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PG52 in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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    If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

    Those known to have been held in or employed at


    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    • Copeman Edward.
    • Cullen William. Pte.
    • Ford William Arthur. Pte.
    • Guest Francis William.
    • Stoltz Coenraad Willem Frederik . Pte.
    • Ward Alan.
    • Waterhouse Kenneth Percival. This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.

    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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    Did you know? We also have a section on The Great War. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

    Francis William "Frank" Guest D Company 20th Battalion

    I'm trying find anyone who may remember my father, Francis (Frank) William Guest, a NZer who fought and was wounded in D Company (I think) of the 2ndNZEF (2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force) 20th Battalion at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh, Libya in November 1942 before being transferred (via about three Italian camps) to Campo 52 in Chiavari. He was moved to Stalag IVB, Muhlberg, just before Xmas day 1943. In the Italian camp and the German camp, he gave lectures, some of which were for courses accredited by the University of London external degree programme. I'm really keen to find anyone who attended his lectures which were on philosophy, psychology and law. I'm working on a short memoir of him for a history of the University of London external programme. The university has commissioned this history to mark the 150th anniversary of its external programme.

    Stephen Guest

    Edward Copeman 22nd Btn. Cheshire Regiment

    A few years ago we found an unfinished handwritten account of my grandfather’s time as a Prisoner of War. I thought I’d share some of it here, if anyone can fill in any blanks for me it would be much appreciated, and maybe it will help others too. Apologies if any place names are spelled incorrectly, I’ve just copied what it looked like and haven’t checked them.

    My grandfather’s name was Edward Copeman, and he was in the 22nd Cheshire Regiment. I think his account begins in 1942, and he refers to the desert, so he may have been in Egypt at the time (we do have a lot of photos from Egypt). The truck he was in ran over a landmine; he got some shrapnel in his leg, and another man, Mick Parker, was badly injured. He mentions a Sgt. Lord, who went to get help, but never came back as he was taken prisoner; there were two other men with them – Tug Wilson and Joe Gill. They were stuck in the middle of all these landmines, and survived by drinking water from the radiator of a German MK 3 tank. On the third day they flagged down a passing British truck, but it was driven by Germans who captured them and handed them over to the Italians “as all prisoners taken on the desert were handed over to the Italians”.

    Mick Parker was taken to one hospital, my granddad to another, and he says he never saw any of the lads again. He was then taken to a transit hospital, and then another hospital beginning with a B (sorry, couldn’t read the name). After two weeks he went to another hospital, then after a while to another beginning with T, then he was moved again to an Italian Hospital Ship. He says after 10 days of moving about they landed at Naples, where he was taken to a civilian hospital.

    After being in hospital for 5 months he was moved again to a transit camp at Benivento (sp?), then after a week the whole camp was moved by goods train to PG52 in Italy. When the Italians stopped fighting, the Sgt Major who ran the camp said he’d open the gates and let everyone go, but the next morning they were surrounded by Germans who told them they were now Prisoners Of War.

    After a week there were 4 train loads of PoW’s, about 17 in each truck, being moved to Germany. My granddad was in the second to last truck. As they approached a long tunnel, the Brenner Pass(?) between Italy and Austria, there was an air raid by British Bombers. His train was in the tunnel, but another train did get hit. When they arrived at the next station there was no one in the end truck as they’d cut a hole in the wooden floor and escaped while they were in the tunnel.

    After 5 days they arrived at Stalag VIII-B, it was now 1943. Someone had a wireless, and the guards could never find it, no matter how hard they searched for it. My granddad says he and his mate Alec Sherriff put their names down for a working party, but you had to be a Cpl or a Sgt. Alec was a L/Cpl but put another stripe on, but he was found out and sent back to the camp.

    The working party went by train to Poland, there were about 78 of them in a small camp near Krakow, and they worked in a paper mill. They were there for two weeks but then had to start walking, my granddad says it was 18th of Janury 1943. They stopped at Breslan, and Dresden, and then a bit later he says it was March 1944 and they were in Plzeň. So I think one of the dates is wrong, he probably meant March 1943. They walked from Dresden to Leipzig to Rochlitz; the Russians were close by this point.

    Their guards changed into civilian clothes and basically left them on their own. Most of the lads made off, but my granddad and two others went in search of food. The next morning they walked into the village and came face to face with one of their German guards, wheeling a bike. They took it off him and told him to walk like they’d been doing since January, it was now April. They found the Mayor’s house where they were given food and drink, and they were visited by a Russian officer who said he’d come back on Sunday, but on Sunday morning the three of them left with the bike and some food and carried on walking. They rested overnight and then the next day came to a station. There was no one about, so they went to look in the Booking Office...

    unfortunately that is where my grandfather’s account ends, just like that, mid-sentence. So I’ve no way of knowing what happened to them in the short-term, although he did eventually come back home and lived to 82, so in that respect, it was a happy ending. As I said, if anyone can fill in any blanks for me, that would be great.

    I also have a handkerchief, in the middle of which my granddad had embroidered the Cheshire Regiment emblem, and around this are the names of fellow prisoners of war, dated 3/9/43, so I wonder if he was recaptured (unless it means 9th March rather than 3rd September)? Not all the names are legible now, but some are, and if anyone wants me to check for a name, I can.

    Michelle Hare

    Pte. Coenraad Willem Frederik "Raadjie" Stoltz Artillery Support 2nd Regiment Botha

    I have recently started plotting my grandfather's path through WW2, we knew he served in North Africa but that was it, he never talked about the war. After his death in 1991, I inherited, amongst other things, a stamp collection containing a complete collection of Vatican stamps from 1936 to 1944, a Italian concertina and some letters and photos which turned out to be from his service years. I became really interested and started researching his military career, I found out that information is often scarce even military records are often incomplete.

    Here's what I know up to now; he volunteered at age of 26 and was enlisted as cadet into the 2nd Regiment Botha. Basic Training started in February'41 in the Army Cadet Force in Middelburg, Transvaal. In August he was in Durban,tented down on a race course, awaiting transport. The letter does not mentions which one.

    On 9 October'41 they embarked the HMS Mauretania, with HMAS Australia as escort, in convoy no: CM20. The ship left the harbor at 13:45.In his letter he mentions "the lady in white sang to us from the pier, the lads we shouting, whistling and waving their appreciation" (translation from Afrikaans). I later found out this lady was Perla Gibson who sang to each and every troop ship coming and going, she was very popular and today there is a memorial on the exact spot were she stood every single day to welcome or sent the boys on their way.

    Grandpa disembarked at Suez on 21st and the Regiment was camped at Mersa Matruh. In a letter dated 4 November 1941 he complains about theft "everything not worn on, or tied to your person has a habit of disappearing". He also mentions the dust "the wind pushes the dust into everything, ears, boots, knapsack, even your johns". They where tented up in a "wadi", offering a little protection against the wind and dust.

    On the 18th the Regiment was on the move, right flank to the 5th South African brigade, during Crusader. On 23 November'41, after the 5th Brigade was badly mauled at Sidi Rezegh, grandfather was captured by German Armored section, one of almost 3000 captured that day. By 2nd of December, according to his military records, he was confirmed captured and POW at Benghazi. This suggest he was part of the "Thirst march" and was detained in what become known as "The Palms" camp, a filthy, unhealthy bivouac camp between many palm trees, about 5 miles from the harbor.

    How he was transported, on which vessel and when, still evades me, however in March'42 he is listed as POW, Camp 52, Chiavari, Italy.(Military records). One letter dated June 1942 mentions a "Ernsten" and "Georgie Loyd", he also talk about "Captain Chilly, Dancing Bob, Jannie Smuts" names he had given to his louse! He mentions the river in which they where occasionally allowed to bath in. What happened to him after September'43 until his arrival in England in 1945 is unclear. Some family legend says he escaped and with a few friends hid in the country side until meeting up with some advancing Allied soldiers. I could however, not find any proof of this. Perhaps somebody out there has more information on this period. And, so the research continue in honor of that special, quiet, gentle, hard working farmer that was my granddad and whose names I proudly bear today Africa Star, 1939-45 Star, War medal, SASM Thank you

    Conradt Stoltz

    Alan Ward Field Ambulance

    My father served in the New Zealand Army in North Africa. Was captured at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh in Lybia, was a prisoner in P.G. 52 in Ciavari, then an orderly in P.G. 202 in Lucca, then served as an orderly in the repatriation of injured servicemen back to New Zealand in 1943.

    I have lots of details as my father wrote his war experience story but it is back in my Canadian home. I can send lots of details later if desired.

    Trevor Ward

    Pte. William Arthur Ford Botha Regiment

    My father, W.A. Ford served in the Volunteer Unit of Union Defence Force and was captured at Battle of Sidi Razech in Libya on November 1940. They were taken to Pian di Correglia -Chiavari Italy and was placed in Camp 52. He was moved to Stalag VIIIB in January 1943 and was there until the end of the war. According to his military record he served time in Arbeidskommando's E727 Mechtal Beuthen and E579 Newka. I would like to learn more about these places and the route that they would have marched as well as when and where they were liberated.

    My Father never spoke about the War, he would get very tearfull and always promised that we would never ever go hungry as long as he was alive. He mentioned that when they marched for (cannot remember the total miles) he would wash his socks at night and tie them around his waist to dry even though it meant that he was incredibly cold during the night. He would have a clean pair to wear every day. He never suffered any blisters. I was only born in 1961, years after the war and was very young. Now that I am an adult I cannot believe the hell that my father survived. I am very proud of him and all the old soldiers. I salute you!

    Jo van der Spuy

    Kenneth Percival Waterhouse

    This is an excerpt from my late father-in-laws wartime diary, which we discovered after he passed away. Kenneth Percival Waterhouse, South African motor-mechanic, volunteered in 1940, went up to North Africa.
    • Captured by the Italians 15th June 1941 in rear guard from Gazala
    • Arrived Tripoli camp 27th June 1941
    • Left Tripoli 13th Nov 1941
    • Arrived Palermo 9 days later
    • Quarantined in Palermo camp for 15 days
    • Arrived in Chiavarri camp 11th December 1941
    • Left Chiavari Campo 52 8th July
    • Arrived Campo 73, Modena 9th July 1943
    • Left Campo 73 21st July 1943
    • Arrived Stalag IVb, Riega 23th July 1943
    • Left Stalag VIb 9th August 1943.
    • Arrived Stalag VIIIb, Lamsdorf 10th
    • Got news 23rd January 1945 Tripoli had been evacuated by the Axis forces Liberated by the Russians, treated as badly as the Nazis until handed over to the Yanks

    Robert Ecob

    Pte. William Cullen Royal Artillery

    William Cullen was a Private in the British Army during WW2. He was captured by Italians and he was out in Campo 65 in Gravina. He was moved to Campo 52 and he stayed there for a while and then was being moved again by train he managed to escape from the train and went on a 3-month journey across Italy to try get to Ireland. His son wrote a book called Italy the hard way, where he explains in detail the journey.


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