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Stalag 357 Oerbke nr Fallingbostel in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- Stalag 357 Oerbke nr Fallingbostel during the Second World War -


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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Stalag 357 Oerbke nr Fallingbostel




    30th Sep 1939 150 Squadron Battle lost

    16th Oct 1939 57 Squadron Blenheim lost

    7th Nov 1939 57 Squadron Blenheim lost

    27th Mar 1940 77 Squadron Whitley lost

    10th May 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

    12th May 1940 57 Squadron Belenheim lost

    12th May 1940 12 Squadron Battle lost

    12th May 1940 12 Squadron Battle lost

    14th May 1940 105 Squadron Battle lost

    18th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

    21st May 1940 226 Squadron Battle lost

    8th Jun 1940 103 Squadron Battle lost

    9th Jun 1940 107 Squadron Blemheim lost

    13th Jun 1940 142 Squadron Battle lost

    18th Jun 1940 58 Squadron Whitley lost

    27th Jun 1940 82 Squadron Blenheim lost

    6th Jul 1940 18 Squadron Blenheim lost

    7th Jul 1940 102 Squadron Whitley lost

    21st Jul 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

    26th Aug 1940 50 Squadron Hampden lost

    27th Aug 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

    11th Feb 1941 49 Squadron Hampden lost

    12th Mar 1941 Aircraft Lost

    25th May 1941 18 Squadron Blenheim lost

    9th Jul 1941 35 Squadron Halifax lost

    15th Aug 1941 15 Squadron Stirling lost

    15th Aug 1941 102 Squadron Whitley lost

    25th Aug 1941 51 Squadron Whitley lost

    26th Aug 1941 7 Squadron Stirling lost

    3rd Sep 1941 35 Squadron Halifax lost

    8th Sep 1941 115 Squadron Wellington lost

    8th Nov 1941 78 Squadron Whitley lost

    27th Apr 1942 226 Squadron Battle lost

    27th Apr 1942 107 Squadron Boston lost

    29th Apr 1942 Fifth attack on the Tirpitz

    30th Apr 1942 50 Squadron Manchester lost

    31st May 1942 109 Squadron Wellington lost

    31st May 1942 101 Squadron Wellington lost

    31st May 1942 50 Squadron Manchester lost

    31st May 1942 10 Squadron Halifax lost

    3rd Jun 1942 49 Squadron Manchester lost

    3rd Jun 1942 35 Squadron Halifax lost

    9th Jun 1942 460 Squadron Wellington lost.

    8th Dec 1942 105 Squadron Mosquito lost

    15th Mar 1943 Ventura of 21 Squadron lost

    17th Apr 1943 77 Squadron Halifax lost

    3rd May 1943 Ventura of 487 Squadron lost

    3rd May 1943 Ventura of 487 Squadron lost

    3rd May 1943 Ventura of 487 Squadron lost

    28th May 1943 109 Squadron Mosquito lost

    29th May 1943 466 Squadron Wellington lost

    22nd Jun 1943 7 Squadron Stirling lost

    4th July 1943 432 Squadron Wellington lost

    16th Jul 1943 9 Squadron Lancaster lost

    13th Aug 1940 83 Squadron Blenheim lost

    24th Sep 1943 57 Squadron Lancaster lost

    22nd January 1944 51 Squadron Halifax lost

    31st Jan 1944 550 Squadron Lancaster lost

    19th Mar 1944 


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



    Those known to have been held in or employed at

    Stalag 357 Oerbke nr Fallingbostel

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    • Ackroyd . CSM
    • Adams Frank George Webster.
    • Allen A. G..
    • Allen Joseph. Sgt.
    • Barlow Albert Ernest.
    • Bateman David L.. Cpl.
    • Bell Robert Stirling. Cpl.
    • Bell Sterling Robert. Cpl.
    • Benson Arthur James. WO/1
    • Beynon George Henry.
    • Bowen William James. Private
    • Brooks . Cpl.
    • Brown Donald. Fl/Sgt.
    • Brown Victor Louis. Gnr.
    • Burke J. Andrew. W/O.
    • Callaghan F. J.. Sgt.
    • Cantelo George Edward. Cpl.
    • Casey Lawrence Joseph. Sgt
    • Clifford N. J.. W/O
    • Colthorpe Cecil Walter. Cpl.
    • Cully Robert James. Cpl.
    • Currie John Richard. Sgt.
    • Dampier . Sgt.
    • Davidson A. G.. W/O
    • Davies Alfred. L/Sgt.
    • Deans Jack.
    • Degenhard Lionel George. Corporal
    • Degenhard Lionel George. Corporal
    • Dixon Walter. Cpl.
    • Dodgson Arthur Sidney.
    • Doherty Hugh. Cpl.
    • Downie William. L/Cpl. (d.19th Apr 1945)
    • Downie William. L/Cpl. (d.19th May 1943)
    • Doyle Paddy.
    • Dunn Ron D.. Sgt.
    • Edwards William Henry. Flying Officer
    • Evans Joseph. Pte.
    • Favager Reginald. Sgt.
    • Fenton K.. WO/Sgt.
    • Fenton Ken. WO/Sgt
    • Floyd James John. Tpr.
    • Freeman Don.
    • Frost Walter.
    • Fuller A. A..
    • Gell H. E.. W/O
    • Goodman William Edward.
    • Gosling Eric.
    • Gray D. L.. Sgt.
    • Grey James Leslie Rixon. Flt Sgt.
    • Hall Geoff.
    • Hamilton R. J.. Sgt.
    • Hancock William Henry. Pte. (d.22nd Feb 1945)
    • Harding . Cpl.
    • Hare Sidney. Lance Sgt.
    • Hitchings Sydney James. Sgt.
    • Huleatt Richard Ridley. Flt.Sgt.
    • Hunter A. C.. F/S
    • Jarvis S.. F/S
    • Johnson Thomas L.. Sgt.
    • Jones C. G.. Sgt.
    • Jones Stanley George. L/Cpl.
    • Jones Stanley George. L/Cpl.
    • Jones Stanley George.
    • Kelly John Verdun. Sgt.
    • Kirk George Andrew. Sgt
    • Kirkham B. D.. W/OII
    • Kirkman Stanley George. Gdsmn
    • Knox James Charles. Sgt.
    • Laws H.. Sgt.
    • Layfield R..
    • Layne Walter Henry.
    • Luter Vincent George Lovelock. Sgt.
    • Lynch P..
    • Masterman Leslie. Pte.
    • Matthews Leslie Albert. Sgt.
    • McDonald R. W..
    • McDonald Stanley. L/Sgt.
    • McEvoy Ronald James. Sgt.
    • McGarvey Robert Robinson. Sgt
    • McLaughlin William. Sgt.
    • McMaster J. P.. Flt. Sgt.
    • Mills James Albert. P/O
    • Miners C. Alf. Sgt.
    • Mitchell Aldwyn. Cpl.
    • Moriarty John Glover. W/O (d. )
    • Muir D. T. P.. L/Cpl.
    • Murphy Stanley Oldfield John. Sgt.
    • Oldfield John Anthony. Sgt. (d. )
    • Oliver Douglas Phillip. Cpl.
    • Ongley Lynn Sarrell. Sgt.
    • Ongley Lynn Sarrell . Sgt.
    • Osman Charles Arthur George. L/Sgt.
    • Peacock Roger. Sgt. (d. )
    • Pickup John. Bdr.
    • Plowman G. E.. Sgt.
    • Read Jack. Sgt.
    • Rixon Colin Frederick. Pte.
    • Rollin Georges. Cpl.
    • Rollin Georges J..
    • Rollin Joseph Georges. Cpl.
    • Rusher Francis James.
    • Sawyer Arthur. Sgt.Maj.
    • Scoins Leslie George. Cpl. (d. )
    • Sharp Ralph George. Sgt.
    • Shergold Norman. F/Sgt
    • Simmonds Norman William. WO
    • Singleton Ken. Flt.Sgt.
    • Sinnott Ted. Cpl.
    • Smith J. B..
    • Sparrow J.
    • Stone S..
    • Taylor H. A.. Sgt.
    • Telle Ernest van. Sgt.
    • Thomas D..
    • Thomas John Samuel.
    • Tomlins Reginald Percy William. Pte.
    • Town . F/Sgt
    • Vandalli W.. Sgt.
    • Webb Clifford. Sgt.
    • White F.. Cpl.
    • Whittaker D. B.. Sgt.
    • Worthy Frederick Charles. 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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    F/S A. C. Hunter 603 Sqd.

    F/Sgt A C Hunter of 603 sqd. was shot down in Spitfire X4665 on 14-7-41 near Hazebrouck, France and taken POW. He was interned at Stalag 357 Kopernikus, Poland and given POW No.39273. He had previously served with 260 sqn. He was later promoted to W/O. I would be most grateful if anyone could give any details however trivial they may seem on this pilot, as I do not even know of his first names, nationality etc. Thanking you

    Roy Nixon



    Sgt. Ralph George Sharp pilot 7 Sqd.

    W/O Clifford was the pilot of Lancaster JA-718, he survived the crash on the the 29th of January 1944 and was held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 6 and Stalag 357. We would love to hear from him or his family as my wife's brother Stanley Liddle was one of his crew.

    Doug Madden



    F/S S. Jarvis pilot 7 Sqd.

    F/S Jarvis survived the crash of Lancaster JA-718 on the the 29th of January 1944 and was held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 6 and Stalag 357. We would love to hear from him or his family as my wife's brother Stanley Liddle was one of his crewmates.

    Doug Madden



    W/O N. J. Clifford pilot 7 Sqd.

    W/O Clifford was the pilot of Lancaster JA-718, he survived the crash on the the 29th of January 1944 and was held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 6 and Stalag 357. We would love to hear from him or his family as my wife's brother Stanley Liddle was one of his crew.

    Doug Madden



    Lance Sgt. Sidney Hare 2nd Btn. North Staffordshire Rgt.

    After leaving the Merchant Navy where my dad was serving on the Blue Star Line to South America, he joined the East Surrey regiment before being transfered to the North Staffs. He saw action in North Africa (First Army) and Italy (Sicily and Anzio). He was captured at Anzio after heavy hand-to-hand fighting. The battalion had over 600 men killed in action. My father was eventually marched and transported to the prisoner-of-war camp Stalag 357. At the end of the war he served in several other almalgamated regiments before coming back home to Custom House, Canning Town, London.

    Roy Hare



    Gnr. Victor Louis Brown Royal Artillery

    Our father never wanted to talk about his time as a POW, so we are trying to piece that part of his life together. We do know that he was at Stalag 357 when it was liberated. We also know that he was part of the large group of prisoners marched toward Poland. Little else is known, so any information or if anyone knew him would be a huge help. Unfortunately he passed away in 1990, without ever telling his story. Thank you in advance. His son and daughter.

    Tony Brown



    Sgt. C. G. Jones 149 Sqd.

    Sgt Jones was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.




    Cpl. Robert Stirling Bell North Nova Scotia Highlanders

    Cpl Sterling Robert Bell served with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. He landed in Normandy on June 6th 1944 and was captured at Authie on June 7 1944. He was held as a pow in Stalag 357 until May 1945.

    Allison Sterling Bell



    John Samuel Thomas

    My Dad John Samuel Thomas was in Stalag 357 during 1944. After the war he went to Australia with his family and lived till he was 68. Does anyone have any info on his time in the camp?

    Stephen Thomas



    Sgt. G. E. Plowman w/op 630 Sqd

    Sgt Plowman was the Wireless Operator on my Father's crew, thier Lancaster was shot down the 16th of March 1944. My father, Len Barnes evaded capture.

    The crew were:

    • P/O L.A.Barnes
    • Sgt K.A.Walker
    • F/O M.Geisler
    • Sgt M.E.Gregg
    • Sgt G.E.Plowman
    • Sgt J.H.Overholt
    • Sgt T.A.Fox

    Amanda Burrows



    W/OII B. D. Kirkham 419 Sqd.

    Sgt Kirkham was taken POW after Halifax DT616 VR-K was shot down on the 12th of June 1943. He was promoted to Warrant Officer2 whilst in captivity.

    The crew were:

    • Sgt B.D.Kirkham
    • Sgt R.J.Hamilton
    • Sgt H.A.Taylor
    • Sgt D.B.Whittaker
    • Sgt F.J.Callaghan
    • Sgt J.A.Mills
    • Sgt D.L.Gray




    P/O James Albert Mills wireless operator 419 Sqd.

    From my recollection, my Dad, James Mills, was shot down on a bombing mission over the Ruhr Valley by two me109s. He said they riddled the aircraft from nose to tail, the cannon holes not an inch apart and yet not one of them was hit, after being ordered to bail, they stayed and got both meshersmits. He clipped his head on the tail wing as he bailed out and was unconsious when landing, and he lost a boot on the jump. He went to a farmhouse, the old german couple were quite alarmed until he produced a picture of jesus or mary and then it was all ....sit , eat .....relax until the Gestapo walked in a couple hours later with their lugers out, off to the stalag for 4 yrs.

    He said the germans had civies on under their uniforms when they heard the barrage in the very near vicinity, they knew the war was done. He said most of the guards were pretty good blokes. Upon liberation, most of them just threw their flight jackets and what not into the ditch. Upon landing somewhere in England, a bbc reporter grabbed the first two guys and interviewed them, I remember, as a kid,listening to the old 78 over and over. It was James Albert Mills and Gus Morrison telling a 2 minute story of camplife. Does anyone have a copy? My sister lost that old record and his caterpiller pin. Dad went in to camp 6 foot 2 and 245 lbs, came out 6 foot and 100 pounds, They didnt eat well. he was diagnosed for a pension with anxiety neurosis and our govt gave him a really cheesey pittance of a pension, which he fought all his life to have increased. It didn't happen.

    I would love to hear from any one who may have been in Stalag 357 or in 419 Moose Squadron that may have known him. Guess I should have done this 25 yrs ago. Its not until one reaches the age where one truly appreciates the caliber of men and women then and the guts they had to fight and give their life for the beauty and freedom we take for granted today.

    Bill Mills



    Sgt. John Verdun Kelly

    The following extracts are from the YMCA Wartime Log Book supplied to Sgt John Verdun Kelley. Captured at Tobruk he passed through various Camps- Derna, Benghazi, PG60 Lucca, PG70, Stalag IVB and Stalag 357. Some of the entries are by Kelley others by "guest" writers.

    Benghazi

    Barren wastes of stony sand

    Dry infertile desert land,

    Spiked wire on every hand.

    Prisoners of War

    Ill clad ,unkempt and underfed,

    Trading watches and rings for bread,,

    With chilly concrete floors for beds,

    Prisoners of War

    Queueing for hours in blistering heat,

    Receiving a morsal of bread and meat,

    Glad, even of scraps to eat,

    Prisoners of War.

    Crowded together like flocks of sheep,

    Bullied and driven from dawn to sleep,

    Hearts are filled with hatred deep,

    Prisoners of War

    Cut off from the news of the outside world,

    Sifting truth from taunts that are hurled,

    Slightly keeping the flag unfurled,

    Prisoners of War.

    Striving to keep alive their hope.

    Finding at times 'tis beyond their scope,

    Drugging themselves with rumour dope

    Prisoners of War

    Setting new values ion trivial things,

    The smell of a flower, a skylark that sings

    The beauty,the grace of a butterfly's wing

    Prisoners of War

    Finding life without freedom is vain

    'Tis better to die than live ever in chain,

    Thank God! For hope of relief once again,

    Prisoners of War

    Seeing new meaning in higher things,

    In life in Christ and the hope He brings

    Thus did they treat the King of Kings

    Prisoners of War

    Finding at last, if you've the eyes to see

    This glorious truth fixed by God's decree,

    As long as the soul's unchained you're free.

    Prisoners of War

    June 23 .We awoke after a cold hungry night. The compound larger than Derna and as we were about 1000 more room to move about .In a separate cage near the gate were a party of Indian troops, used in fatigue work for strengthening the wire .In the other corner was a 40ft tower with machine guns.. Each corner had a water tank (empty) and guards patrolled all sides. We were ordered to form groups of 50 and we became N0o 22. Nothing else happened-it got hotter, more rings etc swapped across the wire for water. Someone paid £2 for a quart. Around 2pm the tanks were filled and after queueing for hours we were given a quart each., a groundsheet and 2 short poles . Rations arrived at 5pm - a tin of bully each and 2 small loaves between 3 men. Eat it all or save some? We had begun the trek down Starvation Road.

    More new faces arrived and we hoped to move on- we entered hungry men and left weeks later starving wrecks. More searches-this time anything sharp. A few kept back their jackknives or we would have had no way to open the bully cans. Water ration was increased to 3 pint per day, usual ration arrived at 4pm. The cigarette supply started running out!!! Profiteering took over and cigarettes that were selling for 50 piastres for 50 rose to 10piastres each. The guards realized the opportunity and were soon exchanging cigarettes for clothes etc. Sanitary arrangements were just a row of trenches and the smell would become unbearable. Empty day followed empty day ,bored, dirty ad unshaven the main conversation was about food. At the end of the month the Italians issued cigarettes-2 between 6 men!! By rerolling the dogends we made 2 more.

    By July 3 morale was low and sickness high , the MO visited but had nothing to teat anyone. Great excitement on July 6 -the RAF bombed the harbour and again on the 9th , lots of shrapnel falling on the camp but no injuries. Now we were so organised that we could make hot meals at night by soaking dry bread ,adding bully and boiling it up. Fuel was the problem, the guards became unhappy about us ripping pieces off the fence posts. The Indian fatigue troops had plenty but at a cost- 2 cigarettes for a small piece and the price of cigarettes was 5 piastres or a shilling each. Another bombing raid on the 11th and a ship hit in the harbour.

    Sunday 12th and a service from a South African Padre, though it must have helped it brought everyone back to thinking of home as they took part in a service knowing family at home were doing the same. We were all given Red Cross Cards to fill in, they were handed in but to this day I never heard of any arriving. By now health was getting poor, walking an effort and dizziness when standing. We were dirty, unshaven and lice started to appear. One by one those who had kept rings etc swapped them with the guards for food-tempted by guards holding up loaves of bread The minds of the guards needed understanding, a good watch worth £5 would get maybe 2 loaves but a cheap ring from the Souk costing pennies would get 5 loaves easily Cigarettes became THE currency and money was used for card games until we found the guards would sell 40 cigarettes for £1 Egyptian. Ersatz coffee was added to our rations but what was it? A Cookhouse was also built but could only feed one compound a hot meal per day so we hot meals every third day.

    Our first meal was 17 july a pint stodge of rice peas flavoured with olive oil . this cost us half a tin of bully each. The cooks found the dry rice a valuable trade item and were soon exchanging it for cigarettes. Dysentry broke out amongst the weakest but only the worst cases went to hospital I reckon about 60 died. Daily routine- get up when you felt like it, pass the time somehow until rations were drawn at noon, go to bed early to escape the day. Meals were 9am and 5.30pm and a brew of coffee in between (no milk or sugar)..

    July 25 the reality of how weak we had become hit home. New latrines were needed to be dug The labour divided up and each man had 2 minutes of digging to do. Mainy were unable to complete even this.. An escape attempt was made by a couple of guys hanging onto the underside of the rubbish truck, unfortunately this went into the next compound where native SA troops saw the guys and crowding round bending down to look resulted in the 2 heroes retuning in chains for 48 hrs.

    On July 27 groups from the next cage started to be moved out . July 31 we were given English bully 1 tin between 2 . We knew we would be soon and had started pooling our food to sustain us on the journey. We eat as much as we could and for the first time since capture I felt full. We paraded at 0330 next day, we had our food and 2 gallons of water why go hungry and thirsty? We were marched to the docks, the water weighed a ton but it was good to see the bombing damage that had been done We embarked on the Rosalino Pilo , although modern she soon took on the look of a slave ship as we were crammed into the holds helped by the Libyans standing on anyones fingers if they were slow on the ladders. More fun was had by throwing buckets of sea water at us through the gratings . The heat was stifling and we dreaded the night, a meal of cold fried bread,bully and water arrived at 11am and we sailed at noon.

    Next days rationed were lowered in a bucket at 4pm, tin of bully and a pack of biscuits. We were told next stop was Tripoli then across to Naples. The dysentery cases became so bad that in the end they were allowed on deck. We tried to sleep in the heat with the smell of engine oil and engine noise. It was a long night but as dawn approached the hold was silent save for a few groans and moans when I heard an unknown person playing "solitude" on a mouth organ- knowing my feelings and thoughts I could sympathise with him. We were allowed up on deck at 8am and managed to stay there all day, one man was hauled up unconscious and his body was taken off at Tripoli.. Our 11am meal of biscuits and bully seemed good until we saw the meals being taken to the gun crews who were German even though it was an Iti ship. We reached Tripoli at noon

    Sgt John Verdun Kelley

    Names in the log book from Benghazi:

    • Sgt Taylor
    • John Toole
    • Dougie Herrage
    • Charlie Peace
    • Stitch Taylor
    • Dodger Green
    • Bill Fyfe
    • RQMS Bone
    • CSM Muldowney
    • Sgt Graham
    • Sgt Mc Dermott
    • Gdsman Hall
    • Gdsman Simpson

    Peter Mason.



    Sgt. Thomas L. Johnson MM. 2/11 Btn. AIF.

    My uncle was a POW, Sgt Thomas L Johnson MM of 2/11 Bn. from March 1944 until May 1945. He was captured at Crete as I understand it.

    Neville Browne.



    Sgt. William McLaughlin 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers

    My Grandfather was held in 3 POW camps. I have obtained this information and associated dates from the MOD records, so they are as accurate as they can be. His details are as follows:

    6976070 Sergeant William McLaughlin, Army Catering Corps.

    He was posted to 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on 19th August 1943 and was reported missing, prisoner of war, Leros, Aegean on 16th November 1943. Records show that on 6th January 1944 he was in STALAG 11A Aletbgrabow. By 19th April 1944 he was in STALAG 357 Orbke and by 2nd June 1944 he was in STALAG 3A, Luckenwalde, Germany.

    He was repatriated to the UK on 26th May 1945.

    Paul McLaughlin



    Flt. Sgt. J. P. McMaster 428 Sqd

    Flt Sgt McMaster flew with My uncle, F/S Paul Barske a Canadian, in 428 Squadron "B" RCAF. His partial diary was handed down to me from my grandmother.

    The crew were:

    • S/L J.R.Beggs RCAF
    • Sgt T.C.Qualey
    • F/S J.P.McMaster RCAF
    • Sgt P.J.Barske RCAF
    • F/O G.M.Ruff RCAF
    • Sgt F.Moore RCAF
    • Sgt G.W.Redwood

    Halifax NA-G, Serial Number LK969, took off from Middleton St.George on the 25th of November 1943 at 23:33. The aircraft was shot down at 19,000 feet over Frankfurt by a night-fighter. The opening burst set the starboard inner engine on fire and its second pass killed Sgt Barske as well as setting light to the outer starboard engine. The rest of the crew survived but were all captured and taken prisoners of war; S/L J.R.Beggs was held in Stalag 9C with F/S J.P.McMaster who also spent time in Stalag 357. Sgt F.Moore was held in Stalag 4B, with Sgt T.C.Qualey and Sgt G.W.Redwood, the later also spent time at Stalag Luft 3. F/O G.M.Ruff was held at Stalag Luft 1. Sgt Barske was buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery.

    Can anyone tell me more?

    Linda Gillis



    Sgt. C. Alf Miners 50 Sqd

    In 1941 I trained in the Australian Empire Air Training Scheme as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and on completion was posted to the embarkation depot in Perth, Western Australia, where I discovered I would be posted to Singapore. A few days later we were told that a number of Lockheed Hudson aircraft which were to be sent by the British to Singapore for our use could not be spared and consequently we were to travel to England.

    The first part of our travels was under first-class conditions on an American passenger liner, the Maraposa, where I was fortunate to be allotted a single, self-contained cabin on the Promenade deck, much to the envy of all the troops. This ship was, of course, travelling under peace-time conditions and the food was quite unbelievable. The ship called at several ports on the way including Auckland, Fiji, Pago Pago and Honolulu. At the last named we were met by some of the local ladies who had brought their cars in order to take us on a tour of the island.

    At one of the beaches we surprised a soldier who was supposed to have made himself invisible and prepare for an invasion. I did have the opportunity to examine a Garrard semi-authomatic rifle which I had not previously seen. The American Air Force put on a show for us with a full squadron of 'Bell Air Cobra' fighter aircraft which were well in advance of those we had in Australia. I should mention that this incident happened only a few weeks before the attack on Honolulu by the Japanese.

    Our first port of call in America was Los Angeles where we were taken on a tour of Warner Brothers' film studios. After touring the studios we were given drinks and cigarettes by young starlets. We watched Bette Davis at work on a picture as well as other performers whose names I have since forgotten.

    We re-embarked and travelled to San Francisco where we boarded a train for Vancouver. We made a number of stops and at most of them there were local inhabitants gathered at the level crossings, apparently to cheer us on. Although conversation was carried out at high volume, it was a very friendly interlude. The reception was at all times very enthusiastic and we all felt that there was a strong bond between Americans and Australians. The journey was quite enjoyable and the type of country varied a lot, unlike our Nullabor Plain.

    After arrival in Vancouver we were embarked on the Canadian National train. I was very impressed with the size of the locomotives which were designed to haul their trains across the Rocky Mountains. During this trip we travelled almost exclusively by night and we were given the days to see what we could of Canada. The highlight was in Ottawa where, to secure better photos, we entered the tallest building we could see. This building we discovered was a Government office housing the Department which dealt with the inhabitants of the northern ice-bound regions. We met a Department officer who went to a great deal of trouble to explain the difficulties and the way in which they tried to overcome them. The places at which we stopped which spring most easily to mind are Jasper and Toronto which are quite beautiful. We travelled right across Canada on the train which had the American style Pullman sleeping cars, the journey taking about a week.

    At Halifax, the end of the line, we boarded a troop ship, The Warwick Castle, a vessel of 20,000 tons and which was cleared to join a 20-knot convoy. My good fortune still held for this ship had not been converted to the usual troop ship but still had four-berth cabins. We were provided with a strong escort which included a light cruiser and a number of destroyers. We saw little action on the Atlantic crossing although when we counted the ships each morning there appeared to be some missing. We saw a demonstration of the ability of these escort ships when a warning of a submarine attack was given. The sight of these ships speeding around making rapid, sharp turns and throwing depth charges was something I will never forget. On this day the swell was described as 'moderate' but I think sailors are very conservative. I did not discover whether these depth charges caused any damage to the submarine. Over one day and night we encountered a severe gale when the sea swamped the boat deck making the biggest waves I have ever seen.

    On arrival in England at Greenock, we disembarked and travelled by train to Bournemouth on the south coast. On the first night a small bombing raid was mounted by the Germans and although only a small number of aircraft was involved, some damage was inflicted and particularly to one of the nicest hotels. Our training did not include instruction on what to do in an air raid so we went to an air-raid shelter which seemed to be overcrowded and, I thought, the reception was somewhat hostile so we decided to go to the nearest hotel where we spent a pleasant evening despite the 'dressing down' I received for being too slow to close the blackout covers over the door. For some reason the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) were concerned this small light could be seen from the enemy aircraft and would precipitate an enemy attack.

    I was posted to the Operational Training Unit near Doncaster and then to the squadron at Lincoln which, unfortunately, was equipped with 'Manchester' aircraft. We flew operations one night and had the next day at leisure. In order to perfect the methods to be used in the planned '1000 bomber raids' it was decided to send 250 aircraft per night for two nights consecutively on each target which were the cities of Lubeck and Rostock which had a ball-bearing factory and submarine pens respectively.

    On the first of these raids on 28 April, 1942, we were instructed to attack Rostock at 12,000 feet and 'glide' bomb at 10,000 feet. I should mention that the 'Manchester' bomber could not reach a higher altitude so most other aircraft were flying at twice our height. After releasing the bombs we experienced a major explosion some distance below us and we flipped over on to our back. The pilots were successful in gaining control and righting the aircraft which was quite close to the ground as most of the crew agreed they felt heat from the fires in the city. Later discussion arrived at the belief that the explosion was a shell from a demounted cannon from one of the 'pocket' battleships. After this, the trip back to base was uneventful and we reached our squadron in Lincoln. The aircraft was fairly badly damaged, especially at the rear, by light and medium anti-aircraft fire. By some miracle the rear-gunner was not hit. On touchdown, however, a 500lb bomb, which had apparently been hung up on the bomb rack came out of the bomb bay from the starboard side and ran along the ground beside us for some time before it veered away. Fortunately, it did not explode.

    Two nights later, on 30th April, 1942, we were instructed to lay mines around the 'pocket' battleship bottled up in Kiel harbour. This entails flying at an altitude of 500 feet at 150 miles per hour, straight and level. As I remember, this night was lit by a full moon and everything, including our aircraft, seemed brightly illuminated, which gave an uneasy feeling of insecurity. In addition, our instructions lead us further into Germany than any other bomber on that night which meant that for several hours we were the only intruders over enemy territory. As we proceeded on our way back to base it was discovered that one of the 1600 lb mines had hung up on the bomb rack and was still with us. The normal manoeuvres did not dislodge it so it was left in the bomb bay.

    As we approached Denmark we were attacked by an ME 110 night fighter from below, which meant he was not seen and the first indication was a burst of gunfire. I was flying in the mid-upper gun turret on this night and a burst of cannon fire entered the lower portion of the turret, under my left arm and out through the Perspex in the top of the turret. I then saw gunfire at the rear of the aircraft and decided it was aimed at the rear gunner and as I saw no answering fire concluded he had been hit. I then requested the wireless operator to investigate.

    I was able to fire a burst at the attacker who was below us and travelling in our direction. Unfortunately, the downward angle of fire was too steep and the guns jammed. I had further opportunities later the last of which was when the enemy appeared to have broken off the attack and went under us from right to left. The German rear gunner was still firing and as my gun came to bear, I fired and his firing stopped. My assumption was that I had made a hit.

    I then saw that our port engine was on fire and although the pilot took all available action, including trying to feather the propeller, nothing worked and the fire increased. Due to enemy action our landing lights were activated thus lighting up the aircraft like a beacon. These were later extinguished and the order to abandon the aircraft was given. In order to vacate the turret it was necessary for me to step on to the arms of a chair beneath me and then get out. However, my foot slipped and I fell and was caught by the release buckle of my parachute harness on the floor of the turret and was swinging in mid-air. I managed to free myself and fell, fracturing my collarbone. My parachute was packed beside the door at the rear of the fuselage but the fire had beaten me to it thus rendering it useless. I then checked that the IFF radio (Identification "Friend or Foe") had detonated. This occurred as I looked and suffered some burning to my face.

    By this time, the pilot had decided to land on the sea, which he did but was unable to pass on his decision to the rest of the crew as the intercom was not working. Following the decision to bail out, the front gunner and second pilot had attempted to open the escape hatch in the bomb aimer's position. Although it was jammed it eventually opened and the front gunner jumped. Unfortunately, the aircraft had descended to about 100ft and he was killed instantly. The second pilot then dived and swam to the side. We had landed on a sandbank but when the aircraft settled down it was found that he was trapped by the foot. The surviving crew members climbed out through the astrodome on to the starboard wing and between us we managed to free him and get him on to the wing.

    As we could still see the searchlights operating on the shore it was an indication that we may be close enough to be able to walk there. The water we were in came up to my neck and when I tried to inflate my 'Mae West' lifejacket I was unsuccessful. The jacket was shown to me the next day by a German guard and had two bullet holes running parallel to my body. There was no life raft in the aircraft so our position looked a little precarious.

    We started to wade and I tried to help the injured pilot but as his left leg was damaged, he had to lean on my injured right collarbone which was extremely painful. When I thought I could not continue we fell off the edge of the sandbank into deeper water and so had to return to the aircraft.

    We discovered that the aircraft's force of impact on water and/or sandbank had caused both engines to be thrown forward twenty to thirty feet (about ten metres). We sat on the edge of the port wing watching the oxygen bottles and other objects exploding, one of which exploded with enough force to send the two of us from the wing into the water. The pilot then returned to the aircraft and emerged with the survival kits. There was one for each crew member, containing necessities to sustain us for one or two days. This included a small bottle of rum, which was most acceptable.

    About 5.00 am an inflatable boat containing two occupants with Schmeiser submachine guns came to pick us up. When we were about half way to shore one of the petrol tanks on our aircraft exploded which looked very dramatic, particularly as we realised that if the Germans had been half an hour later we would still have been on the aircraft.

    We were taken into the Sylt Luftwaffe headquarters and locked in a room. Our clothes were taken for drying and we were given hot soup. During the morning there was a loud explosion and some time later a lot of yelling. I later discovered that five German technicians went to examine our aircraft which was unfamiliar to them and while they were aboard the mine exploded killing all of them.

    The pilot of the night fighter, Flying Officer Koeberich, came to see us during the morning and told me he had broken off his attack due to a fire in one engine and was preparing to land his aircraft when I saw him. He also advised that his gunner, Corporal Schubert, died that morning of gunshot wounds. From a report given by his replacement gunner, he was a successful pilot. When Reichsmarshall Herman Göring heard the details of the loss of the ME110 night fighter and the death of the gunner, he took the view that the Sylt Commandant had been negligent in sending assistance to his downed air crew and therefore the delay caused the gunner's death. This officer was relieved of his command at Sylt but I do not know the final result of his punishment.

    Flying Officer Koeberich talked for some time in a friendly manner and described his training. He was recruited before the war and had had at least three years night fighter experience. At the end of our conversation he insisted that I receive some bandages. This was followed to the letter and I was presented with a two inch wide bandage to set a broken collarbone! Flying Officer Koeberich was later killed in a Royal Air Force air raid at Quakenbruch on Easter Sunday in 1944, when a bomb struck the air raid shelter he was in and the roof collapsed on him.

    Our two injured crew members were taken to hospital but when I asked for some treatment I was ignored and this was repeated at each of the camps in which I was later interned. I cannot explain the reason for this but I was told on capture that as an Australian I had no right to be involved in this war. My injuries were not severe but treatment would have been beneficial. I had a broken collarbone, a broken nose, small fragments of shrapnel in my right thigh, Perspex splinters in my face, burns to face and hands and some damage to my knees. The two injured crew members were repatriated during 1943 in a prisoner exchange.

    The pilot and I were transferred to Frankfurt for intensive interrogation and while there a bomb was dropped on the camp which destroyed some of the perimeter fencing, which caused a fair amount of excitement amongst the Germans. During the period of three days, I was locked in a room containing a bed, a table and a chair and waited for the interrogator. I was lucky enough to find a piece of a needle and a small piece of mirror. With these implements I passed the time digging out the Perspex splinters from my face.

    We were then sent to Stalag Luft 3 passing through Hamburg. While on the platform, waiting for the train, we were joined by other prisoners and when the train pulled into the platform and we started to embark, the crowd on the platform which was now fairly large, started to push forward towards us which looked fairly dangerous. Our two guards pushed us into the carriage, jumped in and slammed the door behind them. They then made a great show of the fact that they were armed. Fortunately, the train left without delay.

    Some distance from the station we saw evidence of airmen having been murdered. We arrived in Sagen and except for some prisoners from other camps who were to act as cooks we were the first batch in this camp. We spent about a year in this camp and were then transferred to Heyderkrug Stalag Luft 6 near the Baltic coast. After being sent to several other camps we finished up at Fallingsbostel and later were sent on a forced march, ostensibly to Lubeck. This was terminated after some weeks when we made contact with the British flying column who brought in some arms. I eventually returned to England on 7 May, 1945 in time to celebrate the end of the war.

    As previously mentioned we were the first prisoners to go to Stalag Luft III but soon prisoners from other camps started to arrive and with the increased number of aircrew being shot down due to the escalating number of aircraft being used in each raid, it was not long before the camp was officially full.

    At this time the camp consisted of only one compound in which prisoners were housed and a large compound for the administration block. The camp had been carved out of a pine plantation and the vorlager was still littered with stumps where the trees had been felled. Other huts were built until the maximum was reached. This left only enough room for a parade ground where the twice daily counts were conducted.

    The huts were designed to hold about 100 prisoners in each and were divided into two rooms. The only furniture consisted of two-tier beds originally fitted with full sets of bed boards on which were placed mattresses filled with straw, often wet. By direct order from the Chief of the Luftwaffe, Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, we were not permitted to leave the camp for any purpose including working on farms. The concentration, therefore, became fixed on the food we would eat when we got back home and the method we could use to accomplish this. Many harebrained schemes were put forward in all sincerity but in most cases the proponents were persuaded not to try.

    One aspect of this, however, probably had some good effect. Realising that any successful escape must involve a great deal of walking, many of us decided to exercise as much as possible and as the only method available to us was walking, we took this up. Due to the large number of men wishing to walk on the one available track which was around the perimeter fence, keeping clear of the warning rail, it was agreed that we would walk using only left-hand circuits (all turns are to the left). I should mention that to cross the warning rail was tantamount to suicide as the guards had instructions to shoot for any infraction of this regulation. We had a good respect for their ability to hit their target with either a rifle or machine gun so we did not take any chances. They had to attend weekly shooting practice on the practice range which was placed within easy earshot of our compound probably as a warning. Our ambition was to walk 30 kilometres which was considered the distance we would have to travel at least in the first day and probably on some subsequent days if we succeeded in escaping. This remained an ambition for most of our time but as the effects of restricted diet took effect it seemed more like a pipe-dream.

    We were provided with personal washing facilities which consisted of a double-sided trough with a pipe in the middle holding a number of taps. It will be appreciated that a lot of water was spilt on the floor through this method and in the winter months the water froze making a hump of up to thirty centimetres in height, which made it quite difficult to use.

    After some months in this camp we were attacked by hordes of fleas and it became a daily ritual to search the blankets and exterminate the pests. After some time of enduring this, we were shepherded to a formerly forbidden area of the camp and into a delousing facility. In this building were clothes racks on wheels and we quickly stripped off and placed our clothes on them. They were then wheeled into what I can only describe as an oven. We were permitted to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower - the first in a long time. We all agreed that this was the most enjoyable way of combating the attentions of fleas. Having been established, this procedure was repeated at irregular intervals.

    We had little to do so boredom became a serious problem. On one occasion we were offered the chance to help remove the stumps of the pine trees displaced by the building of the camp which was, of course, due for extension. The Germans had dug out most of the sand from the stumps and our task was to lift the stumps out of the ground and onto a cart. We worked in teams of six and were provided with a tool referred to, almost reverently, as die maschine. I think it was designed by da Vinci and consisted of a pine log tripod with two lever, or handles, attached to it. A sling was attached to the stump and connected to hooks on the handles. With three of us on each handle the work was not very strenuous. We were paid for this engineering feat in what was known as lager geld, which was acceptable only in the canteen for the German troops and then only for specified articles.

    One task we were to perform was to peel the vegetables for the daily soup. These were almost invariably potatoes which had spent the winter stored in the underground clamps. A great deal of the potatoes was wasted because of this which allowed the potatoes to rot. The main addition to this was mangelwurzels which are an oversize swede-turnip grown for cattle food.

    Most of the ground around the huts was taken up by very small garden plots in which the owners spent a disproportionate amount of time but they still made a valuable contribution, firstly, in providing some interest and secondly, as a cover for the tunnels attempted. One of these was a garden about one and a half metres square, covered by a wooden board on which the plants were growing. The whole garden was lifted up, the operator slipped underneath and the garden replaced. Unfortunately, this was not a successful attempt. A number of such schemes were attempted but none reached more than halfway between the warning rail and the perimeter fence. If my memory is to be relied upon, this would equate to about seven metres of tunnel which, considering the difficulties faced, was quite a creditable effort. The worst feature of all this tunnelling was the fact that because the soil was impoverished sand it was vital to shore up the tunnel even over relatively short distances and the only suitable material was our bed boards. It was decided that a total of five boards would support a man's weight and from then on our beds were slightly less comfortable and this situation continued in each camp.

    It may be of interest that this was the camp from which a mass escape was made and on which the American film "The Great Escape" was loosely based. A few weeks before this escape was made we were transferred to Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug which was situated not a great distance from Königsberg which gave us all the hope that it might be possible to board one of the ferries to get to Sweden.

    After a short period of settling in we were paraded and an announcement made by the Camp Commandant that the escape from Sagen had been made and that in recapturing them, some of the prisoners had been shot. This, of course, caused a strong reaction for which the guards were prepared. They had been reinforced and our demonstration was quickly stifled by some manhandling.

    This camp, probably because of the more severe weather conditions, had brick buildings and even a shower block. Each building held about 50 prisoners in one room. A heating stove was provided but no fuel.

    Each morning we gathered at the main gate to see the new prisoners coming in. One day I saw in the group a friend whom I made at OTU (Operational Training Unit). The new prisoner was Vic Oliver, who was an instructor when I met him, resting after completing a tour of operations in which he earned a DFM. He was a talented pianist and a keen music lover and we stayed together until the war ended and he shared my unorthodox return to Britain, which is described later.

    While at Sagen I saw my first game of rugby and was later pushed into playing. I did not know the rules or objectives but received a short verbal instruction session. I do not remember the name of the position I was allotted but I do remember I was in the 'scrum', which I found very uncomfortable. Towards the end of the game all action stopped and we found that one of the players had broken his leg and was being carried off the field. This ended the game and my participation in rugby for the future. To be injured in this place was a disaster as even small wounds took a long time to heal.

    One story is that of a young Polish pilot who had joined the RAF in a Polish squadron after the German occupation. He was subjected to a considerable amount of enticement and threats to encourage him to join the Luftwaffe. His parents were reputed to live about twelve miles from the camp. He was promised almost unlimited visiting privileges but did not waver in his refusal which, considering the state of hostilities was a very courageous stance.

    One of the saddest stories is that of an 18 years old gunner. He had joined the regular RAF and on 3rd September, 1939 was sent on a raid on a city in France. He was shot down and spent a considerable time as a prisoner. The trauma proved too much for him and his mental control was affected. We tried to have him included in the prisoner exchange which was carried out in 1943. I am not sure whether he was included but I believe he was as I did not see him after that time.

    At each of the camps in which I was held someone had managed to create a radio on which we were able to receive the BBC news. In addition, we were told the German version of the progress of the war and we were, therefore, able to put together what we thought was a reasonable assessment.

    At Heydekrug we were permitted to transform one of the wooden buildings into a theatre. We all laboured hard to do this. By working on this project we were able to steal some of the wood off-cuts which we used in our "blowers" to heat water to make tea. The apparatus was really a small forge made from food tins and with a belt-driven fan they were very efficient and boiled a 'billy' with very little fuel.

    The theatre, however, was intended, in part, to deflect unwanted attention from the search for the radio. Because the local Gestapo had taken over camp searches, the possession of a radio could have had dire consequences so it was decided to burn down the theatre. This occurred late at night and although the German guards tried to extinguish the fire they could not and we were called upon to join the bucket chain. The search for the radio became less intense although regular searches of barracks and personnel continued.

    There was a game which was played, as in other camps, where inmates, after being counted, would move to another group to be counted a second time. One night the parade went for an extra two hours much to the chagrin of our guards. When the count exceeded the full complement of the camp we considered we were victorious. This game rebounded on us the next day when the local Gestapo took over the count. During this period the barracks were minutely searched and we spent about eight hours standing in snow waiting to be dismissed. In order to fill in the waiting time, I engaged in conversation with one of the guards to discover his version of the state of the war. This was a complete failure but produced some humour. He was upset about the poor performance of their Italian allies and suggested that if our side would accept them as allies the Germans could win the war.

    On a later search we were taken to a Gestapo colonel for interrogation and personal search and to show his authority he broke my last two cigarettes and threw them out on the pretext that I might have had a compass hidden in them. This wanton provocation made me lose my temper and I protested rather loudly for which I was hit from behind and commenced serving seven days solitary confinement in the camp "cooler".

    One morning one of the guards in a postern tower heard that his family had been killed in an air raid the previous night and he opened fire with his machine gun. A number of near misses occurred but I did not hear of any casualties.

    The impossible escape ideas still came up. While walking just before dusk I saw two of our number lying in a shallow creek which ran through one end of the compound. They had the intention of digging under the fence after dark, fortunately, they were persuaded to give up the attempt.

    One of the English prisoners had apparently spent a considerable amount of time in pre-war Germany and could speak the language well enough to pass as one of them. I do not recall his name but he seemed to be able to go out and in at will. On one occasion he agreed to escape and gather information to help an escape bid and then return. He later vanished from the camp and enquiries elicited the statement that he had been sent to a holiday camp - a statement that left us full of foreboding.

    After about twelve months at this camp we were transferred to another in Thorn in Poland. Transport was in the usual horse boxes which were always labelled '40 hommes-10 horses'. These railway vehicles were divided into three sections, the end ones for the horses and the middle for their attendants, in our case, for the guards. The wagons were built with rather heavy planks with a gap of about 75mms between them. The wagons were not sufficiently wide to allow us to lie down straight and so were rather uncomfortable.

    When entering Thorn railway yards I was dismayed to see groups of women under guard and re-ballasting the tracks. This involved using picks and shovels. By the way they swung the picks they must have been in great fear.

    On arrival at the camp we were ushered into a reception area which was filled with three-tier beds and wet straw mattresses. We were, however, only kept in that place for a few days and were then transferred to our new homes. We discovered that a large number of Australians (AIF members) were being held here and I even met one who was a friend of my future wife. My stay in that camp convinced me we were bringing a lot of trouble on ourselves by our actions.

    We had been told in England that if we became prisoners we were to attempt to escape if possible and to cause enough trouble to ensure that as many of the German forces as possible were required as guards and I believe we all followed this course fairly successfully.

    The practice of locating Prisoner of War camps next to service establishments was followed and at Sagen we must have been next to a Luftwaffe camp charged with testing new models of aircraft. One ME110 used to make an extremely low-level pass over our camp each morning until an idiot threw stones and eventually hit the aircraft. This could have resulted in a large number of casualties as most of us were out waving encouragement to the pilot. We were later privileged to see testing of other models, such as, the new two-engined super dive bomber.

    At another camp (probably Fallingbostel) we were next to a rocket testing site. These were not the big ones like the V1 and V2 rockets but rather limited to about 1.0 to 1.5 metres in length. There seemed to be a problem with steering as large numbers careered wildly on the way up and crashed back to earth - fortunately not in our camp.

    Events of great interest were the sight of Mosquito aircraft being pursued by German fighters and relying purely on their superior speed to escape. A similar occurrence was sighted when our first jets showed a clean pair of heels to the FW190's (Focke-Wulff 190's), which were probably the best of the German fighters.

    Some time later we were transferred again, this time to Fallingbostel. The camp was not very different to others and had brick buildings. The interesting item was the small road roller used to collapse tunnels. However, the distance was too great from buildings to the fence and to my knowledge only one succeeded in reaching this distance and was collapsed. Another radio operated in this camp and our spirits soared and sank as the fortunes of war changed.

    One aspect of prison life which was not too pleasant was the use of guard dogs to enforce orders. This was more prevalent after the daylight raids on Germany commenced. We were supposed to proceed to our barracks and not make any gestures which could be interpreted as signals to the aircraft. After shouted orders followed by threats with rifles, the dogs would be let loose which had an immediate effect with prisoners running madly for shelter.

    The trip to Fallingbostel turned out to be an interesting interlude. We were crowded into the usual horse wagons and at one station, which had a large marshalling yard, we stopped and the guards left the train. Naturally we tried to assess the chances of getting away but as some of our members tried to open the wire doors we discovered that each wagon was guarded by a young soldier equipped with a sub-machine gun. An ambulance train carrying many Red Crosses passed us heading in the opposite direction and the inmates appeared to be very fit to our eyes.

    Shortly after this we were attacked by three American Lockheed 'Lightning' aircraft. I was climbing the wall for a better view when firing started and dived for the floor. A number of nasty holes appeared in the walls but we decided we were probably not the prime target as on the second set of rails from us stood a train of fuel tankers some of which were burning.

    Later that day as the temperature started to drop we stopped to cross another train heading in the opposite direction to us. As this train neared we heard the most unearthly sound, which was spine tingling. The train consisted of steel wagons covered in pig netting and the noise was made by Frenchmen being transported as slave labourers to Germany and were crying for help to relieve their sufferings. We could do nothing for them but their cries gave me nightmares for some years after the war. I cannot imagine how many were in the wagons and how many could have survived the night.

    From the camp at Fallingbostel we were able to hear the sound of the canon at the time the crossing of the Rhine was being pursued. This continued day and night for some days and when we found out the attempt had been successful we were elated.

    About this time the Germans apparently decided we were of some value to them and arranged an evacuation. We were to travel by train to Lubeck but when we arrived in Hamburg a large air raid was in progress which did considerable damage to buildings and railways. As our train could not proceed we were required to finish the journey on foot. Our route is now a mystery to me but I do remember passing through Schleswig-Holstein and days later crossing the river Elbe by ferry which looked like a small landing barge. During this embarkation of about 100 prisoners, two British aircraft appeared. They came down low but did not fire, much to our relief. We then walked about 30 kms per day sleeping in barns on farms each night. We did, however, have a rest day on Sundays. Our biggest fear was that of being 'strafed' by British aircraft and indeed this happened to the group which left after ours. We did, however, become adept at diving into the ditches on each side of the road.

    Early in the march most of us suffered from an internal complaint which struck suddenly and left no time to seek a suitable location. The first two casualties occurred one morning and they dropped behind. Two guards stayed with them but I do not remember them ever rejoining the party.

    My own case was more amusing. We had stopped in a barnyard and dug a hole. There was no cover so the hole was in plain view from the road. While I was using this convenience two girls drove up in a wagon of potatoes and waved quite vigorously. They were not in a hurry and were quite happy to stay and talk to the group.

    Later in the march some of the guards left us, apparently deserting military service. The sergeant in-charge managed to obtain bread at each town except for one which gave him flour, which we could not cook and so we went hungry.

    One night, while being overcome with an attack of our illness, I shot out of the tent we were using, dived underneath the bayonet of the guard and went to the hole. He followed me and when he saw what was happening he left me alone. I did not return but decided to try to escape which, considering our condition and location, was a very stupid choice. When daylight returned I found myself in another farmyard which sported an extremely large clump of what looked like rhubarb. I decided to hide in them until I planned my next move.

    There was a fairly large building about 250-300 metres away with two farm wagons outside - these were drawn by the usual one horse and one cow. Soon a number of men started loading the wagons with objects brought from the building. From my position, and considering the manner in which the objects were thrown onto the wagons, I decided they were human bodies. I have not been able to confirm this conclusion but it gave me a great deal of concern at the time. I then decided to rejoin our party if I could find a way to do so without being shot. Fortunately I was successful, thanks to the cooperation of the members of our group.

    My memory says we continued to walk east for some time, probably two to three weeks, when a guard to whom I was talking made the comment "Tomorrow, we will be the prisoners and you the guards". Despite my probing he would say no more. By some means which I cannot describe, we found out that a flying column was approaching and that the army would not be too far behind.

    Early the next morning we took off through the 'bush' and made contact with a jeep containing a British Lieutenant and a corporal who advised us to return to camp and that they would come the next morning and bring some arms. They kept their promise and appeared with six rifles. This was sufficient as our guards were ready to surrender and no other military personnel were too close. All this occurred on 2nd May, 1945. We were not far from town and a group of five of us joined forces and walked. The name of the town eludes me.

    When we arrived in town we looked for accommodation and transport but we found only the former. A large building of apartments seemed to contain only women and when we explained our situation as being escaped prisoners of war, a number of the women appeared afraid of us, which was, of course, understandable. After some talk they seemed to accept our assurance that we meant them no harm. One of them, after discussion with her neighbours moved her things to the next apartment and lent us hers for the night. These women told us they were the widows of German soldiers killed in Stalingrad. I do not know if this was correct and some other explanations for a large number of women in a building circulated.

    However, they adapted to the situation and in the apartment we were actually cooked bacon and eggs. In return I gave the woman some tins of German rations that I had acquired. As we drifted into town we found that some British soldiers had set up a sort of canteen and served hot tea and white bread and butter. When I saw the white bread I thought it was sponge cake and ate half of it before I realised I could have put butter on it.

    Next morning we again looked for transport and despite several attempts could not find a vehicle good enough. Then I discovered an American major who seemed to be organising traffic movements and, at my request, told me to take a German motor truck parked on the road. It was, to my eyes, a massive vehicle needing five steps to the cab and room to sit five across. The largest vehicle I had ever driven was a three-ton Bedford. When I started driving out of town I discovered a lot of other ex-prisoners looking for a way out and before long the truck was full. I did not count the number of passengers but it seemed to be a full load. At this time we discovered we had been given a ration truck which was full of edibles. Our passengers were good providers and were divided into groups to look for liquor and fuel and they were quite successful.

    The road was crowded with traffic but we were impeded only at a few spots. At one of these an ambulance pulled alongside us and in starting collided with us and tore out the side of the ambulance. When the American officer, who was trying to keep traffic flowing, investigated the damage, he found that the only occupants were two high-ranking Germans trying to get away.

    We eventually arrived back at the Elbe River and had to say goodbye to our truck because the original bridges had been destroyed and were temporarily replaced by Bailey Bridges, which would not carry the load. We caught a ride on a jeep and it is still a mystery how the driver could have seen his way. We had men on the bonnet and others everywhere they could find a hand-hold.

    Across the river we found a reception area where we stayed the night and embarked on a British truck for the next stage westward. At the end of the journey we saw our accommodation - there were hundreds of little tents in a paddock. Our group now consisted of only Vic Oliver and myself and we decided that as we required medical attention for some obscure stomach affliction, we would take off on our own. This we did and rode on all sorts of military vehicles including tank carriers and ate at any army establishment we could find.

    The British soldiers were very hospitable and we were provided with food and beds. Although our clothes were disreputable we had no trouble in getting the army drivers to pick us up.

    We eventually arrived in Brussels in the late afternoon and were too late to get clothing or money which I desperately needed to go into town. We then noticed a Douglas DC3 aircraft with its engines running and ready for take-off. We both ran as fast as possible and were lucky enough to reach it in time. We thus became the first of our group to reach England.

    We arrived at Bishop Stortford (now renamed) and travelled to a RAF hanger where a reception was laid on and we were ushered from the bus to a de-lousing centre where we were pumped full of DDT. From this area we were met by a WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), dressed in her best, and ushered to a table. I found this a little daunting as I must have smelt of DDT and had on a pair of trousers which had a large tear in the bottom. This was, of course, the first female I had met for three years.

    We were later taken to our accommodation for the night and travelled to Brighton the next day arriving in time to be issued with some clothing but too late for money. This was, of course, VE Day and big celebrations were expected.

    As I left to go into town I met a New Zealand soldier who lent me £5, which we proceeded to spend. By this time we had been joined by some WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service) and one or two other servicemen. We danced in the streets and drank large quantities of beer and were all very happy. The next day when entering my hotel I was confronted by my cousin whom I had not seen for some years.

    We were placed on a diet guaranteed to add body weight which included a gallon (4.5 litres) of milk per day. After being on this diet for ten days I was weighed for the issue of an identity card and was amazed to find I was then 35 kilos - my normal weight was 60+kilos.

    Towards the end of August 1945 we embarked on the ship 'Orion' for our return home. This ship had been completely converted to a troop ship and, therefore, provided no storage for gear and had hammocks to sleep on. This was my first experience with hammocks and I was not impressed. We travelled by way of the Panama Canal. When in mid-Pacific, the Captain announced that he had heard that the Japanese had surrendered but as he had no official orders the ship would carry on under wartime rules, which included anti-aircraft practice with rockets.

    We landed in Sydney and an English officer who had been designated 'Officer Commanding Troops' issued an order that we would not be granted leave and must remain on the ship. It was later discovered that there was to be a reception at the local RAAF station, which we attended. The next day he tried to enforce his order but was unsuccessful and I met my brother for the first time in five years.

    The voyage to Fremantle was quite rough but was worth the worry when we arrived to see waiting on the wharf, the welcoming party consisting of my father, mother and my future wife, Phyllis, who was still waiting for me after my absence of five years. We married in 1946, had a daughter and a son, and 56 happy years together.

    My crew were:

    • F/S S.Willett DFM. pilot
    • F/S S.E.Packard
    • P/O N.Hannah
    • F/S H.S.McDonald
    • Flying Officer L.T. Manser, VC.
    • Sgt D.A.Williams RAAF
    • Sgt C.J.Scott (d. 30 April 1942)
    • Sgt C. Alf Miners. RAAF

    Alf Miners



    L/Cpl. William Downie 6th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.19th Apr 1945)

    I am looking for information on my Grandfather, Lance Corpral William Downie of the Cameronians Scottish ifles, R.O. No 16, Camp no 357, POW no 25505, He was captured in May 1940 and died May 19th 1943, he was in Stalag XXA (fort 13 infirmary).

    B. Martin



    L/Cpl. William Downie 6th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.19th May 1943)

    I am looking for information on my Grandfather, Lance Corpral William Downie of the Cameronians Scottish ifles, R.O. No 16, Camp no 357, POW no 25505, He was captured in May 1940 and died May 19th 1943, he was in Stalag XXA (fort 13 infirmary).

    UPDATE:

    I would like to contact anyone who knew my uncle LCpl William (Bill) Downie, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who was captured in Trondheim, Norway in 1940 and transferred to Stalag XXA. He was a POW there until 1945 where he joined the exodus to the west and was killed by an Allied aircraft attack on his column along with approximately 33 other POWs. This incident occured near Hannover on 19 April 1945. If anyone knows any more information on this incident, I would appreciate that you would contact me. My uncle in buried at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Charlotteburg, Berlin.




    George Henry Beynon 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment

    My father, George Henry Beynon of Aberavon, South Wales, was in the 1st Parachute Regiment. (1st Battalion I believe) He fought at Arnhem in September 1944. He was captured and sent to Stammlager 357 - Hut E4. I would appreciate any information your readers can supply.

    Alan Beynon



    Sgt Lawrence Joseph "Larry" Casey 115 Sqn

    My father, Larry Casey was shot down on 16 March 1944. He was one of 2 survivors from the Lancaster. He spent many months at camp 357 at Fallingbostel. The story of his brave crew is told on this web site lancasterll693

    His crew were:

    • Pilot Officer Jim Rodger
    • Flt Sgt Tony Jory
    • Sgt Lawrence Casey
    • Sgt Jack Capstick
    • Sgt CharlesBaker
    • Sgt Reg Favager
    • Sgt Ron Werrett

    Mike casey



    Corporal Lionel George Degenhard 1st Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment

    My father, Lionel George Degenhard, was Corporal with the 1st Btn. Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment. He never wanted to talk about the war but has left a great memento in the form of a handwritten collection of experiences bound between the covers of two pieces of Red Cross cardboard.

    Lionel George Degenhard, Corporal, 1st Btn. Bedfordshire & Hertforshire Regiment

    Captured 28 April 1941 in Greece, liberated 2 May 1945.

    He was stationed in the following four POW camps:

  • Stalag 357, N.C.O. Lager, Thorn Sud, Poland
  • Stalag XV111 A, Wolfsberg, Austria
  • Stalag XV111 A Zweilager, N.C.O. Lager, Spittal - Drau, Austria
  • Stalag 357, N.C.O. Lager, Fallingbostel, Hannover, Germany

    The following is an extract from his personal handwritten exerpts titled 'Camps I have worked at in Austria':

  • Klagenfurt - Canal Work - July to Sept 1941
  • Dachstein Obertraune H.V. 75 - Barrack Building - Sept to Nov 1941
  • Kleine Glodnitz A/13001/L - Road Making - Nov 1941 to Mar 1942
  • Huttengerg A/11205/L - Sawmill - Mar 1942 to August 1943
  • St Veit 11093/GW - Building - Aug to Sept 1943
  • Reichendorf A/550/L - Farm work - Oct 1943 to Jan 1944

    I would swear it is him in the first photo, 2nd from left on back row, on The Wartime Memories Project - STALAG XXA POW Camp (357, Stalag Kopernikus) Page 2.

    I am trying to locate all the camp sites in order that I can visit as many as I can this year. If anyone could help I would be so grateful. Thanks a million.




  • Frank George Webster Adams 420 Squadron

    I am trying to learn about the incarceration of RCAF Sergeant Frank George Webster Adams, who was the only survivor of the crash of Hampden P5330 in Denmark on April 25, 1942 after his bomber was attacked by a German night fighter near the Dutch island of Ameland. He flew with RCAF Squadron 420, and it is believed that the POW camps he was interned in were Stalag 9C, Stalag Luft 6 and Stalag 357.

    I would be most appreciative to learn of the whereabouts of Sgt Adams today.

    Bob Ingraham



    WO/1 Arthur James "Buzz" Benson DFM 10 OTU Coastal Command

    My Father, Arthur Benson is now 88 years old, and living in Australia. He was part of the Empire Air Training Scheme and was sent to Dauphin, Canada, completing his training at St. Eval in England, as a pilot.

    On 14 June 1943, he was attached to 19 Group of Coastal Command and equipped wtih a twin-engined Whitley aircraft (10 OTU), was sent to help Coastal Command hunting submarines out over the Bay of Biscay. The crew consisted of Fellow Australian Sergeant R.L. 'Bob" Rennick (second pilot), Pilot Officer Tom J.L. Lee (navigator) RAF, F/O Alan Kingsley (Rear Gunner) RCAF, Sergeant George T Graves (Wireless Operator) RAF. They had seven trips in all and on what was to be their last trip with Coastal Command, spotted two German submarines. After shadowing the U-boats for two hours the crew was given the instructions to attack. As they commenced their descent, they were fired upon and the Whitley was hit in the port fuel tank. But by now they were well committed, so they continued with their attack, and sank one submarine, U 564. This submarine had already sank 33 Allied ships. With the loss of the hydraulics and fuel, and with the damaged engine about to stop, it was obvious that they were going to struggle to return to base. My Father successfully ditched the Whitley and the crew managed to evacuate into the dinghy, even though the dinghy had been damaged when the Whitley was fired upon. They had lost the dinghy pack, containing food and water, but still had 12 one-pint tins of water. The crew had carried a homing-pigeon on these trips and had managed to bring the cage into the dinghy. They attached a message to the bird's leg and attempted to launch it in the direction of base. After several attempts to get the bird to leave the dinghy it finally disappeared in the right direction. Unfortunately the pigeon did not make it back to base. Dad and his crew spent the next two days and three nights drifting on the Bay of Biscay. On the evening of the third day they were rescued by the crew of a French fishing boat. Unfortunately, the crew could not help them get back to England by boat or put them in contact with the Resistence as they were expected by the Germans to be back in their port by a certain time or there would be serious consequences for themselves and their families. The fishing boat returned to Morgat, a small fishing village south of Brest, and Dad and his crew were captured by the Germans. They were sent to Paris by train and then sent to Frankfurt for interrogation. After eight days in solitary confinement, the crew were separated and Dad, George and Tom were sent to Stalag Luft 6 at Hyderkrug in East Prussia. Tom and Alan were sent to Stalag Luft III. Dad has many stories of this time as a POW. He talks of the efficient Escape Committee and the several attempts that were made whilst he was in Stalag Luft 6. He also talks of the boredom, the theatre, the sport played to keep fit. He tells his grandchildren that he "played rugby for Australia" as there were many matches between the English and Australian and other Empire countries during this time.

    On June 6 1944 Dad and his fellow POWs were moved to a camp near Thorne in Poland and then after about three months they were move Stalag 357, Fallingbostel in the north of Germany.

    This is one part of Dad's story in Stalag 357, in his own words - "The need for firewood became so urgent on one occasion when were not able to go out into the forest, that Trevor Scales (fellow Australian who eventually escaped with Dad) decided that we would knock off some posts from the inner surround holding up the strands of barbed wire. Ten wires were attached to each post and had to be knocked off by detaching the staples that held them on. For the purpose I had managed to find a length of steel rood about half a metre in length. At this time the snow had thawed somewhat and we were able to walk around the inner surround for exercise. As we walked around we would have to keep an eye on the guards in the towers and those patrolling the outer fence. First we would test a post by pushing it. If it was loose in the ground we would then hit the wires and break the staples away. A night just before lights out, when it was dark we would go out and wait our chance when the searchlights were off, leave our hiding place behind the huts, make a swift dash to a loose post and whip it out of the ground, and dart back behind the huts again. Then it was a matter of dodging the guards and making it back to our hut without being seen. It worked well for us for a long time, and eventually the absence of posts in the fence must have became obvious to the guards. All the time we were working closer to the guard boxes in the corners of the lager. On our last venture we had to hide behind a hut near the guard box, and as the searchlight went off made a dash for a post. It was tighter in the ground than we thought it would be and took a lot of pulling out. However, we succeeded and with the post on our shoulders made a dash to safety of the hut. I was in front and Scales was sliding about a bit in the frost and ice. Just as rounded the corner of the hut, the searchlight came on and we were caught in the beam. I did a smart turn to the left and Trevor skated out in a large circle, but still hung on to the post. We did some quick dodging about amongst the huts before we made it back to our own hut. We hurled the post through an open window and dived in after it. All was not lost but we gave away knocking off the posts after that."

    On 12 April 1945 the Air Force prinsoners in Stalag Luft 357 were told to be ready to march out of camp in two hours time - destination unknown - but it was obvious that the Allies were advancing. The first two nights they camped in the forest 'scrounging' food from the locals. During the march towards Elbe River a spitfire had flown low overhead whilst attacking a target nearby. My father, Trevor Scales and a young American lad by the name of Lloyd (Dad cannot remember his last name) decided it was dangerous to be on the march as to be escaping and were in danger of being 'strafed' by the Allies. Each morning a ration truck would arrive and the guards would be distracted, so Dad, Trevor and Lloyd used this opportunity to make their escape by running into the thick forest. They had noticed the previous day they had passed a camp of foreign 'slave workers' and went there to ask for help. They were reluctant to help but finally a group of Russian gave Trevor, Dad and Lloyd coats and hats to disguise themselves as well as some food. Trevor spoke some German and was able to ascertain that by following the railway track that they would arrive at Saltau 50 Kms away. They were stopped five times by German soldiers over the next couple of days but Trevor managed to convince these soldiers that they were civilian "arbiters" being sent to Saltau to work. Finally Dad and Trevor's luck ran out and they were captured once again, very close to the town of Saltau, by a German soldier that did not believe they were Russian. They were taken to the town of Saltau and put into the basement of a military barracks. An attack on the town started soon afterwards. The following morning the British tanks arrived. In my father's Words "Suddenly it was all over. German soldiers came into the barracks and threw their firearms into a room. They were ready to surrender. It was strange really, for they were no longer enemies, and we got into conversation with them. They wanted to know what it was like being a POW, and what they should take with them into a prison camp. They were just as apprehensive as we had been when re-captured a few hours before. Just frightened young men." After receiving food from the British, Dad, Trevor and Lloyd were told to get a car and follow the White Star Line, which was a road cleared of debris and clearly marked by large white painted stars to an "aerodrome" from there they would fly to Brussels and then onto England. Dad had been a POW for one year and 10 months. My father's story has been written up in several books including - "War Gave Us Wings" - Col King "Search, Find and Kill" - Norman Franks Dad was awarded the DFM whilst he was a POW and later promoted to Warrant Officer. Footnote: ELMS is having its yearly reunion in York, England in April and my father will be traveling from Australia to be part of this event.

    Sharon Benson



    Cpl. Robert James " " Cully

    My Dad, Robert Cully signed up while he was still underage, 17, in Northern Ireland. This must have been in mid to late 1940 and his father was the recruiting Sergeant! They realised that probably the only way out of Ireland at that time was to join up, my Grandad told my Dad that if things got too much for him then he could show his birth certificate and come out. But he never did that.

    Where he trained we don't know, but he took part in the D-Day landings, landing near Caen, where he was shot in the leg after just a few hours action. The French Resistance tried to help, but the wound was too bad for their poor facilities, and they reluctantly explained to my Dad that the best thing for him would be for them to turn him over to the Germans, which they did. Apparently he ended up in Oerbke, Stalad 357. His POW Number was 84045.

    My Dad always had nothing but praise for the surgeon who patched him up, he never suffered with his leg during the rest of his life, after the war he had 32 years in the Metropolitan Police. He died in 1988, aged 64. If anybody knows anything of his time from joining up until the D-Day landings, I and my brother and Sister would be very grateful to hear from you.

    Bob Cully



    Flt Sgt. James Leslie Rixon Grey 158 Squadron

    The little I know of him is as follows. First from a family contact, the second info from www.ww2roll.gov.au

    James Leslie Rixon Grey. Enlisted WWII RAAF. Rel: Baptist. Service No: 421086. Warrant Officer. Promoted to Flight Sergeant 20th February 1943. Missing, believed killed 15th July 1943 in operational flight behind enemy lines. Captured 28th July, taken POW at Stalag 357.

    from http://www.ww2roll.gov.au

    • GREY, JAMES LESLIE RIXON
    • Service Royal Australian Air Force
    • Service Number 420186
    • Date of Birth 27 Jun 1921
    • Place of Birth CROYDON PARK, NSW
    • Date of Enlistment 11 Oct 1941
    • Locality on Enlistment HAMILTON
    • Place of Enlistment SYDNEY, NSW
    • Next of Kin GREY, WILLIAM
    • Date of Discharge 29 Oct 1945
    • Rank Warrant Officer
    • Posting at Discharge 2 MEDICAL REHABILITATION UNIT
    • WW2 Honours and Gallantry None for display
    • Prisoner of War Yes

    Joye Rixon Walsh



    F/Sgt Norman Shergold

    F/Sgt Norman Shergold was at Stalag 357 on 12 March 1945 as he wrote a camp postcard to his mother at 9 College Road, Perry Barr, Birmingham, England. His camp number was 1742 and he was in Barrack C6/7.

    Gavin Fryer



    Cpl. David L. Bateman 52nd Btn. Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

    My granddad, David Bateman was in glider 4 out of the 6 gliders that landed at Pegasus bridge on d-day. His glider landed 8 miles away from the bridge and was later captured I believe on the 7/6/44. He served under Major Howard and there is a memorial at Pegasus bridge Ranville-Benouville Normandy for the men who served in the 6th airborne division, 52nd battalion Oxford and Buckingham Light Infantry. I do not know much about his time at Stalag 357 as I never had the chance to meet my granddad as he died before I was born. If by chance anybody has any more info on David Bateman please let me know.

    I do know he did a lot of his training in Ilfracombe, Devon and I believe this is where he met his wife, Kathleen Pugsley. On a picture of a glider is a list of ladies names including Kath.

    Jane Bateman



    Corporal Lionel George Degenhard 1st Bn. Beds & Herts Regiment

    My Dad, Lionel Degenhard was shot in the leg and captured at the battle of Kalamata, Greece on 28 April 1941 and was liberated from Stalag 357 NCO Lager, Fallingbostel on 2 May 1945.

    He had been transfered there when Stalag 357 was moved from Thorn (Torun) Poland. Prior to that he had been imprissoned at Stalags 18A (Wofsburg) and 18B Zweig Lager (Spittal - Drau)Austria.

    In a handwritten log he recalls the following camps where he was forced to work:

    • Klagenfurt - Canal Work - July to Sept 1941
    • Dachstein Obertraune H.V. 75 - Barracks Building - Sept to Nov 1941
    • Kleine Glodnitz A/13001/L - Road Making - Nov 1941 to Mar 1942
    • Huttengerg A/11205/L - Sawmill - Mar 1942 to August 1943
    • St Veit 11093/GW - Building - Aug to Sept 1943
    • Reichendorf A/550/L - Farm work - Oct 1943 to Jan 1944

    The log is a precious keepsake in an old school exercise book sewn between cardboard covers made of Red Cross packages. He lists friends, recalls poetry and songs, friends have written personal notes, he has drawn pictures and has included a comparison between what Canadian Red Cross sent their soldiers and what the European Red Cross sent the Brits. He implied the Canadians got more interesting contents. The references he recorded about their pantomimes and games really bring the experiences to life and the three real Gutschein uber Reichsmark and Reichspfennig POW money notes stuck to one of the pages remind me how real his experiences were. I have several photos which I will try to add later.

    Dad died at the St David's Roman Catholic home for military personnel in Ealing on St Valentine's Day a month before his 90th birthday, 2006.

    Kevin Degenhard



    Sgt. John Anthony " " Oldfield 76 Squadron (d. )

    On the evening of June 1,1942 a Halifax II, serial number W1064 Code MP—J from 76 Squadron took off from RAF Middleton St. George at 2306 on a bombing Ops to Essan. On its homebound journey the Halifax II's starboard engine began to seize. The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter and severely damaged, the tail section was described later as “virtually exploding”.

    The pilot of the night fighter was Lt. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer. Schnaufer would become the most decorated night fighter from W.W. II with 121 acknowledged victories. And this Halifax, according to the log, was the first bomber he shot down. The attack was certainly successful from his perspective and the Halifax bomber crashed at 0145 in the area of Bossutand Grez-Doiceau (Brabant) 15 km south of Leuven Belgium.

    Two members of the six man crew were reported killed in action: Sergeant (Pilot) Thomas Robert Augustus West and Sergeant (Air Gnr.) John Robert Thompson. Four survived and landed by parachute. Two members of the crew, Sergeant W. J. Norfolk and Sergeant P. Wright, managed to evade capture and were eventually returned to the UK.

    The other two members of the crew, PO Walter B Mulligan RNZA and W/O John Oldfield, were taken Prisoner of War. Mulligan, POW No 292 was transported to Stalag Luft 3 . Oldfield, POW No 518, like Mulligan, was first taken to the interrogation centre, Dulag Luft, then on to Stalag Luft 3. Oldfield was later moved to Stalag 357 from which he joined The March in 1945. Mulligan, due to his poor health, was repatriated to England in 1944 from Luft 3 as part of a prisoner exchange.

    The following is an account taken from my father's diary and refers to how Christmas Day was spent in Camp 357 in 1944.

    Christmas Day 1944:

    After a month of skimping and scraping and almost literally starving, Christmas Day arrived. A fortunate last-minute issue of coal from the detaining powers enabled us to cook our meals for the day and a very pleasant day we had. The following is an account of our (that is Steve, Oggie, Peter and my day day.

    Eight-thirty in the morning double-strength German coffee arrived from the cookhouse and Steve, noble fellow, arose and we had a good brew and two slices of bread and jam in bed. A cigarette and then a wash and shave prior to our early morning parade. It was bitterly cold out there on parade but a wintry sun was half smiling on us. The thought of a fire in the barrack to go back to cheered us somewhat and on dismissal we dashed back to prepare our Christmas Breakfast.

    Oggie and Steve were soon at work on the stove and by ten fifteen we sat down to porridge, tea and an oat cake; a good grounding for our day’s feed.

    Pots and tins to be washed, Peter and I soon had these done, and away we went on a few brisk circuits of the campground. Hands and feet were soon warm and our bodies glowed with the exercise.

    After an hour walking it was “skilly” time and we returned to the room to eat our German soup which for once was really good. The soup was followed by a treacle tart made by Steve, our cook, and was enjoyable. The Christmas Spirit began to enter our souls. Again we perambulated, this time to call on friends. Everyone was happy and in every room a good fire was blazing and the aroma of cooking was in the air. On a quarter parcel issue the show our boys have made has been truly magnificent.

    Once more we retired to our room, this time to partake of a mid-afternoon brew, a rare luxury, for this time it was accompanied by an oat cake. The pots washed, we commenced preparations for our Christmas Dinner.

    Oggie now became Maitre du Table. Tins were opened and our Christmas Pud (made from crusts of black bread) was put on the stove to warm. All is scurry and bustle and within an hour our meal was ready to be served. After months of “belting”, what a meal: four ounces of bacon, two and half of Spam, a little scrambled egg, potatoes and swedes . . . all delicious and filling.

    Then came the pud, a goodly portion each, rather burnt but do we care? No sir! Oggie has made us a little custard and with our spoons, away we go. Now we are really full, satisfied and contented and warm. If only we were home every meal would be like this one. We relax and smoke a cigarette. We are all drowsy and an hour soon passes. Soon we are again washing cups and plates and my duties commence. I am to prepare the table for our little gathering at seven thirty.

    I took real care in the layout but at last it was done. A white table cloth, a Christmas Tree and a cake with a frill (made from toilet paper) around it. There was a menu card for each man and the effect was great.

    At seven thirty we cut our cake (this of Steve’s making) and really delightful it was. We couldn’t eat it all at so something was saved for later. Then another cigarette and a natter about old times finishing at nine when, in coffee, we toasted Absent Friends. A walk around the compound and then to bed after a quiet but warm and un-hungry Christmas Day.

    Michael Oldfield



    Tpr. James John Floyd Company B First Hussars

    My father James Floyd was captured at a battle in Le Mensil Pantry after the Normandy invasion I believe on 11th June 1944. He was a tank driver with the First Hussars Company B. He spent a year in stalag 357 until liberation. He gave some statement at the trial of Kurt Meyer therefore I believe he must have been captured by the 12th SS. I would like any information anyone has. He never talked a lot about the war and i know most of his company was captured or killed.

    Paul Floyd



    Flying Officer William Henry Edwards DFC. 107 Squadron

    My Grandfather, William Henry Edwards DFC, was posted to 107 Squadron, after war was declared, when on a Bristol Blenheim Ferry flight from Palestine to England. After numerous missions flying from RAF Wattisham and RAF Lossiemouth, he was awarded the DFC for gallantry displayed during a bombing mission over Stavanger in Norway. He was awarded this at an Investiture at Buckingham Palace in April 1940 by the King, along-side his C.O Wing Commander Basil Embry DFC and another pilot Peter Townsend. 8 Days later he was shot down bombing the Maastricht bridges over Belgium, and spent the rest of the war in German Prison camps including Camp 357. His Navigator, Sgt V G L Luter, also was captured, and spent time at camp 357. Their story can be found on the 211 Squadron website. I would sincerely love to hear any stories that may exist about my Grandfather`s time in the camps.

    Ross Edwards



    Cpl. George Edward Cantelo Reconnaissance Royal Armoured Corps

    I have no recall of knowing or seeing my father, Corporal George Edward Cantelo, until the age of five when he returned home to Fulham, London, with two New Zealand compatriots.

    He rarely if ever confided in me or with his subsequent offspring concerning his activities during the war. But it was no secret that he had been captured early in the war in action in North Africa. He spent some considerable time in Italian prisoner of war camps, where they were treated well but with starvation diets. My impression is that when it came time for the Italians to capitulate, the Germans shifted his location to German camps, and indeed the British Army prisoners of war list for 1939-1945 shows him as having been domiciled in Stalag 357, Oerbke, Lower Saxony, Germany. Sadly he is now deceased.

    Is it possible that anyone else reading this brief account might have known him or shared in his experiences at that particular Stalag?

    Derek Cantelo



    Cpl. Leslie George Scoins Army Air Corps (d. )

    Like my father who served in Norway in WW2, my uncle George Scoins didn't say much about the war. I only know from records that my uncle George from Exmoor was in Stalag 357 Oerbke, Lower Saxony, Germany in 1942. It has been fasinating reading the clips and I would very much like to find out about my uncle's time in the prison camp and if anyone knew him.

    Mike Lloyd



    Sgt. Roger "Pluto" Peacock 40 Sqd. (d. )

    Roger Peacock was born in Liverpool on January 1, 1920. He joined the RAF in 1937 and was trained to be a wireless operator and a gunner on a Blenheim Bomber. His plane was shot down on July 26th, 1940 during an air raid near Wilhelmshaven in north-west Germany. He was taken prisoner and spent five years in German POW camps:Oberursel-Barth-Sagan-Heydekrug-Fallingbostel. He took part in the "Long March" before returning to Britain after liberation.

    After two years in hospital he became a teacher. After his retirement he adopted the pen name "Richard Passmore" and wrote three autobiographical works published by Thomas Harmsworth Publishing London: "Blenheim Boy"(1981), "Moving Tent" about his time as a POW(1982)and "Thursday is Missing" about his childhood and youth in Liverpool(1984). He died in 1996.

    After being discharged from hospital in 1947 he returned to Germany on a bicycle tour. During his stay at the youth hostel here in Osnabrueck he met a young man living in the neighbourhood, who invited him to get to know his family. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

    Gerhard Meyer-Ohle



    W/O John Glover Moriarty 10 OTU (d. )

    My Father was shot down in a Whitley V on 26 June 1942 in the Third Thousand Bomber raid over Bremen by Obit Helment Lent from unit 4/NJG2 in a Messerscmit BF 110 R4+AC. The crew included Pilot Sgt Norman R Parons, Sgt George Ewen (Killed in Action), F/O Reginaif van Toen and F/Sgt G.McB. Harris. As far as I am aware he was taken prisoner and sent first to Stalag Luft 3, then 6 and finally to 357 at Fallinbostal, liberated in April 1945. I would be interested to hear from any one who knew my father during his POW years. My mother recalls stories of him helping with escape operations but is unclear as to whether these included working on the Great Escape or the Wooden Horse.

    Simon Moriarty



    Cpl. Sterling Robert Bell C Company,13 Platoon North Nova Scotia Highlanders

    Joined Caleton and York June 19 1940. Joined North Nova Scotia Highlanders after basic trianing july 1940.He was Section Leader in 13 Platoon C-Company on D-Day. He was captured in Authie, France June 7 1944. He was sent to POW Stalag 357 POW# 84829. He was mentioned a number of times in "no retreating footsteps" unit history and the "two jacks" the story about the Battle for Authie and what happened after on the way to the POW camp.

    Allison Sterling Bell



    Pte. Reginald Percy William Tomlins Leicestershire Regiment

    My father was POW in Stalag 357, He was originally in the Leicestershire Regiment, then transferred to the Cameron Highlanders. He told us that He was at the docks waiting to embark when an arm came down between him and another soldier and told he was now in the Camerons. His POW number was 29018. He came home very ill. He died in 2005 at the great age of 90,

    Shani Tomlins



    Private William James "Basher Billy" Bowen South Wales Borderers

    Basher Billy Bowen as was known because of his boxing abilities. All throughout the war he was a great boxer and he got himself into many a scrap using his fists.

    He was captured at Dunkirk during the early days and taken to Stalag 357. He had a high regard for his German captors. He said they suffered with lack of food and facilities just as much as the prisoners towards the end, but the guards did share what little they had with them.

    He was a great story teller and one story was that during his days as a Corporal he was asked to teach Diana Dors to swim, not sure if this was true or not.

    He spent all his life as an Army man. He ended his days in Chelsea hospital where he died of cancer brought on by smoking and drinking too much. He is now buried at Brookwood. Which is a fitting end for such a tough man who devoted his life to the army.

    Gaynor Steer



    Cpl. Aldwyn Mitchell 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regt.

    Aldwyn Mitchell was my Wife's Father. To the best of our knowledge Aldwyn was taken prisoner in France during the rea guard action at Dunkirk.

    Aldwyn never mentioned his time as a POW, He would not have anything detrimental said about the Germans, he spoke excellent German and French. Talents he made very good use of when he visited our family in West Germany 1954, when I was then stationed in 4th Guards Brigade.

    Alwyn Mitchell sadly passed way December 1965 at the age of 56yrs. according to the death certificate: Inhalation of vomit from haemorrhage from gastric erosiona.

    POW number 12652. Camp number 357. We consider it possible he was in XXB, taking part in the march there in 1940, also the return march 1945, as he was released outside Follingbostel 'Oerrbke'? We hope some one may pick this information up. Yours sincerely

    Roy N.Derbyshire



    Francis James Rusher Royal Warwickshire Regiment

    I am trying to trace anyone who knew my grandad, Francis Rusher or knows what happened to him after the war.

    After years of searching for a dead person, as that is what my nan had always told my dad, I have recently found out that he was a prisoner of war at Stalag 357 A/5 in Oerbke, Lower Saxony. He was liberated, so we now know he did not actually die during the war.

    We would like any information regarding him as we do not know his age, where he came from etc. His prisoner of war number was 84063. I would be grateful of any information, no matter how small or large.

    Sharron Beale



    Sgt. Sydney James Hitchings 49 Squadron

    My father Sgt Sidney Hitchings was POW number 276 in Stalag Luft 1

    WR Chorley’s RAF Bomber Command Losses of Second World War (vol 1939 – 40) states: Night of 4/5 Set 1940 49 Squadron Hampden mk 1 P 1347 EA-D Op: Stettin

    • Pilot F/O LM Hodges POW escape report WO 208/3304 S/PG 345
    • Observer Sgt SJ Hitchings POW 276
    • WOp/AG Sgt JH Wyatt POW escape report WO 208/3303 S/PG 280
    • Wop/AG Sgt LC Turnbull POW 285

    t/o Scampton. Strayed off course after being fired on by light flak from an airfield in Brittany, the Hampden was force landed in a field near St Brieuc. (Hodges and Wyatt escaped and arrived home via Gibraltar on 31 July 1941. Hodges rose in rank to become Air Chief Marshall Sir Lewis Hodges and was president of the RAF Escaping Society).

    My father was one of the early pows in Stalag Luft 1 and the accompanying photos are from there. He was moved to several other camps including Stalag Lufts 3 and 4 and eventually after the forced marches of winter 1944 arrived at Camp 357 from which he was repatriated.

    A group photo in front of what appears to be stage set. The reverse shows that it was posted from Stalag Luft 1 and I think the postmark is 1942-7-18. S.J.Hitchings is second from left front row

    A propaganda “Christmas Spread” photo but my father told me all of the items were made of paper! SJH 3rd from right. 4th from left (with beard) is Sgt JC Shaw

    Sgt JC Shaw (middle) and SJH back right. Others unknown. Sgt Shaw was shot while attempting to escape on the night of 2/3 Jan 42 (see Footprints in the Sands of Time, Clutton-Brock. p46.)

    Sgt LC Turnbull

    Sgt LC Turnbull (front) and SJH

    6. S.J.Hitchings back left, others unknown.

    In 2015 I visited Pordic and met members of the Association Bretagne de Sovenir Arien (www.absa3945.com) who took me to the site of the crash. One of the old men was a boy of seven at the time and he saw the two parachutes of my father and Sgt Turnbull, both of whom were subsequently captured.

    Photos of Hampden P1347 in which my father, Sgt SJ Hitchings, was observer on the raid to Stettin on the night of 4th Sept 1949, after it crash landed in a field near Pordic, Brittany, were sent to me by Rick of Historical-media.com to whom I am grateful.

    Robert Hitchings



    Cpl. F. White The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)

    Cpl F. White, service number 6285200, prisoner number 250934 is shown as being in Stalag 357 at some time during the war. Does anybody know anything more about this soldier? I believe he may be one of my father's younger brothers and I am trying to find out what happened to them after their mother died in 1925, their father having died in 1915 in Gallipoli. I will try the Army Service Records for more information if I can be sure I'm looking at the right person.

    The two younger brothers were Francis Philip White and Frederick Charles White, and their father was Philip Henry White who served in the Royal West Kent Regiment in WW1

    Philip Jean White



    Sgt. Ronald James McEvoy 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards

    In 1931 my father Ronald James McEvoy enrolled with the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. In March 1936 his battalion was stationed at Mustapha Barracks, Alexandria, Egypt. As war was declared on Germany on the 31st August 1939, Ron had just finished his military service and had joined the Southampton Police Force, he put his uniform back on and headed for Wellington Barracks.

    Ron’s battalion then became part of the British Expeditionary Force on the French, Belgium frontier. He was one of the lucky ones and evacuated from Dunkirk. During his time in England he had prisoner escort duties and guard duties at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace; he was also escort for the keys to the Tower of London. On the 9th May 1942 he married Eileen Hendry at St Boniface Catholic Church, Tooting.

    Between the 9th and 18th of September 1943 Ron's battalion became part of the 8th Army and landed at Salerno Italy. Ron was captured by the German's in November 1943 and after two weeks in a cattle wagon he became incarcerated at Stalag 357 Thorn, Poland.

    On the advance of the Russians the prison population was marched to Stalag XI-B in Fallingbostel, Germany. After liberation from there my father teamed up with a few friends and roamed through the German countryside living off the land. After about a week they met up with some allied troops and were flown back home. I have come across three aces "dated 18th April 1945" from a pack of cards, the ace of clubs is signed by someone called J W T Hurlley? of Green-Royd, Boston Road, Holbeach, Spalding, Lincolnshire. The ace of hearts is signed by a gentleman called Maxwell of 16 Green Walk, Greater, Manchester. The ace of spades belongs to Fred W Bernard, Box 226 Chathery, New Brunswick, Canada.

    Ron was offered a commission in another regiment however Ron and Eileen wanted the freedom of life away from the army. On being demobbed Ron was sent on an engineering course based in Cambridge; however on finishing he joined as an Agent of the Prudential Assurance Co Ltd; he was based in Balham, London. One year later he joined the War Office Police Service, later to become the Ministry of Defence Police Service. He was able to retain his military rank of Sergeant and was based at the War Office, Whitehall, London. In 1955 Ron was transferred to The Government Research Establishment in Waltham Abbey, Essex seeing out his working life until retirement in 1976.

    Ron McEvoy



    Sgt. Joseph Allen Royal Army Service Corps

    My great uncle, Serjeant Joseph Allen, was a POW in Stalag 357. His POW number was 260717 and at one point he was living in Hut 78/4. I took all these details from an envelope of a letter posted to Joseph in June 1944. If anyone knew him and can tell me anything about his time in Stalag 357, I would love to hear it.

    Jane Colclough



    Sgt. Vincent George Lovelock Luter 107 Squadron

    My grandfather, Vincent Luter was a navigator and flew in Blenheims. He was shot down in 1940 during a bombing raid and although helped by some locals in Belgium was captured. One of these kind people contacted him after the war and sent him a goose. I know he spent time in Stalag 357, and 3 I think. He was voted by his camp mates to help distribute Red Cross parcels. He died in November 2007 at the grand old age of 96 having shared many memories of his time during the war.

    Louise Luter



    L/Sgt. Charles Arthur George Osman Reconnaissance Corps

    My father, Charles Osman, did not talk about his time in Stalag 357 until his later years when he talked of his time before and during the war. Indeed, we did not have any idea which camp he was in until I started doing my Family History and came upon the entry in UK British Army Prisoners of War 1939-45 on Ancestry which showed the details including his POW number 228219. Sadly Dad died in 2001 before my interest in family history. I would be interested to know if there is anyone alive who would remember him or have any information.

    Audrey Weeks



    Pte. Colin Frederick Rixon 8th Light Horse Regiment

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

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

    Judy Richards



    Sgt. John Richard Currie DFM. 44 Squadron.

    My father, John Currie was shot down in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in various POW camps.

    He was awarded the DFM, his citation reads: 'Sergeant Currie has taken part in 33 operational flights involving a total of over 200 hours flying. He has always been keen and efficient and has shown coolness and courage in all operations. In April he took part in a daylight raid of warships in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire and attacks by a squadron of enemy fighters. The aircraft was badly shot up, and in part due to the skill in which he was able to obtain correct wireless telegraphic bearings that the aircraft made a successful return to its base. Sergeant Currie has also taken part in bombing raids on all the important targets and has given valuable assistance to his navigator. He has set an excellent example to other Sergeants in his squadron by his continuous devotion to duty.’

    John Richard Currie, who was born in August 1920, enlisted in the Royal Air Force in January 1939, and commenced his operational tour with No. 44 Squadron, a Hampden unit operating out of Waddington, Lincolnshire, in March 1940, as an A.C.1 Air Gunner. And it was on 12 April, in a strike against enemy shipping in Kristiansand Harbour, that his aircraft, captained by Pilot Officer F. E. Eustace, was attacked by Me. 109s, 44’s Operation Record Book noting that the tail plane was damaged and the W./T. mast shot away.

    A full account of this disastrous excursion into Scandinavian waters appears in Christopher Shores’ definitive history of the “Phoney War” and Norwegian campaign, Fledgling Eagles: ‘First off of the attacking force were seven Hampdens of 44 Squadron and five of 50 Squadron, which departed from Waddington from 0815 onwards, while 12 more Hampdens of 61 and 144 Squadrons set off from Hemswell. The latter formation, unable to find any targets, turned back; the former, led by Squadron Leader D. C. F. Good of 50 Squadron, having also found no vessels at sea in the bad weather prevailing, headed instead to attack two naval vessels in Kristiansand harbour. As they made their bombing run the weather cleared and the Bf. 109Es of II/JG77 struck. At 1215 the fourth section of bombers was seen to be in heavy flak bursts, and two bombers were observed to fall in flames. These were L4083 (Flying Officer M. W. Donaldson) and L4073 (Sergeant G. M. Wild) of 50 Squadron. At that moment the fighters were seen making a beam attack, and within seconds the third bomber of the section, L4081 (Pilot Officer M. Thomas), and two more from the 44 Squadron part of the formation - L4099 (Flying Officer W. G. Taylor) and P1173 (Flying Officer H. W. Robson) - were all shot down in flames. Taylor’s aircraft had apparently been hit by flak, and was lagging when caught by the fighters.

    For 25 minutes the Messerschmitts kept after the remaining Hampdens and when they finally broke off due to shortage of fuel and ammunition, all the bombers had been damaged, two of them badly. In Squadron Leader Good’s L4168, Air Gunner Corporal J. Wallace shot down one Bf. 109, for which he was later awarded a D.F.M. P4290 (Pilot Officer F. E. Eustace) of 44 Squadron was attacked by two Bf. 109s and badly damaged, but one of the attackers was eventually shot down by cross fire from another Hampden. L4074 (Pilot Officer M. G. Homer) from the same unit was also repeatedly attacked, receiving cannon shells in the right wing, left engine and through the astro-hatch. Sergeant E. Apperson, the Rear Gunner, put a burst into one fighter and saw flames from the engine - this was later confirmed to bring the credited score to two destroyed and two seriously damaged.

    Four of the bombers crashed into the sea south-west of Kristiansand, while Flying Officer Donaldson’s aircraft crash-landed on a nearby island, where three of the four crew were captured - the only survivors of the five aircraft. As the bombers limped home Pilot Officer J. B. Bull’s L4064, another 50 Squadron aircraft, came down in the sea 120 miles east of Newcastle, the crew being lost, while 44 Squadron’s L40491 crash-landed at Acklington, the crew unhurt. Only five made it back to Waddington, where Squadron Leader Goo was first to land at 1555. The Germans pressed home their attacks closer than was wise, or indeed was necessary with their cannon armament, and the Hampdens’ gunners’ return fire had been more effective than they realised ... ’

    May witnessed the Squadron attacking a number of railway targets, while in June, as a recently promoted Sergeant, Currie completed another eight sorties, mainly against oil plants, two of them in the Hamburg region; July and August witnessed a further spate of similar operations, in addition to strikes against an enemy aircraft factory and a power plant. Finally, in September, among other activities, Currie participated in attacks on Magdeburg aerodrome and enemy shipping at Calais, his final sortie being a strike against a power station in Berlin on the night of the 23rd-24th.

    Currie volunteered for a second tour of operations in the following year, when he joined another Waddington unit, No. 207 Squadron. But on the night of 16-17 August 1941, his Manchester bomber, captained by Pilot Officer H. G. Keartland, was shot down by German night fighter ace Hauptman Werner Streib of I/NJG1, crashing in flames at Oberkruckten. Luckily, however, he and his crew were able to bale out and became P.O.W.'s, Currie eventually being incarcerated in Stalag 357 at Kopernikus - in the interim having been held at Stalag Luft III from May 1942 to June 1943.

    Werner Streib, winner of The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords, accounted for 66 Allied aircraft, all but one of them at night. His most successful sortie was flown in a prototype of the Heinkel 219 on the night of 11-12 June 1943, when he shot down five bombers in 30 minutes.

    Mark Currie



    Cpl. Hugh Doherty Parachute Regiment

    As far as I know my grandfather, Hugh Doherty enlisted in The Cameronians, then volunteered to the Parachute Regiment. At some point he was shot whilst deploying his parachute, wounded and captured. He ended up a Pow at Stalag 357, Oerbke, Lower Saxony. He was very ill when liberated in 1945, spent a long time in hospital, possibly in London. He returned to his wife and family in Glasgow, but in about 1960 he suffered blood poison caused by German shrapnel, which was then removed. My family are very proud of Hugh and proud of the men he served with, we owe you so much. Any info received will be cherished.

    Martin McGhee



    Arthur Sidney Dodgson

    Arthur Dodgson was held at Stalag 357, Oerbke, Lower Saxony, Germany, Prisoner of War No. 27848. I remember my Uncle telling me that he was shot once during the war, by Allied fighter aircraft that opened up on a marching column not realising they were prisoners of war being marched back towards Berlin near the end of the war. Apparently his rucksack saved his life.

    Stephen Dodgson



    Sgt Robert Robinson McGarvey 460 Squadron

    My late father, Bob McGarvey, was only 20 when he signed up as an RAF VR in Glasgow in May 1941. Based at Binbrook as a a WOP/AG, his Pathfinder Lancaster aircraft ED 658 crashed 8/9 October 1943 at Bahnof during Operation Hanover. All the crew became POWs. Dad was in Stalag Luft 6 and Stalag 357 until he was repatriated in 1945. Since I was only two when dad died, I would be interested to hear from any of the family of the crew or Bomber Command who included:
    • Pilot F/O M C Caffyn (RAAF)
    • Flight Engineer Sgt C W J Marshall (RAF)
    • omb Aimer F/S N L Wulff (RAAF)
    • Navigator F/O F Brown (RAAF)
    • Air gunner A/G Sgt R N Cannon (RAF)
    • Air Gunner F/S T A Richardson (RAF)

    Julie McGarvey



    L/Cpl. Stanley George Jones 26th Canterbury Regiment

    My Grandad Stanley Jones, was captured at the El Mreir Depression July 22, 1942 (along with so many other New Zealanders). He told me that he was taking a piss when the Panzers rocked up. He didn't put his hands down as he was afraid they would shoot him. He ended up with frostbite on his bits. He had seen service in Greece, Syria, Cyrenaica & Egypt.

    He had been placed into an Italian POW camp (I'm trying discover which ones) and escaped for the first time on the Italian Armistance. He and a mate had made for the hills and been hidden by Partisans. He lived and worked as an Italian until being recaptured 12 months later and transported to Germany. They eventually gave themselves up (both were in a sorry state and had dysentry). I am not sure of the details of his second escape as he told me when I was a young boy.

    On 8.9.1943 Escaped from POW camp Italy (Italian capitulation) After being in several camps in Italy he made his escape at the time of the Italian capitulation in 1943. In 1944 he was recaptured and sent to Lager 11a Alton Grabow, near Madgeburg (NCO camp) then Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, north of Hanover and then to Stalag XIII. He took part in the Long march into Mechlenburg-Schwerin and was liberated at Salam-bi-Ratzburg On the 23.12.1945 he returned to Christchurch, New Zealand on the Troopship Mooltan and was discharged on 10.5.1946.

    Lawrence Finn



    W/O. J. Andrew Burke

    My great uncle, Andy Burke, was born in Ireland although both parents were born in the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne area. He was a Warrant Officer in the RAF and was a prisoner of war at Stalag Kopernikus. I know he was on a forced march and suffered injuries that led to the loss of part of his foot. After the war he settled in Catterick, before emigrating to Canada, with his wife Ann (known as Nan). I would really like to know if anyone has any information about him, the camp or information on the long march.

    Honor Pattison



    Fl/Sgt. Donald Brown DK257 Squadron 428

    Don Brown was a flight engineer on Halifax DK257 from 428 squadron from Middleton St George. He was shot down on his 2nd mission - the raid on Aachen on his 19th birthday 13/7/43.

    He was captured and we believe taken to Stalag Luft 6, however there are a few misleading pieces of information, one says camp 357, another L6. We have interviewed Don, and he is a very friendly gentleman, and has given us a lot of information, which we are trying to put together, but want it to be factually correct.

    Don recounts that he was in the camp next to to Stalag Luft 3 (the great escape camp), and he thought it was Stalag Luft 4. He was moved at one point, we think from L6 to L4, but thats a bit unclear. He also recounts the Black March in 1945, when carried his guards rifle.

    We have done an interview with Don, and tried to pull as much information together as we can, but if there is anyone out there who can provide some clarity or further information about the camp numbers, or details of others who were held, i'd love to hear from anyone.

    David Jackson



    J Sparrow

    I have in my possession a YMCA prisoners book "A Wartime Log" in the name of John Sparrow, the book gave his address as Elmswell Road Wetherden Nr Stowmarket Suffolk. There are about 82 pages in the book, most of them are poems, drawings and letters, one page refers to Sunday 14 Jan 1945 in Stalag 357 refering to reprisals due to German POW's in Camp 306 in Egypt.

    Could he be the JJ Sparrow listed above as a POW in camp 357? Any information on this prisoner as to his rank, occupation and how he became a prisoner would be greatly appreciated.

    Michael Wooldridge



    Cpl. Walter Dixon 10th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

    Walter Dixon was captured in Anzio in 1944 and spent the war in 2 pow camps Stalag 357 and Fallingbostell. He was released in 1946 and as his friend was critically ill he carried him from Stalag to Britain and his friend lives in Canada today. He would have died if Walter hadn't carried him.

    Jack Fletcher



    Cpl. Douglas Phillip Oliver RASC.

    My father-in-law, Douglas Oliver has a photo of his wife, returned to sender. It was sent to him in Stalag 357 in June 44 his hut No was 91/5 and his prison No was 1257. He believes that it was returned, as he was marched along with 100s of other's POW's to Poland Malbork. He was captured at Dunkirk and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.

    D Baker



    Walter Frost 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)

    My granddad, Walter Frost, was captured in May 1940. He was in Thorn prison camp and then Marienburg. He was from Gateshead.

    Kev Hedley



    Pte. Leslie Masterman Yorks & Lancs

    My grandad, Leslie Masterman (1923-2002), from Leeds, served as a Private in the Yorks/Lancs Regiment during the Second World War. He was a POW in Italy and Germany after being captured by German troops in Tunisia in 1943. The following is what my family and I have pieced together from the few bits of information he gave us: Pte Masterman, L 4758866 He was taken to camp PG66 in Italy, which (with help from the internet) appears to have been in Capua.  We got this number from a photograph: PG66PM3400.  The first four digits aside, we're not sure what the numbers mean. He also stayed at camp PG53 (Campo Concentremento 53. Sforzacosta). He was moved to Germany, where he (as far as we can tell) stayed at camp PG78 (location unknown), before being squashed into an open rail truck and taken to Stalag 357  (in Oerbke, I think). He spent time at Stalag 4DZ near Annaburg.  (Again, we got this number from a photograph, but we're not sure what it means:  226387  D602.) I think it was here where he was forced to work on repairing a damaged railway line near an ammunition factory (which was regularly bombed by the RAF). He was certain they were sent to work there to reduce numbers, and many men died working there. He, along with two other prisoners (Trooper Walter Rowley and Lance Corporal James "Busty" Speight), fled Stalag 4DZ on April 14, 1945. The day before they fled, they were told by a British R.A.M.C major that the whole camp was to be marched east the following day. The march began and suddenly the air raid sirens sounded.  As Allied planes swooped to strafe a nearby airfield, the three of them made a run for it, taking with them two of the German sentries (they told them they would make it all right for them with the Americans, who were rumoured to be getting closer).

    In the village of Nienburg, they told the local Burgomaster that they had been sent to make their way back to camp.  A German girl who had been a worker in the camp kitchen helped my grandad and the other POW's by tipping them off about the Burgomaster being suspicious. He had sent for the SS, who were to arrive the next morning. The German girl also told them the way to the American lines, so they pulled out quickly and eventually found an American patrol near Halle (Saale). The Americans took some convincing that they were British POW's, but they eventually realised they were genuine and couldn't make them more welcome. They later learned that the guards who stayed behind were shot by the SS for assisting them to escape. My grandad returned home to Leeds on a Tuesday in May 1945. There are an awful lot of gaps that I'd love to fill in, and he probably stayed at a few more POW camps.  I'm unsure where he was when at the end of the war but think it's most likely to be Stalag 4DZ in Annaburg. I have no idea how much time he spent at any one camp. I also have no idea how he travelled from Tunisia to Italy after being captured. I know the prisoners marched for many miles through Italy and traveled in open army trucks up through Germany to the North East. If anyone has information about ANYTHING I have mentioned above, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

    Tom Masterman



    Pte. Frederick Charles Worthy Hampshire Regiment

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

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

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

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

    Fred Worthy



    Sgt. Lynn Sarrell Ongley

    Sergeant Lynn Ongley was held in P.O.W. Camp, Derna, Libya. P.O.W. Camp, Benghazi, Libya. PG 54, Fara Sabina. PM 3300, Rome, Italy. Stalag 4B Mühlberg-on-Elbe, Dresden, Germany and Stalag 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany. Whilst held captive he wrote a number of poems:

    Red Cross Parcel by L.S. Ongley, 7 October 1942

    • The Red Cross keep us fit and well
    • With many a tasty dish
    • No sooner is the issue made
    • We fry up spuds and fish
    • The chocolate lasts a little spell
    • Our prunes we soak and stand
    • Twelve biscuits spread with butter thick
    • My word they do taste grand
    • The meat roll fried in margarine
    • With Yorkshire salt and milk
    • While toast and butter heaped with jam
    • Slides down like folds of silk
    • The bully smeared with mustard
    • Between two hunks of bread
    • Can be described as having
    • All powers to turn the head
    • The oatmeal mixed with rasins
    • Makes porridge sweet and stiff
    • Our breakfast cheese warmed on the toast
    • Gives a savoury niff
    • Pork sausages baked in eggs
    • Mixed veg with Irish stew
    • Sweet custard smoothed o'er apple duff
    • At last we rest and sip our brew
    • The creamed rice sweets and apricots
    • We hold for yet a while
    • While cocoa in the evening hours
    • Completes the welcome pile
    • Maybe I've missed the honey sweet
    • The golden syrup two
    • But if their are some missing tins
    • I leave the rest to you
    • Without the Red Cross helping us
    • Our lives we might have lost
    • So when the war has passed us by
    • We help what e'er the cost
    • The cigarettes we cherish most
    • Their help is great indeed
    • When food is short we pull the belt
    • For nicotine is feed
    • My text to you is finnished
    • No more there is to be
    • The weekly Red Cross parcel gift
    • To you I bend my knee.

    Campo Concentranamento 54. P.M. 3300. Fara Sabina. Rome. Italy.

    My Wife by L.S. Ongley 30 May 1943

    • You are my own, my very tower
    • My work, my play, my trial, my power
    • Your truthful lips, and gliding grace
    • Those ways, those acts, my thoughts embrace
    • All you I love, my hearts refrain
    • My hope, my fear, my joy, my pain
    • Your thoughtful eyes and redgold crown
    • Those pools, those strands, my sorrows drown
    • In you I find my whole domain
    • My left, my right, my quest, my claim
    • Your simple faith and girlish pride
    • Those aims, those traits, with me abide

    Concentration Camp 54. Fara Sabina. PM 3300. Rome. Italy.

    Stalag Exercise by L.S. Ongley 15 April 1944

    • Twenty times a day I walk
    • Around the compound square
    • Twice to a mile is ten of the best
    • Quite a fair jaunt without any rest
    • A deed not common but rare.
    • Rainy days I do the same
    • The lads just stand and smile
    • On the third time round they point and nod
    • While I race faster across the sod
    • A picture of ease and style.

    Mühlberg P.O.W. Camp Dresden. Germany.

    I Would Like by L.S. Ongley 16 August 1944

    • I would like to have a four pound loaf
    • Of steaming snow white bread
    • A vat of butter rich and fresh
    • Enough to turn my head
    • A china plate piled high with steak
    • Six soft fried eggs on toast
    • Tomatoes in their dozens
    • With a chunk of fatty roast.

    Stammlager 4B, Mühlberg-on-Elbe. Dresden. Germany.

    Prison Bread by L.S. Ongley 22 Feb 1945

    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread

    • An oblong lump of sawdust and rye
    • Cut into sixths by an expert eye
    • A slip of the knife and we moan and we cry

    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread
    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread

    • A choicer food can never be found
    • With a basic content of wood and ground
    • We wonder they don't make them square or round

    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread
    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread

    • A four pound loaf at two pound size
    • Always too heavy, it never will rise
    • Yet we never complain for it pays to be wise

    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread
    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread

    • Crusts make a cake for the afternoon brew
    • While slices we have with our evening stew
    • The only complaint is the loaves are so few

    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread
    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread

    • It may be hard and heavy as lead
    • But no bread at all would cause tears to be shed
    • So though it may be ersatz we have to be fed

    • Six to a loaf of bread we are
    • Six to a loaf of bread

    Concentration Camp 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany.

    Sidelight by L.S. Ongley 24 Feb 1945

    • Patience is a virtue to prisoners its true
    • But four long years of waiting
    • Leaves them feeling awful blue
    • What with grumbling and bickering
    • There's nothing left to chew
    • The age long days of hardship
    • And the never ending queue

    Concentration Camp 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany.

    Mind Over Matter by L.S. Ongley 3 March 1945

    • He placed a plate upon the table
    • Just in front of where I sat
    • Boiled potatoes, pork and onions
    • With a great big chunk of roasted fat.
    • The steam rose up, I could but simper
    • Streams of gravy, brown and hot
    • Lay there piping with the onions
    • Still I sat a drunken sot.
    • Heaps of bread strewn on a napkin
    • Inch thick slices, white and fresh
    • Mounds of butter, lay there gloating
    • Underneath the oval mesh.
    • Then the vision slipped and wavered
    • Up and past, the screen slid by
    • Now my eyes could see those turnips
    • All that passed was just a lie.

    Stalag 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany.

    Our Bungalow by L.S. Ongley 13 March 1945

    • Bare brick walls all cold and damp
    • With freezing stony floor
    • A tiny closet wet and foul
    • The lighting system poor
    • Shaky beds of nails and plank
    • No mattress can be seen
    • A draughty roof of timber logs
    • The dripping rafters green
    • A smoky stove burns twice a day
    • The atmosphere is dead
    • One table is the furniture
    • Reprisal it is said
    • Some window panes are missing
    • The door wont fit the frame
    • Two heaters never operate
    • For coal is just a name
    • Fifteen feet by twenty
    • Is the length of our prison hut
    • Eighty men packed sardine tight
    • With every window shut

    Stalag 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany.

    Starvation

    • Theres nothing left in the larder
    • Not even a crumb of dry bread
    • The knock in my stomach grows louder
    • Repeating the throb in my head
    • The coffee is tasteless and bitter
    • No breakfast of hot eggs and ham
    • Meat is a dish quite unheard of
    • Including the butter and jam
    • One parcel is all that is needed
    • Canadian or British will do
    • I would finish the lot in an hour
    • Excepting the milk and brew

    Concentration Camp 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany.

    Good Friday by L.S. Ongley 30 March 1945

    • (Five weeks of starvation rations)
    • To-day is Good Friday the Day of our Lord
    • At home the hot cross buns are eaten
    • Out there they strive with gun and sword
    • Until the foe is surely beaten
    • Last night I prayed to the one above
    • To send us help in bread and meat
    • My prayer was held how great his love
    • I kneel in silence before his feet
    • Day by day they said there was none
    • Our hunger made us droop and sag
    • We join you with your hot cross bun
    • Each one with his red cross bag.

    During the days of hunger, trial and tribulation, parcels arrived to-day, after weeks of gradual starvation. Half a parcel per man.

    Stalag 357. Fallingbostel. Hanover. Germany.




    Cpl. Ted Sinnott South Lancashire Regiment

    My late Uncle, Cpl Ted Sinnott, born 1921, Widnes, Cheshire (then Lancashire) was taken POW at raid on St Nazaire, France 28/3/1942. Eventually transferred to Lamsdorf 8b/344 around June 1942 before transfer to Stalag XXA Thorun, Poland (1944) and eventually Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, Germany and liberation April 1945.

    He served with South Lancs Regt. before joining No 2 Commando in late 1940 after surviving Dunkirk. It would be great if anyone reading this knew of my uncle/or about life in this camp, and could contact me.

    John Sinnott



    L/Cpl. D. T. P. Muir 1st Btn. Scots Guards




    Gdsmn Stanley George Kirkman Irish Guards

    Guardsman Stanley George Kirkman, member of the Irish Guards, was at Stalag 357. We believe he was captured at Anzio after serving in North Africa, but we are not sure. We don't know if he was in other camps. He rarely spoke of his time at the camp, like many here. It haunted him for the rest of his life, though the few tales he would tell us of camp were of the "laughs." I know from reading that his time there had very few of those. For the rest of his life, he could not stand small spaces, foods that were "mixed" (stews, soups, anything he couldn't tell what was in it), or the idea of being confined.

    We know he was at Stalag 357 in August 1944 because one of the few mementos of his time at war is a letter to my grandfather dated from that camp. He wrote of his fellow POWs being able to find a "tin of salmon some Sundays" and he would speak sometimes of bartering Red Cross packets with American POWs at the camp (he said that their packets were better!). He was also learning to play baseball, thanks to the Yanks.

    Michaela



    Pte. William Henry Hancock 1/5th Btn Leicestershire Regiment (d.22nd Feb 1945)

    William Henry Hancock was my mother's cousin. He served with the 1/5th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. I was always led to believe he was a prisoner of war in Japan, but through research I find he was a prisoner in Poland at Stalag xxa and Stalag 357. He is buried in a cemetery outside Berlin. He died on 22nd February 1945 I presume not long after he arrived there after the 'Death march.' from Poland. I know very little about him, just his name and the story of being a prisoner in Japan. I think what makes his story so sad, is that his mother Harriet Hancock, had 13 children, William being the youngest. Eleven of the children died as babies or toddlers, then William died in the war. He had one surviving brother named Fred. I am pleased I did find a little more about his short life. He was 25 when he died.

    Yvonne Norton



    Flt.Sgt. Ken Singleton

    My uncle Ken Singleton was held prisoner at Kupernikus in Stalag 357. I am his nephew and I am trying to build his story as sadly he has passed away. I know he was shot down on a bombing raid and that he and one other managed to parachute from the rear of a Lancaster. All others were killed. He was picked up by the resistance but after infection had set into his wounds he was handed over to the Germans. He was treated well and once better transported to Kupernikus. His prisoner of war number was 3210. He returned home after the war but like many spoke very little about it

    John Munro



    Sgt.Maj. Arthur Sawyer Grenadier Guards

    My grandfather Arthur Henry Sawyer was held in Camp No. 357 as POW No.:20282 at Oerbke, Nr. Fallingbostel He served with the Grenadier Guards.

    Martin Truscott



    Sgt. Clifford Webb MBE. 21 Squadron

    We believe that my father Clifford Webb was captured twice. This article was found which was probably written by our father to his mother after the second capture/escape. If anybody can shed some light on Clifford Webb, it would certainly be most appreciated !

    The article Letter home from Sgt. C. Webb, RAF, from “Woodside”, Homer, aged 24 years. C. 1940. We were shot down in France, near Calais, on June 14th, by six Messerschmitts, but nobody was injured, so we tried to make our way back to England. We found a little boat three days after the crash, but had no chance to stock it with food and drink. Our oars were very weak and soon broke. The upshot of it all was that we were in the channel for three days without food or drink and not a stitch of dry clothing on us. One of my companions died on the last night and the two of us left were washed back on the French coast, still behind the German lines. We hid for two days to regain our strength, and started walking to Le Havre about 50 miles away, but abandoned the idea as the port was too closely watched. Then we tried to get work on the farms, posing as Belgians, but failed because we had no identification papers. We begged bought and stole food and civilian clothing during this time.

    Eventually we decided to go north and try to cross the Channel again, but were unlucky enough to walk into a hidden German aerodrome, just south of the Somme. We were stopped and questioned; I was the only one speaking French. They found out my companion was English so I was taken as well. This was on the evening of July 1st. I don’t know how I escaped, but all the people in this camp are the same. Some of the escapees from crashes are nothing short of miraculous.

    Report of incident near Calais. 14/06/1940: Merville, France.

    • Type: Bristol Type 142L, Blenheim Mk. IV
    • Serial number: R3742,YH-?
    • Operation: Merville
    • Lost: 14/06/1940
    • Pilot Officer William A. Saunders, RAF 40756, 21 Sqn., age 20, 14/06/1940, missing
    • Sgt W.H.Eden PoW also initialled H.W.Eden
    • Sgt C.Webb PoW
    • Airborne from Bodney. Crash-site not established. Last seen being chased by Me109s.
    • P/O Saunders has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Mmemorial.
    • Sgt W.H.Eden on his 30th operation evaded until captured July 40 near Doullens after spending 3 days in a rowing boat and interned in Camps L1/L6/357, PoW No.87.
    • Sgt C.Webb was also captured with his comrade but was interned in Camps L1/L3/L6/357, PoW No.76.

    Tony Webb



    L/Cpl. Stanley George Jones 3rd Echelon

    POW paperwork

    Stan Jones was my Grandfather and used to tell me stories about the war and what he did when we went for walks together when I was a kid. He did his training at Burnham Military Camp and on the 27th of August 1940 sailed on the Orcades (3rd Echelon) he served in Greece, Syria, Cyrenaica and Egypt.

    On the 22nd of July 1942 he was taken Prisoner at El Mreir Depression. After being in several camps, on the 8th of September 1943 he escaped from the POW camp in Italy at the time of the Italian capitulation. He lived and worked as an Italian until he was recaptured 12 months later and transported to Germany. He was held in Lager 11a Alton Grabow, near Madgeburg (NCO camp). When the Russian advance started in the south he was moved to Stalag Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, north of Hanover and Stalag XIIIb. He endured the Long march into Mechlenburg-Schwerin and was liberated at Salam-bi-Ratzburg. On the 23rd of December 1945 he returned to Christchurch, New Zealand on the Troopship Mooltan and was discharged on the 10th of May 1946.

    Lawrence



    Cpl. Cecil Walter Colthorpe Royal Army Service Corps

    Our father, Cecil Colthorpe served in the British Army during the Second World War and we are trying to piece together his wartime activities. He passed in 1986 and did not talk about his war experiences very much. He served in the Middle East and somehow ended up in Stalag 357. POW No. 50193

    He talked of riding his Royal Enfield motorbike in the desert and his escape from Stalag 357 while moving a piano with other prisoners and that part of the escape out of Germany involved a fire engine which was "borrowed" from a country barn. Fact or fiction?

    John Colthorpe



    L/Sgt. Stanley McDonald Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

    My father in law Stanley McDonald was captured in Italy before being sent to Stalag 357. He had previously served in North Africa so I think he was involved in the push in to southern Italy before his capture. That's all we know and would be interested to know more!

    David Bevin



    Flt.Sgt. Richard Ridley Huleatt

    What follows is part of the obit I wrote for my step father based on his recountings and some documents I then had before turning over to his children.

    A surving Stalag Luft III officer internee recently questioned how a flight sargeant could have been interned in an officer's camp. I have no way of responding. Is there any way of confirming that Dick was actually interned in Stalag Luft III?

    "Huleatt, Richard Ridley (Dick) RAF F/Sgt. POW and Escapee. Peacefully in his 86th year at the Kingston General Hospital on June 30th, 2008. Born, Liverpool, England on July 28th, 1922. Following his August 31st, 1940 voluntary enlistment in the RAF, Dick led the life of the young invincible completing 56 missions as the rear gunner in Boston and Halifax bombers.

    Luck ran out on March 26th, 1943 over Duisburg, Germany when the left wing of his aircraft was destroyed by enemy flak. Dick parachuted from the burning aircraft at 17,000 feet, an adventure which qualified him to wear the caterpillar lapel pin with red ruby eyes, signalling his having hit the silk from an aircraft in flames.

    Dick spent the next 25 months as a POW in three different camps, most notably in Stalag Luft III where he worked on the tunnels featured in the movie “The Great Escape“. Dick's POW diary and letters featured many references to POW produced dramas and comedies evidencing his lifelong love of the limelight. Dick subsequently escaped alone on April 5th, 1945 from his last camp, Luft 357 and, following a series of sometimes harrowing incidents, he made it back through to the Allied lines ten days later and then home to England. ..."

    Jacques Menard



    L/Sgt. Alfred Davies MM. Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

    Alfred Davies was born in 1920 and enlisted in the TA at Horwich and then the regular army whilst still only seventeen. He served with 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers regimental number 3d 50th in India, Iraq and North Africa. He won the Military Medal in June 1942 during the withdrawal from the Tobruk area. In August of the same year all but 19 of the survivors were transfered to the Kings Own Royal Regiment.

    In November 1943 Sgt Davies was part of the ill-fated garrison occupying the island of Leros when it was invaded by an overwhelming forces of German infantry and paratroops. Other regiments involved included the Royal East Kents (Buffs) and the Royal Irish Fusiliers. After five days the garrison was forced to retire. Alfred was among the hundreds wounded and taken prisoner. He was treated at a German military hospital in Salonika and then taken by cattle truck to Austria and eventually to Stalag 357 Oerbke. He remained in captivity until April 1945.

    Kathleen Walsh.



    Sgt. Stanley Oldfield John "Spud" Murphy 247 Squadron

    Stan in Stalag Luft I 1942

    Stand and Frank in Ireland 1945

    Stanley Murphy served with the RNZAF from the 12th of March 1940 to the 7th of January 1946, then on the Reserve from 14 Sep 50 to 14 Sep 54. He was shot down in August 1941 and spent the rest of the war in various prisoner-of-war camps, including Stalag Luft I and Stalag 357.

    Stan was born in Bolton, Lancashire on 16 February 1922 but emigrated to New Zealand as a baby of 9 months with his parents - James 32 (b 1890) and Beatrice Murphy 30 (born 1892) - and older brother, Frank, who was five. Frank later also joined the RNZAF (Squadron Leader Francis (Frank) Murphy DFC OBE) and served in 486 Squadron until, towards the end of the war, he was co-opted by Hawker Aircraft to test Hurricanes. He continued to be a test pilot after the war. Stan’s family travelled 3rd class to Auckland, New Zealand on HMS Suffolk, leaving on 13th of October 1922 from Southampton, England. His father’s occupation was listed as a ‘Motor Driver’. Stan grew up in Wellington and attended university there, graduating in 1939. In March 1940, he was one of the first New Zealanders to enlist in the RNZAF after the outbreak of war in Europe and was sent for training at Wigram.

    By June 1941, Stan was serving with RAF 247 Squadron based at Predannack in Cornwall when the squadron, flying hurricanes, was engaged in night interceptions of bombers and in early offensive 'intruder' attacks against Luftwaffe aerodromes in northern France. It was during one of these operations that Stan - flying a Mk IIc Hurricane BD857 coded HP-P (which had arrived on 14th August 1941, from 44 MU) - "failed to return from attack on Morlaix airfield" on 28 August 1941. Stan had hit trees after an attack on Morlaix Aérodrome and had had to force-land nearby.

    “This was the first strike by the Squadron, named Mandolin V. Target : Morlaix aerodrome. 4 Hurricane IICs :

    • S/L O'Brian, red 1, BD859,
    • Sgt Murphy red2 BD857,
    • F/L Carver blue 1 Z3089 and
    • Sgt McClelland Blue 2 Z3088.

    They took off from Predannack at 20:00. The French coast was crossed 40 minutes later to the west of Ile de Batz. Turning south-west the Hurricanes followed the landward side of the Plouescat-Morlaix railway and approached the aerodrome from the west at a height of 50 feet. S/L O'Brian opened fire at a blister hangar. Defences began to react with heavy Flak and machine gun fire. Sgt Murphy was seen by O'Brian parallel to him diving to the right, firing at gun posts on the southern corners. F/L Carver thought that Murphy's Hurricane appeared to be 'slipping in'. Red 1, Blue 1 and 2 left the area turning north and crossed the coast at St Jean at 20:48.
 Sgt Murphy was missing. S/L O'Brian's Hurricane had been hit in the oil tank and the wing, but damage was slight. The remaining 3 aircraft landed back at Predannack at five-minute intervals from 21:20."

    From the transcript of Stan’s interview at the end of the war, we know that after he had had to force-land his machine in occupied France and that he was on his own for 3 days "heading hopefully south". He then met some French farmers at St Thegonnec who took him to a farmhouse and gave him soup while they, unknown to him, sent off a little girl on a bicycle to alert the authorities. While he was sipping his soup, the local curé arrived and as his schoolboy French and the Curé’s limited English made it difficult for them to communicate, they had to write each other notes. Stan was asking for a map and civilian clothes but getting nowhere while the curé was telling him that two women had been taken away by the Germans recently for helping airmen. Shortly after the local mayor arrived and greeted the pilot warmly but he was closely followed by German with a large Luger in hand advising the pilot to put his hands behind his neck.

    Stan was captured on 1st September 1941 and was driven to the Luftwaffe HQ in Morlaix on the next day. Stan probably spent the first few months of his capture in a Dulag Luft, after which he transferred to the newly-opened Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany.

    Later (probably April 1942) he was transferred to Stalag 357 (XXA) in Thorn, Poland - and then, in 1944, Stalag 357 was relocated to Fallingbostel on the Luneberg Heath in Germany at Stalag XI (B or D). On 16th of April 1945 the prisoners of war were liberated by British troops. Stan must have been one of the first New Zealanders repatriated to the UK via Dunsfold Aerodrome to Brighton for processing, as he next appears as best man at his brother's wedding in Windsor on 28th of April 1945. After holidaying with his brother and new sister-in-law on their honeymoon in Ireland, Stan returned to New Zealand.

    Like many others, Stan did not talk much about his experiences in Germany. I hope to view the rest of his post-war interview shortly and add to this account. Some years ago I found some news footage of the camp liberation. Stan is clearly visible behind the wire, running along in line with the camera. He was delighted to receive a copy of it.

    Angela Bailey



    Stanley George Jones

    My Grandfather Stanley Jones completed a test for Spanish in Stalag 357 in 1942 (or March 1945, I'm not sure exactly, due to the notation on the page).

    Lawrence Finn



    William Edward Goodman

    William Goodman was sent to Stalagluft 3 eventually with some of the other members of the crew. He was prisoner along with W/O J.B.Arnold DFM, W/O J.B.Arnold DFM POW No.483. DFM Gazetted 17Apr42, with Sgt W.E.Goodman, POW No.503, and WO2 C.F.Henigman, POW No.506. and F/L E.J.Earngey.

    I have his full account of the time when he was in Stalag 3 and later in Stalag 357 as well as his training and his de-mob. He used to have a book of photographs taken in one of the camps but that seems to have disappeared - he may have donated it to one of the many groups to which he belonged - ex-POWs or RAFA or the Air Crew Association, perhaps, but I have got a copy of a book of cartoons that was produced from the drawings of some of the prisoners at that time. Sadly he died in 2002 in Manchester after a career in the Manchester City Police rising to the rank of Superintendant.

    Gill Chesney-Green



    WO Norman William Simmonds

    My dad WO Simmonds was a bomb aimer/navigator. He joined the RAF on 27th October 1941. He was shot down on 6th September 1943 and was a POW in Stalag VIIA from 16th Septmber 1943; Dulag-Luft from 20th September 1943; Stalag Luft from 10th October 1943; Stalag 357 (Thorne) from July 1044; Stalag 357 August 1944. He died in a car accident in 1973.

    Dave Simmonds



    Cpl. Georges Rollin Fusiliers Mont-Royal

    My father, Cpl Georges Rollin, Fusiliers Mont-Royal served in the UK and France from 1942 to 1945. He was a POW in Stalag 357 from August 1944 to May 1945. He died in 1992. Does anyone remember him?

    Dianne Nowlan



    Bdr. John Pickup 23 Field Regiment Royal Artillery

    Dad, Bdr Jsck Pickup, had been in the Artillery for 8 years prior to WW2. They went out to France in Sept 1939 and were stationed near Metz, in North Eastern France. He was a surveyor. They carried out rearguard actions through France and the Somme region to Abbeville. His battery knocked out numerous German tanks using "open sights" at relatively close range. They had become part of The 51st Highland Division.

    They were trying to get back to Le Havre. When near to St Valery-En-Caux, the surveying unit was asked to go towards Fecamp to plot future gun positions. When returning the "truck" they were in was targeted by a panzer machine gunner. There was a driver, a captain, Bdr John Pickup and one other person. The only one to be wounded was the captain, whose arm was almost severed by a large calibre round. He had earlier insisted that they return to St Valery, which had almost been surrounded by the Germans before they left. They dropped the captain at an improvised aid post and Dad never knew if the captain had survived his wounds. Dad didnt think he would have.

    They were in action around St Valery without infantry in front of them and the 25 pounder guns were worn with all the rounds that they had fired. Within a day or two they surrended to Rommel on 12th of June 1940. I have researched and found a captain who I think died on the 11th of June 1940, at St Valery and he was in the 23rd Field Regiment and was from Kent, he may have been the captain mentioned above, a brave and dedicated officer!.

    Dad spent the next four and three quarter years in POW camps in Poland and Germany (Stalag 20a and 357 at Falinbostal) and nearly being killed by Typhoons on a forced march towards Lubeck at the end of the war.

    Graham Pickup



    A. A. Fuller

    A. A. Fuller an RAF Observer was in Stalag IXc (Bad Sulza 10th July 1941-29th April 1942; Stalag Luft III (Sagan) 1st May 1942-18th June 1943; VI (Heydekrug) 20th June 1943-18th July 1944; Stalag 357 (Thorn, Poland) 19th July 1944-8th August 1944 and Falingbostel August 1944-7th April 1945.




    R. W. McDonald

    R. W. McDonald (WOP/AG) was in Stalag IXc (Bad Sulza 10th July 1941-29th April 1942; Stalag Luft III (Sagan) 1st May 1942-18th June 1943; VI (Heydekrug) 20th June 1943-18th July 1944; Stalag 357 (Thorn, Poland) 19th July 1944-8th August 1944 and Falingbostel August 1944-7th April 1945.




    WO/Sgt Ken Fenton

    My father, Warrant Officer/Sgt Ken Fenton - POW No. 39204 was a POW with A.A. Fuller (observer) and R.W. McDonald (WOP/AG). They ended up in:
  • Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza) from 10 July 1941 to 29th April 1942.
  • Stalag Luft III (Sagan) from 1 May 1942 to 18 June 1943
  • Stalag VI (Heydekrug) from 20 June 1943 to 18 July 1944
  • Stalag 357 (Thorn, Poland) from 19 July 1944 until 8 August 1944
  • Fallingbostel from August 1944 to 7 April 1945.

    The crew of the HSL that was sent to rescue them followed a simiilar route, but remained in Sagan, Stalag Luft III, North Camp. Other names listed in a log book are:

  • McCairns
  • J. Jones
  • S.F. Roughthon
  • Harry Mahoney
  • Lional Raymond Silver
  • Stan Pannis
  • W.W. Hall
  • R. Evans
  • W.H.E. Harwood
  • P. Balson
  • Walter Kershaw
  • Gordon Bottomley
  • A. Bonyle
  • Joe Walker
  • Norman J. Smith
  • R. Duffield
  • R. MacDonald
  • John Woolston
  • Arthur Thomson
  • D.A. MacLeod
  • N.M.Campbell
  • Harold E. Bennett
  • Malcolm Gillies
  • W.M. Hard (Al's brother)
  • E.G. Caban
  • H.A. Hard
  • E.G.R. Daggett

  • Nick Fenton



    Georges J. Rollin Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

    My father was with Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal Regiment. He landed in France on 8th July 1944 and was taken prisoner on 10th August 1944. He was forced marched to Stalag 357 and was liberated by the British in May 1945. His POW number was 70754. After liberation, he went to Scotland to recuperate. Cpl. Albert Fortin, his best friend, was killed in action on 8th August 1944.

    Dianne Nowlan



    Albert Ernest "Shirley" Barlow

    My father was a POW from 1941 to 1945 after being shot down over Anna Paulowna, Holland. He flew Lancasters. He was sent to Stalag 357 near Fallingbostel in 1944. His POW route took him from Anna Paulowna to Amsterdam to Darth Pomerania to Sagan Silesia (Stalag Luft III), to Heydekrug (Stalag Luft 6) to Thorn Poland, finally arriving in Fallingbostel in August 1944. Names from Fallingbostel: George Hunter, Douglas Harwood, Ron Wade, James Fisher, John Hasefield, Robert Mount and Peter Robson.

    Dave Barlow



    WO/Sgt. K. Fenton 139 Sqdn.

    My father was born in Drax, Yorkshire. He was Warrant Officer (Sgt) K. Fenton, No. 1053472 and was shot down on 1st July 1941 in Blenheim IV V6258 XD of 139 (Jamaica) Squadron, from Horsham St. Faith. His aircraft was shot down by Bf109F of Fw. Fredrich Karl Bachmann (3/JG 52, Leeuwarden) and ditched 60Kms NW of Vlieland. Other crew were Sgt A.A. Fuller (observer) and R.W. McDonald (wireless operator and air gunner). All became POWs in Stalag Luft III, Sagan. Also a note of Stalag IXc. Prisoner No. 39204. Noted in Blenheim Strike by Theo Boiten as Stalag 357, Kopernikus and 'among one of very few crews to survive a Blenheim crash in 1941'. I have his log book and a number of photos and would love to talk or correspond with anyone who might have known him or whose father was there also. Names listed in his log book include:
    • Harry Mahoney
    • Lioniel Raymond Silver
    • Balson
    • W W Hall
    • A A Fuller
    • W H E Harwood
    • R Evans
    • Joe Walker
    • Gordon Bottomley
    • Walter Kershaw
    • D A MacLeod
    • J Jones
    • N M Campbell
    • R MacDonald
    • R Duffield
    • Norman J Smith
    • Arthur Thomson
    • Harold E Bennett
    • Malcolm Gillies
    • W H Hard
    • E G Caban
    • Al Hard
    • E G R Daggett
    • Irena Spring
    • Ann Hemmingway

    Not suggesting that the ladies were there but their names are.

    Nick Fenton



    F/Sgt Town 196 Squadron

    Sgt Town was an air gunner and a crew member of a Short Stirling that belonged to 196 Sqn & flew from RAF Tarrant Rushton, Dorset on a mission to parachute supplies to the resistance. Unfortunately the aircraft (EF469) crashed into a mountain in a snow blizzard & Sgt Town was captured & sent to Stalag 357. I am looking for any information, documents or photos.

    Nick Pank



    Cpl. Joseph Georges Rollin Regiment Fusiliers des Mont-Royal

    My father Cpl. Joseph Georges Rollin was with the Canadian Regiment Fusiliers des Mont-Royal, regimental No. D51353. He was a POW at Stalag 357 Follingbostel, Germany. His POW No. is 70754. He was captured on 8th July 1944 during the First Canadian Army's "Operation Totalize" when a Company of FMR were cut off on the outskirts of May-sur-Orne, which is on the Caen-Falaize Road. The objective was to liberate Falaise from the Germany Army. My father was officially reported missing in action on 10th August 1944. He was force-marched to Poland and then back into Germany and ended up in POW Camp 357 in Follingbostel, Germany. He was liberated by the 8th and 11th Hussars {British 7th Armoured Division} on 16th April 45. The camp was unofficially liberated days before when their guards ran away.

    I would be interested in hearing from anyone who was in the camp and liberated with my father. I would like to know how they survived in the camps and what happened when they were liberated.

    Dianne Nowlan



    Sgt. James Charles Knox Royal Artillery

    I collect police medals and recently purchased the group issued to Sgt. James Charles Knox, RA. With the medals came confirmation that Knox was held as a POW in Stalag 357, Oerbke. After the war Knox joined the MOD police.

    Simon Brookman







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