughter Margaret, who was born just nine months later, recounts a story that when the schoolboy first saw the heroic figure he could only remember hearing about, his first reaction was: "Is that wee mannie my Dad?"
Family and friends thronged the pavement en route to their home in the High Street. "It was kind of emotional like," is as much as he'll say. But you can imagine there was many a damp hankie that day.
Coker's leave lasted about six weeks. Thereafter, instead of letting him serve out the remainder of the war nearer home, the army stationed him down in Derby. On September 2nd, 1945, the war ended.
When asked how he viewed the war, Coker jokes: "A nice long holiday at the Government's expense." But seriously, he paid a personal cost too.
"I lost my best friends; my pals," he says simply. "One who was in the RAF, Adam King from Keith, was my mate for years. I met him when I was home on leave and that's the last time I ever saw him.
"He said he was going out on reconnaissance and that it was a dangerous job. He was killed somewhere over the North Sea."
In more recent years Coker has been at memorial services and reunions at home and abroad, hoping to meet a few of his old fighting comrades who survived, but "there seem to be very few boys around that I served with," he remarks. "At St Valery I did expect to meet one or two, but there was not a soul. It was a bit disappointing."
Private Cargill, service number 2820565 - a number he can still reel off with ease - needs reminding sometimes that not everyone his age is as relatively sound in mind and limb! He counts his blessings, just as he did all that time ago as a Prisoner of War.
"I just say I'm lucky I was good natured," he concludes. "I never used to look on the black side of anything. I just used to think to myself, 'Here's me playing football and other poor buggers are getting killed'.
"We were lucky being prisoners. At least we would see Blighty again."
Sadly, Donald Cargill, died on the 25th February, 2003. Following a well-attended funeral, at which his service to his country was remembered, he was buried wearing his war medals.Ronnie Cargill
Sgt. Charles Sherrington "Sherry" Dobbing 7th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.15th Feb 1945)Sherry Dobbing was the father and grandfather we never knew
I never knew my dad as I was born just over a month after he was killed in action, on the 15th of Feburary 1945 in the area around Moyland Wood near Clev I was told he led his platoon which was caught in a crossfire. At this time the fighting was very bad. He is buried in Reichwald War Cemetery. He joined up about 1933 at Edinbrough Castle, Scotland with his best friend, Tommy Atinson, his servce no was next no to my dad's 2819261. He was killed about 1944 at Eindhoven. My daughter is going to get my dad's service records from the War Office, as soon as she can. Malcolm.Andrea
Capt. Ian Kenneth Cockburn "Hobbers" Hobkirk MC, MVO. 4th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersMy grandfather, Captain Ian Kenneth Cockburn Hobkirk, MC MVO, was educated at Eton College and Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was awarded his MC (Military Cross) for valour whilst commanding A Company, 4th Seaforth Highlanders at Saint Valery during the Battle of France in June 1940. He was captured and interned as a prisoner of war in Germany (1940 to 1945) at Oflag VIIB at Eichstatt, Bavaria.ï»¿Jeremy Stone
James Anthony Emery Moore Mitchell Seaforth HighlandersMy great uncle, James Anthony Emery Moore Mitchell (known as Tony or Anthony, was born in 1906 and served with the Seaforths. He came from Saltburn, near Invergordon. He was a POW in Stalag XXB in Poland. The family has told me that he was captured at St Valery in June 1940 and marched 2,000 miles to coal barges(?) to the Polish/German border. Can anyone help me with information?Hilary
Cpl. Bramwell Mason 7th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.30th June 1944)I'm trying to find information about Corporal Bramwell Mason who was killed in action on 30th June 1944 near Caen, France. I would like to hear from anyone who actually knew my great uncle, or from anyone involved with this specific battle.David Mason
Leonard James Owen Seaforth HighlandersMy dad, Leonard James Owen, joined the army in 1940 aged 17 and was stationed in the Seaforth Highlander regiment. After training in Scotland he was stationed in India and Malaya, but spent most of the time fighting in the Burmese jungle during world war 2. He was awarded the Burma Star. He has just passed away aged 92. We have no pictures or anything to show but would love to find out how to receive any information of his time there!Denise Owen
Robert Wood Reaper Seaforth HighlandersMy grandfather served in the Seaforth Highlanders. He was a POW in Stalag 4c.Sue Miller
Cpl. William Taylor Fairley DSO Seaforth HighlandersBilly Fairley is my father. He died in 1954 when I was 3 months old. The medics suggested that it was due to a lack of resistance caused by 4 years in places like Stalag 14 with very little food, especially before the Red Cross parcels started. He seemed his usual sporting fit self until the day before. I have the stags head and various other medals. If anyone has any info, please contact me. Thank you.Ian Fairley
Pte. Alexander Watson 4th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.4th June 1940)Pte. Watson is buried in Mareuil-Caubert Communal Cemetery, Plot 1 Row D Grave 3.Sheena Maynard
Pte. Roderick MacPherson Seaforth HighlandersMy father, Roderick MacPherson, was a private in the Seaforth Highlanders. He was taken prisoner at Abbeville in May 1940 and was a POW in Stalag 9c for five years.Margaret MacPherson
James Mackenzie Seaforth HighlandersJames had been a shop manager and fish buyer in Kyle, was married and had three children, Hamish, Eileen and Alistair. Prior to the outbreak of war he had been prominent in the territorial group in the Lochalsh area. Taken prisoner at St Valery he spent most of the war in Silesia, before marching south with his fellow prisoners as the Russians advanced from the east to Bavaria.
At the end of the war he returned to Kyle going on to own the Marine Stores in the village. He was well known in the area and was involved in the British Legion, as well as many other organisations. Regrettably on his death in 1980s, his diary and other effects relating to his war experiences went astray.Kate Lockhart
Pte. George Geordie Walton 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersMy grandfather George Walton originally started his military service in 1940 with the DLI, but was transferred to the Seaforths after Dunkirk. I know he served in all theatres after the Dunkirk evacuation: North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Ardennes, and finally into Germany where he de-mobbed. He was a dispatch rider by trade, but when he wasn't on the bike he was a Bren Gunner on a Universal Carrier. He was very close friend with another Seaforth's veteran from Ayr called Jimmy Allen. Can anyone provide more information?Mark Charlton
Capt. John Dennis "Ben" Hardiment 1st Battalion Seaforth HighlandersJohn Hardiment served with the 1st and 2nd Battalions Seaforth HighlandersHilda Phillips
Pte. Simon Maclennan Seaforth HighlandersDoes anyone have info on my uncle Simon Maclennan (Seaforth Highlanders) who was at Stalag 9c for most of the war? Or can anyone find a photo of the prisoners? He was known as Sammy for most of his life.George Maclennan
Pte. John Rathlin Muir 4th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.20th May 1941)While researching the wartime story of RAF Helensburgh, Scotland, I came across the death of Private John Rathlin Muir who died in Stalag XXa on 20 May 1941, a member of the Seaforth Highlanders. His dad, same first names, was barrack officer at Helensburgh when he was informed of his son's death, 'cause unknown'. I am trying to find out more about Private Muir's death. I understand he had a military funeral at the POW camp. Any feedback much appreciated. Robin Bird, author/journalist, who also wants to do an obituary story for the local paper in Helensburgh.Robin Bird
Pte. Adam Stonier 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders (d.30th January 1944)My great great uncle, Adam Stonier, was killed 30/1/44 in Italy.Natasha Rivera
L/Cpl. Willliam Sutherland 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersIn 1937, at the age of 16, Bill Sutherland joined the Territorials, so when the war broke out two years later he was involved from the start, joining the 4th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers and going over to France with the British Expeditionary Force, later being evacuated from Dunkirk. He was posted with the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in 51st Division, in May 1942 and went to North Africa, where he served as batman to a major. After its notable victory at El Alamein, the Eighth Army invaded Sicily and crossed into Italy, where Bill was involved in the capture of Salerno and Monte Cassino. After Italy surrendered, he returned home to prepare for the Normandy landings in 1944. In August 1944 he was badly hurt when a German tank attacked the jeep he was driving in France and he had to be flown home.
In 2015 Bill was awarded the Chevalier in Ordre national de la Legion d'honneur, France's highest national honour, but unfortunately he passed away before he could receive it in person.Neil Sutherland
Pte. George Hay Seaforth HighlandersMy uncle George was injured at Dunkirk and died 18 months later in hospital in Glasgow.George A Hay
WO2. Eric Forrester Barr 2nd Battalion Seaforth HighlandersMy father-in-law Eric Barr enlisted in Jan 1940 and was posted to France on 8th June 1940 for 9 days. Family history has it that he was parading with others in or around Dunkirk with a gun but no ammunition supposedly to give encouragement to other troops. He was posted back home after 9 days to home defence duties in 2nd Battalion Seaforths.
In 1941 he was in Catterick on Regimental Instructors Course, School of Signals. We have photos of him as an instructor at Signals course in Banchory in 1942 and of Signals Platoon 2nd Battalion there.
1942 saw him in Egypt and at El Alamein in October 1942 as Corporal. At Wadi Akarit April 1943 he was Sergeant and then to Sicily. He returned to UK in November 1943 and embarked for Normandy on 4th June 1944. In action in Normandy until 16th June when he was wounded. He was posted back to Europe October 1944 then in action at battle of Maas, the Ardennes Offensive, Crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. He was promoted to Colour Sergeant just before the capture of Bremervorde in May 1945 and the German surrender. He ended the war as WO2 and we have photographs of the Seaforth Highlanders Sergeants gathering dinner in July 1945 at Cuxhaven.David Seaton
Pte. Alfred Jack Pinnell 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.10th Aug 1944)Alfred Jack Pinnell, was my father in laws wife's Great Uncle, I came across him when researching the family tree. Not unusual for me to find another casualty of war during my research but what struck me was that the marriage entry for Alfred was in the Jul-Sept Quarter of 1944 and that he died on 10th of August 1944. Perhaps he married his sweetheart before going away?Russell Eaves
John Robert Winter Seaforth HighlandersBob Winter served with the Seaforth Highlanders. Postcard sent to my grandma (uncle Bob's sister-in-law) in 1942.Joyce Marti
Pte. John Leggat "Jock" Ferguson 6th Btn Highland Light InfantryMy dad, John Ferguson, served with the British Army. Dad initially signed up with the Territorials in Glasgow in October 1938. In December 1938, he enlisted with the 6th Highland Light Infantry at Fort George. He trained as a cook at Aldershot with the Army Catering Corp. He served in North Africa, Italy and France. He served a total of 12 years in the army.
He had two brothers who also served during World War II; one of them, my uncle Dave, was captured by the Germans, spending much of the war as a POW. The other brother, uncle James, was injured by shrapnel, which ended his involvement in the army.
In 1946 Dad moved to the Reserves, and entered the Merchant Navy. It was here that he met my mother, and emigrated to New Zealand. He passed away in August 1976.Maggie Fox
Pte. William Gordan Harvey 51st Highland Division Seaforth HighlandersPrivate Harvey earned the War Medal, StarCatherine Claire McGee
Pte. Harry William Hamlin 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.23rd March 1945)Harry Hamlin served with the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders.Graham Kemp
Pte. Sidney Horace Hill 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.7th May 1942)Sidney Hill is the husband of someone I am related to. That is all I know. There is a memorial to him, with the grave of his daughter Janet Maureen Hill, in Groby Churchyard in Leicestershire.Nita Pearson
L/Cpl. Charles G. Duffy 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.9th Feb 1945)My uncle Charlie Duffy was 21 years of age when he died. Apparently he was supposed to have gone on leave early in February 1945 but swapped with his friend, who wanted to get married. Charlie took his friend's place on a patrol. Whilst on patrol with 5 or 6 others they stumbled across some German soldiers holed up in a barn or farm house, nor Mook, Holland. The Germans opened fire, killing or wounding all of the patrol including Charlie, who I believe died of his wounds. He is buried in Mook cemetery along with the rest of his patrol.Bill McGrath
Pte. John Sheehan 7th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders (d.30th June 1944)John Sheehan survived the Normandy landings but was killed in action near Caen, Northern France.James Sheehan
Mjr. William James Wannell Seaforth HighlandersMy father, William Wannell, joined the R.A.O.C. in 1935 as a clerk. He went with the British Expeditionary Force to Europe in September 1939 and returned to England on 30th May 1940. It appears that he served in the War Office and was transferred to the Seaforth Highlanders in 1940 and stayed there until the 23rd June 1944 when he returned to Dieppe, France. He was discharged on 19th May 1946.
Dad passed away in 2012 at the age of 96. He would never talk about his service during WW2, if I asked him about it he would change the subject. I would very much like to find out what Dad did, as it broke his marriage to my mother which in turn had a major impact on my life, and it might help me understand things.Christopher Wannell
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