- Stalag 4A Hohenstein-Ernstthal during the Second World War -
POW Camp Index
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Stalag 4A Hohenstein-Ernstthal
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Those known to have been held in or employed at
Stalag 4A Hohenstein-Ernstthal
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Ahmed Sardar. Capt.
- Bailey Eugene G. Staff Sergeant
- Bass William Allen. Sgt.
- Bestwick Arthur. Cpl.
- Clark Frederick Arthur.
- Cox Charles Freddrick.
- Dewe Eric Alexander. Dvr.
- Ennion Gordon.
- Garnhart Delmar J.
- Hicks James Stanley. Sgt.
- Hopson Thomas. Pte.
- Howard Albert. Private
- Irwin Thomas. Pte.
- Joyce John.
- Krijger Gerrit. Cpl.
- Lishman John Turnbull.
- McGaughey Francis John. Pte.
- Muhammed Mian. Sepoy (d.16th Jun 1943)
- Nelson Sam Jesse. Pvt.
- Nichols Percy Albert. Tpr.
- Orchard. Peter. WO.
- Ripley Harry Lawrence. Sgt.
- Steele Robert Wilson. Pte.
- Stempka Sigmund.
- Taylor Norman Findlay. Pte.
- Urban Antoni Jan. Lt.
- Witt Edward George. Pte. This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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Staff Sergeant Eugene G Bailey 28th Division 112th InfantryMy Dad, Staff Sergeant Eugene G. Bailey served with the 28th Division 112th Infantry. He was captured on December 17, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to Stalag IXB and then transferred to Stalag IXA on January 25, 1945. I have a group or unit picture taken in Paris after the liberation dated April 1945. This site is a great way to honor our WWII heroes. Diana Thomas, a very proud daughterDiane Thomas
Delmar J Garnhart HQ 3 Battalion 422 Infantry RegimentMy Dad, Cpl. Delmar P. Garnhart was captured at the Battle of the Bulge whilst serving with the 106th Division and was sent to Stalag 4-A and 4B. I have records that list both. I am seeking any information on him or these camps.
Also looking for two men that served with him - Clarence Bahlo and Elmer "Buddy" Helwig.James Garnhart
Private Albert Howard 214 Field Ambulance, 'B' Company Royal Army Medical Corps.Albert Howard was my uncle, who was born 5th October 1919 in Londons' East End, the son of a Port of London Authority policeman also named Albert. Shortly before the outbreak of WW2 he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps as 7348810 Pte. Howard, A.E. He joined 'B' Company of 214 Field Ambulance. By Christmas 1942 his unit was in North Africa, from where he sent my mother a Photostat greetings card, which I have inherited together with a number of Aerogram letters. In one dated June 1943, he writes of spending four days in a rest camp, where "... there is good swimming in the sea and a bus service to the town, where there are good service clubs and cinemas. You know that the King came out here recently, and we were inspected by him. I need not say what sort of preparations had to be made for the Royal visit!!!" In October 1943 he writes: "I can now tell you what you may already have guessed, that we are in Italy." He continues: "The towns are not up to much now, as you can imagine, but the people received us in a fairly friendly fashion." Later that month he writes: "We are in action in Italy, as you may have guessed. It is not too bad really. Sometimes we are very busy, and sometimes there is very little to do. The worst thing is the noise, which at times is deafening. Most of it is ours though. We get a lot of shelling now and again - though not dangerously close." On 23rd December '43 he writes: "...There is not much doing here at present, except getting ready for Christmas. He sent a few quite brief Photostat letters until 25th June 1944, when he reported that he had been in hospital suffering from impetigo, which had cleared up nicely. That however must have been when he 'went into the bag.' His next communication is a 'Kriegsgefangenpost' card from Stalag IXA, where he has become POW Nr 142942. I have two of these postcards dated late in 1944, which are written in pencil, and are reassuring, if necessarily extremely brief. He was repatriated late in 1945, and married the Red Cross nurse who had been assigned to look after him. I remember him telling us afterwards that early in 1945 gunfire could be heard in the camp, and seemed to be getting nearer in the East than in the West. Then one morning they woke up to find the guards gone, and the camp gates open. The prisoners gathered to discuss what should be done. Many favoured sitting tight waiting to be liberated. My uncle Bert was among those who feared that the Russians might well get there before the Allies, and take them into a new captivity. He joined a group who decided to set out on foot westwards, in the hope of reaching the advancing Allies. Hungry and nearly exhausted after several days on the road, they reached an abandoned farm, where there were still a few cows and some chickens. With shelter and the promise of milk, eggs and meat available, it was decided to hole up there and hope that the Allies would reach them first. During the weeks that followed they were able to trade eggs, milk and vegetables for cigarettes, German sausages & other valuables with the fleeing troops and refugees who passed, until the Allies did actually arrive. He went on to have a successful career and raise five sons before he died in 1981.Brian Boyle
Sigmund StempkaSigmund Stempka (born 12.5.1911 in Krolewski, Poland) is my son-in-law's grandfather who came under the IRO Assistance scheme to Australia in 1950 with his family. I have recently obtained the immigration documents from the Australian Govt. It indicates that Sigmund Stempka was in the Polish Army in 1939 and was taken POW by the Germans in 1939 - 1940. He was sent to Stalag IV A. He was released from Stalag IV A in March 1940 and he spent 2 years in Popow Dist. Czechostowa Poland. In Aug 1942 he joined (or maybe forced) to join the German Army but in Sept 1943 he was taken as a POW by the Americans. He was a POW in Chicago from Sept 43 to July 44 and then joined the English Polish Army and fought in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. In Sept 1947 until he left for Australia he lived in Aschendorf and Dortmund, Germany. He arrived in the British Zone of Germany in 1948. He married (30 Dec 1948) a widow Edith Obluda (born 23.10.1918, Domkau, Germany). Edith had previously married Carl Obluda sometime in 1938-39 and they had two children Klaus Obluda/Stempka(26.10.39) and Adelheid Obluda(17.10.41). Carl Obluda died sometime during WW2 (reasons and date unknown). Sometime in 1946 Edith met Sigmund and they had a daughter Sieglinde Stempke (21.3.1947). Edith arrived in the British Zone of Germany in 1945. The only information my son-in-law and in fact any of the family know is that Edith lay on top of the children during bombing raids to protect them. Edith was unemployed for the entire time of WW2. The family never spoke on WW2, and sadly now Sigmund and Edith are both deceased. Does anyone know why a Polish POW would have been allowed to leave Stalag IV A to then spend two years as a civilian in Popow. Was this usual?Robyn Thompson
Pte. Norman Findlay Taylor Royal Army Ordnance CorpsMy father in law, Norman Taylor died in 1988, after his death we found records of part of his life as a POW in Poland in Stalag 4a. The following is a summary of the facts we have available:
Norman served with the RAOC, he was captured in France on 20th June, and was sent to Ft Stalag 142 Basancon, France. We have a photo of him outside the Hotel Lorrane on 21st October 1940. We are not sure how or when he was moved to Poland but we think he worked on a farm east of Danzig until 1945 when we have his record of his march from Danzig starting on 18th February 1945 until he was finally liberated by the Americans on the 2nd May at Dummerstuck in Germany.
We have a diary, map and other items he carried with him on the journey along with a list of his comrades and their pow numbers. We would love to find out more, if you can help please get in touch.Gary Thompson
John Turnbull Lishman Royal SignalsMy father, John Lishman, very seldom spoke about the war but he was injured and I think it could have happened in the POW camp. I seem to recall him saying that he was captured by the Italians and then transferred to a camp in Germany. From his service book it states that he was captured in the Middle East on 21 June 1942. From the Records office it states that he was in Stalag IVA in Hohenstein. His war disablement records stated that his disablement was due to "gunshot wound left leg with compound fracture of tibia and fibula with involvemnt of ankle joint"Cecilia Gladwyn
Charles Freddrick "Wag" Cox No 7 CommandoHI, This is my late grandad. He joined the T.A in 1939 Beds and Heart regiment becoming 590061 Private Cox as an Infantryman. He later joined and become a trained Commando.
He was part of the rear guard in Crete where he was taken prisoner and taken to Stalag 4a Hohenstein and was known as 59851 Cox. He was a P.O.W from 1941-1945 he told me about some of the "goings on" such as escapes and taking part in wrecking a German supply train. Was hoping that there maybe someone who knows or was in the camp the same time as he was or has a relative that recognises his name.Would like to know any info about his time in the camp or his commando history as not much was said . Many thanksPhil Cox
Dvr. Eric Alexander Dewe New Zealand Defence ForceI have recently accessed my father’s war records from the NZDF Archives and found that my father, Eric Alexander Dewe, was a POW in Stalag 4B and 4A. He was a driver with NZDF rank of private, who was captured in Egypt and interred in Italy. He was held in Campo PG 75, Campo PG 85 and Campo PG 78 where he was liberated by the Italian guards when Italy capitulated. He was captured by the Germans two weeks after the fall of Italy, and transferred to Germany being held in Stalag 4B and Stalag 4A, from where he was iberated by Russian troops.Carol Smith
Sgt. William Allen BassMy father, William A. Bass was a POW at Stalag 4. He escaped twice and the second time was the charm. He was found sick, in the woods by German sisters who lived on a farm. They nursed my father and his buddy back to health. I wish I could thank them. He was awarded two Purple HeartsBarbara Bass Bergstrom
Pte. Thomas Irwin Leicestershire RegtMy father Tomas Irwin enlisted in the Leicestershire Regimentt in 1934 (he was born in 1918, which makes his age 16 but it shows his date of birth on his discharge papers as 1916) the only information on his active service is from his medals, POW and discharge records. My father never spoke to me about the war but through snippets of family conversation he served in Palastine from 1936-1939, next he apparently joined the commandos and was posted to the Middle East he was captured on Crete and spent the rest of the war in Stalag 4a in Hohenstein. This was a region in Germany that was not a good place to be hence the silence about his war experience.
If anyone has any further information I would be pleased to know about it.Alyn Irwin
Lt. Antoni Jan UrbanAfter the September Campanion in 1939 my great grandfather, Antoni Urban, along with other officers was imprisoned in military detention camps. Firstly he was in Oflag II-B, somewhere during 1940 he was hospitalized in Stalag IV-A, later all the way till the end of WW2 he was imprisoned in Oflag II-C.Joanna Urban
Pte. Francis John McGaughey Royal Inniskilling FusiliersMy father, Private Francis John McGaughey, was a POW in WW2. He joined the Boys’ Service of the Army on 12th July 1938, in Omagh, Co Tyrone, N Ireland. He enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and served 5 years 2 days with them. From 14th July 1943 until 5th June 1944 he was in the AAC. From 6th June 1944 until 21st May 1945 he was in the Paras in North West Europe, he remained in the Paras on his return home on 22nd May 1945 until he left the army on 12th August 1952.
He landed in France with the 6th Airbourne Division and was captured in July 1944. His POW number was 82290. He writes that at first he was in a camp within sight of Chartres Cathedral. Then he was put on a train with many others in terrible conditions. They arrived in Chalons and were marched to some barracks where they stayed for a while. He was eventually sent to a large Stalag Luft in Germany. From this Stalag Luft he was sent to (Chomutov- Czech name) Komotau in Czechoslovakia. He worked in an open cast mine there. There was a long, bitter winter and the workers were starving.
Actual words from my dad’s notes: “Hear guns in distance all the time. Now fighter aircraft quite common, bombers around the clock and refugees increase. 8 May 1945 our guards are gone. No work today and Russian soldiers arrive.”
My Dad returned home and finished his time in the army. He married my mother and became a fire fighter with the Surrey Fire Brigade and they became parents to me and my brother. We have our own families now.
My dad never really talked about the war, only rarely would he mention being a POW in Czechoslovakia. He passed away in 1994 and we miss him a lot. I found some notes of his, some old photos and his AAC wings and badge. I was too upset to look at them properly until recently. I’m very proud and honoured to have had a father like him. Would be grateful to hear from anyone who knew my Dad or has information to share.
Respects to all the brave men and women who fought.Margaret Sabuncu
Sgt. Harry Lawrence Ripley Grenadier GuardsIn brief, my father Sgt H.L Ripley was shot in the leg at Anzio in, I believe May 1944. I still have his war diary and medals, but I'm a little naive to alot of it, as I was alot younger when he told me his war stories, hence I didnt take much interest. now I'm now somewhat older, and find it more interesting. Anyway, after he was shot he was taken prisoner, and ended up in Stalag 4b. Although, I believe, he may have begun his days in Stalag 4a, as I found a POW no. 40154 which stated it was Stalag 4a. The only other thing I remember was, after the war, and to the day he died-1991, he would not eat swedes. Too much of it in the camp, I believe.Penny Ripley-Williams
John Joyce Royal ArtilleryMy Uncle, John Joyce was captured at Tobruk and ended up in Stalag IVA I have an image of one of his letters to his brother. It bears the stamp of Stalag IVAPeter Cain
Cpl. Gerrit "Gerard" KrijgerMy father Gerrit Krijger, served in the Submarine Service of the Royal Dutch Navy and was a POW in the Camp Stalag IVa. He and many others were deported in May 1943 from Amersfoort by train to the east of Germany. I was born in 1946, and when I grew up he told me that my given names were in rememberance to his POW frends: Eddy, René and Luciël.Eddy R.L. Krijger
Sgt. James Stanley Hicks Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light InfantryMy grandad's father, Stan Hicks was in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. I know that he was a POW sometime between 1939-1945 in Stalag IV-A and was a Private at the time. He was wounded in battle (shot in the upper arm) and was told he would need the arm amputated, but it was saved.
I know that when he returned from the POW camp he was very thin and could barely eat for weeks. He also used to say he hated the smell of oranges and if I remember correctly this was due to a battle in an orange grove where people lay dying around him.Ritchie Hicks
Gordon Ennion 1st Battalion Border RegimentMy uncle, Gordon Ennion, served in the 1st Airlanding Brigade in WW2 - as part of the 1st Border Regt. He never spoke much about his army service but I know he 'escaped'from a Germao POW camp after Arnhem and actually made his way back to England. He also, as a glider anti-tank man, suffered the chaos of Sicily when many of the Brigade actually drowned. I know my uncle swam to shore when his glider broke up. He was taken prisoner at Arnhem and it seems was inprisoned in Hohenstein POW Camp, from which he somehow escaped. Such people are heroes and what they did should never ever be forgotten. My uncle Gordon is worth ten of me - and of everyone I know.Frank Jones
Tpr. Percy Albert Nichols Royal Armoured CorpsMy Great Uncle Percy Nichols was captured in the Middle East somewhere and spent most of the war in Stalag 4A. The story I have heard is that he was one of only 4 survivors in a tank battle.Adrian Young
Pte. Edward George Witt Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Dad Edward Witt was a stretcher bearer the Royal Army Medical Corps and was held in Stalag 4a after he was taken as a POW from Crete.Philip Witt
Cpl. Arthur Bestwick Reconnaissance Corps Royal Armoured CorpsMy dad Arthur Bestwick was POW in Stalag IV-A, camp location Hehenstein, Hesse. I am not sure how long he was held in the camp, but he was a POW from 18 March 1941 to to June 1945. His unit was the Royal Armoured Corps, Reconnaissance Corps. I believe he was a Cook or Chef and may have therefore been put to work in a kitchen, not sure. If he had been used as a chef, he may have come into contact with all camp POW's. I am waiting for the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide me with more information.Sandra Storey
Sepoy Mian Muhammed 3rd Battalion. 7th Rajput Regiment (d.16th Jun 1943)I grew up in the town of Hohenstein-Ernstthal, where Stalag IV A was situated. During the years of Communist rule it was generally known that a POW Camp had existed during WWII, but nothing special. During my schooltime, we once made a trip to the Cemetery. An employee told us about POW´s being buried there and, occasionally, also mentioned the Camp. He spoke about Russians, Poles, Italians and, most interesting for me (it was 1991, only two years after the political turnaround in Eastern Germany) about "an Indian". He added that this was understandable "in connection with the English". He didn't know much more. Some 25 years later the Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected a Tombstone there with Name, Unit etc. My Question: Does anybody know about the fate of Sepoy Mian Muhammed of Campbellpore, Pakistan, 3rd Battalion , 7th Rajput Regiment?Thomas M. WeiÃŸbach
WO. Peter Orchard. Royal Electrical & Mechanical EngineersAfter active service in Palestine emergency 1936 -39, I was in Malta until 1942, when I was posted to the 8th. Army in the Western Desert , after skirmishes with Rommel we moved to Tobruk. The Army was besieged in Tobruk. We were surrendered into the hands of the Germans. They ordered us to proceed to the POW compound, some 5 miles away. The Germans said we could walk there or go in our own trucks which we had not had time to destroy. We said OK, having made holes in the sumps of the trucks; they just got us there before the engines seized up solid! The next POW camp at Benghazi was under control of the Italians , water was a problem ,they produced it in 44 gallon drums that had been used for diesel fuel and had not been properly cleaned out. Result massive diarrhoea in some 2000 prisoners.
We were soon taken by boat to Italy, first in Brindisi southern Italy. Then to a camp north of Rome near Ancona. Italy capitulated; Mussolini was killed and the guards smashed their rifles against the nearest post, tore off their uniforms and shouted `the war is finished I am going home to `multi Vino, multi pasta, and multi `Nikki-nick!`. A company of Germans soon arrived and we were on a train through the Brenner Pass to Germany to Stalag “V. POW camp, that was a former concentration Camp for the Jews. We had to strip and tie our cloths in a bundle or bag if we had one, these were put in the Cyanide gas chamber, and we went naked into the showers. Our cloths came out stinking of the cyanide Gas, we had to shake them for some minuets before dressing. My weight had dropped to 7 stone ;at last the Red Cross Parcels arrived to supplement our POW food of a couple of slices of black rye bread, potatoes and turnips, with occasional goat meat in the daily stew. The potatoes were boiled in their skins, we took it in turns to have the skins to make a `biscuit`baked on the top of fire stove each hut had for heating. A corporal of the Australian Army Tom Ward was captured with the resistance in North Italy and was being taken to Berlin for trial as a spy, which meant the death penalty. He was kept in the `cooler`out side of the main camp and was to be bathed and de-loused, before going to Berlin, in the camps big Shower Block (where we had a monthly shower). The key to the gate from the camp to the showers was trusted to a Sgt. Of the South African Army, who spoke German. He locked up at night handed the key to the guard house, and drew it the next day for prisoners assembled from each hut in turn to shower. The Camp held more than 10,000. prisoners of all nationalities! So the shower house was very large and in constant daily use.
On the day Tom was to be showered and deloused the key was not issued by the Germans, but the escape committee knew this in advance. So the night before it was arranged that the padlock only looked secured before the key was handed in. All was set for the escape into the POW camp proper. The POW camp was for senior Non Commissioned Officers, Sergeants and Warrant Officers. So there were some good brains at work on the escape committee In the morning set for Tom Ward’s delousing and shower, he striped naked and put his cloths in the Gas chamber, now he was the only person in the very large shower room, with the guards on the far tide of the shower room. Outside the gate from the main camp was a rigged party of prisoners supposedly ready to take a shower. The pad-lock was unhitched and into shower room rushed naked prisoners from the main camp. The guards were taken by surprise and shouted `rouse rouse `-get out -they did *with Tom Ward, who was quickly dressed with battle dress supplied by the escape committee ; now they were all including Tom, back in the main camp. The Germans were livid when they realised what had happened, and all hell was let loose!.
It did not take long for a company of SS to arrive ordering the whole camp out for an inspection count and identification of all Prisoners. Tom Ward was in our hut, the question was where to hide him. Above the ceiling the slanting roof had sacks of straw in the gap between the outside walls the ceiling and sloping roof, Tom got inside one of these. The whole camp was kept outside for some 16 hours and we were checked against the records kept by the Germans. The search included guards from the SS going up above the ceilings and bayoneting the sacks. By the time they got to our hut, which was about the last they were obviously getting tired, and the bayoneting missed Tom Ward.
This was not to be the end of the searching, we learnt that notices were put up in the surrounding village, offering a reward for his capture, They just did not know where he was and were determined to get him. Two weeks later a Battalion of SS arrived in Armoured Cars, we were ordered out for further checks and the SS. took the place apart. This time we knew they were deadly serious, so Tom Ward got down inside the night latrine, a sewage pit, and stood in the sewage for hours, it was just ghastly, I just don’t know how he stuck it, He got through it with terrible uric acid burns, which took weeks to heal. He finally took over identification of a South African Sargent who had hung himself. The Prisoner records were kept in the German main office by POWs working as clerks, they arranged the switch, even Tom Wards fingerprints.Tom Ward passed subsequent German identity checks, they never twigged it. He remained in the camp until we were freed by the Russian advance.
In January 1944 I had the misfortune of contracting Cerebral-spinal Meningitis. They had to put me in a straight jacket , because the pressure on the nervous system caused me to thrash about uncontrollable. In the hospital I was treated by a French POW doctor. That night a Red Cross supply of drugs came in from Switzerland, the Doctor said he very nearly did not give me the Sulphonamide drug that eventual cured me because he thought I was `too far gone to save` .I recovered enough for a German medical board who recommended me for POW exchange category `B`, an exchange that never took place; in any case I did make a slow recovery during the next 15 months up to the time the Russian advance caused the Germans to abandon our POW camp. While recuperating in the hospital an American soldier with a serious gun shot wound on the side of his head came into the camp hospital. He was from Texas USA and the Doctor could not understand what he said, so I found myself interpreting broad Texan accent into English! That night before another consignment of Red Cross Drugs came in the Doctor told me he did not think the American Sgt.would live the night out. Early next morning the excited Doctor took me to see the American sitting up smiling. `Its almost a miracle` said Doctor, I just gave him three shots of Penicillin a new drug just out and look at him now! He fully recovered and came back into the main camp with me. I learnt some years later the discovery was worked on by Mrs. Suzian Tritton M.P.S. F.R.I.C. my very good friend and wine making mentor who was an assistant to Dr.Flemming who made Penicillin, but more about her later. Stalag lV was an ex concentration camp. On the exercise field to the north there was a series of humps, our senior representative a WO1 asked the Germans if we could flatten it to make a playing field for games. This was firmly refused by the commandant. It was later learnt the field was a burial ground. The humps were the top of a series to lime pit trenches where it was said were the bodies of Jews who died in a collier epidemic, when the camp was a Jewish concentration Camp. Two years after the British arrived in the camp a reading of the Camps Electric meter showed a 1000% increase in electric consumption! A big raid took place to find out why?.
This led to tables between the British Sector Huts full of confiscated equipment of all kinds. from electric suites in the RAF. Huts, to numerous Brew kettles to make Tea and coffee from Red Cross Parcels. These were mainly two metal plates, separated by a piece of wood, placed in a brew can, the wires were connected to nails and another piece of wood for a plug. When plugged in the whole thing was alive and very lethal if touched. We had striped the wiring from the outside lavatories that were disconnected anyhow, we wired the mains up to secret sockets behind two tiny holes in the wooded walls of the hut. One thing the Germans never did find was the Radio set in our hut. It was under the seat of a stool our hut commander would sit on as he was allowed to stay in the hut, when a search took place. We had a large home made Map of the War zone, and pinned up little flags to show the Allies and Russian advance from the news we got. The German Sgt Major would come to find out the war situation. He would say `no no, that’s not correct`, knowing full well it would come on the German news sometimes a week later. He was comparatively friendly and we would have a laugh at his expense. In the end he would come in almost every Day.
The Camps News letter was also compiled from news we got from our Radio Which was made from bits and pieces bought from guards with cigarettes and some times coffee from Red Cross Parcels. The bulk of these parcels came from Canada, mainly because the Canadian Red cross would escort the parcels and cigarettes to Germany. From UK Some 60% of the parcels, especially cigarettes were pillaged first in the UK ports, then across Spain Switzerland and of course Germany. I only got some 15% of the cigarettes Dad & Mum sent me. The distribution depended on how many parcels were available, at the very best it was one food parcels between two of us, They were only available about half the time.
The end of the War in Europe for us in the POW camp came with the advance of the Russians in 1945. The Germans were fleeing to the other side of the River Elbe, and wanted us to join them. Our `Man of confidence `a Warrant class 1(he was voted to the position and in fact from REME. an ASM, (Armament Sgt.Majors, who were generally better educated than RSM`s,Regemental Sgt. Majors, who were very good in fighting infantry and Guards regiments;) refused the German offer to take us, some 10,000 of us, across to the Other side of the River Elbe.
The Russian liberation consisted of an Officer on horse back , riding into the Russian compound. `You are liberated in the great name of the USSR` he then said those who are fit can draw a rifle from the horse drawn trucks, and join the front. A prisoner shouted that man is a German dressed as a prisoner; the office drew his pistol and shot him dead on the spot. He continued `The rest are at liberty to go (walk!) home, We did later find some dead on the road side in their attempt to go home to Russia (the Russians sector was quite separate from the European sector of the POW camp, Because they were not protected by the Geneva convention; in fact the Germans starved very many of them to death. They had to pull carts with tanks on them, used to empty the sewage from the night latrines at the end of each hut, they also had to pump this sewage out on their rounds of the camp, using hand pumps. The sewage was taken to the fields to fertilise the turnips etc.used to feed POWs!. Russian officers said soldiers were expendable.
The Camp was liberated on the 14 April 1945. My friend Eric Skinner D.F.C.,a WO.1 air gunner of the RAF he and I went walk about to the near by villages where we `liberated two bikes!` the houses were mostly empty , just a few very old people who had been left behind the fleeing population. We entered a Villa that had been pillaged by Russian Soldiers, they had just used their rifle butt smashing lovely furniture in wanton destruction.Peter Orchard
Pte. Robert Wilson Steele 4th Btn. Seaforth HighlandersMy husband's Dad, Robert Wilson Steele served in the 2nd World War with the British Army in the 51st Seaforth Highlanders Regiment]. His Brother James Steele also served as well in the same Regiment. They landed at Dunkirk but Robert was captured at the beaches of St. Valery while his brother James made it on to one of the rescue boats.
What I know is that Robert had a long journey walking etc. to the Stalag IV A 40 POW camp. (M.Stammlager IV A ARB-Kdo 508) whatever that means? [Arbeits-Kommando means Labour Detail] He served for 5 long years and he once told us a story about the conditions there and the German guards made him dig out the latrines with an axe pick in the winter. Every time he chipped away at it he would get a mouth full and had to spit it out. When they were repatriated Robert said that the Germans treated them better than the Russians. As they got away they came upon a broken down German war truck and him and his mates found a camera, a German Army Uniform and a tin of biscuits. The Russians took the camera and the German Army Uniform off of them and the said to Robert Steele, give me the biscuits. He said "munga munga while rubbing his stomach". They said "give us them or we will shoot" So, starving he reluctantly gave them up. He also told us he rode on the top of the trains on the way home and one of the first things he did was eat a handful of salt.
If anyone knows of Robert Wilson Steele POW and any other stories about the 51st Seaforth Highlanders, I would be so interested. My cousin Davy Steele wrote the ballad The beaches of St. Valery. A must see on YouTube. Sadly Robert passed away in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, but had a good lifeWendy Steele
Pvt. Sam Jesse NelsonMy father, PFC Sam Jesse Nelson, Jr., US Army Infantry, was captured in December, 1944, in the Vosges Mountains of France. He was very briefly held at Stalag 4A before being taken to Stalag 4B/Muhlberg. There, he was strafed by British pilots going to Dresden. Of course, they had no way to know who was on the ground. Since my father was an enlisted man, he was put to work. He had no fond memories of the work that was required of him and his buddies, mostly moving rocks from rubble, I believe on railroads tracks.
Although I don't know for sure, I believe that the camp was liberated by Russians as my father described many Russians in the area and he encountered no American or other Allies.
Dad always told us that a few days before the end of the war in Europe, the POWs from Stalag 4B were put on the road marching. Although it was obvious that the guards were hopeful that they'd be able to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russians, there was also talk that Hitler had given a command to execute all POWS. The guards were not vigilant as they were concerned with surviving themselves, and so my father and a friend lit out from the group. Dad said they encountered Russians and others on the road but he figured that he and his friend looked too pitiful to even detain. They were allowed to pass with no interruption.
Sometime later, they made their way into Czechoslovakia where they eventually met up with a British unit. They were given baths and new British uniforms as theirs were in taters and infested with lice. Eventually, my father was taken, along with many other liberated POWs, to a staging area in France where they awaited transport back to the States.
One of the strangest things he related was that German POWs were serving in the cafeteria. When the liberated Americans came into contact with these Germans, who were in much better condition than the Americans, not surprisingly a fight broke out. I gather it was quite a ruckus. You wonder who thought that would be a good idea?
Also, at the staging area, the liberated American POWs were allowed and encouraged to eat as much as they wanted. Having been practically starved, they ate large quantities of food, including multiple milkshakes every day. When my father was liberated, he weighed less than 100 pounds. He was 6'2". As a result of his starvation and the subsequent lack of nutritional knowledge available at that time, he had stomach and digestive problems for the rest of his life.
Sam Jesse Nelson, Jr. got transport on a ship back into Boston Harbor. He turned the ripe old age of 20 somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.Helen Nelson Geisler
Pte. Thomas Hopson West Yorkshire RegimentMy granddad, Tom Hopson, is the one bottom right corner in the photo. On the back is a short message to my grandmother and an official stamp mark with the following words, Gepruft 30 Stalag 1V A. Is there any way of obtaining some more information? I do not know any of the other men in the photo.
Editor's note: Gepruft means approved by the German censor to be sent to England from the POW camp Stalag 4A.Tom Hopson
Capt. Sardar Ahmed 8th Motor Bgde. Indian Army Medical CorpsMy father, Captain Sardar Ahmed of the Indian Army Medical Corps, was a POW in Stalag 4a from 1941 until April 1945.Dr Abrar Javed
Frederick Arthur "Rob" ClarkRob had a wife and a daughter named Jennifer. While he was in Stalag IV-A, his wife left him, taking their daughter. He never remarried, and lived with his widowed mother until his death in 1972.
In the camp, Rob ingratiated himself with the doctor and became a kind of unqualified medical assistant. After the war he qualified as an accountant and worked in an accounting firm in Queensway, London W2.Ernest Parkin
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