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About POWCollector

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    Prisoners of War, Esape

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  1. Thanks very much guys! Yes, with quite a few of my groups, I have been fortunate that the dealer or seller did not do any research into the item so I was able to get them for a good price! That being said, I really do put the hours in finding groups, checking names against pow lists etc but I have been well rewarded for my efforts! take care, Rob
  2. Due to new documents being added to findmypast, I have discovered that P.A.D Cartwright was a member of the 11th battalion, the Parachute Regiment and was captured on the 20th of September 1944.
  3. Thanks chaps! I think he should have been M.I.D too but hey ho! Many people got somewhat short changing when it comes to being decorated for escape! for example, a great number of the fifty murdered after the great escape should have been awarded MC's or DCM's for their escape records from before the great escape but as they were killed, all they were given was a posthumous M.I.D! Rob
  4. I have just recieved the Escape to Switzerland report for Sgt G G Law of the 3rd Transvaal Scottish who was captured at Sidi Rezegh on the 23rd of November 1941 and it has been a bit bitter sweet. As i wrote on the original post, his service papers stated that his last camp was PG52 Chiavari and that it was from here that he made his way to Switzerland following the armistice but it turns out he was moved again to a different camp. Due to the rarity of escapers from Chiavari, i did pay a fairly decent amount for the group but the actual story is pretty good so i think i have still done alright on the purchase! Here is the new information i have discovered... Sgt G G Law was captured at Sidi Rezegh on the 23rd of November 1941. Under the brief circumstances of capture section of his report he stated that he was with his unit in the 5th S.A Brigade and was captured at when they were overrun by tanks. From the 26th of November to the 12th of December, he was held in Benghazi in one of the pow cages. From Benghazi, he was sent to Tarhuna and held there until the 26th of December. On the 29th of December 1941, he was held at the transit camp at Capua and was held there until the 4th of December 1942. From Capua, he was transferred to Chiavari and stayed there until the 18th of April 1943. Finally, he was transferred to PG 148 at Bussolengo. He was assigned to be the camp leader for sub camp 6 at Angiari. The sub camp was employed doing farm work. His escape report follows like so; "Just before 8/9/43, as camp leader of PG 148/6, i had sounded the Italian Commandant 2/lt Sandro Benetti with a view to bribing him to allow the whole camp of 50 to escape. We had offered 50 lire each. When we heard of the armistice, he released us immediately. At first, we all tried to head south but eight men were captured and so i approached this Italian and asked him if he could help us escape to Switzerland. This he did and organised the escape of 39 men." On the next page, he goes on to give more detail; "First i attempted to regain our own lines to the south and got as far as Bologna but finding it too risky i returned to the Angiari area, where i remained until i contacted the ex commandant of the camp PG 148/6 who helped me reach Switzerland. We travelled by train from Angiari to Mantova and stayed the night. Then we got the train to Milan and from there the train to Erba. From Erba we went on foot to Lake Como. We crossed Lake Como by rowing boat and walked to the frontier which we reached near Bruzzella on the 23rd of November 1943." This is a very unusual escape to Switzerland as he initially spent some time trying to reach the allied lines, but returned to his camp and got the Commandant to pay for him and 38 others to get to freedom in Switzerland! I also am happy that before the armistice, he tried to bribe the Commandant to allow them to escape so he was already in the mindset of escape before the armistice! Even though it is not the outcome i had hoped for with the research for this group, its still a very interesting story and its nice to have the group to a camp leader who really did show initiative and managed to get 39/50 men to safety in Switzerland.
  5. Thanks very much Paul! I've been very lucky with the amount of pow debriefs I've been able to find for them and had a very good year of collecting! Yes it would be very nice if they did have an official POW medal like the United States do, especially if it was named, but sadly only the unofficial pow medal exists! (See final post on page 3) cheers again! Rob
  6. Hi John, Great group and amazing to have the original newspaper with his picture in it! I have done a quick search and i have found out that Leslie James Clare was held at PG57 at Gruppignano, near Udine, Italy. I have not found him on the list of prisoners held in German territories so maybe there is still a good story to be uncovered! I'll PM you the email address of my chap who access's the pow debrief and escape reports from the National Archives and maybe you will get lucky! Rob
  7. Brett, A very interesting and a sad story regarding his keenness to see action and how it turned out to be his first and last dogfight! Ive have just noticed on Findmypast, (a great site which i recommend using!), that in the last few days they have uploaded a file stating that Sgt G G Law was indeed interviewed in Switzerland about his escape from Italy so i have asked my researcher at the archives to have another look and try to find it! It states also that he was interviewed on the 23rd of November 1943, two years after his capture! Hopefully if the file can be found, it will be an interesting one! Rob
  8. Interesting reading Brett, many thanks! I know an unfortunately small amount about South African medals so it's good to get some info on the Territorial LSGC. I'm assuming that he qualified for it in 1943/1944 as war service was considered 'double time' for the lsgc so he would have qualified whilst a POW. It's 75 years ago to the day that Sgt G G Law was captured at Sidi Rezegh! How interesting that a 21 year old collector from the UK has his medals in his collection all these years after he was captured! Hope you are well, Rob
  9. Hi Alan, Yes it is an eye watering amount! But as the listing says, a truly unique group! Perhaps you could get a replica set assembled and make a nice display instead? Either way, a fascinating man to have as an ancestor and I enjoyed reading about him! Rob
  10. Hi Brett, Yes the ww2 medals are impressed with service number, initials and surname as is standard and the Territorial medal in engraved with service number, rank, name and regiment. Glad you enjoyed! Rob
  11. Hi, If I have the correct group, they are up for auction with Dix, Noonan and Webb next month. Here is the link, https://www.dnw.co.uk/auctions/catalogue/lot.php?auction_id=448&lot_id=5052 Regards, Rob
  12. When talking about the Italian Capitulation and those got back to allied lines or to Switzerland, its hard to say whether it can be classed as Escape, or simply as a mix of opportunism and luck. After the Capitulation, most camps were simply left for the inmates to control. A large amount were free for quite a few days before the Germans arrived allowing thousands to simply walk out and make their own way back to freedom, However this depended on if the senior officer in the camp followed the stay put order or not. A couple of the camps however were almost immediately taken over by the Germans. One camp in particular is Camp 52 at Chiavari. The Germans actually parachuted in on the Capitulation of Italy to take over the camp instantly. Nobody was able to escape before the camp was taken by the Germans and the Prisoners were put into cattle trucks for the Fatherland. It is estimated that only about 30 men managed to escape from the train. Therefore, it is really hard to find true 'escaper' medal groups to men held in Italy. However, i have been fortunate enough to find the grouping to Lieutenant John Jenkins (Posted about on this thread, page 2) who escaped, by hiding in the tunnel he had been working on for 6 months, when the the Germans came to en-train all of the prisoners to Germany. I have recently been able to find a group to a man who i am sure is one of those who jumped from the train from PG 52 at Chiavari. Sadly, he didn't fill out an MI9 debrief form so the details cant be truly discovered. I have seen only 2 groups to men who jumped from the train and have read a further 2 or 3 accounts of others who had jumped, but only seen the group of and heard the story of one other man who escaped in a different way. For this reason i am certain that my man jumped from the train. George Gordon Law was born on the 24th of October 1915 in South Africa. His mother and next of kin was Agnes M Gordon Law. His nationality is listed as British Colonial. He lived at 242 Kerk St. Johannesburg. His description (on discharge) is given as: Height: 5"11, Complexion: Medium, Hair: Brown, Eyes: Blue/Grey and Distinctive Marks: Scar Left side of Forehead. He joined the 1st Transvaal Scottish Regiment in 1934 and served with them until 1939 when he transferred to the 3rd Battalion Transvaal Scottish. He initially served in the East African Campaign embarking from Durban aboard the SS Westernland on the 8th of December 1940 arriving on the 15th. He served in Mombasa, Kenya until the 18th of April 1941 when he embarked from Mombasa to Suez aboard the HMT Dunera arriving at his destination on the 3rd of May 1941. As part of Operation Crusader, the attempt to relieve the besieged port of Tobruk, the Transvaal Scottish were all but annihilated at Sidi Rezegh by Rommel's Panzers on the 23rd of November 1941. The Transvaal Scottish were halted at Sidi Rezegh on the 22nd of November by strong German positions who counter-attacked with two Panzer Divisions. The South Africans formed a defensive box formation trying to take cover in slit trenched, however, in many places they could only dig down to around 9 inches due to the solid limestone underneath their positions. Their position was to be protected on the flank by the ten remaining tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade who had lost nearly 140 tanks in four days of fighting. On the morning of the 23rd, the two Panzer divisions swept through the shattered remnants of the Armoured Brigade and attacked the South African positions from all sides. Despite heroic resistance from the infantrymen fighting tanks out in the open with nothing but rifles and machine guns and their artillery who fired over open sights until they were overrun. The South Africans were all but wiped out. The Africakorps called the battle "Totensonntag", the 'Sunday of the dead' due to the ferociousness of the fighting. After the battle of Sidi Rezegh, Acting Lieutenant General Sir Charles Willoughby Moke Norrie stated that the South Africans "Sacrifice resulted in the turning point of the battle, giving the allies the upper hand in North Africa". After his capture on the 23rd of November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh, Sgt Law was sent to PG 38 at Poppi which was a monastery near Arezzo arriving on the 14th of January 1942. On the 8th of February he was confirmed as a P.O.W. He moved camps to PG 66 at Capua on the 25th of March 1942 and moved on to his final destination on the 24th of April 1942 which was PG 52 at Chiavari. On the Capitulation of Italy, the Germans parachuted in and took over the camp before anybody had got the chance to get away as the Senior British Warrant Officer had forbidden attempts to escape as the Stay Put order had stated. The prisoners were marched off to the station on put on trains for Germany. It appears that Sgt Law managed to escape from the train and he made his way up to Switzerland arriving on the 3rd of January 1944. He was released from Switzerland in October 1944 arrived in Egypt on the 11th of October. He arrived back in the Union on the 4th of November 1944. I am going to try and contact the Regiment to see if they hold any record of Law's escape but either way, a group to a man who got away from Camp 52 is very rare indeed so im glad to have it in my collection. Its also my first Territorial Efficiency Medal to have the Bi-Lingual South African Suspender so its always nice to have a completely 'new' medal in my collection!
  13. I have just found this extra bit of information regarding William Basil Rudd's final sortie which ended in him being shot down and captured. This info is taken from 'Fighter Command's Air War in 1941: RAF Circus Operations and Fighter Sweeps' by Norman Franks. Quickly to define for those who are not aware, a 'Circus Operation' was the code-name given to operations of the Royal Air Force during World War Two where bombers, heavily escorted by fighters, were sent over Continental Europe to bring enemy fighters into combat. Circus No.93 - 4 September The first Circus of the month called for twelve Blenheims to attack the power station at Mazingarbe. North Weald got the Close Escort slot, Biggin the Cover. Target Support went to Kenley and Hornchurch. Forward Support to Northolt and Rear Support, Tangmere. Low cloud over the Channel became hazy over France with just fragments of cloud. The bombers, all of 18 Squadron, operated in two boxes of six, and made RV over Manston at 10,000 feet at 18:00. Seventeen minutes later they were crossing the French coast at Mardyck and reached Mazingarbe ten minutes after that, Bombs from the first box all overshot, but the second six saw their bombs fall on the Ammonia plant, on the coking ovens and across the nearby rail line. However, on the way in a single Me109 dived on the rear section near Hazebrouck and opened fire on one which pulled out with black smoke pouring from its starboard engine. It then burst into flames and just before it blew up, one of the crew baled out. The attacking pilot was none other than Adolf Galland who thus achieved his eighty-second victory. The escorts became embroiled in fights with Me109s going to and returning from the target and while 222 Squadron lost two pilots, the Wing claimed 2-3-1 before the 109's broke off. Both NCO pilots ended up 'in the bag'. 111 Squadron also had one pilot forced to bale out but he was later rescued. This was Sgt T R Caldwell's second baled out having done so back on the 23rd of July. Of the three Blenheim crew, only the pilot survived joining the two fighter pilots in captivity. (I am assuming the '2-3-1' means 2 destroyed, 3 probables and 1 damaged?) Its very interesting to see that Adolf Galland was involved in this operation. Galland was credited with an incredible 104 'kills' and fought against the RAF in the Battle of Britain. After the war, Galland actually became good friends with Douglas Bader!
  14. Apologies, Rudd moved to 603 squadron in July 1941, not 601 as i put!
  15. Next up is quite a scarce find. William Basil Rudd was born on the 7th of June 1918. In 1938, whilst working at the HM Dockyard Portsmouth, he joined the Portsmouth Aero Club. In September of 1938 he joined the Civil Air Guard which was a scheme set up to subsidise pilot training fees for Civilian flying clubs who could assist the Royal Air Force in time of emergency. He lived at 116 Malins Road, Mile End, Portsmouth. On the outbreak of war, William Rudd volunteered to join the Royal Air Force but received a letter from the air ministry apologising that the RAF couldnt absorb Civil Air Guard members at the present time. ( See the letter in pictures). William persevered and eventually he enlisted in the Royal Air Force on the 22nd of May 1940. After he finished his training he joined 152 Squadron based at RAF Warmwell flying Spitfires on home defence operations. Throughout June 1941, Rudd was scrambled many times flew many patrols over: Plymouth, Lizard Point, Falmouth, Perranporth, Scillies, searches for a destroyer 15 miles from base, Lundy isle and St Ives. In July 41, he was posted to 601 Squadron flying sorties over Dunkirk, St Omer, Lille and Calais seeing lots of engagements with the enemy fighters. On the 8th of July, the Squadron moved from Rochford to Hornchurch. Rudd was one of those who flew one of the Squadrons aircraft over to the new base. (I have obtained the Operations Records books for each squadron he was in and have picked out some interesting events) On the 12th, the squadron were tasked to cover and escort 3 Stirlings. They encountered the enemy in great force over St Omer and had some successes. Sgt Pilot Jackman claimed one Destroyed and one damaged, Sgt Prythereh claimed one probable and Flight Lieutenants Gilroy and Delorme each claimed one damaged. On the 21st of July, the squadron were target support wing to a 'Circus' over Lille being led by Wing Commander Gerald Stapleton (Battle of Britain ace and later POW himself). Over Lille they sighted 15 Messerschmidt 109's. They dived and a big dogfight ensued. Sgt Tabor (A battle of britain pilot who came from 152 Squadron with Rudd) returning at '0 feet' destroyed a Me109-F which was landing and shot a man off of a watch tower. Sgt Delorme destroyed a Me109-E in the dogfight and Sgt Archibald damaged another. Wing Commander Stapleton also destroyed one. On the 23rd, 8 of the squadrons aircraft covered a circus over Bethune. Sgt Wood had to return to base due to an oil leak and Pilot Officer Keables hood was shot off. The remaining 6 aircraft were jumped by twenty Me109's. Sgt G Tabor was reported missing and later found out to have been killed. On the 30th of July, Sgt Rudd reported to 222 Squadron. On the 17th of August, the squadron took off to escort three Blenheims to Torpedo an enemy ship in Le Touqet. The Attack was successful. On the 19th the Squadron took off to rendezvous with six Blenheims to Hazebrouck. Squadron heavily engaged with enemy fighters Flt Lt Martin probably destroyed one and Sgt Ptacek reported missing - feared lost. On the 21st, the Squadron took part in an offensive fighter patrol over St Omer. Pilot Officer Burgess and Sgt Pilot Rudd each fired at and destroyed a Messerschmidt 109. Burgess at Bf109-F and Rudd a Bf109-E. On the 2nd of September, Rudd was in a Fighter Sweep over St Omer and Le Touqet at 24,000 ft. On the 4th of September, the squadron was ordered to escort 12 Blenheims to bomb Masingarbe. Sgt Pilots Sharples and Rudd were reported missing. William Basil Rudd was shot down and baled out over Dunkirk and was captured on the same day. As an NCO, he was obliged to work but the Germans knowing that RAF prisoners were generally pretty intelligent, very brave and escape minded decided not to make RAF NCO's work to avoid them escaping on work parties. He was sent to Dulag Luft near Frankfurt for interrogation which he described as 'Normal'. From mid September 1941 to May 1942, he was imprisoned at Stalag VIII-B at Lamsdorf. Due to overcrowding, the majority of the 600 airmen at Lamsdorf were transferred to Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan. From May 1942 he was held at Stalag Luft 3 until he was entrained for Stalag Luft 6 at Hydekrug in Lithuania in June 1943. In July 1944, fearing the Russians were getting too close, the Germans moved the Prisoners from Luft 6 to Stalag 357 at Thorn which was a fortress camp. In August 1944, he was transferred to Stalag 357 Fallingbostel where he stayed until April 1945. On the 6th of April 1945, the prisoners of Fallingbostel were marched away from the advancing russians. On the 19th of April the column of marching prisoners was accidentally strafed at Gresse by a British Typhoon which resulted in over 60 Fatalities and many more injuries. In early May 1945, the prisoners marched over British lines after the hard work of Sgt James 'Dixie' Deans who had given the German Commandant, Ernst Ostmann, the ultimatum of either be taken prisoner by the Russians or the British. Ostmann allowed Deans to go to the British Lines to warn them that many columns of POW's were being marched and not to attack them again. Deans returned to the column and marched them across the British lines where he accepted Ostmann's surrender. William Basil Rudd was interviewed about his time as a prisoner of the 9th of May 1945. The items i have are Rudd's original Civil Air Guard log book which shows flights on many different aircraft, a letter from the RAF about being unable to take him at the time, a CAG button and his original RAF wings which he was issued and probably wore throughout his time as a POW. The whereabouts of his medals were unknown to the family so i have added them to my display and if i ever were to sell the grouping, they would be removed just to clear it up! Hope you have enjoyed this one!