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Stalag8c in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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

    Those known to have been held in or employed at


    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    • Chorley Wilfred Lawrence.
    • Cooper Eric Henry.
    • Etherington Robert.
    • Headon Ernest Gomer. Pte. (d.23rd March 1945)
    • Wren Frederick Thomas. Pte. This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.

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    Pte. Frederick Thomas Wren

    The date was May 25th 1940 and we were in France. Our guns were covering a canal five miles back, on a farm near the little town of Bbethune. We had just withdrawn from Tournay with the Germans hot on our heels, but we had time for breakfast that morning. Not eggs and bacon, but the next best thing, a pig had conveniently become a war casualty and roast pork was on the menu. I was about to tell Tich, our cook, that he had done a grand job, when my commanding officer asked me to take some of the pork down to our gun team in their nest in the wood, about five miles forward.

    I was detailed to go with a sergeant and as I had driven the guns into position the previous night, I knew the way. We took a 15 cwt truck and a can full to the brim with meat.

    The journey was a lonely one, all the French civilians had fled and the only living things we saw were a few stray cattle. Eventually we left the road and swung onto a cart track which led us to the wood and the guns. "Here's your breakfast" I told the gun team, "and make the most of it. God knows when you"ll get anymore." It was their first food for two days and they greeted us like a pack of wolves. There were howls of delight when they saw what we had brought. After a quick yarn about the battle, The sergeant and I turned the truck and set off back the way we had come. Then things started to warm up, mortar shells started to fall round us and shrapnel rattled against the side of the truck, it looked like shaping up for a full scale bombardment.

    Suddenly the truck slipped into a ditch. I looked at the sarge. We needed a vehicle jack to get us out of this fix and we did not have one our only hope was lay in a farmhouse nearby. We slithered to it along a ditch, hugging the mud with our bellies. Luckily the farmer was still there after a lot of gesticulating, and a little broken French, he got the message and produced a big hand operated jack. By this time, snipers were peppering the ditch and the sarge stayed behind to give me covering fire. Carrying the heavy jack was no joke, but I got it back to the truck in one piece and started to extricate it. Then along came a German spotter plane. The pilot saw me and let go with his machine gun. all I could do was to lie low, curse the pilot and try to manoeuvre the jack into place. Every time he showed himself he had a go at me. I knew he had to run out of ammunition and he did. The cat and mouse game was over, but my troubles weren't

    I raised my head for a look around and saw a figure waving in the shadows of the wood. The gun team, I reckoned,wanted me back. As I jumped up and dashed the last 20 yards a Ggerman Tommy-gunner appeared and let rip. He missed, but as the sound of shots rang in my ears, I crashed face-down in the ditch. As the muddy water wrapped itself round me, I wondered how much was left of me. Then a knee landed in the small of my back and shock turned to horror. Germans were crawling across the ditch over me, one by one thinking that I was a corpse and a convenient stepping stone and though I didn't know it at the time, an officer in my company had witnessed my "death" and reported it to the war office. My wife received the formal notification of my death, killed in action from the war office and a letter of sympathy from Buckingham Palace, so she claimed my life insurance and resigned herself to planning a new lonely life. But i wasnt dead.

    The German troops pressed me painfully into the mud as they advanced across the ditch, their boots stirring up the mud round my ears. To avoid suffocation, I raised my head. "Raus schweinhund" said a voice, 'get up you pigdog'. I did so and wondered if the Germans were as surprised as I was that I could do so. They kicked me down again, then they prodded me into the wood where one of my mates, a lance corporal, lay wounded in the shoulder. I stood there looking at him and wondered what I could do to help him. One of the Germans pulled the pin out of a grenade and tossed it at me, I jumped aside and it exploded noisily but harmlessly. My captors then concentrated on the Lance Corporal, ordering him to get up he looked at me with a mixture of fear and hopelessness, "if I get up" he said "they will kill me". They didn't wait. Even as he said it, a soldier pushed me aside and opened fire. I wondered why I had been saved, as I was led to join the surviving gunners.

    There were two of them they told me what had happened, the lance corporal had pulled a grenade at the time of the German attack held it almost until the point of the explosion and hurled it at the commander of the enemy, the death of the lance corporal had been brutal revenge. The Germans ordered me to take the dead officers personal effects. I was marched off to five years as a prisoner of war.

    A few months later the my wife was told that my name had appeared on the latest list of war prisoners even though she had her doubts, till she received the first letter from me. I went the rounds of the POW camps including Stalag Luft 111.

    Pamela West

    Robert Etherington Green Howards

    Cpl R Etherington was held in Stalag VIII-C in Konin Zaganski, Poland

    Pte. Ernest Gomer Headon 1st Btn Royal Welch (d.23rd March 1945)

    My Uncle, Gomer Headon, was captured in Crete in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in Stalag 8C (prisoner no. 6312). The family say that he died of peritonitis on the forced March out of Poland the day before the column was liberated by the Americans. If anyone has any information, no matter how trivial about my uncle, I would be so grateful.

    It is said that when the Germans closed in on Suda Bay in Crete, Gomer (as they family knew him) escaped into the White Mountains with a few other soldiers (presumably trying to reach the British base there) and they managed to evade capture for a few weeks. They were captured when they saw an advancing German troops and tried to take shelter in a cave. Sadly they were driven out of the cave by hornets and captured. His best friend was called Ritchie and he survived the war. While he was in Stalag 8C he cast a lead cap badge of the The Royal Welch. This is still in my mother's possession.

    Kathy Miller

    Eric Henry Cooper

    I am Eric Henry Cooper's granddaughter and have recently discovered that my late grandfather was in Stalag 8B and Oflag 4C before he spent time in Colditz. He was a dentist there and was sometimes known as `Toothy Coops'.

    If anyone knows anything, even if it is just about the camps and where they were, please contact me.

    Rosie Freeman

    Wilfred Lawrence Chorley

    My father was captured in 1944. The POW camps he was in were: Stalag XIIA (Limberg), Stalag VIIIA (Zgorzelec, Poland), finaly Stalag VIIIC (Sagan, Poland).

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