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Stalag21b in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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    10th May 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

    21st Jul 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

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    Those known to have been held in or employed at


    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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    Gnr. Alfred William Limb Royal Artillery

    My Grandad was Alfred William Limb. He was a Gunner with the Royal Artillery. He was admitted to Stalag XXIB on 11.6.1940, & his condition was 'not stated'.

    Michelle Limb

    Flying Officer Peter Anthony Lovegrove 83 Squadron (d.12th November 1942)

    Peter Anthony Lovegrove died in German captivity on 12 November 1942 age 22. He was a Flying Officer (Pilot) with 83 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Service No: 62324. He was the son of Edward T and Hilda M Lovegrove of Thorpe Arnold, Leicestershire

    The RAF 83 Squadron operation he was on involved an Avro Manchester Mk.I on mission to Hamburg, the 8th of April 1942. It was last heard from just after midnight on the 9th of April, thought to be in the Lastrup area of Germany. It crashed northeast of Cloppenburg. The crew killed are buried at Sage War Cemetery. The only survivor was P A Lovegrove who later died in captivity and is buried in grave 6 A 14 Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland.

  • Pilot:P/O 67046 Jack Heathcote Morphett RAFVR killed.
  • Pilot:P/O 62324 Peter Anthony Lovegrove 22 RAFVR PoW, died in captivity 12Nov42.
  • Obs:Flt/Sgt 402188 Geoffrey Douglas Hutchinson 27 RNZAF killed.
  • Wop/AG:Flt/Sgt 647009 Albert Henry Salter 20 RAF killed.
  • Wop/AG:Sgt 923926 Reginald Stanley Williams 22 RAFVR killed.
  • AG:Sgt R/66159 George Charles Fisk RCAF killed.
  • AG:Sgt R/69897 Charles Dewitt Gellatly RCAF killed.

  • Michael Allbrook

    William Hewer Border Regiment

    My Grandad was William Hewer, and he was in the Border Regiment. He joined the regiment in 1937 and was one of the first soldiers to be sent abroad when the second world war broke out. He was sent to France to set up ammunition dumps and by 1940 he was serving on the front line in France. He was taken prisoner and was marched through Holland and Belgium to the Stalag camp. He was moved from one Polish Prison camp to another for almost five years.

    I do know that he learnt how to cut hair while he was a POW and used to regularly cut the other POW hair (I also heard that he used to cut the guards hair too - but I don't know how much truth there is in that).

    My Grandad, as many, had a difficult time during those years and seldom spoke to his family about that time. Because of this, the information that I have is limited. On his death, I was given his Dog Tag, which states "Stalag XXI B No. 7328.

    Carol Slater

    Private James Albert Meadowcroft 1st Bucks. Battalion Oxford & Bucks. Light Infantry

    My father was in the BEF defending Hazebrouk in France as part of the Dunkirk retreat. He was captured and sent to Stalag XXI B and at the end of the war walked across Germany, returning home by USAF transport plane. I was born in 1940 and did not see my father until his return home in 1944. He lived until 1990 but hardly ever spoke of his wartime experiences. I have photos etc. similar to those on your site and have also been to Hazebrouk.

    Ron Meadowcroft

    William Hewer Border Regiment

    My Grandad was William Hewer, and he was in the Border Regiment. He joined the regiment in 1937 and was one of the first soldiers to be sent abroad when the second world war broke out. He was sent to France to set up ammunition dumps and by 1940 he was serving on the front line in France. He was taken prisoner and was marched through Holland and Belgium to the Stalag camp. He was moved from one Polish Prison camp to another for almost five years.

    I do know that he learnt how to cut hair while he was a POW and used to regularly cut the other POW hair (I also heard that he used to cut the guards hair too - but I don't know how much truth there is in that).

    My Grandad, as many, had a difficult time during those years and seldom spoke to his family about that time. Because of this, the information that I have is limited. On his death, I was given his Dog Tag, which states "Stalag XXI B No. 7328.

    Carol Slater

    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

    L/Cpl. Robert "Ianto" Evans 1st Btn. Royal Welch Fusiliers

    Regular Soldier Robert Evans enlisted with The Royal Welch Fusiliers October 1930 at Wrexham Barracks aged 18 years and 43 days.

    Five Lost Years in Captivity

    Service at Home and Abroad:

    • Home from 01/10/1930 to 08/10/1931
    • Gibraltar from 09/10/1931 to 20/10/1934
    • China (Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai) from 21/10/1934 to 17/03/1938
    • Home from 18/03/1938 to 23/09/1939
    • Belgium and France 24/09/1939 to 22/05/1940
    • Appointed unpaid Lance Corporal in February1940
    • Reported missing believed dead 25/05/1940 to 30/05/1940 Later confirmed as captured at St Omer, near Dunkirk, France 23/05/1940
    • Prisoner of War 23/05/1940 to either late1944 or very early1945? Detained at various P.O.W. Camps in Germany and Poland, with the Red Cross Certificate of Detention Records obtained by Bob’s Son showing him to be at Stalag XX1B on 03/06/1940, before being transferred to Stalag XX1A on 20/08/1940
    • Escaped during forced march from Poland (late1944 or very early1945?) to Michengrads, Czechoslovakia
    • Repatriated Home from Prague 22/05/1945
    • Home on Release Leave 02/11/1945 - Class ‘A’ Release 06/03/1946
    This account was patiently extracted from Robert Evans (Also known as Ianto 10 & Bob Shanghai) by his Brother-in-law, the late Bill Breese (RWF), and later edited and added to by Bob’s youngest Son Cyril Breeze Evans. By this time Bob had reached pensionable age and feelings had mellowed slightly towards his German captors and tormentors. Taking things very slowly, and never pushing the pace, Bill eventually managed to put together as accurate an account as possible of Bob’s experiences before and after what he considered to be his most humiliating surrender to the enemy.

    When asked of his initial reaction to being taken prisoner, he quickly retorted “I cursed myself for falling into the enemy trap. There was I, a regular soldier, trained to fight during wars and with over ten years service, captured and unable to do anything to try and improve what was a very drastic situation. I did eventually however come to terms with my bad luck and realised that there was absolutely nothing I could have done about it”.

    Unlike many of his fine comrades, Bob was not to fight with the 1st Battalion RWF during its last moments of heroic defensive action, which earned it the never-ending praise and glory that it deserved. Sporadic firing had brought home the realisation to high-ranking Officers that the 1st RWF had had given its all before fading out of existence at nightfall.

    Bob & Ella’s Wedding 7th May 1940

    He had been home on leave and got married to Ella when news filtered through of the Panzer blitzkrieg, and of the British and Allied Armies reeling backwards in pandemonium and disarray, their often out-dated arms were seemingly useless against the most modern and best equipped Army in the world.

    Returning to France and unable to get to the remnants of his Battalion, he along with many others trying to get to their units, were duly formed into a mixed group of soldiers given the task of trying to halt the approaching Wehrmacht with their seemingly indestructible Tanks. The British Boyd Anti Tank Rifle did no damage to the Panzers, who tore away relentlessly in all directions to surround the more or less defenceless British and Allied soldiers.

    Bob and his companions manned concrete bunkers at Saint Omer, near Dunkirk in the vain hope of turning back the determined foe, who pressed onwards regardless of all efforts. Having fought valiantly and with many badly wounded, they decided that to continue fighting from the bunkers would be suicidal for all. They withdrew and joined a convoy of civilian and military vehicles as well as those on foot, who were causing chaos and obstruction. French people were pushing handcarts and prams, or rode on horse-drawn carts with all they had left in the world piled up beside them, making the roads virtually impassable for artillery and supplies.

    A British officer came to meet them in a jeep and stopped to question them of the situation up front, as he had to collect his heavy guns. They assured the officer that he may as well turn around for the fighting was dreadful and that he had no hope of retrieving the guns, he was however determined to proceed and drove on towards the front. He soon returned however admitting that it was a lost cause and offering to take three or four of the wounded with him.

    One Fusilier with a severe head wound declined the offer deciding to remain with his mates on the march towards the nearest Channel Port. It was later realised that he had felt safer in the company of the two Battalion boxers, Bob and Bill Grimes.

    Some time later a French Officer halted his jeep and offered to convey the three mates to the Port, and as they were now tiring and the wounded comrade’s condition gradually deteriorating, they were glad to accept the kind offer from an ally and climbed onto the jeep. Rounding a bend, and running straight into a road block, they were swiftly surrounded by German Soldiers branding revolvers, too late they realised that the French Officer had turned side so as to work as a collaborator for the enemy.

    Bill Grimes’ remark of “look at that bastard going back to trap more Britishers” brought on a sickly kind of feeling. Their German captors walked laughingly into a French pub, taking their prisoners with them, but not for a drink! Getting noisier they were ordered outside by one of their Officers, leaving one of the soberer Jerry’s with a sub-machine gun in charge of the prisoners. Bill Grimes, fearless as ever, and ready to take a chance asked Bob which hand he hit the hardest with, and told him to stand on his strongest side, as he himself could hit equally as swift and hard with either hand. Just as they got into position to flatten the guard, they saw a crowd of enemy soldiers coming for them, it was just luck that they hadn’t lashed out, for they would surely have been shot without hesitation had they gone ahead with their plan to escape.

    Marched in large columns, they were taken on a long, weary and agonising march to Luxembourg, halting only at night so as to be packed in tight groups into sheds or buildings whilst constantly and carefully guarded. During this march Bob met up again with some of his best Battalion pals such as Bill Jones & Dai Jenkins. Looking down from a hill on a massed crowd of prisoners below, he wondered who was left of the British and their Allies to stop the German war machine from conquering Britain, as they had Holland, Belgium and France.

    During the long march, their captors encouraged children to run out and kick them hard in their in their legs or bodies as they trod their weary way. Despite the excruciating pain they refrained from retaliating for the German guards always had their loaded rifles and sub-machine guns at the ready to kill anyone who hit back. The Germans rejoiced in their victories and insisted that Britain would fall before Christmas.

    To those taken prisoner during the 1944 and 1945 Second Front battles, and who say that they were treated fairly by old Jerry, Bob explained that the victorious Germans of 1940, who had no doubt whatsoever in their own brainwashed minds that they would conquer the World without any setbacks, were very different to those of 1944 and 1945 who feared that the Allies could eventually rule Germany should their Adolf fail them and the Fatherland. This of course was a thought that had never even entered their minds in the early years of WW2.

    Stalag XXA – Unconfirmed, but possibly Bob Evans 3rd from left middle row and Bill Grimes far right back row

    Moved from camp to camp and unsure of their eventual fate, they were often famined and miserable. The German Guards varied in their behaviour, some being fair whilst others enjoyed dishing out brutality and degradation, especially to the British ‘Sweinreg’ as they called them. One Guard in particular proved himself to be especially cruel, whom was referred to by Bob and his mates as ‘Old Hooknose’, whilst another Guard named Alfred was quite kind to prisoners, and often spoke to Bob (whom he addressed as Robert) of past times when Jews had mistreated Germans in pre-war days.

    Bob being loyal and out spoken, only avoided being placed in detention during 1942, doing spells in the Lolsen (Posen?) Camp Link during all his other years of imprisonment. Taken from Lisa Camp to do detention, he recollects sitting on a narrow gage steam train with German Guards watching him throughout the journey that would end in punishment. Sitting there, he remembers thinking of days as a youngster when he travelled on the Abergynolwyn train in the company of his Father each Monday morning as they travelled to work at the Bryneglwys slate quarry.

    Hearing the puffs of the German loco, he wondered what punishment was awaiting him that time. Placed in a cell, he peeped through a knothole and recognised Sergeant Randall in the neighbouring cell. The Sergeant gave him the sad news that a German had shot his mate Bill Grimes through his throat and that he was being treated by camp staff at a make-do camp hospital.

    On being released following punishment, Bob slipped away to go and see his mate Bill who was lying in a make-do rough bed still covered in caked blood and unable to talk due to his serious throat wound. He managed to whisper to Bob “it was Old Hooknose that shot me Ianto”. The Germans claimed that God was with them, and had those words engraved on their belts. They taunted their prisoners saying that their intention was to castrate British males and arrange for their SS Soldiers to live with selected British girls, including prisoners wives, so as to bear their children so as to help produce the perfect race that Hitler craved for. They were also told that they would never return home, as they would be kept in Germany to provide free labour to rebuild the homes and other structures that had been devastated by the R.A.F. To be constantly taunted by such intentions was disheartening even to the strongest of heart, especially whilst being deprived of all comforts.

    All outward signs seemed to be discouraging for it seemed that the War was turning heavily in favour of the enemy whichever way they cared to look at the situation. Red Cross parcels did not arrive in sufficient quantity so as to support them in their drastic want, neither did they know for some time whether or not their relatives had been informed of their whereabouts, as no mail was arriving at the camp. Some of the German Guards enjoyed throwing crusts of bread into canals or rivers so as to watch the starving prisoners jump into the water to try and retrieve them. They laughed as the hungry men splashed about and struggled, and even fought in the water in an effort to grab even the smallest potion so as to satisfy their craving stomachs.

    Bob recalled Guards screaming ‘Rouse, Rouse’, whilst trying to load their prisoners into some lorries, and suddenly recognising the voice of a fellow soldier from his home village of Dinas Mawddwy. Jack, who had been a labourer on a farm called Tan-y- Bwlch, shouted to him “try and get on a lorry for ???? Camp, I hear that news is getting home from there of those who have been captured and still alive”. It is not known whether Bob managed to get to that camp or not, but he did meet up with another Dyfi Valley Soldier, a Welsh Guardsman by the name of John Jones from Maespoeth, Corris.

    Later they were herded tightly into a cold and dirty unused factory building or warehouse, where the Guards seemed bent on dishing out more cruelty, and would burst into their midst and select a young soldier and force him to stand in the middle and make him stand to attention with arms above his head. Should his arms drop even a little then severe punishment followed to the sound of German laughter.

    Bob remembers a typical occurrence when a poor young Fusilier named Owens, who was almost slumbering on his feet due to the fatigue of long marches, was selected for their cruel game, knowing full well that he didn’t have enough strength left to hold out for long. Another of their captor’s favourite games was to aggravate their prisoners by cupping their hands and shouting as high as they could into their ears. Under normal conditions, one could tolerate such abuse by regarding it as pure stupidity, but being a prisoner who dare not complain or retaliate was a different matter altogether, as the slightest show of resentment saw a loaded rifle being raised to the firing position.

    The Welsh Guardsman from Corris, quite understandably, and like many others, was by now showing signs of low spirits and voiced his belief to Bob that neither of them would return to the Dyfi Valley. Bob always strove to say the right thing at the right time to cheer his mate up despite the gloomy outlook, as indeed he did with many other fellow prisoners. Managing to keep both his own and his comrade’s hopes and spirits up, he became known as ‘The Propaganda King’.

    Working outside the camp area under the ever-watchful eyes of their Guards, Bob felt the shivering that usually precedes a heavy dose of influenza, and having been ordered to remove overcoats and place them on the fence nearby, he sought the permission of a German equivalent to his own rank of Lance Corporal to wear his due to being unwell. The German hailed his Sergeant Major so as to pass on Bob’s request. Walking over, the Sergeant Major stared at Bob and then hit him hard on the face and ordered him to continue working. Later on Bob asked the Lance Corporal to pass on a message to his Sergeant Major saying that he had initially respected him as someone who like himself was a regular soldier before the War, but said that he had now lost what little respect he had for him following his cowardly attack on a defenceless P.O.W, and furthermore, should he have the guts to get in the ring with him, then he’d get his deserved pasting. Strangely, there was no response from the German N.C.O. indeed he seemed to regret his actions that day and from then on offered Bob much fairer treatment whenever he was in his working party.

    The situation improved with the regular arrival of nourishing Red Cross food and clothing parcels, whilst letters from home brought comfort and solace, as well as a greater determination to survive against all efforts to rob them of spirit and dignity. Soon, but not too soon, the noise and sight of passing bombers brought with them a message of hope and the realisation that the tide was turning. The German attitude was also different as the situation was changing in Allied favour, with the guards becoming more tolerant and showing a marked leniency, a sure sign of their growing uncertainty as to who would be victorious.

    The guards began praising the accuracy of the British bombers in avoiding the unnecessary death of civilians whenever it was possible, but complained of the indiscriminate use of HE bombs by the Yanks on households and hospitals without an effort to avoid unnecessary loss of lives. Bob grabbed the opportunity to remind the enemy of their indiscriminate destruction of British town and cities such as Liverpool and Coventry, when they too robbed ordinary people of all their possessions as well as killing thousands of innocent civilians. Some prisoners were intentionally placed in compounds in the hope that this would discourage Allied bombing. Some P.O.W’s were indeed killed by British bombs, but this was a practice that was quickly discontinued as the long war drew towards it’s longed for conclusion.

    Bob’s impatience, combined with defiance, as well as his readiness to accept any kind of challenge, brought on a decision to try and escape again, following several previous unsuccessful attempts, including one with his mate Bill Grimes. He decided that rather than stay the full course of imprisonment, and having discussed his plan with another old and trusted peacetime comrade; it was decided to make a break for it as soon as the opportunity came their way.

    The pal had second thoughts however and decided to wait for release by the advancing Armies, and warned Bob of the grim consequences should they be re-captured. Once he’d made his mind up, Bob wasn’t one to cancel plans and clung on to his original decision to escape. Another prisoner, a sailor named Eric begged to go with him, and as the plan had always been for two to escape, Bob welcomed Eric’s offer of accompanying him.

    The un-rewarded courage and kindness of Polish women who risked severe reprisals to push a bit of bread into the hands of the hungry prisoners as they wearily made their way on a long march that was to take them from Poland into Czechoslovakia will never be forgotten. They risked their lives so as to ease the tribulations of captured British soldiers who they never knew and would never meet again. Bob and Eric’s opportunity to escape arose whilst resting from marching; it was a cold and snowy night, with the guards being distracted on purpose by the noisy quarrelling of other prisoners. They failed to notice the two comrades making a careful but speedy getaway.

    Creeping up quietly to farmhouse doors, in constant fear of the barking dogs, they listened and tried to decide whether it was the German or Slovak language that was being spoken inside. Deciding that the family in one house they had stopped at were indeed Slovakian, they knocked on the door anxious of their fate when the door eventually opened.

    The farmer was understandably reluctant to offer hospitality, as he couldn’t understand their attempts to explain that they were British. Trying to use the word ‘Englander’, they were really struggling to make it understood who they were until Eric raised his sleeve and showed him a tattoo of the Union Jack saying ‘Englander, Englander’.

    Michengrads – exact spot where Bob and Eric hid.

    The farmer suddenly understood and sympathised with their plight and bid them both to enter his house and made them welcome by giving them food and warmth, whilst a hiding place was found for them. It was only later that the farmer was able to explain that he had originally feared they were escaped Russian P.O.W.’s, as some of his countrymen had helped some Russians before, only to be betrayed by them to the German’s when they were captured. Knowing who had sheltered the Russians, the Germans reacted sharply and violently against the Czechoslovakians and warned them of the consequences of any repetition.

    Bob and Eric were taken very good care of and were even allowed inside for the occasional supper with the kind family, as well as the very risky treat of hearing the ‘Nine O’clock News’ and the chiming of Big Ben. The two men’s spirits were raised, as they were kept up to date of the ever-increasing British and Allied victories and of the retreating German Army. A frightening occurrence tested their nerve and reaction one night when a German patrol arrived out of the blue at the farmhouse and entered the house whilst Bob was having supper with the family. The stern German patrol leader asked who “The Master of the house” was, and then asking him to tell him of the family members. Pointing at them all in turn, he explained that Bob was a deaf and dumb living there, and then cunningly, so as to entice them to depart; he asked them if they would like some fresh eggs. The leader jumped at the chance and then ordered his men to leave as he bid goodnight.

    It was decided that Bob should work in a Flour Grinding Mill amongst some local workers, and that he should carry on pretending to be deaf and dumb. He was to operate a machine on which a bell tinkled to denote the end of its cycle, but understanding the importance of playing the part of being deaf and dumb to the full, he was to ignore the tinkle and continuously watch the sliding movement of the machine as anyone who was deaf and dumb would have to do. The acting went on without a hitch until one day; familiarity bred the usual contempt, and Bob having turned away from the machine, heard the bell tinkle and immediately turned around to slide the beam backwards so as to reset it. A youth was seen to stop working and look very puzzled at the strange incident he had just witnessed of a deaf and dumb person reacting to the sound of a bell that he couldn’t hear! Others who knew what was going on decided that they couldn’t take any more chances, hence the decision that Bob should work elsewhere for both his and their safety.

    He was to work transplanting cauliflower in a plot that bordered a German Army Barracks, and where enemy soldiers drilled close by, but as the Germans would hardly expect an escaped prisoner to be working next to their base, then it was felt to be as safe there as anywhere. He also worked at a cinema, where enemy soldiers came regularly to watch films during off duty hours. As the end of the war approached, a Village School Teacher took Bob and other escapees to a nearby forest, where a hut had been built. This was a comfortable hideout with a fireplace, but one look convinced Bob that it was not the place for him and against the advice of comrades and locals, walked away and decided to return to the kind hearted Joseph Ruta and his family, who welcomed him back, as did the Pravda family who also fed and looked after him. He remained with the Ruta family at Michengrads until the end of the war was announced, at which time he borrowed a bicycle and rode out on the rough track to the forest hideout where the others had remained, to inform them of the Armistice and duly brought back a comrade to the happy village on the bar of the bicycle, whilst the others walked and ran to the village where both villagers and escaped prisoners celebrated joyously together.

    Prior to the end of the war Bob had noticed trainloads of German troops returning from the Russian Front, many suffering from frostbite as a result of the severe winter, as well as battle wounds. The reasonably able bodied soldiers who had up till then carried out camp guard duties were sent to the Russian Front, whilst the medically unfit men took over their duties at the P.O.W camps.

    Taken up a hill by friends following the Armistice, he was shown columns of German soldiers being marched into captivity by Russian soldiers, and despite the rough treatment he had received; he felt pity for his old enemy, for he understood their feelings as they were urged on relentlessly by their captors. He knew of how they would be wondering what fate lay in store for them and the pain of thinking of their families back home as they plodded on towards an unknown destination and fate.

    Instructions were soon issued for all escaped P.O.W.s to report to a given destination, and following considerable questioning, they were then taken to Prague from where they were flown home to Britain. Following kitting up and the issue of train warrants, they were finally on their way to their respective homes.

    Arriving home to face other problems, Bob was given a hero’s welcome by the people of his home village of Dinas Mawddwy, from where he had gone to volunteer for Army Service back in 1930. Driven to Dinas Railway Station by a specially arranged car, he was to be towed past the Great War memorial to the village by a team of local men as a special honour. Fixing ropes to the car bumper he was hauled past the familiar faces of folk who had rejoiced in the knowledge that he was free and in fair condition considering his long imprisonment.

    John, his Father was standing on the doorway of his home and Bob admitted to finding a tear trickling down his cheek on seeing him standing there to greet him home. Next he heard the voice of ex First World War veteran, Simon Jones address him with a well-meant welcome home speech on behalf of the local community. “I have been some kind of soldier myself during the last war” he said, “and I would like to think that I know what a good soldier should look like, and here in Bob we have a real soldier”. Returning to army life after leave, he was unable to settle down again to good soldiering with the Royal Welch Fusiliers as he had done at Wrexham, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, as well as in Belgium and France prior to capture in 1940. Five years of P.O.W. life had taken its toll and altered his outlook on life. He found, much to his dismay that his staunch peacetime pals had altered considerably in their ways and attitude. Sent to 21 R.A.F. Holding Battalion at Newtown, Montgomeryshire, he met Andy Nolan, one of his finest peacetime friends. On addressing him as Andy, he was reminded that those times had passed them by, and pointing to his crowned sleeve told Bob that he was actually conversing with Company Sergeant Major Nolan, not Andy. Bob understood and respected his reason for saying this, but nevertheless felt saddened that those happy days before the war when they shared the same knife and spoon at mealtimes were seemingly gone and forgotten. A young Lance Corporal told him to tidy up his bed or he would place him on report to the Provost Sergeant. Told to do as he bloody well chose, the young Lance Corporal strode out to fetch the Provost, who duly marched in to arrest the stubborn culprit who refused to obey orders, the Provost came face to face with Bob, who he had known as Ianto 10 when soldiering in Gibraltar and China in the thirties, he ordered the inexperienced N.C.O. not to heed such minor matters, and then went on to enjoy reminiscing of the old days with Bob, his old comrade, before striding back to play hell with other defaulters inside the Guardroom. Ignoring the pleas of good old comrades like Griley, Tiger Watts, and others to re-join for a further six years so as to complete his 21 years (pontoon) in order to be eligible for long service pension, Bob chose to accept his release and become a council worker with Merionethshire County Council. The contact with his saviours in Czechoslovakia was maintained for a while with Bob sending parcels of food items, which were practically unobtainable there since the time of his release. Joseph Ruta and his good family voiced their fondness and great admiration for him in their letters, and mentioned the times when Bob was busy transplanting Caulis right by the German soldiers, and of when he went through the streets on a bike to fetch bread from some friends of theirs at the bakery who knew of his escape. Unfortunately, not being fluent in English, and even less so in written English, they sent letters in their own language.The then Liberal M.P. Emrys Roberts managed to find someone who was willing to translate the letters, and it was with much regret that Bob had to turn down Joseph’s kind invitation in one letter to return to Michengrads for his daughter’s wedding.

    Most regrettably, the contact with this fine family was later broken, and whilst efforts were made in 1983 to re-establish contact with the Ruta family, these were unfortunately in vain. Joseph Ruta is surely reaping his heavenly rewards by now, but younger family members, possibly including his daughter Maluska Rutova, are somewhere to be found. The Pravda Family at Michengrads also helped save Bob and Eric’s lives by risking their own lives by feeding them whilst they hid from the enemy, and again they are owed a huge dept that can never be repaid.

    If anyone knew my late father or indeed anyone else mentioned in this account and would like to receive copies of these photos and other Army photos from the early thirties onward, then please do contact me.

    Cyril Evans

    Pte. William Grimes Royal Welch Fusiliers

    Bill Grimes was shot through the throat whilst trying to escape from a POW Camp.

    Cyril Evans

    Fus. Idris Owens Royal Welch Fusiliers

    Idris Owens was held in StalagXXIB,

    Cyril Evans

    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

    George Arthur Spriggs 132 Battery, 2 Searchlight Coy. Royal Artillery

    I am looking for any one who might have been with me as a POW at Marieberg Stalag XXIb or on the false march, I am now 92.

    George Spriggs

    Herbert Henry Williams

    My grand father was Herbert Henry Williams and he was POW at Stalag 21B, all we have is a metal tag with his number on it, No.10381. I suspect he was captured at Dunkirk it would be great if we could find out more.

    Neil Harris

    James Riley

    My Grandad James Riley was one of the first paratroopers to jump at Arnhem but was captured and sent to Stalag X1B. Unfortunately, I never knew him as he died in 1965 when I was one. My dad has no photographs of him and has little information or memories about his life.

    My daughter is completing her family tree for a school project but would like to tell James's story. I would be grateful if anyone who knew James Riley could contact me and let me know a little about him and his life.

    Graham Riley

    Spr. Alfred Bird Royal Engineers

    I am trying to find any information on my father Sapper Alfred Bird, Royal Engineers who was held captive in both Stalags XX1B and XX1D throughout the whole of the war. He died when I was only 13 years old. My mother is 92 years. I would dearly love to find out anything about these camps or anyone who may remember him. Christine Shaw

    Christine & Don Shaw

    L/Cpl. John Charles Bemmer East Kent Regiment

    My dad, John Bemmer was a POW in Poland. He was captured at Dunkirk at the start of the war and as far as I know was sent to Marienburg Stalag 20B He was in the Buffs. He never once spoke of his time in the camps. We didn't know till he died and I started to do some research on his time in the Second World War.

    I would be forever grateful for any information so I can tell my mum what my dad went through as we know nothing of his life. He used to tell me stories as I grew up but not once did he say he was a prisoner of war. He kept that a secret to his grave. Which I find that so sad as I'm so proud of what he and those other young men had to endure so we could have our freedom today. I don't want my dad's memory to disappear I want to keep it alive. Hopefully someone can help me in my quest.

    Karyn Bemmer

    Pte. Leonard Baker Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment

    My Grandather, Len Baker was part of the BEF, and was being evacuated from Dunkirk when he a 3 or 4 others were separated from their regiment by advancing Germans. They managed to hide in the woods just outside Dunkirk overnight,the following morning they attempted to get back to the beach, but the Germans where everywhere, they came across a farm and hide in the barn. The farmer's wife discovered them and supplied them with food and water, after a few days the farmer's wife told the farmer that she was hiding British soldiers in their barn. The farmer was not happy, and confronted the soldiers telling them to leave, but his wife convinced him to let them stay for a few more days. Unfortunately, a German patrol turned up the following day and the farmer panicked believing the Germans would kill if they discovered the Brit's in his barn, so he gave them up!

    Pte. Len Baker and his fellow soldiers were captured and taken prisoners. They were gathered together with other British troops and matched to Stalag XXIB in Poland. Marching from France to Poland took it's toll on the prisoners with food and water being scarce. The Germans would find barns or halls to lock the prisoners in when they stopped over night en route to Poland. The British troops had to match in the clothes and boots they were captured in, the soles on the solider's boots soon wore out, so when they were kept in a barn over night they would gather up any straw that was available to them and "weave" it into mats to put in the bottom of their boots for the next days match.

    On arrival at Stalag XXIB the prisoner's details were taken and a POW number issued. Pte. Leonard Baker was No6064. Life in the camp was very difficult. Len Baker saw a number of his friends die from ill health, the Germans also executed Len's best friend for decent!

    When Leonard Baker was liberated he weighted less than 6 stone, and was physically very weak. His time as a POW left him with deep psychological scars. In his later years, Len developed pain in his left foot, it became so bad he wasn't able to walk. He attended hospital and had his foot x-rayed, they found a lump in his foot,and decided to attempt to remove it. What they found was a stone buried deep under the sole of his foot. A stone that Len was convinced he got during being matched from France to Poland, where his feet got so sore he couldn't even feel them!

    Len never really spoke of his experience during the war until very late in his life, But during the 80s and 90s he regularly went to Dunkirk for the annual memorial and reunion. One year he completely took his family by surprise by speaking fluent German, something he had never done before and something we never know he was able to do! He learnt by listening to his German captors.

    Brian Glynn

    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

    Percy Russel Robinson

    My father, Percy Russel Robinson was in Stalag XX1B. I have various papers and photos of his that may be of interest. Amongst these is a diary which he kept down his sock over the years. Unfortunately, this was written in pencil and whilst I remember reading it as a child it is now very badly faded. Does anyone know of anyone who might be able to recover the writing for me?

    Some suggestions: Use a natural light from Tensor to read faint pencil marks and difficult documents in general. For the writing of pencils it should be placed about 60 degrees from the flat surface. This creates a reflective contrast on the pencil markings and improve visibility greatly. You can also use the natural lighting to make a digital photograph that can be enlarged, etc. This might work with an incandescent or fluorescent light source, but this natural light has been amazing.

    Susan Dilley

    Gnr. William David "Ginger" Smith Royal Artillery

    My father William Smith would never talk about his time as a POW until my mother died in 1969 when after a few years he came to live with me. I asked him one day if he would tell me about the terrible POW years and he told me his story which I decided I would write one day. I have just found the notes I took on this day together with telegrams, letters, photographs and drawings that he sent home so have decided it is now time to try and write my book.

    Two drawings I have were done by Thomas Burke at Stalag XXA entitled 'A Merry Christmas to all', and the other is by K V Wood which is just entitled 'The Camp'. I don't know where the 1st drawing was sent from, but the second one was sent from Blechhammer. I would be interested to know if anyone knows the two men who drew them.

    My father was in Stalag XX1B, XX11A and V11A. He was captured on the 20 May 1940 in Albert which might be in Belgium but I'm not sure and was on the Death March from Poland to Germany. His best friend who was captured with him and went all through the POW system with him, was called Albert and I think he lived in Rotherham.

    Violet Walker

    Gnr. George Charles Bates 2nd Search Light Regiment Royal Artillery

    Farm which was Workcamp 299/34 at  Wesseln

    Lancaster M NG168

    Signatures of Lancaster Crew

    My father George Bates was captured near Frevent on 20th May 1940 as the German spearhead advanced towards the coast. He arrived at Stalag XXB via XXIA, XXIB and XXIC on 14th June 1941. Dad spent much of his time working on a farm at Workcamp 299 (later re-numbered Workcamp 34) at Wesseln, which I understand is now known as Lelkowo. I have a photo of dad with his fellow prisoners on the farm and another of the farm itself which was taken by a local Polish man.

    Dad took part in the long march in the winter of 1945 and was eventually liberated by the Americans and flown home to England from Reims to Ford Aerodrome by Lancaster flown by a mixed English and Canadian aircrew on 10th May 1945. There is a photo of the Lancaster given to my dad by the crew and signed on the back. If anyone recognises any of the men in the photo and would like a copy or has any information about the farm please let me know.

    David Bates

    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

    Pte. Robert McCready

    I always knew that Robert McCready, my uncle (and godfather) had been a prisoner of war. He was from Liverpool and had volunteered before war broke out and was part of the BEF and captured in France. He, therefore, spent most of the war as a POW. I have recently unearthed some family papers which indicate that he was at Stalag XX1B but I don't know whether he was there for the whole time or also in other camps. He spoke good German but hid this fact from his captors, and maybe this might have made him remembered by some comrades. I would love to hear from anyone who knew him.

    Gill Massey

    Thomas "Tot" Wilson Royal Horse Artillery

    Thomas Wilson was born in Durham City. He was a POW in Stalag XX1B.

    Ron Inglis

    William Henry Lucas Cheshire Rgt.

    My father, William Henry Lucas, served in the Cheshire Regiment during WWII. He joined the Manchester Regiment in 1926, serving in Germany, India and Egypt before war broke out. He was taken prisoner at Boulogne on 24th May 1940. His POW number was 2539. The POW camps he was in were Stalag XXIb in 1940, Stalag XXIa in 1941, XXId in 1941, XXIc, XIIb and Stalag 344. My father returned home at the end of the war and was medically discharged after serving five years in the camps. Like lots of others, he would never talk about what it was like. He passed away in 1974.

    John B Lucas

    Sgt. William Noble Burness Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

    William Burness served with the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and was held in Stalag 21b.

    Andrew Davies

    Gunner George Bates 2nd Searchlight Royal Artillery

    POWs at 299-XXB

    Lancaster NG168-115 Sqdn

    Signatures of crew

    My father, Gunner G C Bates, was captured near Frevent on 20th May 1940 as the German spearhead advanced towards the coast. He arrived at Stalag XXB via XXIA, XXIB AND XXIC on 14 June 1941.

    Dad spent much of his time working on a farm at Workcamp 299/34(Old No/New No)at Wesseln, which I understand is in two possible locations, one near Elbing and the other near what is now Lelkowo. I have a photo of dad with his fellow prisoners on the farm and another of the farm itself which was taken by a local Polish man.

    Dad took part in the Long March in the winter of 1945 and was eventually liberated by the Americans and flown home to England from Reims to Ford Aerodrome by Lancaster flown by a mixed English/Canadian aircrew on 10th May 1945. There is a photo of the Lancaster given to my dad by the crew and signed on the back. If anyone recognises any of the men in the photo and would like a copy or has any information about the farm please feel free to email me.

    David Bates

    Ernest Hamlett

    My father was in Stalag XXIB for seven and a half months, and sent to work in the Bad Grund Lead Mine each day. See his story on the website (Ernest Hamlett) and the information about the names on the 20 Reichmark note, which were the names of the prisoners who shared a hut with him in Stalag XIB.

    Jean James

    Edward Smith

    I have two photos of prisoners at Stalag XXID possibly three but the third may be Stalag XXIB. My uncle Edward Smith was a prisoner for most of the war. Unfortunately, I do not have much information but would like to know more.

    Val Richardson

    L/Bombdr. John Kirk Morrison 8th Heavy AA Rrgiment, 21 Bty Royal Artillery

    JKM standing on left

    JKM sitting front left

    Lance Bombardier John Kirk Morrison served in the British Expeditionary Force in 21st Battery, 8th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment (from Belfast). 21 Bty was detached from 8th Heavy AA to 4th AA Regt on 8th of Mar 1940. Although the other two batteries of the 8th Heavy AA Regt were successful in getting to Dunkirk, a number of members of 21 Bty were captured on 28th of May 1940 in the area of Armentieres.

    John was a prisoner (2894) at Stalag 21D and B and later at Stalag 3A. He escaped (at least once) and maintained a well-written diary, most of which is complete. He was freed on 28th May 1945 and spent three months with the US Army in a holding unit before returning to Northern Ireland. John passed away in 2012 at the age of 93 years.

    Dennis Simpson

    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

    Pte. Victor Howard Pressland

    address on back of photo

    My father Vic Pressland was held as a prisoner of war. I found a photo taken at the camp with other prisoners in Stalag XX1b, Victor Pressland is in the bottom row 2nd from left.

    Dennis Pressland

    Drvr/Cpl Leslie Robert Dore Ambulance Royal Army Service Corps

    In May 1940 Leslie Dore was reported missing. By August 1940 he was reported as a prisoner of war being held at Stalag XXI-B camp, Germany.

    Brenda Dyer

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