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Stalag 8b in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- Stalag 8b during the Second World War -

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Stalag 8b

   Arbeitskommando E357 was a work camp attached to Stalag 8b at Peitskretschen. The work party were engaged to build a tunnel beneath the railways lines at Pietskretschen in 1944.


   Arbeitskommando E209 was a work camp of Stalag 8b at a coal mine in Bobrek, Poland.


   Arbeitskommandos E119 attached to Stalag VIIIb was a Saw Mill situated at Mankendorf a small hamlet in Czechoslovakia now called Mankovice, near Ostrava and Odry. The factory was known as Rosmanwitz after the owner, it was a holtzfabric and made wheels of all sorts and sledges.


   Work Camp E138 was situated at Ratibor, Lower Silesia, Poland. About 100 men worked in a steel factory and were billeted in a guest house dance hall.


   Arbeitskommandos E196 attached to Stalag VIIIb was a work camp in Opoleonoora, Poland at a cement factory


   E3 Blechammer arbeits kommando was situated in Upper Silesia, Poland between the Oder-Donau canal and the main road, next door to BAB21 Kanal Lager, and about three quarters of a mile from the main gate of the Oberschlesisiche (Upper Silesia) Hydrierwerke oil refinery. The camp was was 220 yards by 220 yards square, the huts were originally erected on the sandy dredgings of the Adolf Hitler Canal.The camp was better equipped than most and even had a small operating theatre whihc was lit by a 500-watt globe surrounded by reflecting mirrors.


   Arbeits kommando E565 Sierza Wodna was situated close to the river on the outskirts of Trzebinia in Upper Silesia, Poland. About 100 prisoners were housed in huts, they worked in a coal mine.


   Arbeitskommando E72 attached to Stalag VIIIb was in Beuthen Poland, the men worked in a mine.


   Arbeitskommando E702 was a work camp attached to Stalag VIIIb and was in Klimontow Poland, the men worked in a coal mine.


27th Mar 1940 77 Squadron Whitley lost

10th May 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

11 May 1940 218 Squadron Battle lost

11th May 1940 88 Squadron Battle lost

12th May 1940 12 Squadron Battle lost

18th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

21st May 1940 226 Squadron Battle lost

1st Jun 1940 Aircraft Lost

8th Jun 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

25th May 1941 18 Squadron Blenheim lost

25th Aug 1941 51 Squadron Whitley lost

26th Aug 1941 7 Squadron Stirling lost

30th Aug 1941 102 Squadron Whitley lost

3rd Sep 1941 35 Squadron Halifax lost

8th Sep 1941 115 Squadron Wellington lost

8th Nov 1941 78 Squadron Whitley lost

8th Dec 1941 83 Squadron Hampton lost

19th Feb 1942 420 Squadron Hampden lost

9th Apr 1942 419 squadron Lancaster lost

19th Jul 1942 88 Squadron Boston lost

26th Jul 1942 15 Squadron Stirling lost

27th Jul 1942 7 Squadron Stirling lost

1st Aug 1942 9 Squadron Lancaster lost

12th Aug 1942 75 Squadron Wellington lost

20th Aug 1942 Aircraft Lost

29th Aug 1942 149 Squadron Stirling lost

2nd Sep 1942 218 Squadron Stirling lost

17th Sep 1942 25 Squadron Wellington lost

20th Sep 1942 156 Squadron Wellington lost.

22nd Sep 1942 226 Squadron Boston lost

25th Sep 1942 161 Squadron Whitley lost

2nd Oct 1942 78 Squadron Halifax lost

6th Dec 1942 Ventura of 464 Squadron lost

10th Dec 1942 115 Squadron Wellington lost

20th Dec 1942 425 Squadron Lancaster lost

28th Jan 1943 51 Squadron Halifax lost

4th Feb 1943 408 Squadron Halifax lost

11th Feb 1943 107 Squadron Boston lost

13th Mar 1943 102 Squadron Halifax lost

28th Jan 1944 POW train bombed

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

Those known to have been held in or employed at

Stalag 8b

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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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Pte. Herbert Mercer 140th Field Rgt ,367 Battery Royal Artillery

My father, Pvt Herbert Mercer, Royal Artillery, 140th Field Reg, 367 Battery, was held as a prisoner at Stalag 8B - E3 Blechhammer he lived in hut 33 for about 4 years.

Jan Dennett

Sgt. John Spencer "Jack" Simms

My uncle, John Spencer Simms, known as Jack, was a Sergeant in the Second World War. He was captured outside Dunkirk and sent to Stalag 8b where he spent five years as a POW. I should be grateful for any photographs or information anyone may have which may shed some light on his time there.

Patricia Donaghy

Tpr. Anthony Wiles East Yorks Yeomanry

I believe that my Grandfather, Anthony Wiles was imprisioned in Stalag 8b (344) from 1940 to 1945 (he is the only Tpr A Wiles listed - though the A Wiles listed is R.A.C). Sadly, he died in 1989.

He was captured in 1940 in France (probably as part of the BEF). He told me he was captured in a cornfield and surrendered after the Germans surrounded the field and threatended to burn them out. He talked of working in Poland, a long march (during which they were abused by the locals), being fed on Beetroot Soup and working near a river. He was fluent in German on his return and I think he served a while as a dispatch rider after the war. He brought back a few mementoes (which he said he picked up on his walk back) including a German army bayonet and flag (both of which I still have). For anyone who may remember him, he was a bandsman (accomplished trumpet player), would have been in his early 20s, was from the Hull area and was referred to as Tony.

Paul Hewitt

L/Cpl Albert Joseph Royal West Kent Regiment

I am trying to get information about my father who held in Stalag 8b. His name was Albert Joseph. He was captured in 1940.

Mark Enfield

Pte. Henry James William Botton 2nd Bttn Royal West Kent Rgt

I would like to hear from anyone who remembers my farther Henry Botton, he spent most of the war in Stalag VIIIB after being captured as part of the BEF. He passed away when I was still young so details are sketchy, that is why I would like to hear from anyone. Thank You

Joe Botton

Sgt. Donald John "Duncan" Jeffs pilot 15 Sqd

On 18 May 1942, a young airman was thrown out of a Stirling bomber as it crashed into a Danish forest following a one-sided altercation with several anti-aircraft guns and the massive firepower of the battle cruiser Prinz Eugen. The remarkable escape of Sgt Don Jeffs from the wreckage that claimed the lives of his fellow crewmen, and his subsequent incarceration by the Germans in Stalag 8b POW camp

The evening of May 17th 1942 was clear and cloudless, but with no moon to speak of. That was why it had been chosen, less chance of being seen. The nine airmen walked over to the huge aircraft that would shortly be their only friend over enemy skies; a role it had served many times and with distinction. They had just completed their pre-flight briefing, the officers going over the mission details and maps of the target area, the enlisted men smoking and chatting about the forthcoming evening. As usual the crew were well aware of both the target and the outline flight plan before the skipper had briefed them. Such was the way in squadron's all over England in 1942.

The crew climbed aboard using their various entry doors, and quietly and efficiently moved to their assigned takeoff positions. Jokes were exchanged, the recognised method of ignoring what was shortly to come. The second pilot answered an unheard message from the control tower and a few glances were exchanged. The voice was a new one to them, and any change in routine on a mission always caused some concerns for the highly superstitious bomber crews. Flight Lieutenant Neville Booth was a friend of the skipper, and therefore made welcome by the crew, but he had been added at the last minute as an RAF observer for the mission, and no-one liked last minute changes. They often meant trouble.

The two pilots began their pre-flight instrument checks, and the wireless operator Don Jeffs contacted the tower to check his radio. The navigator John Ryan, with the new rookie Ronnie Maycock alongside him, opened his leather case and took out his maps while the gunners Butterworth, Nicholson, and Sharpe, silently prepared the massive machine guns for the evening's mission. All round the aircraft airmen were preparing for their next mission. It was 21.40 hrs as the four massive Hercules engines started up, each producing nearly 1600 horsepower. The vibrations ran the length of the Stirling, call sign LS-F (for Freddie) and through the men inside it's belly. 'Men' was perhaps too easy a term to use given the times they were in. The Skipper, John Hall, who was a veritable twenty-four would have been considered old by the standards of warfare. So many proud young sons had perished long before reaching their twenties.

Squadron Leader John Hall came over the intercom, 'crew get ready for takeoff'. Apart from the co-pilot alongside him, his friend Neville Booth, there were smiles all round from the rest of the established Reply crew. They were already veterans of many flights and had been 'ready' from well before the engines were fired up, but the skipper liked to be thorough which was why he was so liked and admired by the men who flew with him. This was a friendly crew, well used to living in close company both on and off the big bomber. All the crew had long since checked and rechecked their instruments and guns, knowing they would need the former to get where they were going, and in all probability the latter to be able to get home safely. The skipper and his co-pilot ran over the final instrument checks, while Tony Spriggs the engineer confirmed the bomber had all necessary oil and hydraulic pressures. Soon after they received their clearance from the tower, and started their slow approach to the runway.

The pilot lined the aircraft up along the designated strip, its huge engines throbbing with urgency. The two young men in the cockpit looked at each other and gave a simple nod, it was enough. They opened the throttles and W7531 began it's long deliberate lope up the runway at RAF Wyton fifty miles north of London. The huge aircraft gained speed at an impossibly slow rate and inside everything was vibrating and shrieking in protest, but as the Stirling's ground speed increased and Squadron Leader Hall pulled back on his stick, the huge beast lifted it's nose and rose slowly skywards. The fully laden takeoff weight of some 32 tons required maximum thrust from the engines, and vast plumes of black smoke accompanied the roar bellowing from the exhausts as the famous 'MacRobert's Reply' went to war.

The mission that night was to lay 6 tons of 'vegetable' mines in 'Daffodil', the code name for an area off the Norwegian coast called Ørersund. The Stirling was to fly north east to Malmo in Sweden and then reduce altitude to a few hundred feet and fly due west towards the Jutland peninsula of Denmark to commence the bombing run into the Sound. The outward leg went smoothly due to the masterly skills of the Kiwi navigator John 'Buck' Ryan who had joined MacRobert's Reply from the Canadian Royal Air Force. Buck had a trainee navigator with him on that flight, one Sgt Ronnie Maycock later to be known as the 'missing man'. The crew enjoyed the usual in-flight entertainment of local radio stations tuned into the aircraft intercom by the wireless operator Sgt Donald 'Duncan' Jeffs. As they neared the enemy coastline Sgt Jeffs cut the radio transmissions and they maintained radio silence to reduce the possibility of detection. As they flew over Malmo they received the customary burst of blank anti-aircraft fire, accompanied by the crossed searchlights indicating their target destination. For a neutral country, Sweden always made sure the allied bombers received as much assistance as possible. As they began to turn southwest, Squadron Leader Hall pushed the stick forward and reduced speed to commence the bomb run.

RAF intelligence had indicated that the only hazards were the batteries on the Danish coast, but the MacRobert's Reply and it's gallant company intended to be flying back home well before that. However, as they descended to 200 feet and prepared to open the bomb bay doors, the roar of heavy guns and the piercing crash of shrapnel exploding beside the aircraft shattered the peaceful evening. The intelligence report, while correct about the shore batteries, had omitted to include the huge cruiser 'Prince Eugen' working its way up the Great Belt in the Sound and now using its anti-aircraft guns at an impossibly large target just 200 feet off the water's surface. The plane shuddered as the port engine took a direct hit and burst into flames. 'Skipper the port engines on fire' echoed several of the crew together, but Squadron Leader Hall was having his own problems trying to gain steerage and altitude. As the aircraft somehow continued to defy the laws of gravity, it remained fixed on a westerly heading - towards the Danish islands. The crew were desperately trying to jettison the six tons of sea mines but the control mechanism for the bay doors had been damaged by the shelling and refused to play it's part as the huge bomber struggled to stay in the air. 'Skipper, were coming up to Funnen, watch out for the Little Belt bridge up ahead; we must try to go round' shouted Don Jeffs as he surveyed the coastline through the huge fire streaking past the window next to his wireless operator's chair on the port side. 'Yeah Duncan I know, but I've no controls' the skipper responded 'I'm going to try to get to the North Sea so we can ditch her if we need to'.

Immediately after the verbal exchange the anti-aircraft batteries on the bridge saw the huge target lit up by the fires and lumbering toward them. As the spotlights picked up W7531 and the crew saw the shadows reflecting from the intense glare in the windows, and unnatural silence sat heavily in the plane as their destiny began to take shape. The first barrage of 20mm shells from the guns on the bridge found it's mark and the MacRobert's Reply is hit again and again. The plane turned violently to starboard and dived earthwards, her gallant fight for survival all but over. As the huge aircraft descends it ploughs through the spruce tress of the Mathilde plantation and crashes with a colossal explosion that tears a massive rock from the ground and lays waste to over an acre of prime forest. At 02.10am on the morning of 18 May 1942, the crew of the MacRobert's Reply proudly, and with honour, fly their last mission in W7531 LS-F (for Freddie).

The German military arrived at the crash scene at 02.30hrs and quickly enlisted the 'help' of the local fire service that had already arrived at the site under the supervision of the Chief Fire Officer Jensen. C/O Jensen organised his teams into two parties. The first would fight the fire raging around the wreckage and threatening the surrounding forest. The second 'Falck' (salvage) team would find anything at the crash scene that could identify the plane and its crew, and would remove the bodies for later burial. The first fire crew fought the fire for two hours before the salvage crew were ready to move in. Immediately the local residents formed a human blockade to prevent the Germans from moving onto the crash site; a galant gesture of defiance and tribute to the fallen allies. A standoff ensued for many tense minutes. The German commanding officer ordered weapons to be readied and issued instructions for the locals to depart otherwise they would be shot. Reluctantly they were forced to retreat, but one man still refused and was taken into custody, later to spend the rest of the war in a prison camp for his defiance.

The Germans knew the plane downed was a Stirling and their salvage crew had collected a total of 7 'dog tags' from the remains of the young allied airmen. It was well known that a Stirling's usual compliment was seven, so once the tags were found it was naturally assumed all the crew had been accounted for. One of the first people at the crash site had been a local man, Willy Schmidt, with a couple of colleagues. Realising that the Germans would arrive quickly he conducted a simple search for bodies, braving the severe flames and continuing explosions of the mines. Willy spotted a crew member some distance from the main wreckage, obviously thrown just beyond the centre of the inferno, but still badly burned. As he approached he heard a cry, and at that moment the burning body opened it's mouth to try and speak. Sgt Jeffs was blind, scarred with burns, and with multiple injuries, but he was alive....

Several days after the crash, and when the Germans had left the site, the local residents returned to honour the airmen who had given their lives for the liberation of the occupied countries of Europe. Seeing the huge rock gauged out of the ground by the crashed aircraft, they banded together to roll the massive granite stone back to the place it had originated from, on the edge of the crater formed during the crash, before the Germans had moved it aside. Simple winter flowers and foliage were laid on the stone as a memorial that day. It stands in that same spot to this day, still standing guardian over the crater, and is still the focus of a memorial service in May every year. The people of Denmark will never forget the sacrifice of those brave airmen.

Back in 1942, Willy and his friends took a badly injured Don Jeffs down from the crash site to the edge of the forest, by way of a drainage ditch which runs towards what is now a popular tourist beach at Gals Klint. The ditch is still there. From there he is taken to the nearby Adler Hotel where Danish Resistance members are summoned to help. To avoid capture by the Germans, Don is kept in the loft of a large shed adjoining the Adler.

The crew were:

  • F/O Ryan
  • S/L J.C.Hall DFC MiD
  • F/L N.G.R.Booth
  • Sgt A.Spriggs
  • F/O J.P.Ryan RCAF
  • Sgt R.Maycock
  • Sgt J.B.Butterworth
  • Sgt F.L.Sharp
  • Sgt R.Nicholson
  • Sgt D.J.Jeffs, the only survivor was taken PoW and held in Stalag 8b.

Update: F/L Booth was a not a member of 15 Sqdn. It was said that he had been visiting Wyton and, on impulse, had asked to join the crew. But, Sgt Jeff's son tells us that F/Lt Booth was assigned to W7531 for that flight, not as a guest on impulse, but as an official observer of the new GEE Radar System. The rest of the crew were forbidden to talk about this late entry.

Philip Jeffs

Lance Corporal Frank John Mayes Despatch Rider Royal Artillery

My Dad, Frank Mayes was imprisoned in Stalag 8b, he was in the camp for about 3 years, I have his old pow book.

Ray Mayes

Daniel Joseph "Joe" Murphy HMS Hunter

My uncle Daniel Joseph Murphy was a crew member on the HMS Hunter who survived the battle of Narvik on April 10th 1940. He hailed from the Skibbereen area in Co. Cork in Ireland and was more commonly known as Joe. In the naval service, Joe served in various grades as an "engineering mechanic". He died in 1985 shortly before his 73rd birthday. Joe never really talked about his experiences during the war and the information we have is sketchy. According to my mother's recollection of his story, when the Hunter was stricken, Joe and others below decks managed to make their way up on deck to find it relatively desolate. Knowing the ship was doomed, they followed their comrades and jumped overboard. Our understanding is that Joe and certain others apparently managed to make it to shore without being captured and they then began to head for Sweden which was neutral. Their journey to Sweden saw them hiding and resting by day and travelling by night under cover of darkness. In general, Joe praised the Norwegian people for helping them on their way to Sweden. (This is our understanding of how Joe got to Sweden. We would appreciate it if any other survivors (or their relatives) who travelled with Joe through Norway could provide us with any more information.) Following the battle of Narvik, my grandmother received a telegram that Joe was missing presumed dead and the family remained under this assumption for a while.

On reaching Sweden Joe was interned and he spent part of his time there working with the local farming community. After a period of time, an opportunity arose for him and other internees to help man a merchant ship with a cargo of iron ore destined for Britain. We believe the ship was called the Sketern. Joe recounted that there was a heavy fog as the ship left harbour, but the fog then lifted and they ran straight into the path of German forces. Rather than let the iron ore fall into enemy hands, the captain scuttled the ship and they were then taken as POWs. Whilst in Sweden, Joe had also befriended a Swedish girl called Evy Carlsson who subsequently wrote to my grandmother to let her know that she knew him. Evy's letter to my grandmother came subsequent to Joe being taken as a POW, because Evy described the scuttling of the ship in her letter in broken English as "ship sink self which be good". We think this was Evy's way of saying that Joe had probably been taken as a POW rather than the ship having been sunk in battle. My grandmother subsequently received a telegram (I think from the British Red Cross) confirming that Joe was a POW. We know that he was in a few different POW camps and my grandmother received a photograph of him in the form of a post card that was postmarked Marlag U. Milag Nord and dated 17.8.43. On the back, it referred to Joe as POW No. 608 in Stammlager VIII B.

The photograph was a group shot of Joe and seven other men, Joe is at the back second from left. I am not sure if the other men in the photo are also survivors from the HMS Hunter. I am posting it on this website to see if anyone might recognise any of the other men in it. While he was a POW, my grandmother began sending regular parcels to Joe via the Red Cross. The Red Cross had instructed her to leave the parcel a few pounds light so that they could also pack chocolate and cigarettes into it. The cigarettes seemingly came in as a handy bartering tool, because Joe recalled that they used to get some sort of horrible dark or black bread to eat in the camps and some of the German guards used to sneak white bread in for them in exchange for cigarettes. Joe also recalled their camp being liberated by Russian troops at the end of the war and locals running into the the camp trying to take refuge in the wake of the Russian advance. The Russians then helped the former POWs to get planes back to Britain. Joe spent another 13 years in the naval service after the war and finally retired from naval duties in 1958.

Kieran Hosford

Pte. Percy James "Jim" Bridger Royal West Kent Regiment

I'm trying to find out more about my Grandfather's time as a POW. All I know is that he was captured at Dunkirk, he was in The Royal West Kent Regiment he was sent to the coal mines in Poland, then taken to Germany and marched back to Poland. Sadly he is no longer with us, so we can't ask. His name was Percy James Bridger but everyone called him Jim

Chris Worrall

Vivian Joseph "Smoky" Hibbens 234 Sqd.

My father, Vivian Joseph Hibbens - became known as 'Smoky' during his time in Stalag VIIIB, Stalag Luft III and Stalag 344. He was an RAAF Spitfire Pilot RAAF No: 400712.

I am writing his story in the hope that someone out there may have some more information on him.

He was born on 16th January 1922 in Bemboka NSW Australia - and his love affair with flying began when he went on a joy flight with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith during his barn storming days around country Australia in the 1930's.

He enlisted in the RAAF in Melbourne on 13th October 1940, and was trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme, doing his Elementary Flying Training at Narromine NSW. He was then shipped to Canada along with other successful trainees and gained his Wings at Camp Borden Ontario in September 1941. This was not without incident - along with a close friend and fellow trainee, Andy Fotheringham (an American from New Jersey who had enlisted in the RAAF in Australia around the same time. Andy was killed in action 4th January 1944), they took a plane each and 'beat up' a little town called Barrie, just north of Niagara Falls. Seeing as though they flew between the Post Office and a Hotel just above car height at 160 mph - they received quite lenient sentences. Andy was found guilty of one charge and received 21 days detention and my father was found guilty of four charges and received 62 days detention - reduced to 31. Apparently their Commanding Officer went into bat for them - being an old Airman himself from WWI, he 'understood' their folly. My father was housed very well during this time, being given every convenience - even a type writer and open leave to go wherever he liked - as long as he discreetly returned within a reasonable hour. He even went with the Service Police at night into the town to break up brawls and bring the drunken airman and 'prisoners' back to camp.

After he gained his Wings in September 1941 he was shipped to England and was based initially in the South and then at Hawarden in Wales near Chester from where he flew Spitfires with the 234 Squadron. He then applied to go to the Middle East and in April 1942 he was shipped to the Egypt where he flew various missions until one fateful day in July 1942.

He was ferrying a Hurricane back to his base when he ran into a sand storm. When he emerged he was . . . "attacked by 11 Messerschmidt 100F's and I played with them for about 10 minutes until I finally ran out of ammo. I tried too make a run for it but had to put down out of juice and landed smack in the centre of a German Panzer Unit". He was taken captive on the 18th July 1942.

He was taken to Stalag VIIIB where he remained until sometime in late 1943 when he was moved to Stalag Luft III. During his early days in Stalag VIIIB he and the other prisoners' hands were tied up each day, all day. He talks of the boredom, but eventually he was made camp Librarian and he was overjoyed that he then had something to fill the hours. He made 10 unsuccessful attempts to escape by exchanging ID's and going out on working parties, hiding in garbage and linen trucks and digging tunnels. Shortly after the 'Great Escape' from Stalag Luft III he was sent back to Stalag VIIIB - by this time known as Stalag 344. I am not sure what his involvement was with this escape attempt - if any - although he wrote a couple of letters home to his mother dated the 25th and 26th March 1944 stating that he 'would be home soon'! I do wonder if he had written them earlier but post dated them in order to throw the Germans off the track.

During his time in the prison camps he became known as 'Smoky' - due largely to his bartering for food using cigarettes. >From letters received by others - it appears that he was very popular with all and well known for his positive outlook. At one time he was almost mistakenly 'repatriated' to England as he was carrying another man's ID - something he did quite often. At one time he was Pte. S. F Weir, Prisoner No: 5239 (Working Camp E701) and at another he was Pte. D. Simpson, Prisoner No: 8033 (Working Camp E600) so he could get out on working parties and attempt to escape.

Like most POW's his letters were full of hope of making it home 'next Christmas' or for your 'next birthday'. Sometimes he got a special message through - one such was "Oh for an hour in the Garden of Roses"! My grandmother said that she then knew he was starving - as the Garden of Roses was the local Cafe in Corowa NSW where they lived.

I am attaching the only photo I have found of his group of POW's - but I am unsure in which Stalag it was taken. My father is the fifth from the top left back row.

In the winter of 1945, as the Russians were advancing - he and his fellow POW's were turned out of their Prison Camp (Stalag 344) and were forced to march on what was to become known as the Lamsdorf Death March. They marched 200 miles in 15 days in the bitter wind and biting snow. There were only 72 Australians among the 50,000 who were forced to march to get beyond the reach of the advancing Russians. There were few German guards, so they patrolled the perimeter with bayoneted guns and dogs. The POW Officers were placed 'in charge' of their own group of men, who were marching in lines of three, tied together. My father was allowing one line at a time to 'disappear' in the hope that no-one would notice. However, eventually a German Guard came to my father and said . . . "more of your men have escaped than any others. I have orders to shoot you if any more disappear . . . I think you know what you have to do"! So he went at the next opportunity. Some of my father's men were found by the Czech Underground and they asked them to go and search for my father. I remember my father telling me (which was a very rare occurrence - as like most he never spoke about his war time experiences) "I was huddled under a bush half asleep and I felt a hand on my shoulder . . . and I thought 'this is it, I'm dead' . . . but it was the Czech Underground". They took him to safety in Kydne where they cared for him and nursed him back to health. He lived with them until the Americans arrived and he went with them into Berlin.

There are several letters from the Czech people that he lived with written after the war. My grandparents 'sponsored' one of the Czech men and his wife to Australia - Joe and Anna. There is also a letter from a German Lance Corporal Ernst Rudek written on 10th July 1947 who was a guard at Stalag VIIIB who got to know my father on the Death March. He speaks of the time they fossicked for food together in the Croatian and American Prisoner of War Camps and bought vegetables for my father's mates, and of a 'Certificate' my father wrote for him at the brickworks at Falkenau when the prisoners were handed over to new guards. He wrote . . . "There were good and bad on both sides - and from my actions at that time, you knew where my sympathies lay". I believe this is the same man that later contacted my father through the war office and whom he flew to Melbourne to meet 25 years later in the late 1960's.

After the war, my grandmother used to hold Ex POW parties. She would shut all the boys in the kitchen with the food and then sit and listen at the keyhole - it was the only way she could learn what really happened during those days as a prisoner of war.

My father was throughout his life a great RSL man, being President of the Richmond RSL for a number of years and then the Secretary-Manager of the Windsor RSL Club. He never failed to march on Anzac Day in Sydney, after marching with his local RSL and in 1970 attended an ex POW Reunion.

Sadly, my beloved father died aged 50 in 1972 from a heart attack. He had his first heart attack when he was only 36 - as a result of his service during the war years.

"Some die during battle for their country - others, at another time and another place - as a result of fighting for our freedom. Their sacrifice is no less great or less honourable".

Jennifer F. Hibbens

Pte. S. F. Weir

Pte Weir exchanged identities with 'Smoky' Hibbens of the RAAF so that the airman could spend time outside the camp with the working party in the hope that he could make an escape.

Jennifer F. Hibbens

Pte. D. W. Simpson 2/2 Btn.AIF

Pte Simpson exchanged identities with 'Smoky' Hibbens of the RAAF so that the airman could spend time outside the camp with the working party in the hope that he could make an escape.

Jennifer F. Hibbens

Irvin Steels 7th Medium Regt, Royal Artillery

My father Irvin Steels of 7th. Medium Regiment RA was captured in North Africa by Italians and taken to Italy via Naples. One of my father’s favourite sayings was ‘People say see Naples and die. When we were there the buggers threw bricks at us.’ They were handed over to the German Army who took them to Stalag 8B. My dad spent the rest of the war there working in the coal mines ‘where the pit props were like telegraph poles’. He joined the Army to get away from Fryston Colliery where the seam was only 2 feet thick. He left Poland on the forced March and was liberated by the Americans who had to operate on him to remove a leg which had gone gangrenous as a result of the frostbite which he suffered on the March. Needless to say my father who died in 1997 was never very forthcoming about his experiences and this is all I know of his time in captivity.

Roger Steels

Gordon Craig 44 Sqd.

My father, Gordon Craig was moved to Stalag VIIIB from Stalag Luft III after being caught up in various escape attempts. He had been shot down in Lancaster C-Charlie from 44 Squadron, RAF on the night of 6th October, 1942, during a raid on Osnabrück. He remained at VIIB until being force-marched on what became known as the Death March.

I have a collection of letters between him and my mother, Mary Craig, written during his time as a POW, together with his prison camp and Death March diary and various artifacts, such as a polished tin 'mirror' he made to keep up his appearance (and thus his spirits) while he was there. He also wrote notes for a couple of talks he gave; apparently people with various types of civilian or technical expertise were encouraged to give talks to groups of inmates. He was involved with some of the shows they put on as well.

My dad was a Stockton boy, he grew up in Durham Road and first flew as a auxiliary from Middleton St George. My Mum was a Norton girl from Birkley Road; she worked in the torpedo labs at the ICI during the war and often did Fire-watch Duty at night.

My Dad and Mum died within a year of each other in the mid 1980s and are much missed. Despite the privations and sometimes horrors of my dad's wartime experiences, he always said in later years that he felt 'more alive' during the war and that life often seemed duller afterwards. On the whole, he spoke quite freely of events at Stalag VIIB, although he did refer to it as a much more 'serious' place that was grimmer and more prison-like than Stalag Luft III had been. His sense of humour certainly helped, he described a few situations that I would have been hard-pressed to find amusing had they happened to me!

My compliments to you on the site, it's beautifully put together and a real mine of information.

Martin Craig

Sgt. William Cummings Royal Fusliers

A relative of mine, Bill Cummings who I unfortunately only knew as a very young boy, was imprisoned at Stalag 8B. To the best of my knowledge, he was recalled to the Army in 1939 having already served from 1919 in various places throughout the Empire. He was captured after Dunkirk, while trying to escape to the South of France. I know from other relatives that he was involved in several ‘mishaps’ including at a coal mine (excessive explosive in the coal face) and a saw mill (fire). I also know from my uncle who took care of his body when he passed away that he had been severely tortured. I believe he was with the Royal Fusiliers. I wish I could speak with him now, his first hand experience of history – between the wars and during the war is something that we could all learn from.

Ian Dodd

Albert William Mead Royal Artillery

My granddad, Bill Mead, is a veteran of WW2 and I am currently trying to find anyone who remembers him or has any photos that may be of interest to him. He was a member of the Royal Artillery, is from Birmingham and was in Stalag VIIIB Lammsdorf and Stalag XXA.

Jessica Wood

Pte. Robert Morris 7th Btn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Bobby Morris

Bobby Morris of 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Group of 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders prior to going to France in WW2 Kneeling at right is Bobby Morris & next to him kneeling is Robert Dalrymple both of whom were captured near Dunkirk

Bobby Morris and others at Stalag XX1D

These photos belong to Bobby Morris of 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders who was captured in France near Dunkirk. Bobby is still living, he is in his 90s. I don't know any of the other people in the photographs but would be interested to know who they were

Jim Jamieson

"Ginger" Kett

Ginger was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Editors note: There were two men named Kett in Stalag 8b, Pte A.J.Kett, Devon & Cornwall Light Infantry and Pte. D.G. Kett, Royal West Kent Regt. Does anyone know which is Ginger?

Barbara Jutsum

James Beatle

Jimmy was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Barbara Jutsum

Gnr. Richard Berryman Royal Artillery

Dick Berryman was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Barbara Jutsum

"Mick" Dowling

Mick was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Barbara Jutsum

Gerry Rush

Gerry was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Editors note: Does anyone know if this man is Spr G.G.B Rush of the Royal Engineers? Other possibilities are Pte J. Rush, Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders or Pte J. Rush, Northumberland Fusliers.

Barbara Jutsum

Cpl. Leslie J. S. Botcher Royal Engineers

Les Botcher was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Barbara Jutsum

Wally Syme Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Wally was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Barbara Jutsum

Robert Etherton Royal Sussex Regiment

My Dad was captured in Dunkirk and spent the rest of the war in Stalag V111 B. He didn't like to talk about it but I do know that he managed to escape with another prisoner near the end of the war. Did anyone know him? I have photos of him playing the trombone. I have lots of photos, letters, postcards etc that he sent my mother. Very emotional stuff! I would love to know if anyone can tell me anything about him.

Jenny Gibbons

Pte. Arthur J. Booker Royal West Kent Regiment

Back row (left to right): 1) unknown 2) Wally Symes 3) Arthur Booker, 4) unknown 5) Mick Dowling

Front row (left to right): 1) Gerry Rush 2) Dick Berryman 3) Les Botcher 4) Ginger Kett 5) Jimmy Beatle.


  • I joined the British Army in Nineteen Thirty-Nine
  • I really did enjoy myself and thought that life was fine
  • But in France I was captured a Royal West Kent
  • Pride of the Army but to Deutschland I went.

  • Into a big Stalag they called it VIII B
  • We had breakfast, no dinner and no blooming tea
  • They sent us out working we were just skin and bone
  • And Mittenbruck Silesia became our new home

  • There I met lots of pals t'was long, long ago
  • But where are they now that's what I'd like to know
  • Gerry Rush and Mick Dowling slept in the next bed
  • And a fellow called Andrews he slept overhead.

  • Sgt. Don Eager or Edgar I'm never quite sure
  • He helped me a lot when conditions were poor
  • And young Ginger Kett with his mout organ band
  • Called Kat and his Kit-Kats were really quite grand

  • And to all other chaps who were held by the "Hun"
  • In that little old camp called E91
  • If you remember ole Book and Benny his mate
  • Then let's get in touch before it's too late!

This is a poem written by my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.

Barbara Jutsum

Glyn James Parker Royal Engineers

My father, Glyn James Parker, was at Teschen, Stalag 8B, POW No 6811. He was a driver with the Royal Engineers, captured at Dunkirk, and was held until March 1945. I would be very grateful for any information from anyone, as he did not talk a lot about his imprisonment at Stalag 8B. Alan Parker

Alan Parker

Fenton Mooney

My uncle, Fenton Mooney, was captured in North Africa after leaving a "repple-depple" (replacement depot) and marching toward his new unit. He spent the whole war in Stalag IIIB. Elsworth Mitchell

Elsworth Mitchell

Leopold Bandurka 5th Rifles Regiment

My father, Leopold Bandurka, was born in 1922 in Sanok, south-eastern Poland. He was 17 when the Nazis invaded in September 1939, and he escaped over the border to Slovakia and travelled to France to join up the Polish Army which was assembling there. After fighting with the 5th Rifles Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Rifles Division of the Polish Army in France, in June 1940 he was captured and imprisoned in Stalag XIIA near Limburg, then Stalag XIIF near Forbach in France, where he was given prisoner number 32325 and 1052B (his name was wrongly spelt Bandarka). Some time later he was transferred to Stalag VIIB near Gneixendorf and Krems in Austria.

After the war he came to Scotland (Fraserburgh) then Mansfield, England where he eventually located to Shirebrook in Nottinghamshire,married and had one child. He passed away in 1984. He had several stories to tell about these experiences - some repeatable, others rather less so.

I am anxious to contact anyone who may have known him during his period in the Polish Army and as a POW.

Andrew Bandurka

William Gillespie

My father was a P.O.W. at Stalag 8b for 4 years. His name is William Gillespie. Does anyone have any memories of him? Melvin Gillespie

Melvin Gillespie

Cpl. Wilfrid Frève Mont-Royal Fusiliers

My father, Cpl Wilfrid Frève, served with the Mont-Royal Fusiliers and took part in the first battle on French soil after the landings of June 6, 1944. The Fusiliers arrived in France on July 7 (Courseulles-sur-mer). They found themselves at Carpiquet Airfield, awaiting their orders of battle. On 18 July, they were outside the village of Ifs, about to take Verrières, but first had to seize two farms (Troteval & Beauvoir). After 36 hours under fire at Troteval only five men remained, and he was captured and taken to Stalag VIII B. He was in 2 ArbeitsKommandos, the E-901 (few days) and E-902 near Michelsneukirchen (Bavaria) which was liberated by the Americans.

Michel Frève

Sergeant Arthur Henry Lee 1st Batalion Worcestershire Regiment

Can you add my late fathers name to your list of POWs at Lamsdorf. He was captured at the fall of Tobruk. His POW number was 221445 and he was a sergeant number 5249432. Also a request for any memories/knowledge. His certificate of service is as follows.

Enlisted 9 August 1932 aged 18years and 16 days

China 22/9/33 until 13/11/36

India 14/11/36 until 13/2/39

Home until 1/9/39

Sudan 2/9/39 until 19/6/42

POW until 14/4/45

I know that he had two wounds, one in the upper thigh and one in his shoulder.

Kevin Lee

Nathaniel "Frank" Miller 1st Tower Hamlets Rifles

My father was a POW at Lamsdorf from 1943 until the Death March. He was employed at Arbeitskommando E288, a sugar beet factory at Bauerwitz. (now Baborow, Poland) He was captured 3 April 1941 at Agedabia, Libya. He was interned at Sulmona, Italy until 13 July 1943 and then transferred to Camp CC.53 P.M. 3300, Italy. Then on 19 July 1943 he was transferred to Stalag IVB, Germany. On 10 Aug 1943 he was then transferred to Stalag VIIIB, Lamsdorf. At the end of the Death March, he was liberated by the Americans and flown back to England.

Alan Miller

John "Jack" Poolton Royal Regiment

My father, John (Jack) Poolton was a Dieppe Veteran and spent nearly three years in Stalag VIIIB. He was a Canadian with the Royal Regiment of Canada. He wrote a book that tells a lot about what life was like in the camp. It is called "Destined to Survive" and is available online. I would welcome any comments or questions anyone has. I helped my dad write this book, and know quite a bit about what he and the other prisoners went through.

Thank you for putting this site together.

Jayne Poolton-Turvey

Ernest Lidster Royal Signals (d.1999)

My father, Ernest Lidster, was a signal man in the Royal Signals. He was captured by the Germans on the 4/6/1940 at Lille, and he spent the rest of the war at Stalag 8B which I understand later became camp 344. He worked in the mines. He didn't speak much about his time there and when he did he got very upset, it had a very bad effect on him. He died in 1999 aged 80.

Does anyone remember him, I am trying to find out as much as I can and it would be nice to speak to any one who knew him.

Jennifer Timms

"Taff" Edwards

My father-in-law, Taff Edwards who is now in his eighties, was a Prisoner of War at Stalag 8b. He was known as Taff during the war as he came from South Wales.

He is anxious to hear of his friend Mick (sorry, don't know the surname) who was with him. All he can remember is that Mick came from Canvey Island in Essex. He and Mick worked at a mine as cobblers mending the men's shoes. Any news of Mick would be welcomed. Taff is well but recently widowed.

Julie Mackinder

Fusilier Leonard Ballantyne Royal Fusiliers

My Grandfather, Leonard Ballantyne was one of the prisoners at Stalag 7a and also Stalag 344. He was captured on the 16/02/1944, ironically on his birthday, at Anzio. He was a Fusilier with the Royal Fusiliers. His prisoner of war number was 128717.

According to information I have received from the Red Cross he arrived in Stalag 7a on 07.04.1944. He left Stalag 7a for Stalag 344 on 02.06.1944 and was present in Stalag 344 on the 06.06.1944 . He eventually managed to escape from Stalag 344 on his second attempt. At this point I do not have any more information.

Since my grandfather passed away in 2000 I am having to trace his war through official records which is a very lengthy process. However I have found the Red Cross a surprising source of Prisoner of War information and through our National Archives am hoping to see his Escape and Evasion interview. If anyone has any further information, photos, stories, anything, it would be greatly appreciated.

David Hobbs

William Andrew Riches

My Father was William Andrew Riches. I was wondering if anyone can help me find anything about Dad when he was in Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf Germany. He was a driver, his Reg number was 12585. He was from Canterbury New Zealand. I cannot seem to find anything about him, via the net.I have several photos and letters he sent home etc. whilst a prisoner. He was captured in Crete in 1942. I have a few newspaper clippings of him presumed missing etc. Looking forward to anything at all.

Wanda Haines

Leslie Bruce Marcham Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry (d.30th May 1944)

I am part of a team researching the names on our local Memorial to the Fallen, in Woodcote village. One of the names, Leslie Bruce Marcham, 15311 of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was at some point a POW at Stalag VIIIB and drowned in a quarry whilst exercising on 30 May 1944. He was buried in Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery. Can anyone tell us more about him?

Hazel Lobo

Frederick John Goldsmith

My father, Frederick John Goldsmith, was in Stalag 8B all the war years. He was captured at Dunkirk, spent all the years working in the forests cutting wood. He has since passed away and had suffered all his life with depression due to his time in the camp. I have some photos and records plus his ID tags: Federick John Goldsmith british No 1506983, Stalag 8B No 10410.

I also have a POW present sent to Alf Conliff, also at the camp, from Les. This is a lighter made out of a wartime 22mm shell. Other people in the camp, nicknamed Lol, Charlie2, Reddy, Burgess Bottles, Dago, Charlie 1, Nobby, Haggis Dapper and Jahann, I have as a sketch called '50 The Riffs'. Other things of interest is a photo of Stalag E3, and an E3 Reunion Committee book, classified copy by George Russel and Sammy Wickenden. After the war they all met up for a reunion, and had some fun in London. They challenged the camp scrounger to steal the old New Scotland yard sign and take it to the Daily Mirror building for proof. This they did.

Stuart Goldsmith

William Schofield "Mac " Mc Knight Royal Army Medical Corps

My father william Mc Knight became a POW on Crete where he gave himself up as he was ill and the Cretians who were hiding him had no medicine. He was in Stalag 8b where he took part in a concert of the Mikado, he was one of the three little maids from school we did have a few photos but they were lost. If anyone remembers him or has any photos of the concert I would love to hear from you. He was repatriated at some point before March 1944 as that was when he married my mum, he spent some time in the Q.A. hospital at Shenley on his return to Britain. Any help would be greatly appreciated thanks

carol powell

Hubert Stanley Wilfred "Joe" Bowring 5th Hampshire Regiment

My father, Hubert Stanley Wilfred (Joe) Bowring, of the 5th Hampshires(TA) was at Stalag VIIIB after capture in North Africa. During his life he never told us anything about his time as a POW, only that he was at first near Caserta in Italy then moved to VIIIB. I would love to find out more about his time.

Les Bowring

Albert William Mead Royal Artillery

My granddad, Bill Mead, is a veteran of WW2 and I am currently trying to find anyone who remembers him or has any photos that may be of interest to him. He was a member of the Royal Artillery, is from Birmingham and was in Stalag VIIIB Lammsdorf and Stalag XXA.

Jessica Wood

Hubert Stanley Wilfred "Joe" Bowring 5th Hampshire Regiment

My father, Hubert Stanley Wilfred (Joe) Bowring, of the 5th Hampshires(TA) was at Stalag VIIIB after capture in North Africa. During his life he never told us anything about his time as a POW, only that he was at first near Caserta in Italy then moved to VIIIB. I would love to find out more about his time.

Les Bowring

Edward Richard Alexander Bragg Royal Army Ordnance Corps

My late father, Edward Richard Alexander Bragg was a POW, administratively under Stalag 8b. However he was in an Arbeitskommandos camp I believe at or near Riehe Waltringhausen. He worked in a factory making wood wool for packaging purposes.

I am very interested in obtaining any further information about this camp. I have some documents relating to his imprisonment.

Tony Bragg

Stephen Michael McFadden

My father, Stephen Michael McFadden, probably known as Mick, was captured on Crete in 1941 and held in Stalag 8B until his repatriation in 1944. Sadly he died when I was 2 so I never knew him. Has anyone any memories or photos of him please? All I have is a small note book with the names and addresses of several men I assume were in prison with him.

Josephine McFadden

Bert Key

My father, Bert Key, was in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was captured about the time of the Dunkirk evacuation. He was cut off with four other men while trying to rescue some wounded men who were needing attention. In the Camp he was in several shows which were put on and also he was in charge of the medical stores.

I was 10 when we last saw him (Christmas 1945) and 15 when he returned. What a waste of years. Mum and I missed him and we lived in London when he was missing. We heard he was a POW during the blitz and his first letter told my mother to 'take Shirley and get out of London', which she did. We were reunited just before the end of the war because he was sent back with some wounded men being repatriated because the Germans knew the Russians would arrive soon.

I regret not asking him more about the camp when he was alive - he died in 1977. He was a lovely man. I have read Sojourn in Silesia by Arthur Evans. I intend to visit the museum with my three adult children this year - any advice would be useful.

Shirley Jones

Raymond "Tommy" Parr

I am a SSFA caseworker working with Raymond Parr, known as Tommy, who was with Working Party E51 at Stalag 8B from 1940-45. He would like to hear from anyone who remembers him.

Pat Goulding

Corporal Albert Edward Wood RAMC

My grandfather, Cpl. Albert Edward Wood, from Exeter, was captured at Dunkirk whilst serving at a Casualty Clearing Station (possibly #12). He drew the short straw and had to stay behind to care for the injured at the chateau overlooking the beaches. Whilst being marched to Stalag 8B he lost the use of his legs, and was carried by his comrades to avoid the Nazis shooting him by the side of the road. He spent some time in the hospital wing before being transferred to a standard barrack room. He always impressed me with the way he could serve up any meal into exactly equal portions, a skill he acquired whilst a POW. He was invalided back to England in 1944. He never really talked about the war, and always spoke with contempt about the British command that left him in France. He received two service medals, which he never had any time for, and he never applied for a Dunkirk medal or a POW medal.

Philip Wood

Louis Aubet Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

My grandfather, Louis Aubet, served with Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal. He was a prisoner of Stalag 8B after Operation Jubilee in Dieppe. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Alfred Clark 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment

My father, Alfred Clark, was in the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment and was captured at Arras in 1940. He was then sent to Stalag V111B for the rest of the war. Was anybody in the same regiment in Arras who could tell me how they were captured?

Alf Clark

James Gordon

I am searching for anyone who was at the same camp as my uncle during WW2. He was captured in 1940 at St. Valery. His name is James Gordon from Dundee. The information I have is E793 BAB21, Stalag 344, Blechhammer.

I have many photographs taken at the camp and would be willing to share them with anyone, or the families of anyone who was there.

Linda Sayegh

Private William Martin RASC

I am trying to find out more about my Dad, William Martin. He came from Perth Scotland. Was captured at St Valery in June 1940 and was a POW at Stalag V111B. He was a private in the RASC.

Wilma Campbell

Corporal Ronald William "Dick" Dwyer 2/8 Battalion

My grandfather, Ronald William Dwyer, known as Dick, was interned in Stalag 8b for about 4 years, according to his service record. He was a corporal in the 2/8 battalion (Australian army), and was captured on the Greek-Yugoslav border after being left on Crete after a withdrawal (as there wasn't enough room on the ships) and I believe they were just left behind with no food or ammo.

I would love to know anything at all about life in the camp. As like so many, he was unwilling or unable to talk about it. On the rare occasions that he would speak of that period, he did mention at least two attempted escapes. Would love to know more. I would also love to speak to others, especially about Australians as there doesn't seem to be any groups organized in this respect.


Frank Heyes Border Regiment

A Christmas Card Frank sent from Stalag VIIIb

My uncle, Frank Heyes, The Border Regiment, was taken prisoner between 6/10 June 1940 at Fecamp. I have the letters and cards he sent home during his internment and his POW ID tag. He started captivity in Stalag XX1 B and sent a card dated 14 July 1941 from Stalag VIII B. The last card I have is dated 28 June 1944 and he arrived back in the UK 16 May 1945.

This Christmas Postcard was drawn by my father Kenneth (Ken) V F Wood in a competition. The J.H. on the base drum is for Major Jimmy Howe who later became the Musical Director of the Scots Guards. My Father died in 1980 but I have several photographs including the cobblers shop where my father was part of a small team under Arthur Weston making artificial legs.

Tony Wood

Kevin Heyes

Sgt. Walter Mellor 3rd Btn. Grenadier Guards

My grandfather was Walter Mellor, he was a Sergeant in the 3rd battalion Grenadier Guards. In the photo above, my grandfather is sat down on the front row third from the left. He was taken prisoner and held in Stalag VIII B, he was an artist who helped forge documents and papers for prisoners to escape, please could you help me find something of him.

Nicholas Mellor

Driver Charles McDougall

My father Charles McDougall of Aberfeldy, Perthshire was taken prisoner at St Valery. His number was T135468. He was a driver in the RASC. He seldom spoke of his experiences in depth, but used to give us snippets of information..

He spoke of being lined up to be shot on two separate occasions, but each time was reprieved...I think that was a form of mental torture. He told us of making soup from nettles and from potato peelings and he worked in a salt mine. He told us that he was in on several escape plans but did nor ever try to escape himself as he reckoned he was too old and might hold the others back. He told us that the Gaelic speakers in the camp were able to pass information to each other without the Guards knowing what they were saying. He told us of the march through Poland when men would be shot if they stopped for a second. He weighed 6 stone when he came home and was of a nervous disposition for the rest of his life.

Kay Liney

Private Charles John McCarthy

My uncle, Pte Charles John McCarthy was a POW in Stalag XXA and Stalag 8B/344 between 1941 and 1945. Apparently he escaped three times. His service number was VX8916. He was AWOL more than 20 times before and after he was a POW. It is a fantastic story but he died not long after the war with no wife or children. It is sad he did not have his own family.

Pete Kennedy

Rifleman Alec Jay Queen Victoria's Rifles 9th London Regiment

My late father Alec Jay, was a British prisoner of war at Stalag VIIIB. His rank and serial number were as follows: Rifleman Alec Jay, army number 6896204 of the 1st battalion of the 9th London Rgt, Queen Victoria’s Rifles and his POW number was 15129. I have attached a group photo taken in Lamsdorf. My father is the soldier with the moustache on the extreme right as you look at the photo.

He was captured in Calais on 26th May 1940 and was imprisoned at Stalag 344, Lamsdorf from June 1940 to May 1945. He worked in a series of work camps including Groschowitz (Groszowice) from July 1940 to October 1940 on building works, Gumpertsdorf (Komprachcice) from November 1940 to January 1941 on roadworks, Heuerstein, from 25th May 1941 to 3rd June 1941, in a quarry, Setzdorf (Vápenná), from 18th August 1941 to 27 February 1944, in another quarry, Jagerndorf (Strzelniki), from March 1944 to August 1944, on council work, Freudenthal (Bruntál), from August 1944 to September 1944, in a linen factory, and Gurschdorf (Skorošice) from September 1944 to March 1945, a quarry that was also a punishment camp.

He was tortured by the Under Officer in charge of his first working party (Groschowitz/ Groszowice) to find out if he was a Jew. That involved being beaten in the face with a rifle butt, an assault that led to the loss of his teeth. I have used the German names for these places and have put as many Polish or Czech names that I can identify in brackets.

My father told us that he escaped on a number of occasions, typically from working parties and although he did not achieve a 'home run', he was on the run on VE day having fought in the liberation of Prague alongside Czech partisans. At one point, after being recaptured, a German guard ordered him to 'dig his own grave' at the point of a gun and then when he had dug the hole told him to fill it in again.

If anyone has any information that might relate to my late father, I would be most keen to learn of it.

John Jay

Sgt. Charles Horace Shoesmith

My father, Charles Shoesmith, Sergeant in the Royal Marines, was captured on Crete in 1941 and sent to Stalag VIIIB. His POW number is 95621. He used to tell me tales of his time in VIIIB but sadly, like many others, I did not record this information. I do remember him telling me he refused to work and was beaten, plus he had to stand outside in the snow wearing wooden clogs for swearing at a German officer. I do have some photos taken in the camp, one features a small group outside a hut with a shield and sign which reads 'School Staff July 10th 1943. Dad died in 1985. I would love to hear from anyone who knew him.

Nesta Shephard

L/Cpl. John Alexander Davidson 4th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My Late Uncle, John Davidson lived in the far north of Scotland, in a place called Belladrum Estate, a stones throw away from a village called Kiltarlity, approximately ten miles from Inverness. Until just recently I knew very little by way of his wartime exploits other than that he was a prisoner of war & he was put to work in the salt mines.

That has changed dramatically earlier today, when I made contact with someone who to my delight furnished me with some vital details to get me seriously started to find out about his time during the war. I am told he was a Lance Corporal in the 4th Camerons and was upon capture interred in a POW Camp called at Lamsdorf, Stalag 344

I would very much like to hear from anyone who knew him or who has a picture of him from his experiences.

Ian Davidson

Pte. Lewis Armstrong Leicester Regiment

Lewis Armstrong was my great uncle. He was taken prisoner in 1940 in Norway and was interned for the duration. We have photos of him in Stalag V111b, his prisoner number was 285. If anyone has any information my family would love to hear from you, when he came home he would never talk about what happened. We were close till he died twenty years ago.

Wendy Layton

Pte. Frederick Arthur Smith 2nd Field Company

My Dad Fred Smith was captured at Dieppe on August 18, 1942. He was taken to Stalag 8B. He escaped from the Germans 3 times and was caught by the SS and the Gestapo and was on the Death March which he escaped from and was on the loose when the war ended. I am writing a book about all this called Lest We Forget.

Cheryl Smith

Sgt Ron Arnold 12 Squadron

My Grandfather, Ron Arnold was the rear gunner with a crew which was shot down in 1942, in Wellington mkII W5442 PH-B of 12Sqn flying from RAF Binbrook.

The Raid:

Essen – 9 March 1942

187 aircraft took part - (136 Wellingtons, 21 Stirlings, 15 Hampdens, 10 Manchesters, 5 Halifaxes) – to continue the series of heavy Gee-guided raids to Essen. 2 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax were lost. Thick ground haze led to scattered bombing. Only 2 buildings were destroyed in Essen but 72 were damaged. Bombs also fell in 24 other Ruhr towns with particular damage in Hamborn and Duisburg. 10 people were killed, 19 were missing and 52 were injured in Essen; 74 people were killed and 284 injured in other towns.

W5442 took off at 20:39hrs from RAF Binbrook. Shot down by flak and crashed at 23:42hrs alongside a road known as the Kagerweg, near Beverwijk Noord Holland, 21 km NW of the centre of Amsterdam.


  • Pilot: P/O R.H. Buchanan 45419 - Inj (P/O Buchanan was confined in Hospital due injuries then returned to UK)
  • 2nd Pilot: Sgt P.G. Sanders 1380919 (Killed in action)
  • Navigator: RNZAF Sgt R.A. Scragg nz/401413 (Killed in action)
  • Front Gunner: Sgt H.M. Murdo 1060255 (Killed in action)
  • Rear Gunner: Sgt R.A. Arnold 612589 (Initially reported as missing in action, on 26 March a call was received from Berlin advising that he was a PoW interned in Camp 8B/344/L4. No.24843)
  • Wireless Operator: Sgt C.J.Chedd 923890, (PoW No.24831)
Those killed are buried in the General Cemetery at Bergen


Stalag VIII-B near Cieszyn (Teschen), Poland, a sub camp of Stalag 8b (later renamed 344) which was the main camp 3km from Lamsdorf.

Chris Roberts

Sgt. John William Noel Cornthwaite Royal Artillery

My father was captured in France in 1940 and spent the remaining years in various POW camps including Stalag 383, my eldest brother said there were 5 different camp. I didn't talk to my Dad about the war as I was too young, my two brothers who were born before the war knew more. My Father's name was John William Noel Cornthwaite, he was a Sergeant in the Royal Artillery. I would like to know if anybody knew our Dad.

John R. Cornthwaite

Pte. Andrew "Sonny" Wright Royal Army Medical Corps

I am looking for any information on my grandfather Andrew Wright's experiences during the war. We know that he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps stationed in Africa until he was transferred to defend Crete from invasion where he was captured in 1941 and spent the remainder of the war as a POW we think in Stalag 8b in Silesia Poland. He was sometimes known as Sonny and kept his spirits up by keeping pigeons and acting in plays. Does anyone remember him or have any information about him, it would be really appreciated.

Frances Quinn

Tpr. Andrew Jeffrey Evinou 4th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment (d. )

My father, Andrew Jeffrey Evinou, died on in October 2006 at age 86. He carried with him to his grave, all of his sad, unspoken memories of the six years he was involved in the horrors of World War 2.

The little that we do know, we found out in the last ten years of my father's life, when we were able to get him to open up a little. I am convinced that my father suffered, during all of his post war years, from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. After that war, soldiers were expected to go home and get back to work. There was no help for the psychological problems of the returning soldiers.

Andrew joined the army in 1938 at age eighteen. He went to war in 1939 when he was sent to France. He was one of the British troops who was rescued off the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940. While he went below deck on the rescue ship, Messerschmitz planes riddled the deck where he had been sitting. Many men returning home, were killed on the deck. When the ship arrived in Dover, England, my dad had to lift his rucksack, from under the bloody head of a dead, young soldier.

After a brief leave of absence, three days I believe, Andrew's regiment was sent to North Africa, as part of the Expeditionary Army. My dad was captured in the Battle of Tobruk, June 1942, when the tank he was driving took a hit. The shrapnel from that hit almost blew dad's finger off. He eventually had it removed after the war.

Dad, like most of his regiment who survived, was taken prisoner by the Italians. He was handed over to the Germans when Italy capitulated and was a POW at Stalag V111B. He worked for fourteen hours a day, in the German Mines. He took part in the Death March at the end of the war.

When he got home, Andrew weighed less than a hundred pounds. The rest of his life and his family's, was affected by his experiences in the war. He was a good husband and father, never violent, never drunk, never swore. But he displayed most of the nervous symptoms of PTSD in non-violent ways.

Dad like all of the WW2 Veterans, sacrificed his youth, from eighteen to twenty six, in the service of his country. He lost so much more than that. We never should be allowed to forget what our soldiers have suffered in the name of peace, so that we didn't have to.

I salute my Dad and all like him. I am his proud daughter. Lest We Forget.

Janet Thompson

S/Sgt Ronald Macdonald "Jimmy" Wiseman Royal Engineers

My father, Ronald Wiseman was captured at St Valery on 12th June 1940. He was a POW for 5 years. He joined the Regular Army as a Private at the age of 18 in 1930 and served for 24 years in both R.E. and R.E.M.E. until he retired in 1954. Post war he served in Palestine and then in N.Africa (Tripoli)between about 1947 - 1951. It would be great to hear from anyone who met him during his military service or during his time as POW in Stalag 383 or VlllB.

He told me that on the day he was taken prisoner he handed his Rolex watch to another man to look after. He was in the sea for several hours and when he regained consciousness he was on a stretcher and a POW. Two years later he met up with the man who had looked after his watch for all that time and handed it back to him. He had the watch until the day he died in 1986 at the age of 74.

Jill Wells

Douglas Benton

I am looking for anyone that knew my father Douglas Benton. He worked in the salt mines while imprisoned in Stalag 8B. I know very little of his time there, however, I understand, that being a pugilist he would sometimes box in order to gain more rations for his unit.

Maggie Thaden

Spr. George Chapmen Royal Engineers

My great grandad was George Chapman. He had been captured the first time and held in Stalag VIIIb in Germany, he then went on a walk 32k long, and then got transferred to Italy. He was forced by the Germans to fix all of their tanks, so he did and when he fixed them he found a way to damage them and maybe blow them up when the turned their engines on. I love you Great grandad, I wish I could have met you!


Pte. Howard Clifford Bryant Ox & Bucks Light Infantry

Like many of the prisoners my Dad, Howard Bryant never spoke about his time as a POW but I know he was captured at the time of Dunkirk and was then marched to Poland where he spent many years. I have his Stalag badge with the details: Stalag V111B Number 10170.

Karen Mckenna

Lance Bdr. James Davis 10th Field Regiment Royal Artillery

My father James Davis was a guest of the Third Reich for 5 years, he was captured at Dunkirk in May 1940 and was taken to Stalag XXIb in Poland. He was transferred to Stalag8b Lamsdorf and was on the infamous Death March. Can anyone remember him?

Peter Davis

Pte. Alfred Frank Denny Royal Army Service Corps

I am trying to trace the steps of Private Alf Denny, POW no 19372, he came from Ipswich Suffolk. He was taken prisoner very early in the war and spent time at Stalag XXA, BAB20/20. I would really like to hear from anyone who knew him at that time.

Clive Claxton

Pte. Don Vern Brown

My dad, Don Brown was captured at Dieppe and went to Stalag VIIIB where he said he was a farmer and Sargent form Brantford, Ontario Canada. He then went to XIIIB before the Death March.

Robert C Anderson

Pte. George Alfred Scaife 4th Btn, B Company Green Howards

Like many lads from the North East of England Alf joined the territorial army in his home town of Guisborough. He was just 19yrs old when he signed up for military service in April 1939 and a after a brief spell of training left with the B.E.F to follow his brothers to France. He sent a letter to his sister on the eve of his departure which we have, in which he mentions that the king is coming to see the battalion before it leaves for battle.

He was injured at Dunkirk and taken capture by the Germans. He was sent to Stalag v111b and spent some time in Stalag v111a at Gorlitz. We have many photos from V111A and postcards from v111b. Like many of his P.O.W pals he didn't talk much about his experience of the war but we know he spent some time on the long march from the camp which took place at the end of the war. He passed away in 2002 at 82yrs but was a keen member of the Green Howards Society up until his death.

John Scaife

Terence William Doyle HMS Bedouin

I served on HMS Bedouin until sank and was then made a POW in Stalag 7A and 8B, I would be interested to hear from survivors particularly ones from the Bedouin, I have never attended a reunion as they were always in London, but would now like to.

Terence Doyle

Pte. Hugh White 2nd Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Hello I am researching my family history and have just discovered my grandfather's cousin, Hugh White was taken prisoner in 1940

This extract was printed in a local paper on June 24, 1940.

"Mrs.Hanna White, 34 Spencer Street, Belfast, has received official notification that her son, Fusilier Hugh White, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, is missing. Fusilier White has been with the Inniskilling's for almost two years. He was formerly employed by the Belfast Corporation."

Hugh was reported as missing the day before his brother Samuel was killed in action. He was taken Prisoner of War in 1940 at Dunkirk and spent 5 years as a prisoner in one of the harshest POW camps, Stalag 344 at Lambinowice, Poland. This camp was in the Wehrkreis VIII region, Breslau (Wroclaw). Breslau became a fortress under Hitler's orders, as I read the personal accounts of the veterans who had been taken there along the 6 month death march from Dunkirk my stomach churns at what those guys had to suffer. It was the last camp to be liberated which was on St Patrick's Day the 17th March 1945.

With time we can forgive but we must never forget the sacrifices made for our country through all the conflicts by both Men Woman and Child both in our forces and on our Land.


Cpl. Ernest Albert Dexter

I know that my Dad, Ernest Dexter was POW at Stalag 8b for 2 1/2 years. He was captured at Salerno. He escaped(absconded) twice and made many friends in that time. Sadly after repatriation he didn't keep in touch with any. He told of some funny stories including the sudden death of the Commandant's rabbits. On one of his escapes (his last one) he and at least one other POW got into Czechoslovakia and were on the run for a few days. They were helped by the son of a ski lodge owner, who the Germans took possession of as way of a punishment.

I would be interested to hear from anyone still around who remembers my Dad. He may have had the nickname "Charlie"

Jim Dexter

Rfm. Samuel David "Boy" Irons 2nd Btn. Kings Royal Rifle Corps

I am trying to trace the war history which relates to Samuel David Irons, army no:6850848 of the 2nd Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He was a pow in Stalag 344.

I hope anyone who recognizes anyone in this picture you can please get in touch. Thanks

Sadie Merrell

Pte. Charles Evans 4th Battalion Welsh Regiment

My uncle was held in Stalag VIII/B (E27)in Lamsdorf, Silesia, after being captured in Norway on 26 May 1940. He returned home in 1945.

Pat Stock

L/Cpl. Charles Henry Huntley Royal Engineers

I am currently researching my family history, and would really like more information regarding my grandfather, Charles Henry Huntley, and his time as a POW in WW2. Like many, he seldom talked about his WW2 experiences, but I do know that he was taken prisoner on Crete in 1941, and that he was then sent to Stalag 344, Lambinowice, Poland, as POW No. 16479.I believe that he worked in the salt mines and later on a farm. As a child, I remember being fascinated with his tattoos - particularly Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, one on the top of each foot!- which he said had been done whilst a POW. He may have subsequently been moved to a POW camp near Munich, and did not return home until 1946.

Andy Newman

Fus. William "Jake" Jacobs Royal Fusiliers

My father, William 'Jake' Jacobs, was captured in Italy in 1942. He was part of the assault troops prior to the Salerno landings. His unit was captured by a Panzer Division. He was sent to Stalag VlllB POW number 32450 where he remained until the infamous death march in 1945.

Back in Germany, in a series of transit camps, the guards began to lose heart and commitment. One day my father was part of a small group of men tasked with getting water from a well at the bottom of a hill with a horse and cart. They went down the hill with no guards, left the cart and carried on walking. Guns were firing on three sides, so they walked towards the one compass point that seemed quiet - East.

My father was eventually picked up by Soviet troops in Prague. He was handed over to the Americans who debriefed him for some time being suspicious of his eclectic uniform! He was flown to France and then on to England where an amazing homecoming was organised in the East End where he lived.

He never really spoke about his time in Stalag VlllB, apart from the Red Cross food parcels, the salmon and the inventive ways of cooking food. Sadly he passed away in 1997.

Alan Jacobs

Corporal Walter Clements 100 Sqd Royal Monmouthshire TA Royal Engineers

My grandfather was a member of the BEF who formed the screen force at Dunkirk. He was captured by the Germans in the Dunkirk area and taken to Stalag 8B where he saw out the war.

He never spoke much about his time in the camp. I would therefore be interested to find out if anyone still alive remembers him. I believe he took part in the "death march" but am not sure.

Steve Clements

Spr. Griffith Robert Griffiths Royal Engineers

I am trying disparately to find information about my Dad, Griffith Griffiths. I know very little other than he was captured at the beginning of World War II and spent the whole duration of the War in Stalag 8 B.

Sadly my dad died of cancer at the age of 46, I was 17 months old at the time and unfortunately my Grandparents died before I was born and my mum died before I was really old enough to question her about what Dad might have said.

All I know is that he had spoken of a long walk and that he made a tiny little ornamental vase of flowers out of some sort of bread. I don't know what his service number or who he served with and don't know where to begin to search either. All I have is a couple of photographs of him in uniform. I can send them if you think it might be helpful. Any help or advice would be so appreciated by myself and my 4 sisters.

Editor's Note:

POW records list G.R.Griffiths, army number 16073, as held in Stalag8b, he served with the Royal Engineers.

Diane Griffiths

Sydney A. Dolman Royal Artillery

I have a small German Bible which closes up with a clip and has a picture on the front.I know that prisoners of war where given these to send home to love ones and family. My mum's brother Sydney A. Dolman sent this Bible to my mum whilst he was a prisoner of war. Inside the Bible he wrote the following information. "To my dearest sister Doris with fondest love from Syd. Gnr S. Dolman, Captured 1 June 1941 Crete, Escaped 12 June 1941, Recaptured 10 July 1942 Crete

I have found some information on the site stating the following information: Rank General, Army number 936942, Royal Artillery, Stalag 344, Lambinowice, Poland, Royal Artillery Field Record Office, Foots Crays, Sidcup Kent. Record office number 5.

I do not think this is my uncle as I was never ever told he was a General yet he has entered Gnr. S. Dolman in the Bible. Please could you kindly advise is there any way I can trace further information to see if this is my mum's brother? How would I find out if this information above is the same person who wrote the above information in the Bible? Could you kindly advise me who should I contact and who could help me?

Editor's Note: It would be safe to assume that this is your uncle as the rank of General quoted on the Ancestry website must be a transcription error of Gunner. The POW Camp Stalag 344 (also called Stalag 8b) was a camp for enlisted men, so a General, being a high ranking officer would definitely not have been held in this camp. Information on how family members can access the original POW records can be found on our Family History Page

Christine Wilson

Spr. Thomas McCarthy 100th Army Field Company Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers

My dad, Thomas McCarthy of the 100th Army Field Company Royal Monmouthshire, Royal Engineers was captured at Wattou, near Dunkirk on 29.5.1940. After a time in Stalag X11A and Stalag 344 he was transferred to Stalag V111B at Teschen on the Polish border. He remained there as a POW (no 15356) until the ‘death march’ on 20.1.1945. On 9 May 1945 he and other survivors crossed American lines at Karlsbad.

Sadly, my Dad died of ill health in 1963 when his three children were very young, so we were never able to talk to him about his time as a POW. But we did have left to us a very small notebook in which he kept a record of the ‘death march’ which is reprinted below. Tom used a pencil stub to bravely keep a record of what happened, despite the risks to him. The original of the notebook in now in the Regimental Museum in Monmouth.

Copy of handwritten log of Sapper Thomas (Tom) McCarthy:-

January 20TH 1945 Started marching, given one loaf 2000grams

January 25th 1945

  • 1/3 Loaf 1 kilo 333 grams
  • ¼ Loaf 2 Kilo 500 grams
  • ¼ loaf 2 kilo 500 grams
  • 1/5th loaf 2 kilo 400 grams
  • 1/6 Loaf 1800 grms 300 grams
Total: 4033 grams

February 19th 1945: Stopped marching. For the last 30 days we were given 4033 grams or 8 &4/5lbs of bread, and 2lbs of marg for 42 men and a soup a day except for 4 days when we got a few potatoes. Some parties had Red Cross food to start, but we had none, nor cigs. In the 30 days we marched 420 KM. We stared with 314 English about 400 Russians and 40 labourers.

20th February 1945: The weather is very cold, everything is freezing. If you take your boots off at night you have trouble to get them on in the morning. If you don’t you cannot sleep with the cold. Some days, and on the forced night march the boots were freezing while marching. The night marching was hell. A lot of men were put in hospital with frost bitten feet and ears. The RMC chap with us told me that some would have to have one foot off and a few would lose two. Seven Russians passed out that first week, I saw three of them at one barn. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that we were going west and that was going home.

24th February 1945: We have had 250 grams of bread per day since the 19th except for one day it was stopped as two men were found stealing potatoes and one day no soup.

25th February 1945: Still in the same barn, things are very bad. You can sell one days bread for 3 cigs. Getting weak, blackout when I stand up. A lot have got dysentery and one chap fainted. Lost the Pole last night - I had to get rid of all his clothes. I spend all my time thinking of food. Guards shot Russian for stealing potatoes and planted him ten minutes later in the yard. Sandy gone to hospital. One Red Cross parcel for thirty five men - I got half a tin of Ovaltine.

12th March 1945: Marched 22 KM west to a new barn. New guards much better. Started with Aussie and Keyes.

15th March 1945: Weather much better. Had a wash down. First time I’ve had my pants off since starting.

16th March 1945: Went to bed with pants and pullover off.

25th March 1945: Letter home and washed down. About thirty men working cutting wood. One or two men to a house.

29th March 1945: Had half a Red Cross parcel. I went out working for a day and had too much to eat. After so long on so little I’ve been ill all day. I’ve also got piles. Good news heard today that our troops are 240kms west.

5th April 1945: Marching again- given half a loaf for two days, going to a Stalag- marched 25KM, rained all day.

6th April 1945: Marched 26KM- its not a Stalag just new huts for the 1200 men. Anyway it’s the finish of the march (we hope). It’s the first time we’ve had a bed since 20th January. We have been having seven men to a loaf, we are hoping it won’t be less.

8th April 1945: Ten men to a loaf. Met H. Harris, P. Evans, Stan Fowler and G. Franklin. Half the camp is lousy. Can’t get water to drink, but got a parcel a man. I can’t leave the butter alone- I’ve been eating it with a spoon.

13th April 1945: George away with the NCO- I have not done any work yet been going sick.

14th April 1945: I had to go to work

16th April 1945:

Five hundred men came to the camp for the night. They say the Yanks are near Dresden. Everyone sent back to the camp from work. We are hoping we’re not off. got 4 cigs a man from the Red Cross.

19th April 1945: Big air battle over the camp. One 4 engine bomber came down near the camp, and a few further away. No news but all hoping for the best.

20th April 1945: Things getting bad. Sold my cigs for 1 and ½ loafs. We can hear gun fire. A few planes bombed somewhere west of the camp. We could see the bombs leaving the planes.

21st April 1945: We can hear guns but cannot tell where or how far away as we're in the hills. Water came on at 2.00 am this morning. I got up and got three soupbowls full for a bath. Found a few lice in my vest.

24th April 1945: I think we were hoping for too much. Everything gone quiet, no air raids or gunfire. Feel weak when I walk about. Everyone is the same. All you can hear is men talking of food. It don’t worry me now. There is talk of moving. Hope not- if we have to sleep out in the woods it will kill us.

25th April: They want seven hundred men for work tomorrow- I went sick today but must see MO in the morning. Sold my cigarette lighter for 2 cigars

26th April: Seen the MO. He told me my chest is all right but there is something wrong with my heart. He did not say what. Anyway no work. Seven hundred men had to go to Pirna.

27th April 1945: Done some washing, and when I went to get my dinner I had my socks swiped. Heard the Lambsdorf crowd are away.

30th April 1945: Got a smoke- Kaye sold his socks. Good soup not water.

1st May 1945: BBC news given out (good). The war must be over they have just given us half a cup of milk at 9.00pm at night, and the soup today was very good.

2nd May 1945: They came into the hut at 1.00am this morning with the news that Hitler had been killed, and Donitz has taken over, and a few hours later that Berlin has fallen.

3rd May 1945: BBC news very good. We are all waiting for the finish. Half a cup of milk.

4th May 1945: Fifty german cigarettes a man, the first since 1940 that we could get. Yesterday bread was 15 cigarettes, this morning it is 3. BBC says the north has fallen. It seems we will be the last. German and Polish MO passed me as unfit to march.

5th May 1945: Talk of the sick moving and the camp can hear guns

6th May 1945: Ready to move at 6.00am but not going now until 1.00 don’t know where to, but near a hospital- guns going all night.

7th May 1945: Left Hohenstine at 1.00pm. Got to Bilin at 10.00pm. Seen the doc at hospital. Left Bilin for Stalag 1Vc (Teplice)- hear the war is over.

8th May 1945: They say we can march to our lines, or stay- I am moving. 3.00pm over taken by Russians at Dubi.

9th May 1945: Started marching to the Yanks. Got a lift 28kms that makes 80K. At Karlsbad slept out.

9th May 1945: Behind the Yank lines!

10th May 1945: New house at Eger- Slept!

Gabrielle Taylor

Marine. John Saunders

My late grandfather, Jack Saunders, from Preston was captured in Crete early 40's. He told me he was in Stalag VIIIb. He was a Marine and had ginger hair. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who remembers him. He recalls marching across country and staying in a sugar factory if that strikes a chord. He used to work for the railways.

Dave Aston

Matthew McLeod Douglass Northumberland Fusiliers

My Dad, Matt Douglass, was a POW at Stalag V111B/344 at Lamsdorf, He was a Northumberland Fusilier captured at Dunkirk His POW No was 36812. He died when I was 15 so I knew very little about his military time.

The little I knew was he was wounded in his head and legs, captured and interred until the end of the War. I recently received a copy of a letter my grandmother wrote to family in Australia dated February 18th 1945, in which she wrote that my father's camp had been relieved by the Russians and they were awaiting his return home.

My dad was small man only 5' 2" born in Northumberland, at home he was always known as little Matty or Matt. I would love to hear from anyone who knew him.


Sgt. Henry Thomas "Smudger" Smith

My beloved grandfather, Sergeant Henry Thomas Smith, was held in Stalag VIIIB for three years. I would very much like to hear from anyone who might have known him. He was a rear gunner in the RAF. He may have been known as Smudger and he used to work for the Post Office. Sadly he died way too young and I was never able to find out much about his time in the camp.

Melony Sanders

Pte. Reginald Alban Smith Beds & Herts Regiment

My Father, Reginald Smith was taken prisoner at Dieppe 19th August 1942 and spent the remainder of the war in Stalag 8b (334) Lambinowice, Poland POW number 26450.

Graham Smith

Spr. Stanley Hedley Nesfield Royal Engineers

I have just recently discovered that a great uncle of mine, Stanley Nesfield, was a POW at Stalag VIIIb (Lamsdorf), and I was searching the web for more info when I found this great site.

Uncle Stan served pre-war in India with DWR, but was a sapper with the Royal Engineers when captured at or near Dunkirk 1940. His army number was 4609648, and POW number 11416. The only information I have is that he was in camp 344, Labinowice (Lamsdorf/Stalag VIIIb). Uncle Stan died in 1982, and I am told he never spoke about his time in Lamsdorf, but I am trying to piece together this informaton as a record for our family. I would really like to find out more about his time at Lamsdorf, and how he came to get back to the UK.

Hope someone can help and offer some advice on where to look for more information.


Pte. Raymond Chanel Dew Dvr. 4th Reserve Mechanical Transport Company

My father, Raymond Dew, served in the New Zealand Army 4th RMT as a driver from March 1941 in Egypt and Greece. On April 25th 1941 he landed by ship at Suda Bay, Crete, and was there until the Island capitulated on 1st June 1941.

He was captured by the Germans after the fall of Crete and after months in POW camps in Greece he was transported by train to Lamsdorf, Poland,to Stalag VIIIB arriving in November 1941. He was on work parties on railway tracks at Opole and Gleiwitz, in a sugar beet factory and in a coal mine in the Hindenburg area. He was on the forced march from Lamsdorf from January to April 1945 and suffered malnutrition and frost bite of his toes. He was left at a Red Cross Barracks at Erfurt, Germany, by the Germans, then transported to Obermsafelt by train to a POW hospital.

He weighed 6 stone when sent to England after the war and spent 18 months in hospital, initially in England, then on a hospital ship back to New Zealand, then in Christchurch, NZ. He had all his toes amputated and received pioneering treatment in plastic surgery to his feet. He died in 2007 at the age of 94.

Maree Sarsfield

Private Albert Fawcett Seaforth Highlanders

Albert 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

Gordon Keith Jackson Royal Artillery

Gunner Gordon Keith Jackson. Left New Zealand in 1940 as part of the 1st or 2nd Artillery Field Regiment. He was a POW at Stalag V111b, and worked in a Coal Mine, where he passed away apparantely from Pnuemonia. We would loved any information on Gordon.

Eric Jackson

Tpr. Andrew Jeffrey Evinou 4th Btn. Royal Tank Regiment

He Will Get On With It

My father, Andrew Jeffrey Evinou, served as a tank driver with the Fourth Royal Tank Regiment during WW2. He served with the British Eighth army in France and was one of the soldiers rescued off the beaches at Dunkirk. He told of how the ship he was on was hit by Messerschmitz and many were killed on deck. He was saved because he went below deck where tea was being served. After a very short leave during which time he married my mum, he was sent to North Africa. He fought with the Fourth armoured division at Tobruk where he was captured when his tank was hit. Dad lost a finger in that incident. He was a POW with the Italians for a year and a half then handed over to the Germans. He was a POW at stalag V111b and stalag V111a. He worked in the mines fourteen hours a day. He participated in the great march, but luckily survived it. He was ninety pounds in weight when he got home. I will always be my dad's proud daughter. He was eighty seven when he died in October of 2005. LEST WE FORGET.

Janet Thompson

Pte. Henry Lauriston Gordon Highlanders

My father Henry Lauriston was a POW, he died in 1980 and never talked much about his life during the war years. All he ever replied was "I never saw much outside of barbed wire for 3 years". We do recall he talked of Anzio as he was awarded the Italy Star and recently due to my Mothers death I have found out he was a prisoner at Stalag 4B Mulhberg/Elbe Brandenburg along with 64 other Gordon Highlanders and at Stalag 8B Lamsdorf. If anybody has any information I would appreciate it.

Graham John Lauriston

L/Cpl. Maurice Raymond Maine Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

My father, Maurice Maine has been dead now for over 20 years but I have only recently found out that Stalag 8b was in Poland, stupidly I presumed it was in Germany. My father rarely talked about the war but I would really pleased to hear if anyone knows anything about him.

He was captured on the 30th of May 1940 in Hazebruck, France. He spent 4 years and 11 months in Stalag 8b. He was moved to a camp called Altheim, spending 3 weeks there before his release on 29 th of April 1945. I am not absolutely certain but I think he worked in the coal mines. He tried to escape several times and was shot in the leg on one occasion. He only explained this when I saw his scar. I do know he was in a very poor state when he finally came home and my uncle didn't recognise his own brother. My father was married to his first wife Doris when he was captured.

I am not hopeful of finding out too much as so much time has passed but if anyone can help, please contact me

Pamela Maine

Pte. Theodore Keith Newport 20th Battalion

My Dad was a pow in Stalag 8 (I think ) He was wounded with damage to his right elbow, I know 100% they wanted to amputate his arm but one German surgeon insisted they try bandaging flies over the wound, the maggots feeding on the decaying flesh. Dad kept the arm with it set at a 90degree angle with wastage but still had limited use. His POW no was 8778 . Any info, photos or direction where to start looking, just anything would be gratefully received. Many thanks.

Karen Newport-Mackey

Dvr. Edmund R.A. Warren Royal Army Service Corps

I am looking for any infomation about my Granddad, Edmund Warren. He was born in 1931 and came from Exeter. I do not have a lot of info except that he spent approx. 4 years as a prisoner of war in Germany, then escaped and was recaptured and returned to the P.O.W Camp. Interestingly, on waiting to be taken back home at the end of the war, he gave up his seat on the plane to a younger man and that plane crashed and everyone was killed. This is family information that I have been given. The plane crash story was mentioned in the local paper of the time, the "Express And Echo". Any information about him would be useful.

Editor's Note: Ancestry lists the following information regarding E.R.A. Warren: POW Number 18028, Camp: Stalag VIII-B in Cieszyn, Poland. He is listed as a Driver in the Royal Army Service Corps.


Arthur Hewett

My late great uncle was a POW at Stalag 344 (Stalag VII B). His POW number was 4576. Unfortunately I know very little about his war years as it was not something he ever wanted to talk about.

He was captured in Crete, after being shot in the leg. I believe he was sent on the march from this camp near the end of the war and may have ended up in Dachau - does this sound right? I am interested in finding out as much as I can about his time during the war and would appreciate any help. Many thanks,

Lisa Moylan

Cpl. Brinley Norman Williams Royal Engineers

My father, Bryn Williams, served in the war from 1939 in the Royal Engineers. He was just 21 when he joined up as a sapper, and became an engineer artificer. He initially served in France, and then in the Middle East. That was the only part of his war he ever spoke about - with stories and photos (now lost) of his time in the Holy Land.

He then went to North Africa, and his army records show that he was captured at Gazala, which I understand was part of the Battle of Tobruk. He was captured in June 1942 and was 'in Italian hands'. He was transferred to Germany 'Stalag V111B through Stalag IVB' and was liberated in April 1945. Dad never talked about this time of his life, but I do recall seeing a newspaper cutting that my grandmother had kept. It reported his return from the war, and that his health was very poor. My grandmother fed him on raw eggs in milk, which was all his digestion could manage. She told me that they had been so hungry that they had eaten grass.

I guess there will be few, if any, people who remember him, but I should be really interested to find out more if I can.

Su Milchard

Jack Chapman Calgary Tanks

Jack Chapman was amongst the Dieppe Canadians, who were with working party E608, which was a forest party near Hirschfelde. They also worked on E578 & E749.

Gary McKay

Jim Coulter Royal Engineers

My neigbour, Jim Coulter, served in the Royal Engineeers, he was captured and was placed in Stalag 8b. Does anyone remember him? He was asking of a Ron Tovey of Monmouth who he hasn't seen since.

Will Armstrong

Pte. Thomas William Slight Royal Army Service Corps

My grandad, Thomas Slight was an ambulance driver and trained as a butcher in the RASC. He didn't tell my Dad much about his service other than he was captured in Crete in 1941, after crashing off a cliff in the ambulance he was driving and was then held in Stalag VIIIB. He told my brother that Douglas Bader was there when he arrived.

Does anyone have any information or photos they could share? Apparently he used to have a group photo of the butchers holding up joints of meat but I'm not sure what happened to it. I am waiting on his service records but they have advised a 9-12 month wait. He doesn't show up on a search of the POW records on Ancestry not sure if there is any particular reason for this?

Suzy Slight

Spr. William Diver Royal Engineers

My grandfather William Driver enlisted in the Royal Engineers in November 1939 aged 43, having also fought previously in World War 1. He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France up until the evacuation from Dunkirk in May 1940, was then posted to the Middle East and finally to Crete where he was taken prisoner in May 1941. He was transported to Lamsdorf where he spent four years in Stalag 344 until his liberation by the Russians in April of 1945. His prison number was 8273. He died in the mid 1960s so I never had the opportunity to talk to him about his wartime experiences, but my father has told me some of the details. He suffered severe deprivations as did all the POWs, and was struck with a rifle by a guard for passing a cigarette butt to a fellow prisoner. This affected his eyesight for the remainder of his life.

I've travelled to Crete a number of times, but would love to find out more about the camp where he was held. I have a photograph taken in the camp with him on the far right of a group of POWs. I also have some German newspaper clippings showing the airborne invasion of Crete, and some postcards that he sent from the camp.

Gerry Diver

James Walter Wood Royal Army Medical Corps

My uncle, Jim Ward, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was in uniform when he married in September 1939. He was captured in 1940 and incarcerated in Stalag 8B. He came back from the camp a broken man, I believe he may have been medically repatriated but don't know when. In the 1950s he disappeared and we never heard from him again, although he sent money to support his son's education.

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

Spr. John Andrew Royal Engineers

My father, John Andrew, joined the Army in October 1939 for the duration of the war with the Royal Engineers as a Sapper, at the Drill Hall, Stoke On Trent. He was 19 years and 11 months old.

He was told to go to Plymouth by the Sergeant, and he went with his friend Albert who was from Fenton Stoke on Trent. They then moved from Plymouth to Dovercourt and on the 1st of December 1939 the company sailed to France and docked at Cherbourg, they stayed there for a short while then went to Boulogne, where they all slept in a fish market. They all moved out of the fish market, just as they had left there the Germans bombed the fish market. They all went into the army trucks and moved to Camiers then to Etaples then back to Boulogne. They were all surrounded by German snipers at the docks in Boulogne and all had to make a run for it to the railway station and they got there The Welsh Guards were already there. The Royal Engineers and The Welsh Guards had run out of ammunition. and were surrounded by the Germans. One of the German soldiers had his finger on the trigger and he was laughing when he said, well lads the war is over for you. They were all now prisoners of war.

They all left Boulogne on the 25th of May 1940 and had to march into Germany, which took three weeks, sleeping in open fields in all sorts of weather. Then they marched into Poland to a big city called Poznan. To an underground fort which had big metal doors. They were at the fort for 11 months.

Then they left Poland by rail into railway wagons which had sliding doors, they were pushed like cattle and taken to a prisoner of war camp which was Stalag 344. They worked at a grave stone factory and the other half at a paper mill. Some of the prisoners were moved to Stalag v111B at Lamsdorf. My Dad was one of those people, he worked in the salt mines but he started to cough up blood and was moved to working in the Black Forest sawing down trees.

When Dad was in Stalag V111B he met Commander Douglas Bader, who was known for trying to escape. My Dad was interested in music, so were some other soldiers that dad knew. Dad played the harmonica; one played the banjo, the accordion also the guitar. Dad had been playing the harmonica since the age of three. An English Officer asked my Dad if he would play his harmonica in the concert Dad said that he was nervous in front of a lot of people. The Officer told him to close his eyes so he wouldn’t see anybody. So Dad agreed to play his harmonica in the concert. This was 1944. The Americans and the Russians joined forces with England and the prisoners heard that there was going to be an invasion which did happen in June 1944.

The prisoners of war woke up one morning just after Christmas 1945, and found that all the guards had left the camp. The prisoners of war got into the army trucks that had been left and went their separate ways. Dad was helped by some Russian soldiers who gave him some food. Dad then reached the American lines and was deloused and taken by plane with some other prisoners of war and to England. My Dad didn’t go home straight away he was taken to Bournemouth Hospital until he could go home.

Dorothy Plimb

Harry Gordon "Pte." Pullen Royal Corps of Signals

I am looking for any information on my father, Harry Gordon Pullen. I have found a snapshot of my parents' wedding which has a rubber stamp on the back which reads "25-Stalag 344-Gepru.." - the rest is illegible.

Editors note: The stamp on the back means that the photo was sent by post to your father when he was held in Stalag 344, 25 is the number of the censor who checked that the letter was suitable to be delivered to him, "Geprüft" simply means checked.


Pte. Ronald Thomas "Darky" Hire Hampshire Regiment

We know very little of my uncle Ronald Hires's time at Stalag 8B as it was a subject he never spoke about. He died in the 1950's and the information of where he was a POW has only come to light through researching the family tree. We would love to hear from anyone that knew him or knew of him, any information will be gratefully received.

John Hire

Pte. Joseph Gribben Princess Louise Battalion Middlesex Regiment (d.27th Mar 1942)

My great uncle Joe Gribben served with Princess Louise Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and was captured at St Valery-en-caux on 12 June 1940 and was a prisoner of war at Stalag 20A at Torun. He was later transferred to BAB20 a work camp in Upper Silesia, where sadly he was shot by a German guard on 27 March 1942. He was 21.

My mother wrote to The Legion magazine a number of years ago requesting information. She received a letter from Mr. C. Earl who was a medical orderly at the camp and who, along with another man J. Watson, identified Joe's body when it was brought into the guardroom. He said that Joe was part of a working party formed at Fort 11 near Torun. There were 200 men in the party and their job was to build huts, lay pipes, clear snow etc. Mr Earl describes that the working party then moved to Reigersfield near Old Cossel in Upper Silesia. The working party was known as BAB 20/3COY. Here they worked on a chemical factory building wooden huts, laying pipes and trenches etc. Mr Cossel said, "Your uncle was working there when he was shot by a German guard. I think he had an argument with them about the fag." There are various post cards of a funeral at BAB20 for a man shot for smoking a fag.

In 2005 my mother also contacted Alison Robertson from an advert in the local paper. Alison was researching a number of deaths in prison camps. She gave us a copy of the Translation of the Deposition of W.J. Schmitz (used in the war crimes investigation). This states that Joe refused to push a heavily laden wheelbarrow of earth. "Gerfreitter Sonntag lifted the wheelbarrow himself and pushed it a bit further in order to show the prisoner it was not too heavy. He ordered Gribben now to push the barrow. But Gribben unloaded a portion of the land on the ground." The sentry Sonntag continued to order my great uncle to move the barrow and threatened use of his firearm. Some of the surrounding POWs were said to have shouted at him and Sonntag took his rifle to show he meant his threat. "As Gribben made no attempts of pushing his wheelbarrow and as other POWs took up a threatening attitude, Sonntag fired." A civilian labourer apparently confirmed this version. The military court at the time granted Sonntag an acquittal as he had "acted in accordance with the instructions issued by the Kommander i/c POWs, Major General Von Osterrich. My family were told that Sonntag was not seen in the camp again and they believed he was sent to the Eastern Front.

Today I read the diaries of Private William Law. On the 27th March there is an entry about a shooting of a POW for refusing to push a wheel barrow. The date fits (if this was Pte Law's diary for 1942) and the reason fits the official German version. I now wonder if it was another soldier who was shot in an argument over a cigarette and that Joe's shooting was indeed over refusing to push the wheelbarrow. There are photos of three funerals at BAB20 on the Pegasus website.

I would very much like to get in touch with Paul Law (William's son who submitted the dairies).  

Alison Shorrock

Jacques Buteau Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

Jacques Buteau was a prisoner of war after the Dieppe invasion. He was first taken to Stalag VIIIB. After 18 months in various camps he escaped with 2 others - one named Mr Frazier, who I had the fortune of meeting at my father's funeral in 2004. They first lived in a ditch hiding for 3 weeks eating raw potatoes from the fields. They decided it was time to move on and stole a bugy with 2 horses. After meeting with Russian troops they were told they had to turn around and eventually reached the American front where the nightmare was finally over for them

L/Bdr. Cyril Dyson Royal Artillery

My father, Cyril Dyson, was captured in Hazebrook, 1939 and was a POW in Stalag VIIIb, Lamsdorf. He survived the "long march to freedom".

I have his "little black book" in which he listed all the places he marched through during that horrendous winter of 1945. I will upload the images and transcriptions for others to share. I will also scan the various photographs that he managed to hold on to.

Maureen Haldane

Pte. Francis Thomas Wallace 26 Btn. (d.6th Apr 1944)

My uncle Francis Wallace, died while a POW. His POW number was 32803. We believe he may have been in a work camp in Stalag 344. He was transfered to Stalag VIIIa on 05.01.44. My father thought he was at work in a mine but do not have any details to say if this was correct. Cause of death was given as heart failure on the certificate sent from Berlin. He is buried in the British Military Cemetary in Krakow, Poland.

We would love to hear any thing about him and if he is remembered from that time. As younger members

Sarah Wallace

Pte. Maurice Arthur "Reece" Butler 5th Battalion Royal East Kent Regiment

My father, Maurice Arthur Butler, known as Reece, enlisted at Cranbrook, Kent in the Territorial Reserve on 2nd Feb 1939. When war was declared he enlisted as Private 6287454, 5th battalion, The Royal East Kent Regiment - The Buffs. He was initially stationed at Dover, guarding the Folkstone to Dover railway tunnel although his preference was cooking so he became batman to the company commander.

His battalion left for France on the 19th April 1940 and, although they were a working battalion, they quickly became involved in conflict but it is not clear where he fought. He said, in a roughly typed story he produced many years later, “we were sent to France where we were surrounded by Jerry. Four of us got away and tried to reach the coast. We traveled by night hiding by day in woods (close to) the village of Frevent. We were captured in a wood close to the coast and taken to Lille Prison. From there on to Germany to Stalag VIIIB, from there he moved to Teshen when VIIIB became 344.”

In his belongings was a notebook titled “Poems, collected at Birkental No 36 working party and No 6”. I cannot find any reference to Birkental, so I don’t know what sort of camp this was or when he was there. There are about 18 contributors to the collection, as well as my father:

  • Alec Wilson,
  • George Roast (Hastings),
  • Drum Major A Wilson,
  • Tich Crane,
  • A K Nash,
  • W G H Brown,
  • Sgt F R Creer,
  • L/Cp N Farrar,
  • G R Gratton,
  • Denis L Hoy,
  • Sapper P T Brice,
  • Gunner A Maxwell,
  • William Mitchell,
  • L/CplBetteridge,
  • Bernard A Kettle,
  • Pte McCready,
  • Frank Nicolson
  • Maurice A Savill
. In his time as a POW he spent much of it at a work camp E149 at Buchenlust. Parts of this story are not clear, even though his parents kept nearly 130 letters and cards sent by him from the camp. He became Stage Manager at the theatre (The Teschen Empire) so it is likely he was at Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf, then moved to Techen when it became VIIIB in 1943, and also spent time at E149. His movements are not clear from the letters as they are all addressed from Stalag VIIIB. We have copies of the programmes for the theatre productions and many photographs. In a very small address book he recorded the last stages of the long march:

April 22nd, Sunday. Crossed the Danube (P)

April 29 Sunday. Released by Yanks. Thank God.

May 7. On air field

May 8. Ditto. Germ plane surrendered. War over. Civvy billets

May 9. Flew to Reims F

May 10. Arrived in England at Ford nr Brighton

He went on to have a long career as a telephone engineer with the GPO. He died after a long illness following a stroke, passing away in 1978. If anyone can help to fill in the gaps in this story I would be most grateful.

Michael Butler

Cecil Stanley Frederick Marshall Royal Artillery

This Stalag 8b group photo has a date of 12.7.1943. My father-in-law, Cecil Stanley Frederick Marshall, known as Fred is 4th from right middle row. He was also held in Stalag IIID

Susan Nystrom-Marshall

John Cunliffe Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers

My father, John Cunliffe, was captive at Stalag 8b e53y. I think the e53y refers to a work party, does anyone know where the work party e53y would have been?

Bill Cunliffe

Pte John George "Jack" Dalgleish No. 3 commando Hampshire Regiment

My fathe,r known as Jack Dalgleish, was in No. 3 Commando on the Dieppe raid and was captured and was sent to Stalag VIII B on 19/8/1942 .O.W no. 26503 camp Stalag 344 located Lambinowice,Poland.

Although promoted to the ranks of lance corporal and corporal, respectively, he chose, at his own request, to revert to private, shortly after transferring to No.3 Commando, and before the Dieppe raid.

He never ever spoke about his experiences as a Prisoner of War, only when extremely provoked in a Emsworth Pub, when a soldier was sounding off. I witnessed the tears and anger in his eyes when he retorted "when you see most of your comrades killed in your battalion on a beach, and only a handful are left alive, and then imprisoned for over 3 years and put on the Death March across Europe you won't crow about your experiences then "...... That was the one and only time I ever heard him speak of the personal war passed away in August 1985

Trevor Dalgleish

Sgt. Charles Edward Maile Royal Signals

My father, Charles Edward Maile, was a prisoner of War at Stalag VIII B. He was captured at Dunkirk and spent the remainder of the war as a POW. His POW Number was 11746. Unfortunately, both he and my mother passed away in 1980 as a result of a car accident. I would love to know more about his life, especially during his POW years.

Christine Johnston-Luke

Pte. William "Walla" Sproule Gordon Highlanders

My grandfather, William Sproule, was captured at St Valery or Dunkirk and was then finally taken to Lamsdorf, Poland where he spent 5 yrs a POW. He worked in a salt mine according to my aunt I don't know which one. He was on the death march. His photo is on the Stalag VIIIb main page and he is the bottom centre chap. It would be great if anyone knew him during their time in captivity. He was with the Gordon Highlanders, 51st Division.

Lorraine King

Pte. William Cornish Gloucestershire Regiment

My uncle Bill Cornish and his two brothers were captured by the Germans whilst on leave in Guernsey. He and his two brothers were imprisoned in Castle Cornet, Guernsey until they were transported to Lambinowice Prison Camp in Poland. His prisoner of war no was 12594.

His brother, Sydney Cornish, Kings Royal Rifle Corp POW no 3114 and another brother Alfred Cornish Royal Engineers POW no 7361 were released in 1945 and returned to Jersey.

John Liron

Sgt. Anthony Patrick "Mac" McTeer 150 Squadron

My Dad, Anothony McTeer was shot down on the first night raid on Budapest Hungary on the night of the 3rd/4th of April 1944, he was a rear Gunner on LN858 Wellington MK X based at Amendola Italy 1944. His Pilot Sgt G G Pemberton, four of the crew survived although wounded. In my Dad's case his ear was shot off, and the bullet went into his head, which he carried until the day he died. He thought, at the time, he was keeping a bit of his flying helmet for a keepsake! The Wop lost an eye, he was Sgt Redpath RAAF, the other two Sgts Taylor and Bennett were uninjured. The pilot Pemberton pulled off a masterful landing on Lake Balaton however he bled to death from a leg injury as he was hit. I have no knowledge of Taylor and Bennett, which is a shame.

I have been in contact with the German Pilot Hans Krause of NJG 101 based at Parnsdorf Austria, he was flying a Dornier Do 217N a converted Bomber, Hans told me that my Dad's aircraft was his last kill with Nose Guns as he then flew a Junker JU88. He said that he attacked LN858 from the rear but he got caught in the propeller back wash, causing him to use more ammo on this occasion than on any other. He hit the Port Engine and he waited for it to cause the aricraft to crash which he said happened more often that not, but the fire in the engine died out and all he could see was a red glow, he wanted to attack again but because of the hills all around Budapest he did not. He put in for a kill but the Luftwaffe Command said no as there was no proof. The next day he and his crew took off to have a look, and sure enough he saw LN858 in the water. Hans sent me more than ten shots of LN858 where I had only two photos of it, Hans also said that my Dad hit him quite a few times but no bad damage occurred.

My Dad wound up in Stalag 344 Lamsdorf where he stayed until he went on the Death March eventually being rescued by the Russians, which is another story.

Nigel McTeer

Wilfred Walter Sharman

Our father Wilfred Sharman was in the British Army during WW2. We know he served in Africa were he was shot a number of times. He was caught by the Germans and sent to E17 POW camp(we think). We have recently discovered that he was infact Jewish. The camp tattooed him the same as the Jews in the concentration camps. There are no records of him on any website his name just does not appear. We all grew up looking at the tattoo but did not make the connection. Are there other men out there with these tattoos? Was it common for British Jews to be tattooed like this, any information would be gratefully appreciated.


Pte. Jim "Lofty" Colclough

My father Jim Colclough served with the Royal Marines, he was captured on Crete in May 1941 and spent time in Stalag VIII-B as a dental technician (I believe). It is very difficult to get him to talk about his experiences, but I would love to hear from anyone who knew him or has any pictures of the period.

Mick Colclough

Pte James Preston Mallory Sherwood Foresters Regiment

My Uncle James Preston Mallory was a prisoner in the Stalag VII-B camp n/o 344 in Lamsdorf Poland, formally known as Lambinowice. He served in the Sherwood Foresters Regiment from 1939 – 1945, after the War in 1945 he subsequently joined ‘Commission Control’.

I was told that he escaped from the camp and was recaptured and duly returned to the camp, he also took part in the March from Poland to Germany. I have been told that during the infamous 'long march' from Poland to Germany he and his friends used to take potatoes from nearby fields and boil them up quickly to sustain them on the journey. In order to preserve the soles on his boots he strapped pieces of wood to his soles and due to this ingenuity when he arrived in Germany his soles were nearly unworn.

If anyone remembers or even knew him I would be very grateful to know.

Flt.Sgt. William Denzil "Taffy" Watts 266 Squadron

I was captured by the Germans in January 1943 and taken to interrogation at Frankfurt and then to Stalag VIIIB. Resident of Barrack 17d RAF Compound. Anyone who was resident in the same barrack, please contact me.

Denzil Watts

Roland Sinton Green Howards

My father, Roland Sinton served with the Green Howards. I know that he was in Stalag V111B as I have a stamped postcard, and he was back in England in November 1943. He told me very little of his wartime experiences other than the amusing stories, but I seem to remember him saying he was captured in France when shot, whilst driving an ambulance (at Dunkirk maybe?) I think he was a medical orderly in the POW camp. I would like to find out more.

Dave Sinton

L/Sgt. Henry Vies "Ginger" Suggit MM 5DG East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry

My father, Lance Serjeant H.V. Suggit of the East Riding Yeomanry, seconded to the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, was captured south of Brussels on 18 May 1940 whilst attempting to break through a German forward column. After initial treatment for serious wounds in a German field dressing station and hospital, he convalesced in base hospitals set up in Lazarettes in Brugmann and Malines, before recovering sufficiently to be transfered to prison camps in Hemer (Stalag VI A) on 17 September 1940 and then Lamsdorf (Stalag VIII B) on 28 November 1940.

Despite a still not fully functional arm, he bluffed his way onto coalmine working parties for the prospect of better rations, regaining fitness and more lax confinement - conditions useful for escape. Initially based in Morgenroth, he was transferred to Triebitz (party E211) in the Sudetenland, from which he made his first break on 27 August 1941 with two like minded colleagues, TSM Perry and Corporal Pugh - removing bars from their block windows and shinning down knotted sheets. They were on the loose for nearly 3 weeks, covering a significant distance on foot before being caught as they tried to stow aboard a train near Lundenburg. After security processing, they were returned to Lamsdorf and 20 days bread and water in solitary confinement.

Undeterred, he spent the next 8 months keeping a lower profile before securing another outside working party job, this time in a brewery in Hansdorf (party E95), again in the Sudetenland. Within the week, he and two East Yorkshire Regiment chums, Edie Harris and Jim Andrews, had done a bunk, changing into home made civilian garb that they had brought with them and had secreted on arrival.

Freedom was short lived, being apprehended 7 days later near Mueglitz. Two days initial security processing followed in Schoenberg, before being returned to Lamsdorf (as proof that escapers would be caught) and another interrogation, but only 5 days clink - all sticking to a tale indicating appalling conditions in work party E95. Their story and reality were poles apart, but was not checked, otherwise they could have got a year in a straflager. As it was, they were separated and father spent a month in two closely guarded timber working parties (E495 and E364), before a camp transfer to become somebody else's problem.

After a temporary confinement in Parsburg, he was held in what became Stalag 383 at Hohenfels from late August 1942 through to liberation, making two more escape attempts. The first was on 25 August 1943, when he and George Beeson walked out dressed as German guards. They were only loose for just over a day - a consequence of generally tighter German railway security measures around Nuremburg. They subsequently received 30 days solitary in the bunker, but managed not to compromise their modus operandi of getting out.

This enabled another attempt dressed in facsimile German uniform on 17 March 1944, with Australian Charlie Elphick. After passing through the inner gate, they came to grief at the outer security checkpoint, when a clued-up sentry asked too many questions. This time - being apprehended in the enemy's uniform - they were perhaps extremely fortunate only to receive 30 days solitary. The guard who passed them at the inner gate received 14 days of the same.

With a reputation as a persistent escaper, further attempts were problematic. When the Germans evacuated Hohenfels in Spring 1945, my father and others secreted themselves, hunkering down till liberation on 22 April. Cadging lifts to Paris, he was flown by prisoner recovery arrangements in a Dakota to Buckinghamshire and arrived home in Hull a week later.

J R Suggit

Pte. Ronald Adams 4th Btn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

My uncle, Ronald Adams, a gardener pre war, served with the 4th Bucks Battalion (TA) Oxford and Bucks L.I. He was captured while acting in the rearguard defending those escaping from Dunkirk June 1940. He was then interred in Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf until 1945 and was force marched westwards due to the Russian advances. He wrote several cards to us (Kriegsgefangenekarten) all heavily censored. He told me after the war he had worked in coalmines and in industry during his captivity. He returned to live in Slough after his marriage to his fiancee Lena, also from Beaconsfield. If any one has any further information, please contact me.

David Low

Pte. Colin Frederick Rixon 8th Light Horse Regiment

My Uncle Col Rixon was an athlete and fine horseman, a pre-war member of the Corryong Light Horse with his brother Norman. He served in the Middle East from December 1940 and Greece in April 1941. When the Germans began to overrun Greece, Col along with a few other soldiers commandeered a large yacht and managed to sail sixty miles to the island of Crete. The German invasion next sent in a large contingent of airborne troops to Crete and captured surviving Allied troops. Col was reported missing in action in June 1941 and was found that November as a prisoner of war at Stalag VIIIB (renamed Stalag 344) at Lamsdorg, he was then transferred to Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel until 27th April 1945.

His papers state: - ‘Recovered POW - arrived in UK on Western Europe 14th May 1945, disembarked Sydney 17th June 1945. Discharged 12th July 1945’ Like so many stories previous, he never spoke of his ordeal.

Judy Richards

George "Geordie" Braithwaite Royal Army Service Corps

My father, George Braithwaite was a driver in the RASC. He was attached to the West Kents at Dunkirk. He was captured in the town of Albert after six weeks on the run from the Jerrys. He was questioned and sent into Germany by rail. Where he and many others were forced to march through Bavaria into Checeslovakia and into Poland where he was put in the camp Stalag 8b Lamsdorf. George was a bricklayer by trade so was put on a work party in the town of Gliwitz building manholes along the river side. My father was a great man and never told us of the bad times until we were a lot older and able to understand. He told me of the time he and a mate made hooch from turnips. He saved a couple of bottles. On Xmas Eve all the boys in the billet were really down, so he got out the hooch and within an hour they were all singing.

Many years later he took the family to a local caravan park for a week. My brother and I met two lads of similair age as us. George being a good father asked their names, lo and behold their dad was in the same camp as ours. The two met and a three day drinking spree took place. I don't think my dad saw Skipper Dodds again. Unfortunately my Dad had a stroke in 1998 when he was seventy. He died five years later but always said he had a good life, and he did with my Mother and his two sons.

Philip Braithwaite

Pte. John Harding 4th Battalion Cheshire Regiment

My father, Jack Harding, was captured at Dunkirk. He was in the following camps: Stalag V1/A, XX1/B, XX1/D and finally Stalag 344. He never talked much about his experience as a prisoner of war and sadly as he is now deceased his story has died with him.

I would love to hear from anyone who was with him at these camps or anyone who had a relative who was at the camps so my family & I can have some idea of what he experienced. I would particularly like to know what happened after the prisoners were liberated. The last date I have is 20.11.1944 when he was at Stalag 344.

Anne Harding

Sgt. Ernest Walter Maylin 365 Battery 92nd Field Regiment

Only recently started to look into my grandfather's military career. I have discovered that Ernest Maylin was involved in the defensive action with the BEF throughout the month of May 1940. He was injured and captured 31st May 1940 and after healing was transferred to Stalag VIIIB on 28th Jan 1941. As to what else happened I have no idea, but I would like to eventually find out who he bunked with during his time as a POW.

Jason Kingsley-Brown

S/Sgt Victor O'Neill Royal Armoured Corps

My Dad, Victor O'Neill had served in the 1st World War in the 2/6th Dragoon Guards. He was demobbed in 1921 and then joined the RAC for the 2nd World War. He was captured in Crete in 1941 and was taken to Stalag 8b in Ciezyn, Poland. His POW number was 22148.

Ray O'Neill

Rfm. Alec Jay 9th County of London Battalion Queen Victoria's Rifles

My late father, Alec Jay, was a Queen Victoria’s Rifleman, Company C. My father was captured in Calais in May 1940 and spent the following five years in various German POW camps including Lamsdorf (Lambinowice) – Stalag VIIIB/Stalag 344 until May 1945. His prisoner of war number was 15129. While at Stalag 344, he worked in a series of work camps including
  • Groschowitz (Groszowice) from July 1940 to October 1940 on building works,
  • Gumpertsdorf (Komprachcice) from November 1940 to January 1941 on roadworks,
  • Heuerstein, from 25th May 1941 to 3rd June 1941, in a quarry,
  • Setzdorf (Vápenná), from 18th August 1941 to 27 February 1944, in another quarry,
  • Jagerndorf (Strzelniki), from March 1944 to August 1944, on council work,
  • Freudenthal (Bruntál), from August 1944 to September 1944, in a linen factory, and
  • Gurschdorf (Skorošice) from September 1944 to March 1945, a quarry that was also a punishment camp

He was tortured by the Under Officer in charge of his first working party (Groschowitz/ Groszowice) to find out if he was a Jew. That involved being beaten in the face with a rifle butt, an assault that led to the loss of his teeth.

I have put the German names in as recorded in his “General questionnaire for British/American ex-prisoners of war” form, which he filled in on his return to the UK in 1945. I have put as many Polish or Czech names that I can identify in brackets. I hope they are correct.

At Gurschdorf, my father witnessed a war crime in which a guard called Johann Strauss bayoneted a British merchant mariner called Philo in cold blood because he refused to work. Evidence from my father and from Private Sidney Norman Reed of the 1st Battalion of the Kensington Regiment was sent to the United Nations War Crimes Commission and my father went back to Germany shortly after the war to pick out the accused, then himself a POW, in an identity parade. I three photos, one is of my father taken in Beltring, where the QVRs were stationed before setting sail, and the other two were taken in Lamsdorf or on a working party. I wonder whether any of the visitors to your website might recognise some of the other people in the photos. I wonder too whether any of your visitors have an interview that my father did for the Sunday Telegraph to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dunkirk.

John Jay

William Alfred Wells

My late Father, William Alfred Wells, was a POW in Stalag VIIIB E3 Blechammer. Captured at Dunkirk, he spent the rest of the war in Stalag VIIIB before making the forced death march of 13 weeks at the end of the war. Marching all the way to Moosburg in Austria, they were liberated by the American Army and he returned home in May 1945. I have photos of him in the camp, and also a report he gave to our local paper some years afterwards when interviewed as a member of the Dunkirk Veterans Association. Could any one be able to fill in some gaps in his time there for me.

Brian Wells

Gnr. George Herbert Titley Royal Artillery

My wife's father, George Herbert Titley, was captured at the fall of Crete in 1941. He was taken to Berlin after an escape attempt and eventually to Stalag VIIIB in Poland. In 1945 he was part of the, so called, death march. He had signed up having lied about his age. My wife would like to hear any stories relating to the Royal Artillery who had similar experiences.

Brendan M Ramsbottom

William Mackie Commando

My father, William Mackie, Commando was captured in Crete and from what I can remember was in Stalag 8b. He didn't talk too much about his war experiences but I can remember him telling me that he escaped through Poland to Russia and then home. The picture shows him sitting 4th from the right front row as you look at the picture. He is wearing an RAF uniform which was swapped to allow a pilot to escape as the Germans classed RAF personnel as more intelligent than Army. There is also a picture of his Commando Service Certificate. He sadly passed away in 1995.

Lindsay Mackie

L/Cpl. Dennis Coulthread 10/11 Commando

My uncle, Dennis Coulthread, was with Geoffrey Keyes on Operation Flipper, the raid on 'Rommel's House' at Beda Littoria in Libya, November 1941. The raid did not go well (to put it mildly) and he was eventually captured by the Italians. I don't know the sequence of events, but he ended up in Stalag 8b, part of the Auschwitz complex. He only spoke to me once about this. He did forced work in a local factory and said he kept his head down and his mouth shut.

One morning he gave a Jewish boy some food from a Red Cross parcel. When he returned from the factory, he saw that the boy had been hanged, having refused to say who had given him the food.

He said that towards the end of the war the prisoners were force-marched into Germany. Many died on this march, and anyone who tried to help someone was shot there and then. Dennis was a robust, tough man, and he said it was this that got him through. I think that by the time Hitler issued his infamous 'commando order' they must have lost track of his real identity, either by chance or deception. No doubt they would have carried out this order retrospectively. My father said Dennis's hair had gone from jet black to pure white over a couple of years and this made him appear older - probably saving him from hard labour in the mines and further concealing his real identity.

John Willott

Kenneth Mercer

Ken Mercer was married to my mother's cousin and we are trying to complete that section of the family tree. He was from St Helens, Lancashire and was shot down flying a Halifax on the 5 March 1943 and was sent to Stalag 8B in Poland. I am looking for any information


Sgt. Thomas Partridge 8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

My grandfather, Sgt Thomas Partridge, was at Stalag 8A and 8b. He died when I was 14 and I have very little information about his wartime experiences. I found his POW release and a couple of other documents. I know he was captured nr Dunkirk on 29/5/1940 and was released on 1/5/1945 and I think spent most of the war at Stalag 8b. If any one has any information, photos or documents it would be greatly appreciated.

Craig Oakes

Pte. Stanley Alexander Easton 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

Stanley Easton's service number 4465708 indicates he may have been with the 16th DLI from the early days, and probably joined up about mid 1940. My father was taken prisoner in North Africa probably at the Battle of Sedjenane where he was shipped to Italy and eventually ended up in Poland at Stalag 344. He talked of working in a steel manufacturing factory, and was also in visible contact with other prisoners, such as Slavs, Russians and Jews. He was liberated by the Americans (not sure where from), and was back in the UK by April/May 1945. Any further info would be appreciated.

Fus. Charles Leslie "Timber" Wood Northumberland Fusiliers

My father, Charles Wood, was a member of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and was a prisoner of war for 5 years. The camp was Detachment 794 Stalag 344 (Formerly Bau Und Arbeits Battalion 20) he didn't talk much about his time there, things he did talk about were his dislike of sauerkraut and lice. A friend from the camp contacted years later I only know that his nick name was Tarten. Before he was captured he swapped his overcoat with another soldier (I don't know why). That solider was later killed and because he was wearing my dad's coat my grandmother was told my dad had been killed.

Lynn Carter

Thomas McCarthy 100th Field Company Royal Engineers

Tom is second from left middle row.

My dad, Tom McCarthy of the 100th Field Company, Royal Monmouthshire Engineers was captured at Wattou, on the retreat to Dunkirk on 29.5.1940. After a time in Stalag X11A and Stalag 344, he along with 96 other POW's was transferred to Stalag V111B at Teschen on the Polish border. I have a Christmas Card sent by POW's from Stalag in December 1942. Tom remained there as a POW (no 15356) until the "death march" on 20.1.1945. On 9 May 1945 he and other survivors crossed American lines at Karlsbad.

Sadly, my Dad died in 1963 when his three children were very young, so we were never able to talk to him about his time as a POW. But we did have left to us some pictures and Xmas Cards and a very small notebook in which he kept a record of the "death march". Tom used a pencil stub to bravely keep a record of what happened, despite the risks to him. The original of the notebook in now in the Regimental Museum in Monmouth.

Gabrielle Taylor

Pte. William Thomas "Spider" Gibbons 2/1 Batallion

William Thomas Gibbons, my Uncle, was captured at Retimo in Crete on or about the 30th May 1941. He was interred at Moosburg Stalag VIIA and remained there as POW 92173 until 14th April 1943 when he was moved to Stalag VIIIB in Poland near the small town of Lamsdorf. He remained at Lamsdorf after it was split up and renamed to Stalag 344 in December 1943, through until April 1945. He was also one of those who survived the Great March when many POWs were marched westward from Polish camps to flee the advancing Soviet armies.

Uncle Bill was repatriated to Australia in June 1945 and returned to his home town of Gulgong NSW where he remained for the rest of his life.

Peter GIbbons

William Alfred Pike 7th Btn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

Fusilier William Alfred Pike was taken prisoner at St Valery in June 1940 and was part of the 51st Highland Division. He was a prisoner in Stalag 8b/E344 and also E344/E3 Blechammer.

Ken Beavington

Charlie Herbert Evans Cheshire Regiment

My great uncle, Charlie H Evans, b.1908 volunteered for the Cheshire Regiment at the outbreak of war and was either transferred with other Cheshires or captured at Dunkirk.

The family 'story' is that he was on the Dunkirk beaches awaiting evacuation but was taken by truck to Italy where he was either recaptured or captured. It is believed that he spent time in an Italian POW Camp but by 1942 he was in Stalag 344, Lambinowice (his POW No.29987)and worked in the coal mines. It is believed that he was involved in a successful sabotage explosion that was faked as 'a mining accident' with the aim of preventing coal production thereby hindering the German energy/manufacturing capacity.

My father, who is 94 and still exercising his memory, believes that after the war Charlie was re-called to the MOD in London where he was awarded some form of military medal in recognition of his efforts.

If anyone has any information about Charlie, who died in Cheshire in 1974, or the coal explosion incident I would be grateful to hear from you.

Michael Handley

George Hall Wilson 51st batallion Gordon Highlanders

Dad was Pipe Major George Hall Wilson and was captured at St Valery along with the rest of the 51st Gordon Highlanders batallion.

He'd married mum (who was aged 19 at the time) just a few months before and she didn't see him for the next 4 years - he was in Stalag 8B. My brother, John, was born 9 months to the night that dad returned home!! Sadly, he died, aged 3 in a road accident when mum and dad were posted to Essen after the war. I lost mum this year, aged 92, to Alzheimers. Dad wouldn't talk about his POW days and I'm trying to piece together a family history of sorts. Does anyone remember him?

Jackie Waller

Pte. Frank Victor "Tiny" Cackett Battalion

My Grandad, Frank Victor Cackett, was in The Buffs and he was from Ashford, Kent. As far as I'm aware he was captured quite early on and what we can gather from the small snippets he gave, he was on the way to Dunkirk. He didn't speak much about the war at all so we've been trying to find out as much information as possible. He was in the Stalag Luft VIII-B in Cieszyn, Poland and did survive. He passed away in March 1992 from heart issues. He came out only weighing 6 stone and after being told he was fed cabbage soup it's not surprising! He was a bare knuckle fighter also so coming out having the nickname Tiny Cackett is pretty understandable. Just trying to piece the story together really from the little bits we did get from him.

Leanne Clark

Pte. John Henry Moore MID Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment

My father, John Henry Moore (Jack), served in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. He was injured at Dunkirk whilst going back to rescue a Senior Officer carrying important papers, an action for which he was Mentioned in Despatches and later received an "oak leaf". He was posted missing although he had been admitted to hospital in France and was later transferred to Stalag VIIIB Camp 344 where he remained for the rest of the war.

Robert Moore

Rfm. Nathaniel Frank Miller Tower Hamlets Rifles

My father, Frank Miller served in the Tower Hamlets Rifles from 1939 although he was in a territorial Unit prior to war being declared. He was taken prisoner in North Africa in 1941/1942 and was imprisoned at Sulmona Campo 78 till 1943 when he was moved to Lamsdorf Stalag 344 in German occupied Poland. He then took part in the Long March till liberated by US troops in 1945. Finally made it back to the UK and was demobbed in 1946. His German POW number was 220158.

He died in 1997 aged 79. I recently found a quantity of old photos and notes amongst paperwork after my mother's death which relate to his wartime service and which I am still examining.

Alan Miller

Pte. Arthur Dobinson "Smudge" Smith Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Letter to Arthur Smith ROAC from Jack

Letter to Arthur Smith ROAC from Jack

Arthur Smith and comrades in Egypt prior to capture.

My grandfather Arthur Smith was a POW held in Stalag IVB. He served in the RAOC for the British Army and was captured in Tobruck. Taken to an Italian Prison Camp in Settore 1 he was then transferred to Stalag IVB as identified by his tags which my Dad has. He was moved to Stalag VIIIB at some time prior to undertaking the Death March.

He spoke little of his time as a PoW but we know that he taught some other Soldiers to read and write during their time in Stalag and learned mathematics from another Soldier. We know he suffered (the same as the majority) with malnutrition and malaria but was one of the lucky ones that made it home. I have a copy of a letter sent to my grandfather from someone named Jack from Stowmarket, Suffolk, along with some photographs.

Anne Prentice

Pte. Alan Crighton Todd 20th Battalion

Our father Alan Todd died in 1966 while we were all quite young so never got to hear much about his time as a POW. We do know he was captured on Crete and spent time in Stalag V111B Teschen and there is reference to him being captured in Prague and held in Pancrac Prison for some time before being returned to camp. We intend travelling to Prague next summer to have a look around and perhaps visit the site of the POW Camp though doubt much will be left of it now

Philip Todd

Pte. William James Sidney "Bill" Pratt Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather, Bill Pratt, was captured at Dieppe on August 8, 1942 and arrived at Stalag VIIIB on September 1, 1942. He spoke very little of his experiences in the POW camp. I can recall only a few stories related to the poor food and lumber camps outside the barrack where the POW's hunted hares for food when the guards were unaware. I have his wartime journal filled with poems describing battle and artwork, much of it sketched by a South African POW by the name of A.H Pienaar.

Keith Drybrough

Pte. Dennis William Gutteridge 4th Btn, B Company Ox & Bucks Light Infantry

Sadly, my father Dennis Gutteridge was no different to many others who found they couldn't talk about what happened to them during the war with those who hadn't gone through the experience. And now I have useful questions to ask, he's long gone.

I have some notebooks and various other memories of what he told me - enough to piece together a rough outline of his wartime story: He enlisted at Kidmore End into 4th OBLI on 24th April 1939, just 6 days after his 24th birthday and his engagement to my mother, who also shared the same birth date (she was 18). They married in November 1939, and in January 1940 he was sent to France. He served as batman to a Lieutenant 'Whinney' (?sp) in Belgium and was notorious for riding his bicycle everywhere even on route marches. After a brief sojourn back in UK, he returned to France and took part in the rearguard action to hinder the German advance on Dunkirk - one of the forgotten army which was sacrificed. As a member of B commpany he defended Cassel, and retreated through the woods at Watou (Wateau St Jean), where the Germans encircled them and took them prisoner on May 30th 1940. He was lucky not to have been captured by one of the units/commanders who massacred British POWS after surrender/capture, and was transported to Lamsdorf, where he arrived on June 25th 1940 - so this journey took a month! He never spoke about this part of the war, and the next I know was he was assigned to a work camp - E114, in a stone quarry.

Not unusually, his notesbooks are not a chronicle of how hard conditions were, but a collection of stories, songs, jokes, poems, articles, thoughts, comments, memoirs of pre-war days, and a list of POWs in camp E114. He demonstrated a trenchant wit which got him in a bit of hot water with his fellow POWs from time to time, and at every turn you can see his wry humour. There is one rather sad story about his early life, and another regaling the reader with his encounters as a young man with women. The final story is his description of being on a German farm in Bavaria and his thoughts and comments about the life of the small German farmer. He left Germany for home in 1945 and that is all he says.....whether he took part on one of the Death or Long Marches I can only guess, but as he was in Bavaria, he must have. Not a word did he write about this.

The only stories I can remember from when I was a child is how he was hiding in a wood and the Germans were calling to the British soldiers in English, to give themselves up. Fellow POWs who I know he kept in touch with after the war were 2 sappers serving in the Royal Engineers: Douglas (Duggie) Lawrence, and Rupert Sugden, who kept an offlicence after the war in Henley on Thames and was married to Molly Sugden the TV actress.

Carol Horne

L/Cpl. Denis Edlington Coulthread 11th Scottish Commando Royal Scots

My father, Denis Edlington Coulthread, was on the famous Rommel raid and was Geoffrey Keye's batman and bodyguard. He got caught after the raid and taken pow and taken to Stalag 344 Lambinowice, Poland pow no is 220922. My father never ever spoke about his past as I was very close to my father not knowing he had a bayonet scar the shape of a letter "s" on his back.

When my father died, my mother gave me a published book that was presented to my father in 1957 signed Elizabeth Keyes and it is all about the Rommel Raid and her brother, Geoffrey Keyes, my father is also in the book called "Get Rommel" by Michael Asher. I was 21 years old at the time and just could not believe the history about my father. I wish I had some photos of him in is younger days but only have one of him aged 60. I would love to receive any information on my late father.

Alan Coulthread

L/Cpl. Donald Charles South Royal Corps of Signals

My dad, Donald South told me on his death bed that he was a sniper in the war. He was captured after Dunkirk somewhere odd - it didn't make sense where he was so I wonder if he had some mission or other. He was tall and blonde and in Stalag Lamsdorf he became one of the Camp Interpreters as he got so good at German. He was chosen for an escape bid as his German was good and he looked German. Zig-zagging his way under a hail of bullets during the escape bid he got creased on the cheek by a bullet. Re-captured and taken to the camp medico he complained bitterly how much his cheek hurt. The medico was, meanwhile, bending down and peering at his stomach. 'Never mind your cheek, man' he said 'I can see right through you.' He had been shot clean through the stomach and it was a miracle it hadn't hit his spine. Unfortunately, the SS thought he was a spy (was he?) and they took him off for torture which made him pretty unstable after the war. As a little girl I have many memories of his night terrors shouting German and wrestling imaginery German soldiers.

I shall be getting his War Record soon and it might be interesting. He was marched off on a Death March at the end of the war when Allied Troops advanced on the Camp but this time managed to get away and was picked up by the Americans. He was 6 foot 3 inches tall and weighed 9 stone. He had found a sack of brown sugar from somewhere and refused to give it to anyone - he ended up back in Britain with it and promptly nearly died from Yellow Jaundice. They said he could be a Chelsea Pensioner but (typical of him) he wasn't impressed by the accommodation (this was in the 1980's)and turned them down. The Camp got him in the end, though. He died of stomach cancer in 1986 and it started at the site of that bullet wound. I'm very proud of him.

Lynne Ash

Pte. Jack Pritchard 7th Btn. Worcestershire Regiment

My uncle, Jack Pritchard was captured at Bethune on 28th May 1940, fighting the rear guard action at Dunkirk. He was marched to XXa POW camp and was moved to Lamsdorf 344 camp in 1941. He helped a soldier from Newcastle on one of the marches. I have been trying to find out who this soldier's family are.

M. Pritchard

Pte. Terry Gorman 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment

I spent quite a lot of time with my Dad, Terry Gorman recording his stories in the year before his death in 1996. Before then he never really talked about it – tho’ I knew he had fought in the Western Desert and had been a POW for a few years.

We were watching TV together in 1995 and there were several programmes commemorating the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945. There was a shot of the train tunnel and guardhouse leading into Auschwitz Birkenau 2 and Dad said "I used stand just there and warm my hands on a brazier as the trains came in." After the initial shock, and disbelief, we began to talk and piece together his story.

Dad was born in 1920 and conscripted into the Army in 1940. He joined a Yorkshire Infantry Regiment – The Green Howards – and after training sailed around Africa and got stuck into the enemy in 1941. At first he was based at Ismailia taking ammunition up to Mersah Matruh by train. At Mersah he had his first meeting with Australian troops who had been pulled out of the front line and were on their way to protect the oil fields in Iraq. He was very impressed with the Australian troops who seemed taller, fitter and better equipped than the British Army. They were also far better paid – about £2 per week (Dad got 14 shillings). When Dad and his best mate approached the Australian lines there were several wolf whistles and a loud voice shouted out – “look out – the poms have sent the boy scouts!” – a reference to the ill fitting shirts and shorts which had been issued to Dad’s unit. He got on very well with the Australians who shared their (far better) rations.

In May 1942 Dad was moved up to Gazala and a great tank and infantry battle took place which ended in the loss of Tobruk in June. Dad was wounded and captured on 2 June and spent a brief time at a transit camp at Derna, then some months at a terrible open air POW camp at Benghazi. The camp lacked even basic sanitation and the Italian guards were trigger happy and brutal. Eventually they were loaded in the hull of an Italian freighter and sailed across the Med all fearing that they would be torpedoed (as some POW ships were) by the Royal Navy.

Dad got to an Italian POW transit camp at Brindisi and then he was moved to Campo 7 at Capua near Rome. Later he was moved north to Campo 54 at Chiavari near Genoa. Life in Chiavari was relatively good. There was food, Red Cross parcels and plenty of sport and books. Dad, and his friend Charlie Murphy, were experienced with horses so got out on a small work detail to work on the estate of the Marquis of Turin – he looked after a string of thoroughbred race horses and was allowed good grub and plenty of cheap wine. Then Marquis hated Mussolini and wanted the Allies to win the War.

In September 1943 events took a turn for the worse. The Italian Army gave up the ghost and the Germans took over in Northern Italy. The POWs were rounded up and moved to Germany. Dad’s camp was sent to the Juventus football stadium in Turin. Dad spent three nights sleeping in the goal mouth whilst the Nazis sorted themselves out. They were then taken to the railway station where they were crammed into wooden cattle trucks and set off for the East. Dad remembers stopping at Innsbruck station, in Austria, where they were allowed to get some water and a little food. After a couple of days they arrived at a grim railway halt in Silesia and were marched up the road and into Lamsdorf POW camp, Stalag 344/8B – the most easterly of all POW camps in the Reich.

Lamsdorf was tough, violent and very large. The Germans segregated POWs according to ethnic origin. There was a very large compound for Russians who were treated terribly (they did not have the protection of the Geneva Convention) – many living in the open or crude dugouts in the ground. There was an outbreak of typhus in this compound and Dad witnessed the Germans spraying the area with petrol then setting light to it – any POWs who survived were finished off by guard dogs.

With the large influx of POWs from Italy the main allied compound was full and Dad was placed in an Annexe reserved for French Canadians who had been captured at the raid on Dieppe in 1942. They were a ruthless lot and had managed to cut the throat of a couple of guards (or goons as they were known). As a reprisal all the Canadians were chained to their bunks or radiators and Dad had to do this whilst waiting for transfer to the main compound. Of course, the Canadians thought he was a stooly – a plant put in by the Germans to get information about possible escape plans etc – and they threatened to kill him. Fortunately, for my Dad, they had been based in Manchester for part of their training and he was able to answer questions about the city. One question was “What is the Band on the Wall” which Dad knew to be a jazz club (which many of the Canadians had visited). After a few weeks Dad got to the main compound. There was very little food and nothing to do. One option was to join working parties outside the camp which gave you double rations (800 calories a day) and a chance to relieve the boredom. Dad signed up and was put on a train which took him to Katowice – about 90 minutes south east of Lamsdorf.

He was given a donkey jacket with KG stamped on the back – KG stood for Kriegsgafangene or Prisoner of War (POWs often referred to themselves as “Kriegies”). He worked as a mate to a German electrician, then laboured in a sugar beet farm, then ended up in an arbeitskommando (work camp) in the Auschwitz complex. What he saw there haunted him for the rest of his life. Auschwitz is a 25 square mile concentration camp complex with four separate camps: Auschwitz 1, Birkenau, Auschwitz 3 and Monowitz. Allied POWs worked in many small work camps, and there was also E715 (E stands for Englander tho’ that included Australians and New Zealanders) at the infamous Buna camp at Monowitz. About 1000 POWs existed here and were forced labourers in a plant which was supposed to produce oil – not one drop was ever produced as many acts of sabotage were undertaken by the POWs.

Dad worked mainly at E727 – the Power Station for the Auschwitz complex. It was coal fired and his job was to clear out the old “clinker” from the grates under the large furnaces and boilers – his only protection was pieces of sacking with which he covered his head and body. The shifts were very long and he got little food. The Red Cross parcels, which he still got even at Lamsdorf, were now very infrequent and often looted by the German guards. Dad was 11st 5lbs when he left England – he was less than 5st 11 lbs when he returned. Food and tobacco were the gold dust of the concentration camp and could be bartered and exchanged for anything.

He worked alongside Poles, Ukraines and Jews. The Jews lived in terrible concentration camp compounds and were treated like dirt by the Germans who thought nothing of shooting a Jew for minor infringements. Some of the Allied soldiers also had little time for the Jews and felt they had “got it coming to them”. Dad had little time for this - he had witnessed the Blackshirts organising in Manchester before the War and had little truck with them or their ideas.

The Germans found out that Dad had worked for the railways before the War and, together with a New Zealand soldier, was detailed to move some bricks along rail tracks into Birkenau 2. It turned out that the bricks were replacement fire bricks for the gas chambers and crematoria used to murder and incinerate Jews by the thousand. The Germans didn’t trust Jewish labour to perform this job as they feared sabotage. He was allowed one communal shower per week to keep the lice and sores under control. On more than one occasion emaciated Jewish women were shoved into the shower blocks by the guards - nobody, as far as Dad knew – ever molested them.

He lived in a small wooden hut with an iron stove in the middle for heat. The men slept on bunks and the man below him was a South African who had been put “in the bag” (captured) at Tobruk. His surname was Silver. One day there was a routine inspection - the POWs came to attention and the Guards had a look around. This time they were accompanied by a man in the dark blue uniform of the SS. He walked along the line and stopped in front of Silver. He shouted, “Your name isn’t Silver, it’s Silberstein – you are a Jew! Take him out!” The Guards grabbed his lapels and dragged him outside where he was shot through he head by the SS man.

In January 1945 the POWs became aware of the heavy fighting to the East. The sky was lit up at night as the Russians advanced. It was a particularly harsh winter, and one night in early January the men were ordered to gather there belongings and line up outside – they were going to march West away from the Russians. Dad looked around and could see three columns – Allied POWs, Russians/Ukraines and Jews. This was the start of the infamous “Death Marches” – POWs marched West for the next four months through the worst winter of the last century. Many died and any who dropped out were left for dead or shot. Dad remembers pulling over to pee in a hedge and seeing many Jews who had been shot and lay frozen stiff in a ditch.

The POWs trudged, day after day, for weeks on end. Food was almost non existent or they got watery potato soup. They slept in rat infested barns. Dad’s column marched from Silesia, into Czechoslovakia then Bavaria in Germany. In late April 1945 the weather improved and they reached a large railway junction at Plattlin. As they sat on a hill near the town they saw allied planes come in and bomb the station – the POWs were set to work pulling the bodies from the wreckage of passenger and freight trains that had still been in the station. A couple of days later the guards simply disappeared and Dad took refuge in a pig farm, sleeping with the pigs. He heard the roar of a powerful engine and realized a tank had driven into the farm yard – and an American tank at that. He stood up and shouted “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” The Yanks were amazed to see the emaciated and starving POWs emerge from the pig sties and hedgerows. They handed out cigarettes and chocolate – and many of the POWs were sick as they had not had such rich, sweet food for years. They were moved back to the US Army echelon and deloused, fed and given new kit. Some were given weapons and drove off to wreak revenge on the local population. Dad remembers walking down to a local German village. Many homes had been looted with men making off with local delph china (Dad wondered how they would get it back via Army transport). He walked into a large house to see if he could get a cup of tea and bumped into a German woman. “Take me, take me” she said in German – behind her was her daughter who she thought Dad was going to rape. He asked her to make him a cup of tea then get upstairs and hide – many German women in the village were not so lucky.

After a few days a British Army Sergeant Major turned up and told them they were going home. They marched to a local airfield and were loaded, 20 at a time, on to Dakota airplanes and flown to Antwerp in Belgium. The plane in front of Dads crashed on landing and all were killed. He was then transferred to RAF Lancaster bombers and flown to Guilford in England – flying straight over the White Cliffs of Dover. He was debriefed and given leave to go home. Then transferred to Ireland to fatten him up… but that’s another story.

One brighter story from Auschwitz. One of Dad’s colleagues was Arthur Dodd who came from Northwich in Cheshire and had been put in the bag at Tobruk in June 1942. Arthur eventually ended up in E715 at Monowitz. One day he was marching back to camp and he noticed some Jews digging a ditch by the road . As they got closer one of them shouted – “I’m English mate, I shouldn’t be here, help me!” Arthur reached into his pocket and threw a packet of cigarettes at the man as they passed. Many years later Arthur was giving a talk about his experiences in Manchester Town Hall. He had written a book, “Auschwitz: Spectator in Hell” and made a programme about E715 for the BBC. After the talk he was signing copies of his book when, from behind, he heard a voice - “I’m English mate, I shouldn’t be here, help me!” It was Leon Goodman, who had been picked up by the Nazis in Holland and was the only English Jew in Auschwitz. He survived and, some fifty years later, and amidst many tears, was able to thank Arthur in person for the cigarettes he had given him in 1944.

Michael Gorman

Gnr. John William Hodgkinson Royal Artillery

My Uncle, John Wm Hodgkinson, known as Bill to distinguish him from his father also John Wm, was a prisoner of war during WW2. Like many others he spoke little of his experience but he did tell me this just before he died. He joined the Army, 25th Field Reg. Royal Artillery,in 1935 and was sent to Woolwich then Newcastle for training. From there he went to Mhow & Jansi in India. When War was declared this became part of the 7th Indian Div. and he was sent to Kirkee then Egypt as part of Army of Nile (later 8th Army).

He was captured and he was a POW in Italy outside the Vatican. On Xmas Eve 1942 the prisoners began to be moved to Stalag 8B. He told me that nuns came out of the Vatican and took all the prisoners to Midnight Mass. Catholics were at the front of the church others at the back. All were given coffee & biscuits then 2 nuns escorted all the prisoners back. When Russia entered the war all POWs in Italy were marched to Germany. He remembered that Russian planes were painted white and used to straffe the camp guards after flying over the camp. After the war he transferred to REME as an armourer until he left the army in 1950. He died in 2004. From War Office records on Find my past - Prisoners of War - J W Hodgkinson - rank Gunner, camp 344 POW no. 847460 Royal Artillary (Field), Record Office Foots Cray, Sidcup, Kent, Camp type STALAG Camp 6c Lamsdorf. regiment: Royal Artillery. I have a brass plaque with my uncle’s name and no. 847460 RFA engraved on it.

Carol Smith

W/O Graham "Winnie" Winton 115 Sqn.

May 1945 dancing at the Club Ambaasy Bloor St.Aera, my hero to be ask me to dance, we were united most nights dancing and long walks. It lasted to Feb.1946, we said good-bye via air mail. The last line from him was "I shall remember you till the end of time".

Graham Winton joined up in 1940, went overseas 1941, joined Sqn 115 Markam.u.k. sortie 6/7 to Bremen on Sept.4/5th 1942. They were shot down & captured. Graham had a sprained ankle. He found it hard to walk. He was taken to Frankfurt,treated to the same treatment as all the other POW's. After 2 to 3 weeks his slow journey to Lamesdorf, Stalag 8b in Poland. He was chained, and treated as all the others. His crew were there. He did not see them for some time. As far as I can tell he must have been in hut 16 or 17, no.27008. When things moved along and man power was getting low he could move about and see his friend.

I have just had my 90th birthday. To end this history I have the blessing of a table mate, who was captured in Holland, was a pow in the German work force he worked around Stalag 8b. We have a lot to read and talk about. We just finished the book by H. Greasley. "Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell". His journey there are on most of the roads that my friend traveled on. Lest we forget blessings to all these heros, may they be remembered till the end of time.


Pte. Adam Sim Shiels Aird Cameronians

My father, Adam Aird, Cameronians was captured in Sicily. He was in camp 8B and then on the Death March. He had many memories of the March but did not bear a grudge. He was friendly with a group of Scotsmen, including Garry McKrindle from Glasgow and a Mr Knowles from Aberdeen, who looked out for each other. In the 1960s he met one of the German guards and they shook hands.

Christina Craig

Pte. John Francis McCarthy Scots Guards

John Francis McCarthy was the second son of a WW1 veteran, Patrick McCarthy, who was a member of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. His father was a mustard gas victim but still was able to sire 8 children (with Jessie, nee McKinnon) before he died in 1937, aged 47. Before Patrick died he would often say to his son John, "I'll put you in the army" if John was unruly. On his 17th birthday, 7th June 1938, John enlisted with the Scots Guards and began training in London. He was on guard at Windsor Castle when the Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, would play in the grounds. In 1940 John was shipped to Egypt with his Regiment and saw action at Bengazi and Halfaya Pass. He met Australians for the first time and got a taste for Aussie beer. The A.I.F. mischievously called the Scots Guards, with S.G. on their lapels, "Society Girls". John McCarthy was captured by Italian forces just weeks before his 21st birthday in 1942 and shipped to Camp 55 in southern Italy. He saw a lot of starving prisoners there and decided he couldn't stay. On escape John walked north towards Switzerland before being given up by a Italian farmer. He was then put on a prison train, destination Poland. Stalag 344 was described by John as a large working town or small city. One of John's jobs was to clean the beer vats between brewings. Depleted of good diet, John would eat the residue of the vats for sustenance. Similar to Vegemite. After 3 years John heard that the end to the war was near. He hid in an attic for 4 days and then broke out during a loud nighttime thunderstorm and headed towards Czechoslovakia. When he arrived in Prague he was sheltered by the 'Nazi hating' partisans and was privy to all their activities, which were ramping up. With war's end almost upon Europe, John made his way to the Austrian border and was 'processed' by the U.S. Army. Processing involved an utter physical beating by the yanks because they didn't believe that this disheveled young man with a foreign (Scottish) accent was what he was claiming to be, an Allied soldier. He didn't mind the pain of the beating because he knew that he would be home soon. After reuniting with his family and some recuperating John began a career in policing with Perthshire police. After 8 years John, and his wife Dorothy (nee Haggart) emigrated to Melbourne, Australia where he spent another 28 years with Victoria Police, retiring as a Senior Sergeant of the golfer's paradise district of Cobram, Victoria. John died on 28th May 2002, just short of his 82nd birthday. He was survived by his daughter, Fiona and grand-daughters, Alice and Jen. He was a lovely man. From your mate.


Pte. Richard Stanley Cooke Welch Regiment

I have been looking at copies of my uncle's diary and I believe he might have been a camp barber. He was also at Stalag 8b

Gareth John Cooke

Pte. Frederick Charles Worthy Royal Hampshire Regt

My father, Fred Worthy, served in North Africa in Tunisia and was then at the Salerno Landings. He was an old sweat having joined the Grenadier Guards in the mid 1920s. As war loomed in 1939 he rejoined the Army and enlisted into the Hampshire Regiment.

He was captured on the 9th of September 1943 the first night of the invasion. He told me that out of 27 men that he was with only he and one other were left when he was captured. I believe he was then taken to a place called Ocre in Italy and then sent to camp 8b in Fallingbostle Poland. He made an attempt to escape but was caught. When he was brought back to camp he was taken to the camp officer in charge. He asked my father where he thought he was my father replied Poland where upon my father received a beating as the officer told him Poland is now greater Germany.

As the Russians advanced so the Germans marched all the POW's towards Germany {The March} as it is known. During this time they sufferd many hardships which my father told me little about except that one night they stopped at a farm in German terrortry where he and another chap stole a duck to eat they were caught red handed. The German soldier that caught them should have shot them out of hand but as the war was nearly over he asked the owner of the farm what he wanted to do about it the farmer was the mayor of the village and just took the duck back and let them go lucky or what? Two weeks before the end of the war his column of fellow POW's were straffed by aircraft my father was shot in the leg his luck had run out his leg was eventually amputated in 1947. The doctors tried to save his leg but the pain of gangerene was to much to bear so he asked them to amputate it.

In my oppinion he wasn't looked after very well after the War. Having to fight the authorities for a war pension which he eventually recieved in the early seventies. He worked all his life after the war on a building site as a carpenter. He was a strong man and a good man along with many others of his generation their suffering was great but thier hearts were strong good men all

Fred Worthy

Cpl. Willam John Crawford

William John Crawford from Opunake, New Zealand is my great uncle. He was my mother's uncle and also her godfather. I am not sure of the year during the war that he became a POW at Stalag 344 but he was after he was shipped from Italy.

Jenny Hall

Flt/Eng. Ronald S. Fermor

I am researching Havant, Hampshire, in WW2 and came across this harrowing account in the Hampshire Telegraph, dated 20 April 1945. A Havant airman, who was one of 1,000 prisoners forced to take part in a march of 500 miles across Germany, has returned home after being freed by the Americans. W/O Ronald Fermor RAFVR, of Staunton Road Havant, was for two-and-a-half years a prisoner at Stalag 344. On January 26th, 1,000 men were marched away from the camp. They were given one Red Cross parcel to last for ten days and the contents were frozen in the tins. They had no food all the way and were given only one small black loaf to seven men. Fermor saw nine men shot for stealing mangolds from a clump by the roadside. He himself sold his shirt to a German woman for a small piece of bread. They lived on mangolds, potato peelings and grass and once took corn out of a manger to eat. For three months they withstood terrible conditions of starvation and cold, their boots frozen to their feet, sleeping in the snow with no covering but their coats. Hundreds dropped down, unable to continue. By mid-March 40 of the remaining 180, including Fermor, were too ill and weak to walk further. These were left at a Stalag with French prisoners and for nearly three weeks they lay on wooden forms, too weak to move. When the Americans arrived on March 30th to tell them they were free, some of them cried like children. As soon as they were strong enough they were flown home. W.O. Fermor reached home on April 11th for thirty days leave before returning to hospital.

Ann Griffiths

Carl Meyer

My grandfather, Carl Meyer, died in this special situation in Lamsdorf, Poland shortly before the end of WWII:

If God will forgive them? The Inferno of Lamsdorf.

Report by the physician Heinz Esser about a Polish camp for the German population, which Polish authorities had set up in Lamsdorf (Upper Silesia) after the end of WW II I Lamsdorf, the internment camp for Germans, was located between Oppeln (Opole) and Neisse (Nysa).

In the history of Upper Silesia, it symbolizes a monumental tombstone under which thousands of people from Upper Silesia - men, women and children - lie buried, having died after harrowing experiences and painful suffering. However, for Poland it is a stigma; the camp was established after the end of WWII, in July 1945, at a time when Germany's war criminals and those who had committed crimes against humanity, were being rounded up, tried and punished accordingly. Lamsdorf was an extermination camp. Commander of the camp was Ceslaw Gimborski, who was cruel and given to sadistic excesses. He was about twenty years old at the time and the leader of about 50 bloodthirsty militiamen. His reign of terror was the reason why the population called the camp "Camp of Blood" and also "Inferno of Lamsdorf". Thousands of people from Upper Silesia entered this camp - after having been robbed and plundered - and they were never able to leave it again. Mainly the villagers from the county of Falkenberg were brought here, regardless of age or sex, even the critically ill and the dying. The hardest hit were the villages of Bielitz (which was almost completely eradicated), Neuleipe, Ellguthammer, Steinaugrund, Lippen, Lamsdorf, Arnsdorf, Hilbersdorf, Goldmoor, Mangersdorf, Jakobsdorf, Gröditz, Kleuschneritz, Jatzdorf and others. During the night, people were - suddenly and unexpectedly - chased from their houses and dragged to Lamsdorf.

At the camp, the critically ill ones and the dying were placed in the road where they soon died; others were killed instantly. In some cases, the medical orderlies had to carry them to the so-called "barracks-for-the-sick" where they soon expired, due to the lack of food, medical care and drugs. These were not politically involved people, but mainly farmers and working-class families, sometimes businessmen, teachers, civil servants, clerks, etc. Politically involved people - about 45 men - were placed into one room. But even these few, apart from five cases, were never investigated, whether they were actually members of the [Nazi] party. They had been denounced by informers, and - under pressure, the application of cruel torture and ill-treatment, and often in a state of mental impotence - had finally admitted membership of the Nazi party, contrary to the facts.

These men were, in the course of time, all murdered, after having suffered unspeakable cruelties and tortures. Admission to the camp took place as follows: The villagers who had been robbed and driven out of their homes during the night were, with the rest of their belongings, hauled into the camp, where they had to stand the whole day, in all kinds of weather, in front of the office and wait for their registration. After each and everyone had been robbed of absolutely everything - including coat, jacket, and shoes - he [or she] was beaten, prodded with rifle butts, beaten with lead cables, etc. When these people were finally pushed away, their faces were completely unrecognizable; they were covered with blood and often had broken limbs and ribs. Bloodcurdling screams reverberated from the office into the camp. Many of the victims were beaten or shot to death; the survivors often died soon afterwards, as a result of the previous indescribable abuse. They were beaten and killed simply because they were Germans. These mass killings were committed either by thrashings to the skull with clubs or fence slats - for this ordeal the poor wretches had to kneel - or they received a blow to the neck artery, whereupon the victims collapsed and died. Some were murdered by kicks to the body and to the throat.

A henchman named Jusek, a sixteen- year- old, was often used for these killings. He was Ukrainian and a Polish spy. Before the collapse [1945], he had spent years in institutions for juvenile delinquents and in prisons. Despite his youth, he possessed all the features of the brutal murderer and criminal. He murdered "to order" - anytime, day or night, until - finally - his own friends and clients, in a dispute after a bout of heavy drinking, fatally shot him in the head. I examined the corpse of the juvenile criminal. It was a terrible sight.

The innkeeper Max H. from Tillowitz, for example, was falsely accused of belonging to the SS. I saw how he was beaten with clubs and pieces of cable until he collapsed, covered in blood. One last time he tried to sit up, and he yelled at his torturers, "I am telling the truth. And even if you kill me, I will never lie just because I am in your power!" Then eight guards led him behind the barracks. An hour later, I observed on his corpse: stab wounds - apparently from bayonets - in chest, abdomen, thighs and cheeks, 2 tracks of bullets in the head and the chest. John L. was already beaten bloody in front of the office because of his beard. Then he was called an SA-leader, although he could present documents which proved that he was not politically involved. But they chased him into the workshop, yelling and screaming and calling him "Judas". At the workshop, they jammed his beard into a vise and tortured him. Examining his corpse two hours later, I observed: Multiple skull fractures, beard separated and burned, burns on the face, fingernails torn out, fractured right clavicle, both forearms fractured in two and three places.

The remaining ones, those who had not been killed during registration and those who had not quite been killed, were taken to the barracks, where - under more threats and beatings - they were forced to hand over their underwear and any hidden money. Unfortunately, German "aides" played a vile role in these crimes. They found things in the most improbable hiding places and stole them from the unfortunate newcomers, only to hand them over to their superiors and maybe earn their praise or special concessions. B.L., for example, robbed numerous men who never belonged to the party [NSDAP], accused them of being Nazis, and delivered them to the Polish henchmen. B. L.'s idol was the so-called "German Camp Leader” Fuhrmann. [Jan Fuhrmann, originally a Polish corporal, gained German citizenship, later became Polish again. In 1977, when Dr. Esser wrote this report, Fuhrmann lived in Oppeln.] He was known to grab babies from the arms of their abused mothers and beat them to death. Every German was scared to death of him. Sometimes women came to the camp - often walking 50 km or more - in order to bring their imprisoned husbands small gifts which they usually had obtained under beatings and other sufferings. B.L. took those things and kept them for himself; occasionally he shared them with his favorites. He asked women whose husbands had been murdered long ago, to come again and again and bring gifts, making them believe that the men were still alive and even received preferential treatment from him.

In order to impress his Polish clients, he organized the so-called "Night Exercise" which no Lamsdorf inmate was ever able to forget: 25 men were completely disfigured, and 15 were killed. This was his "achievement", and he often boasted of it during meetings with the Polish camp militia. The villagers were brought - en masse and without any reason - to the camp, in order to be destroyed there. However, the treatment of openly accused or slyly denounced individuals - daily occurrences - was as follows: Day or night, and always unexpectedly, these people were picked up at home or at their place of work, taken to the Secret Police and initially placed into dark, clammy underground rooms which were filthy and vermin-infested. Here they became witnesses to the abuse their companions suffered in the adjacent cells. Day and night, there were screams of fear and pain.

Then the interrogations started. The prisoners were tied up, kicked and beaten, suspended upside down and beaten again, until they were bleeding from numerous wounds and under this torture confessed to crimes they had never committed. Sometimes the henchmen stepped on their victims' toes, or crushed their thumbs, or beat the bare soles of their feet with steel springs. En route to such interrogations, the prisoners were dragged through the villages while being dealt numerous blows all over their bodies. After the interrogations and tortures, which often lasted several days and nights, the victims joined the other people at the camp, and the second phase of their ordeal started. In order to be recognizable immediately as criminals, the prisoners had to display the letter "W" [wiezien] on their tattered clothes.

Life at the camp was as follows: The prisoners had to get up at 5 a.m. and participate in the so-called morning-sports. During these exercises - from which no male was exempted, regardless of age (not even those in their eighties or nineties), sickness or infirmity - the men were again beaten and kicked. The reason for this abuse was, in most cases, the fact that the commands were given in the Polish language which most of the men did not understand at all, or because the men were forced to count in the Polish language which, of course, they were unable to do. This led to abuse beyond description and usually ended with several people being dead. The old men who were unable to perform any of the exercises were - almost to a man - killed in the most barbaric manner. During the first four months, about 10 corpses a day had to be hauled from the field at the end of the morning- sports. Some victims were not dead yet, but they were thrown into the mass grave, all the same. The other guards watched these killings and - just like their commander Gimborski - laughed and jeered. Afterwards, men and women were appointed into work groups.

On September 15, 1945, sixteen men were tied to a cart and - while being beaten continuously with clubs - ordered to fetch heavy iron parts from a neighboring village. They were barely able to stand because of weakness and hunger. When they came to a forest, the guards organized a shooting match, the sixteen men being their targets. Under fire, about eight of the wretches were chased into a pond and drowned.

The others, among them the still living [in 1977] Erhard Sch., returned to the camp. They were covered with blood and hardly able to move. Three of them had, as a result of this atrocious experience, lost the power of speech. One of them shrieked with pain because of four deep stab wounds made by bayonets. However, he was not allowed to go to the sick-room or receive medical treatment. He hanged himself during that very night, next to the sleeping-place of a companion. The work that had to be carried out - with a daily intake of only 200 - 300 calories, and under beatings, whippings, and other torturous abuse - was worse than slave labor. In all kinds of weather, men and women, regardless of their poor nutrition, failing strength and various illnesses, had to perform heavy labor for 12 hours and longer, dressed in flimsy, torn clothing. Covered with vermin and festering wounds - which were not allowed to be treated - they were required to carry out their work, even when it rained or it was bitterly cold, until they collapsed.

Groups of 10 - 12 men and women had to pull a plow or a harrow, or wagons overloaded with potatoes, or vats with liquid manure. Women, even the fragile and sick ones, had to participate in building more huts. Together with the men, without protection from rain and cold, they had to carry inhumanly heavy loads, until they collapsed, exhausted and covered with blood from the beatings. With their bare hands, they had to dig up hundreds of putrefying corpses, and for hours they were exposed to the penetrating smell of decay. It is almost beyond belief, but sometimes they had to - under threats - touch decaying parts of corpses with their mouths, or they were forced to eat feces!

Among those who stayed at the camp during the day, terror and murder were also raging. Sometimes men were killed at random in their rooms. High school teacher Kr. from Neustadt entered his assigned room, but after five minutes his corpse was already carried out. He had been killed because he was wearing glasses and looked like an "egghead". Mayor F. from Buchelsdorf was murdered because he was exactly as tall as an SS-man. [To be accepted in the SS, a man had to be of a certain height.] Many others were killed for equally absurd reasons. F. had come with me from Neisse, where we had been acquitted of any guilt. The poor man had been denounced by Fuhrmann and especially recommended to the chief murderer Ignaz, who promptly demanded F.'s death. The white-haired former mayor, popular and liked by everyone, had to kneel and take a beating. Then, the henchman Jusek took a slat and, in short intervals, hit the poor man on the skull which started to bleed immediately. Because of the pain, F. pleaded for mercy, his raised hands folded in prayer. When his head touched the ground, they forced me - as a physician - to determine whether he was still alive. Agitated and outraged, I requested the immediate end of this torture and asked for permission to take the man, who was close to death, to the sick-room, in order to alleviate his pain and make his death an easier one. They chased me from the field and fired several shots at me. Glancing back, I saw F. being beaten with the slat until he was dead.

During the day, the Poles shot at people who were on their way to the latrine or on an errand, as if they were targets at a shooting gallery. There was a new guard, 15 years old, who had just received his first uniform and some rudimentary shooting instructions. An old man who happened to walk by, was forced to serve as a target for the young guard, until - finally - he was fatally hit and collapsed. Some men were put into the infamous bunker, where they were kicked until they were dead or almost dead. Unfortunately, this was another occasion where certain Germans - camp leader Fuhrmann and his cronies - were involved.

The German camp official, Herbert Pawlik, a minion of the Polish commander, a dreaded spy and schemer, who was drunk most of the time and led a life of excess, bragged in front of me: "I have now sent off 25 Germans into the hereafter!" Some people were put into a totally dark underground- room which was filled with foul-smelling water. The poor wretches stood there, almost totally immersed for several days and nights, suffering excruciating agonies, until death took them. At night, their wailing and moaning penetrated into the barracks, where the survivors huddled, afraid and trembling. They prayed, because they knew that they might be the next ones to die. During the night, drunken death squads walked through the rooms, drove people out of their beds, beat them - men had to kneel for this - jammed rifle butts into their bodies, and tortured many until they were dead. The corpses were quickly buried by the so-called funeral-squads, led by the prisoner Th. from G. Some people were buried although their death had not been established.

Sometimes men were shot at with machine guns. They were chased and forced to climb trees, until they reached the tops. Other men had to saw off the trees, while the guards - laughing and jeering - watched how the crashing men broke their necks. If the women's latrine was fully occupied, a guard in our area would fire at it with his machine pistol.

All women suffered severe wounds in the abdomen and chest and, covered with blood, were brought to the sick-area. Medic Hubert W. and Nurse Lucie W. wanted to help them; however, they were forcibly prevented to do so, and the severely wounded ones - except for one who later died of starvation - were summarily placed into a mass grave, in order to destroy all traces of this bloodbath. Even people who were severely ill or dying had to submit to robbery, abuse, and murder. Behind the barracks for the sick which had been designated by the Red Cross, terrible atrocities occurred, and the medics G., Sch., and R., among others, were witnesses.

The most cruel and infamous roles in all those murders and killings were played by these greatly feared Poles: Ignaz, the "Murderling", Antek, and the "Nine-Fingered- One". When they appeared, men and women trembled, and children screamed. When their names were mentioned everyone shuddered. On several occasions, they wanted to drag all the sick inmates out of their barracks and shoot them, to make room for the inhabitants of a new village which was to be occupied by newly immigrated Poles.

There were special tortures for teachers, civil servants, merchants and members of the clergy, and nearly always the tortured victims died. The abusers came up with the cruelest methods. For example, the Polish militia forced long needles under the toenails of their victims, gagged them and - while beating them - poured feces and urine over them (according to Alois St. from Proskau).

Women and men had to undress and - while being beaten - were forced to commit sexual and sadistic acts; sometimes they were also forced to eat human feces (acc. to engineer Sch. from Berlin). Bank notes were soaked in petroleum and pushed into the genitals of nude young girls; then the bank notes were set on fire, afflicting the victims with terrible burns. Of course, there were no bandages or treatments which later could have alleviated the pain (siblings H. from Lamsdorf, and others.) Father D. from Neisse, a well-known, highly esteemed clergyman, was not only forced to participate in the physical exercises while wearing his clerical habit, but also to spread liquid manure, in the same priestly attire. None of the abuse and blasphemy from those Polish brutes penetrated the noble and patient attitude of this honorable and dignified clergyman. His heroic endurance, his kind charity and exemplary comradeship had an encouraging effect on all camp inmates. The severely ill and the dying were not allowed any spiritual assistance, although there was a Catholic priest at the camp. The priest was not allowed to say Mass, with the exception of one Holy Day.

However, on that day, the inmates were neither given food nor water, only more hard work and beatings. In 1946, in the month of May, prayer sessions to the Virgin Mary were being held in the barracks for the sick, but they were immediately stopped by the commander of the camp. A new level of human bestiality and depravity was reached when the Polish guards - bellowing and blaspheming - would not allow the severely ill and the dying to say their last prayers. It was deeply moving to see these heroic and patient people die and to hear them say their last Our Father.

The new Polish priest in Lamsdorf felt only indifference towards our terrible conditions and psychological problems. He refused to give the holy sacraments and any other spiritual assistance to the sick and the dying, and he rigorously rejected all inmates who approached him for help. By contrast, I would like to mention at this point, the exemplary engagement of two teachers (Miss M. and Miss A.) in matters of spiritual care, charity and nursing.

Both, men and women, had to suffer the sadistic cruelties of the camp guards. It happened fairly often that women and mothers, even the seriously ill, were beaten and raped. On the evening of September 2, 1945, around 100 women, soaked to the skin by the heavy rain, returned to the camp from a work detail. They had to sing Nazi-songs, while marching on the exercise-field. A stool was placed in the middle of the field; each woman in turn had to bend over the stool and received 25 to 30 blows - administered with heavy clubs - on the buttocks. The women's skin and muscles were literally hanging in shreds after these beatings, and the victims were admitted to the sick-room only because of my intervention. Whimpering, they lay there without bandages - the camp commander would not allow any - on dirty straw mats, while hundreds of flies sat in their festering wounds. After a time of painful suffering, they finally died. Men with severe gunshot wounds in their arms had to remain without treatment, including those two whose lower arms were attached to their upper arms only by a few tendons and muscles.

Even those Germans, who had already opted for the Polish government, received - as new Polish citizens - no better treatment than the rest of the inmates. Children experienced similar atrocities. Because of petty transgressions and often because of deliberately false accusations by a Polish guard, boys between the ages of 12 and 14 were whipped until they collapsed. Small children were cruelly separated from their mothers who were being dragged off to somewhere in Poland. They never saw each other again. The pleading and crying mothers and children were beaten, kicked and shot at. Nursing mothers were separated from their babies, who soon starved to death, while their mothers were being chased and beaten with sticks, like cattle. The naked corpses were loaded on carts and thrown into the mass grave. At first, the Poles did not even bother having graves dug, but simply threw the dead into the zigzag-shaped ditches between the barracks and covered them with ca. 20 cm of soil. Any decoration on a grave (a flower or a cross) was prohibited.

Once, several women and children from one hut went to the final resting place of their murdered husbands and fathers and threw some flowers on it. Shots were fired at them, and the cruel decision was made to shoot all women from that particular hut. Due to the unexpected visit of a group of inspectors, the killing was prevented at the last minute. The men from the funeral unit were busy day and night, often endangering their own lives. One evening, during roll-call, several men had been beaten to death, and the six members of the funeral detail had to tend to the corpses. After they had finished their sad work, the six men were shot to death and thrown on top of the other corpses. Ignaz, the infamous right-hand man of the camp commander, cursed and threatened when the daily death rate did not continue to rise or - even worse - had gone down slightly. In the latter case, a few people were randomly shot, in order to keep the death rate at least equal.

While these atrocities and murders killed people relatively quickly, there was also systematic killing on a large scale, by starvation. An inmate's daily ration consisted of 3-4 potatoes, and nothing else. Every now and then, those who had to perform exceptionally hard work were given, in addition, 1 or 2 slices of bread. In general, the daily intake per capita consisted of 200 -250 calories. The best day was probably June 8, 1945, when the number of inmates was down to 334. On that day, 15 loaves of bread, 5 kg [ca.11 lbs.] of flour, and 50 kg [ca.110 lbs] of potatoes were distributed, which amounted to 530 calories for each person. From these daily numbers of calories, it can easily be calculated how long most inmates - on the average - were able to live, until they began to suffer from nutritional edema and, soon after, died. In addition to malnutrition, there were more factors that contributed to the mass dying. There was a lack of everything, even the simplest sanitary facilities, washrooms, clothing and drugs. The latter - as mentioned before - could not be obtained under any circumstances. The climax was reached when epidemic diseases, such as typhoid fever and typhus broke out and killed 95 % of the camp population. The starvation plan had terrible consequences, especially among the children. Being continuously hungry, they cried and whimpered day and night. Many of them went through the camp and begged for food at every window - in vain; nobody had any food to give away. The children walked with tired, shuffling steps, emaciated, looking like skeletons, eyes deep in their sockets. Barefoot they walked, in ice and snow, wearing only shreds of clothing, hands imploringly stretched out. Some of them wore around their necks the skapulier of their dead or murdered parents, others wore a rosary. And so they staggered on, until - in front of a window or on the road - they collapsed, quietly whimpering, and breathed their last - their young tortured lives finally ended. There were 828 children at the camp of whom about 100 were "released", in random time-intervals. However, it was later established that roughly 60 to 70 % of those 100 died from disease, hunger and cold, in the casemates at Neisse. Of the more than 700 who remained at the camp, 218 also died of hunger and infectious diseases for which no drugs were made available. Through medical efforts and contacts with members of the clergy outside of the camp, 78 of the surviving children were later released as orphans to foster-parents; the rest was otherwise released. Children above the age of 10 were required to perform heavy work that often went beyond their strength. VIII My "office" was a room without instruments, drugs and dressing materials. Next to it was a sick-room with 8 bed frames and straw-mats. My staff consisted of a medic, Hubert W. from Bielitz, and a nurse, Lucie W., also from Bielitz. The medic was an inmate, a student who - especially in the beginning - helped me greatly in setting up the facility. Lucie W. had been formerly employed by the Caritas. It was absolutely prohibited to help the injured and the wounded. We could only help them when we were not being watched. In the beginning, we secretly "rustled up" - at the risk of our lives - drugs and dressing material, later even a syringe and an old knife for surgical purposes. The drugs supplied by UNRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration] or brought by relatives as gifts, were destroyed immediately by the guards. Gradually we succeeded in keeping the guards out of the so-called infirmary. Only now and then they forced their way in during the night, but sometimes also during the day, in order to play their cruel games: to abuse and rape the nurses and the patients, to steal the shoes from under the bed of the dying patients or rob them of their torn shirts. Most of the sick were doomed to die, some from the consequences of starvation, some from the lack of drugs and other medical supplies, others because of the severity of their disease and their lack of defense or resistance, and, of course, there were the terrible consequences of the unimaginable injuries from abuse and torture. Proper medical treatment at the hospital in Friedland - which was located only 3 km from Lamsdorf - was prohibited. The hospital in Friedland, where Silesian nuns worked, often sent - secretly, of course - small gifts for the patients. Most of the time, however, those gifts were kept by the guards, or they were stolen by the infamous Fuhrmann. Again and again, I asked the Polish commander for permission to send especially urgent cases, in need of immediate surgical or gynecological help, to the hospital - under guard, if necessary. But my pleas were - very harshly - rejected, each and every time. In cases of appendicitis, incarcerated hernia, bowel obstruction, sepsis, uncontrollable bleeding after childbirth, retained placenta, diphtheria with respiratory distress, for example, where lives could have been saved with medical intervention and proper treatment, permission for a stay at the hospital was denied - the negative answer being accompanied by a sneering grin. However, a guard who had suffered a minor injury was taken to the hospital immediately and he stayed there for several weeks. IX As mentioned before, the cruelty went so far as to refuse the dying any comfort and assistance. Members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy tried again and again to persuade the camp commander, to grant them access to the sick and dying inmates. Archpriest O., risking his own life, bravely tried to negotiate with higher Polish authorities, such as the President of the District of Falkenberg, and also with the camp commander Gimborski, but unfortunately without success. They only laughed at him, chased him away, and fired several shots at him. Not even Father D., a Catholic clergyman who had also been carried off to the camp, was allowed to visit the sick and the dying, apart from one single exception. The Polish clergy - whom I secretly contacted in numerous letters - ignored us totally and showed no sympathy for us. How could they show understanding for such needs in our great human destitution, as they themselves were often infected by demoralization! The guards told me more than once that the new Polish pastor of Lamsdorf - the German pastor T., liked and respected by all, had been forced out - drank heavily every night and staggered into the church the next morning, being late every day. I saw with my own eyes how the Polish pastor from Falkenberg - dressed in full array - was led away from the Corpus Christi procession. He was supported by two members of the military, because he was completely drunk and had lost his balance. Only with indignation, but powerless to do anything about it, I found out that the blankets of the critically ill - who, in the icy cold winter months, slept with open windows and under a leaking roof - had been ripped from their bodies and pocketed as loot. Full of despair, we had to watch how the fever-stricken and the dying were beaten with whips, or how even critically-ill women and fourteen-year-old girls were brutally and sadistically raped, especially since I knew for certain that these beasts all had venereal diseases. After one of these inhuman abuses, I witnessed how 5000 sulfonamide tablets, which had been delivered to the commander by UNRA, were trampled into powder by the jeering and laughing guards. These acts of violation and rape climaxed because of the following order by the commander, Gimborski, in collaboration with Fuhrmann. Beginning in October 1945, all women and girls between the ages of 15 and 40 were supposed to be examined by me for venereal diseases. This order was absurd because there was no equipment to perform these tests. With all the guards present - who grinned and sneered as usual - the women and girls were led in and told to undress in front of the drunken men. When I protested and refused to carry out the examinations, I was immediately threatened with a pistol. A group of the women was brutally raped.

At noon, on October 4, 1945 - the day which turned out to be last one for many men and women - a fire broke out in hut #12. It was never fully established what had caused that blaze. It suddenly started, while orgies with plenty of Vodka were celebrated in the guard room. Among the revelers was an expert on arson, an officer of a Polish fire brigade, by the name of Nowack. Commander Gimborski and his men were at the scene of fire, before the prisoners even sensed what had happened. The camp was alerted. Agitation, unjustified accusations and allegations, as well as swearing, beating and pushing people around, caused an unimaginable panic among the men and women who already lived in constant terror. Everybody was supposed to put out the fire; the question was, how and with what! About thirty armed guards ran after the perplexed people who were looking for fire-extinguishing materials. They formed a circle around the site of the fire, their rifles and machine guns cocked, ready for action. Almost immediately the first shot was heard, the signal for the start of a horrific massacre. The guards fired continuously and indiscriminately on anyone who - driven back by the heat - came close to their circle. Almost all the shots were fired leisurely and cruelly, carefully aimed at the victims' heads, often from a distance of only 1 - 3 meters. Others were driven into the flames alive. The guards encouraged each other and competed for the highest number of killings. After the hut had burned down, the manhunt at the camp continued, and so did the shooting. The next day, corpses were everywhere, even far from the site of the fire. Anyone who happened to meet a sentry lost his life. The medic F. who wore the Red Cross armlet clearly visible on his left arm, on his way to take a bit of soup to a sick child, was fatally shot in the neck by the infamous Ignaz. An old woman who happened to be with me, waiting to be taken to the sick-room, suffered a similar fate. Ignaz took her from my office and shot her to death at the edge of a mass grave. The German "room-leader" L., known among his comrades because of his rigorous behavior and among the Poles because of his denunciations, asked Ignaz to shoot a certain man in his room who allegedly was mentally ill, and the killing was carried out immediately. The victim was the German M., father of six children, who had suffered a nervous breakdown during the episode of the fire at shack # 12. The teacher O. from Moschen and an unknown white-haired principal from the school at Mangersdorf were each killed by a shot in the forehead. It happened in the street, and nobody lost a word about it. The numbers of the people who lost their lives during the fire of hut # 12 have been accurately recorded. I was forced at gun point, by commander Giborski, to watch the brutal mass murder and have the dead dragged off in three different directions, so the survivors would not be able to correctly estimate the number of the victims. An official commando was charged with counting the dead. I have also counted them, as they were hurriedly buried by panic-stricken men and women. There were: 36 men and 11 women (these were shot). 25 men and 15 women (these were burned in the flames and identified by me as charred corpses). 285 men and women (these were forcibly removed from the sick-room and thrown into the mass grave. Some were fatally shot in the neck; others were unconscious from blows with rifle-butts and thrown into the grave while still alive). 209 men and women (these died a few hours later or on the next day, from bullet wounds or other injuries suffered during the disaster). The reason that this mass murder to date has found no atonement, can probably be found in the fact, that all later investigations were tinged with a certain superficiality and therefore had to be fruitless and unsuccessful, especially since still-living witnesses to that fire were forced into silence. After the fire, there were several visits from representatives of the administrative district; however, on the day before, the frightened camp inmates were given exact instructions by Fuhrmann, how to answer possible questions. Intimidated by the terrible threats, nobody dared to tell the truth, for fear of an agonizing death. The same happened whenever representatives of a higher Polish or an Allied department came and asked the men how they were treated or how the food was. The truth was never told. No one can deny that the Polish or Allied authorities knew of the monstrous atrocities and the high death rates at the camp in Lamsdorf. One day, the murderous commander Giborski was relieved of his duties, and the few Germans who were still alive were supposed to take consolation in the fact that he had been found guilty and would be condemned to death or would be incarcerated for at least 10 years. Soon, however, we learned the truth; Giborski was free again, and he even got promoted! He was also acquitted of murdering his mistress whom he had fatally shot, under the influence of alcohol, at the camp in 1945. It was prohibited to keep records or lists of the dead. It was equally prohibited to deliver any information to anywhere or anyone, including one's relatives, outside the camp. Indeed, any correspondence with the outside world was forbidden, as well as conversations with people outside the camp. As a physician, though, I kept an accurate list of the dead, including diagnosis and cause of death, and - keeping a copy - I handed it to nurse Lucie W., when I was detached to a different assignment. It was repeatedly alleged that in the area around Camp Lamsdorf 90 000 Poles had been shot by the Germans and that the corpses had been hurriedly buried in mass graves at the former Russian POW camp. One day, a commission under the leadership of a high-ranking Russian officer and several well-known Allied officers showed up, in order to investigate the matter of these mass graves. The inmates were immediately ordered to march, in formation, to those graves and start digging up the dead. As long as this work was carried out under the supervision of Russian troops, it progressed normally and under fairly humane conditions. Of course, the Russians did not know that the people did not get any food at the camp. In some instances they found out and shared their bread with our inmates. But at the graves that were located in a more remote area, abominable scenes happened. Our men and women were brutally beaten by the Polish guards and, with their bare hands, they had to dig out the decayed corpses, from morning to night. Unimaginable bestialities occurred. Women were ordered by the Polish militia to kiss the corpses and were forced to touch them in a shameless way. The stench of decay penetrated their wet clothes and, in the evening, it pervaded all rooms, the whole camp. The terrible odor remained for weeks. After a few days, I was forced - under guard - to participate in the medical examination of the corpses. No signs of a violent death could be noted on any of them. Except for a few Germans, recognizable by their identification tags, all the dead were Russians. In a few words, the Russian officer explained to us, quietly and objectively, that the examinations had not revealed anything that incriminated the Germans. I don't know the exact number of the dead; there may have been about 500. (They were the victims of tuberculosis and typhoid fever epidemics.) XI In the meantime, as so many of the inmates were dead already, the main terror in the camp was the sexual abuse of the women and girls by the drunken guards , who -as determined by medical observation - all suffered from venereal diseases. Although in March 1946, the new commander carried out interrogations and set up protocols to be forwarded to the Polish government agencies, these attempts, unfortunately, were not successful. The murderers and rapists continued to roam about uncontrolled. The main criminals from the camp at Lamsdorf are the former commander, Ceslaw Gimborski, his right-hand-man Ignaz, his accomplices Antek, the "Nine-Fingered-One", the "Murderling", Jan Fuhrmann, Fireman Nowack, and so many others not known by name. Ignaz once boasted to me, claiming he had killed 24 Germans with shots to the head. After the removal of the murderer Gimborski, the mass killing in its direct form stopped, while the annihilation by starvation and epidemic disease went on. Herbert Pawlik beat and abused women, as well as fourteen-year-old boys, or he delivered them to the murderers by denunciation. Once, a fourteen-year-old came to my office; he had received 60 blows with the handle of a shovel from that beast and, as a result, suffered severe bruising and festering wounds. It was around December when an interrogation committee from Falkenberg showed up, headed by the Polish Lieutenant Kuczmerczyk, known and feared because of his brutality. With him came the infamous Gimborski. The inmates were going to be questioned again, concerning alleged hiding places of valuables, belonging to "emigrated" Germans. Already two months earlier, L. had denounced his former countrymen and in this way had helped the Poles accumulate items of great value. These interrogations were accompanied, as usual, by horrible abuse. Every night, the screams of the tortured echoed through the camp. While banquets were held and vodka flowed freely, women were raped, sick people were robbed of their clothing, and there were nightly raids that included torture sessions, after which the dying were flung into pits. One of the UNRA Commissions had finally learned that a physician was being held at the camp. Apparently, stories of several incidents had reached the general public. Starting in June 1946, there were sudden dismissals. Some of the survivors were quickly scheduled to be transported to West Germany. I, too, was dismissed - at someone's command - and immediately given a leading job at a Polish hospital, as the Head of the Faculty of Internal Medicine. But some of those Germans, among them women and children, who were said to have been sent by train to their homeland in June, were taken off that train, just before it departed. They were put into different labor camps, and there they had to work as slaves again. I was able to support many of them, medically and financially. Polish physicians generally refused treatment, because the Germans had no means to pay them. One notable exception was the Polish physician Dr. Olcha, in Falkenberg. Germans continued to be considered fair game, and for a long time they were not permitted to return to their country. The chaotic conditions after the collapse had, in the two years of my imprisonment, not changed or improved anywhere. Zurück zur Startseite

Carol Webster

RSM Frederick Charles Read Royal Engineers

My Great Uncle, RSM Fred Read, was a British Camp Leader at Lamsdorf Stalag 8B amongst others. He wrote his memoirs some 30 years ago and we lost touch but they were never published which was a shame. He emigrated to Africa after the war and died there and I am sure he would have loved to have seen the information here and reminisced. We have recently published his book for the Kindle on - though you can read it on a normal PC. It is entitled "A War Fought Behind The Wire" and mentions many anecdotes about POW life. I wanted to publish it for free but Amazon has a minimum charge of £0.77. I hope others may find it interesting. I have spoken to a fellow POW who well remembers Fred Read and others may do the same. He was quite a character.

Alan Pearce

Pte. Frederick Charles Worthy Hampshire Regiment

My dad, Fred Worthy, joined the Hampshire Regiment in 1939 after a stint in the Grenadier Guards in the late twenties. He served in Tunisia and was then involved in the Salerno landings unfortunately, under the command of General Matt Clark.

He was captured on the first day 9th September 1943 with only him and one other from a squad of 27 men. I believe he was then taken to Ocri a transition camp in Italy. He was then taken to a POW camp in Poland Camp 8b or 357. As the Russians advanced towards this camp they were then taken on a march towards Germany now known as the Death March or The March. One night he and another POW stole a duck from the farm. A German guard caught them and asked the farmer what he wanted to do with them as this was a shooting offence! Luckily the farmer was the town Mayor and had the savvy to realise that the War was lost so he just took the dead duck and let my dad and his mate go.

Two weeks from the end of the War my dad was in a column of POW's that were straffed by the RAF and he was wounded in his right leg which after two years of trying to save his leg from gangerene he finally gave in to the pain and asked the surgeon to amputate it. He spent most of the rest of his working life as a carpenter on building sites.

He was tough old soldier and never complained about his lot in life he was also a kind man who loved children much to the chagrin of the parents as he would spoil them rotten. He died in 1982. God bless him and all who served with him I'm proud to have been christened with his name.

Fred Worthy

Pte. James William George Little Royal West Kent Regiment

Until his final year before his death my father, Jim Little would not tell me how he was captured. It seems they were in a farm house in France covering the rearguard at Dunkirk. He did the 800 mile march to Poland & spent the rest of WW2 at Stalag v111b. He was sent down the local coal mines. He passed away in 1986. I am still in contact with his best army mates and children.

Gordon Little

Tommy Sunderland Blackwood Cameron Highlanders

My dad, Tommy Blackwood, was in the 51st Division with the Cameron Highlanders during the Second World War. He was captured at Saint Valery in June 1949 he was a prisoner of war for five years Stalag 8b. That's all I know.

Carol Ann Blackwood

Pte. Thomas Wilson "Tucker" Elliott 3 Commando

My father enlisted in the Border Regiment on 2nd March 1938 at Whitehaven, Cumbria, aged 17 years, having lied about his date of birth. He saw action in Dunkirk, Norway, Dieppe and other locations marked 'special services' on his army records. He was captured at Dieppe and incarcerated in Stalag V111-B, suffering from bullet and shrapnel wounds. In 1945 he was forced onto one of the notorious death marches from which he made his escape and was eventually picked up by American forces in Czechoslovakia. Like so many others, he never spoke about his wartime experiences although there are one or two that we have picked up from others along the way. At Dieppe he was part of the 'Yellow Beach' offensive, alighting at Dieppe and scaling the cliff at Bernaval. As Dad and his comrades scaled the sheer cliff face, German gunners were in position and waiting. This is when Dad suffered his injuries and he was captured in a corn field at the top of the cliffs. Whilst in Stalag V111-B he managed to steal a baked potato and when challenged by a guard promptly hid the contraband in his clothing, the guard pinned him up against a wall severely burning his chest. He treated his own infected wounds with maggots and on repatriation to the UK he was severely malnourished. I am forever in his debt and very proud to say he was my Dad.

Christine Elliott

Pte. Fredric Leonard Richardson 8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

Fredric Leonard Richardson was taken prisoner while serving with the 8th Battalion Worcestershire, Regiment. He was part of the B.E.F. company forces outside Dunkirk on may 29th 1940. I have found out through a photo that he was in a POW camp Stalag V111B (camp 344). I don't know if he was in any other camps yet. I have also been informed he worked in forestry & Polish coalmines.

He also was a keen football player. He was a POW from 29/may/1940 till 24/march/1945. He was also on the long march until released by the Americans. I have also been informed that he was known as Fritz in the camp because if you wanted anything he could get it. I have a photo of my Grandfather in the camp with another person called R D Brockenbrow, POW no 11090, army no 4128928 from Seacombe, Cheshire.

Michael Richardson

Pte. John Michael Machuk Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My father, John Machuk, was captured at Dieppe, August 19, 1942. He was interned at Stalag VIIIB from 1942 to 1943. He was later sent to Stettin. He and his brother Tony were in the same regiment but his brother returned to England and later fought in Italy. John tells the story of escaping with his friend George. The were in a small town at night when they heard someone coming so the jumped over a hedge and into a ditch. It happens that the sound they heard was a German soldier and his girlfriend. He stopped and urinated over the hedge onto my father. Being very dark, his friend George was holding onto dad's legs. Dad could feel him shaking as he was laughing. This happened when he was only 22 years old.

Mike Machuk

Cpl. Malcolm Cyrus "Mac" Adam 5th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment

My father Malcolm Cyrus Adam (Mac) joined the T.A. on 03/05/1939. He attended a camp at Lympne in July and August 1939 (see photos), moved to Bridport in November, and went to Flanders with the BEF on 02/04/1940. He was made a corporal in the 5th battalion R.W.K. on the 15th March 1940 and put in charge of a bren gun carrier detachment. I believe he was the driver of his vehicle, having passed his driving test in Paris in 1938.

On the 26/05/1940 the unit clashed with elements of the 1st Waffen-SS Vefugungs division close to the Forest of Nieppe. Two German units were in the area, the 'Germania' and the 'Der Furher' regiments, but I'm not sure with which they engaged. The following day, the 27th, a German grenade was thrown into my father's bren gun carrier and he was badly wounded by two pieces of shrapnel: His crew, two good friends, were killed outright. I do not know if he was taken prisoner at the time but I would imagine so. (The dates listed on his discharge certificate were written several years later, and do not tally with the dates given on the doctor's description of his wounds written in Enghien)(see later scan).

He was taken to a German military hospital, a former sanatorium for handicapped children called 'Le Preventorium' at Marcoing near Calais, known to the Germans by the id.code Kgf.Lazarett II/XI (see photos). He was treated there for his wounds and then allowed to convalesce for the next three months. He had had the good fortune to be registered as an officer and also acted as interpreter as he spoke fluent French and some German. When he was due to be moved to Germany, he decided to try to slip away and but was ill-prepared and was recaptured shortly afterwards, being lightly wounded again in the process. This time he was patched up at the College Saint-Augustin, Enghien, Belgium,(see scan) and moved to Germany three weeks later, sometime just after 03/11/1940, but I do not know where too.

A postcard from his time in Marcoing has three names and addresses recorded on the back:(see scans) Jack Sheppard, 46, Whitmore rd., Beckenham (Beck 1350); Nobby Clark, 16, Hathaway road, Croydon; Alan Cav …(unreadable),86, Southwood Road, New Eltham, S.E.9 (Elt1998). A second photo is marked ‘offizieren’ and with the ink stamped number 482. The third photo also has the pencilled notation Kgf.lazarett Frankreich mai’40 and another name and address: Tony Grafton, 53, Old Steine, Brighton (Brighton 4971)

I believe he eventually arrived in Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf in early 1941. As far as we know, he was moved around quite a lot between different Arbeitskommandos. Certainly he spent time in E155(see photo), which I cannot find in the published lists, but he spoke (rarely and very reluctantly) about a few different jobs:

  • 1. A salt mine close to Krackow (from the verbal description I believe this may have been Wieliczka).
  • 2. The building of a camp to house female Jewish prisoners in a 'forest'(part of the extended Auschwitz-Birkenau complex). He was very upset about this place.
  • 3. A paper-mill (possibly E8, Krappitz). One of the 'easier' jobs.
  • 4. A steel works (iron foundry)E138 Ratiborhammer (Kuźnia Raciborska, Poland). He spoke most about this place describing it as hot, dangerous work in very bad conditions and with very little food. (Wilhelm Hegenscheidt GmbH, Hoffnungshütte, making Gießerei, Schweißeisen-Werkzeug, Eisenbahn-Kleineisenzeug, Wagenachsen).
  • 5. Blechammer (I. G. Farben)
  • 6. Cosel camp (Kedzierzyn-Kozle). He left from here on the long march on 22/01/1945.
He never went into much detail about life in the camps except to repeat the constant hunger. He did mention making an alcohol from a straw mattress and then eating the straw afterwards; also from potato peelings and sawdust. He also talked about grinding acorns and how bitter they were. He also spoke of an occasion when he got away from his guards and grabbed a chicken, alive, and attempted to eat it, feathers and all. The owner of the chicken, a farmer, shot at him: He still had three shotgun pellets visible in his neck, which successive doctors had thought safer to leave in place, right up to his death in 2004.

He attributed his overall survival to a great deal of luck, an ability to laugh at life and to a certain affinity for languages: His French had given him time for his legs to heal initially, and he had learned to speak German and Polish quite well, which was a big advantage.

He did not like to talk about his experiences other than on rare occasions when he met someone who had also been there, or who had undergone something similar. He told me that he could talk to Denholm Elliot, and he certainly discussed them with his Catalan friend Jorge who had survived the worst of Franco's camps in Spain. He avoided discussions about the march, but he did once tell me that he had twice been the 'only survivor from my group', but I do not know any more about the incidents concerned. The only time I ever overheard him refer to any details was once on the telephone in the 1970's when he was still trying to get his overdue army pay. He was talking to some government official who was still trying to give him the runaround more than 25 years later, and, in exasperation, he told the man just why he felt entitled to his money. Apparently he had done this once before, just after the war, when the British government refused him a passport on the basis that he had been born in Calcutta, India, to parents and grandparents who were Irish citizens and who had missed the date for registration under some sort of amnesty agreement. He won, eventually, after a bit of a struggle, but it left him with an abiding disgust and distrust of officialdom.

He did eventually get paid his back pay, but he was very annoyed that he had to reimburse the cost of some piece of kit that he had been issued with in 1939 and could no longer produce! The amount that he finally received was so trivial by the time he finally got it that he decided to blow the lot on a decent family meal: I think he still thought of food as a top priority and as an appropriate use for the money.

I was quite surprised to find his pencilled itinerary of the march after my mother died, and I have tried to identify some of the places by their modern names, but it still seems an illogical journey. However, knowing how he was and with his lifelong obsession for maps and routes, I'm confident that he would have recorded the names only if he felt sure of them. It is a pity that he annotated so little additional information. He lost several friends on the march, including right near the end, which he thought particularly pointless and sad. The whole experience left him with a hatred of waste, but he also had learned to live life to the full.

He taught me that it was important always to enjoy your day because you might not get another, and by living this way, you would also bring a smile to the faces of those around you. That if you were fortunate enough to have food, warmth and shelter, then you were a very rich man and could easily afford to be generous to others. That if someone asked you for help, even an enemy, you should give it without question or thought to the consequences, as this was true humanity. Above all, never to lose your sense of humour or your sense of wonder - cultivate these and you will always be a positive influence in the world.

Nick Adam

William Mooney

My uncle, William Mooney from Barrhead in Scotland, was captured at the Normandy landings and held in Stalag V111B for the duration of the war. I have a postcard that he sent to my grandparents with the official 8 or 9 lines. If anyone remembers him or has any memories regarding his time there please let me know.

Elizabeth Fox

Roy Clinton Barnes

My father, Roy Clinton Barnes, born in December 1918 in Portsmouth, England. He was a POW for 5 years in Stalag 8B. He was captured in France as a Stretcher Bearer and forced to march for three weeks to Holland and then placed in cattle cars and shipped to Poland. He was a band member and played clarinet remarkably well. My father is still alive and is of sound mind and memory; it would be a great comfort and a way of closure for him if someone out there remembers him and can send him a line through me.

Andrea Brehl

Clifford Harold Anslow R.M.T.Coy N.Z.

In this photo there are nine men, Cliff is in the front row and in the middle with white long socks showing and sitting down.

Clifford Harold Anslow (New Zealand) R.M.T.Coy N.Z. ASO 2nd NZ E.F. Maadi Camp Egypt. I'm trying to get together the history of my mother's brother who appears on your pages in photos of Kiwi's belonging to Ernest van Telle. His name is Clifford Harold Anslow, he was in the NZ Army R.M.T.Coy N.Z. ASO 2nd NZ E.F. and he was in the POW camp Stalag 8B and worked in the coal mines. prisoner there for three years and eleven months and was in the Great March after he was captured on Crete. Before that he was in Maadi Camp, Egypt.

Dawn Logue

Charles Osborne Leech King's Liverpool Regiment

This is a picture of him in 1945 on his wedding day to mother, Lilian, who also died in 2001.

My father, Charles Osborne Leech was taken at Dunkirk and spent the whole of the war in Stalag 8b. He was from Liverpool and was with the King’s Regiment. Sadly, he died, aged 49, in 1968. He kept a kind of scrap book which included details of Red Cross parcels, some poetry and some calligraphy but I have no idea what happened to it. If anyone has any memories of him, I would love to get in contact.

Geoff Leech

Gnr. Edward Gordon Weight

This picture of a group from Stalag 8B was in a wartime picture magazine in New Zealand. It comments on the New Zealander in the photo. He was Gunner Edward Gordon Weight from Wellington. He died in April 2004, following an accident, aged 85.

He told me a little of his experiences at the camp, he was a boot maker and repaired prisoner's boots with wooden nails. He first made a hole with an awl and then tapped them through to the steel lath until they broke off. He referred to it as being on a "racket".

He said only the air force chaps did the escaping. He said he was often let out on work parties. On his day of liberation he was in hospital, he said. However, he was unable to recall the day, other than being in hospital. He was captured in Crete. A few days after he told me about the camp, I asked him how he was feeling today and he said, "At least I'm not having any more nightmares now."

I hope somebody might remember him. He was a very young chap in the photo group though. The others looked definitely older. His widow, Ruby, is 60 and so able to take an interest in his camp background, although his war experiences were evidently too hard to bring into his family life. Therefore, what he told me was unknown to his wife of 35 years.

Like me, Edward "Gordon" Weight was known by his middle name, Gordon, which is how the photo is captioned. It's a bit tatty because it was kept in Gordon's tin of treasures and lent to me by Ruby after he passed away. It was very sad that the accident also put an abrupt end to any more wartime recollections from Gordon.

The stories he told me, were not easy, at first, for him to tell me. He remembered the events leading up to capture with ease and enthusiasm. However, after capture in Crete, he would tell me a few recollections per visit and then say, "Well, that will be enough for today", and I knew he meant it, since he was sensitive and intelligent. However, unlike the "war-time thriller stories", he calmly told it as if just another day at the supermarket. I printed him a good picture, from the internet, of the Aquitania, the troopship he went over on. Since I am a friend of the family. EdwardGordonWeight.jpg

Richard Tingey

Jack Abrahams

I have just returned from a visit to the museum at Lambinowice. I was trying to find further information about my father - Jack Abrahams who spent time there and like most prisoners never talked about it.

I only found out about the camp when I found old letters sent to and from this camp. I contacted the camp by email - on their website, and the curator Maciej Lachowicz could not have been more helpful - with trains and providing a translator who spoke very good English. Anna Wickiewicz who was so helpful. I also stayed the night - but beware there are no pubs and restaurants so take your own food. Obviously I would like to find more information about my father but for those interested in visiting the museum I can certainly recommend it.

David Abrams

Pte. John Gallagher Canadian Scottish Regiment

I am trying to obtain information on my uncle Pte John Gallagher, Canadian Scottish, who was captured in the Dieppe raid. He was imprisoned in Stalag v111b and was in there during 1943.

Charles Gallagher

Bombardier AW Ward Royal Artillery

I understand that my father, Bombardier AW Ward (Royal Artillery) Woolwich, captured at Dunkirk and marched eventually to Stalag 8B and imprisoned until end of war. He worked in coal mines where he sustained a back injury, but I cannot find any references. I would be grateful for any assistance.

Diane Ward

Harold "Roy" Janes

My grandfather, RCAF Harold (Roy) Janes, was a POW at Stalag 8b from around 1942 (late) to 1945 when I believe he and a few others escaped after being moved to other camps.

I know a lot of people are looking for information on their loved ones but there are a lot of names from the camps. I have a bountiful supply of photos, newspaper clippings and 3 years of letters sent to my grandmother (she kept everything). Most of the photos we have are from the plays and things put on in the camps, and the Germans did a good job of painting out most of his letters, but I can't think of any names offhand other than a couple letters sent to her by, I think, someone by the name of Alby and George (I think).

He (like most) does not talk about it a lot but recently he's started opening up about the things that happened during his stay. My grandmother intends on donating some of the stuff she has to a war museum but I can try and get all the info I can to keep. If anyone thinks they knew of him or might be looking for someone who would have been with him, I can certainly dig up some information.

Lauren Smith

Charles James Mackie

I believe my father, James Charles Mackie, was a POW of Stalag 8b. His service number was R8982/C96-31. I would like to know if there are records. He escaped shortly before war ended and recuperated in England. 6`2" at 96 lbs. He was on the Death march.

Kenneth J. Mackie

Lawrence Tilley Cheshire Regiment

My father, Lawrence Tilley, was in Stalag VIIIB during WW2. He would have been in his early 20s. He was in the Cheshire Regiment and came from Sandbach, Cheshire.

He's still alive (87 this year) and would be interested in hearing from anyone who knew him then. He's started talking about the camp and I think he would like to know what happened to some of the men he knew there.

Sue Galway

George Kennard

My sister's late husband, George Kennard, was in Stalag VIIIB for about four years.

Robert Bearman

Jack Vaughan Royal Horse Guards / Commandos

My father, Jack Vaughan, was captured in Crete and spent 4 years in VIIIB

He had deducted one year from his birth date so that he could join the Royal Horse Guards at 17. In January 1940, the regiment took horses to Palestine and there he rode as many as 70 miles a day through many places mentioned in the Bible, including one day drinking ice cold water from Jacob’s Well.

As the war progressed and European countries fell to Nazi Germany, he transferred to the Commandos after undertaking specialist training in Egypt. He went to Abyssinia where he took part in raids behind enemy lines, sometimes covering as much as 200 miles in a day. After a further short spell in Egypt, two commando units went to Crete, but the weather was too rough to land. After changing on to a cruiser, he eventually landed at Suda Bay and fought hand to hand across the island for five days before being captured by the Germans.

He was taken to Stalag VIIIB where his experiences were horrific including being hospitalised for four months after being severely beaten. Released by the Americans in 1945, he returned to the UK spent some time in hospital receiving treatment before resuming Guard duties at Whitehall. Later, due to his treatment in the prisoner of war camp, he was disabled out of the Horse Guards.

I have cartoons and pictures drawn in a log book by WMH who I have now deduced is Bill 'Toad' Hughes as a result of meeting up with the wife of former inmate Stan Livingstone - she also has a log book containing a cartoon by WMH. We found the reference and some further pictures in a book called "Almost a Lifetime" by John McMahon.

We know of at least 5 cartoonists/artists who drew in prisoner's log books – does anyone have any information on these prisoner artists please? I would like to hear from anyone who remembers my father.

Michael J Vaughan

Percy James Grant 239/101lt AA & A / T Regt Royal Artillery

My father, Percy James Grant, of 239/101lt AA & A / T Regt Royal Artillery was captured - he told me - at St Valery in France and was reported missing about June 1940.

He was marched through France to Germany and ended up in Poland. My father is no longer with us but told us very little about his time in a Prison of War camp except we have a picture of him with colleagues in Stalag VIII B in 1942. He had a POW number of 6333. He did mention that they were made to work in a jam factory while being prisoners of war.

The only other thing I know is that he was picked up by the Americans near Prague and brought back to the UK at the end of the war. I have a few words in a diary with a whole list of names which might be people he was with in the camp.

Peter Calder Grant

Cpl. Walter Dorman

My father, Walter Dorman, was a POW in Stalag 8b-344. He was captured in Crete about June 1941. He was a Jewish soldier from Palestine. His Stalag number was 6399 and his rank Corporal, I don’t know his unit.

He never wanted to tell us what he saw in the camp or suffered there. We know he was in the Battle of Tobruk. He got some medals for his action in the battle and we were told he and two other friends escaped the death march in Germany.

Because he was born in Germany, he and his friends were able to find their way to the English and American armies. We have some photos from the camp and postcards written to his wife in Israel. We know that love kept him alive, and the hope he never lost, to come home.

In 1945 he got to England and met his sisters and young brother who lived there. After a few months he was standing again and went to Israel. He and mom died in 1998 within four weeks of each other. He was 82 years old. We love him and mom very much. Love kept them together in war and peace.

Avner and Gideon Dorman

Cpl. Robert Peden Lothian and Border Horse

This picture may have been taken in the camp but has nothing positively identifying it. My father is 4th from the right standing with the fair hair. I do not know who any of the others are.

My father, Cpl Robert Peden, Lothian and Border Horse, as far as I can gather, was captured at St Valery and spent all or most of the war in Stalag VIIIB/344. I have a number of family photos with the camp stamp on and recall him telling me that at one point Douglas Bader was there for a while before being transferred elsewhere. In keeping with many POW's, my father was reluctant to talk about his time as a prisoner. On the few occasions that he did drop his guard, he told me of soup containing a horse’s eye, making spirit from potatoes and being allowed to leave the camp to go to a nearby village to collect a piano. This was to allow the POW's to entertain themselves and he brought it back apparently with the aid of a wheelbarrow.

I think that he did mention becoming a 'trustee'. He did once talk about being on a forced march where men died but I do not know any of the detail. I have a photo with 'Friewaldan May 1943' written on the back As far as I can gather, Freiwaldan is in Austria so I suspect that my father may have been in another camp at some point.

If anyone knows any of the others in either of the photographs or can help fill in the gaps in my knowledge I would be most grateful. My father passed away in 1996 and I have no other means of increasing my knowledge of this time in his life.

Ian Peden

Aubrey "Tommy" Dutch

My uncle, Sgt Aubrey "Tommy" Dutch was a prisoner in Oflag 111C, Stalag VIIIB and Stalag 383 from his capture on Crete in 1941 to his liberation in 1945.

He played the banjo in many camp concerts and performed after the war at the POW concert held at (I believe) the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

Barry Pullen

L/Cpl. Austin Vaughan Cooke

My late father, L/Clp Austin Vaughan Cooke, of 2/2nd AIF was captured on Crete, ending up at Stalag VIIIB. I have some photos along with some other items including his army dog tag together with his prisoner ID 8016 for Front Stalag 183.

Charles Cooke

Pte. John Lally Pioneer Corps

My grandfather, the late John Lally was a POW at Stalag 8b after he was taken prisoner at Dunkirk. He was wounded in his left leg which he then lost. He was in the camp for almost 4 years until his repatriation in late 1943. His details are- Pte. John (Jack) Lally. Army No.13006468. Pioneer Corps and his POW number was 30842. I would be very grateful if you can help me with any of this. I'm attaching some photos I have of when he was in the camp. Could you advise on the best way to trace any of the men in the pictures? If they are still alive or even just the names. I do believe the ships involved in the repatriation were the SS Drottningholm and the Hospital Ship Atlantis. This is not very much to go on but I would greatly welcome any information about any of the above. I'm trying to gather information on his days as a prisoner.

Malcolm Lally

Fus. Leslie Victor Hortin 1st Btn. Royal Fusiliers

My granddad Leslie Victor Hortin was held at Lamsdorf between 1943 and 1945. As he died five years before I was born, and there are few living relatives left who knew much of his time at war, what I know is largely based on official records. After serving in Iraq his regiment traveled across the Middle East through what is now Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. They then transfered to fight in Italy and became a POW during fighting at Battipaglia, From there he was transferred to Lamsdorf. In early 1945 he appears to have been involved in "The March" as he was eventually repatriated at Moosberg. If anyone can help fill in some of these gaps or indeed if they knew of him, it would be great to hear from you.

Editor's Note: 1st Battalion the Royal Fusiliers. (City of London) Movements during WW2 years.

  • 1937 Jhansi 5 Ind Inf Bde, 4 Ind Div.
  • May 1937 converted to MG battalion.
  • 23rd Sep. 1939 at sea (embarked at Bombay).
  • 3rd Oct. 1939 Egypt 5 Ind Inf Bde, 4 Ind Div.
  • 21st Dec. 1940 Abyssinia: Sudan 5 Ind Inf Bde, 4 Ind Div.
  • 13th Apr 1941 Egypt 5 Ind Inf Bde, 4 Ind Div.
  • 8th Jun. 1941 Syria 5 Ind Inf Bde, 4 Ind Div.
  • 16th Jun. 1941 captured by Vichy French in Syria.
  • 23rd Jun. 1941 re-formed in Palestine.
  • June 1941 Palestine 5 Ind Inf Bde, 4 Ind Div.
  • 15th Dec. 1941 Palestine 17 Ind Inf Bde.
  • 29th May. 1942 Iraq 17 Ind Inf Bde.
  • 28th Apr. 1943 Palestine 17 Ind Inf Bde.
  • 31st Jul. 1943 Syria 17 Ind Inf Bde.
  • 24th Sep. 1943 Italy 17 Ind Inf Bde.
  • 18th Jun. 1945 at sea.
  • July 1945 UK.
  • 1947 converted back to infantry.

Michael Hortin

Pte. George Hawkins 2nd Btn. Royal Sussex Regiment

George Hawkins (marked with white square) and some fellow PoWs at Arbeits Kommando E72

My father George Hawkins, 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, was in working party E72 for the duration of the war after being captured near Hazebrouk in 1940. It was the Hohenzollern coalmine at Beuthen. He was marched out on Jan 22nd 1945 and "walked the whole length of Czechoslovakia". The Americans eventually picked him up and took him to Erfurt. He returned home via ship to Tilbury, in April 1945. We would be pleased to hear from anyone who remembers him.

Chris Parry

Samuel Welbourne Royal Welch Regiment

My grandfather was Pte Samuel Welbourne from South Wales. He was with the Royal Welch Regiment when he was captured on 1st October 1944 in Italy. He first went to Stalag VII-A in Moosburg, Germany and then went to Stalag 344 / VIII-B in Poland in December 1944. He worked in one of the mines in this area too. My mother recalls him saying it was a salt mine. I have obtained a copy of his ID card from the camp which states on the back that he was part of "E72 Beuthen". This is the name of a nearby town which had lots of mines although I'm not sure exactly what "E72" was mining.

I don't know what happened to him between Dec 1944 and his hospital records from Newbury District Hospital on 9th May 1945. It says that 10 days earlier he had been in the vicinity of Regensburg, Germany. Can anyone shed any light on how he may have gone from Poland to Germany? If you have any more information to add to this I'd be really grateful.

Joanne Jones

George Black 11th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

I was a member of the 11th Battalion of the DLI, captured at Lille in 1940. I spent the rest of the war in Stalag 8b. One of my fellow POW's was a Mauri who was the New Zealand Army Division Heavy Weight Champion boxer.

We had a Sergeant in charge of our working party E565 Siersza Wodna at a coal mine near Trzebinia, Poland, we knew him as Sgt "Krappitz" (The Man of Confidence) He was from County Durham or Northumberland, spoke with a slight lisp and had trouble pronouncing his R's. He was a great man and was like a father to us younger lads. Does anyone remember him? I would like to get in touch with anyone who remembers Sgt Krappitz from those times. He was with us on the long march from Poland to Landshut where we parted company.

I would also like to get in touch with the family of one of my fellow prisoners who was killed in a accident whilst working in the coal mine in July 1944. He was about 23 or 24 years old, from London I think, I didn't know his full name but I think he may have been Pte Harry Williams of the 5th Battalion of the Hampshire Regt who died on the 15th July 1944 and is buried at the Cracow Rakowicki Cemetery. I'd also like to hear from my friend Cecil B. Moulden who was from Stroud in Gloucestershire, we lost touch after the war.

George Black

Pte. Gilbert Richard Naylor Sherwood Foresters

Last year my wife and I visited Anzio to see where her father, Gilbert Richard Naylor, had been captured during the war, and subsequently obtained his service record.

He invaded Italy at Anzio on Feb 29th and was captured on 1st Mar. 1944. He was in the Sherwood Foresters having one month earlier been transferred from the Black Watch. He spent the remainder of the war in Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf. During his time there he wrote quite a few letters home and one of them came our way quite recently. It is basically about a photo, of my wife as a 2 year old that had been sent to him, we also now have the photo which he carried with him. My mother-in-law still has all the letters but they are obviously of a personal nature and we have declined to read them.

He was in Arbeits kommandos E30 but I do not know what town it was near. All we know about his time there is that he worked on the night shift at a cement factory and on Sundays he liked to go on a walk to a nearby river because it helped with the boredom. I got the impression that this was not a high security camp as they were escorted to work but on the return had to waken the guards so as to get back into the camp. He still remembered the German language that he had learnt and had no hard feelings against the German people. He said that the locals were not much better off than the POWs but that they did give them bits of food. We think that he was on the march east in '44 but he did not talk about it. The family had a German army back pack that had deer fur on the flap, he said that he acquired it on the march, but we thought that he meant between Anzio and Lamsdorf not knowing about the march in '44.

Trevor Taylor

Pte. Eric "Blondie" Marchant Royal Sussex Regiment

I was a private in the Royal Sussex Regiment when I was captured in Belgium in May 1940. I had been part of the rear guard action for Dunkirk when my unit were surrounded by German tanks and infantry, near Poperinge in Belgium. The officer with us, Lieutenant Fuller, negotiated the surrender and then told the men to ditch their weapons and we lined up on the road. We were marched with many other British and French prisoners from Poperinge through Belgium to Maastricht. Even before we were captured the soldiers had been hungry and as we marched through Belgium we would dive into gardens we passed to grab any fruit or vegetables, even raw potatoes. As prisoners we were allowed to stop at Ghent where the Red Cross representative went round to all the men and asked them if they wanted to write home. I wrote a note to my parents to let them know I was all right, but it did not get back to Sussex for 6 months, during which time I was posted as "missing."

The march continued to Maastricht where as captured men we were told that we must walk three abreast and not to walk out of our positions, otherwise we would be shot. Dutch people watched from the side of the road. One man took pity on us and threw us some food. The Germans arrested him and made him march with the captured soldiers. The soldiers were made to march on to near Aachen where they were put on a train to the Polish border, and a place called Lamsdorf. ‘Till we got on the train exhausted, we had had to march almost 300km from Poperinge to Aachen.

We arrived in Lamsdorf at the end of June 1940. Lamsdorf was a big prisoner of war camp, with around 10, 000— 15, 000 inmates housed in many concrete huts. It was the central prison camp for a large area and men were sent out from here to work on the various labour camps in that region. The first thing the new prisoners had to do when they arrived was take a shower to get rid of their lice. There was warm water but no soap. Then all the prisoners were finger printed and photographed with a Stalag label around their neck. My label read: STALAG VIIIB N14049, and prisoners had to wear their ID all the time.

There were more than 200 prisoners in a hut with bunks arranged three tiers high. Each bunk had straw sacking for a mattress and one blanket. The huts also had a big concrete basin like a trough. You could turn the water on for a while each morning and then everyone washed in the same water. There was a large toilet block for every 7 or 8 huts. In the toilet block there were 4 rows of seats in the open over a very deep pit. There were rats running around everywhere. Local Poles would come in to empty the cess pit, and they would pump out the sewage into a barrel on their horse-drawn cart.

Food was limited but the routine was always the same. The men would line up and get one loaf of bread between 10 prisoners each morning. Then someone would cut the loaf into the 10 pieces needed. My friends and I had a system for making sure no one could always get the biggest piece — we would draw cards and picked our pieces of bread in order, the man with the highest value card choosing first. Lunch was a bowl of soup— really just cabbage water, with some boiled potatoes in their skins. There was no dinner.

However, Lamsdorf was just a holding camp and from here we were sent out in working parties to wherever we could be put to work. It was only the ordinary soldiers, without rank, that had to work in the labour camps. Sergeants were sent with the privates, but the sergeants only had to make sure everything was in order and keep the billet clean and tidy — all the heavy labouring was done by the private soldiers.

At the beginning of August 1940 I was sent to Raciborz on the Polish border, and billeted in an old brewery. The brewery housed about 50 men who were sent out everyday to work as diggers, clearing a silted up overflow from a sewerage works. The men worked up to their knees in water, but this was all right as it was summertime. Germans guarded the men all the time and they would shove their rifle butts into the back of any man who did not shovel hard enough, otherwise the billet was not too bad. One of the guards, a German or Pole, whittled birds out of wood while he was supposed to be looking after the prisoners. At the brewery the men slept upstairs on the straw covered floor, where they became infested with lice. At night time they picked the lice off their skin by hand, and ended up with fingers dripping with blood from squashing the lice between their thumbs. We were given old Polish clothes and for shoes we were issued with Dutch style clogs. We were also given a piece of cloth called “footslappen” to cover our bare feet so that the clogs were a little more comfortable. Each morning we started the day with a breakfast of bread and ersatz coffee, which was made of acorns. At night, when we came home from work we had a meal in the damp kitchen. The meal was cooked by a Polish or German man, and it was a soup with a mixture of onions, potatoes, cabbage, and every now and again lungs or other cow offal.

In October I was sent with the other prisoners on to another job. This time we were sent to the river Nysa in Poland, near the Czech border. Here we stayed in a pub or dance hall in which the Germans had installed two tiers of bunk beds, enough for up to 50 prisoners. I had noticed that at the last camp some men had been given carpentry jobs, mostly this involved mending the shovels and sharpening tools. These men were able to work inside and the job seemed easier. So when some German guards came into the hall asking for carpenters, both myself and a friend volunteered. This turned out to be a very wise choice. Whilst the rest of the men were digging soil from one place along the river bank, and then loading the soil into railway trucks which had to be pushed to the place where the river had been flooding, we helped to construct a wooden framework that would support the new soil. The work was hard, and in the winter very cold. Both of us working on carpentry duties were working in an unheated shed, but outside it was freezing and men quickly became ill.

By January 1941 there was so much snow and the river was frozen so hard, that the men could not work there anymore, and so the German army lent the men out to contractors. Our new job was clearing snow in the streets of the local village. However food rations were cut in half, and so the bowl of soup we’d once got for supper became half a bowl of soup. The men felt that they needed more food than this and so we refused to go out and work. There were only six or seven guards looking after us, not enough soldiers to make us go out. However, then a lorry pulled up outside their billet and more soldiers jumped out. I was in the hall, standing near the doorway talking to an Irish man. German soldiers came in and grabbed me and the Irish man and took us outside and put us up against the wall. We were told that we would be shot two at a time, starting with myself and my comrade, until we all went back to work. The men immediately agreed to go back to snow clearing. The German soldiers demanded to know why we had gone on strike, but our rations were not increased. Our rations only finally went back to normal when the weather improved and we went back to work on the river.

I received my first Red Cross Parcel while I was living on the river Nysa. The parcel came with a prisoners’ newsletter and inside the newsletter was a sheet of poetry. The poem I found I learnt off by heart, and it kept me going through the many years as a prisoner:

  • It’s easy to be nice boys when everything is OK
  • It’s easy to be cheerful when you're having things your way
  • But can you hold your head up and take it on the chin
  • When your heart is nearly broken and you feel like giving in
  • It was easy back in England amongst your friends and folk
  • But now you miss the friendly hand, the joys, the songs, the jokes
  • The road ahead is stony and unless you're strong in mind
  • You will find it isn’t long before you're lagging far behind
  • You have got to climb the hill boys it’s no use turning back
  • There is only one way home and that’s off the beaten track
  • You know there is a saying that sunshine follows rain
  • And sure enough you’ll realise that joy must follow pain
  • Let patience be your password, make fortitude your guide
  • Then instead of grousing remember those who died
  • They died to earn your freedom it was not too great a price
  • If only you are worthy of such a sacrifice
  • They bore their cross in silence they sort not wealth or fame
  • And you must try to emulate and glorify their name.

The men were also issued with a sheet of paper once a month, and we were allowed to write home. I still have the postcard I sent home from Stalag VIIIB. In October 1941 orders came from Lamsdorf to move some of the prisoners to new labour camps, I was moved to a cement factory in the town of Opoleonoora, Poland- camp number E196. The cement factory was a massive complex with many different jobs. I got a job as a painter working with a Polish civilian painter. The civilian was a nice man who also looked after the chief engineer’s rabbits and chickens. Between the painting tasks the civilian painter and myself would go out into the nearby field and feed the engineer’s livestock. We would cut the grass, feed it to the rabbits, and would also collect eggs. Every now and again the engineer would ask us to kill a rabbit, and so we would kill one and I would then skin it. This was a very lucky job as the painter was a good boss and we were able to get out of the giant cement factory to attend to the engineer’s animals, and also sometimes to paint one of the local houses. When the civilian painter got called up I took over not only all his painting tasks, but also the job of feeding the rabbits and chickens, and collecting the eggs for the engineer.

The cement factory had its own cookhouse and the prisoners were also fed there. Again they had bread and ersatz coffee for breakfast and lunch was a sort of gruel, but there was no evening meal. The men by now had been kitted out in British uniforms with proper boots instead of clogs, but the German guards usually took our boots away each night. However, after a while the German guards got more relaxed and stopped bothering to take our boots when they locked us in for the night. It was now, decided a group of men, time to try and escape. So 15 of the 50 English prisoners in my room hatched an escape plan. The men were billeted three stories up but there was a sloping roof underneath which they could jump onto if they could just get out of the barred window. So Harry Peach, a Londoner who was working as a joiner, managed to sneak some tools back and started work lifting the metal window frame out from the inside. He then had to cut through the top of two of the bars on the outside of the window. At the end of each cutting session everything had to be put back exactly as before. It took a fortnight for the work to be done, then the bars were ready to be bent back for the men to escape.

The 15 escapees were all recaptured quite quickly and sent back to the main camp at Lamsdorf. There they were put into the punishment block and had to stay inside and did not receive their Red Cross parcels. New prisoners were sent out from Lamsdorf to make up the numbers at the cement factory. The new men were from Australia and New Zealand, and had been captured in North Africa or Crete. By this time we were now getting a Red Cross parcel every week. The parcels included cigarettes, soap and chocolates. The men exchanged soap and chocolates with the Poles and got eggs and any other food that could be bartered for. Two of the Scottish lads in the room, one named Dundee, and the other a tall, young man with a friendly face called Tommy, shared all their parcels and one day swapped some of their gifts for locally made wood alcohol. That night they sat on their bunks and started drinking the evil brew. My friend said to me that someone should warn them not to drink it. So I went over and told them not to drink the alcohol as it was “poison.” Tommy looked at me and said “Look Blondie, you can have your years but we want our moments.” A little while afterwards Tommy was screaming with hallucinations. The men laid him out on a table in the room and tried to hold him down and calm him. He died there on the table.

The men put Dundee to bed as he was unconscious, and during the night he woke up screaming that he could not see. By the morning he was completely blind. When the guards unlocked the door that morning the men told them that one man had died and another had gone blind. The guards brought a doctor to have a look at Tommy. He looked at the dead body and saw that the whites of his eyes were completely black. The doctor said that the men had been poisoned, but as no one knew who they had bought the alcohol from nothing was done. The Germans let the men bury Tommy in a cemetery by the Oder River.

A short time after this a German guard shot one of the Australian boys dead just outside the toilet block. There seemed to be no reason for the shooting. There were no witnesses, but one of the men heard the shot and ran to see what had happened. He was threatened by the guard, and so left the scene.

In June 1943 I and 12 others were sent to camp number E702 at the coal mines in Sosnowiec in southern Poland. The mines here were deep, going down four levels, and it was frightening as the cage plummeted down to the shafts. The prisoners of war worked as the labourers for the Polish men working in the mines. The prisoners did the hardest tasks, and conditions were not pleasant — the mines were damp and wet, and there was water everywhere. Each man was issued with an ID tag and a carbide lamp every time he went down into the mine. The lamp had a flint on it so that it could be lit, and it made a gas that burnt when water from the mine dripped onto the lamp. There were three shifts each day, each shift being about 8 hours long: 6am ‘till 2pm, 2pm ‘till 10pm and then the night shift which was 10pm until 6am the next morning. The morning and afternoon shifts dug out the coal, and the evening shift moved equipment and supports into position for the next day’s work. I worked at night moving equipment and putting in new support structures, it was unpleasant and dangerous work. Prisoners thought about trying to sabotage the mine, but there were always men working on the lowest levels so any attempt would inevitably endanger many prisoners. On occasion the lift was damaged and men in lower levels had to escape by a complex system of ladders, but nothing more extensive was done because the resultant loss of life would have been great. The men lived in huts beside the mine. There were 10 to 12 men in each hut. Men on different shifts were billeted together, this made it very difficult to get any real sleep. The food was the same as at the other camps— bread and coffee for breakfast and one meal a day of soup. Thankfully the men were still able to receive their Red Cross Parcels. I am sure that without them we would not have survived.

After a short while I got bronchitis and was sent to the infirmary. The infirmary was run by a Jewish prisoner John Gotea, who had joined the British army but was from Athlith near Haifa. I always felt very grateful to John because he persuaded the German doctors that I was too ill to work and should be sent back to the main camp at Lamsdorf. Without this help I might not have survived. Back at Lamsdorf I was allowed to stay in a convalescent hut for a couple of months. This hut was not really any different from the other huts. Like the other huts it had fires but they never worked. However, with the help of his Red Cross parcels I did recover and once well enough was sent off again this time to work at a limestone quarry in Saubsdorf in Poland.

At the limestone quarry in Saubsdorf the prisoners of war dug limestone out of the ground, and then it was moved to the works and burnt for lime. Some of the limestone was also cut into slabs to make gravestones. Each day the prisoners at Saubsdorf were given a target for the amount of limestone they had to get out of the quarry, and work did not finish until the target was reached. Enormous boulders of limestone were attached to a pulley and six men would work the winch to ease the limestone out of the quarry. Smaller lumps of stone were dug and then broken up and loaded onto flat wagons that were pulled out of the quarry by men. It was while I was pulling a wagon laden with stone out of the quarry that I said to my companion, an Australian P.O.W., that I was going to get away. Mickey Bell, from Melbourne, said that he would like to escape with me.

The camp was on the borders of Czechoslovakia and Poland and we could see the Czech mountains in the distance, and thought that if we headed in that direction then we could escape. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, but the toilet block was up against the wire fence and there was a spot behind the toilet block that the guards could not see. Over a few days I dug out the ground beneath the hidden area of fence, and Mickey kept watch. When we were ready to go Jack Jones, a New Zealand P.O.W. gave me a haversack so that we could take some Red Cross parcel provisions with us, and we left at dusk. Mickey and I climbed up over the wooded hills and into Czechoslovakia. On the second day we were very lost and didn’t know which way to go so decided to head south. By the third day we had seen no one and run out of food. At the end of the day we came down from the hills and into a village. A band of Russian prisoners was passing along the road and we decided enough was enough and fell in with the Russian prisoners and gave ourselves up. We were able to show our ID tags from the labour camp, so that the Germans knew that we were prisoners of war and not spies. We were concerned that we were not sent back to the quarry as we thought the guards at the quarry might want to take revenge. We were lucky as one of the German guards had been captured in World War I and had been well treated in England, he spoke a bit of English and I spoke a bit of German. The guard gave us a bowl of soup each and agreed to send us back to Lamsdorf the main camp for the area, and not to the quarry.

Two days later we were taken back to Lamsdorf. There we were sent to the punishment block. This meant we were kept in a separate area to the other prisoners and were not allowed to walk around the camp. A German officer then interviewed us and asked us why we had escaped? We said that it was “Because it was a soldier’s duty.” This was deemed an acceptable and understandable excuse, as you could not say you had escaped because the work was intolerable or the guards were unkind. Mickey and I each got put in solitary confinement for seven days. However, as the prison was so full, 'solitary' turned out to be two prisoners to a cell!

Eric Marchant

Rfmn. Charles West Kings Royal Rifle Corps

My late Father-In-Law Charlie West, Kings Royal Rifle Corps was a pow in xv111a in 1941-43, bit of a singer so presume he was doing his bit in entertaining, I have come across a photo, on back is written L\Cpl Gordon Simpson (Dick) 14247 Stalag V111B, E196 Germany.


H. Ken Wood 2/11th Btn.

Ken is pictured 4th from the right standing middle row. He has open tunic with jumper exposed.

My Grandfather, H.K. (Ken) Wood WX2453 2/11th Bn AIF (POW number 24218) was captured on Crete in 1941 and was a POW for the remainder of the war.

This diary entry with describes an escape he made from Ratibor with several others.

Leaving for work party Ratibor "138". 3 to a parcel. Working in steel factory. First morning had to get up 3-30; given a cup of coffee and bread. Not a bad ration. Work 10 hours. March 4 kilos to and from work through snow and ice. Billeted in Guest house dance hall. Party 100 strong. Food slowly getting worse. 4 to a loaf, 1500 kg 1 bowl of soup - 24hours. 17 hours a day on your feet, the days are cracking up fast. No Red Cross parcels, everybody dissatisfied, getting swindled on everything.

S17 hasn’t much idea of running a party dolmetcher is a yes man with Perrie fights galore received a small bulk issue 1/3rd milk ½ jam butter bulky cheese, fruit, meat extract. Things getting worse 5 to a loaf, soup like water; no swede or cabbage, just potato water. A crook party all round. Decide to have a strike. The mob is very divided. The same ones have to battle for everything. 30 of us decide not to work till we get more food. One Tommy lad got beat up for refusing to work. Have been promised more food but have been fed on promises so are not taking much notice. All working parties in district strike. Food problem bad. Have decided to escape. One of the boys had a casting fall on his leg - smashed it badly. Seven of us escaping 19th May.

Received Mum’s first letter (unknown) on the 25 – Thinking of escaping. Tuesday 19th May. Going through to night, direction S.W. to W. Everything went ok. Left 11.30, made 13 kilo’s over ploughed fields. Heavy rain. Laying up for the day. Think we have been seen. Splitting up into three parties; 1 - Harry & Bic. 2 – Buster, Andy & Phil. 3 - Mick and Myself.

WED: Made about 10 miles this is (unknown). Dug up some seed potatoes. They are all we have to eat. Came on to rain and we are very wet. Have lit a fire to cook our potatoes and dry our clothes.

FRIDAY: Decided to stay all night. Both very tired and wet. Dawn broke very dull - looks like more rain. Decided to move on. This wood we are in runs for about 2 ½ miles. Move it on up near a signal tower. Found a good leafy dale. On searching for water came across some venison. Could see something furry sleeping in the sun, thought we had a rabbit, crept up and hit it with our water bottle. It proved to be a young buck venison not more than a month old. We certainly are in luck. Last night we stumbled on a game keeper’s cabin which we slept in and today we have meat. Made a stew with potatoes. It’s the sweetest piece of meat I’ve eaten in years. Both rested well. Are ready for another nights travel.

SAT 23: Had a hard nights travel with plenty of experiences. Set off rather early and ran slap bang into a village. Standing on the main highway when a number of bikes came along. All were very curious about us so layed in the crop till we were sure no alarm had been given. Proceeded on making good time till night had fallen when we came to a big town. This I think is "Troppau" which we had to skirt. On doing so ran into a blind alley, finished up in somebody’s back yard amid dogs and people walking within hands length of us. Finally got safely out of it and out of town. Came till morning found ourselves miles from any cover - only course to continue on. Came to a very big town which seems to be spread all over the country. Now fully daylight but have to go on. To add to our troubles we find we have to cross the river Oder. Now the game is on. Have adopted the bold course - going to cross over on the main highway bridge. Passing people everywhere but look like getting safely away. Am that weary can hardly drag myself along. Have been going 11 hours, must have covered about 20 miles however reached a thicket, cooked the last of our meat with some potatoes and young lettuce boiled up like silver beet. Layed down to sleep only to be awakened by heavy rain so I’m just as wet as ever. Have broken into a hut for shelter.

SUNDAY: Travelled easy last night feet very sore from yesterday. Am dreading the nights - it’s so bitterly cold now we are up in the ranges. We lay down on wet ground and shiver. We had a number of scores lately. Yesterday the village police man passed with in 5 yards of us. Today a lady and two young chaps caught us napping but we seem to have got away. Are now 11 kilo out of Troppau. Nice sunny day. Stripped off in a creek, had the first wash we’ve had since Tuesday.

MONDAY 25 May: Yesterday must have been our lucky day. On moving off down the road, came to a lone house. After talking it over, and as it was raining hard, decided to go in and take a chance, and we were lucky. They were an all Check family - could hardly talk any German. They told us if they had been alone we could have stayed the night but they had some German practitioner staying with them. We offered a cake of soap for bread. The young lady did not want to take the soap. After giving us a big can of milk each, two cakes, half a cake loaf and a third of a loaf of round bread and a tin of salt, so we left them not before we were seen and called on to halt. But the lady ran after us telling us to run. The rain has eased off to a drizzle. Found an old shelter of pines on the edge of the forest. Stayed there till about three in the morning. The good people also gave us information about our direction so set off. After covering about 5 kilos, took the wrong turning for about 3 kilos so had to about turn.

Pulled up half way back. Feet very sore. Spent a fair day only to be disturbed by six kids who seemed very curious about us, so have moved off rather early but have plenty of forest cover. Have our objective in sight. Going like hell. Have a string of houses to get through but think we’ll make it ok. Have got through but have been seen by some very curious people. Resting in a copse, after making about 8 kilos, heard noises in the gully. On looking around find we are surrounded by drawn bayonets and revolvers. It looks as if the game is up. There’s five of them closing in on us. It’s quite humorous - I don’t think they’ve ever captured any one before. I’m sure the old boy in the police uniform couldn’t hit the side of a barn. After being thoroughly searched and the discovery being made that we were only Englanders and not invading troops, we’re marched back to the village and put in the local lock-up. Our cell is wet, of floor and smells of stinking straw our bed consists of two pine top tables two sack of straw for pillows no blankets it’s a stone building which will be very cold come early morning ***** being locked up for a while and officer came along who seemed very amused at our trying to escape he seemed very decent type who asked us what had become of the thirteen others who had escaped asked us if we had eaten is apparently trying to get us some food about twelve o’clock he awakened us with some bread

Tues 26 May Slept very cold had two rather thick slices of bread spread with pork fat and two cakes, coffee passed through the window at us representing our breakfast very nice to. Slept off till eleven o’clock half past twelve a large slice of sort a backed meal came through the window posterns handed in our shaving gear and some water so had a clean up also gave us a cigarette each to day so are now awaiting the posterns

27 May

still in the local jail the local inhabitants have quite an interest in us one person gave us two cigarettes another two cigars a frauline gave us some sweets by this time were getting very cold and quite hungry but I think some food is on the way. Have had a good meal comprising of a large bowl of very good soup two slices of bread followed by a plate of fried vegetables followed by a piece of baked rice pudding which in itself was lovely this was accompanied by two cigars. Slept rather well, this morning Wednesday 27th, had a large mug coffee good coffee too milk and sugar with two slices of bread lunch consisted of chicken broth and on occasion followed by potato gravy of roast pork & onions with two slices of bread. Postern has arrived morning 5-30 tomorrow have been entertained by the local girls choir this afternoon we certainly are a popular pair of prisoners three young fellows walked by and slid us a packet of cigarettes & a box of matches.

26-May 42

Sumary of escape from Ratibor

Firstly have no regret at anything that has happened had we left it till later we would not have been caught. On leaving Ratibor large our direction was S.W. to W on coming to a large town one nights travel fromTrappau changed course to due S. on leaving Trappau hit main highway friendly people helped us on our way the nights bitterly cold ground very wet still travelling south have been living on potatoes which were dug from the ground always looking for these which had been newly planted had some of my lettuce and greens killed a young deer. Have been surprised by several people but have managed to get away ok. It’s been a good trip. I’m sure with a little more knowledge of the country and landscape we could get clear away.

Captured at the town of "Tym" *

A lad passing on a bike threw in a packet this was followed by another and when tea arrived, in a packet & another two packets making a total of 50 in half an hour tea consisted of two mugs of milk a large bowl of potato and fried onions and bread on returning for the bowl the fraun asked us if we’d like some more milk on bringing it she also brought a parcel containing four eggs and four slices of bread for the morning.

28 May Thursday

Left Tryn 5-30 marched down to Tulneck* to station for Lamsdorf struck a very good postern had a three hour wait at Jagandorf* postern took us to Red Cross centre where we had a bowl of soup bread and orange drink picked up some other escapees four arrived in Lamsdorf given bulk issue biscuit jam & sugar new issue of clothing sent to strafe barracks awaiting sentence received a parcel to 2 men this is the life sleep and eat your 14 days detention less 3 days for being in civy jail. 3 weeks in strafe Barrack very browned off have chance of going out to work and coming back to do our sentence so have put name down if job is no good we’ll come back again.

20th 6-42. left Lamsdorf working party E211 arrive of Triebiz* railway job and a good one surroundings are good work easy midday soup & potato evening meal meat gravy greens ie lettuce soup potatoes. A 420gm bread day ½ lb butter week jam & sugar sausage gerkin supp powder this party is well run plenty of amusement such as ***** tournament boxing football intend leaving in about three weeks on ***** west* last ***** was not discovered missing till the Tuesday have managed to get some civil clothes same theory ***** have sent Bic and my numbers out have found out about the clothes one of our own have put our weight up some low dog wearing a british uniform. We have been brought before an officer made a statement he wanted us to give our promise not to escape we told him to go jump in the lake we’d escape when ever the opportunity came so we are on our back to Lamsdorf tavelled to --- arrived here 2-7-42 gear bulk issue Thursday night half from parcel Friday - --- -- 14 days in der bunker at last 14 days to do 24-7-42 One of our boys arrived in dressed as a girl (memo 7 girls) legless ---- has again Vic --- we have eight R. Cross issues to collect when we get out and will we need it this bread and water is not so good. Out at last.

Escape party Ratibor

  • Buster Holford
  • Andy Anderson
  • Sam Bickley
  • Crafty Williams
  • John Johnson
  • Mick Burke
  • Ken Wood

Our family has a few photographs, POW tags and other memorabilia he kept from the war, including diaries.

Also, you have a photo of Sgt Joseph Desmond Beard former 2/11th AIF. You may be interested to know that I recently met and spoke with Des and his wife who are well and living here in Perth.

Alan Fuller

Fus. William Turner 9th Btn. Royal Fusiliers

My Father, Bill Turner, was a Royal Fusilier in the 9th Btn. and was also in Stalag 8b. He worked first in a coal mine then in a sawmill for about a year. The sawmill was in a small hamlet in Czechoslovakia now called Mankovice (it's German name was Mankendorf). It is near Ostrava and the closest town is Odry. The Lager was No. E119 Mankendorf

My father escaped when the end of the war was close. He contacted the Czech partisans and advanced to Prague in the company of the Russian army. In Prague he parted company but he was there on the night of Prague's liberation. The next morning he and an American he had met made their way to Pilsen where they met up with the Americans who were waiting for the Russians to take Prague.

We have been back to the sawmill and now have local friends there.

I have transcribed my father’s story from tape recordings he had made. I don’t speak German so have written his words or phrases phonetically:

Linda Flynn

I was captured at Battapaglia on the Salerno landing in Italy, September 9th 1943. Prisoners were transported to Stalag 7A at Munich. Then two weeks later taken by train across to Stalag 8B, not far from Breslau. The camp was called Lamsdorf and it was not far from the River Nysa. Brieg was somewhere nearby.

After being photographed, fingerprinted and registered, I was now Kriegs gefangener 32590. I was put into the RAF compound in the middle of the camp. It was placed in the middle because the Germans considered the RAF to be more intelligent than army personnel and they were further away from the outside perimeter wire. Douglas Bader was in the next hut. Most of the RAF were bomber crews and fighter pilots.

My first roll call the next day surprised me because as we were counted in fives, guards were coming along handcuffing us. However, as the guards moved away, a couple of RAF chaps followed up with sardine can keys, unlocking the handcuffs and throwing them onto the floor. This reprisal was because when the Canadians raided Dieppe they took German prisoners and handcuffed them to bring them back to England after the raid. However, the prisoners’ boat overturned and the handcuffed Germans were all drowned. So all of the Dieppe Canadian POW’s were handcuffed every day.

The Dieppe compound was next to the RAF, so the RAF used to stand at the wire every morning jeering at the German guards. The guards got fed up with this and decided to handcuff the RAF and as I was among them, I was handcuffed too. While I was in that compound an RAF pilot crocheted a woollen hat for me. I wore it all through the cold weather and I still have it today.

While I was there, I was asked if I would like to swap over with an RAF chap who could become me so that he could get out on a working party to try and escape. I would assume his identity and receive his parcels from home. Wandering round the camp in the day I spoke to some of the old Kriegies (prisoners) who warned me to be careful of the RAF chaps. (They had a nickname for them calling them ‘Wingers’ — short for wings.) During an escape attempt they might sabotage, hit a civilian foreman or fraternize with women, all of which were forbidden and offences warranting a court marshall. If subsequently caught and returned to the Stalag they might swap back their identity with you, not mentioning that a court marshall would be coming up in your name. In such a situation it was of course useless to say it was not you. Everyone was wary of Wingers.

In the Stalag there was a theatre and the shows put on were very professional. Now to put on a good show you need girls of course but out of the thousands in the Stalag it was no trouble to get the type you needed. The only trouble was they needed strong arm men to protect them when they were not on the stage. There was also a call for strong-arm men to help in Block 4 — the ‘bomb happy’ and ‘Stalag happy’ nut cases. Extra rations were promised to volunteers.

I do not want to dwell too much on my time at 8B because so much was going on and I could make a tape about this on its own. My story took me away from Stalag 8B. However it is important to give some background of the time I was there.

I left the RAF compound to go into Poland and work in a coal mine near Katavice. There were 300 men working 12 hour shifts. Some POWs put their fingers and hands between the buffers of the wagons to get away from the working party. I had a bad knee so I played it up and managed to return to 8B. I was put into Block 4, Hut 2. This hut contained 120 men. In charge was an Australian Sergeant Major. There were Aussies and New Zealanders there. I assumed they had been taken prisoners in Crete or Greece. The bunks were 3 tiers high and the hut was always very cold. I slept on the second bunk up from the floor. Around me were a mixed lot. The English chap underneath me was very clever. He was an expert on Sport and knew all the details, dates and times. The only problem was he was ‘Stalag Happy’. He only shaved one half of his face one week and the other half the following week. He had a filthy mug that he never cleaned and he ate and drank everything out of it.

At this time the Swiss representatives were negotiating POW repatriations with the Commandant of 8B and POWs were trying all sorts of tricks to be selected. There was a chap called Sawkins who kept us in fits of laughter every night with jokes and country sayings. He lay all day on his bunk with 2 pennies on his eyelids making them droop. Then he would walk round the camp bumping into the posterns (guards) because he could not see them. He did get onto the repatriation medical. Unfortunately the silly sod entered for a boxing match and was recognised by the German officers who always had ringside seats.

I shared a parcel with an Aussie who gave me his address, 81 Blaxland Street, Sydney. He was a real ‘bludger’. Anyone from outside a big town was a ‘cow cocky’. Others around me were one known as ‘MM’ because he told us he had won an MM and another, a Cockney from Poplar in the East End who the Aussie had nicknamed ‘Slasher’. On the top bunk was a New Zealander who did nothing but talk about wild weekends in a boat, boozing up the Wonganooi River and he was forever letting us know that not a lot of love was lost between North and South Isle. The Aussies hated all the New Zealanders and kept on about ’Gundiguy’.

The Aussies told us never to go over to the toilets after dark in case we were mistaken for someone who was going to be duffed up.

As time went by people moved into other compounds. I eventually got to the top bunk and so did Slasher beside me. Because of this we started to share Red Cross food parcels.

A Red Cross parcel contained 16 articles of food and when it was available it should have been one parcel a week each. We did not always receive it because we were told the Royal Air Force had bombed the railways. When issued it had to be one parcel between 2 on Tuesday, sharing the contents and the same on Friday. All of the tins were stabbed by a postern or in front of him to let the air in. This was so that they could not be put aside to aid escapers. In bad moods the Germans would break open tea packets, chocolate, prunes, biscuits etc. and mix them up in the box. When we complained to the British Commandant about this the Stalag Commandant responded,

“The Geneva Convention states whenever possible British prisoners shall receive a Red Cross parcel with 16 articles inside. It does not say how you receive them.”

In such a situation we shared a mixed up parcel twice a week becoming ‘muckers’ because we decided to ‘muck in’ together, sharing not only the parcels but any food we got daily together. Some teamed up into fours. Unless someone stayed behind when you went out and left your parcel of food, 9 times out of 10 it would be gone by the time you returned. To get over this you had to scrounge or make a bag if possible to carry with you on your shoulder. This was known as a ‘rackets bag’. It was also handy to carry anything that was going at the time.

Barrack Room 2 was a very special room in the camp because every evening tables were put up and covered with blankets. Hut 2 became the main gambling casino with bets going on and thousands of cigarettes going from one side of the table to the other on the roll of a dice. My mucker and I would lay on top of our bunks in the evening and through thick hazy smoke, sometimes with the smell of the orient, we would take it all in.

In a POW camp cigarettes are money. Money gives power and there are always hangers on. The lads running the school took a percentage of each win. One day they received a letter demanding a cut from the casino earnings, threatening to slash up those running the show if they did not come across with a pay off. In my opinion they were Scots lads from the Gorbals in Glasgow. It was their type of threat — a razor blade sewn into the peak of a cap. This night, laying on our bunk, waiting for the game to start, a big Aussie jumped up on the table, read out the demand, then produced an open razor and said. p“If I catch anyone talking of slashing anybody, they will have me to reckon with.” No more was said.

Up until then my mucker had only been known to us as Slasher, or Slash and things could have got a bit dodgy. He was always talking about West Ham Football Club and West Ham Speedway. His idol was Champion Speedway rider Bluey Wilkinson who had let him push his motorbike on and off the track. So Slasher became Bluey. His surname was Uden but we never mentioned it because the German word for Jew is Uden. Sometimes his behaviour was a bit strange as he was ‘bomb happy’. He got very depressed, even suicidal, so he needed someone to keep an eye on him. There was no harm in him. He was a nice bloke.

By this time some of the sick and badly wounded had arrived back in England and so many tales were told by ex-prisoners about 8B that the Germans decided to change 8B to Stalag 344.

Whilst in 344 I was very surprised that 9 out of 10 POWs captured at Dunkirk in the early part of the war spoke so little German, as it was possible to go on courses run by British professors. It was possible to pass exams under the auspices of the Swiss delegation, which were accepted back in England. I signed up for lessons in German but after a short while the frustrated tutor took me aside and said he thought I would do better learning to speak English properly before I tackled another language!

Bluey and I were out every morning, mooching around the perimeter, talking to other POWs, watching football, looking at swop shops set out on the tables by established POWs, getting into the Dieppe compound and chatting to them. They nearly all came from Montreal. One warm day we were on our usual mooch round when we passed a huge concrete tank that held water in case of fire. There were a few scattered around the camp. We wondered if it would be deep enough to swim in. The next day we were sitting on the wall with a piece of string and a stone, testing the depth. Of course the lads passing thought we were both stalag happy and called out smart remarks about fishing. The incident would not have been worth noting except that two days later the guards were going mad, turfing us out into the compounds, hitting out with their rifle butts and shouting, “Get out! Get out!”

They had discovered a dead body floating on the top of the water tank. We found out later it was a ‘ferret’, a German dressed up as a POW. Someone had done him in and dumped him in the water. Two days before we had been testing the depth! The Germans pumped out the water and bits of hand and fingers were found. The Gestapo were around for a long time.

I met a 2nd Battalion Royal Fusilier who had been captured at Dunkirk. He advised me to get out on a working party if possible because typhoid broke out in the camp in summer. He had been writing to a girl for a long time and she had promised to marry him. He had his pay signed over to her and we said, “Do you really think she will be there when you get home?” After the war I contacted him. The girl had waited for him and they got married. What faith Bert Rowe had!

Listening to older POWs who ran away hoping to escape I very soon came to the conclusion that if those chaps, who had either lived in Europe before the war, taken holidays or worked abroad and maybe could speak French or German, had got recaptured despite their previous knowledge, what chance would I have if I did get away and which way should I head? Bluey had been captured in the desert and was a POW in Italy. He had told me that life could be a lot better inside a lager of workers. In 8B there were over 40,000 POWs but working parties were smaller groups, never over 300, so we trooped off to the ‘arbiets’ compound — a sort of job centre. We spoke only a few words. Looking on the list we saw work on farms, stone quarries, mines and factories and so on. Then we came across E119 a ‘holtzfabric’ — four men needed in a village called Mankendorf in Czechoslovakia. We put our names down along with two Geordies. This meant our leaving Block 4 and transferring into the arbeits compound awaiting transport. We spent about a week there and then set out on a train with a guard to Mankendorf.

The moment we were on the train there was a feeling of freedom. No more barbed wire and we were sitting on the train among ordinary people again. You must remember that we had been in the desert since 1942 and had no contact with our own kind since then. We could not understand anyone on the train but just the surroundings made us feel normal again.

Eventually we arrived at E109. The total party was 60 men, 30 in each room. We lived upstairs with just a single wire around the lager. A Sergeant was in charge. There was a schnieder to repair our clothes, a cobbler, two cooks and an officer to issue out parcels to other working parties in that area. That left 56 working. Two Czech women who were good contacts for the black market did washing.

Because it was a large timber factory the lads had made long wooden baths and with a copper tank and fire we could all have hot baths every Saturday. No more fleas or lice! Each room had bunks, a set of tables and a large sawdust fire that would burn for two days. We could cook our parcels on it and toast bread. Some made Welsh cakes, others “stottie badgers” a Geordie cake. The work was classified as heavy so we got a little extra bread, potatoes and soup and sometimes some meat. The coffee was black “ersatz”. With our Red Cross parcels and the German rations I would say that the food was better than we got in the desert. No more hard tack biscuits, corned beef stews and having to eat Aussie sandwiches — two large slices of bread, a lump of cheese with a spoonful of jam stuck on your plate. Smack the whole lot together with a mug of hot sweet tea, made from purified water and you have your Aussie sandwich. I often have one now at home. They all ask me how I can eat it. It’s an acquired taste, like Londoner’s ‘pie and mash’.

It was now possible to leave your parcels and belongings safe by your bed. Other than being locked up at night, all in all things were not too bad. There were beautiful mountains either side of the Oder valley, colourful trees and fantastic sunrises over the mountains. The river Oder rose nearby and was not very deep. Sometimes in the evenings we managed to get a swim. There was a feeling of being free for a while. Some of us cultivated a bit of ground and grew tomatoes, lettuce and spring onions. There was enough room for the lads to play shuttlecock in the evening.

I spent a lot of time standing at the wire talking to some of the young children, trying to learn German. It was fairly easy because they did not mind repeating over and over. Also at the same time they were learning English. Sentences were beginning to form instead of just a word here and there.

We worked from six in the morning until six in the evening, the same as the civilians, with a short break at friestik 9.00 am and an hour for dinner. There were no German guards. At six in the morning we were taken to the factory and were then under civilian control. If we were not well a German doctor was available but we had to walk two or three miles to another village. If anyone was in pain with toothache he would pull out teeth without cocaine. He wore a white coat, jack boots and pince-nez glasses. I will talk more about him later.

It was possible to be taken into another village by train to see the dentist. Two men were taken once a week. Because other lagers in the area could do the same someone always went so that news could be exchanged.

Every night at roll call everyone’s boots and trousers were taken away and locked up for the night. Working in the factory we carved out the shape of our feet and with bits of leather made jointed shoes. We all had a spare pair of trousers. The local postans, or guards were the equivalent to our Dad’s Army although not as stupid. At times we had young men wounded from the Russian front. As experienced soldiers they were grateful to be away from the front line and sympathetic to us saying, “Die fiel, die fiel” (“Orders are orders”) They couldn’t really care less and were very easy to bribe. Here you could talk to the guards on a better basis. In Stalag 8B it was frowned upon for POWs to make conversation with any Germans. Perhaps that is why prisoners spoke so little German.

We had an old gramophone and made ourselves a dartboard out of cardboard. There was also time when we got newspapers and weekly magazines and read a lot. “Weil du est Bist” is the one I remember “Because of you”. Love stories of course. What you did not understand you could guess. So much now for lager E119.

The factory was known as Rosmanwitz. He was the owner. It was a holtzfabric and made wheels of all sorts and sledges. Some of the POWs had a roving sort of job going out on the “slipper”. It had front wheels driven by half tracks (not petrol of diesel) by smouldering small pieces of wood cooked to make a gas.

They also travelled miles away in a lorry, sometimes all day to get to the forest where the women land army found large trees and trimmed them. Loading them by hand and winch was a very hard job, but they also had Mickey the driver who was a civilian to take care of them.

They were on their word of honour not to escape. To run away would have been easy but where could you run to? Without maps, deep inside enemy territory, surrounded by forests, mountains and remote countryside we remained prisoners but we had a sense of freedom.

If the slipper returned early and was quickly unloaded they could return to the lager. This was known as “Furarm und furtick” (Job and finish). Sometimes the slipper broke down waiting to make gas and the boys came home late. Of course it had nothing to do with them all having been in a guest house for a few drinks! I did manage to get out on the slipper a few times. Nobody would ever have dreamt of dropping Micky in the cart. Sometimes I even wore his pistol and belt for him when it got in his way. He was a German.

Bluey and I worked inside at first on the machines cutting and shaping spokes segments, spindles, hubs and all sorts. There was a big machine with a large blade one way and a lot of small knives fixed together and the whole lot were fixed to a piston. You clamped a log about two feet from the side, the piston went to and fro and the log went in producing what was known as holtzwal. It was then compressed into bales and sent away. We had this holtzwal in the paliases on our bunks. It was soft and warm to sleep on. When we had a chance we did a bit of sabotage, breaking the spokes and such. Our answer was always, “Nicht versten”. The Meister whose name was Wiesbrot had a habit of looking across to see what you were doing. If you were doing something wrong he would curl his right forefinger, waving his hand in front of his eyes as if to say “I am watching you”. That sign was used between ourselves to say “Watch out!”. If the word geranium was spoken it meant “Be careful what you say!”

When we found out that we were helping to make sledges and loading them on wagons for the Russian front we went on strike and refused to load, unload or work on them. We did not touch them any more. Two or three of the lads worked in the blacksmiths shop. One of the things they helped make was steel bands that would be fitted on the wheels. The bands had to be placed together in a heap. A big fire was then lit around them. After a time they expanded and were placed over the wheels. We then took water out of the river nearby and threw it over the wheels. The quick contraction meant that as the tyre was fitted it shrunk dead tight.

While we were doing this Russian men and women prisoners who had been marching for miles, probably on their way to concentration camps, were brought to the river to have a drink of water. They lay down to drink and some were so weak that their heads fell into the water and they drowned because they hadn’t the strength to raise their heads. We could only stand and watch. We couldn’t save them and felt so helpless.

As time went by we picked up more words, instead of sabotage it was possible to answer back, especially if it was to your advantage. For instance, when they spoke of German victories at the Russian front or in France, or of Frau Einz (the nickname for rockets over London), our reply was always two words, “Der tag” — “Our day will come”. We had another saying “sie sind sihone geweshen” — “You’ve had it!”. We had many arguments with the foreman and always finished up with “Du vier ecke kopf”, “You four cornered head — or square head”. We found we could swear at them in German or English, after all we had learned it from them. But you couldn’t laugh or take the micky out of them, or call them swindlers.

As time went by I was moved to Drausen arbeit. The outside work was in a very large area so there was more freedom instead of being inside all day. When the trees had been “auf laden”, (unloaded) we had to sort them out for size and type of wood, Eike (Oak) or Buche (Beech). We then loaded the holtzwool into the wagons and stacked the long planks for weathering. I worked with a Czech named Poldo. Instead of morgan it was now dobry den as a greeting. German and Czech now had to be understood. Poldo told us that he was going to get married. According to German law they both had to get medicals first. He even had to get a permit to buy an innertube for his bike. When he got married we asked him to bring us in some food. He brought some potatos with some sort of vegetables. The speciality was some spiced meat in batter. Later he asked how we had like it because it was “hund fleish “(dog). He said it was good for TB.

I want now to tell you how we spent the evening in the lager. Some played cards or darts. Although by the time we got back at 6 o’clock, washed, had some soup and cooked from Red Cross parcels, it would be quite late. One chap, Smudger Smith said to me one evening. “I have some books on how to learn German but nobody to talk with. How about us learning together?” Remembering what the tutor in 8B had said, I replied “OK. Anything for a laugh”. I wanted to do Smudger a favour but I didn’t have much hope. Each evening we sat together and I found sentences became longer and I could read the local magazines. Bluey joined us and amused the chaps lying on their bunks listening. He had the knack of reading the words the wrong way round and also guessing. We reached a stage where we no longer needed an interpreter. We could converse fairly well and could no longer use “Nichts Verstehen” as an excuse. We spoke a mixture of German and Czech but we now understood and could answer back.

We worked a 5½ day week finishing at 12 noon Saturday. In the week the train brought in wagons to load. They had to be loaded immediately so that the same train could pick them up on its way back in about 6 hours. This was very important otherwise those in charge of the factory could be put into prison or heavily fined. This meant the outside workers having to work fairly fast, instead of the old poomaly (go slow). To encourage us to move a bit faster the Meister Foreman would say “Fur arm and Fertig” (job and finish), and if the wagons came in early you could be back in the lager for the rest of the day. This worked very well until wagons came in late in the afternoon and you were still loading after the others went home. Tactics had to change to stop the loaders walking off as well. Ackord Arbeit (piece work) was agreed and we kept a check until it mounted up to enough time to have a day off. This system worked alright until the empty wagons came in on a Sunday and nobody would turn out. Three wagons to load and we all said no because Sunday was our day to play football on the village green with other lagers. Mostly it was just a kick about and a chance to discuss events. Having made our point, we were ready to give in on the argument. When the guards came in shouting “Raus! Raus!” with their rifle butts ready to knock us out. It was time to move.

We got to the wagons and started loading. It was poomaly, poomaly — (work slow) The checker watching our work soon realised the wagons would not be loaded in time for the train to take away. Soon the boss was called in and it was agreed that if we loaded the wagons we could have the next day off.

The sequel to this was months later when thick snow covered the ground. One Sunday the guards burst in “Alles fur Futeball” (Football for everyone). Nobody wanted to go but they forced us all out. “Geneva Convention say Sunday day off — English play football!” There we all were chasing a football around, up to our knees in snow and the local villagers shouting “Englanders Verucht” (The British are mad) We all saw the funny side of it when we came back in.

We had some fiece arguments when we were working in the factory. Once I smashed a lot of bricks in front of the boss. He shouted to the guard to shoot me. Bluey stood in front of me between the guard shouting “Nix, Nix”.

Sometimes I used to look at Bluey working on the saws and he seemed mesmerised. I dreaded that one day he would do something wrong and cut himself. There was a time when he was working on the big saws cutting the holtzwoll. It had a piston with the knives going up and down. He reached out and put his hand on it, just to see what it would do. Luckily it only gave his skin a little shave.

One day I was working outside and the Meister came up to me, took my arm and said “Commst du mitt “ come with me. He had another POW with him, Harry Mead. He took the two of us back towards the lager. A very old man was standing there, typical 1914-18. As we got to the old boy the Meister said, “Arbeit mitt”, we were to work with him. So we marked out a big square and started digging a deep hole. That evening as the lads came in, they asked us what we were doing. We had no idea. When the hole was large enough the spoil was taken away and lorries dumped a load of chalk. We then ran a hosepipe from our lager and the water made the chalk bubble and steam. We found we had made a big lime pit. Then we worried what it was for. Some guessed maybe for the bodies of the dead Russians from the river.

By this time we managed to say good morning to the old boy. He did not start until 8 o’clock and he went about 4.30. It suited Harry and I, last out in the morning, first in at night to wash. After a couple of days another German civilian arrived and he was the “bauwer meister”. At last we found out we were going to build a house and the lime pit was for the foundations. We carried on digging with Franz, by now the old boy had told us his name. He had got used to us now. The meister zibert we had under our thumb from the first day. He liked a smoke so we soon bribed him. Later we had a very thin Czech lad about nineteen years old working with us. His name was Vlashik Lewiosky and he came in daily from Marie Ostrau. Today it is called Ostrava. (Many years later remembering that name helped me a lot.) Again, no guards, brown as berries, a bit of black market, everything was acceptable.

As the job progressed the bricklayers arrived and we became labourers. Because of this I managed to get Bluey working with us. The weather was grand at the time. The carpenters on the job were also Germans, working on the roof. So we were now doing a bit of bartering for the lads in the factory, and as labourers doing a bit for everyone, we found time to chat, talking to the Germans and them telling us how good the two fronts were going on. I used to say my usual “der tag”, then spin them stories of what the Ghurkas would do to the SS, so I became known by them as “Wilhelm the propaganda minister”. It was lovely to listen to the Czech women in the fields singing at work. They sang “La Paloma” and other songs. The German soldiers marching in the forest sang the “Horst Wesel” song. Also “Mein vater ware ein wanderman”, “Lilli Marlene” and others. We learned to sing many of them.

Not far from where we were working building the house, there were some fruit trees and Bluey decided one day to get some of the apples. He picked quite a lot and while he was doing it a German came along and asked him what he was doing. Bluey tried to tell him that he had been picking the apples up off the ground. The trouble was he had great branches sticking out of the front of his jacket, so it was obvious he has been up the trees.

Come to the end of Autumn the house was practically finished. Bluey and I went back to Drausen Arbeit in the factory cutting the logs for the holtz wool machine.

Back now to the Artz doctor. A few months before the house was finished Bluey received a kick in his leg playing football. This turned into a large ulcer, bigger than half a crown. It was very bad and showed no sign of getting well. Eventually we convinced him to visit the Artz. Really he was worried in case he was sent back to 8B unfit for work. If you ever saw a doctor dressed in a long white coat, jackboots and pince-nez glasses, I am sure you would never forget him. He mixed up a white paste and it had to go on in a circle round the ulcer. Slowly it started to close. Some time later it cleared right up. Many a time since I have been home I have wished that I knew what that paste consisted of, talking to elderly people with ulcers. On top of that, Bluey played football again, received another kick and had to go through it once again.

If you had a bad toothache the doctor would pull the teeth out without cocaine or gas. I was caught outside the camp one day by a patrol and brought back, so to save the posterns getting into trouble we all had to pretend I was returning from the dentist in Odrau. I had lost a front tooth many years before. The excuse was that I had been to the dentist for a false tooth to fill the gap. To make it stick, I did go to the dentist many times. I had a tooth crowned in silver with a false tooth to fill the gap attached. It only broke off about 5 years ago and became a distinguishing feature that people always remembered about me. After all you don’t come across many people who show a silver tooth when they smile. It cost 50 marks and the sergeant of the guard paid for it for me.

I had an idea that very near to us Czech partisans were operating in the area. We picked up hints from our Czech workers. Sometimes they asked us for salt or pepper. After raiding German dorfs and stealing pigs and such like, the salt was needed to cure pork. The large saws cutting long trees into planks needed to be about 12 ft. long and had to be mounted according to the thickness of the planks. These saw blades needed to be changed very often. They had to be taken to the Schlafferi. The sharpening shop. They were taken on a horse and cart driven by an old German. His name was Byuss. Bluey and I always went with him to help carry the blades in and out. This night it was quite dark and as we walked in there were Czech workers making knives and bayonets out of the broken steel saws. We told Byuss to stay with the Pherd (horse) and we did the unloading and loading. Poor old Byuss shot himself as the war came to an end. Gradually now we learned more.

The Biggeri shop (that is the shop where wood was taken for steam treatment before bending), had members who knew where the RAF escape route was and there were contacts in the factory who we could trust. In the lager we did have a crystal radio set. One chap spoke 2 or 3 languages very well but most of our news came from the locals.

Just before Christmas 1944 we saw Russian aircraft overhead and we were all made to go into the bunkers for safety. Again we said — “Der tag. Zweiter frunt jetz fahren schnel nacht Berlin” Second front on its way to Berlin fast.

There seemed to be a slowing down in the Fabrick with not so many wagons arriving. More aircraft appeared overhead and an uncertainty of what was happening. The chef (boss) went to Prague knowing that east and west had begun closing in. Our fears were of the SS and what was happening in 8B with all of those POWs. The chef returned and the word went round that he had been away to place all his money into Swiss banks.

At that time I was waiting to go to Novyjicin to have my knee looked at. It meant being taken in a horse and cart and I considered trying to get back to the others? Some of the lads were talking of trying to get back to Stalag 8B but Bluey and I had other ideas, the Czech partisans. We now noticed that the guards were not the same and were very relaxed when we returned from working in the evening. They had always been at the lager to count us in, now they could not care less. Even evening appel and taking our boots and trousers was forgotten. In fact some of the lads often spent the night out with a Czech family. They showed up at work in the morning.

You must remember we were quite isolated in a tiny village. Some villages were known as Czech, others as Deutsch. Everyone was uneasy. Red Cross parcels were not so regular. Czechs were beginning to take days off, never known before. About the end of January or early February, on the spur of the moment, nothing planned, Bluey and I decided to weg — that means go. No one ever called it escape only weg. In the past years some of the POWs used to weg laufen (run away). When caught and brought before the Commandant at 8B it was said “ He got fed up and ran away for a while”. Some lads did this regularly and after a while gave themselves up, collected their mail and other things, spent 2 or 3 weeks in the bunker then looked out for another working party.

I have often puzzled why officers claimed officer status as soon as they were captured, if they wanted to escape. As ordinary soldiers you could get away without digging tunnels. I can tell you I never met any Bridge over the River Kwai officers. Getting away was easy but getting away from Poland or Czechoslovakia to a friendly country without skills was another thing. Remember they held all the aces.

Our decision to walk out of the lager was easy in one way but not in others. It took a lot of thought, collecting information, watching the situation on the Front and deciding which way to go. Could we get Resistance help on an escape route? We had to be careful about who to trust and to gain the trust of civilians? There were German Sudateland folk running the Resistance who actually were communists. I don’t want to mention names. Remember, to this day families still live there.

Remembering the Stalag days and the lessons of old POWs who had escaped and been recaptured I learnt all about where I was and knew the source of the River Oder and where it went north to sea. I also knew it was possible to get down to Vienna in Austria, heading towards the Swiss border. I knew that to head west was impossible without help from the Resistance and you needed 3 or 4 weeks to hide away as soon as you got free and so the timing had to be well thought out. I would not go as far as to say we planned it but we listened and waited and eventually balanced our chances. We had no idea we would end up on Yanosik Kries in Mala Fatra with the partisans.

One day in 1944 we just wandered off. We came to a village, I believe it was called Landskrone. Then we wandered to so many places that I can’t remember them all, dossing down in barns or fields, running into German cyclist patrols and trying to make out we were Russian POWs working on farms, acting dumb by answering Nero Zomice, Ni panimoi. Slowly we got further away from the lager and found ourselves in the Bedskids hills. From here things get a bit mixed up.

One day we were asleep in a barn and a German soldier on patrol looked in on us. He shouted and pointed his rifle and at the same time pulled back the bolt to load and all his bullets fell out onto the straw. He was very cross with himself but we saw the funny side of it. We helped him to look for them, joking and laughing, then he stormed off.

I believe it is now time to study the map. The River Oder, marked with a little X, Odrau is about 3 to 4 miles away by train. Stalag 8B is not far from the River Neisse. A village called Lambsdorf Brzeg or Brieg was the nearest railway station. Opole is a small town in Poland and a leading area for Polish partisans. It was also part of the route for any RAF escapees. More of that later.

Cesky Tecien was a place we stayed for a while. It was half Czech, half Polish. If possible we kept away from towns. So now we are near Odrau again. There we found out that we were not far from the RAF escape route. I never did find out how many got through.

After the war I enquired to an RAF escape committee at the Duke of York’s HQ, Chelsea who had no idea. They told me that only 2 families in Poland were in receipt of a pension for helping the RAF. The route from Odrau ran down to Gottwaldov south, I believe towards Budapest to the Danube. We did send out feelers with some of our contacts. We were told the escape route was very dangerous for everyone. British contacts had told them not to help British soldiers along because it was only for RAF and submarine officers. That is how much they were interested in ordinary POWs.

Watching Russian aircraft flying low and not dropping bombs we found out that we were near an area of the mountains called Janosik in Mala Fatra. The beginning of the Tatra mountains. It was the headquarters of the partisans and the Russians were dropping supplies to them — The Poles on one side, the Czechs on the other side. The whole area was known as the Janosik Kriese (Janosik circle) and is was very dangerous for the Germans to contain, which suited us. We got food from the partisans very often and saw how they waited by the mountain streams to trap wild deer coming for water, and put snares on poles just before dark, pulling down birds out of the trees. Sometimes we didn’t see them for ages. They told us when going to dorfs to scrounge or steal food, always to look for the first or second farm house, and to wait and see who was about to ascertain if it was a Czech or German house. They advised never to beg in the centre of the village, only on the outskirts so that it was easier to run back into the woods if it looked like trouble. I must say we got very good at that, even Bluey took a turn and at most times were successful. It was somewhere here that I took a pistol and rounds from a German.

Now the usual greeting in all villages, towns and shops was always “Heil Hitler” so when we knocked on a door or shouted hello we always said “Gruz Gott” (God be with you). If the door was opened by a woman, nine times out of ten it would be, we always told them that we were Kriegs Geffangeners, POWs, and asked for “ein stikel de brot” (a piece of bread). Sometimes it was, wait a moment, a piece of bread or cake given and the door shut, so we would leave quickly because we knew the people inside were afraid to be seen helping us. Other times it was “Herein kommen” (come in). Here we had to take a chance — Was a party member inside? Police? or a soldier? As we went inside, a quick look round to satisfy all was OK. We always asked the same question, “Where is your man?” Knowing full well that he was likely to be at the front. On the answer we would look sympathetic and say, “Yes, Russian front very hard”, then we would tell whoever was there about ourselves, by now probably eating a piece of bread or soup. Sometimes there would be a deserter, maybe a son, about the place. If we could stay a couple of days sleeping in the barn that was great. The only trouble was rats would run over you in the night. We were offered glasses of slivervitch which we both hated but it was given as a toast so we had to drain it.

You may not believe this but once up in the mountains Bluey and I had a fight. I think it was over an overcoat that he had left behind somewhere. I went off alone but we ran into each other two days later so we teamed up again.

There was a time when we were so hungry we took the horses oats out of a stable, boiled them up and spat out the shells. I wouldn’t recommend it. One day I got hold of a chicken and we were starving. We boiled it in our can and when it was ready to eat Bluey said “I don’t want any, I don’t like chicken.” This tale has amused our families and friends for years, but it is true.

While we were in Mala Fatra we heard that the Russians were advancing. Decisions had to be made. Should we wait for the Russians to come or start back into Czechoslovakia and strike for the east? We knew that somewhere back were the German military police waiting to shoot deserters from the Russian front because we had already seen deserters. Also the SS were about.

It was Autumn. Somewhere in a mountain area not far from a village called Makov we came down a track and lo and behold a Russian tank column was sitting on the road. By our wireless in the lager and local news back in Mankendorf we knew that Churchill and Montgomery were not happy with the three powers agreements. Bluey and the POWs in Italian camps had been taken into Germany when Italy fell to the allies. We did not want to risk that happening to us and ending up in Russia! So we brazened it out, greeting the tank crews who were made up from whole families, including women, and asked if anyone could verstehen Deutsch. An officer came along and we managed to tell him who we were. After all by now we could have passed for Russians the way we were dressed. They gave us food and water. He then offered to get us sent back to Odessa. He said we could be put on a boat home from there. We were not too keen on that and said we would go east, towards Prague. He was waiting for some heavy artillery to come along to lead them into Prague. I found out that they were the Georgian army. Talking to them I said that I knew a Georgian division in 1942 where the Russian soldiers were on one side of the road and the British 56 Division was on the other side of the road. Both had orders not to speak to each other. It was at Mosul, north of Iraq. We were to assist the Russians as the Germans could have broken through Turkey, making for the Suez canal. Of course they never did. The artillery arrived, we all shook hands and we advanced with them.

We rode in the back of a jeep. The driver did nothing but grin and wave to everyone. We were right up the front now, stopping now and then whilst a barrage was sent off guided by small spotter aircraft. We enjoyed being with them until our driver, covered with garlands of flowers and well on the way with drink, began driving up pavements and down ditches at the side of the road. The spotter pilots were landing on the road in front of us for their garlands and drinks. Our fear now was we would never reach Prague before overturning and crashing. It would have been ironic to survive all this time only to be killed by a drunken Russian driver! When they stopped for a while somewhere between Olomouc and Pardubice we decided to part company so we thanked them and continued alone. Glatz and Konigratz were two of the places I can remember. Eventually we got mixed up with thousands of German refugees pouring to the west to flee from the Russians.

We guessed that maybe the Russians had stopped further back because the road was blocked. Back in the mountains I already had the German original map of the front as it was. I also had the pistol I had acquired earlier. I still have the map.

As we moved along the road east we saw German deserters lying dead along the side, shot by the SS. Their right arms had been propped up set in rigor mortis in a Nazi salute. We stayed with the refugees driving the horse and carts and helping them in general for food. As time went by British POWs were appearing en-route. They told us Hitler was dead. A photograph of him was displayed in shop windows. We lost all recollection of days and dates and heard that the surrender had taken place. Suddenly the SS appeared on the streets, shouting “Wier kampfew wieter allein!” We are carrying on alone. We were glad we were mixed up with the refugees, who were all crying because of this.

We like to think that British soldiers are above looting but that is just what started. They were looting the carts. I know that they were Germans. Maybe some of them deserved it, but Bluey and I thought of those German families who gave us food and shelter at great risk to themselves back in the mountains, and we did not want to be associated with what was going on.

By leaving the refugees we could push on faster across country, away from the main roads. We went through one or two villages and late in the afternoon we ran into some Russian infantry making their way to Prague. The Czechs there were going berserk and beating women and men, chasing them up and down the road and making them carry and replace the cobbles that the SS had torn up to act as road blocks. I felt sorry for them and was going to lean out of the truck with some water but Bluey stopped me and said “Don’t do it. They may just take it out on us”. He was probably right as the mob was all fired up with hate. The Russian soldiers just sat in their trucks looking very contained. Their uncomfortable looks showed they were strictly under orders. They stopped on the edge of Prague and we gathered this was as far as they were going. We wondered why? We found out later.

So now we were alone again except for an American soldier who had tagged on to us. We made our way into central Prague. As it was getting late we wanted to be off the streets because we could sense that things were tense and there were snipers about. We walked through a tunnel and everything was quiet. Even today, I still cannot believe what happened next.

It must have been about 10 o’clock when we saw sign for a hotel. Bearing in mind we were ragged, unshaven and dressed like bandits, the three of us entered and walked up to the reception desk. There was nobody about so I hit the little bell. When the man came I asked in English if we could have a room for the night. Very casually he turned a huge register round and asked us to sign it, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to shelter escaped prisoners of war with no money, while a battle raged outside to liberate the city. He called a young man to take us to the lift and up to our rooms. As we walked away from the desk the Yank stopped, stood to attention and sang “God save the King” very loudly! Just before we got into the lift the receptionist called out to us asking if we would like an early morning call! I don’t know why but I said, “Yes, 4.00am!” What a strange thing to say! The whole thing was surreal.

We got to our rooms and settled down but somehow we felt very uneasy. I suppose we had broken the rule taught to us by the partisans, this time there was nowhere to run. We lay on top of our beds fully clothed. Bluey and I looked at each other. There was someone at the door, just a little rustle. I signalled to Bluey to stay there while I crept to the door, pistol in hand and opened the door. There was nobody to be seen. This puzzled us both. Then again we heard the rustle and this time I got up quickly and snatched the door open. Standing there was a dear old lady holding a tray with two basins of soup and a stikal brot. We thanked her and were very grateful. After we had eaten Bluey wanted me to throw the gun away but I would not. I realise now the risk of getting caught carrying an automatic pistol with over 50 rounds on me. I could have been shot on sight, and was not covered by the Geneva Convention. We dropped into an uneasy sleep waking with sounds of tanks moving about, their tracks rattling on the cobbles.

At 4 a.m. came my early morning call. I got up and went out into the street. Walking along the road I smelt bread baking. It was lovely. I found the bakers and managed to scrounge a few fresh rolls for our breakfast. I was nibbling one as I turned the corner into a great square. It was full of Russian tanks and from every lamppost hung a dead German. Some old scores had be settled that night. The Czechs were throwing petrol over the bodies and setting them alight. I was standing in Wenceslas Square. I hurried back to tell the other two and they came and had a look. We decided there and then to get out of Prague as quickly as we could. I looked at my map and found the road out to Pilsen.

About mid-day we came across soldiers with guns facing us up the road. We put up our hands and a group came towards us covering us. We thought we were done for and they were Germans. Suddenly the American shouted “They’re not Germans! They’re Americans!” At last, about three to four days after the surrender had been signed, we were safe - no longer Kriegs Geffangeners, but British soldiers once again. We were interrogated by the officer in charge and gave him all the information we could. We told him about the tanks and what was happening in Prague. He said that if they had been there first, it would not have been allowed to happen.

They were 20 kilometres outside Prague and had been lying there for three weeks, but under the three powers agreement they had to let the Russians enter Prague. It was the Yalta agreement. After feeding us up with K rations, we were put on a plane to the Canadians in Brussels. Free but back under army rules and not able to choose for ourselves. The first thing I did was have my photo taken. Bluey bought silk stockings on the black market to take home. My wife told me off, she would have liked stockings. The photo still stands to this day on our sideboard but the stockings are long gone!

We landed at Horsham, only about three quarters of an hour from my home in Sutton, but my feet were in such a state with sores and blisters I was kept there and given treatment for a week until they improved. Bluey had decided after his leave was finished, to sign on and go to Burma. He spent a lot of leave with my wife and I, staying at my mother-in-law’s or at his sister’s. He didn’t have much in the way of family and was happy to become part of ours.

Eventually he reported back. I was still on leave. Not long after, he came to see Joyce and I and asked me to be his best man at his wedding. He had met a girl who worked in the NAAFI and was getting married. Joyce and I went up to Brooks in Wales, the only people on his side. They eventually got a council house in Weaverham in Cheshire. Bluey worked for many years for the Water Board in Cheshire until he retired. He and Freda had a very happy marriage and had one son, David. Bluey was devastated when Freda died on August 20th 1987. He told me that he walked down to her graveside every day to see his “old gal”. He died on 7th July 1990 and they are buried together.

Bluey looked a strange, tough character. He had scars on his face and a great mop of hair that made him stand out in a crowd. In fact one time back in England when I was supposed to meet him I was able to pick him out in a stadium full of hundreds of people — something about the shape of his head that was different to everyone else. Everyone expected him to be a really hard bloke because of the way he looked but he was one of the gentlest people you could ever meet. He was also very funny. He was accident-prone and could make you cry with laughter at stories of what had happened to him. It was even funnier because he could never quite understand why it happened to him. Joyce and I remember so many incidents. After one visit he was saying goodbye to us on the train. When the whistle blew he stuck his head out of the carriage window to wave goodbye without noticing the window was closed at the time. He broke the window and the train pulled out with him still waving and blood pouring down his face.

His war experiences before I met him had left him ‘bomb happy’ and he was in a terrible state mentally. One of the tragedies of the time was there was not much help or understanding for the many who suffered mentally for their war experiences. They had to struggle on alone and for some it took years to cope. Bluey was lucky. After the war Freda sorted him out and she was his rock. You couldn’t help liking him. I lost one of the best pals I ever had when he died

I never thought I would return to Czechoslovakia, Poland or any of the places I had been during the war. That area all went over to Russia and the Communists and I thought many times that life must be hard for the people while we in Britain were getting back to normal and had a decent standard of living. However, 20 years after the war in 1960 I did go back.

Joyce and I were visiting a friend in Vienna and looking at a map I wondered if I could find my way over to Lager E119. I knew that if I could get to Marie Ostrau (now Ostrava), the nearest big industrial town, it should be possible to find Mankendorf.

Our Viennese friends thought it was mad and dangerous to go across into territory behind the iron curtain but I felt I had to do it. We set out by train from Vienna and eventually got to Ostrava. The problem was I was asking people for names of places I had known in German, not realising that the Czechs had changed them all back to Czech names. Then I came across a very old man who was willing to speak to me in German and he knew the places I was looking for. We took the train back to Suchdol and changed to go to Odry.

Now I was beginning to get my bearings. When we arrived at Suchdol we had to get a local train. It was very hot and a lady sitting on a train by an open window spoke to us on the platform, asking if we were English? We said we were and told her we had come to visit the POW lager in Mankendorf. She said this train would take us there. There were no hotels in that village but when we had seen what we wanted, if we got the train to the next village, which was Odry, we could stay at her house. She said her husband had worked with the British prisoners at the factory during the war and he would be interested to meet us.

Mankendorf was now called Mancovice. I recognized it immediately. It had hardly changed. Set on an open Slavic plain with mountains beyond were half a dozen houses, a church, a village green and the timber factory, backing on to the railway.

I showed Joyce the house we had built and also the factory. Of course the Germans had gone and were in a new factory in East Germany. The lager was still there, locked up. An old lady opened it up for us and we went in and had a look. The old copper and wooden baths were still there and the wire round the outside. I showed Joyce the bunks that Bluey and I used to sleep on and the tables and fire were just as we had left it all.

When we got to Odry I knew exactly where I was. We met the lady from the train and she told us her name was Herta. In her house we met her family. Her husband Leo came in from work and we started to talk to each other. A little time went by then it suddenly dawned on Leo who I was. He struggled to find the few English words he had learnt from POWs and burst out, “Bill! You bloody bastard!” with a big grin on his face. So we stayed with them and the word went round the two villages. Many of the men I had known took the next day off and we all met up in a barn for the “Mankendorf Conference” where we shared our memories and drank a lot.

We also met Herta’s father and found out her story. Although he was a German, Herta’s father had been a leader in the Odrau partisans. He was put into a concentration camp that was liberated by British Forces after the war. Herta and her mother were in a different concentration camp at Novyjicin and there Herta passed by her mother without recognising her, she had been tortured and suffered terribly and in the end Herta believes she was executed just a few days before the end of the war. Herta herself was involved in the partisans and the escape route. These people risked everything and many died.

Once we had made the contact we remained friends. Leo and his son Peter came to England and stayed with us, but Herta and her daughter were not allowed to travel. Husbands and wives could not travel out of the country together under the communist regime and we had to meet their expenses because they could not bring any money out of the country.

We visited several times once our friendship had been established. Leo and Herta took us back to the mountains Mala Fatra and the Bedskids, along the old trails. I also went back to Zakopani on a visit to Poland, we were looked after by the Polish partisans from Opelan. They escorted us everywhere. When we got to Zakopani I had already phoned Leo and Herta and they came and visited us. We had taken a certificate for Herta and her Father which was read out and one of the British party presented Herta with a silver chain. The partisans paid their expenses.

Leo died a few years ago but we always receive a Christmas card from Czechoslovakia in English asking when they will see us again.

After the war I tried to get help for those who had helped us but the Foreign Office said nothing could be done to help them because they were not wearing British Uniform. It seems such a shame that those who had risked their lives ended up with so little. I went to the RAF escape Committee at the Duke of York’s HQ Chelsea to trace the escape route but they denied it existed. Only a couple of years ago I had an address in Brompton Road I contacted but they replied saying they had disbanded and had no knowledge. Official sources are still very secretive and don’t want to give information. I wonder how many people owe their lives to a few brave people who ended up trapped in a Communist state.

In 1993 I was thrilled to get a letter from the displaced lad who had worked with us on the house next to the lager 50 years before! We kept in contact and the week of the VE Day celebrations in 1995 I met him and his wife at a London Hotel on a brief visit. We recognised each other but it was a short meeting and we wish we had had more time. They gave Joyce and I a beautiful crystal bowl which we treasure and a few years after we were able to visit them at their home north of Prague, with our older daughter and her husband.

In 2001 (when I was already in my 80’s) I managed to get hold of my POW records. Everything is there except I was never recorded as liberated, but there is a photograph, fingerprints and information about my working parties.

I am now in contact with POW connections in New Zealand and received a book last year written by a New Zealander escapee. In this book Getaway by Gordon Woodroof MM printed by Publicity Printing Limited, Taurangh, New Zealand, he says he was told in Stalag 8B that if he got a chance to escape he was to head for Mankendorf where there was an escape route operating.

I have been back many times to Czechoslovakia the last time was in April 2002, when we went to Prague with my youngest daughter and her husband. Our original intention was to try and find that hotel where we stayed on the night before the Russians arrived in Prague. The three of us, Bluey, the American and I had signed our names in the huge old hotel register. I had hoped we might discover the hotel but that corner of Prague, behind Wenceslas Square and the big church, appeared to have been one of the few areas that had been updated after the war and I think the streets must be different. We had no luck. I would still like to see an old map to satisfy myself where I think it must have been. I also wish I could meet the American again. I don’t even remember his name.

We hired a car and made a brief visit to Odry and Mancovice. I was able to show them the old factory and this time it was deserted. As we walked through the open gates memories came flooding back. I could once again smell the oak and beech being unloaded and hear the saws and activity of men making wheels and sledges. There had been 60 men in those days.

Along the road in the churchyard lie people I remember and their faces came back to me as we walked round in the spring sunshine. Destiny brought me to this little place during the war and it has left an impression I will carry all my life. I feel linked with it.

We walked down to where the lager still stands. I could imagine faces round the table as bread was divided among us. It was a serious business to see we all got equal shares. Someone had to stir the soup continuously so that the vegetables and occasional meagre helping of meat would be evenly distributed.

A Russian lady now lives in part of the old lager. One of the highlights of our visit was when she invited us in to show us how it had been converted into a very comfortable and spacious home. Upstairs is only used for storage and remains much as I remember it. Looking across towards the dome of church the landscape was like something in Dr. Zhivago. I recalled watching the seasons go round from this window; thick snow and bitter winds of Winter and the cold earth slowly coming alive in Summer. As a rare treat we were allowed to swim in the river in the heat of summer. So long ago yet still so fresh in my mind.

We stood in front of the house my comrades and I had built when our future lay uncertain before us. The years rolled away as I remembered.

With the collapse of Communism the Czech Republic has a fresh start and is looking forward to being part of Europe. People are anxious to catch up with progress and opportunities offered by the European Community. We remember a time when shops in Prague had empty shelves and it is nice to see life is easier now for the Czechs. Nobody wants to remember the war. When you mention it they say “We have move on since then”. There is a noticeable reluctance to talk about the bad old times.

Herta is fail and suffering with ill health these days but we are always overwhelmed by affection and hospitality when we visit Odry. Their son Peter reminded us of his trip to England in 1965 when he was 16. It left a big impression on him. He remembered us buying him his first pair of jeans and brought out a treasured box of mementoes including bus tickets and tickets to the Tower of London and Hampton Court. Herta’s grandson, David has dreadlocks and in perfect English speaks of his passion for ecology and saving the planet. He is educated and has travelled to places his grandparents could only imagine. He has a lot in common with my own grandchildren. We were impressed by the courtesy of young people everywhere we went. It is refreshing to see the elderly and women automatically offered a seat on the underground, buses and trams.

Herta is surrounded by loving family and treated with great respect. As they gathered to see us off she hugged my daughter and said, “We old ones have lived through some terrible times yet we have found a special friendship. Now we pass it on to you and the next generation to carry on and keep up the link between our families”.

Bill Turner

Pte. John "Jack" Andrew Royal Engineers

My father, sapper John Andrew of the Royal Engineers, enlisted in October 1939 at the drill hall in Stoke. He was stationed at Raglan Barracks 2 miles outside Plymouth. He then moved to Southampton 1st December 1939 and sailed to France to Cherbourg & then they went to Boulogne.

His company were staying in an old fish market, they were ordered to move out by the Sergeant onto their army trucks because the fish market was under heavy fire. They then moved to Camiers and then to Staples then to Boulogne docks where they were surrounded by German snipers. Some of the soldiers were trying to get back to England across the English Channel.

My dad's friend was named Albert. They then made their way to the railway station and the Welsh Guards were already there. They had to go down steps to an underground air raid shelters and my dad and his comrades had to carry sandbags to the Welsh Guards to make barricades. They ran out of ammunition. The Germans then surrounded them.

My dad and the other soldiers were taken prisoners of war and left Boulogne on the 25th of May 1940 and marched into Germany which took 3 weeks, then marched into Poland to Posnam and marched to an underground fort. They were at the fort 11 months then Stalag 344 then to Stalag v111b. My father used to play an accordion also a mouth organ. In 1945 they woke up one morning and all the Germans had left the camp. My dad and other soldiers left the camp and got to the American lines where they were deloused before getting on a plane to England.

Pte. Gilbert Pickering Royal Warwickshire Regiment

My grandad, Gilbert Pickering, born 1914 in the Midlands was in Stalag 8b. During the early 80s he told me many stories of escapes, his mate being bayoneted beside him while hiding in a ditch at the side of the road while on the run, going out on work parties etc.

He was a wonderful man who died from lung cancer in 1986. We, his family, miss him every day and would love to hear if anyone has info about him

Susan Bond

CSM. Tom Paddon 4th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders

My 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

Norman Leslie Monaghan Royal Army Ordinance Corps

My granddad, Norman Leslie Monaghan, was captured during WWII and taken to Lamsdorf camp number 344. He served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. His prisoner of war number was 267065. I am looking for all information regarding him. If anyone remembers him or has any info please email me.

Amanda Farnaby

James Shields

These are photos of my Uncle, James Shields who was a POW in Stalag V111B.

Garry Shields

Gunner Ron Davies Royal Artillery

My late uncle, Ron Davies from near Swansea, Wales, was a gunner with the Royal Artillery when captured at Crete in 1941. I know that he was at Stalag 344 at the end of the war. I recall him saying that he worked in the mines when a POW. I would be pleased to hear from anyone with any memories, photos etc.

Gareth Bassett

Pte. Fred Waltho Leicestershire Regiment

My dad, Private Fred Waltho (Leicester Regiment), was held at Stalag VIIIb for quite a while. I still have his German dog tags and some photos. Also lots of letters from him to his mother which I read from time to time and they always make me cry. In them he's obviously trying to be cheerful and remain positive about finally getting home - it breaks your heart.

He kept 'his war' quite a private thing, not really ever going into any detail other than to relate the odd funny story. Unfortunately, my dad passed away in 1994, the best dad in the world - I miss him so much, he will always be my hero.

Jane Talbot

Pte. Douglas Neil Tiffen

My father was a Private in the New Zealand Army. His name is Douglas Neil Tiffen, known as Neil. He was a Prisoner Of War in Stalag 8B from sometime after the Battle of Crete (probably late 1941) until the end of the war when the camp prisoners were marched across Germany by German guards/soldiers to reach American forces in the south west of Germany.

Like all the others in this situation my father said very little about his time in Stalag 8B, I do know that he worked in the coal mines for extra . I have rather vague recollections of a school friend of mine mentioning Richard Pape being an uncle of his. I remember the book, written by Mr Pape, being in my friends’ possession, but never got to read it.

Laurie Tiffen

Jim Carson 4th R M T

This is the first time I have been in this site & to my amusement I found a reference to my father, Jim Carson 4th R M T N.Z. Unfortunately, he died in 1966 at the age of 55, a year younger than I am now.

He never spoke much about his experiences during his time overseas, what I do know is he was captured in Crete & spent the rest of the war as a P O W in Stalag 8B Lamsdorf. It is only now that I am interested in his experiences during the war but at the time he died I had very little interest in that side of his life. If anyone who was with him during that time reads this I would be very interested to hear from them.

Victor Carson

Pte. John Andrew Royal Engineers

Jack Andrew, my father was a prisoner of war for 5 years. He was captured in Boulogne in 1940 by the Germans. He was in Stalag V111B. As a child I never understood what he must have gone through. I feel very proud of my dad. I have had his medals mounted in a frame which is now on my wall so that I can look at them every day. He was so brave.

Dorothy Plimbley

Cpl. Edwin Thomas George "Ted" Moore 100th Fld Coy. Royal Engineers

My husband's father Edwin Thomas George Moore was at Stalag V111B Lamsdorf until the end of the War. (Probably known as Ted Moore) Ted Moore was born in 1900 and also served in the 1st World War. He was a bit of a rough diamond but spoke of his memories in the Army and the Prison Camp always making a joke of everything. He was liked by all and down the pub made many friends of young lads who loved his stories. So much so that when Ted died in the 1970's there were dozens of these lads at his funeral.

At the POW Camp groups of inmates were sent out on work-parties. Trucks would take them to farms etc. I have no idea where this particular farm was located but the Farmer's name sounds like Teel or Teal. So somewhere in the Camp vicinity was a German family with the surname sounding like Teel/Teal. The Farmer had a very young son and asked my Father in law to teach him English. One day the Teel family had visitors and they were singing round a piano. The Farmer stopped the songs sung in German and proudly announced that their son would entertain all their guests as he knew many songs in English. The lad did so with great gusto as his English was indeed very good. The guests also could speak English but Farmer Teal could not! There was uproar because the guests were profoundly shocked to hear a young lad singing the usual troop songs including the many "swear" words. Corporal Ted Moore despite this remained good friends with Farmer Teel. Anyone who may remember him will know he had a Welsh accent as he was born Newport Gwent. South Wales.

In the same camp was another Newport man Albert Vittle. Albert Vittle kept escaping and getting caught. He used to say "See you in the morning Ted". My father in law said "Why do you do it Albert, you know they will catch you" The reply was "Anything to annoy the b****rs Ted”.

Ted Moore was in the Royal Monmouthshires, Royal Engineers and his number was 12591. He was a Corporal. His Life was quite sad, actually, although he would not agree with me. He left school at the age of 12. He was then in the 1914-1918 War followed by the the Second World War. He was riddled with TB. On returning to his work the Directors called him into their office and said "Ted you are not well enough to do your job so we have found you a nice light job to do, from tomorrow you are in charge of cleaning the lavatories"! Because he was a man of his time he thanked them profusely.

It makes me so angry and tearful to remember Our Glorious Wonderful Boys returning from the War to "a new world" they were told. A Land for Heroes. Well, Old Ted found the "new world" no better than the old although he never complained. In the meantime if anyone remembers Ted Moore, please e-mail me. This site is a wonderful tribute to all the men who withstood so many hardships but in their twilight years recalled the camaraderie and "funny" incidents with no bitterness. Thank you.

Diana Moore

Leopold John Carpenter

My grandfather, Leopold John Carpenter known as Jack, was part of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was captured on Crete and was a POW in Stalag 8B from the 11th January 1942.

Scott Hannan

Winston Yeatman 19th Army Troop Engineers

My father, Winston Yeatman from Christchurch, New Zealand was an Engineer (or 'sapper') in the 19th New Zealand Army Troop Engineers. He was a prisoner of war in Stalag V111B after being captured on Crete in 1941, arriving back in UK May 1945. His POW number was 7490. From his war record he seems to have been in a few camps - Salonika, where he was first registered as a POW at the Front. Stalag 18c; V111b; 344; Stalagluft 6; He was an Engineer in the NZ Army.

He changed identities with Richard Pape (and others) and his exploits are in the book written by Richard Pape 'Boldness Be My Friend' and it's sequel. Dad passed away in 1986, he was always actively involved in the RSA, Ex-POW & Tin Hat Club in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Cynthia Fraser

F/Lt. Charles Bryce Watson

I have my Grandfather's dog tags from Stalag VIIIB. I was wishing to find out some more information on him and the camp if anyone can help. His name was: Flt Lt Charles Bryce Watson of Sandringham, Victoria Australia. ID 26821 (on tags)

Scott Laney

Ronald William Dwyer 2/8th Battalion

My Grandfather was in 2/8th Battalion Australian Imperial Force. Ronald William Dwyer, also known as "Dick", service no.VX6410. He was held in Stalag 8b, and according to his service record was there for 4 years. He was captured on the Yugoslav-Greek border.

Like so many, he wasn’t able to talk about his experiences, and had a lot of difficulties in assimilating after the war. He died in 1968 and we really don’t know anything about him. Would love to know if anyone remembers him or knows of him. On the rare occasions he did speak about this time, he did mention at least 2 attempted escapes. Also, there doesn't seem to be many Australian POW’s listed, does anyone know of any Australian POW groups?

Pippa Parnham

Louis Audet Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

My grandfather, Louis Audet from Quebec, Canada was part of Operation Jubilee in Dieppe with Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal. He became a prisoner held in Stalag 8B after being captured in Dieppe.

If anyone has any information or knows where I might find Canadian Dieppe survivors, please let me know. Thank you.


Gunner Frank Allen Royal Artillery

My father, Gunner Frank Allen of the Royal Artillery was taken prisoner in Crete June 1941 and held until 1945. He died in 1965, he never told me about his POW days as I was too young but I have some photos. I would like to find more info on Stalag 8b and what it was like for my Father.

Brenda Allen

Cecil Charles Fogell 145 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps  

My Grandfather, Cecil Charles Fogell, was in the 145 Field Ambulance (R.A.M.C) and was captured at Dunkirk, on the 28th May. He was taken to Stalag VIII B Lamsdorf. We have his German POW identification card which shows he entered the camp on 14.06.40. He was prisoner number 12440. He was then transferred to Stalag VIII D on the 1.9.41. It then seems he was transferred to Stalag IX-C between 26.9.41 to 1.12.43. He then was moved again in April 1943 to Stalag XXID. If anyone knew him during this time, we would welcome any memories.

John Smithson

John Herbert Swift

I have a distant relative, John Herbert Swift from Royston, Hertfordshire, who was a POW at Stalag VIIIB, but I can hardly find anything out about him. Can anyone out there help?

Trevor Gilbert

Thomas Craven

My father, Thomas Craven, spent 4 years in Stalag 8b but would never talk about any of his military life. It was only after his death that items have been shared; his German dog tags and numerous photos from Stalag 8b which I am willing to share with others.

My father was captured on Crete in a village called Xamadohouri and I am still in touch with people from this village who knew my father and they still have photos. If anyone would like to see the photos please let me know.

Paul Craven

Samuel Slaven King's Own Scottish Borderers

Samuel Slaven served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and was a Prisoner of war in Stalag 8B, he took part in the long march. My Dad often talks about this part of his life, he is now 87yrs old and quite frail. Does anyone have memories of him and his many adventures?

Isabel Slaven

Thomas Daniels

My father, Thomas Daniels was captured in Crete and spent some time in Lamsdorf 1941. He went on to Marburg (escaped), Wolfsburg (escaped), Gurtchdorf, Setsdorf and Muisburg. I spent many years trying to get him to talk about his memories but he would not say much at all. I would be grateful if anyone can remember him and get in touch.

Lynne OConnor

Stanley Douglas Gittings 65th RA Field Regiment, 257 Bty. Royal Artillery

We are in the process of typing up my father's diary of his time in Stalag VIIIB between June 1940 and 1945. His name was Stanley Douglas Gittings and he was in the 257/65th RA Field Regiment.

In the back of his diary is a list of names of people who he seems to have been incarcerated with. If anybody would like me to check the list for their relatives please email me, although the diary does not mention anything other than their names and addresses at the time.

David Gittings

Pte. Cyril Brett Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment

Like so many my late father - Cyril Brett a private in the Royal West Kent, spoke little of his time in Lamsdorf. His POW number was 902, and he was captured in May 1940 at Dunkirk. He did mention a few things - breaking the thick deposits from the sugar refining vats and unloading sugar beet, making rings from old toothbrushes with amyl acetate, and one day sweeping his way out of the camp, until he was recaptured soon after. As always I didn't ask the questions in time and have not recognised him in any of the photos. I think he destroyed all his memorabilia when my mother died as he didn't want anyone to share those memories. Their best man was called Jim (a Scot, did they share time together at Lamsdorf?). If anyone does know of his time please get in touch. Many thanks

Michael Brett

Terence "Lofty" Whitney

My uncle, Terence Whitney, passed peacefully away in May 2006. Captured (wounded) at Dieppe (a naval gunner), Terry was held in Lamsdorf, leaving when the German guards evacuated as the Russians closed in. Terry (aka Lofty) was particularly friendly with one or two of the New Zealanders held there, whilst his best pal was fellow brummie, Bertie Ruffles.

If anyone remembers Terry, please pass this information on. I would also be grateful for any specific recollections of Terry. Thank you.

Mike Gardener

Flt.Sgt. Kenneth "Dai" Richards 7th Squadron

Flight Sergeant Kenneth Richards (nickname Dai -- obviously something to do with the fact that he was Welsh!) was in the RAF-7th Squadron; he flew a Stirling, and was shot down on 29th June 1942 after a bombing mission to the Submarine pens at St Nazaire. He was in Lamsdorf and the photograph of him on the 40-holer has to be a classic. He has always kept in touch with his old friend Stan Moss an Australian Pilot who went into the church after the war. He died on 25th April 2006. If anyone can remember my Dad then please get in touch. Thank you.

Susan John

F/Sgt. R. E. Wakeford 23 Squadron

My godfather, Flt Sgt R.E. Wakeford, he was shot down and taken to Lamsdorf in 1943, his war No. 27667 his service No 655346 with 23 squadron based at Wittering. I am trying to trace him, can anyone help?

David Thompson

Charles Donald Royal Army Medical Corps

My father, Charles Donald RAMC, was a medical officer at Lamsdorf Stalag VIIIB - during his time there he documented outbreaks of louse borne typhus fever - which was the subject of his MD thesis. Whilst a POW he was able to receive the British Medical Journal and submit articles to the BMJ (September 19 1942). He suffered from typhus before being repatriated in 1943. Following the war he became a General Practitioner at Bamber Bridge in Lancashire.

Munro Donald

Frank "Knocker" Johnson Welch Regiment

My dad, Frank Johnson known as Knocker, from Cardiff, was captured in Crete by Germans, sent to Stalag 8b worked in a salt mine in Poland. I would love to hear from any one in same camp or the Welch Regiment. He tried to escape but was shot through foot, and said he was waiting to be transferred to Germany, left in train on sidings for 3 days and had head lice as big as 5p. He also faked appendix pain, and was operated on, using a lid from an empty can.


Sapper Arthur Marriott Royal Engineers (d.1945)

My brother, Sapper Arthur Marriott, was in Stalag VIIIB. He was captured at Dunkirk 1940. He was then in Stalag 334 (or maybe 344 was first as I was only a child at the time). He went on the long march in 1945 and while trying to get some potatoes from the farm where they were spending the night my brother was shot and killed by a German guard. I would like to hear of anything anyone can tell me as I am the only one left.

Norma Marriott

George Mouzer (d.11th April 1945)

My brother, George Mouzer, was at Lamsdorf & went on the death march to Bavaria, where he was killed in an air raid on 11th April 1945. I would be so pleased to hear from anyone who may remember him, especially Victor Wickendon.

May Elsey

S/Sgt. Weeks Royal Army Medical Corps

My father was captured when Crete fell and was in Stalag VIIIB. He was a S/Sgt in the RAMC. He was repatriated in late 43/early 44 with an exchange of prisoners. I would like to find any others and the reason father was chosen. Perhaps because he was in the RAMC accompanying the sick?

John Weeks

Alexander Morrison 51st Highland Division Seaforth Highlanders

My 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

Eddie Eccles 31 Field Regiment, 105/119 Bty. Royal Artillery

This photo was possibly taken at a works station, Eddie is positioned front row seated 3rd from right.

I have some photos from the camp which include my father in law Eddie Eccles (105/119 battery of the 31 Field Regiment R.A.) who was caught at Tobruk on 15th Dec 1941 whilst taking part in the great Battle of Halem Hamza in the Libyan Desert.

Understandably Eddie was reluctant to talk about his experiences so I would love to hear from others who may have knowledge of the battle and times of this Field Regiment during this period in the Libyan Desert and also at Stalag 8B.

Gwyn Hughes

Pte. Ernest Belanger Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal Regiment

My father, Ernest Belanger, was a private in the Fusilier Mount-Royal Regiment. He was taken prisoner during the raid on Dieppe on August 19th 1942. He was a POW in Stalag 8b for about 33 months.

Hillarie Belanger

Archie Broadfoot Glasgow Highlanders 9th Highland Light Infantry

My Father, Archie Broadfoot, was a POW in Stalag 8b for the duration of the war. He was captured I believe on the way to Dunkirk. He was serving with the 9th HLI Glasgow Highlanders, although he wore a Black Watch uniform?

He was forced to labour in the mines, then he took ill and was given "light" work in a sawmill. As the war came to an end, he and some others went their own way to try and get home. He tells the story of eventually being picked up by the Americans somewhere on the Czech border, though he can't remember the unit. If anyone can help with information regarding the above people or places it would be appreciated.

Marion Wiggington

Gnr. Norman "Bishop" Jenner Royal Artillery

Norman Jenner on left

My father-in-law, Norman Jenner (Gunner 888206 in the Royal Artillery), was captured at Dunkirk and spent the rest of the War in Stalag 8b (Stalag 344) near Lamsdorf. Like everyone, he had a pretty rough time there and would never talk about it, so unfortunately I don't have many memories to share. What I do recall from many conversations during which he shared little was that his nickname was "the Bishop" - maybe because he was a committed Christian and/or he was well spoken and older than most of his fellow inmates, being born in 1910. He also said they often had sugar beet to eat, which was not a balanced diet, but filling. He also said that although the Brits had a hard time, it was nothing compared to the Jews, Gypsies and Slavs who were treated as subhuman.

He suffered from malnutrition during his stay in Stalag 8B and this brought on blindness which he suffered from the mid-fifties until his death in 1993. I have two photos of Norman with some of his POW friends taken soon after the War. I would love to know who they are and to make contact if possible. I also have a photo of Norman's nephew which must have been sent to him at the camp as it is stamped "Stalag VIIIB geprüft Nr 35".

Malcolm Tebbutt

Dvr. Richard James Lechmere

My grandfather, Richard James Lechmere, a driver, from West Sussex, was captured in 1941 and was a prisoner of war until 1945, most of which he spent in this camp.

I have in my possession every letter he wrote to my grandmother, from the first letter he sent before his capture, to the telegram saying that he had arrived safely back in the UK. These have been carefully catalogued by my mother and include his medical records, dog tags and Red Cross parcel contents lists. My Granddad died two years ago. I hope to publish these letters in some form, as they are such an amazing record of years spent in the camp.

Sarah Hunt

Pte. Gregory Coogan 2nd Battalion Irish Guards

My father, Pte Gregory Coogan of the 2nd Batt Irish Guards in Stalag V111 B. He is on the right of the photo. The man on the extreme left is a soldier from the Warwickshire regiment and is a survivor of the SS barn massacre; I believe his name is Charlie Daly. I understand that all three men lost a leg. My father was captured and lost a leg trying to evacuate the Dutch Royal Family from Holland in 1939. I think he was repatriated in 1944. This is his story:

I was captured in Boulogne on 23/5/1940. A mine took out my leg at the knee. Two chaps put on a tourniquet and put me on a stretcher, carried me along the road. A section of the Irish guards appeared and offered to escort me to the RAP. As we passed a graveyard, a lot of German troops popped up over the wall and demanded that the boys drop their weapons. They did-and dropped me too! I lay there by the road side and nearly got flattened by a passing Panzer tank. Eventually, two young Germans came along who spoke English. They said 'Ha ha Englisher blue blood!' I protested that I was Irish, from Ireland. They said 'Mr de Valera? We don't want to fight him!' Eventually I ended up in an open shed with other wounded Welsh and Irish. A German doctor offered to inform our next of kin of our status. Then he said 'Who is the worst wounded here?' Apparently it was me. He put me in a German ambulance with some German wounded and took me to Le Toquet, where the French amputated my leg a few days later. 2 weeks later I was moved back to the former British hospital at Camier. I was there for a while, and was due to have my stitches out, as I was told by Major Kimble, a Kiwi who operated on me, when we were told we were moving up to Lille. We were moved at night time, but my stitches had to come out. So, in the pitch black, by the side of the road, after midnight, I reminded Capt Carter of the Welsh guards to remind Kimble that the stitches had to come out. And he took them out there and then in the darkness. We were then detained in Eilghiel in Belgium for some weeks. Then we moved to Obermassfeld, part Stalag 9c, where we were registered. Then we moved to Badsulza. Eventually all the seriously injured were sent to work at a tobacco factory in Nordhausen for a considerable time.

Upon being recalled to Stalag 9c, we were told we were to be repatriated. We were dispatched to an old quarry, then put on a train, arriving finally at Rouen, France, after three days the SBO came to us on parade and said 'Men, I have bad news, repatriation has fallen through.' so we were sent back to the racecourse, previously a British camp. After some time, the Germans sent us to Stalag 8b, Landsdorf. I was there until November ‘43, when they started repatriation again. We embarked on a train to Sasslitz on the Baltic, then a boat to Malmo Sweden, then by train to Gothamburg, then a ship back to Leith in Scotland. Then a train Netley in Hampshire. Eventually everyone went home apart from me and a lad from Leeds, Rennison. The nurse in charge was the Queen Mother's cousin, Lady Margaret Bowes-Lyon. She escorted us to Rowhampton, where eventually I got fitted up with a limb in January 44.

I have many group photos from 8c and 8B, as well as photos of sports days and theatre shows. We would love to hear from anyone who remembers our father.

Back row from right, C Philips, C Clarke, D Ryan, H Chivers, W Mc Niell, W Anders.

Front row from right, D Cain, S Cooke, L Forrest, W Hamilton, D Mc Garry. 3 Aussies, 3 Irish, 2 N Zlds, 2 Eng and 2 Scotts.

4th left centre row Jackie Cooke

Back row,7th from left Jackie Cooke. Back row, 9 from left Robbie Anderson.

Front row, 7 from left Sean Kenny.

From right back row, Brady 2nd, Welsby 3rd

Back row from left 2nd Welsby, 3rd Brady, 2nd Btn.Irish Guards

Wesley & Brady 2nd Battn Irish Guards

All Kiwis

3 Cockneys

Fellows, Warwicks, on the right

From TelAviv, captured in Crete, then V111B

Medics 17/21 Hospital

All Cockneys

Work Party

Two Kiwis (Acropolis)

Chaplin on left

Dermot Coogan

Pte. Leonard Henry Taylor Royal Army Service Corps

My late father-in-law, Pte.Leonard Henry Taylor of the RASC was captured at St Valery in June 1940 after having made the trek from the Dunkirk area. He eventually reached Lamsdorf after a long walk and barge ride. If anyone remembers him, his widow and I would be interested in talking to them.

Glen Davies

Henry Earnest George Bowsher

Henry Bowsher is on the end top right.

My father Henry Earnest George Bowsher was in Stalag 8b during WW2 he was captured at Dunkirk.

Malcolm Bowsher

Alexander "Sanny" McLean 3rd Kings Own Hussars

My late Grandfather was held in Stalag 8b his name was Alexander McLean known as "Sanny". He came from a small town called Ayr on the West of Scotland. He served with the 3rd Kings Own Hussars and was taken during the battle for Crete. All I know is that he escaped from Stalag 8b some years later. I have a few photos of his time at Stalag 8b if you see any one you know please get in touch.

Simon Yeardley

Sgt. George Gyves RA HAA

My father, Sgt George Gyves (RA HAA), was captured on Crete in June 1941. I know he was in Stalag V11a (Moosburg) during 1942 as we have postcards from him. We also have postcards dated June 29 and September 15 1943 from Stalag V111b (Lamsdorf). He was on the Death March that commenced on January 1945.

Unfortunately, he was very poorly when repatriated to the UK and died on Oct 25 1946 age 39. If anybody recognises a fellow POW from the photograph or has a related story, I would like to hear from them.

Michael Gyves

Earnest Albert Glover

My Grandfather Earnest Albert Glover was held in Stalag 8b. I would welcome any information about him.

Nathan Glover

Pte. Fred Gilbey Army Air Corps

In this photograph, sent in by Malcolm Bowsher in which his father also appears on the middle row far right.  My father is on the same row on the far left.

My father, Private Fred Gilbey, Army Air Corps, was help as a POW at Stalag 8b (Certificate of Service shows) between July 43 and May 45. I know little else other than from our conversions I believe he was taken POW whilst serving in Sicily. I would appreciate any confirmation or details around this and experiences from anyone who knew my father.

Dean Gilbey

Pte. Jack Lintott Royal and West Kent Regiment

I have been trying to piece together the war years of my father for his grandchildren's sake. He was Private Jack Lintott, Royal and West Kent Regiment (now deceased.) He was captured in France before Dunkerque and after a series of transfers (I think road building in Austria where I believe he escaped ended up in Stalag 8b. He didn’t talk much about the war and sent his medals back (which we acquired). From the sketchy info received he was the wireless builder and as a watchmaker was apparently kept on the surface. He had very bad arthritis from severe frost bite as he took part in the Lamsdorf death march. My Dad was extremely good at languages and learnt to speak German fluently which I subsequently learnt from him, he also had a command of Polish. I would be interested to know where he was caught as I think it was in the Defence of Escaut at the Foret de Nieppe around May 15th 1940? I have photos of the camp and area as well as camp money.

Paul Lintott

Walter Sinclair 2/2 Field Regiment (d.25th Jan 1945)

My uncle, Walter Sinclair, 2/2 Field Regiment, Australian Army was captured on Crete. I was very, very excited to see his name on the List of Prisoners & that the information that he died on 25th Jan 1945 correlates with my research. This is the first mention of him that I have found in over 12 months of searching on the net. However, his German POW cards show that he was transferred to Stalag V111B Teschen on 11.1.44 from Stalag 344 (V111B) Lamsdorf where he had been since 14.4.43, so he should have been on the Teschen march not Lamsdorf.

My mother can remember being told that he had severely frostbitten feet & couldn't march so was shot. I would appreciate any information that you can give me, as I am trying to trace his grave & the route taken from these 2 camps was entirely different. I have a postcard from 7A Moosburg & 2 from 8B Lamsdorf.

Update: The change of the designation V111B has tricked many family researchers, including myself. V111B (Lamsdorf) became 344 towards the end of 1943. It was an extremely large camp & was set up in 1939 using existing WW1 camp constructions. Initially it was a transit camp which then became permanent. Early in 1943, V111B (Britenlager) included 318/V111F Lamsdorf (200,000 Soviet POWs of whom around 40,000 died) & V111D Teschen, making it one of the largest POW complexes. Because of the large influx of POWs after the Normandy landings, the complex was reorganised & separated as 344 Lamsdorf & V111B Teschen. Teschen (now Cieszyn) is about 120km south from Lamsdorf (now Lambinowice) in Poland. By February 1944 V111B Teschen was the administrative base for many of the Silesian Arbeitskommandos (Work Camps), mainly mining, including 53 which contained 11,500 British POWs. (The designation 'British' also applied to all subjects of the British Empire e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.) Most of these work camps were many kilometres from the main camp & the POWs lived, as well as worked, there. (Some in deplorable conditions). From the middle of January 1945, the POWs in the work camps were force-marched through Czechoslovakia away from the Russian advance. The last group left the main camp at V111B Teschen on about 20th Jan 1945. My uncle, Walter Sinclair,VX613,2/2nd Field Reg,AIF, POW 92192, died on that march & has no known grave. He was transferred to Teschen, 11/01/44 from 344 Lamsdorf. He wrote of the change from V111B to 344 on a postcard dated 26/12/43. He arrived V111B Lamsdorf, 14/4/43,from V11A Mooseburg,21/08/41,following his capture on Crete,31/05/41.

Cheryl Smith

Sgt. John Staley 23rd Field Regiment Royal Artillery

Photo of dad sitting centre row is attached. The photo was taken at the salt mines in Ober Silasia.

My father, Sgt. Jack Staley of the 39/45 Battery, 23rd Field Regt Royal Artillery, was captured June 6th or 10th 1940 at St. Valery-en-Caux. He ended up in Stalag 8b and was repatriated after the death march on the 24th May 1945. The 51st Highland Division and many other units were surrounded and captured at this village. He was given the Military Order of the Firing Squad - a United States award. If anyone can shed a little light, I would be appreciated.

Bob Staley

Cpl. Percy "Pat" Preston 2nd Btn. Norfolk Regiment

Percy, better known as Pat, is in the front row, centre.

My grandfather Corporal Percy "Pat" Preston from the 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment, was captured at Dunkirk and taken to the POW camp Stalag 8B. The photograph was taken around 1940 when he was first captured (at Dunkirk) and taken to Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf. Percy survived the camps and was repatriated back to the United Kingdom in 1943.

He passed away in 1966 in Kelling Army Hospital in Norfolk. He lived all his life in Bungay, Suffolk, married in 1945 and had four children.

Debra Watkins

Leonard Morgan Hopkins Welsh Fusiliers

Leonard Morgan Hopkins of the Welsh Fusiliers was captured in 1940 and was imprisoned in Stalag 8b until 1944. He also involved in the infamous death march across Poland. Len is still alive and well and living in Flintshire.

Cpl. Alexander Stephen MM. Royal Signals

My Stepfather, Corporal Alexander (Sandy) Stephen (now deceased), Royal Signals, 51st Highland Division, was captured at St.Valery and incarcerated in Stalag 8b. Prior to the surrender, he carried out a feat of bravery (unknown) and was awarded the Military Medal (post war I believe). I also believe that it was he, who sent the notification of surrender decision by the GOC. back to London before he was captured. Although he was a Signals Corporal, he was in fact a Master Baker and Confectioner. Having spent 26 years on Her Majesty's Service myself, I am not surprised! I have seen pictures of him playing the guitar in the Camp band. I believe that he was later sent to Bavaria and was put to work in a bakery.

Rick Stephen

Alfred W. Pollard

My father Alf W Pollard was a soldier in the 51 Highland Div, he was with the British Expeditionary Force and was captured in Belgium marched to Lamsdorf POW camp 8b his POW no was 11159 he was repatriated by the Americans at the wars end.

Geoff Pollard

Sgt. William "Tiny" Adams

My dad Sergeant William Adams, his number was 96084, was in Stalag 8b. (I have a Christmas postcard sent to my mother dated 3rd Jan 1942. It was drawn Thomas Burke Stalag 20a). He later went to Stalag 383. He was captured in Crete. He was a commando and because he was tall people called him "Tiny". He lived in Lowestoft.

Sally Wilson

Leonard Hurrell

Both my Granddad and his nephew were British POWs in Stalag 344. The nephew, Leonard Hurrell, worked in the administrative offices of the camp. My Granddad, Bombadier Charles Thomas Wheatley (Royal Artillery) was handed over to the Germans by the Italians when he was transferred from Campo 59 in Servigliano, Italy to Stalag 344. Working in the offices allowed Leonard to read the lists of new prisoners. When he saw that his uncle, Charles was among the new prisoners in the camp, he requested that my Granddad was moved to his hut. Granddad arrived in the camp in late 1943. Like many, my Granddad did not speak about the war and, regrettably, he is no longer with us. However, Leonard is still very lucid about the events of this period.

Currently, I am working on a personal project, a gift for my Dad. My Granddad kept a picture postcard of my Dad's christening. On the back, he detailed (as much as he could) the locations he was in during his war years (Dunkerque, Africa and the Middle East) and some dates. I have ordered a copy of the 1942 world map. I plan to flag the cities my Granddad listed and hope to provide information on the life in the camp and the forced march through Germany. If you feel you can provide any assistance, I would greatly appreciate it.

Samantha Constable

Bdr Charles Thomas Wheatley Royal Artillery

Both my Granddad and his nephew were British POWs in Stalag 344. The nephew, Leonard Hurrell, worked in the administrative offices of the camp. My Granddad, Bombadier/Corporal Charles Thomas Wheatley (Royal Artillery) was handed over to the Germans by the Italians when he was transferred from Campo 59 in Servigliano, Italy to Stalag 344. Working in the offices allowed Leonard to read the lists of new prisoners. When he saw that his uncle, Charles was among the new prisoners in the camp, he requested that my Granddad was moved to his hut. Granddad arrived in the camp in late 1943. Like many, my Granddad did not speak about the war and, regrettably, he is no longer with us. However, Leonard is still very lucid about the events of this period. Currently, I am working on a personal project, a gift for my Dad. My Granddad kept a picture postcard of my Dad's christening. On the back, he detailed (as much as he could) the locations he was in during his war years (Dunkerque, Africa and the Middle East) and some dates. I have ordered a copy of the 1942 world map. I plan to flag the cities my Granddad listed and hope to provide information on the life in the camp and the forced march through Germany. If you feel you can provide any assistance, I would greatly appreciate it.

Samantha Constable

John McLean MacFadyen

My father, John McLean MacFadyen, RAF, from Greenock in Scotland, was a prisoner at Stalag VIIIB, having been captured on Crete. I should be interested in hearing from anyone who knew him.

Ian MacFadyen

James Victor Allen Oxford and Bucks

I believe my father, James Victor Allen, from the Oxford and Bucks was a prisoner in Stalag 8B he was reported to have been in the march from Poland to Germany. My father died in 1967, aged 44. I know almost nothing about his life during the war, but would love to know more about it. Is there anyone who remembers him?

James Victor Allen

Gould 189th Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps

My grandfather was a prisoner at Stalag 8b, I have just received his diary that covers some of his time there, also 3 group photos that he posted home whilst there. From a piece of paper in his diary I am assuming he was a member of the 189th Fd Amb RAMC, and I would be really grateful if anyone could give me any information on this.

Also one of the photos has the following names and numbers on the back, does it ring any bells for someone, I would be happy to send a copy of the pictures to anyone who may be related to Harold Geo Tyler 22271 of Hereford or Charles E Scovell 22153 of Southampton

Y Gould

Pte. Harry "Sonny" Walker Royal Army Service Corps

Taken in Rome, Private Harry

My Grandfather was in Stalag VIIIB. He was Private Harry "Sonny" Walker and was in the RASC, from Rawcliffe (nr.Goole). He was captured around the battle of Tobruk and was sent to Italy. When Italy capitulated he escaped for 8 weeks before been recaptured. Then he was sent to Stalag VIIIB. If anyone has any more information I would love to hear from you.

Stephen Walker

George Arthur Jones King's Liverpool Regiment

George Arthur Jones, with the pipe in the front row.

My uncle, George Arthur Jones from Liverpool, spent three and half years in Stalag 8b during WWII. I don't know anymore but guess he was with the King's Liverpool Regiment. He's the chap with the pipe in the front row.

Jeremy Jones

Cpl. Ted Sinnott South Lancashire Regiment

My late Uncle, Cpl Ted Sinnott, born 1921, Widnes, Cheshire (then Lancashire) was taken POW at raid on St Nazaire, France 28/3/1942. Eventually transferred to Lamsdorf 8b/344 around June 1942 before transfer to Stalag XXA Thorun, Poland (1944) and eventually Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, Germany and liberation April 1945.

He served with South Lancs Regt. before joining No 2 Commando in late 1940 after surviving Dunkirk. It would be great if anyone reading this knew of my uncle/or about life in this camp, and could contact me.

John Sinnott

Claude Wyatt-Mair British 8th Army

My Dad, Claude Wyatt-Mair wrote a memoir of his time between 1939 and 1945. He was captured in Tobruk and ended up in Stalag 8c and 8b lamsdorf 344. I am trying to locate anyone who knew him.

David Wyatt-Mair

John Singleton

My uncle Jack Singleton was captured in Crete he was with the 8th Army during the 2nd World War and held in Stalag 8b. Fortunately he was one of the better treated apparently as he acted as the interpreter between the Germans and the other prisoners. He was held until the end of the war and upon his release it took my parents and my auntie (his wife) almost 2 years to get his weight back up to what it should be. His name was John Singleton but we always knew him as Uncle Jack. Unfortunately he passed away in 1996 and his wife passed within 4 weeks of him passing.

Grahame Singleton

Horace Kettle

My father Horace Kettle was captured in Crete and I wish to know more about what it must have been like to be in a POW camp like Stalag 8b. My father was Horace Kettle, Waitara, New Zealand. I have a note book that he wrote poems and drew pictures in. One page has a rugby team written in it, names are:
  • C. Cockerill nz
  • H Wigley nz
  • D Mc daonald nz
  • S Hadfield nz
  • P van Der Watt nz
  • C Spanhake nz
  • T Stewart nz
  • B Fisher nz
  • D Hawkins nz
  • R Hill Wales
  • A Ross Scotland
  • F Mariner Eng
  • G Biddlecombe Eng
  • D Muir scotland
  • D Scott nz
  • H Cousins Eng
  • F Appleton Eng
  • B Robins Eng
  • E Townsend Eng
  • E Lewis Eng
  • J Matthews eng
  • E Evans wales
  • A Hutchison eng
  • H Small Eng
  • T Wikes Eng
  • H Nellor Eng
  • H Smith eng
  • J Collerton eng
  • E Manwaring eng
  • S Baker eng
  • A Hewitt nz
  • G Grigor scotland

Phyllis Trelease

Pte. Leonard "Wingy " Woodhead 2nd Btn. Kings Own Royal Regiment(Lancaster)

My dad who from Leeds, West Yorkshire, Pte. Leonard Woodhead 2nd Bn King's Own Royal Regiment, was captured at Dunkirk whilst holding off the advancing Germans. He endured the "Death March" to Stalag V111B. He spent nearly 4 years in captivity in Lamsdorf. After an accident, in the forced labour coal mines, he lost his right hand and had multiple injuries to his head arms and legs. He met up with a fellow Yorkshireman, Richard Pape who was a captured RAF navigator,and after the war an author of a book on his wartime experencies. My dad was repatriated in November 1943, but before he left stalag V111b Richard Pape asked my dad if he would smuggle a message home to Ernest Osborn editor of the "Yorkshire Post Newspapers". He got this message through in a ring made out of a toothbrush. My dad describes his feelings in the book, “Boldness Be My Friend” written by Richard Pape, when he was stripped and searched by the German guards before he was allowed to embark on his way home. My Dad was known as Wingy Woodhead in the book. Risking his life Dad got the message to Ernest Osborn, and in return was presented a world atlas from the editor of the Yorkshire Post Newspaper, which I still have today. It has a signed and dated label in the front. Sadly my dad died in 1980, 2 months after my mother, I have one or two photos of him in Stalag v111b plus POW letters etc., if anyone has any more knowledge of him during his captivity I would be most interested in it.

Les Woodhead

Edward Beetlestone

I am trying to find this information on behalf of one of my work colleagues whose father, Ted Beetlestone, was captured (possibly during Dunkirk) and detained at Stalag VIIIb sometime before 1942 during WW2. Fred only has sketchy memories about his fathers 'war' and would just like to piece together what he can. During his father’s time at Stalag he participated in a Sports Meeting amongst the POWs in which he won two Shields, one for the Shot-put and one for the Discus.

I have enclosed photographs of both shields which as much as my colleague could tell me are made from wood from one of the beds in Stalag VIIIb. The metalwork is nailed in place and the detail is hand painted on. As you can see the Sports meeting was held on the First of June 1942 and was the second such meeting to be held there. The text that states 'BK. 37B' I would assume refers to [sic] his fellow bearer Charlie Reed sometime before June 1942. Ted was apparently returned to England as part of a prisoner exchange with the Germans. I don't know if prisoner transfers were very common (or if they actually happened) but could possibly of been because of his duties as part of the medical team and therefore being classed as a non-combatant? Fred would like to know any information regarding the history of the shields and the sports meeting. If you can shed any light on this moment in history it would be very much appreciated. Any information sent to myself will be passed on to Fred Beetlestone.

Scott Jones

Pte. David Tsubota The Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment

Private David Tsubota, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, participated in the disastrous Dieppe Raid with a company of his regiment, 110 members, of which only 44 men returned. Tsubota was taken prisoner and was sent to Stalag 8b. He was a POW until liberated by Allied troops in 1945.

His father, James Jitsuei Tsubota, served in the Canadian Army in WW I and was at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He also served in WW II as a Canadian Army Warrant Officer at the School of Oriental and African Studies where he was a Japanese language instructor for the British Army.

My source of information is a book by Roy Ito, We Went to War, The Story of Japanese Canadians who served during the First and Second World Wars; Canada's Wings Inc., Stittsville, Ontario, Canada, 1984.

Dennis McLaughlin

Robert Cossar

My father, Robet Cossar, held for a short time at Stalag 4b I have his German dog tags of Stalag 4B with his German number. He was passing through to Lansdorf Stalag VIIIB, next to Auchwitz where he spent most of his captivity years. He was used as forced labour at the synthetic rubber and petrol plant by IK Farben. The plants were bombed by the Americans during daylight raids by B17 bombers. But they missed and hit the Camp instead, a lot of allied prisoners were killed.

He remembers seeing his first jet plane a German fighter bomber; they thought it was powered by compressed air. They knew what was going on; every night was a visit from a reader who read out the BBC news which was received on a clandestine radio receiver. I saw my dad today and he still remembers it all.

Dave Cossar

Sgt. R A Adams Royal Warwickshire Regiment (d.9th May 1945)

Sgt R.A. Adams from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was among those killed in an air crash on the 9th May 1945. The aircraft a Lancaster Bomber III, RF230-JI-B, from 514 Squadron was detailed to take part in Operation "Exodus “, the evacuation of ex-prisoners of war.

In addition to the crew of the bomber there were 24 army POW’s, ranging from private to captain from various regiments, as well as a lieutenant in the U.S.A.A.F, who was not on the manifest.

All the names of the aircrew and ex-POWs on board the aircraft are listed below.

Aircraft Crew Members.

  • D. Beaton F/Lt.
  • A. McMurrugh F/Sgt.
  • R.B. Hilchey F/Off. RCAF
  • J.G. Brittain F/Sgt.
  • R.M. Toms P/Off. RCAF
  • O.C. Evers P/Off. RCAF
List of POWS on board aircraft.
  • Name. Regiment or Corps. Camp. Pow.No.Army No. Rank. Born.
  • R.W. Wheeler Royal Engineers 07B 340 85759 Capt. Kent
  • P.A.T. Campbell Royal West Kent Regt. 07B 224 124175 Lt. Southend-on-Sea
  • E.T.T. Snowdon Royal Artillery 07B 1123 94190 Lt. West London
  • R. A. Adams. Royal Warwickshire 344 12497 5111739. Sgt. Coventry
  • E. L. Belshaw. East Surrey Regt 383 6774 2650397 Cpl. Wigan
  • A. G. Thompson Worcestershire Regt. 344 6259 5253245 Cpl. Worcester
  • G.W. Franks Kings Royal Rifle 8B 2584 6844798 L/Cpl. London
  • H. Cummings Lancashire Fusiliers 344 35265 3461448 Fus. Salford
  • O. Parkin Lancashire Fusiliers 21D 4948 3448706 Fus.
  • J. Roe Irish Guards 8B 3308 2719806 Gdsm Birmingham
  • A.J.S. Crowe Royal Artillery 7A 125860 840450 Gunner Preston
  • A. N. Labotake SAA Gunner
  • W.L. Lindhelmer PAL
  • M. Maschit PAL
  • T. Anderson Cameron Highlanders 7A 137173 2940187 Pte. Glasgow
  • W. L. Ball Queens Royal Regt 8B 7289 804169 Pte. Ashford,Mx
  • S.J. Bayston Green Howards 7A 4751822 Pte. London
  • R.A. Betton K.S.L.I. 344 139030 4032985 Pte. Shropshire
  • R.E. Clark Royal Scots 7A 14286 5954856 Pte. Bedfordshire
  • W. Croston Pioneer Corps 8B 3737 2185985 Pte. Salford
  • R. Danson East Surrey Regt 7A 135108 3392078 Pte. Lancashire
  • R. Turnbull Durham Light Inf 8B 35785 4451208 Pte. Gateshead
  • P. Yates Leicestershire Regt 07B 83763 14208422 Pte. London. SW
  • T.J. Edwards Rfn.

The Lancaster took off at 0726 on the 9th May 1945 for the continent from Waterbeach and commenced the return flight from Juvincourt in France at 1215 hours. A message giving their time of arrival was received at his base at 1219 from the pilot, shortly afterwards the pilot reported he was experiencing trouble with the controls and was putting back to Juvincourt. But a further message sent by the aircraft at 1225 stated that it was making a forced landing. Flares were fired off from an airfield on route indicating permission to land to which no acknowledgment was received.

At 1230 hours this aircraft was seen by a number of witnesses on the ground to approach Roye Ami airfield from the west at a height of 10,000 feet. After circling the airfield twice the aircraft was seen to go into a steep bank to port, before going into a flat spin and crashing into the ground one mile east of Roye Ami.

On investigation into the crash, it was not possible to account for the necessity for a forced landing, as the aircraft seemed to be fully serviceable or to establish definitely the cause of the crash, which must therefore remain obscure. The position of the passengers to the rear of the fuselage however indicated that the aircraft may have been tail heavy, this could have resulted in the pilot finding the aircraft to be dangerously heavy and believing that there was something seriously wrong with the aircraft, he prepared to make a force landing at the nearest airfield, where he lost control and crashed. But whether their incorrect positions were assumed before or after difficulties arose when the aircraft became out of control could not be determined.

All the passengers and crew lost their lives and were buried at Clichy Northern Cemetery, which is on the northern boundary of Paris.

George Henry Damsell LC Columbo HMS Venetia

My granddad George Henry Damsell was captured at Dunkirk on 23rd May 1940 and marched to Stalag VIIIB. He was seconded from HMS Venetia to the landing craft Colombo. He joined the Navy as a boy on the 2nd Oct 1915. His official number was J44814. I would like to speak to anyone who can give me information about him

Nicola Wallace

Howard Peter Field Australian Signallers Corps

My uncle's name was Peter Howard Field, born 7 March 1919, at Glenelg, Adelaide, South Australia. He was a bus driver prior to entering into the Australian Army.

He entered the army into the 2nd Australian Imperial Force - Army Signallers Corps on the 6th of May 1940 in Adelaide, South Australia (Service no. SX2719). He Was taken on strength into the Southern Command and embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on the 10 August 1940 aboard the Greta, arrived in Bombay 3 September 1940 and then Palestine 12 October 1940.

He was then attached to the 2/2 Field Regiment, Royal Engineers. He embarked in the Middle East for service in Greece on 26 March 1941. He was reported missing on the 7 June 1941 in Crete. (I am not sure of the exact circumstance regarding his capture and probably will never know). Confirmed POW at Stalag VII A by International Red Cross on 28 October 1941. (Stalag VII A records show no Australian POWs in Stalag VII A, I assume Australian POWs were listed as British. This shows he must have been one of the earlier POWs at Stalag VII A). If I remember correctly he told us that whilst on transit to Stalag VII A, they were being transported via rail cars, and whilst in Austria en route to Stalag VII A while the train had stopped he was looking out of one of the vent slots, when there was a lot of SS and Gestapo officers milling around the rail area. He believed that he actually saw Adolf Hitler himself at this time. A German soldier hit him in the nose with the butt of his rifle, breaking his nose for being impertinent enough to cast his eyes on the Fuehrer. I am not sure of whether the following occurred in Stalag VII A or in Stalag VIII B, but the situation was poor and both POWs and German guards were starving and the POWs were not getting their Red Cross packages in full if at all. They resorted to killing a German guard dog to eat. He escaped from Stalag VII A (I do not know how) around July/August 1943 and was recaptured at the Swiss border from where he was transferred to Stalag VIII B until liberation in 1945. The dates are correct as are the internments at Stalag VII A and VIII B as recorded by the Australian Defence Force Archives. The other information is only what I remember him telling us as kids when he spoke of the war which was not often. He was awarded the 1939/45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal and the Australian Service Medal.

He died a couple of years ago know which makes a lot difficult to substantiate, I wish I had taken a keen interest in genealogy a few years earlier as I may have been able to document his history more accurately. We were all close to Uncle Peter and he is missed immensely by us. If anyone has any info that may be relevant please make contact.

Craig Elphick

Pte. Roy Alfred Lonsdale 1/7 Btn. Middlesex Regiment

Private 6846521 - Roy Alfred Lonsdale served with the 1st Kensington's and was held as POW No 6199 in Stalag 8b, Stalag 21a & Stalag 21d. Dad never talked much about that part of his life spent as a POW in Poland. On the few occasions that he did it made him very upset and depressed. He died in 1996. After my mother died I found a number of items that related to my father’s time as a POW. These included various documents, photographs and his "Soldier's Service and Pay Book", along with a small list of names and addresses.

He was required to present himself for military training on Saturday the 15th July 1939 in Winchester. Since leaving school he had first been a pantry boy and then a steward on the railway, working on the "Coronation" from Kings Cross, London to Waverley, Edinburgh. He had obviously worked the return journey from Edinburgh on Friday 14th because we have a menu with that date. What the chain of events from that day are I do not know.

What I do know is that Dad was taken prisoner at St Valéry on June 12th 1940, but have no details about his capture. The "Register Form For Recovered Allied Prisoners Of War" states that he was evacuated by the Americans on the 29th April 1945. The document states last prison Stalag VIIIB how long 4 years 11 mths, previous camp Stalag XXID. What I am confused about is where he was and when he was there. The paperwork in my possession says that his last prison camp was "Stalag VIIIB" and that he was there for 4 years 11 months and that previous to that he had been at "Stalag XXlD" but he had photographs from "Stalag XXlA" he was obviously at Stalag XXIA on July 7th 1942 because a "Next of Kin parcel card" of that date which he has signed shows his camp address as Stalag XXIA Germany. Page 4 of his service book lists the places he was taken to from his capture at St Valéry on June 12th 1940 until his arrival at Shulin? Poland on July 8th. Then some movements up to January 29th 1941.

The details that I have seem to point to the fact that dad was in Stalag XXIA for some considerable time and Stalag VIIIB for a short period of time but there are also a few photographs that relate to Stalag XXID. I'm not certain when he was at Stalag XXID or how I would find out these details. I have an article dad sent to a local paper in Dec 1961 about how the Germans tricked them into working extra hours and days. If anybody can add any other information please contact me.

Michael Lonsdale

Charles Saunders 2nd Btn. Welsh Guards

Charles Saunders. 2nd Battalion Welsh Guards On 21st May 1940 I was with the 2nd Battalion of the Welsh Guards when we arrived in Boulogne with the 2nd Battalion of the Irish Guards, to evacuate the British headquarters staff (including the Duke of Gloucester, whose job was liaison with the French forces). We landed in Boulogne Harbour but found that the staff and the Duke had left the day before we arrived. Our company established a temporary headquarters, and I was one of the guards outside. We were told that we would be taken by boat back to Britain as soon as it could be arranged. There was a lot of fighting going on in the town. The next day I was sent to try and find a stretcher for a wounded soldier. I found some stretcher-bearers, but they wouldn’t come with me. When I returned to the headquarters I found that everyone had gone – except the wounded soldier and two other soldiers who were looking after him. We made a stretcher from some sacks and some pieces of wood and I told the other two to take the wounded man to the hospital in the town. I then went off to find my company again. I found them elsewhere in the town. We were sent back to the harbour to get the boat back to Britain. However, there was only room on the boat for 800 men: 1,200 were left behind in Boulogne.

We were marched away from Boulogne, south along the coast. But we soon found we were marching towards a German machine gun post. We had to escape and hide. Eight of us hid in a building, and later four went off to see if they could find a way back to the harbour. We didn’t see them again. The four of us who remained (Charles, Arthur, Richard and William) spent the night in the building and in the morning we decided to go down to the harbour ourselves. As we approached the harbour someone began firing at us and we took shelter in a large building – a house - belonging to a transport firm. Fortunately the door was not locked. The house was empty. After a while we tried to leave, but we saw Germans coming around the corner. We ran back into the house and locked the doors. We expected the Germans to come after us, but nobody came.

We were in the house for about eight days. All we could find to eat and drink was sugar, some wine left in the bottoms of bottles we found, and rainwater. On the eighth day the water came on in the house. We lit a fire. Someone outside saw the smoke and knocked on the door. We saw that it was a Frenchman and we let him in. His name was Jean Abras. He had about three colleagues with him. Jean sent one of them to fetch a young schoolboy who could speak a little English. With the boy’s help they told us that they would get some food and civilian clothes for us. Jean took us out of the back of the house. We walked to Le Portel and then to Outreau. In Le Portel we walked right past the German headquarters! We then arrived at Jean’s mother’s house. Jean’s mother made us welcome. Somehow she managed to feed all of us. It must have been difficult for her as food was rationed, but she was helped in this by the great generosity of her family and friends.Sometimes we used to walk through the fields down to the beach to collect shellfish to help with the food rations. If we saw any Germans we would walk the other way!

We stayed with the family until 8th August. It was quite a big house. Maman Abras lived there with Jean and his wife Maria and five children: Marie Christine, Jeanne, Jean, Pipette and another small child who was very ill and unfortunately died the next year, I think. There were also Jean’s cousins Coco and Ninis (I think they were cousins). Downstairs were Maman Abras’s niece and her two daughters. We lived as part of the family. I used to get up first in the morning and make the coffee for everyone. The family taught us some French, and we tried to teach them a little English. We had a good time with them. Sometimes we would all sing together.

One of us would always sit near a window to watch in case any Germans came near the house. One day it was my turn to be on watch. Someone spoke to me and I looked away from the window. At that moment a German car stopped at the house. I gave the warning as soon as I realised, but it was too late. We tried to escape from the back of the house, but a German soldier had already reached the back door. We then went up to the roof of the house and hid in a cupboard. We were there for about two hours before they found us. We (and the Abras family) were taken to the gendarmerie as prisoners, and then we were moved to Arras.

Originally we soldiers, Jean, Coco and Ninis shared the same cell, but later we had individual cells. The soldiers were taken to the German Field Police headquarters for interrogation. Each of us was questioned alone and we were not allowed to talk to each other. But when we arrived back at the gendarmerie a very friendly gendarme said “Would you like to have a conference together now?”. He opened the five cells (there were five because there was another British soldier who was a prisoner there) and we could walk into one cell to talk together. The gendarme shut the door but did not lock it. He said that if he told us to come out quickly, we should go back to our own cells as quickly as we could. We could then talk about our interrogations. We made sure that we all told the same story to the Germans whenever we were interrogated. I didn’t find out what had happened to the Abras family until Jean wrote to me after the war.

From Arras they moved us to Lille, then back to Boulogne. We were eventually put on a train – in cattle trucks – and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Poland, first a transit camp and then to Stalag 8b at Lamsdorf, near Opole. I was only there for three days when they told about 20 of us that we would be sent to join a mining group. However, we arrived at a place called Birkentahl (I think) where our job was not mining – it was helping to widen and deepen a river. This was in November or December 1940

Just after Christmas they moved us to Buchenlost near Gliwice, to do forestry work. I was there for the rest of the war.

The Abras family were wonderful people, very kind and very brave. I have always been extremely grateful for all they did for us in 1940. I am so pleased that our friendship remains to this day, 64 years later!

Charles Saunders

Cpl. Eric William Sutherland 23rd Btn.

My father Eric William Sutherland (He was a Corporal with the 23rd Battalion 2nd NZEF) was wounded and captured in Greece in April 1941. He spent time in Stalag 8B then was shipped to Stalag 383.

He passed away 30 years ago and we have only 2 pictures taken while he was at Stalag 383. In the top picture dad is back row 2nd from the left and in the bottom picture he is back row right hand side. We are trying to identify any others in the photographs.

Bob Sutherland

Ray Walker Royal Army Medical Corps

5th February 1945

At the time of writing this, I am listening to Artillery fire and bombing near this camp known as Stalag 344. About five thousand of us are awaiting our release by Russian troops. These are memories of my captivity. On May 29th 1940, we were in position near a river "somewhere north of Ypres". After a day of excitement and peril, beginning at approximately 7.00 a.m. with our billet, a barn, being set on fire by Jerry, I was captured. On our way back to German H.Q. we picked up three of our chaps who were wounded, and left then at a German R.A.P. After that, we who were fit marched back under guard to a house and stayed the night in the garden. It was cold and we were soon wet through with dew. Next day we moved on and at night reached Rosalere having covered about 45 kilometres. Our billet was a convent school. During the night the RAF bombed the town but missed us. From there we moved on another 38 kilos to a small place I do not know by name. Four days we stayed there in a small school playground. My 25th birthday was spent in this place. On June 4th we moved on another 41 kilos to Coudenarde. After being paraded round the town we were put in an old Belgian army barracks where we stopped for 3 days, most of the time queued up for food. There were thousands of British and French mixed, up. We were to curse the French fluently from then on. Whenever we moved from then on, the French were put in front. They carried so much kit - food and clothing - that they could not keep up with the British who had nothing. We saw these !*! sitting by the roadside eating while we starved and marched on. As the march progressed, the French straggled out more and more, so at each fresh start - mostly daily occurrences they were given longer starts on the British.

On June 7th, we left Coudenarde and marched 35 kilos to Edingem, where we arrived at 11 p.m. On the road jerry guards stopped the British for over two hours while the French straggled on ahead. Then, in threes we were told to march on. One of the Germans said "Sing Tommy", so we sang "Tipperary" and others of the old favourites. To show we weren't too down hearted we sang "Hang out our Washing on the Siegfried Line"; as we came to the field where we were to spend the next couple of days. The Germans here didn't see eye to eye with us and bashed into us with big sticks yelling and raving. Because we couldn't understand then, they got real mad. June 8th; word came out to us that we could write a letter from here - only a short one. This I believe got home. In a full view of a road, three of us had a rough strip-down wash in a pint and a half of water. It felt good.

Sunday June 9th: We left this spot and hiked onward. 40 Kilos we went that day to a place I haven't the name of. Somewhere I slipped up as I usually wrote the names and distances as a destination became apparent en route. At this place we were put into an old mill of some kind. Textile weaving I believe. In the yard we crowded, and at the end nearest the building were three field cookers, with Belgian Red Cross workers, issuing soup, not much, but it was good to our hungry bellies. We filed through and then on to the building to "grab" ourselves a spot on which to sleep. As we left here on June 10th, I wrote down what I thought was the name of the town from a railway signal box. Seeing it several times afterwards on other boxes I knew I was wrong. It may have meant north, South, East or West but it wasn't the name of town. 32 Kilos onward - not 'half-a-league' - we stopped at a town named WAVRE. On the way we passed through HAL and WATERLOO. Our route was skirting us round BRUSSELS. All this time we were living on what food we could get here and there from people in villages and towns we passed through. The Germans seemed to have no organisation to deal with P.O.W. As my fellow Stretcher-Bearer and myself [sic] were keeping with our Sgt. Major, who by this time was feeling "groggy", we didn't get much food. Those "froggies" in front didn't leave much for our boys either. The next place - Tienen, carried us towards Germany another 43 Kilos. At this place we all got some soup and rice as we went into field. It was midnight before I was "served'. This was June 11th. On the 12th we had the shortest march of the lot - 18 Kilos to St.Trudien. As we entered this place, people lined the streets to see us. Not to cheer but to sympathise - they were Belgians. We did manage to get a few lumps of sugar, two small bars of chocolate and a macaroon, which we shared. From here we went to Tongeren, 21 Kilos 'up the road'. All the places we passed showed signs of bombing or shelling. Some of the big towns were severely damaged.

June 14th, we left 'Tongeren and soon after crossed the Dutch border. About 2.00 p.m. we reached our camp on the outskirts of Maastricht, after a 30 Kilo march. 6.00 p.m. a 2/Lt came over and said all Medical Corps and S.B's were to keep separate, if the German doctor had time to see our pay books and pass us; there was a chance of us going home from there. Next morning we moved out with the rest and got 1/5 of a loaf and a piece of raw pork fat. Holland- the part we saw - greatly impressed us a clean, nice place after what we had seen in Belgium. On the 15th we marched our last 30 Kilos. Crossing through Heerlen, the Dutch Red Cross had tables in the street and as we went past, we got something from them. I got a small packet of sweets a slice of bread and a small bun. We were all grateful. The end of that march was a railway siding 2 Kilos in Germany at a small place named Palensberg. We knew we were in Germany alright, as every house was hung with a Swastika flag. On this siding, there were some German nurses who treated blistered feet and dressed one or two minor wounds. A German officer of some sort wanted the brass band harp badge I wore on my tunic sleeve. When it was explained - not truthfully I am afraid - that it was a souvenir from my dead comrade, he seemed pretty decent and told me to keep it, so I promptly took it down and put it away in an inside pocket. Out of sight out of mind.

Later we were put 50 in a cattle truck and taken away. All night we travelled and arrived next day at a place like a level crossing. From this point we marched on a very rough track about 3 miles to a camp, only British were on this party, as the French were separated at Palensberg - (loud cheers under breath). This camp proved to be only a transit camp, so, arriving on June 16th we left on the 19th. Three days on a train brought us to the place where this is being written - Lamsdorf in Upper Silesia. (Stalag VIII B) Friday June 21st was that fateful day. Here we were registered and given a German field card to send home the "glad" news, on this, the phrase "I am lightly wounded" did not get crossed out and caused mother a lot of unnecessary worry.

Now started a "grand" time for us. We were fed on very watery soup, with 3 or 4 potatoes separate, for dinner. About 5.00 p.m. we got 1/5 of a loaf of bread about 10 ozs - with a very, very small portion of margarine and jam. After this we had to do from 8.30 to 10.00 a.m. and 5.00 6.00 p.m. Physical Training. When not on this we were either hunting LICE or resting in any place we could outside. Every time you stood up, you suffered from a "black-out' and then "spots before the eyes". This state of affairs, together with dysentery lasted for a long time. That winter was very severe and we had no warm clothing, no great coats and only two blankets. They were black days. A weekly paper, in English was issued to us, telling us the news - German version. They had done everything to us. Sunk our Navy three times over and practically sunk England. Sane chaps took it to heart and got real down hearted. We started a choir and sang four-part harmony. One chap produced a Saxophone he had carried from France. With this going, we got an hours singing at night during the good weather, instead of P.T.. It was impossible to make anyone realise what really happened on that March and in the following years of captivity. Many times the Germans tried to break our spirits. In some individual cases they succeeded, but on the whole, they failed.

By Christmas 1940, with one or two piano accordions and several mouth organs, we raised an Orchestra and produced "Snow White and the Seven 'Twerps", There is no need to state where this was taken from. That Christmas seems to have been lucky as on December 24th we received our first Red Cross Food Parcel and on the 27th I had my first letter from England. It was from my mate and his wife. Mother’s first letter came about three weeks later.

I was recognised as a person protected by the Geneva Convention and on April 2nd, 1941 went to another camp, (Stalag XX1 A), at Schildberg, which was 18 Kilos over the Polish border, passing through Oppeen and Kreuzberg on the way. This camp seemed like heaven after the one we had left. Here the doctor would only accept R.A.M.C. men, as the job we went to take on was working in hospitals. So when the camp had a 'clear out' on April 10th, ten of our party of twenty six moved on. About 200 men were in this party, which went on to Woolstien (Stalag XXI C/H). This was a French camp and we seemed unwanted guests. We stayed here for eight days and the "protected" men had a hard job to keep out of going on the pleas-ant job of canal digging. This we managed at the last minute without the aid of the R.S.M. in charge. 120 men left us on the 17th and we other 80 or so, moved next day to Sudhof, (Stalag XXI C/Z later XXI E), which is 3 Kilos out-side Gratz. This had been a French camp but was being taken over by British P.O.W. Towards the end of May we had a lot of snow and bitterly cold weather. About this time the remaining French left us. The Medical Orderlies were good chaps and so were the two doctors and the dentist. Us chaps, who were taking over the hospital, got up a farewell party, which consisted of a feed and afterwards some singing. This was broken up by a German Corporal assisted by two guards with rifles and fixed bayonets. When he first came in - without guards - we took no notice but carried on singing. The second time he didn't argue. Late next day, we learned that the senior French doctor had been fined 50 Riechmarks £3-6-8 for some alleged offence. We knew it was in connection with our party, so we raised the money to repay him. He declined the money and told us it was well worth that amount for so enjoyable an evening, so everyone was satisfied and happy. In the meantime a Saxophone, Clarinet, Trumpet, String Bass, Trombone and Bass Drum had come to light. A piano was in a small concert hall, so our "Orchestra" was started. The Saxophonist and Clarinet player were Army Bandsmen and quite good. Our Trumpet player was fairly good, too, but the chap who took the Trombone Well! X?. Later, this was taken over by a chap who did know a little about it. The pianist played by ear and not music. For a Side Drum - the small one - we had a 2Olb jam tin turned upside down with a bunch of keys jangling on the bottom. The String Bass player was myself - least said soonest forgotten.

On June 22nd we heard Russia hail come in on our side. That morning I was told to report to the Commandants Office. Wondering what was wrong, I went. A new addition had arrived. An 80 Bass Accordion. He wanted to know if this was a good instrument and I played what I could remember of "Black Eyes" for him as a test. From then on I took the Accordion - not that I was good and another chap took the Bass. The Commandant was proud of the band, and thereafter, when anyone came to the camp, we were sent for post haste to play something. He got us music in the form of German dance arrangements.

In May, just before the French left, we put on our first Variety show and called it "Spring is in the Air" No.1, that afternoon it snowed. Soon after the French left two British Medical Officers arrived. We spent a' good summer in Sudhof camp. October brought rumours of our camp becoming Russian and the British were leaving. Hospital staff and doctors stopping. We were to stay until February 1942. However, they changed that and we left on November 2nd 1941 to return to Schildberg. I went practically straight into the Orchestra there, on a Baritone, playing bass parts. Soon after the New Year of 1942, a party of Repats - back from Rouen - joined our Stalag and I met many chaps I knew.

Whilst at Gratz, I had written for confirmation of my being a Stretcher Bearer protected under the Geneva Convention. In February the answer came that Records Office knew nothing of my being a S.B. Of course, I was promptly crossed off the rolls by the Germans. That made me elligible for work at anything, anywhere. Being in the orchestra saved me. I got a small job in the camp. A three valved Euphonium came soon after this, so I took that over in place of the Baritone. The orchestra had grown from 18 to 40 strong and it gave many concerts, which were greatly appreciated. Just before Christmas, we bought a String Bass and knowing something about it, I took that on. It was difficult at first, as I had only done dance work with the String Bass, but with plenty of practice, I made myself fairly good.

In March 1943, Stalag XXI A closed down. The fit men went on three working parties. My party was last to leave and went to Krotoschin and became No.14 attached to Stalag XXI D. This was the nearest I ever got to breaking my hope that I would never have to work for Germany. We went to Krotoschin on Monday 29th March 1943 and we were given a week to 'settle down'. On Thursday we were taken out to "view the job". It was "miles from anywhere". No house or person in sight. In places it was ankle deep with water - very marshy. The contractor and surveyor were rank jews. The former handed out shovels saying,' "Ein uhr schnell arbeit" meaning "One hours quick work". He got it - I don't think. Then a real heavy snow storm came on. What a day! April 1st. Friday 2nd was spent in thinking up ways of getting off the party and back to main camp. Mine came on Saturday the 3rd, in the form of a recognition paper, making me again a protected person. I stopped on the job as medical orderly and went out each day with the workers. My main job, other than first aid, was heating up the 9 a.m. drinks, which chaps took out in beer bottles.

In September thirteen unrecognised medicals were called in to join the Repats. For some reason they missed it but went in May 1944. My chum went on that. We had many disputes with the Germans over the amount of work that should be done. More often than not we got our own way. For three days we stayed out from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. They said we had to do 27 trains of earth, or stop there until we had. The lads did 12, which was 3 less than we had done before. They cut it to 18 - we still "kicked", 15 was our number. In the end, the guards "gave" us 1 and the foreman gave us 2 and we did our 15. Everyone was satisfied. This party was billeted beyond a German barracks, of which there were three in the town. On May 30th 1944 we moved into Stalag XXI D Posen. The camp there was an old fort, named Foert Rauch. The day before this the RAF had bombed Posen and there was plenty of damage to be seen. Within a week I got a job in the Medical Inspection Room doing dressings etc. Whilst in this camp I managed to do quite a bit of swimming.

Posen broke up on August 17th and we went to Tescgen (Stalag VIII B), but out of 890, they could only take 500, so, with the remainder, I travelled on and got back to Lamsdorf, (now STALAG 344) on August 20th 1944. This camp seemed to have got worse during my absence. Several days we saw our bombers go over to bomb Oppeln and Blechammer. They always used our camp as a turning point.

On Monday, 22nd January 1945 the evacuation of this camp began. My block was due to go on the 23rd. We did actually line up on the road, but the guards marched off without us. This was now February 10th, and we are hourly expecting Russian troops to arrive. For days we have listened to the gun fire, shelling and bombing, which is moving past us in the North West. We get the news twice a day from a set, somewhere in the camp. Now, like all the others I say "Come on Joe"! This is 4 years and 9 months after my capture. I hope to celebrate the fifth anniversary in England, if not at home.

Sunday 11th February 1945 Today things are quiet. There have been several "strafing" attacks on the aero-drome close by, by Russian fighters. Germans have declared this area to be in a state of siege.

Monday 12th February 1945 Early this morning, 8.00 a.m. a lone Russian bomber came over and bombed the aerodrome. The A. A. send plenty of stuff up, but did not seem to hit any planes. German fighters seem to be elsewhere when 'Joe's boys' came over. Fairly heavy artillery fire in W. & N.W.

Tuesday 13th February 1945 Bad weather. Slight snow. Not much sound of activity.

Wednesday 14th February 1945 Early this morning - approximately 4.30 a.m. Heavy artillery from N.W. and very close. Most probably German artillery shelling Russian bridge head over the River Oder. No further activity. Plenty of rumours regarding a move. Can't see where Germans can move us, as we are virtually surrounded. Thursday 15th February 1945

More heavy shelling heard again. Air attacks also continue on air-field, but no German aircraft to be seen.

Friday 16 February 1945 Early morning, a Russian tank came up to the camp perimeter and the commander spoke English. He said the Russians would rescue us in the next few days.

17th February 1945 Sounds of fighting now seem to be moving in a direction indicating the Germans are retreating.

Sunday 18th February 1945 We are expecting the Russian forces at any time now.

Completed From Memory 28/5/81: On 19th February 1945, German guards suddenly appeared in the camp and said we had one hour to pack our things to move. Everyone was astounded that they planned to move us. There was only a single line railway in the area so we thought it was madness to use this. However, we were taken to the local station, and put 53 to a cattle truck. Where we were off to no-one knew. Twelve days we spent on this journey. During this time we saw a great number of trains filled with German civilians just trying to get away from the fighting. On many occasions we were stopped for air-raids and had to sweat it out hoping that we weren't attacked. The guards always fled to a safe distance. Our luck held. . A train load of P.O.W. following us was shot up, having some killed and wounded. Anything on the railways was a fair target for the Allied Air Forces. Our "piece de resistance" while on the journey was going to bed. Starting at one end of the truck, one chap would lie down and wrap his blankets round him, then another chap would do the same, only in a head to toe position, number 3 would follow the same way as the first chap and number 4 the same as number 2 and so on. The whole 53 managed to fit in in this manner. Getting up was in the reverse order.

On 3rd March 1945 we arrived at a small place called Hammelburg. After we left the train, there was a hard march over a steep hill to a camp. After our lack of exercise many rests had to be made before we got to the camp. Hammelburg is not far from Sweinfurt. The air-raid warnings were almost continuous here.

It was whilst in this camp that one 'day we were startled to hear a commotion from a nearby officers POW camp. Later, some new American POW's were brought in and we learned that General George Patton had sent tanks some 50 miles forward, to rescue his son-in-law from the Oflag. The tanks had run short of petrol and so the petrol was siphoned from half of them to allow the others to escape. It was during our stay at this camp that the "great escape" took place. This came about in the following manner. One day word got round the camp that the Germans were going to take the British prisoners out, to march on the roads. This was a ploy to stop the Allies Air Forces from strafing the retreating columns using the roads.

Early the next morning, before the "round-up" was due, holes appeared in the barbed wire fences, and streams of men could be seen heading for nearby woods, carrying all their possessions in bundles. I and two others thought we had a good hide-out - in an empty sentry post on the perimeter of the camp. After about two hours, we had an awful fright when we saw a German N.C.O coming towards our hiding place. This is it, we thought. Fortunately - his attention was caught by one of the large holes, and he went through this, back into the camp. Another attempt was made later, and on this occasion, I managed to evade the guards by being hidden by Italian prisoners in their hut. When the guards came, all lights (home-made wicks in grease) were blown out and everyone pro-tested so hard that there were no British in the hut, that the guards were convinced and left.

The camp was eventually taken over by the U.S. forces on 11th April 1945. We were flown home on 14th April.

Ray Walker

Harry Adams 4th Btn. Green Howards

Harry Adams served in the 4th Battalion the Green Howards and was a POW in Stalag 8b during WW2.

Sam Auerbach Royal Engineers

Sam Auerbach served in the Royal Engineers during WW2 and was a POW in Stalag 8b.

Hugh Aynsley

Stalag 8b

John Joseph Bagnall

John Joseph Bagnall was a POW in Stalag 8b during WW2.

S Baker

Stalag 8b

William Ball West Surrey Queens Royal Regiment

Stalag 8b

Harry Bates Parachute Brigade

Stalag 8b

Pte. R. A. Betton King's Shrophire Light Infantry

Stalag 8b

Sam Bickley

Stalag 8b

G. Biddlecombe

Stalag 8b

Henry Blackburn ksli2

Stalag 8b

Private L. Borrows

Stalag 8b

Cecil Broomfield

Stalag 8b

Frank Brooks

Stalag 8b

Sgt. Don Bruce 115 Squadron

Stalag 8b

Cpl. Leslie James Butt 2/11 Battalion

Stalag 8b

Jack Bryson

Stalag 8b

D. Cain

Stalag 8b

Cpl. John James Jones 10th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My Father Jack Jones, was captured on Crete when the Germans parachuted on to the Island. My father and his mates were backed on to the beach and before they surrendered they all removed their boots and threw them in the sea, as the Germans shot on site any Commandos captured and they could only identify them by their boots.

They were then marched to Poland, Lambowich to Stalag VIII-B POW Camp where he spent the rest of the war. I have recently found his diary of the Long March to Poland and the food rations they were given. Like many captives my Dad did not speak much about the war or the March but all of the situations they faced must have been horrific. God bless all those who gave so much for us

Ian Jones

Charles Leslie "Timber" Wood 9th Btn. Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

These are notes written by my father for school work for his grandson. We found them recently:

It was June 1939, I had to sign on as a Militia Man which was compulsory and in October 1939 I was called up, the war having begun Sept 3rd 1939. I boarded the train at Middlesbrough Station to Darlington and after an arduous day ended at Alnwick in the 9th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. I was billeted with 80 others in the Drill Hall at Alnwick and slept on a palliasse (a thin straw mattress) on the floor of the drill hall. The following morning after a succession of interviews name, home address etc. I ended the day being Fusilier C L Wood 4275280. Then followed the training to make us all first class soldiers if that was possible.

In December we moved from Alnwick to Gosforth Park Racecourse near Newcastle and about the same time a few NCOs and Officers were drafted to us from the 1st Battalion stationed in Egypt. How smart they were compared to us rookies – we had a long way to be as good as they were! We were a machine gun battalion, and practised on what was called DPguns (Demonstration Purposes), and it was with these guns we went into action. They were serviced by RAOC but never tried until May 23rd 1940. At Gosforth Park we were given, but never got embarkation leave. We left there about April 21st arriving in Southampton on April 22nd. The following morning we embarked on a ship called the Fenella, with a red and white Rose in everybody's tin hat because April 23rd is St Georges day. That day is the Regimental Day, because the regimental cap badge depicted St George killing the dragon.

So off we went to France and we landed at Cherbourg (The Fenella was attacked by Aircraft and sunk 29 May 1940). Moving from the docks in cattle trucks made for horses, we arrived at a tiny village called Monchy Breton eventually ending up at St Omer on the 23rd May 1940. What a surprise was waiting for us. The serviced DP gun jammed after firing one round and to complicate matters we came up against General Rommel’s Army and I became a P.O.W on May 23rd.

What a dejected lot we were being forced to march across France. The water placed at the side of the road in enamel buckets by the French people was kicked over by the German soldiers before anyone could get a drink. It was this behaviour that led me and a companion to escape which wasn't difficult. The danger was being shot if the guard saw you. At least you would be able to get a drink of water whenever you wanted Hope of getting back to England was limited, we were on the loose in a foreign country, with no idea what was happening, and no way of communicating with anyone. It was inevitable we would be recaptured. After four attempts to escape, I was finally caught near Sedan behind the Maginot Line and where the Germans had broken through the Ardennes. It was from here I was taken to Beau Châteaux in Belgium. I was put to work for several weeks for the German Luftwaffe (German Air-force) as a skivvy, washing dishes etc. I was given food leftover in the cook-house to take back to the camp. There was another 7 British soldiers with whom I shared grub. They had built a partial grass hut to sleep in with pine branches laid on the roof to keep the rain out.

Our next camp was Trier in Germany which was placed on a hill. It had wooden barrack huts and it was in this camp I was arrested for watching the French roast potatoes on an open space in front of the hut. When I asked the French interpreter what I had done wrong all he said to me was “you go to prison twice”. It wasn’t until the early hour early hours that I realised what he was trying to tell me. I was in a cell in one of the barracks and therefore I was in a prison in a prison camp. Next morning after swilling my cell out, I was brought to the entrance of the barracks and my gaoler asked what had to be done with me? The answer I found out in the next minute for I was turned towards the doors and given a hefty kick up the backside which propelled me me through the doors. I ended up sprawled flat on my face in the prison camp. I picked myself up and hurried back to my own billet. We had still not been officially recognised as prisoners of war. It was only after travelling another two days and three nights on a train to the next camp Stalag X11A Limburg that we were.

I became Krugsgefangener (Prisoner of war) No 21556 and got my first taste of the most revolting dish I had ever tasted in my life, and to make matters worse it was cooked by British P.O.Ws. It was supposed to be a German delicacy, Sauerkraut! How on earth could they mess sour cabbage up. Well I’ll tell you they were too lazy to take it out of the barrel and wash it in cold water. Instead they just tipped out the barrels of cabbage vinegar and all and added few potatoes.

I was glad to leave StalagX11A. We travelled across Germany for another 3 days and 3 nights, 80-100 in each cattle truck. We ended up in Thorn near Danzig on the river Vistula. Did I say I was glad to leave Limburg? Well, I would go back - at least it was clean. This was the Balloonhalle Fort X11A, Stalag XXA Thorn Poland and it was here I was introduced to the louse. On entering the camp we were searched and were told only one shirt or one pullover, not both. During this search any excess clothing was taken. However this did not affect me. I had only a thin German shirt given to me in Limburg. I eagerly accepted a French Army pullover from one of the lads with excess clothing.

After finding my billet which was a marquee tent I wandered around the camp and came across a sergeant with his shirt off delousing. On asking what he was doing, he said “Have you just come in today?" To which I said "Yes!" "Well you'll be here tomorrow!” and I was. Those lice were to become a pest to all P.O.Ws. in Stalag XXA for the next 18 months. Thorn or Stalag XXA consisted of 7 forts built by East Prussians in the nineteenth century. Of these, Fort 19, was the Laundry, Fort 12 was the showers and Fort 14 the Hospital Forts. 11,13, 15, and 17 housed all P.O.W,s with tempory camps added to Fort 11 became 11A. Similarly Fort 13 became 13A and we were overun with lice, nobody escaped, everybody had them and I mean everybody! The German Authority delighted in this I'm sure, by moving prisoners with lice from one camp to another where prisoners were clear of lice.

During this period of 1940/41 I moved from Fort 12A to Fort 15 and it was there everybody got rid of lice one room at a time. Clothes were deloused in a steam engine and fresh straw put in all palliasses. This was short lived however because we were moved to Fort 13A and awoke the following morning crawling with lice again. Later in 1940 we moved to Fort 11 and once again got rid of the lice only to be transferred shortly after to 11A and became once again lousy. Off again to Fort 13 we were to became stationary for a few months so getting once again comparatively clean

Red Cross parcels were by now beginning to filter through and we were receiving one parcel and 50 cigarettes per man each week. When Germany declared war on Russia we were being given two parcels a week. I'll give you an idea of the content of a parcel although some varied depending on which in town they were packed. On average there were 16-20 items a parcel such as: Packet Tea, Tinned Margarine, Tinned Jam/Marmite, Salt and Pepper, Tinned Pilchards, Dairylea Cheese (which was nearly always mouldy), Packet Hard Jack, Bar of Soap, Bar of Chocolate, Tin of Cocoa, packet of Greens Yorkshire Pudding Mix, Jelly Crystals and Custard Powder, Tinned Bacon and Tin of Powdered Eggs, Packet Sugar and Tinned Nestles Milk. This would last the whole week especially if you “mucked in” with someone. This meant only opening one article, like a meat loaf for instance, which you shared with your mucker . This meant your parcel would last much longer.

Propaganda was rife in the camps, sometime true and sometimes totally untrue. A smattering of truth mixed with a load of codswallop. By now things were beginning to pick up. Clothing parcels and letters were always welcome. As time went on news came through on special days and we could only assume someone had a radio and was picking up the BBC. Long before Germany declared war on Russia we knew there was something going on because troops were continually moving east through Poland. A never ending cry from one working party to another was “Joe's on the Border”.

Working parties worked mainly with a shovel, and each day the majority of P.O.Ws took something out of the camp to “flog” to the Poles. It meant asking to go the toilet thereby meeting a Pole who had something to sell, which was mainly bread for cocoa chocolate or underwear from your Red Cross parcel. All this was illegal and we were forever watching the guards to keep out of their way until we had sealed our bargain. You would then go back to the trench or wherever you where working with a loaf or two concealed in your battle dress. This meant sometimes the loaf had to be cut in half or even quarters to distribute round your body, and I became quite adept at this although many a time had a “bread rash” where the loaf chafed on my body. .

Alas we were on our way again, but this time to leave Poland. We spent another 2 nights and days on the train. The reason for the longevity of the journey was we were shunted into sidings to allow troop trains to pass. We arrived at our destination which was Reigersfield Upper Silesia. By now the Germans were getting organised and we became Bau und Arbeits Battalion 20 BAB20 for short. This camp was all section huts, and the usual barbed wire round the perimeter. Hot and Cold water was available in the wash room which had showers for about 20 at a time. It was thirteen weeks before we received another parcel from the Red Cross because it took them that long to catch up with us at the new address. In the meantime everybody went to work unless you were excused by the RAMC Lt Col. I was put on a party supposedly of joiners erecting section huts in a camp over the road from ours. It was to house Italians rounded up by the Germans in Italy to work for the Deutsches Reich (the German National State). This job didn't last long with the erection of the section huts coming to a close. I was 1 of 10 from the working party of 20 to be picked to work for a firm called Duclek. They had been contracted to build houses for key workers of a Chemical Plant called I G Farben. This only lasted for 6 months and again I was 1 of 6 from the 10 chosen to go and work for the same firm who had a small building site in Heydebreck. This meant travelling by train from Reigersfield to Heydebreck about 10 miles up the line. The guard who had been to the Russian front had been wounded in the arm and ended up in BAB20. This job lasted a considerable period and we had via the Red Cross new battle dress, greatcoat and boots. I sent a letter home asking for a metal cap badge of the Regiment.

Oh what a difference! We went to the station with our button and cap badges highly polished in our battledress and we were aware of the discussions on the platform by the civilian population regarding the difference between the British and German uniforms. There were times when we really went over the top by washing our gaiters in the wash room putting on German toothpaste which made a very good white. The job was coming to an end and so was the war.

In June 44 I got a job with a firm called Beringer of Mannheim, Central Heating Specialists as a welders helper, putting the welding gear together and then watching the welder do the work. Then it happened American bombers flew over from Italy, bombing the factory, and putting it out of action for a week or so. On the day the factory started working again the Americans were back again and this continued even on Christmas day.

By Jan 25th 1945 the Russians were only 50-70 miles away and were firing over the camp into Cosel, about 7 kilometres away. At 5 o’clock that night all Red cross parcels were issued and we left camp to cross The Oder at midnight. After being forced to march all night we were only 13 Kilometres from the camp but we were across the river where the Russians were pulled up and resting, while we trudged further away in a couple of feet of snow. The following 3 months were hazardous We would march approx 30km(18.6 miles) a day, sleeping in barns in villages chosen by the German Authority. After two weeks all our Red Cross and rations were gone and we could only rely on the farmer into which barn we were billeted for any food he could spare. At this stage in the war there was very little and we often went hungry. The weather didn't help either - often 15º to 20º below zero

It was about this time that Maurice and I decided to look(scrounge) for food after each days march. (But first I must tell you about Maurice, who I have just met again in Bournemouth after not seeing each other for 42 years). Maurice was a matelot on the HMS Glowworm patrolling off Norway when it was trapped by a German cruiser and a destroyer. After a fierce battle it was sunk in the North Sea, as related to me by Maurice I have since read an account of the battle, so I know what Maurice told me at the time was true. His Captain decided to take on the Cruiser Von Hipper and destroyer, hoping to sink the Von Hipper and then deal with the destroyer. Drawing a circle with a smoke screen the Glowworm kept hoping to be in range of the Von Hipper and sink it reversing engines to come back into the smoke screen. At one stage it crept out of the smoke screen and the Von Hipper was dead ahead. It was inevitable they would hit the cruiser but with not enough speed to damage it . Their location now known it was at the mercy of the Von Hipper and was sunk with 500 crew on board. Only 28 were picked up by the Von Hipper. The gallant captain was awarded the VC posthumously - he had gone down with the Glowworm.

Maurice and I decided to try our luck going out each night (the guards were tucked up beside the fire in the farmers house). So our ventures began. We always made a point of finding out if there was a village near the one we were staying in. It was obvious that we couldn't knock on doors in the village in which we were staying as we might have been confronted by one of our guards. So off we would go scrounging each night and one night Maurice and I knocked on a door and asked for food. We were asked to come in and were given a couple of slices of bread. But one particular German visiting this family asked us quite a number of questions about why we were out without a guard. I stalled him by saying we were allowed out until 10 o'clock just as the French were. He seemed satisfied, so Maurice and I left to look for somewhere else. Then a voice shouted HALT! It was the German who had questioned us in the house. He said he was the Burgermeister of the village and didn't believe our story and was going to take us back to our own village. We didn't want this so I said to Maurice when I count to 3 you run one way and I’ll run the other. He won't be able to catch both of us. At the count of 3 Maurice was off one way, me the other, with the Burgermeister after me. He caught me and took me back to the Farmhouse I said I was from, and knocked on the door . The door was opened by the farmer and after a discussion he let us in. The guards who had been sitting round the fire all stood up. One asked me if I came from that farm. I said “yes”. Well, all hell broke out, one of the guards took me to the door, and gave me a smart kick up the backside, and I was off to the barn.

This did not suit the Burgermeister and he came into the barn looking for me, and I could see his dilemma - he couldn't tell one prisoner from another, “Where is the prisoner who has just come in” but nobody answered and without being able to identify me, he couldn't take it any further and so he went out of the barn mumbling something about prisoners wandering about the village, they could be killed in their beds. He reprimanded the guards for allowing us to get out, and so we settled down for the night, ready to march again the next day. We left behind a very exasperated Burgermeister (Mayor).

On another occasion Maurice and I were stood in a back-alley, deciding whether to go across the road and knock on a door. Suddenly 2 of our blokes came from out of the blue, they knocked on the door and were welcomed in. While we were watching the door someone else was watching us. It was a lady and after talking to us for a while, she told us to wait there while she went and got us some food. I didn't like it and knowing our lads were still in the house, I said to Maurice to go and knock on the door and I would wait for the lady to come back. If she brought anyone back I would be the only one caught. I was so intent on watching the door opposite that I didn't see her come back, until she said where's your comrade. She had 2 parcels of sandwiches in her hand. I said if she gave me the sandwiches I would give them to Maurice. This was not satisfactory she wanted to give them to Maurice herself. We both went over and knocked on the door, the people that answered the door knew the lady so we were invited in and she gave Maurice his sandwiches. The other 2 men were drinking and listening to the radio. After a chat the lady left. Maurice and I were beginning to enjoy ourselves, when there was a knock on the door, It was a fellow who seemed to be in evening dress, all dressed up like a tailors dummy. He said he had come for me and Maurice and would we follow him. We knew the lady had sent him so we duly obliged. He took us to a building not far away, and down a passage and marched us across the floor. There was our lady waving us over. It was a restaurant packed with Germans solders having a meal. Taking a deep breath Maurice and I walked across the room. She gave us a glass of some sort of spirit, then Maurice and I snuck out the back door and legged it back to camp, having enough of German soldiers for one night.

Passing through the corner of Czechoslovakia we were given bread galore and went to bed with a full belly. Spring had broken and our boots were absolutely wringing wet and nearly as uncomfortable as they were when they were frozen We continued putting straw in them to dry them out. The weather was starting to pick up the warmer winds clearing the snow and ice and there was water everywhere.

The war was coming to a close and several R.A.F. sorties had fired on us. This led to the German Camp Kommandant issuing an instruction for us to wave a towel or anything white. Three RAF fighters came out of the clouds, and cut right across our column firing in the air, this caused part of the column to halt, the front part moving forward still waving towels. The RAF came back around and it was then I noticed 2 German lorries at the side of the road in the space we had just left, with the German drivers and their mates heading for the woods on foot. This was too easy for the RAF but made good target practice for them. As they flew off leaving the 2 wagons on fire, ammunition bursting all over, they tipped their wings in acknowledgement. It was sometime before we got going again.

It was now April and we found ourselves marching through the woods from the small village where we had been billeted and into Bayreuth (I believe it was the home of Wagner). We were put to work, well half of us the other half going on to the next billet The intention being we would work in the morning and change over in the afternoon. We were put to work filling in bomb holes at the station in Bayreuth and the keen nose of the P.O.Ws led them to a wagon stationary on its own in the railway sidings, No wonder, it was full of black bread and at midday whoever unloaded that wagon would find it missing. On the changeover while waiting on the platform one of the prisoners opened a crate that was stood there. It was full of cheese, before you could blink there was nothing left and 4 of the cheeses were smuggled into the special pockets of my greatcoat tail which were sewn in by me to carry a loaf in each. Panic ensued as an Alsation dog was brought in and sniffed the empty crate. The Railway Police were called. Hearts pounding the dog went from one to the other ending up sniffing a haversack placed against the wall. “Whose haversack is this?" shouted the guard and one of the lads stepped forward, the Alsation taking a bite at his backside. An air raid warning began and we were quickly lined up and began to walk back to our billet which was a brickyard. We had hardly got moving when the siren started wailing at a fast rate, which meant the planes were overhead. The bombs were falling. I slipped off my haversack and coat and threw them against the wall and dived under a tree, behind a prominent hotel on the main road. It became extremely uncomfortable. Sat under the tree I felt exposed to danger. Several others felt the same. One by one we dived into the cellar of the hotel and minutes later thought it was the end. Flames shot up the length of the cellar and the iron doors were rattling like hell. Several minutes latter the all clear was sounded and we came out to one hell of a mess. The wall were I had left my greatcoat and haversack was under about 10 feet of rubble and at least 3 storeys were missing from the hotel. As I made my way up the main street the Chief of Police was pointing up in the air shouting “your comrades”. Who cared, all I wanted was to get out of Bayreuth, which eventually I did. I met some of the afternoon shift who showed me the way. That night we were on the move and marched back through Bayreuth which was in flames. I think by now we were going round in circles. Nurenburg had been taken and we were on our way back it seemed to the Russian Front

Five days later we were in a small village called Winklarn and the Camp Kommandant who was quite a good chap really kept us in that village 3 days. On the third day we were paraded in the village square. The bells of the church were ringing and we were marched to the main road which was still only a country road. Being last in the column, I felt something extraordinary was happening and was tempted to fall back but a red haired guard made us close up to the rest. Looking back I saw a massive armoured column miles long coming along the same way and I said to Maurice “don’t look now but the whole German Army is retreating”. Far from it being the German Army it was General Patton's American Army. The day was April 23rd 1945 Five long years exactly since since I left Southampton.

The Americans were Magnificent. “K” rations galore and cigarettes by the carton. Free at last! Events startd to move fast, we were driven to Nuremburg by lorry and met Marlene Dietrich serving coffee on Nuremburg airfield. I was given an autographed photo of her after having finished her duty of dishing out coffee to the American Forces. Oh how hard it is to break the habit of queueing and coming round again for “buckshees”! Goodbye Marlene as we boarded the plane to land again at Frankfurt The next morning we took off to land at Rheims and in great style commanded the German POWs to polish our boots, a tailor to alter our uniform to fit, our hairdresser and an artist to draw us. This is how the Army should be!

But alas we had to move on and Lancaster bombers were used to ship us out of Rheims. The crew of the Lancaster bomber allowed us one at a time to see the approaching white cliffs of England. We were home and landed at wing near Berkhamstead and guess who was there to meet us -The Salvation Army. It was the 1st May 1945 and on each bed a telegram saying something like “Arrived in England will be home shortly,” all you had to do was sign it

Going through the formalities of being kitted out in British Uniform took two days and on 3rd May I boarded a train at King Cross and into the welcome arms of my mother, father and sisters Doreen and Moria at Middlesbrough Station.

After several weeks leave I reported back to the Army and started training all over again at Otley. After 3 weeks or so we had an interview and I asked to go back to my old regiment and was drafted to Blackpool Squires Gate, next on to North Wales, Treadder Bay and Beaumaris, from there I was demobbed at York.

Lynn Carter

Pte. George Alexander "Snowy" Dennis MBE

My father George Alexander Dennis was in Stalag VIIA and Stalag VIIIB during 1941-1945. He is now 93 years old living in Sydney Australia. Often now he seems to be back in the POW camps with his developing dementia. He used to never talk about the war but now it seems to persecute his mind. If anyone has any connection with my father, we would be very interested.

Patricia Kowal

Charles Aitchison Gordon Highlanders

My grandfather, Charlie Aitchison, Gordon Highlanders, was captured at St Valery 1940 and consigned to Stalag VIIIb until the end of the war. He was 6' 2" tall and was 32 years old when captured. He never spoke a word about his time in the camp, but the family believes he worked in a salt mine.

The only story I heard about his wartime experiences was told to me by my mother. It seems that he had been demobbed and had arrived home only a few days earlier. He took mother out for a walk (she was 11 at the time) and as they were walking along the street, they came across some German POWs working on the roads. My grandfather stopped and spoke to them in fluent German. After speaking to them for a few minutes, he walked off and went into a shop and came back with four pies and twenty cigarettes which he gave to the Germans. My mother asked him why he gave them to the POWs. "They're just Jerries," he said. My grandfather told her that they were just working men like him, who had been captured, fighting for their country.

It was my privilege to know this man until he died in 1968 when he was only 60 and I was 14. Any knowledge of him would be gratefully received.

L/Sgt. Charles S. Campbell 2nd Searchlight Regiment, 5th bty. Royal Artillery

Charles Campbell was held as a POW in Stalag 8B in Lambinowice, Poland.

PO Thomas Campbell HMS Malvernian

Thomas Campbell was held POW in Marlag und Milag Nord and Stalag 8B.

James Edward Ellis RASC

James Edward Ellis was held in Stalag 8B in Lambinowice, Poland.

Sgt. Thomas German 6th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Sgt. Thomas German Service No.4439753, Durham Light Infantry was held as a POW in Stalag 8B (344) Lamsdorf Poland. POW no. 16268.

John "Chick" Hewitt 11th Field Company Royal Canadian Engineers

Rfmn. A. Leckenby 2nd Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

A Leckenby and the 2nd Battalion joined Montgomery's 8th Army for the invasion of Sicily and the battle for Italy in 1943, and from there was involved with the Garigliano Crossing. Unfortunately, he was captured 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 A Leckenby, 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. Leckenby was uninjured in the train crash, but was captured at Garigliano. He was sent to POW camp Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Fus. Jack C. Tilley 2nd Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

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 Jack Tilley, 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.

Jack had survived the train wreck with a possible forearm fracture, yet was captured at Garigliano and sent to POW camp Stalag 344 Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Pte. Jack H.D. Futter 2nd Btn. Wiltshire Regiment

Jack Futter fought with 2 Wiltshire Regiment at Cassino as part of 5 British Infantry Division, where they were involved in the crossing of the Garigliano. After being captured Jack was most likely taken to a transit camp at Frosinone, south of Rome. From here he was loaded onto a POW train bound for Germany on 26th January 1944, and 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 Jack Futter, 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.

Jack Futter escaped the wreck with numerous slight wounds for which he was treated in Orvieto Hospital after being captured in Garigliano. He was then sent to POW camp Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Pte. Alfred King 2nd Btn. Wiltshire Regiment

Alfred King fought with 2 Wiltshire Regiment at Cassino as part of 5 British Infantry Division, where they were involved in the crossing of the Garigliano. After being captured Alfred was most likely taken to a transit camp at Frosinone, south of Rome. From here he was loaded onto a POW train bound for Germany on 26th January 1944, and 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 Alfred King, 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.

Alfred escaped the wreck, but was then captured in Garigliano and sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.

s flynn

Pte. A. Stamp 2nd Btn. Wiltshire Regiment

Private Stamp fought with 2 Wiltshire Regiment at Cassino as part of 5 British Infantry Division, where they were involved in the crossing of the Garigliano. After being captured he was most likely taken to a transit camp at Frosinone, south of Rome. From here he was loaded onto a POW train bound for Germany on 26th January 1944, and 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 Stamp, 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.

Private Stamp escaped the wreck but was then captured and sent to POW camp Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.

s flynn

Pte. George Mason 3rd Btn. Green Howards

George Mason was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river

George, who had been captured at Garigliano, survived the wreck with a probable fractured left foot and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Pte. Clifford Ogden 1st Btn. York & Lancaster Regiment

On 28 January 1944, during World War II, the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, was the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group of a train filled with Allied prisoners. Most of the POWs had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome, and had been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

Private Ogden was Captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck with wounds to his left ear and left hand. He was then sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S. Flynn

Pte. Noel Cox 2nd Btn. Northamptonshire Regiment

On 28 January 1944, during World War II, the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, was the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group of a train filled with Allied prisoners. Most of the POWs had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome, and had been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

Noel Cox was captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck with a probable fracture of bone in foot. He was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s Flynn

Fus. H. Cameron 2nd Btn. Royal Scots Fusiliers

On 28 January 1944, during World War II, the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, was the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group of a train filled with Allied prisoners. Most of the POWs had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome, and had been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

He was captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck uninjured. He was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf

S Flynn

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.

S Flynn

Pte. Andy Carruthers 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders

Andy 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.

s flynn

George Guess 6th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders

George 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.

S. Flynn

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.

S Flynn

S/Sgt. Joseph Barratt 6th Btn. Cheshire Regiment

Staff/Sergeant Joseph Barratt was an employee of the hat manufacturers Christy & Co. Ltd. when he joined the Army in May 1939. Joseph left Britain in 1942 and ended up as a POW in Italy. He was on a POW train en-route from Italy to Germany when 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 Joseph Barratt, 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.

Joseph suffered bruising to his chest whilst escaping from the train, and was admitted to hospital at Orvieto. From there he was sent on to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland. His wife received notification of his detention on 21st February 1944. Tony Barratt, their son, reports that during the action in which his father was taken prisoner in Garigliano, the commanding officer was killed and so his father took command. He was debating the best course of action (to wave the white flag or run) when the Germans captured them.

S Flynn

Pte. A. Lishman 6th Btn. Cheshire Regiment

A Lishman was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

He was Captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck uninjured and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf

S Flynn

A/Sgt. James W. Thomas 6th Btn. Cheshire Regiment

James W Thomas was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

He was Captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck with a fracture to his left upper arm and facial wounds. He was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf

S Flynn

Frank Halls Queen's Royal Regiment

Frank Halls was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river. He was captured at either Salerno or Garigliano. He survived the wreck with wounds to his right leg. He was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S Flynn

Pte. Alfred Harris 1st Btn. Worcester Regiment

In the summer of 1942 Alfred Harris and the 1st Battalion took part in the Gazala Battle and in the defence of Tobruk, Libya. on 20th June a general surrender was ordered following attack from the Germans and Italians. Alfred was made a Prisoner of War in Tobruk and ended up in Italy 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 Alfred Harris, 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 left leg and upon recovery was sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Sgt. Ernest H. Price 1st Btn. South Wales Borderers

The 1st Battalion lost around 500 officers and men captured or killed near Tobruk, Libya when it found itself cut off by German forces during a general retreat. Sergeant Price was made a Prisoner of War in Tobruk and ended up in Italy 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 Ernest Price, 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 slight wounds to his head and lower left leg. Upon recovery was sent to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Harold Davis Royal Army Service Corps

Harold Davis was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

He survived the wreck with a slight calf wound and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S Flynn

Ange Thomaso

Ange Thomasco was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

Described by hospital authorities as Mauritanian. He survived the wreck with wounds to his head and left hand and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S Flynn

Gnr. Charlie J Keslake Searchlights Royal Artillery

My father Charlie 'Chaz' Keslake was a POW in Stalag VIIIB from 1940-45. He rarely spoke of his experiences as a POW and what little information my family have I will post here in the hope that someone may remember him. Dad was with the Royal Artillery (Searchlights) and was captured at Dunkirk in 1940, spending the rest of the war in Stalag VIIIB. We think he worked as a hospital orderly for a time, and someone taught him to perfect the art of Pitmans Shorthand. We know that after the war he continued to write to Jack Minson from New Zealand and the name W. Bright features amongst his possessions. We would love to hear from anyone who may possibly remember Dad, or from anyone who could provide some insight into his time at Stalag VIIIB.

Doreen Keslake

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.

Alec George Marsh 14th Army Field Workshop Group Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Alec Marsh was held in Stalag 8b.

Richard Pape

Richard Pape served as an RAF Navigator and was held as a POW in Stalag 8b

David August Radke

David Radke was held in Stalag 8b.

Update: Wireless Operator / Air Gunner - Sgt David August Radke RAAF (405139), of Hendra, Brisbane, Australia was born on 3rd April 1920 in Beenleigh, Queensland and enlisted in Brisbane. On 2nd/3rd July 1942 he was flying on Ops to Bremen in a Wellington Z1381. The aircraft was damaged by flak near the Dutch/German border and suffered serious damage to the port side. The aircraft was partially abandoned before it crashed. F/Sgt Johnston (27), Sgt Downing (20) and Sgt Taylor (27) were killed, while Sgt Wyllie, Sgt Radke and Sgt Reed were taken prisoner of war. The survivors were firstly taken to Dulag Luft near Frankfurt (Maine) and after interrogation moved to Stalag VIIIb at Uber Silesia on 4th August 1942.

Sgt. Noble Walton 10th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Sergeant Noble Walton was born in Crook, County Durham on 7th February 1908. Before he enlisted with the Territorial Army on 30th November 1927 he worked as a coal miner. When the war broke out he was originally a member of 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, and in 1939 the 6th DLI HQ announced that they would become 10th Battalion.

In 1940 The 10th DLI served in France as part of the 70th Infantry Brigade, and this included action in the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk in May and June. It was here that Sergeant Noble was captured. He was sent to Stalag 8b in Lamsdorf, Poland, and became a POW there on 12th July 1940.

Sgt. Jimmy Goulette 44 Squadron

Sgt. Jimmy Goulette served with 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force during WW2. His Aircraft Lancaster W4125 KQ-M took off for a raid on Munich on the night of 21/22nd December 1942 and was shot down on the return journey near Heilbron. Only two of the crew survived.

He was interned at Stalag8B and took part in the death march.

Full details of his account are presented on this dedicated website.

Cpl. Ronald Filmer Royal Sussex Regiment

Corporal Ronald Filmer served with the Royal Sussex Regiment during WW2 and was interned at POW Camp Stalag 8b.

Jason Packard

Bill "Toad" Hughes

Bill Hughes was held as a prisoner of war in the Stalag 8b POW camp near Lamsdorf, Germany.

L/Cpl. Harry Clark 2nd Btn. Wiltshire Regiment

Harry Clark was Captured at Garigliano and was on his way from Camp PG 54 to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf on 28 January 1944 by train. Whilst crossing the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, they were subjected to an inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group hitting a train filled with Allied prisoners. Most of the POWs had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome, and had been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris recalled that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

s Flynn

Pte. Frederick J. Ellis 1st Btn. York & Lancaster Regiment

Frederick Ellis was captured at Garigliano. He survived the train wreck on the the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, on the 28th of January 1944 with bruising and multiple abrasions and was then sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s flynn

Pte. Harold Baker Gordon Highlanders

Harold Baker was captured at either Tunisia or Salerno. He survived the train wreck on the 28th of January 1944 on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s flynn

Pte. T. Fieldson Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Douglas Mallett was captured at Tobruk and survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, uninjured. He was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s flynn

WO Douglas C.W. Mallett

On 28 January 1944, during World War II, the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, was the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group of a train filled with Allied prisoners. Most of the POWs had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome, and had been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance.

One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below.

Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.

He was captured at the Desert campaign. He survived the wreck with broken ribs with loss of blood from respiratory tract. He was previously at Camp 66 and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S Flynn

Gnr. Arthur Joscelyne Royal Artillery

Arthur Joscelyne was captured in the Desert campaign. He suffered a fractured upper leg and head wounds in the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy. He was previously at Camp 66 and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s flynn

Sgt. Leonard Martin Union Defence Force

Leonard Martin was captured in the Desert campaign. He was previously at Camp 85. He survived the train wreck on the the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf

s flynn

Sgmn. James Ryan Union Defence Force

James Ryan was captured in the Desert campaign and survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, with multiple wounds to the lower back.

s flynn

Pte. Kleinbooi Thabalshoey Maluka Native Military Corps

Kleinbooi Maluka was captured in the Desert Campaign. He was previously in Camp 122. He survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona Italy and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf

s flynn

Pte. Rice Mnise Native Military Corps

Rice Mnise was captured in the Desert campaign. He survived the train wreck he Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy with a fractured left forearm and wounds to his eyebrow. He was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s flynn

Pte. William Mohale Native Military Corps

William Mohale was captured in the Desert Campaign. He was previously in Camp 122. He survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy with a fractured left leg and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

s flynn

Pte. Jan Moleli Native Military Corps

Jan Moleli was captured in the Desert Campaign. He was previously in Camp 122. He survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy with a fractured right leg and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S Flynn

Pte. Bernard Rakeepile Native Military Corps

Bernard Rakeepile served with the Native Military Corps of the South African Army He was captured in the Desert campaign. He was previously in Camp 122. He survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf, in Germany.

s flynn

Pte. Phineas Sebushe I Brigade Signals Coy Native Military Corps

Phineas Sebushe was captured at the Desert campaign 15/4/41. He was previously in camp 122. He survived the train wreck on the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy with a laceration to his foot arch and was sent to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf.

S Flynn

Les Keatley

Les Keatley was a POW in Stalag 8b

Sgt. G A Keith 115 Squadron

Sergeant GA Keith served with 115 Squadron, Royal Air Force during WW2. He was a prisoner of war at Stalag 8b.

Dick Kendal

Dick Kendal served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during WW2 and was a prisoner of war at Stalag 8b.

Sgt. Arthur Edward Kerton Royal Norfolk Regiment

Arthur Edward Kerton served with the Royal Norolk Retiment. He spent time as a Prisoner of War in Stalag 8b

Pte. Robert Pugh

Robert Pugh was held in the Stalag 8b Prisoner of War Camp near Lamsdorf, Germany.

Sgt. Harry Saunders DFM. 44 Squadron

Sgt Harry Saunders served with the Royal Air Force 44th Squadron. His Lancaster was shot down in December 1942 after a bombing raid over Munich, targeting the Nazi headquarters. Only three of the crew survived. Sgt Suanders was captured by a policeman. He and another crew member Sgt. Jimmy Goulette were taken to a Luftwaffe POW camp at Mannheim and later transferred to Dalagluft in Frankfurt.

In January 1943 they were among 743 POWs transferred to the Stalag 8b POW camp near Lamsdorf.

Sgt. A. G. Winton 115 Squadron

Sgt. AG Winton served with 115 Squadron, Royal Air Force during WW2 and was a POW in Stalag 8b.

Pte. William Christie Greig CVK. Gordon Highlanders

This is the story of my father, William (Bill) Greig, after he had escaped from Stalag 8b (344 Lamsdorf), at the end of WW2. It has been picked up by both the Czech authorities and posted to a website. It has also been published in some UK newspapers a few years ago. Unfortunately my father passed away in 2007. At that time his health and memory was failing, so we have a mixture of stories to us when we were children and his recollections from the time, late in his life.

William Christie Greig was born in Aberdeen on December 15th 1921. He enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders in on 10th August 1939. We do know he 'doctored' his birth certificate, so that his younger brother Ben could join at the same time. This was later discovered after the war.

He did his initial training until 19th April 1940. After training, he was sent to France in 1940, as part of the 51st Highland Division. After some combat, the forces found themselves being surrounded and retreated to St.Valéry-en-Caux, on the French coast. He recalled ditching his anti tank rifle after seeing the shells pinging off the outside of the German tanks, during the retreat. His troop was pushed onto the beach and eventually into the sea by the superior German forces. Eventually General Fortune ordered the surrender on June 12th. My father was always amused when the Dunkirk evacuation was celebrated and shown on television. "There wasn't a single boat in sight at St. Valery when we could have done with them!" was his comment.

Bill was marched to Poland and ended up in the POW camp Stalag 8b near Lamsdorf, Poland. He was kept there through to 1945, in really tough conditions. He would only talk of his comrades and any funny occasions at the camp. We do know he became (as did many) malnourished, with raw turnips being a staple part of the limited diet. He never ate them again after returning to Aberdeen after the war and couldn't stand the smell of them being cooked. This poor diet nearly killed him later in life when the stomach ulcer he developed burst and required major surgery to save his life.

Most soldiers consider it their duty to try to escape. Few managed it but my father and 3 mates did eventually escape. On a march to nearby Glatz, Bill, his friend Tommy Vokes and two others seized an opportunity to hide under some bushes before rolling into a ditch to escape. Foraging for food by day and sleeping in a local cemetery by night, they managed to avoid capture. Eventually, they were befriended by a Czech family who took them in. They were fed and clothed and then taken to the local railway station, to catch a train to Prague. The head of the family, Frau Babca arranged for them to be met in Prague and given a place to hide. Tommy and my father split from the other two soldiers to go it alone. The family in Prague took good care of the Bill and Tommy, who were probably expecting to wait out the end of the war in some safety and comfort.

However, their arrival coincided with the Czech Uprising. This started with the capture of the Prague Radio building from the Germans in late April 1945. There was then a radio broadcast for all Czechs to take up arms and to liberate Prague from the German forces. With the Nazi's grip weakening, the Uprising leaders were frustrated by the lack of support from the Allies and their failure to move into the city, despite being just a few miles away from Prague. They were not to know that a deal had been struck with the Soviets that the Red Army would be the liberating force, with Czechoslovakia falling under Stalin's rule after the War. Meanwhile the Germans attempted to take back the Radio building with fierce fighting. Throughout Prague the Czech resistance movement built barricades and engaged in may street battles to defend strategic parts of their city.

My father and Tommy volunteered to help the resistance movement and were asked to help defend the precious Prague Radio station building , that was their only real link with the outside world. They were given a rifle each and spent may hours lying on the stairs, defending the station from German attacks. With the threat of the Radio Station being overrun and the likelihood of the Germans defeating the Uprising, my father was asked to make a very important radio broadcast in English. He remembers being taken down some stairs and through a tunnel to where the broadcast equipment was housed. He was given a script and made a number of broadcasts

"The Germans are attacking us with tanks and planes. We are calling urgently our allies to help us. Send immediately tanks and aircraft. Help us defend Prague. At present, we are broadcasting from the radio station and outside there is a battle raging" He made a number of broadcasts and it's obvious the Czechs (and my father) were becoming more desperate. “Hello, hello, hello! This is Prague calling London. Once again we repeat what I have already said three or four times. The Germans did not keep their promise. Prague is in great danger. The Germans are attacking with tanks and planes. We’re calling urgently our allies to help. Send immediately tanks and aircraft. Help us defend Prague. Do not let Prague be destroyed. We don’t know how long we can hold out. We are hoping for the best – that English, American or Russian troops will reach us in the next few hours. It has to be very quick and very soon. Good night!” The broadcasts had the desired effect and Allied aircraft destroyed an approaching German column and effectively ended the conflict in Prague.

With the Russians approaching, my father and Tommy helped an old Jewish couple escape to the west and in return the couple game them their car. They attempted to travel to Northern France but the car broke down halfway. Luckily they were 'acquired' another car and were given fuel by the Americans. They eventually made it back to Aberdeen.

For his actions, my father was awarded the Czech Military Cross and also a civil honour of the Radio Memory Distinguished Order, in 1948. Communications from General Ludwig Svoboda from the Czech military and The War Office are attached. Interestingly, the War Office sent the initial letter to the wrong William Greig, who informed them he had nothing to do with the Prague incident. They contacted Tommy Vokes who had my father's correct address and they managed to get the MC medal to him safely. My father returned to the Army to 'see out his time' and was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment, until he was demobbed. Bill married my mother Ann Milne Rose in 1947 and went on to have my two sisters and me. My mother passed away in 2010.

I'm very proud of my father's bravery in a situation where most would be looking to avoid further conflict after 4 tough years in one of the Nazi's notorious POW camps. He was always very modest and refused to accept he was a hero. The recent interest shown by both the Czech and British media clearly demonstrates the small (but hugely significant) roles my father and Tommy played to end the conflict in Czechoslovakia. Letters from those he met and helped in Prague show their gratitude for his actions and bravery. Recordings and transcripts of my father's broadcasts can be accessed on the following website: A Scottish Hero of the Prague Uprising.

William Greig

Sgt. Cliff Stansfield 106th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery

My uncle, Sgt Stansfield of the 106th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery Liverpool Territorial Unit Lancashire Yeomanry. He was a POW in Stalag 383 from 1942 to 1945. After the fall of Greece he was evacuated on board HMS Calcutta to serve in Crete. Crete was invaded by German Paratroops and my uncle was captured on 2nd June 1941. He was eventually transported to Stalag V111B at Lansdorf as a POW from June 1941 to Sept 1942. He was later moved to POW Camp Stalag 383 where he was encarcerated from Sept 1942 to April 1945, whilst there he kept a secret diary and photographs of life as a POW.

Pte. Andrew Nisbet Black Watch

My father Andrew Nisbet who is now 94 years old and lives in Kent. He joined the army in Glasgow in 1937 when he was 17 years old. He served with the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and was stationed at Fort William in Scotland. In 1939 he was sent to France to fight and was captured at the age of 19 years. His pow no is 981 He spent the war in prison camps in Germany and Poland. For three years he was working down the coal mines at E 209 Bobrek. He was also on the long march luckily he was in the groups of men that westward and was liberated by the Americans. While he was in the coal mines he had dysentery and his nose broken by a German rifle butt.


Trpr. Robert Henry Sharp 1st Lothian Edinburgh Horse Yeomanry

Harry Sharp enlisted into the Army in 1938 at the age of 17 years. He lied about his age, joining the 15/19 Hussars in York. On the outbreak of WW2 he was transferred to the 1st Lovian Edinburgh Horse Yeomanry as a tank driver. Went to France in 1939 with the 51st Highland Division which was part of the B.E.F. Was the only survivor after his tank was destroyed by a German Tank. Was captured at St Valery after the surrender of the 51st Highland Division which was the Dunkirk rear guard unit. When taken prisoner Harry was wounded in the ankle/foot. As POW was forced to work in a Polish coal mine. Based at Stalag 8b.

Harry before he died, age 91, began to talk of the horrendous times he endured on the march from France to Poland having to cross the River Danube on many occasions. He also stated that the Germans saved his leg when they put maggots on his wound. The British Medics were going to amputate his leg prior to his capture.

Cpl. Brinley Norman "Bryn" Williams Royal Engineers

I knew very little about Dad's wartime experiences - he died when I was barely out of my teens. He had told stories of being in Palestine during the war and I know he was a POW - but he never talked about that. I do recall seeing a newspaper cutting from 1945 when he returned from the war (my grandmother had kept it). It said he was very sick, and that POWs had been so hungry they had eaten grass.

When I began to research my family history I got Dad's military records from the MOD. What a revelation - they told me so much about this young man who joined up in 1939 - about his education, his previous employment (and what he earned) and his physical appearance. The records also told me that Dad was captured at Gazala in North Africa and ended up in Stalag VIIIb, in what is now Poland, from September 1943 until liberation in April 1945. Research then told me about the Death Marches - and the fact that the starving prisoners ate grass. An elderly cousin of my father was able to tell me about the impact his capture and imprisonment had on his family - his sister and parents - and that helped me understand a lot about family relationships in later years. As a teenager, she remembered Dad's return and how very weak and ill he was.

I have just come back from a visit to the remains of Stalag VIIIb and the Prisoner of War Museum at Lambinovice (Lamsdorf). I stood on the railway platform where Dad would have arrived, and saw the entrance to the camp. Very little remains there, but there is an exhibition of daily life in the camps and a reconstruction of a hut where Russian POWs were held (and treated very badly). Lamsdorf became a prison camp in 1870 during the Franco Prussian War - and was used as such until the late 1940s. Hundreds of thousands passed through those gates - and tens of thousands died there. It saw almost a century of misery. Today there are beautifully kept POW graveyards in peaceful surroundings, filled with birdsong. The visit has really inspired me to make sure that Dad's name is recorded and remembered. His wartime experience was instrumental in forming the man he became. His lifelong involvement in the British Legion is testimony to that.


Pte. Robert Kelly East Lancashire Regiment

Like many survivors my Dad never really wanted to talk about his time in the war. It was only when he passed that I found a few photos and the newspaper cutting. I inherited his Football plaque on the passing of his Uncle who had clearly treasured it since my Dads return. He had been part of the "Long March" and when he finally arrived home he weighed less than seven stone and according to my Grandma he would still scavenge for food that had been thrown to the hens in their neighbourhood for several months. Despite this terrible period in his life he eventually became the most positive and optimistic person I have ever known.

Robert Kelly served with the East Lancashire Regiment during WW2 and was captured at Dunkirk in 1940. Released by the advancing Russian forces in Upper Silesia.

1st and 4th Battalions East Lancashire Regiment who joined the 42nd Division in 1940 prior to Dunkirk. It is not clear which battalion Robert served with however it is more probable that it was the 1st Battalion which formed part of the final defence force around the Dunkirk beaches.

Shortly after the outbreak of war with Germany the 1st South Lancashires and 1st Loyals crossed to France with, respectively, the 4th and 1st Divisions of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). By early October 1939 both battalions were in position on the Belgian frontier, where they were joined in April 1940 by the 1st and 4th East Lancashires, both of 42nd Division.

On 10th May 1940 the ‘Phoney War’ came to an abrupt end when Germany invaded Belgium and Holland. The BEF advanced into Belgium but the Allied front rapidly collapsed before the German ‘blitzkrieg’ and the British force, with its flanks exposed and its rear increasingly threatened, was obliged to make a succession of withdrawals. Ordered back from one defensive line to the next, amid scenes of growing chaos, the four Lancashire battalions fought a number of delaying actions, most notably at Tournai on the Escaut, at Lannoy and at Rousbrugge, before reaching Dunkirk.

Dunkirk 1940

All three of the 1st Battalions then took up defensive positions to cover the evacuation of the BEF. The South Lancashires held the far left of the British line, west of Nieuport, the Loyals occupied the fortified town of Bergues on the right, while the East Lancashires plugged a gap in the centre of the line along the Bergues Canal. All three units held their positions, under constant attack, until ordered to withdraw. On 1st June a determined enemy attack on the Dunkirk perimeter was halted by the gallant stand of B Company, 1st East Lancashires, for which Captain Marcus Ervine-Andrews was awarded the Victoria Cross (the only one at Dunkirk), assisted by a counter-attack by the Loyals. The three Lancashire battalions were among the last British troops to embark on the night 2nd/3rd June.

E3 Blechhammer was a working party area part of the overall Stalag 8b Complex. The prefix E referred to English although other national were included. The Room 42 on the football plaque could refer to a room containing mainly POWs from the 42nd Division.

The whole camp covered the area of 230m x 290m. The crematorium where 1500 bodies were burnt was in the south-east part of the camp. The camp was commanded by SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Otto Brossmann. During winter 1944/45, as the Red Army was closing fast, the Germans decided to evacute the camp (which became a transfer point for the prisoners from Auschwitz and other camps) and forced the prisoners into columns of 500 men each. They were ordered to march to the West. During the "Death March" people who were suffering from cold (marched barefoot, without proper winter clothing) soon started to die of exhaustion. Those who were unable to march were killed with the butts of the guns by the so-called Nachkommando which followed the columns. The camp was liberated by the Red Army on the 26th of January 1945. There were less than 200 survivors found.

James Kelly

L/Cpl. Stanley George Jones 3rd Echelon

POW paperwork

Stan Jones was my Grandfather and used to tell me stories about the war and what he did when we went for walks together when I was a kid. He did his training at Burnham Military Camp and on the 27th of August 1940 sailed on the Orcades (3rd Echelon) he served in Greece, Syria, Cyrenaica and Egypt.

On the 22nd of July 1942 he was taken Prisoner at El Mreir Depression. After being in several camps, on the 8th of September 1943 he escaped from the POW camp in Italy at the time of the Italian capitulation. He lived and worked as an Italian until he was recaptured 12 months later and transported to Germany. He was held in Lager 11a Alton Grabow, near Madgeburg (NCO camp). When the Russian advance started in the south he was moved to Stalag Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, north of Hanover and Stalag XIIIb. He endured the Long march into Mechlenburg-Schwerin and was liberated at Salam-bi-Ratzburg. On the 23rd of December 1945 he returned to Christchurch, New Zealand on the Troopship Mooltan and was discharged on the 10th of May 1946.


L/Cpl. Peter McCormick

Whilst looking through my late mother's letters, I found postcards from her father, L/Cpl Peter McCormick, sent from Stalag VIIIB. He was in the camp from approx March 1941 until approx June 1943.

Ian Forshaw

Sgt. Donald John "Duncan" Jeffs 15th Squadron

My father was in Stalag 11B after surviving the 'Long March' from Stalag 344 Lamsdorf in Silesia. He was eventually liberated from 11B after being a POW from May 1942 when he was the only survivor of the crash of a famous Stirling bomber called the 'MacRoberts Reply'. See more on the MacRoberts Reply Website

Philip Jeffs

L/Cpl. Harold Thomas Franklin Welch Regiment

Like many returned service men, my grandfather, Hal Franklin rarely shared any kind of stories, even with his wife, let alone his daughters and grandchildren. But our family folklore is that Harold Thomas Franklin, born and raised in Cardiff to William and Lottie Franklin, faked his identity in order to get into the Army under-age. I am unaware in which Battalion he served, but the lore says that he was sent to India initially. One of the few stories that I was told as a child was that my grandfather "Hal" (as he was known) was quite a larrikin, promoted for acts of bravery at times, and then promptly demoted again for giving some kind of cheek to a officer. In India, he and a mate, who had been on rec leave and had enjoyed too many drinks that night, were staggering back to the base when they heard a tiger growl. Scared out of their wits, the pair apparently shimmied up the first tree they could find, hanging on for dear life. As the dawn approached and they were able to better see, they discovered they had wandered into the zoo. I have old photos that are indication Hal travelled through the Middle East at some time - likely coming through Egypt.

We know that with the outbreak of WW2, he wound up in central Europe and was captured only a few months into the war. He spent the rest of the war trying valiantly to escape various POW camps. He was imprisoned at one time in Stalag VIII-B/334 and quite possibly later in Colditz Castle, although this again is folklore and I as yet have no evidence of this. One story which is very well known is that Hal at one time was asked to change identities with an officer while in POW camp. Apparently, the officer wanted access to the work groups that were frequently sent outside of the camps. Hal agreed to this and wrote home to his fiancé Frances (later his wife) that she should no longer refer to him as "Harold" but write to him by a different name. The family home in England and Wales became very concerned that Hal was losing his grip on sanity. Mp> I know that he was somehow released home, back to England, before the end of the War. He was very unwell, physically and psychology, like many young men just like him. At one time, we know that he was told should he attempt to escape again, he would be handed over to the Gestapo and shot. He was injured in the back when he was struck by a German soldier with the butt of a rifle as he climbed into a truck to be taken back to POW camp. He was recaptured at a train station when a German soldier had asked him (in German) if he had a light for a cigarette.

These stories are part of our family. We are never sure of their accuracy, but like most lore, there is probably a large thread of truth woven through a degree of embellishment. I would be delighted and grateful if there is anyone who can confirm or add anything to our stories of Harold Franklin.

Sonia Glenk

Pte. William Henry Gledhill 1st Btn. Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

My grandfather William Henry Gledhill joined the 4th Battalion King's own Yorkshire Light Infantry Territorial Army in April 1936. He joined the regulars, 1st Battalion KOYLI in July 1936. William served in Gibraltar, Burma and in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in September 1939 to defend the Belgian-French border. On 10th May 1940 German forces invaded France driving the British forces through Belgium and north-western France, and forcing their eventual evacuation from several ports along the French northern coastline in Operation Dynamo. The most notable evacuation was from Dunkirk. During this time William was captured by German forces and spent the rest of the war in a German prisoner of war camp Stalag VIII-B344 in Lambinowice, Poland. His POW number was 5077. William was forced to work in German coal mines until January 1945. As the Soviet armies resumed their offensive and advanced into Germany William, like most prisoners, was marched westward in groups of 200 to 300 in the so-called Death March until he was liberated by Allied forces.

In November 1945 William was medically discharged from military service with chronic bronchitis, arthritis and rheumatism of the knees and ankles. William Henry Gledhill received the 1939–45 Star and War Medal 1939–1945.

Jonathan Gledhill

Cpl. Gordon Leslie Hines 235 Field Park Coy. Royal Engineers

Gordon Hines was called up for war-time military service on 16th October 1939 to Royal Engineers, army number 1184039. He joined A Company, 1st Motor Depot (believed to be based in Tyneside). He was posted to Aldershot to join 50th Motor Division (later to become 50 th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division), 235 Field Park Company as driver on 13th of December 1939. He was posted to France as part of British Expeditionary Force, on the 23rd of January 1940 part of British 2 Corps, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. They were evacuated from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo on 1st of June 1940, swimming out to waiting small boats. Gordon rejoined 235 Field Park Company on 29 June 1940,and was appointed Acting L/Cpl 13th July 1940. He was in hospital from the 1st to 18th October 1940. He attended the 8th Corps Vehicle maintenance course from 10th of March 1941 to 31st ofMarch 1941. He was then appointed Acting Corporal on the 15th of April 1941. The unit embarked for Egypt on the 21st of May 1941 as part of Middle East Forces where they disembarked on the 10th of July 1941. Gordon was appointed Acting Sergeant on the 19th of July 1941. Embarked 25th July 1941 for Cyprus, disembarked 26th July 1941 and was in hospital from the 2nd to 30th of September 1941. They moved from Cyprus to Palestine in January 1942 then moved to Syria on the 21st of January 1942. They made another move from Syria to Egypt on the 14th of February 1942.

Libya was captured on the 28th of May 1942 and Gordon was posted as missing in Western Desert. He was confirmed as a PoW on 30th of May 1942, in Italian hands. He was held in Italy, Campo PG 65 at Gravina near Bari (holding camp) then moved to PG 53 near Sforzacosta on east coast. He was transferred to Germany by train in July 1943 to Stalag IV-B 50 km north of Dresden, Germany, for three weeks, and given PoW number 221441. He then transferred to Stalag VIII-B (later called 344) in Lamsdorf, Poland (then Silesia) on 9th of August 1943 and joined Working Party E769, Heydebreck, Poland (IG Farben chemical plant, Blechhammer South) on 23rd of September 1944.

The POW's from Gordon's camp commenced the "Long March" from E769 on 22nd January 1945, through Poland, Czechoslovakia and south west Germany. They arrived at Stalag XIII-D, Nuremburg on 28th March 1945. They left Stalag XIII-ID on 2nd April 1945 marching south from Nuremburg, believed to be towards Moosburg POW camp. It is believed that Gordon escaped from column and was hidden in farmhouse during American bombardment. He was liberated by Americans on the 25th of April 1945 at Pietenfeld. He departed in a car given by Americans on 27th of April 1945, and drove north through Wurzberg, Frankfurt and Coblenz to Aachen on the Dutch/Belgian border. He transferred to Antwerp and Brussels on 30th April 1945 and boarded Lancaster bomber in Brussels and arrived in UK 2nd of May 1945. On the 12th of July 1945 posted to 2 Div Transport Unit. He was Posted to 1 Batt RAOC for UK service from 2nd May 1945 and was given release leave on the 26th January 1946. Before being discharged on the 13th of May 1946 going in the royal army reserves.

Richard Hines.

Pte. John Russell "Rusty" Norwood Royal Army Ordnance Corps

My husband's uncle, John Norwood was held a prisoner of war in Lambinowice, Poland during WW11. He lost so much weight he he couldn't eat etc. and was in a really bad way when he got home to Wales. He had to have his food fed to him through a straw. He was held in Stalag 344 and his POW number was 221789.

I would be very grateful if anyone can add any more to this story. We are very proud of him and his duty for his country.

Catherine Southern

Frank Leslie Relf Royal Fusiliers

My father Frank Relf served with the Royal Field Artillery in France and Salonica during WW1.

He signed on for WW2 at Mitcham Road Barracks, Croydon on 7th December 1939 and was drafted to Royal Fusiliers. He was captured at the defence of Calais in May 1940. He was interred at 1157 Stalag XX1B 7284 Stalag XX1A XX1D Stalag XX1C/H. His last camp was V111B before repatriation from Goteborg on the 16 October 1943. On arrival in the UK he was admitted to the Queen Alexander Hospital at Cosham Hampshire as a Tommy Blue for medical services. He died in 1971 aged 79.

John David Relf

Gnr. Ronald Stewart Royal Artillery

My father, Gunner Ronald Stewart, 51st Highland Division, Royal Artillery, BEF was a POW at Stalag VIIIB for 5 years after he was captured just outside Dunkirk. He was 20 years old at the time.

Since his unit was told to leave its guns and cover the retreat of the infantry he was always rather acid about his war experience. "The only thing that can run faster than a French soldier is a British officer" or perhaps vice versa.

My father worked in a coal mine and also a timber mill, and as one of your correspondents says it wasn't easy. There is also a family legend from my aunt who is still alive that he worked in a salt mine but we have always been dubious about this. If there are any records confirming where he worked I would be grateful. I have contacted the Red Cross who have the camp records, but there has been no reply.

There have been photographs of the funeral of a "Perri Daniels" (I have seen photos of the gravestone) and we were told the the funeral party was dressed up for propaganda purposes but I'm afraid the photos have been lost. I have a number of photographs and some letters home.

My father always spoke very highly of the hospitality of the Polish people who had very little themselves but who would leave presents of food on his lathe or who would throw cigarette ends as a work party passed, often at great risk to themselves. I worked for a year in Poland in 1997 and when they heard about my father the managers of the Polish construction company organised the trip to the camp for me.

Mac Stewart

W/O. John Stevens 78 Squadron

W/O John Stevens RAF 78 Squadron was a pilot of Halifax W1180. He and his crew crashed on 6th of August 1942 at Posterholt in The Netherlands, a small village on the Dutch/German border.

He and two another crew members became POW's and were send to Stalag 344:

  • John Stevens 25119. Pilot
  • A Greenacre 25631 Flight Engineer
  • D Willoughby 25123 Airbomber
If you can remember this airmen or have pictures please let me know.

Michel Beckers

Sgt. William Edwards Nottinghamshire Yeomanry

My father, Bill Edwards, was captured at Crete and imprisoned at Stalag 8b. I believe he was the first soldier to be repatriated to Leicester. This action was mainly because he was suffering from what was then known as disseminated sclerosis (later changed to MS), diagnosed when he arrived home. It was also known as 'dropped feet'. My father never talked about his experiences at Stalag 8b, as it seems very few did.

If anyone has further information about my father, please contact me.

Mick Edwards

Albert Edwin Comley 2nd Btn. Gloucestershire Regiment

My father was Albert Edwin Comley known as Bert. He was called up for the third time, for the Second World War and served in the 2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. He was captured at Casel, France, on 30th May 1940, when his unit was covering the retreat at Dunkirk. I have Red Cross paperwork showing that he was held at Stalag 323 on 1st of November 1940 (prisoner no. 11000) and was also held in Stalag 8b. I have some messsage cards from him to my mother from there. My father was involved in the "Long (or Death) March" when POWs were force-marched from their POW camps in Poland into Germany in the freezing cold of winter. He was made to work in coal mines during his captivity and was repatriated to England in 1945.

I know that there are probably very few survivors of these times, but if you or your father or grandfather were in the Glosters 2nd Battalion, captured at Casel, and/or held in Stalag 8b, please get in touch.

Gordon Comley

Pte. Francis Dennis Klapper 6th Btn. Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders

My uncle, Dennis Klapper was the grandson of Raymond Klapper. While serving in WWII he kept a diary from the beginning of 1940 to the end of 1945. This time frame includes the time of his capture by the Germans until his release and the end of the war. During his capture Dennis was kept in the infamous prison camp Stalag VIIIB which was located in Lamsdorf, Silesia which is now Lambinowice, Poland. By coincidence, this camp was located only a short distance from Cieplowody, Poland in Silesia where his family originally lived before coming to the UK in 1860. Dennis was only 18 when he joined the 6th Battalion of the Argyle & Southern Highlanders. He was captured. The following is an exerpt from his diary:

1940 On January 4th we left Border for Southampton where we caught the boat for Cherbourg. From here after days of travelling we arrived at Armentieres where we stayed for a few weeks, then we moved to a village by the name of Auberchicourt near Douai where we remained until May 10th.

May 10th. Planes in morning, several shot down. Heard Germans invaded Belgium and Holland. Douai bombed. Stand to. Away in afternoon. Passing through Orchies, bombed. Took billets in Lessines for refugee control duties. Not much sleep. Crowds of refugees. Parachutists. Saw one or two air battles. 11 platoon got full load when German tried to gain height, four killed. Lessines bombed first morning. Church and shops gutted. Next week set off through Habsolth to wood. Shelled and bombed. Ammunitions truck went up. Champagne. Retreat to Lessines, through Engaden in flames. then for rest in a village. Bombed as we left. Next to Grammont to cover withdrawal. Next day set off for France. Roads bombed and gunned. Lost two trucks and two men. Refugees killed. Rest near Orchies. Back to Brumes as reserve coy; down to Douai for armoured units. Brumes to cover withdrawal on way to rest-camp, turned back to front near Gavion then to farm near Bethune for two days rest. Pleinar gunned and shelled.

May 25th. Set off for Bethune, just bombed. Driving down road, were machine gunned and shelled. Lorries in ditches. Radiator damaged. Dived in ditch with two other fellows. One on truck hit by mortar. Tried to crawl along ditch but blocked at one end and truck on side, blazing at other. Own guns used on us. Captured. Got some soup, bread, marge, cheese. Drome with planes. Heard Gray killed and Graham escaped. Officer said they had been waiting all morning for us. Shed for night, coffee in morning.

Dennis then keeps a (nearly) daily diary until 15th June 1942. He was taken to Stalag VIIIB, a camp known as Lamsdorf. “There were more than 700 subsidiary Arbeitskommandos (working parties outside the main camp)… Arbeitskommandos housed the lower ranks who were working in coal mines, factories, quarries or on the railways.

He was moved from Lamsdorf in July 1940 (in a closed wagon on a train) to a camp at Reigersfeld and sent to work on road and canal building and was then taken by horse truck in very cold weather with other POWs in January 1941 from the camp at Reigersfeld, to Klausburg, a coal mining camp. From now until the camp was evacuated in 1945 he was to work in the mines. He seems to have remained at Klausberg until the camp was evacuated and he took part in the `Long March' in January 1945: this was a forced march by an estimated 80,000 POWs westward across Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany in extreme winter conditons between January and April 1945. He wrote an account of his experiences on the Long March, in the course of which he lost toes to frostbite. Dennis also contracted TB in the camps, he was invalided home because of his lungs (aggravating or being aggravated by malnutrition) more so than the frostbite. Dennis became a postman in Gateshead and died unmarried in 1987. He never recovered from his experiences.

Josie Driscoll

L/Bmdr. James William Gardiner 28 Field Regiment Royal Artillery (d.20th Aug 1944)

I have only just found my great uncle James Gardiner and discovered his war grave site. Upon starting this research I was saddened to find out that my great uncle died in stalag 344 {stalag v111b}. It has since transpired that some time in 1942 he was reported missing and later turned up on casualty lists as a pow in PG 53. I am still investigating and awaiting war office records to fully explain how or why James ended up in such circumstances. I do not know any details of his service capture or cause of death at present. If any one has any knowledge of the event that occurred on 20th August 1944 or of how 28th Field regiment came to be captured, I would be eternally grateful.

I have recently traced the brief details of imprisonment in both PG53 in Italy and Stalag VIIIb of L/bdr James William Gardiner. James was killed by a US air raid on 20th August 1944. I am hoping that someone somewhere knew and remembered my great uncle and maybe there is a picture of him, I have no idea of what he looked like.

Editor's Note: In May 2009 a list of British POW's names was found in a bottle partly buried in the ground near Monowitz camp by Dominik Synowiec. It is thought that the POWs on the list were probably working in the IG Farben rubber factory part of the camp. An historian at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum believes that the list is authentic and he is positive that one of the names on that list -`Gardiner' - is James William Gardiner, who was killed in a US bombing raid on the camp. The following article appeared in a german newspaper in 2009: "A list of 17 names believed to refer to World War II British prisoners of war held by Nazi Germany near its infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp has surfaced in Poland, an Auschwitz museum historian said Tuesday. The list of names on the left-hand margin of the card reads as follows, three of them illegible: "Osborne, Lawrence, Gardiner, Lamb, Symes, Saunders, Dunne, Dunn, Hutton, Holmes, ..., ..., Clark, Manson, ..., Auty, Steinger." "I was looking for something else entirely," Synowiec told AFP Tuesday. He says he discovered the list of names by chance under debris inside a WWII-era bunker located on the site of the Nazi German Monowitz prisoner of war (POW) camp holding primarily British citizens. The POW camp in question was located next to the Monowitz slave labour camp, known as Auschwitz III, a branch of the main Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp holding labourers working at the nearby Nazi-run IG Farben rubber factory. Historian Setkiewicz was able to determine the fate of a man bearing the name Gardiner, believed to be James William Gardiner of Britain's Royal Artillery, who died in a US bombing raid and is buried in Krakow's Rakowicki cemetery. A separate list of seven Auschwitz prisoners surfaced last week after workers found it packed inside a bottle fixed in the mortar of a wall of a building in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim. Now part of a local high school, the building had served as a warehouse for the camp's Nazi guards during World War II. Three of the men on the bottle list are alive, including Frenchman Albert Veissid, now a sprightly 84-year-old contacted by AFP at his home in Allauch in southeastern France and two Poles. One of the men named on the list has passed away while the fate of the remaining three remains unclear. Nazi Germany systematically killed more than one million people, mostly European Jews, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp located in the then Nazi-occupied southern Polish town of Oswiecim between 1940 and 1945. The site was part of German dictator Adolf Hitler's plan of genocide against European Jews, six million of whom perished at the hands of the Nazis during World War II." - AFP (

Belinda Thorne

Pte. Albert Conn Fields 2/11 Btn.

Albert and his mother in England

Albert Fields, my great uncle, was born in Sheffield, England. He later followed his sisters and their husbands to West Australia, arriving in Perth at the age of 21. He enlisted in Perth WA for service on 20th May 1940. He gave his birth date as 21st November 1914, yet on a 1911 Census for Sheffield it states he is two years old then, so his actual birth was 1908!

His battalion was sent to the Middle East, to Greece and then to Crete, where he was captured in 1941. He was sent to Stalag VIIA and then later to Stalag VIIIB where he, with so many others, are nearly worked to death in German work camps. Another member of my family who I am so proud of.

Linda Chapman

Pte. Francis Dennis Klapper 6th Btn. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

My uncle Francis Klapper from Newcastle on Tyne joined the 6th Battalion of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and was sent to France in January 1940, but was captured in Belgium in May that year and sent to Lamsdorf, Stalag VIIIB. He worked for a couple of Arbeitskommandos, one at Reigersfeld and one at Klausberg, working first on roads and then down a mine until on 22nd January 1945 they began the long march west and eventually came home.

While in the Klausberg camp, one of his colleagues Arthur Lewis died in a coal fall at the Niederbank mine and Dennis went to his funeral. Among my uncle's papers there is a photograph of the grave of Arthur Lewis, and I wonder if his family have seen this or knew about it. I would be more than happy to let any family members have this photo.

Josie Driscoll

Pte. Edwin William Hills 2/5th Btn. Queens Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

Transit Camp ID

All we know is Dad, Bill Hills was captured during an allied raid on Sicily during WW2 and placed in Stalag 8B at Teschen, any information found would be great as he never spoke about the war.

Peter Hills

Horace Frederick Martin 3 Commando

My father, Horace Frederick Martin was in 3 Commando. He spent 3 years in Stalag 8b. If anyone has any memories of him, I would like to hear from them.

Alan Martin

Peter Williams King's Royal Rifle Corps

I was in the King's Royal Rifle Corp, taken prisoner on Crete in 1941. I was sent to Stalag 7A Moosberg and later to 8B until the end of the war. If anyone remembers me, would they please contact me. I have some photos of other POWs, mainly Australians and New Zealanders and a couple of IDs if anyone is interested in seeing them.

Pete Willkiams

Sgt. William J. Avery

My father, Sgt William J Avery 3972/7342, was at Stalag 383 until the end of the war. He was with CSM Savayl, Rev. Capt Grant and Jock 8.Coy Line. He was also in Stalag 8B. I have photographs showing companions in the prison camp and also a funeral in Stalag 383. Another picture shows Prince Gustav of Sweden, CSM MCKenger/gec?, Mr Eric Berg YMCA Sweden, OSM McLennon. Ass. Man of Con. with Hauptman Blume, Abwehr Officer.

Jill Avery

PO. Thomas Campbell HMS Malvernian

My father Petty Officer Thomas Campbell, served on HMS Malvernian which was dive-bombed in the Bay of Biscay while on contraband patrol in 1940. He was held in Marlug und Milag Nord and Stalag 8B.

Does anyone have details of the march away from the Russians through Czechoslovakia at the end of the war? Dad was released by the Americans on his birthday, 29th April 1945, I think near Regensburg. Can anyone confirm?

Brian Campbell

Sam Auerbach Royal Engineers

My uncle, Sam Auerbach, served as a Palestine soldier in the Royal Engineers, British Army. He was captured on Crete and held in Stalag 8b for more than four years. I know he escaped a few times, helping pilots to freedom, but came back to the camp. Does anyone remember him?

Almougy Davis

Louis Audet Les Fusiliers de Mont-Royal

I am looking for survivors of Stalag 8b who were from Les Fusiliers de Mont-Royal and who would have information about my grandfather, Louis Audet.


WO Angus May

My father is WO Angus May, a RAF navigator in Bomber Command who was a POW in Stalag 8b. He escaped during the `death march' in early 1945 with fellow airman Bill Varnham. He would be interested in hearing from anyone else from Stalag 8b.

Nanette May

Donald James Shaw Royal Army Ordnance Corps

I am trying to help a family friend get in touch with the following individuals or relatives. Donald James Shaw RAOC, held at Stalag VIIIB. S/Sgt D. Grant, held at Stalag IVB. John Anderson, held at Stalag XXB. Can anyone help?

Rod Davies

Bandsman. Veal

Does anyone know anything about a band at Lamsdorf 8b called Melody Makers? My late grandfather, Bandsman Veal, was part of it until he was repatriated in 1943. I am trying to find information, however small. Can you help?

Kelly James

James Taylor

My grandfather is James Taylor, who was a POW in Stalag VIIIB.

Jim Gellately

Harry Bowsher

My dad was in Stalag 8B. I have lots of photos to share.

Malcolm Bowsher

William Martin

My dad, William Martin, was a POW in Stalag VIIIB after being captured at St Valery on 12th June 1940. I am trying to find any information.

Wilma Campbell

David William Dransfield

My father, David William Dransfield, is on two of the photographs shown on this website taken in Stalag 8b. He was a POW for five years and kept a war log of events which took place in Stalag 8b. This log includes lots of photos and cartoons. His medals and some memorabilia are on display in the war museum, (Eden Camp) at Malton, East Yorkshire. My father died in 1985.

Roy Dransfield

Philip Leslie Corkill

My grandad, Philip Leslie Corkill who I adored along with everyone else in the family, was a POW in Stalag 8B. I know little about his experiences there, but I believe he was the camp barber and was also pretty sharp at picking locks, which he did to get into the food stores to help provide food for prisoners who were malnourished. He was not a man to talk of anything about the war but as family I would love to know anything about what he went through, especially as he has now passed. I would like to hear from anyone who remembers my grandfather.

Pauline McKee

Joe Brown

My great uncle, Joe Brown, was a POW in Stalag 8b.

Amanda Cope

Alfred "Jimmy" Matthews

My grandfather, Alfred (Jimmy) Matthews was in Stalag 8b from about 1940 to 1943. If anyone has information regarding him, please contact me.

Toni Trott

Stan Herschel 232 Field Comp. Royal Engineers

Stan was born on 16th February 1920 and served in the Royal Engineers, 232 Field Coy, part of 50 Division. He was taken prisoner at Lille and was a POW at Stalag 8b for five years. He took part in the death march.

Stan Herschel

George Evans

My father, George Evans, was a prisoner at Stalag VIIIB from 1940 to 1945. I have some memorabilia from his time in the camp. His friend at the camp was Bob Perry from Portslade.

George A Evans

Henry Simpson Gordon Highlanders

My uncle, Gordon Highlander Henry Simpson from Maud, was a POW at Lamsdorf 344 (Stalag 8b). He was part of a group called the Lamsdorf Loons.

Liz Ross

Tom Butcher Welsh Regiment

My father, Tom Butcher, was captured on Crete and was sent to Stalags 7A and 8B. He was also on the 1,000 mile death march from Poland. He hardly said a thing about his time as a POW.

John Butcher

Pte. Douglas Gordon Hamilton Infantry

My father, Pte. Douglas Hamilton, was a POW in Stalag VIIIB (POW No. 21542) from June 1941 to 1945. He hardly ever spoke about his experiences.

Jo McMahon

David Wear Short 1st Btn. Royal Scots

My grandfather, David Wear Short of the 1st Btn The Royal Scots, was captured at Le Paradis, France in May 1940. He spent almost three years in Stalag 8b before being repatriated. While in the camp he was heavily involved in the Stalag 8b dance band with Jim Hunter, among others. He died in 1981. Does anyone remember him?

David Short

Sgt. John Fairlie Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

My father was Sgt. John Fairlie, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was captured in Tunisia in January 1943 and imprisoned in Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) from about April 1943 to January 1945. He was force-marched 600 miles across Germany on the infamous death march. He refused to discuss details of his experiences. He died in 1991.

Ian Fairlie

Stan Herschel

My father was a POW in Stalag 8b for five years and took part in the death march when liberated (1200 miles). My mother was in the ATS.

George Herschel

Oliver Robins Durham Light Infantry

Does anyone remember my uncle Oliver Robins, Durham Light Infantry? He was held in Stalag 8B for most of WWII. Any information or photographs would be appreciated. He died in December 2003.

Henry Coundon

Alfred Clark 2nd Btn. Northamptonshire Regiment

My father, Alfred Clark, was in the 2nd Btn Northamptonshire Regiment and was captured at Arras in 1940. He was then sent to Stalag VIIIB for the rest of the war. Does anyone know how they were captured?

James Gordon

I am searching for anyone who was at the same camp as my uncle during WW2. He was captured in 1940 at St Valery. His name is James Gordon from Dundee. The information I have varies: E793 or BAB21 and Stalag 344, Blechhammer.

I have many photographs taken at the camp and would be willing to share them with anyone, or the families of anyone who was there.


All the above camp numbers are part of the same Stalag - VIIIB, and refer to work camps, of which there were over 700.

Linda Seyegh

Pte. Bill Martin Royal Army Service Corps

My father, Bill Martin, was captured at St Valery in June 1940 and was a POW at Stalag VIIIB.

Wilma Campbell

Cpl. Ronald William "Dick" Dwyer 2/8th Btn. Infantry

My grandfather was a POW in Stalag 8b for about four years, according to his service record. His name was Ronald William Dwyer, also known as `Dick'. He was a corporal in the 2/8th Battalion, Australian Army. On the rare occasions when he spoke of his experience, he mentioned at least two attempted escapes. I would love to know more.

He was captured on the Greek/Yugoslav border after being left on Crete. After a withdrawal there wasn't enough room on the ships and I believe some people were just left behind with no food or ammo.


Your grandfather is listed in the government-issued information book as being in Stalag 8A, VIIIA or VIIIB, as the last camp before repatriation, although he may have been transferred there. His German issue POW number is 24417; rank: corporal; Australian Service No. VX6410 2/8 Infantry Btn.

Many Canadians were also held at Stalag VIIIB. Note the listing includes all Australians. Setting out similar ones at the same camp, plus POW numbers which would indicate soldiers captured at the same time as your grandfather.

Pippa Guest

Louis Audet Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

My grandfather, Louis Audet, was in the Canadian Army in Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal Btn. He was a POW in Stalag 8B after Operation Jubilee at Dieppe.

Isabelle Guest

Pte. Kenneth Joseph Hay 18 Battalion

Pte Kenneth Joseph Hay was my husband's uncle, who enlisted with a younger brother, Leonard Ewald Hay. Leonard was killed and Ken was taken prisoner in Crete, then moved to Stalag VIIIB - Prisoner No. 5120. His final incarceration was at Stalag VIIIB Teschen. He returned to New Zealand on 5 September 1945 and never spoke a word of his experience. Did anyone know Ken whilst a POW?

Leigh Hay

Pete Williams King's Royal Rifle Corps

I was captured on Crete in 1941 while serving with the King's Royal Rifle Corps and spent the next couple of years at Moosberg (Stalag 7A), before moving on to Stalag 8B in 1943, where I remained until the end of the war. I would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers me. I still have a number of photographs of fellow prisoners taken at Moosberg and a couple of German IDs on William Robinson of the 2nd KRRC, and another POW, Ronald John Jenkins No. 31861.

I knew many Australian and New Zealand POWs. I recently read Harold Siddals' biography on the web, which included his recollections of life in both these camps. An excellent read about the realities of camp life.

Pete Williams

Urban Gerrard "Jack" Ryan 2/11th Btn.

My uncle, Urban Gerrard `Jack' Ryan was a member of the 2/11th AIF, captured on Crete on 6th June 1941 and interned first at Stalag VIIA, then transferred to Stalag VIIIB in October 1941. Does anyone remember him? Does anyone know which route the death march took when he left VIIIB.

Lorraine Bush

Sgt. Richard Cupit Royal Army Medical Corps

Does anyone remember my dad, Sgt Richard (Dick) Cupit, Royal Army Medical Corps, captured in 1940 and imprisoned in Stalag 8B?

Val Smith

Thomas A. Brodie

My dad was a prisoner in Stalag 8B till the end of the war. He was on the forced march. A bit of an artist and a shy guy from Glasgow, Scotland. Does anyone remember him?

Steven Brodie

Sapper Sedgwick Royal Engineers

I am trying to trace the movements of my late father. He was a sapper in the Royal Engineers and was captured at Tobruk in 1943. He was transported to a camp at Emilia in Italy, escaped and spent time in Costa de Aviano. He was recaptured in the summer of 1944 and sent to Stalag 8B. He returned home to Haxey, near Doncaster, Yorkshire in the winter of 1944/45. I am looking for information on the period he was in Stalag 8B and how he managed to get home.

Ivan Sedgwick

Thomas Dawson Northumberland Fusiliers

I have two uncles who were in the Northumberland Fusiliers during WWII. They were both captured at St Valery. Thomas was interned in Stalag 5, Poland, and Robert in Stalag 8b.


Robert Dawson Northumberland Fusiliers

I have two uncles who were in the Northumberland Fusiliers during WWII. They were both captured at St Valery. Robert was interned in Stalag 8b and Thomas was in Stalag 5, Poland,


Patrick Duffy Royal Engineers

My grandfather, Patrick Duffy of the Royal Engineers TA, was captured and sent to Stalag 8b. He escaped on the march and was wounded in the leg. He did not know the war had ended. I think he was in the camp for four or five years.


Bdsm. George Sargent 15th/19th Rgt. King's Royal Hussars

My father was in the 15th/19th King's Royal Hussars Regiment and a POW from 1940. He was in a few camps but one I remember is Stalag 8b. He was wounded at Dunkrik and captured.

Peter Sargent

Henry Harvey LeVaillant

My grandfather was a POW in Stalag 8b/344.

Deidre Hall

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

J. W. Strickland 115 Sqdn.

J W Strickland was shot down on 4/5th September 1942. He was a POW in Stalag VIIIb or 344. I have his history of POW days.

M. Bailey

William Balmer Royal Marine Commandos

My great uncle, Bill Balmer a Royal Marine Commando, was a POW in Stalag 8B.

Andrew Kane

Cyril Catchpole Royal Army Medical Corps

My grandad was an ambulance driver, serving with the RAMC and the RASC. He was captured on Crete and was taken to Stalag 8b until the end of the war. On some scraps of paper we found the names: Les Green 15675, Bob Moore 32351 and Harry Ketteridge from Addlestone, Surrey.


Thomas Edwin Peedle Welsh Guards

My grandfather, Thomas Edwin Peedle, served with the Welsh Guards in WWII. He was captured at Dunkirk. I am not sure which POW camp he was sent to, but it could be Stalag 8, because I have a photo which states this on the back.


Just in case you do not have the details from the POW book the entry is: Camp 344 (Lamsdorf) POW No. 13912 Peedle, T.E. L/Cpl. 2732949 W.G. (Stuart Brown)

Pauline Longwood

Jack Vaughan

My father was a POW at Lamsdorf 8B from 1939 to 194/45 when he took part in the death march west, ultimately to be liberated by the Allies. I think he served with one of the London infantry regiments. He had a very close friend, Reginald Blair, who was captured in North Africa.

Greg Vaughan

Reginald Blair

Reginald Blair was a POW in Lamsdorf 8B.

Peter Donnelly Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

My grandfather, Peter Donnelly was taken prisoner on Crete in 1941 and sent to Stalag 8b.

Billy Hart

Walter Cochrane

Walter Cochrane was captured at the Battle of Crete and sent to Stalag 8B.

Gunner Garfield Jenkins 5th Btn. South Wales Borderers

My father, Garfield Jenkins, was captured after the Battle of Crete and sent to Stalag 8B. He told me of one successful escape from a camp in Poland. He used a ladder which he had been given to clean windows and jumped the wall. My dad was 18 at the beginning of the war. He stayed with a Polish family for two months hiding out with someone else - an Australian named Macomack. When he and his companion were liberated by the American they stole an SS car and drove to France.

In the Stalag the POWs were in working parties and when he was in a mining party he threw a girder onto the conveyor belt in order to stop the work because the Australians were not used to mining and were being picked on. But somebody else got the blame and had a right beating. They did find out it was father in the end and he was battered him too.

Jay Jenkins

Frederick Martin "Orrie" Martin No 3 Commando

My father was captured at Dieppe and spent three years in Stalag 8B. He escaped three times. He was a member of No. 3 Commando. Does anyone remember him?

Alan Martin

Cpl. Charlie Victor Oldfield 8th Army

My grandfather served in the Desert Rats and was captured at Tobruk. He was interned in Stalag 344 (Stalag 8b).

Carol Haddon

Cpl. John McGerty Royal Artillery

My Dad, John McGerty of the Royal Artillery was captured at Dunkirk in 1940 and held in Stalag 8b.


William Robson Queen's Own Royal West Kent Rgt.

My father, William Robson, was in the Royal West Kents and was captured at Dunkirk. He was imprisoned at Stalag 8b and then went on the death march to Poland where the Russians freed him in 1945.

Chris Robson

Walter "John" Hide Royal Marines

Royal Marine "John" Hide was a POW in Stalag 344 (aka 8B).

Ian Sandell

Bombardier George Hooper Royal Artillery

George (my father) enlisted in the R.A in May 1932 aged 18. He was based at Woolwich & Topsham Barracks & in Blakang Mati, Singapore,(1936-8). He returned to work at J.A.Crabtree & Co Ltd in Walsall till the outbreak of war & was recalled to the "colours" in June 1939. He was captured on his 26th birthday (26-May-40) near Dunkirk. He entered Stalag VIII Lamsdorf on 23-Jun-40 & was moved to Stalag 383 at Hohenfels in early 1942. He was liberated in April 1945.

Alan Hooper

Cpl. John Milligan DCM & Bar King's OwnScottish Borderers

Cpl John Milligan was captured at Dunkirk and became a POW at Stalag 8B. He was awarded the DCM and Bar for deeds in the First World War. Does anyone remember him?

Linda Tudball

Gnr. Edward Joseph McGuinness Royal Artillery

My grandfather, Edward Joseph McGuinness, was a gunner in the Royal Artillery. I understand he was born about 1917 in Ireland and was based at the Devonshire Regiment Barracks on Topsham Road, Exeter in the 1930s, where he remained until the outbreak of war. He married Marjorie Barker in 1934 in Exeter.

He was taken prisoner at Dunkirk and sent to Stalag 383, where he remained until the end of the war and his return to Devon. I also understand there was a camp artist, as I have a picture of my mother, which was drawn simply from my grandfather's description, and is treasured. Does anyone have any information about Edward, the artist or the camp?

H Woodman

F/Sgt. Albert Buckell

My father, F/Sgt. Albert Buckell, RAF, was a prisoner in Stalag 8B/344, Lamsdorf. He talked about a fellow prisoner, a Canadian airman called Vernon Bastable, whose courage he admired. The two of them changed places with army privates in order to go out on a working party. However, Bastable's true identity was discovered by the guards who said he would be returned to the camp the next day. The prisoners levered up one of the bars on the window to allow hom to escape, but he was recaptured shortly afterwards. He is listed in the book "Footprints in the Sands of Time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock. Does anyone have any news or information about him?


Flight Officer Vernon Bastable died in 1949. He is listed on the Canadian Veterans' website. He had a brother Gerald who was a Sgt in the Dragoons, who was killed in 1944 and one surviving brother, Harold, also a Flight Officer who was a navigator in Bomber Command. Harold was shot down the day after D-day and captured by Gestapo and spent 101 days in a concentration camp. (Al Blondin)

John Buckell

Sgt. K. M. McNae 6055 pet coy Army Service Corps

I am very interested in information on my late father. We have a number of group photos taken during his stay at Stalag 8B. He was seriously injured in Crete on 20th March 1940 and ended up at Stalag 8 after being hospitalised in Athens. We have copies of letters he wrote to his mother in New Plymouth, New Zealand but information regarding his stay in hospital and at the Stalags is vague.

Wendy Stephens

Bert Hall No.3 Commando

Bert Hall and Frank Lawrence, No. 3 Commandos were billeted with my parents in Largs, Ayrshire, they were both taken prisoners after the Dieppe raid and sent to Stalag 8b. I'm looking for any information

Catherine McGinty

Frank Lawrence No.3 Commando

Frank Lawrence and Bert Hall of No. 3 Commandos were billeted with my parents in Largs, Ayrshire, taken prisoners after the Dieppe raid and sent to Stalag 8b. I'm looking for any information.

Catherine McGinty

John Milligan

My uncle John Milligan was from Leith, Edinburgh. He was captured in France in 1940 and was a prisoner of war in Stalag 8b from 1940 to 1944. He worked in the salt mines. Any information would be appreciated. I am not sure where Stalag 8b was or the mines that he worked in. My uncle was not a well man when he came home from the war. He suffered from TB and was in hospital for a year after repatriation.

Sylvia Graham

Fred Richardson

My wife's grandfather spent most of WWII in Stalag VIIIB. His name was Fred Richardson. If anyone has any information about the camp or anyone who knew Fred, please let me know.

Stratford Colley

Andrew Boyle Argyl & Sutherland Highlanders

My grandfather, Andrew Boyle served with the Argyle & Southern Highlanders. I don't have much information as he rarely talked about his experiences in the war. He was a POW for most of the war after being shot and captured at Abbeville as part of the rearguard action at Dunkirk. He was sent to Stalag 8b where he worked in a mine and was involved in several escape attempts - the most "successful" of which saw him escape through a tunnel and reach the Swiss border before being recaptured and sent back to 8b. I believe this escape may have been immortalised in the film "The password is courage". I am trying to find any information.

Gordon Robertson

L/Cpl. Andrew Hepburn Royal Corps of Signals

My father Andrew Hepburn was held in Klimontow and worked underground at one of the mines. He escaped from the camp and managed to make his way to Cesov in the Czech Republic, eventually returning to the UK.

Steve Hepburn

Denis Manners

Denis Manners was a prisoner of war at Stalag VIIIB from 1943 to 1945. Anyone out there remember him?

Jennie Heap

Bill Jackson Royal Artillery

I am hoping to trace anyone who was in stalag 8b and knew a Bill Jackson R.A. or a Bob Etherington of The Green Howards.

Don Andrews

Bob Etherington Green Howards (Yorkshire) Regiment

I am hoping to trace anyone who was in Stalag 8b and knew a Bill Jackson R.A. or a Bob Etherington of The Green Howards.

Don Andrews

James C. Russell HMS Voltaire

I believe that my father-in-law Jimmy Russell was in Stalag 8b. He was on the ship HMS Voltaire which was sunk in the South Atlantic by the German ship The Thor. He is now deceased but would never talk about any of his experiences and my wife would be grateful if anyone could help.

John W Still

William Burdon

My father, Billy Burdon was in Stalag 8B for most of the war. He died 18 years ago, aged 66. If anyone knew him I would welcome a contact.

Tom Burdon

Fred Gilbey Army Air Corps

My father, 4615208 Private Fred Gilbey Amy Air Corps, was at Stalag 8b from July 1943 to May 1945 (approx). Anybody know him?

Dean Gilbey

Pte. Arthur Sweet

I'm looking for any information concerning my grandfather, Pte. Arthur Sweet. Service No. 5504441, PoW at Stalag 8b later Stalag 344 somewhere between 1943 and 1945. POW no. 55355.

Alison Kindt

Frank Archer Staffordshire Regiment

Does anyone have information regarding Frank Archer (possibly Staffordshire Regiment)? We believe he was interned in Stalag 8b for approximately five years in late 1939.

John Cooke

RSM Sidney Sherriff

Can anybody give me any information about RSM Sidney Sherriff (my grandfather)? He was "Camp Leader" in Stalag 8b.

Andy Sherriff

Telegr. George Cardus

Does anyone remember George Cardus, a Royal Navy telegraphist at Stalag 8b?

Carl Cardus

Pte. Norm Yates 2/2nd Field Ambulance

My father, Norm Yates, was held at Stalag 8b (Lamsdorf) after being captured on Crete. He was a private in 2/2nd Field Ambulance in the Australian Army. He was later in the prisoner exchange. Does anyone remember him?

John Yates

Leonard Hunter 2/15th Btn.

My grandfather, Leonard Hunter, Australian 2/15th battalion, was a POW in Stalag 344 (8b). He was captured after El Alamein. He was a Rat of Tobruk, and was eventually released from prison when the allied forces liberated the camp. He had his ring finger shot off escaping from the camp and there are stories of his bunk capturing a German shepherd and eating it for Christmas. I am still trying to find information. If anyone can help with the history of this POW camp please let me know.

Natalie Hatch

George "Jock" Todd Gordon Highlanders

My father, George (Jock) Todd of the Gordon Highlanders (now deceased), was imprisoned at Stalag 8b.

John Todd

George Fisher Notts & Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters)

I am seeking any information about George Fisher who was at Stalag 8b. He was a soldier in the Sherwood Forresters and was captured in Africa.

Oliver Fisher

John Henry Felosi 36th Div. 143rd Infantry

My grandfather was held at Stalag 344 (8b) in 1944/45. Below is some information on him. I am looking for help in gathering information and if anyone might have known him.
  • John Henery Felosi
  • US Army Private
  • 143rd Infantry, 36 Division
  • #16415159
  • Gefangenennummer 36248
  • Gepruft
  • Kriegsgefangenenpast
  • Lager-Bezeichnung
  • M-Stammlager 344

  • Rick

    William Stanley Charlton

    My husband's stepfather William Stanley Charlton, known as Stan, was at Stalag 8B from 1941 to 1945. He cannot talk about it but often has terrible nightmares still ...trying to find out as much as we can.

    Ann Wiles

    Lancelot Robert Marshall 4th Btn. Border Regiment

    My father, Lance Marshall of the 4th Battalion Border Regiment was captured at Incheville on 14th June 1940 and was a POW at Stalag 8B until the end of the war in 1945. His prisioner number was 16641. He would never speak about his time in the war and I am now trying to find some information about his time there for his grandson.

    Alison Stamp

    Albert Edward "Bronco" Browne Royal West Kent Rgt.

    I am seeking any information regarding my father, Albert Edward Browne, nicknamed Bronco, who served with the Royal West Kent Regiment (originally Maidstone based). He served in India before the war and was the lightweight boxing champion for the Regiment 193? in Secundrabad. He served in France with the BEF and was captured in 1939. He became a POW in Stalag 8B in Upper Silesia, Poland.

    Len Gingell

    My dad, Len Gingell, was captured at Anzio and was in a POW camp at Lamsdorf (Stalag 8b).


    Peter Havers Moore 1st Btn. Black Watch

    My father, Peter Havers Moore, 1st Battalion Black Watch, was captured at Dunkirk in June 1940. We believe he was interned at Stalag VIIIB and would very much like to hear from anybody with any information, however trivial it may appear.

    Lesely Moore

    Archie Broadfoot Highland Light Infantry

    My father, Archie Broadfoot, was in Stalag 8b/Lamsdorf (344) from 1940 to 1945. Although he wore the Black Watch uniform he was actually in the Highland Light Infantry/Glasgow Rangers. The only information I have been able to find is that the site is now a museum. My father was assigned to work down the mines, for which he suffered. In 1944, because of ill health, he was assigned to "light duties" in a mill where they made furniture and he had to cut down trees and plane them. He considered himself to be one of the lucky ones, as there was a lot of suffering and poor conditions, so his philosophy was better out of camp. He remembered some rather rough train journeys and a walk to the camp. At the end he was repatriated by the Americans in a Czech village.

    Marion Wigginton

    Jack Heap Royal Border Regiment

    Jack Heap was in the Royal Border Regiment. He was a POW from June 1940 to Janury 1945 in Stalag VIIIB. Does anyone remember him?

    Les Murray

    George Squires

    George Squires was a friend of Verney Squires, both interned in Stalags 4A and 8B.

    Verney Squires

    Verney Squires was a friend of George Squires, both interned in Stalags 4a and 8b.

    Pte. Archibald Mallett 2nd Btn. Gloucester Regiment

    Dad, Archibald Mallett was part of the BEF 145th Brigade sent to France in May 1940 and on to Orchies on the Belgium border. They were then sent on to defend the road to Dunkirk at Cassel. He was captured at Cassel on 27th May 1940 after receiving a shrapnel injury to his head. He was subsequently incarcerated in Stalag XX1B and he remained a POW until his release at the end of the war, suffering at the hands of the Germans.

    His regiment was almagamated with the 1st Btn the Glosters and he went on to fight in Korea at the battle of Gloster Hill and the Imjin River, managing to survive and return home.

    Dad never spoke of his war years and it is only in recent years that our family have learned of his past and how heroic he was. I am very proud of Dad, sadly he passed on in 1989. I have enclosed some of his papers showing different camps where he was held.

    Terry Mallett

    L/Bmbdr. James William Gardiner 28th Field Rgt. Royal Artillery (d.20th August 1944)

    Captured during the offensive action at the Gazala line, it appears that James Gardiner was taken prisoner and transported to PG53 before being taken to Lamsdorf Stalag 344 in Poland by the Nazis. Sadly, during an American air raid on the I G Farben factory, my great uncle lost his life. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to obtain any pictures/photos of James.

    L/Cpl. Herbert Holzer Palestine Pioneer Corp

    My grandfather, Herbert Holzer was born in February 1918 in Vienna, Austria. My grandfather was Herbert Holzer born Feb. 19. 1918 in Vienna. Between 1938-1940 he made his way to Palestine where he enlisted in the British Army at Sarafand. He served with the Palestinian Pioneer Corp and was captured. he was held as POW # 6737 in Stalag 344 Lamsdorf, Poland from 1941-1945. At this point I do not know too much of his story but I know he worked in the coal mines. He later moved to New York. If there are any suggestions to find information I would appreciate it.


    Pte. David Nicholson 2/7th Australian Field Ambulance

    David Nicholson was held in Stalag 8B

    Fiona Arnold

    Dvr. Christopher Harold Read 33 Transport Coy.

    My late grandfather, Christopher Read was a serving member of the Royal Army Service Corps between 18th of April 1940 and 24th of July 1946. He was a Class III Vehicle Mechanic and originated from the Dulwich area but later moved to Swanscombe, Kent. Chris had very dark hair which was often in a parting, slicked with Brylcreem and stood at approx 5'5. He was of medium build and would have been, at that time, a smoker.

    Chris was captured during his service (possibly in 1942) and taken to Stalag VIII B in Poland. His POW number was 266520. From my memory as a very small child, I remember being told he was injured quite badly and suffered a wound to the abdomen. However, this may be an error of recollection on my part as I was very young when my grandfather passed.

    From his service records, he was described as a "good all round vehicle mechanic during his period of service in the Army. He is reliable, honest and sober". Chris was stationed at Brighton from 07.06.40, Aldershot from 26.07.40, Stalbridge 22.04.42 and latterly joined 33 T. Coy RASC from 01.02.43. He was also part of the BLA. At the end of the war, he was awarded The Defence Medal & The Campaign Star and discharged to the Limes Transport Cafe, Prattsbottom, Farnborough in Kent.

    I have no photos and nothing apart from formal war records obtained from the Army Personnel relating to him. I am desperate to learn more about my grandfather as he was very much loved, dearly missed and above all, I am exceptionally proud of him for his efforts during the war.

    I note from various stories posted on here that some members have lots of photos from Stalag VIII. If anyone has any information or indeed photos which relate to my grandfather either during active service or indeed as a POW, please, please, could you make contact? Thank you in advance.

    Donna Read

    Gnr. Victor Edward Martin 64th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery

    My dad, Victor Martin, served in Egypt, Libya and Greece. He was captured in Salonika after the truck he was in went over a landmine killing some of the others and breaking his right arm and leg. He was taken to Caserta military hospital and from there to Stalag VIIIB where he was a PoW until 1944 when he was repatriated. Because of the severity of his injuries, which left him unable to write with his right hand, he trained himself to use his left one.

    Pte. Francis Robert Weaver 51st Highland Div.

    My father and his comrades (picture may be taken in Stalag VIIIB)

    We lost my father, Francis Weaver, in a traffic accident in 1963, when I was only 15 and my brothers were 10 and 7 years old. He never spoke much about the war. But I recall him telling us that he protected his spoon very safely as there was a lot of illness. He brought his spoon back home and it was worn down to half its size as it was his only eating utensil for the duration of the war. He could only sleep using the tiniest and flattest of pillows for the rest of his life as a habit gained during the POW life that lasted over five years. Another lasting memory we have of him is that he had to walk up and down after each meal, eight steps one way and eight steps back for about 15 minutes. Another little story my mother often remembered after his death is that on the long march back after being freed, American soldiers gave them treats like chocolates and bags of peanuts. My father gave them away to German civilians he felt sorry for.


    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. Norman Warf 16th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

    Norman Warf was captured at Sedjenane in Tunisia in February 1943. He was transported to Italy and held in Camp 66 Capua. Then he was sent to Camp 82. After the Italian surrender Norman was transported to Stalag 8a and then, in November, to Stalag 8b Lamsdorf. He worked on railways and in mines. Norman survived the long march and was liberated by the Americans in May 1945.

    Mark Burton

    Pte. Ephraim Niedzveki 601 Coy. Palestinian Pioneer Corps

    efraim-stalag 8b Marked with x

    Ephraim Niedzveki was taken prisoner in Kalamata, Greece on the 29th of April 1941 and send to Stalag 8b at Lamsdorf.

    Yehiam Sharon

    Pte. Leo Brett Royal Scots

    My Father Leo Brett bottom row left.He was with the Royal Scots

    My father Leo Brett was in the Royal Scots. He was captured at Dunkirk and I think he spent some time in Stalag 344 Lamsdorf before being transferred to Stalag XXID.

    G Brett

    Pte. Lionel Frederick Amery Rifle Brigade

    Lionel Amery was captured at Calais May 1940 and held as a POW at Lamsdorf in Stalag 344.

    Jane Scott

    Pte. Geoffrey Richard Amery Rifle Brigade

    Geoffrey Amery was captured at Calais in May 1940 and held as POW at Lamsdorf 344, along with his brother Lionel Amery.

    Jane Scott

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    The Last Escape. The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Germany 1944-45

    John Nichol & Tony Rennell

    As WW2 drew to a close, hundreds of thousands of British and American prisoners of war, held in camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, faced the prospect that they would never get home alive. In the depths of winter, their guards harried them on marches outof their camps and away from the armies advancing into the heart of Hitler's defeated Germany. Hundreds died from exhaustion, disease and starvation. The Last Escape is told through the testimony of those heroic men, now in their seventies and eighties and telling their stories publicly for the first time. A very good account of a forgotten part of the Second World War; Allied POW's caught in the final months of the Third Reich. The author's of this book have provide the reader with a detailed and moving account of what happened to the many thousands of Allied POW's caught in the final struggle for Nazi Germany towards the end of WW2.

    Sojourn in Silesia: 1940-1945

    Arthur C. Evans

    Arthur Evans CBE served in the Irish Guards during WWII, but was captured the first day he arrived in France and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner, working in coal mines in Silesia.
    More information on:

    Sojourn in Silesia: 1940-1945


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