- PG70 during the Second World War -
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Those known to have been held in or employed at
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Archer George Victor. Tpr.
- Corver Charles James. Rfn
- Foster Henry Charles. Pte.
- Horseman J W. Cpl
- Hyde Geoffrey. L/Cpl.
- Kelly John Verdun. Sgt.
- Richings Bert.
- Smallman Joe. Cpl
- Thompson Dennis Bulmer. Gnr.
- Woodward Frederick George. Sergeant This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
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Cpl Joe Smallman Sherwood ForestersMy Dad, Corporal Joe Smallman, was in the Sherwood Foresters. He was taken prisoner and ended up in the Italian POW camp PG70 He was transferred to PG62 close to Bergamo, Italy where he escaped into Adelboden, Switzerland.Trevor Smallman
Sgt. John Verdun Kelly
The following extracts are from the YMCA Wartime Log Book supplied to Sgt John Verdun Kelley. Captured at Tobruk he passed through various Camps- Derna, Benghazi, PG60 Lucca, PG70, Stalag IVB and Stalag 357. Some of the entries are by Kelley others by "guest" writers.
Barren wastes of stony sand
Dry infertile desert land,
Spiked wire on every hand.
Prisoners of War
Ill clad ,unkempt and underfed,
Trading watches and rings for bread,,
With chilly concrete floors for beds,
Prisoners of War
Queueing for hours in blistering heat,
Receiving a morsal of bread and meat,
Glad, even of scraps to eat,
Prisoners of War.
Crowded together like flocks of sheep,
Bullied and driven from dawn to sleep,
Hearts are filled with hatred deep,
Prisoners of War
Cut off from the news of the outside world,
Sifting truth from taunts that are hurled,
Slightly keeping the flag unfurled,
Prisoners of War.
Striving to keep alive their hope.
Finding at times 'tis beyond their scope,
Drugging themselves with rumour dope
Prisoners of War
Setting new values ion trivial things,
The smell of a flower, a skylark that sings
The beauty,the grace of a butterfly's wing
Prisoners of War
Finding life without freedom is vain
'Tis better to die than live ever in chain,
Thank God! For hope of relief once again,
Prisoners of War
Seeing new meaning in higher things,
In life in Christ and the hope He brings
Thus did they treat the King of Kings
Prisoners of War
Finding at last, if you've the eyes to see
This glorious truth fixed by God's decree,
As long as the soul's unchained you're free.
Prisoners of War
June 23 .We awoke after a cold hungry night. The compound larger than Derna and as we were about 1000 more room to move about .In a separate cage near the gate were a party of Indian troops, used in fatigue work for strengthening the wire .In the other corner was a 40ft tower with machine guns.. Each corner had a water tank (empty) and guards patrolled all sides. We were ordered to form groups of 50 and we became N0o 22. Nothing else happened-it got hotter, more rings etc swapped across the wire for water. Someone paid £2 for a quart. Around 2pm the tanks were filled and after queueing for hours we were given a quart each., a groundsheet and 2 short poles . Rations arrived at 5pm - a tin of bully each and 2 small loaves between 3 men. Eat it all or save some? We had begun the trek down Starvation Road.
More new faces arrived and we hoped to move on- we entered hungry men and left weeks later starving wrecks. More searches-this time anything sharp. A few kept back their jackknives or we would have had no way to open the bully cans. Water ration was increased to 3 pint per day, usual ration arrived at 4pm. The cigarette supply started running out!!! Profiteering took over and cigarettes that were selling for 50 piastres for 50 rose to 10piastres each. The guards realized the opportunity and were soon exchanging cigarettes for clothes etc. Sanitary arrangements were just a row of trenches and the smell would become unbearable. Empty day followed empty day ,bored, dirty ad unshaven the main conversation was about food. At the end of the month the Italians issued cigarettes-2 between 6 men!! By rerolling the dogends we made 2 more.
By July 3 morale was low and sickness high , the MO visited but had nothing to teat anyone. Great excitement on July 6 -the RAF bombed the harbour and again on the 9th , lots of shrapnel falling on the camp but no injuries. Now we were so organised that we could make hot meals at night by soaking dry bread ,adding bully and boiling it up. Fuel was the problem, the guards became unhappy about us ripping pieces off the fence posts. The Indian fatigue troops had plenty but at a cost- 2 cigarettes for a small piece and the price of cigarettes was 5 piastres or a shilling each. Another bombing raid on the 11th and a ship hit in the harbour.
Sunday 12th and a service from a South African Padre, though it must have helped it brought everyone back to thinking of home as they took part in a service knowing family at home were doing the same. We were all given Red Cross Cards to fill in, they were handed in but to this day I never heard of any arriving. By now health was getting poor, walking an effort and dizziness when standing. We were dirty, unshaven and lice started to appear. One by one those who had kept rings etc swapped them with the guards for food-tempted by guards holding up loaves of bread The minds of the guards needed understanding, a good watch worth £5 would get maybe 2 loaves but a cheap ring from the Souk costing pennies would get 5 loaves easily Cigarettes became THE currency and money was used for card games until we found the guards would sell 40 cigarettes for £1 Egyptian. Ersatz coffee was added to our rations but what was it? A Cookhouse was also built but could only feed one compound a hot meal per day so we hot meals every third day.
Our first meal was 17 july a pint stodge of rice peas flavoured with olive oil . this cost us half a tin of bully each. The cooks found the dry rice a valuable trade item and were soon exchanging it for cigarettes. Dysentry broke out amongst the weakest but only the worst cases went to hospital I reckon about 60 died. Daily routine- get up when you felt like it, pass the time somehow until rations were drawn at noon, go to bed early to escape the day. Meals were 9am and 5.30pm and a brew of coffee in between (no milk or sugar)..
July 25 the reality of how weak we had become hit home. New latrines were needed to be dug The labour divided up and each man had 2 minutes of digging to do. Mainy were unable to complete even this.. An escape attempt was made by a couple of guys hanging onto the underside of the rubbish truck, unfortunately this went into the next compound where native SA troops saw the guys and crowding round bending down to look resulted in the 2 heroes retuning in chains for 48 hrs.
On July 27 groups from the next cage started to be moved out . July 31 we were given English bully 1 tin between 2 . We knew we would be soon and had started pooling our food to sustain us on the journey. We eat as much as we could and for the first time since capture I felt full. We paraded at 0330 next day, we had our food and 2 gallons of water why go hungry and thirsty? We were marched to the docks, the water weighed a ton but it was good to see the bombing damage that had been done We embarked on the Rosalino Pilo , although modern she soon took on the look of a slave ship as we were crammed into the holds helped by the Libyans standing on anyones fingers if they were slow on the ladders. More fun was had by throwing buckets of sea water at us through the gratings . The heat was stifling and we dreaded the night, a meal of cold fried bread,bully and water arrived at 11am and we sailed at noon.
Next days rationed were lowered in a bucket at 4pm, tin of bully and a pack of biscuits. We were told next stop was Tripoli then across to Naples. The dysentery cases became so bad that in the end they were allowed on deck. We tried to sleep in the heat with the smell of engine oil and engine noise. It was a long night but as dawn approached the hold was silent save for a few groans and moans when I heard an unknown person playing "solitude" on a mouth organ- knowing my feelings and thoughts I could sympathise with him. We were allowed up on deck at 8am and managed to stay there all day, one man was hauled up unconscious and his body was taken off at Tripoli.. Our 11am meal of biscuits and bully seemed good until we saw the meals being taken to the gun crews who were German even though it was an Iti ship. We reached Tripoli at noon
Sgt John Verdun Kelley
Names in the log book from Benghazi:
- Sgt Taylor
- John Toole
- Dougie Herrage
- Charlie Peace
- Stitch Taylor
- Dodger Green
- Bill Fyfe
- RQMS Bone
- CSM Muldowney
- Sgt Graham
- Sgt Mc Dermott
- Gdsman Hall
- Gdsman SimpsonPeter Mason.
Cpl J W Horseman Durham Light InfantryMy father was Cpl J W Horseman 4454335 (after WW2 I was adopted hence change of name). He was captured in North Africa in June 1942 whilst serving with the DLI. He was in Campo 75 and Campo 70 in Italy before being sent to Stalag IVB and then Stalag IVF. I have no information on his period in capitivity other than he came back to the UK via 91 Reception Centre.
If there is any one out there who knew him or can fill in any details I would appreciate it.J Sewell
Rfn Charles James Corver Kings Royal Rifle CorpsRfn Charles Corver was at Calais 1940, and escaped. Then sent to Western Desert and was taken prisoner near Benghazi in 1941. First a prisoner of the Italians (POW camps P.G. 65 and P.G. 70), then into German captivity, at Stalag 4C then to Stalag 20A from which he was liberated by the Russians in early 1945 and was back in the UK in March 1945.
Whilst at Stalag 4C he was involved in an disagreement with a German Guard (Gefreitan Noack, 3 Ldsch Btl., 379). He was accused of hitting the guard with a punch. At his hearing there were three British soldiers (4457054 Pte. G. Franey DLI, 5954578 Pte. W. Lindsay, The Buffs and another Pinford ?? who gave evidence on Corver's behalf. Corver was sentenced to eight months, but only served six weeks when he was released.Martin Smith
Tpr. George Victor Archer 1st Royal Tank Regiment Royal Armoured CorpsMy grandfather George Archer served in WW2 and was captured in North Africa in 1942. Hewas a prisoner of war in Italy PG70, and later in Stalag 4F in Germany. He sadly passed away in 2005, but I was lucky enough for him to tell me stories about his time during the war.
I have a few documents, photos and his medals that I have now displayed in my house, including the original sketch Pow 'Paterson' drew in the camp from memories of them being captured and George digging what he thought was going to be his grave!
George lived in South Australia. Before his death, he wrote this to one day hope get on the internet:
"Seeking Second World War English POWs from Stalag 4F then to Work Camp ARB KDO No. 23 at Chemnitz in Germany.
This is a photo of myself - Trooper George Archer, 77269, 1st Royal Tank Regiment - Captured prior to El Alemain Campaign 1942 I would like to contact anyone who was in this camp with me. I have also included a photo of the lads who were with me in ARB KDO 23. I'd be very pleased to hear from any of the lads in the photo. Some of the names I remember are Patterson, Angel, Bishop & Freeman
A brief history of my experiences prior to and including my capture. I would like to contact anyone who was captured in the Middle East in 1942 and was taken to a camp in Italy named PG70, or was later transferred to Stalag 4F in Germany, when the Italian Army capitulated in 1943. The group photograph was taken at a work Komando camp in Saxony called Schwarzenberg. We were made to load and unload railway trucks under the supervision of a couple of armed civilian employees. There are 18 of us shown in the photo - perhaps you might be one of them or you might be one of the group taken to PG70 in Italy. We were a group known as the 'Tin Bashers', because we were all sheet metal workers and we made lots of tin utensils and rubbish bins out of the Red Cross parcels we sometimes got. As well as keeping us out of mischief, we got extra rations of bread. So if you recognize any of these blokes, please get in contact. I think you will enjoy a bit of nostalgia.Terry Archer
Pte. Henry Charles Foster Royal ArtilleryMy dear Dad Charlie Foster was captured at Tobruk North Africa by the German Afrika Corps, taken as prisoner to Benghazi, then by boat to Brindezi, and to Bari. Onto PG70 Prison Camp near Porto St Georgia and Fermo, then to Germany, Stalag IVB Dresden. He never spoke to me about this but I have a diary he kept. The last entry reads -
Sunday 13th, I am writing this in the plane I have waited so long for. We are having a glorious run, just passed over Stuttgart, the 2nd pilot who is American says we shall be in Rheims by 12.30am and perhaps tomorrow we shall be in England....
He sadly passed away in 1997.Julie Wilkinson
Gnr. Dennis Bulmer Thompson 25 Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather enlisted in the Royal Artillery on 18th October 1937, where he was posted to 2nd Training Brigade. At the outbreak of WW2, he was stationed in India with 25 Field Regiment RA. My grandfather was taken prisoner at Tobruk on 20th June 1942. He was imprisoned at the following camps:
Camp 68 Vetrella - 4.12.42 to 30.11.42, Camp 70 Porto San Georgio - 2.1.43 to 1.5.43, Camp 62 Begarmo - 1.5.43 to 21.5.43, Camp 62/33 - 21.5.43 to 27.8.43, Camp 62/51 Plemo - 27.8.43 to 11.9.43: Work on a canal.
After 11th September 1943, my grandfather stayed in the village of Plemo until 18th September 1943 where he was put in touch with an organisation. The padre of Plemo was part of an organisation which arranged a party of 30 POWs and an Italian guide, who took the group via train to Sondrio. The guide then led the group across the border, arriving in Switzerland on 22nd September 1943. Grandfather arrived back in the UK on 24th October 1944, after spending some months in internment camps in Switzerland.
My grandfather was then posted to 1st Air Landing Regiment and was deployed to Norway from 11th May to 30th August 1945.Stephen Camm
L/Cpl. Geoffrey Hyde 4th Battalion Royal Tank RegimentMy Dad, Geoff Hyde served in the 4th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment from February 1940. He has documented his experiences in a War Diary which he compiled shortly before his death in January 2009.
My Dad was captured during the battle for Tobruk in June 1942. He was wounded as a result of an argument with a German guard during a move from a POW camp in Benghazi to a camp in Tripoli and ended up in a military hospital in Caserta. He always said he had good memories of the way the Italian military treated the wounded and POWs. When his condition improved he was sent to a POW camp PG60 near Capua and then to one known as PG70 near to Fermo in a small town called Valtenna. The camp was across the road from a small chemical plant which is still there. When Mussolini surrendered they were all transferred to camps in Germany and he went to Chemnitz and eventually escaped from a cross country march as the Allied forces advanced on the Germans in April 1945 and met up with a group of American forces who he had a hard time persuading to accept he was British.
During his time in Camp PG70 he was involved in the production of a Camp 'magazine' called Lager Life. I have almost the full set of copies of this. Fortunately, he took a Kodak Brownie camera with him when he was posted overseas and somehow this made its way back to his parents home when he was hospitalised in Cairo during the breakout from Tobruk in 1941.Steve Hyde
Bert "Cush" RichingsI was a POW captured at Tobruk. I was always known by the nickname "Cush". I was in PG70 in Italy in a group of 26 until the Italians capitulated and was then taken by the Germans, by cattle truck through the Bremmer Pass, I think, to Stalag 4b, where all our heads were shaved. I was then sent in a party of 50 men to work in a quarry at a village named "Klinga". We 50 men spent the next three years together. I would love to hear from any of those chaps or their relations. I have two good photographs of PG70.Bert Richings
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