azyeoman

Small collection of POW groups. ** REGIONAL ADMIN. AWARD & CERT. OF MERIT. *A RECOMMENDED POST

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Three new lapel badges for WWI.

The top one maybe an Australian one, but the others are definitely from the UK.

The bottle left with the French, English, Russian and Belgian flags is in sterling and has a maker's mark, but it is illegible.  The bottom right is of bronze gilt and blue enamel in which is "Prisoners of War Association", which was made be J R Gaunt.

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John

Those are unusual additions to your collection. I presume they must be rarities, since in my experience lapel badges seem to be regarded as common, uninteresting and uncollectable.

Regards

Brett

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Another new WWI day badge; unusual as it's quite a large one.

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Here's a very scarce to rare welcome home medal to the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment.

There was a reception in 1919 that was held in Guildford for 270 repatriated other ranks POWs from the Queen’s Royal West Surrey. These men were also awarded a small commemorative medal that could be worn on a watch-chain.  A list of those attending in the Surrey Advertiser shows most of the men came from places within the regimental recruitment district or from within Surrey.  In total there were about 2,100 other ranks of the Queen’s who were PoWs.

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An update on this as I just found Pte. Ward's missing KSA.  Now, as seen in the photos below, they're back where they should be, together again.

Queens South Africa Medal with three clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg  named to: 5542 Private. J. Ward. East Lanc's Regiment.
King’s South Africa Medal with two clasps: South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902
J Ward served in the 1st Bn. East Lancashire Regiment, which served as mounted infantry in the Boer War.  He was captured and later released at Vereeninging on 4 January 1901.
Mounted Infantry - An unusual feature of the Boer War, and of its guerrilla phase in particular, was the prominence of mounted troops, including Mounted Infantry. The East, South and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments all provided large numbers of Mounted Infantry, including several complete companies. As the cutting edge of the mobile columns the mounted men saw more than their share of the fighting, and there was never any shortage of volunteers for this dashing role.
By December 1899 it was evident that additional troops would be required in South Africa and over the next few weeks the 3rd (Militia) Battalions of the East, South and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments were all embodied, reservists were recalled and active service companies of the Volunteer Battalions of all three Regiments were formed for service with their respective Regular Battalions. On 19 December the 1st Battalion East Lancashires left Jersey and sailed on the Bavarian and arrived at the Cape about 3rd February. Along with the 2nd Cheshire, 2nd South Wales Borderers, and 2nd North Staffordshire, they formed the 15th Brigade under Major General A G Wavell, and part of the VIIth Division under Lieutenant General Tucker.  They joined Lord Roberts’ army at the Orange River. Roberts, now C-in-C South Africa, had planned a major offensive to take the Boer capitals, Bloemfontein and Pretoria, and finish the war.
The battalion was said to have done well at Karee Siding on 29th March 1900. They lost that day 5 men killed and 14 wounded. At the crossing of the Zand River on 10th May they also did their portion of the task well.
In Lord Roberts' final dispatch 11 officers and 17 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
In 1901 the battalion furnished the infantry of columns which operated in the Southern Transvaal and in the Orange River Colony under Brigadier General G Hamilton, Colonel Grey, Colonel Garratt, and others, and necessarily did a lot of very hard marching and had a good many little fights.
In 1902 the battalion assisted in holding a line of blockhouses near Vrede during the driving operations.
Three officers, 1 non-commissioned officer, and 1 private were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's dispatches during the war, and 4 officers and 4 non-commissioned officers in his final dispatch.
Some of the “good many little fights” were as follows:
Paardeberg The advance began on 11 February and the East Lancashires, after a trying march, took part on the 15th in the capture of Jacobsdal. Their Mounted Infantry Company were also in action that day at Waterval Drift, while on the both they and the Loyal North Lancashire Mounted Infantry were present at the decisive victory of Paardeberg. During the subsequent advance on Bloemfontein the Mounted Infantry were engaged at the battles of Driefontein and Poplar Grove. On 13 March Bloemfontein surrendered.
Karee Siding After a short halt at Bloemfontein the 1st East Lancashires marched north with the 7th Division and, on 29 March, attacked a Boer defensive position at Karee Siding. The Lancashire lads took the Boers’ main position, known afterwards as ‘East Lancashire Hill’, with a gallant charge.
Zand River After a pause for resupply, Roberts resumed his advance north to the Rand, and on 10 May the East Lancashires were in action at the battle of Zand River, capturing the key to the Boer position and beating off a strong counter-attack.
Johannesburg With the East Lancashire and Loyal North Lancashire Mounted Infantry well to the fore, Roberts’ army pressed on to take Johannesburg on 31 May. 1st East Lancashires had marched 126 miles in seven days.
Pretoria and Diamond Hill Then, while the East Lancashires remained to garrison the Rand, the Mounted Infantry companies took part in the capture of the Transvaal capital and the subsequent battle of Diamond Hill, 11-12 June.
During the guerrilla time of the war, Kitchener had some ten times the overall strength of the Boers, but by the time his lines of communication had been secured he had barely more soldiers available for offensive operations than his opponents, perhaps 22,000 to the Boers’ 20,000. In consequence, at local level the game of cat and mouse involved frequent role reversals when the ‘mice’ converged in superior strength to attack convoys and isolated columns.  The Mounted Infantry companies were very active at this stage of the war, and the 1st East Lancashire Company in particular took part in many successful engagements.
As the war entered its second year, Kitchener realized that he had to deny both logistic support and freedom of movement to the Boers. His draconic farm clearances were largely achieving the first of these requirements, and to achieve the second he began a comprehensive program of blockhouse building to cordon off great tracts of the country. These blockhouses were miniature forts, sited for all-round defense, each with a garrison of an NCO and 6-8 privates. They were linked by barbed-wire fences and erected at intervals of about half to three-quarters of a mile to contain the Boer commandos so that coordinated search and destroy drives could be mounted by mobile columns. The 1st East Lancashires built and manned a blockhouse line near Frankfort.  By October 1901 this system was proving its worth, but it was not until May 1902 that the surviving Boer leaders accepted that further resistance was useless and surrendered at Vereeninging.
South African Field Force. JB Hayward & Sons
[2626: 2640-2755] a town in the South African Republic (Vereeninging district; Gauteng) some 50 km south of Johannesburg. By 23 May 1900 all the Republic's forces engaged in the Orange Free State had withdrawn to Vereeniging. Patrols from Maj-Gen J.D.P. French's cavalry division discovered on 26 May 1900 that the town had been evacuated, the Boers retiring to defensive positions on the Klipriviers Berg*. Cmdt-Gen L. Botha ordered Cmdt A.H. Malan with Theron's Scouts to wreck the railway bridge across the Vaal River south of the town and do as much damage as possible. The town was taken that day by Col St.G.C. Henry's column, including the 4th and 8th corps mounted infantry, but too late to save the bridge. On 27 May, Field Marshal Lord Roberts crossed the Vaal at Viljoen's Drift* and entered Vereeniging. Representatives of the commandos met at Vereeniging on 15 May 1902, with Asst Cmdt-Gen C.F. Beyers, in the chair to discuss the course of the war and elect a commission to discuss peace terms with the British. The commission returned to Vereeniging on 28 May and on 31 May the Assembly voted to accept the terms recommended to them. Although known as the Treaty of Vereeniging, the document was actually signed in Pretoria. Vereeniging was the location of both white and black refugee concentration camps. HMG III pp.71-72 and 74 (map no.38), IV pp.542, 544 and 554-560 (map no.59); Times IV p.136 (map of the Transvaal in the end pocket); Breytenbach V pp.512 and 518 (map facing p.550); Wilson II p.659 (photograph), IV pp.981-4 (photographs); Cassell pp.1,157-1,159; Warwick p.154; Cd.819.


An interesting clip from the British Film Institute of the E. Lancs returning from South Africa and parading through Preston in 1902.
Just back from service in the Boer War, the East Lancashire Regiment parades in the grounds of its Fulwood Barracks in Preston before a party of local dignitaries and others. Afterwards, the pith-helmeted militiamen relax and mingle with their audience. These beautifully crisp images were assembled in something of a jumble, suggesting they may be offcuts left over from another film.  The Burnley militia was formed in 1853 and the soldiers form the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment. Fulwood Barracks was on the site of what is now the Queen's Lancashire Regiment Museum. The film was screened by Ralph Pringle in Burnley at the Mechanic's Institute.

http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-return-of-the-east-lancashire-regiment-at-preston-1902-1902/

 

 

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ID: 230   Posted (edited)

A very interesting PoW to an officer for Roodeval.

Queen’s South Africa - 3 clasps: Cape Colony, Transvaal, Wittebergen

King’s South Africa - 2 claps: SA 1901, SA 1902; with Matching Miniatures.

Lieutenant P.C. Shepard, Notts & Derby Regiment, was taken prisoner of war in the disastrous ambush at Roodeval on 7th June 1900. The entire battalion, but six men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner, in the epic action. Colonel Baird-Douglas, was wounded in four places, still fighting valiantly to his last breath, he threatened any man to retreat would receive a round from his revolver, they surrendered to save the remainder of the battalion after the Colonel collapsed and died of his wounds. 


An excellent account of the battle from ‘South Africa and the Transvaal War, by Louis Creswicke’; 

“It was imagined that the combined vigilance of these officers had entirely protected the communications in the Orange River Colony, but on the 7th of June the unquenchable Dutchmen succeeded in cutting line and telegraph wire north of Kroonstad, and in taking prisoners most of the 4th Battalion of the Derbyshires (Sherwood Foresters), who were guarding the district. Of the battalion, the Colonel, a lieutenant, and thirty-four rank and file were killed, five officers and ninety-nine men were wounded, and the rest, save six, made prisoners! 

The story ran thus: At dusk on the 4th, the Derbyshire Militia Regiment arrived at Roodeval and pitched their camp in the lee of a string of kopjes that shelved away to the west, and terminated in a high hump which, jutting out of the plain, commanded rail, camp, and the surrounding hills. Owing to the darkness it was impossible to do much in the way of reconnoitering, and though some scouts and natives warned the commanding officers that Boers had been espied in the vicinity, little notice was taken. The pickets, which had been posted on a range of kopjes north of the camp, were strengthened, and some few shots fired at distant snipers. Then the party laid themselves down to rest, and slept placidly. Before dawn they were awakened by the furious crackling of musketry, and even as the men turned out with their rifles, they dropped. One after another as they left their tents fell victims to the unseen foe. 

The fact was, the pickets had been attacked and driven in, and the enemy occupied the range, which commanded the British troops. Presently the early morning was humming with shot and shell, the Boers now having brought four big guns and a pom-pom to bear on the unfortunate camp and the bald plain that surrounded it. Valiantly the militiamen, raw and unfledged warriors as they were, fought; long, bloody, and disastrous hours passed, and they, falling thick as autumn leaves, continued to hold out in a completely defenseless position till the plain was littered with dead and wounded — more than eighty of them now lying in a trap from which it was impossible to escape. Colonel Baird-Douglas, wounded in four places, fought like a lion, encouraging his men, and vowing to shoot the first who should display a white flag. Then he dropped exhausted and breathed his last. Finally 420 prisoners were taken, including the following 
officers of the 4th Derbyshire Regiment: Captain J. Humber, Captain C. P. Piers, Captain A. M. W. Mohun-Harris, 
Captain E. M. Wilmot, Captain R. C. Fenwick, Captain and Adjutant R. Britten, 
Lieutenant P. C. Shepard, Second-Lieutenant A. C. Hewitt, Second-Lieutenant 
J. L. Heymann, Second-Lieutenant H. L. Napier, Second-Lieutenant H. M. 
Milward, Second-Lieutenant J. H. W. Becke, Second-Lieutenant J. H. Mathias, 
Second-Lieutenant H. S. Anderson, Second-Lieutenant E. N. T. Collin, Hon. 
Lieutenant and Quartermaster M. M'Guire. Among the killed were: Lieutenant-Colonel Baird-Douglas and Lieutenant Horley. Among the wounded : Colonel Wilkinson, Captain Bailey, Second-Lieutenants Hall and Lawder, 
Lieutenant Blanchard, Canadian Infantry (attached to 4th Derbyshire). 

It was said that after the capture the commandants, on bringing the prisoners to the station, were seen cordially shaking hands with a railway official as though exchanging congratulations. This circumstance was one of many which bore witness to the innumerable acts of treachery and duplicity with which commanding officers had to contend.”

Percy Cumberledge Shepard was born on 2 November, 1880 in Putney.  He was educated at Yorebridge Grammar School in Hawes, Yorkshire.  He was 6’ tall, and single when he passed from the militia to the Notts & Derby Regiment in 1900.  He was the son of WP Shepard of Ridgeway Place, Wembeldon.  He served in South Africa from 11/1/1900 to 10/9/1902.  He then went to China were he served from 14/12/1902 to 6/12/1904 and then ended up in the Straits Settlements from 7/12/1904 to 27/9/1908.

He served with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) and he saw action at Wittebergen and of course Roodeval.  His QSA and KSA and claps are confirmed in his Regimental Officer Service Records. (WO 76)

On the line of communications in June 1900 there occurred several "regrettable incidents" (as the press would describe them) whereby a large bag of British POWs were taken by the Boers; who at the same time wreaked havoc upon Lord Roberts' supply line. One such incident involved the surrender on 7 June 1900, after a stiff fight and many casualties, of the 4th Militia Bn of the Derbyshire Regt. at Rhenoster Camp.

Several battalions of the Militia were in SA following the national uproar over Black Week. Among other sources of manpower, nine Militia battalions were asked to volunteer for active service. The 4th Derbys was one of them and left Southampton on the transport ship "UMBRIA" on 11 January 1900 and landed at Port Elizabeth on 2 February 1900 for duties on the LofC.
Some describe the action as having taken place at Roodeval (including the SAFF casualty list) wheras others correctly locate it at Rhenoster camp. Sometimes the details vary - however it is sufficient to record that DeWet's forces conducted a triple hit on the British LofC in the OFS and, in the words of Conan Doyle, at Rhenoster camp, the Derby Militia were outnumbered, out generalled and without guns.

They had been tasked with guarding the supply depot on both sides of the Rhenoster river; however no entrenching was conducted. The Boers under Froneman hit the camp with concentrated rifle fire at 0200 and later employed artillery. At 1000 hrs, after suffering 156 killed and wounded, the camp surrendered and about 500 men went into captivity. The 1900 edition of Conan Doyle's work comments that "there was no shadow of stain upon the good name of the only militia battalion, which was ever seriously engaged during the war". Some opinioned that bad staff work was the root cause of the incident.

Arthor Conan Doyle described the action...

Two miles beyond Roodeval station there is a well-marked kopje by the railway line, with other hills some distance to the right and the left. A militia regiment, the 4th Derbyshire, had been sent up to occupy this post. There were rumours of Boers on the line, and Major Haig, who with one thousand details of various regiments commanded at railhead, had been attacked on June 6th but had beaten off his assailants. De Wet, acting sometimes in company with, and sometimes independently of, his lieutenant Nel, passed down the line looking fur some easier prey, and on the night of June 7th came upon the militia regiment, which was encamped in a position which could be completely commanded by artillery. It is not true that they had neglected to occupy the kopje under which they lay, for two companies had been posted upon it. But there seems to have been no thought of imminent danger, and the regiment had pitched its tents and gone very comfortably to sleep without a thought of the gentleman in the tinted glasses. In the middle of the night he was upon them with a hissing sleet of bullets. At the first dawn the guns opened and the shells began to burst among them. It was a horrible ordeal for raw troops. The men were miners and agricultural labourers, who had never seen more bloodshed than a cut finger in their lives. They had been four months in the country, but their life had been a picnic, as the luxury of their baggage shows. Now in an instant the picnic was ended, and in the grey cold dawn war was upon them--grim war with the whine of bullets, the screams of pain, the crash of shell, the horrible rending and riving of body and limb. In desperate straits, which would have tried the oldest soldiers, the brave miners did well. They never from the beginning had a chance save to show how gamely they could take punishment, but that at least they did. Bullets were coming from all sides at once and yet no enemy was visible. They lined one side of the embankment, and they were shot in the back. They lined the other, and were again shot in the back. Baird-Douglas, the Colonel, vowed to shoot the man who should raise the white flag, and he fell dead himself before he saw the hated emblem. But it had to come. A hundred and forty of the men were down, many of them suffering from the horrible wounds which shell inflicts. The place was a shambles. Then the flag went up and the Boers at last became visible. Outnumbered, outgeneralled, and without guns, there is no shadow of stain upon the good name of the one militia regiment which was ever seriously engaged during the war. Their position was hopeless from the first, and they came out of it with death, mutilation, and honour.

The black and white photo is of the regiment marching to embark for South Africa.

 

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Edited by azyeoman

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ID: 231   Posted (edited)

I recently acquired a large RAF Ex-PoW Association neck medal on yellow/gold ribbon.  It's 5mm in diameter.  There is no hallmark and nothing is on the case either.  I'd be grateful if anyone knows of the significance of this medal.  Thanks in advance.

For more information on the association please go to: http://www.rafinfo.org.uk/rafexpow/

 

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Edited by azyeoman

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Thanks for the additions!  Your ability to scout these sets out is nothing short of amazing.  

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Although not a medal, this letter from Cpl David Parker to his wife and family is a poignant reminder of the horrible and long separations while being a PoW.   This letter was written on 20/9/42 in Stammlager XXB and is postmarked 18/11/1942, which is evidence of the terrible postal service for PoWs and their families.  Parker had another two and a half years of captivity before he was to see his family again.  The letter was obviously saved because it meant the world to his wife and daughter Mary.  It shows how he was worried about their welfare and was trying to do all he could despite all.  There is more than a tinge of depression when me mentions the length of the war and how the world will never be the same.  His intimate lines hopefully help his wife and daughter to cope with his absence. 

I have typed the letter as it is, grammar, punctuation and all as it adds to the poignancy. The letter reads:

My Own Darling wife & child,  I am in the (20/9/42)

best of health.  it leaves me also in company with

one of Eva's cousins, Bill Southern, we are working

together, so please tell her I know she will be pleased.

Nearly every time she has wrote she has hoped we

had met.  Also sweetheart last week I sent you L15

also I told the paymaster to increase your

allottment to the fullest amount, also darling

please write to him and ask him for the state

of me credits then you can let me know and

I will send (all) I can.  Tell him I asked you to write

Time goes on and still this war seems no nearer

its end than it did twelve months ago, but

one thing that grows is the fact that the

longer to return grows and my love for you to. I

suppose we will find a different England that

what we left it is a changing world I supose

we will be behind time.  Love to all, tell

Mary I send my love and kisses longing to see her.

To you sweetheart I send all my love and millions

of kisses all to the one I love most.  Goodnight my

love remember always that is how long I will love

you.  Think of the song "Yours" sweetheart I am yours

for always.  Your own loving husband, daddy, Dave

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Very interesting, there are always German letters to be found but rarely any to Commonwealth troops.

Is that D E Parker who was captured in 1940?

 

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ID: 235   Posted (edited)

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Edited by peter monahan

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ID: 236   Posted (edited)

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ID: 237   Posted (edited)

Lance-Corporal David Edward Parker

 

Unit : "B" Company, 6th Durham Light Infantry (TA).

Served : France (captured).

Army No. : 4447756

POW No. : 5869

Camps : Stalag XXA, Stalag XXB.

 

David Parker was born on the 4th August 1914, the day that the Great War began. Of a military family, he joined the Royal Navy at the age of 14 and was posted aboard the training ship HMS Warspite. However life at sea was not at all to his liking, and as the Navy was having little difficulty in recruiting at the time, Parker volunteered for a transfer to the Army. He joined the Durham Light Infantry in November 1929 and after training was sent to Egypt to join their 2nd Battalion, who in March 1930 were posted to India, where amongst other things they served on the North-West Frontier. Parker did not return home until February 1936, where he was transferred to the 1st Battalion who were shortly to leave for China, but in view of his recent tour overseas he was allowed to opt out.

 

In 1937, whilst based at the DLI depot at Fenham Barracks, Newcastle, Parker met and later married Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" Donaldson, with whom he had two children, Mary Margaret on the 18th March 1940, and James Edward on the 7th March 1946; it was a family tradition to name the eldest son James. Serving as a Bandsman and a flautist, Parker returned to the 2nd Battalion in 1937 and left for Sudan, but he was repatriated shortly before the declaration of war and was then posted to the 6th Battalion (TA), part of the 50th Division who joined the British Expeditionary Force in France.

 

France

 

'We sailed from England on 29th January 1940 and were stationed near Fresney, Pacy near Evreux; a village outside Amiens and finally at Emmerin near Lille. In each place we stayed for about a month until we got to Emmerin where we remained until just after the Germans broke into Belgium. We then rode to a village almost on the Dutch border, where we made a second line of defence.'

 

'After only two days near the border we marched back to La Basse in France where we stayed one night before moving off early the next morning to the Arras area. Our troops attempted to cut off the break through by the German Army and penetrated the German territory for eleven miles, getting so close to the French troops that their shells were beginning to fall around us. The French and our army had planned to cut off the advance which had swept so quickly through the French countryside. We always felt that our T.A. Division had done well against Hitler's trained, crack troops - then along came the aircraft to mow down our lads with no defence except rifle and bren gun. Soon the battalion's strength was reduced by heavy casualties and over came the German troops to finish off what the aircraft had started.'

 

'We attacked and entered a village, taking more prisoners than the strength of the Company. Our Company Commander, Major Perry M.C. had sent two Sergeants back with the prisoners, only to find that we had captured another large number. He decided that he could not send yet another sergeant to accompany the men. At that time I was a company clerk with the rank of Lance Corporal and realising that I would not be needed, he detailed me to take the prisoners back to Brigade. Having, with my two companions, completed this task, we made our way back to Battalion H.Q. where I approached the Adjutant asking if he could direct me to B Company. He told us he had no idea of their location and told us to remain there whilst he found out. He never returned. Can you imagine what it is like in a strange country with no map or compass with just the sun to guide you in the right direction? We found out later that the local people were no help to us at all since they blamed the British troops for what happened at Dunkirk though history has shown it was not our fault at all.'

 

'Having been abandoned we took plans to travel south, using such cover as we could find. It was now getting quite dark when a German tank suddenly came up the road which crossed ours. At the cross-roads he started to fire along the road in which we were sitting and you can guess how the soldiers ran to get out of the way. I was running too, towards a house, when a Corporal shouted to me, "Do you know anything about tank guns?" This was because an abandoned tank was by the side of the road. I said that, as a bandsman, I knew nothing about them but he replied, "Give me a hand and we'll blow this tank up if possible". I only carried the ammunition which he loaded and fired, blowing up the enemy tank. It stopped firing but the fire lit up the whole area giving away the positions of both armies. All we could see was soldiers, from both sides, running away from the tank and away from the German lines.'

 

'We were finally taken prisoner and joined a party of about twenty which was later marched away by a German guard. After a while the British soldiers tried to speak to the guard only to find that he knew no English and some suddenly turned on him and it is believed they killed him with his own rifle. We all scattered as our only thought was to get well away though we had no idea where we were and it was getting light on the morning of 22nd May. We set off across the typical French countryside with its long avenues of trees using such cover as we could find and decided to lie low in a wood during the day and set off at night. About an hour before sunset we heard a tank coming towards us and kept low, thinking we had been discovered. The copse was small and we feared the worst when the tank stopped near us but were relieved to hear a lot of swearing in English! We ran out and were invited by the Major in charge to join them. Their tank had broken down and it was some time before they got it going again.'

 

'The Major did not know how the land lay and was unsure whether the British or the Germans held the area though Amiens was still in British hands when he last had news. We rode on the tank and collected a further fourteen British soldiers who clambered aboard also trying to get back to the British lines. After about an hour's travelling it was getting quite dark, when we saw the silhouette of another tank coming towards the cross-roads. Neither tank wanted to give way so, slowing down, we actually hit one another before the others pulled back to let us through and we continued on our way. It was only as the other tank set off that we saw the big white German cross on its side. We went on our way and they went theirs and I do not think they even realised that we were British.'

 

'We passed through Albert in total darkness where we passed a German sentry outside a house who ignored us. Later on a German motor cycle, with a side-car manned with a machine gun, followed us for a few hundred yards before overtaking us and vanishing in to the night. On we went and as we approached Amiens, we saw a swinging light in front of us. Not knowing what to expect, the Major invited us to get off the tank but we decided to stay with our luck and remain on board. Slowly we travelled towards the light until, as we reached it, the tank shot forward at speed with us hanging on for dear life. The German soldier fired his pistol at the disappearing tank but had no luck and hit no-one.'

 

'Later we passed a German column which had been asleep on the road side though we had been assured by men on the front of the tank that the men were French! When we approached Amiens we could see the town ablaze and full of Germans so decided to make for Boulogne which had not fallen, using minor roads through small villages which were quiet or deserted. About twelve miles from Boulogne the tank ran out of petrol so we had to ditch it in a copse where we smashed it up as much as possible so that it could not be used. The Major and his men then went off to see how the land lay and told us to stay put until they returned but we never saw them again.'

 

N.B. The Major referred to was the Second-in-Command of the Tank Regiment, and he was suffering from shell shock. The tank was commanded by 2nd Lieutenant, later Brigadier, Peter Vaux OBE, who revealed that in the confusion of battle David Parker's account of the tank journey may have become distorted. According to Vaux's information his tank did not break down when he first encountered Parker and the others, but this may have been some other tank. He was heading away from the front line towards Doullens when he realized that there were about half a dozen Durhams clinging onto his tank, and he had no idea how they had got there. The incident where they had encountered a German tank was actually a lorry in the middle of a German column. The Germans had taken a wrong turn and in an effort to get back on track had created a solid traffic jam. Vaux directed his tank into this where his driver deliberately rammed the lorry to create a gap, and though there was lots of cursing from the owner of this vehicle, who assumed they were German, they were able to slip by without anyone suspecting that they were British. When the tank ran out of petrol and the moment of their parting came, Vaux suggested that they had to split up into small groups and make their own way. Because everybody was deaf from the noise of the tank, Parker probably did not hear this. Vaux and his men were captured, but escaped soon after. Sadly his driver was killed.

 

'We had a Second Lieutenant from the Durham Light Infantry with us and also a Sergeant and they decided that the best thing would be to lay up in a barn in the middle of a field so we set off along the road to the nearest barn. We suddenly heard people talking, coming towards us round a bend in the road, and we all dived out of sight into cover. It was two civilians and as they approached the officer went out and, with a little French that he knew, he tried to learn if Boulogne had fallen. This went on for some time until one said, "You are English". This was because a lot of Germans dressed in British uniform in an effort to tempt the soldiers to betray their positions. Some Germans had even dropped by parachute behind our lines in anticipation, long before retreat. The two 'civilians' proved to be two R.A.S.C. soldiers also trying to get away. They told us Boulogne had fallen though many years later I found this to be untrue.'

 

'On reaching the barn we all settled down to sleep which was broken some time later by approaching voices which turned out to be those of two West Yorkshire Regiment soldiers who joined us and rested until darkness fell. We all set off under the direction of the officer and sergeant and marched for an hour, intending to travel south. I was uneasy and asked my companion to confirm we that we were supposed to be travelling south. When he did so we both went to the sergeant. I said that I remembered from my days in the Intelligence Section, that if the sun sets on your left, as it was doing, then you are walking north. We convinced the sergeant but the officer asked, "Do you think I'm mad?", before agreeing that we were going in the wrong direction. We eventually convinced him and turned round to retrace our route and travel south, travelling at night and sleeping during the day.'

 

'We did not get any help from the French who twice told us to leave the area of they would inform the Bosch. Twice we spent the day lying in the middle of a field with the Germans passing along the road a hundred yards away. After eight days we came to the banks of the Somme somewhere near Abbeville. Three of us left the main party when we learned that they intended to swim the Somme in daylight. Some of the men we met again in the Prisoner of War camp and were told that most of the men had been shot trying to swim the wide river. We were later taken by surprise and taken prisoner - possibly because the Germans had been alerted after our companions had been shot.'

 

Captured

 

'The time I spent as a Prisoner of War divides into four parts :-

 

1. The first nine months which were hard, with bad guards and little food. We also had poor health being lousy with sores and a lot of dysentery.

 

2. About March 1941 the first Red Cross parcels started to get through and I am sure only the lucky few would have survived on the rations without them. Apart from a few bad guards, conditions improved for us.'

 

3. This phase started when Italy was defeated and things got a bit easier as I am sure the Germans realised that they would not win the war.

 

4. As the Russians and the other Allies marched on to German soil, the guards realised that they would soon be the prisoners and many tried to appear that they had always been good guards. One can not forget.'

 

Phase 1

 

'After our capture near the Somme we were locked up in a coal shed and a German officer came trying to gain information. When we said that we had come from Belgium and had been on the run for eight days he suddenly turned and told us that the war was now over for us. He said that he had been to England many times and surprised us by adding that he doubted that Germany could win the war though it would take us a long time to beat the Germans. This recollection comforted me throughout my time as a P.O.W.'

 

'Whilst on the run we had very little to eat, bar a 'Kay Rations' which was given to all soldiers in battle. We also bought some milk from a farmer for 100 francs which we paid for by pooling our available money.'

 

'After captured we were sent to a camp which was an old prison at Doullens where we stayed for two days before being ordered to march. We covered about twenty miles a day and I remember passing through Cambrai. We slept wherever we could, with no cover and little to eat. If we did get anything it was a cup of watery soup measured out into our mess tins. Those who did not have one had to make do with anything they could find. Some even used their tin helmets if nothing else was available. During this time it was not uncommon for prisoners to be shot for trying to escape or even for not doing as they were told.'

 

'After some day's march we came to a place which sounds like 'Catalong'. If I remember rightly, it was by the side of a small stream (probably a small town called Catillon on the river Sambre). After spending the night there we were then loaded on to trucks and set off for Germany travelling through Luxembourg to a place just outside Bitburg. The camp was at the top of a hill just off the main road and this was our first taste of how badly we would be treated, since the locals came sightseeing and shouted at us. It was pretty grim there, sleeping where we could on the wooden floor but my most vivid memory is of the latrines. These were just a hole dug in the ground. This pit was several yards long with a tree trunk laying across three posts - one at each end and one in the middle to serve as a 'seat'. Since many of the P.O.W.'s had by then got dysentery the tree sagged almost to the ground with its load of men. I remember one time when there were so many men sitting there that the tree broke and most of the P.O.W.'s fell into the ditch. You can imagine what state they were in especially since there was no way of cleaning oneself so they could have been left like that for days. It must have been a glorious sight for the Germans who came up to the camp laughing and jeering at us. They mistakenly thought the war was won.'

 

'We stayed there for only a few days and were then marched to the local railway station, again being shouted at, spat upon and suffering all manner of things being thrown at us. Some of the men were kicked but luckily the words were not understood by most of these 'Englanders'. We were all thrown into cattle trucks with kicks and blows from rifle butts; some fifty of us in each, just crammed in together. When once sitting with your knees up there was not room to stretch so we just stayed like that until we reached Berlin where the doors were opened. There we were allowed to get out of the trucks and were given some watery soup and a slice of bread before being bundled back into the trucks and on our way once more. One truck had been a coal waggon so many of the men were in a terrible state by the time we reached Poland. The truck doors were opened at Poznan though we were not allowed to get off and it was here that we first learned how the Germans treated the Poles. One man threw a cigarette to an English prisoner and was bayoneted before being roughly dragged away by the guards.'

 

'We arrived at Torun and were put into some old Russian forts which had been build many years before and were in a terrible state. It was here that I met Sam Kidd who later became a noted British actor. It was really tough there with little food; one cup of watery soup and a loaf between seven men for the day. I remember looking out of a hole in the wall and seeing a prisoner kick a sick P.O.W. who shouted at him, only to receive a bullet which was fired by the guard and which hit the wall and ricocheted. We were all ordered that we must salute all N.C.O.'s from Corporal upwards but the senior W.O.I, a R.S.M. Chivers of the Royal West Kents said, at once and in front of the Camp Commandant, that the first man to salute him would get a punch in the eye.'

 

'At this time spirits were at their lowest ebb since most of us had dysentery and we all wondered how long the war would last. There was a Spiritualist in the camp who said he could find out through a seance so after a lot of persuading he agreed to try to contact the spirit world. There was a long table running the length of the room and we were instructed to sit holding hands to complete a circle. This we did and the seance started with the only sound being that of the medium. Unfortunately, in one of the quiet bits a soldier 'blew off' and we all collapsed into laughter so the seance was cancelled and we never found out how long we would be prisoners.'

 

'I went on a working party into the town and the Poles, forbidden to even speak to us, took great risks to speak when they could and give us small gifts.'

 

'Ill-treatment was very common at this camp and when a Sgt. Major of the Queen's Regiment got into trouble, two Germans were sent to beat him up. In the event it was the Germans who got the beating and we were all paraded with the guards' machine guns loaded and ready to fire while a number of soldiers were sent into the cell to do the beating up. Feeling ran very high and it was only the action of R.S.M. Chivers which prevented a riot with the prisoners being slaughtered.'

 

'Prisoners were always escaping from this camp and I remember the Commandant parading us and informing us that though we may be strong, he was stronger and would in future tie up anyone who tried to escape. That night twenty men escaped; we believed by tunnelling out of the fort.'

 

'The thing I remember best about Fort 13 was the made up concert and at the end we sang 'God Save the King', which I have never before or since heard sung so loudly and so loyally.'

 

'I left Torun after three weeks and joined a working party which was building a dam to prevent the stream overflowing in the thaw after the winter. At night we were locked into a barn which had no light or windows and was pitch dark. It is strange how we turn to God and to prayers in the dark. Some of the men were against this at first but in the end we all joined in. One night we were praying, a light appeared at the top of the wall which looked like a shadow of the painting of the Good Shepherd. This seemed to boost the lads.'

 

'One day when working from this camp a guard asked if any prisoner could drive a 'pferd', this being the German word for 'horse'. The chosen P.O.W. was away for quite a time having thought he said 'Ford' meaning a car and being unable to find it! One day a German asked if there was a carpenter amongst us and when I said that I was, he just said "Come with me". We went about a mile away from the stream and I began to wonder what I had let myself in for when I was handed an axe, saw and hammer. We then returned and I was instructed to fashion pieces of wood to be stuck in the tuffets which finished off the top of the bank. We remained at that camp for about two months before we moved again to Praust, near Danzig working on the roads (Danzig is now Gdansk).'

 

'Our Guard Commander was a terror as we found out on Christmas Day. We were billetted in a Polish house which was surrounded by barbed-wire and which had a little shed in the garden. For a joke, one of the prisoners wrote, 'Hitler's Workshop', on the shed door and the guard tried without success to find the culprit. Despite the bitter cold winter we were made to stand all night outside, though we were dressed only in the summer clothing we were wearing when we were captured. This was my first Christmas in the hands of the Germans. This Guard Commander was so cruel that I think we were lucky that none of us was shot as we later heard was quite a common occurrence.'

 

'Whilst we were working on the road we were allowed to go about twenty yards away for toilet purposes and since we all had dysentery there was a steady stream of men. Suddenly, for no reason, the distance allowed was reduced to five yards until one P.O.W. pulled down his trousers and with his back to the road relieved himself to a roar of laughter from the men and shouts of outrage from the Germans.'

 

'After about three months we were sent threshing to the local farms and it was there that we made our first contact with the local people - mostly Polish girls and a few Danzigers of German origin. It was a boost to morale to be in the company of women for the time we were working. One girl was pregnant and we were told that she had been raped by a German soldier.'

 

'I recall the enormous size of the sugar beet field where we were sent to lift the crop. Though the ground was not flat it was possible to stand in the middle and not see the end of the field in any direction. The farmer collected us each morning in his cart and returned us to camp in the evening. Every morning we passed a group of children on their way to school and they all said, "Heil Hitler", which was the way Germans always greeted each other. Later in the year we even heard the same greeting at the opening of telephone conversations. Some of the prisoners responded to the children with, "........ Hitler", using a good old army swear word. In time some of the children responded in the same way thinking they were learning English. One day we were accompanied by the Guard Commander and the children greeted us as we had taught them. There was silence in the cart apart from the Corporal's correct response of "Heil Hitler".'

 

'There was one guard whom we later called 'George' that we first thought was a terror until one bitterly cold morning he came to us on the road job. Remember, we were all in summer clothing and had no gloves and no-one could work for more than five minutes. One of the prisoners challenged 'George' to work in those conditions and he ordered us to make a fire so as to get a little warmth. That was little use so he returned us all to camp. You should have heard the German Commandant telling his soldiers off. From the day 'George' became one of the best guards in the camp and when he left us we were sorry to see him go.'

 

'I had a small cyst just under my ear which had been there for years. It was the size of a small marble and I complained that it was hurting. I was sent to the larger camp at Danzig and spent three weeks there dodging the doctors until one German came up and asked what I was in hospital for. When I told him, he took me straight to the doctor who put a needle in, cut it open, and took out a small bag of yellow stuff and then put in one stitch. The next morning I left in a cart with a German 'brown shirt' to go back to Praust. One the way we stopped and the German went into a cafe and bought us a drink which was red and in a glass like a sherry glass. It made us feel a bit tipsy and he asked us in English if we had enjoyed our drink. We said that we had and thanked him for it. I think it was the first bit of kindness which I received from a German.'

 

'We stayed at this camp until early Spring when we were moved to Bonzack where we were cutting wood to smoke haddock. At this camp the guard asked us if we would like to go for a march and while we were marching we were ordered to sing, 'There'll Always be an England'. Patriotic songs such as 'God Save the King', 'Land of Hope and Glory' etc, were banned at the camp. The senior Warrant Officer realised what the guard was up to and instructed the men to sing, 'Pack up your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag', which we all sang at the top of our voices. A few days later, one man was singing the same song in the washroom and was hauled away to Danzig to appear before the German Commander who spoke perfect English. The poor prisoner did not know what he had done wrong and was told that he had been heard singing 'There'll Always be an England', a forbidden song. The prisoner denied this and to prove it , sang 'Pack up your Troubles'. "Is this the song you heard?" the guard was asked. "Yes", he replied. "It is 'There'll Always be an England'". The Commandant went red in the face and shouted at the guard who left the camp the next day.'

 

'In the place where we worked was a lady who spoke English with an American accent and we decided to tell her that German P.O.W.s got a cigarette ration in England and we were silly enough to tell her this in good old English soldiers' language. Two of us were marched back to camp to the Guard Commander. He told us through our interpreter that in future we should use our heads and choose more carefully who we were talking to. He nevertheless made us do extra work for a week. He was a German nut but no Nazi. At this time in the war we met very few people who did not wholeheartedly support Hitler but later on we found many more though they were still a small minority of the population as a whole.'

 

'Later on we helped prepare this sea-side place for the summer by painting huts etc. One day whilst we were inside one of the huts a lady came down to the shore and was only a couple of hundred yards away when she took off all her clothes to have a swim. You can imagine what the lads said when they saw this naked woman though they were disappointed later when she walked past us and we realised that she was about sixty. While at Bonzack we saw a German battleship lying out to sea and after the Hood and Bismark had been sunk we were told that it was the Bismark which we had seen. She must have sailed to be sunk at sea.'

 

Phase 2

 

'We left Bonzack in April or May and were taken to Chapletz (Schapletz?) in the old Polish Corridor where we were set to work on a road, reducing the steep slope at the junction with the main road. I was put in charge of a horse and carriage, driving it about half a mile to pick up stones about 4" square which were then put on the road surface to make it solid. The horse was blind so the slightest touch on the reign caused the horse to turn and to go up the bank. I had to manoeuvre the animal between an engine tractor and a horse and cart which were parked on opposite sides of the road with the back of one in line with the front of the other. Just when I thought I was clear some-one spoke to me and startled the horse which went over the top. It was not a big drop and I blamed the engine driver claiming he had blown his horn at the wrong moment and frightened the horse. I got away with it.'

 

'This was the first place we had numbers of men trying to escape the Germans. All were caught and some were killed. Many of those captured were sent to other camps and we met them again later at the large camp at Marienburg in East Prussia.'

 

'It was now about midsummer and a party of us was paraded one day and told to pack our kit and march to the station. We arrived early so the guard told us to come into the cafe. This caused a near riot amongst the Germans in there and when we tried to leave the guard became wild at both us and the civilians. In the end we were made to stand still while he had a quick drink and we all trooped back on to the platform. We later heard that a complaint had been made and he suddenly departed from the farm to which he had been posted.'

 

'The train took us to Hornstein where we were met by a farmer with his cart and taken to Krief Koll where we were to do land work for one of the local leading Nazis who was Second in Command of the Area Nazi Party. His name was Homier and he had a crippled arm which he said had been caused when he was a P.O.W. in Russia in the First World War. He certainly hated the Russians and I think he hated us too. He was very happy with the war news at this time since things were going very badly for the Allies. It was the time when Japan entered the war and I remember the farmer's son coming into the hut to tell us the joyful news that Singapore had been taken by the Japs. We were played cards and one Corporal just looked up and said, "So what?" and continued playing. However when we were alone we discussed this incredible news and next day an old German friend if he could confirm this news. He had often told us of his antagonism for Hitler and when he later lost his son in Africa his attitude did not change at all.'

 

'Life at Krief Koll was quite good though the work was hard and long until winter set in and the short daylight days were spent in dung shifting from the farm out to the fields. It was here that we learned enough of the German language to carry on a conversation. First we worked on the farm doing weeding alongside Polish girls and later were set to work drying sugar beet leaves to provide cattle fodder for the winter. We also dried the beet leaves for other farms in the area.'

 

'It is the signal for merry-making in Poland, when the last harvest cart is brought home. Water is thrown over the cart and the workers throw water over each other. In peacetime the farmer provides beer and food whilst the family sits and watches the workers have their harvest supper. On the last cart this year was a huge man called Bozo who had been an army boxer. One of the Germans was just about to douse him with water but he put the fear of God into the man. All the P.O.W.s just walked away though we would have loved to join in the fun. But we were the enemy of Germany and wondered why we should give them pleasure.'

 

'Our billet was a long room with bunk beds round the sides for the sixteen men and our guard was a very good man who was in his forties and had been a P.O.W. himself during the first world war having been held in a camp in Northern Ireland. He told us he had been treated well there and intended to treat us the same. He spoke good English and was clearly a man who loved his country dearly but who was no Nazi. It was at this camp that we started to receive regular weekly parcels.'

 

'The farmer's son was later called up into the army and when I heard it was to be in the Tank Corps, I put the fear of God into him by telling him that the life expectancy of tank crews was about two weeks. He was not at all a happy man when his call-up papers arrived and we later learned that he lost an arm and a leg.'

 

'The farmer also had a second farm which he had stolen from the Poles and to which we went for about a month in the late summer. Here in the heart of Poland we learned how much the Poles thought about the British - which to them meant the English. When they first heard we were coming, the locals got very excited thinking we would be big, strong men and we did hear that some thought we would have horns like the Vikings. We must have been a disappointment when they saw some men about as tall as me amongst the group (5' 5").'

 

'We managed to get hold of a wireless which we hid under the coke stove and used it to listen to news broadcasts from home though the news was not very good. It was here that we heard Russia had been invaded and saw our first Russian plane fly over. We never saw another one until the end of the war. Back on the main farm in Krief Koll the farmer would open his windows and let us hear Lord Haw Haw on the wireless, speaking in English with the German propaganda which was intended to depress us. Yet, it never did and we somehow always knew that we would win the war in the end. We started to spread propaganda of our own, making up all sorts of tales about the Allied victories. Suddenly we had a Gestapo raid and they searched every nook and cranny asking each one of us where we got the information, and we all replied that the farmer had opened his window so that we may listen to his wireless.'

 

'After the episode of the bogus 'war news' the guard helped us to escape from the farm at Krief Koll to other duties since we thought things were getting a bit hot for us there. When we were set to hoe a field, he advised us not to hoe the rows but to remove every single weed. This meant that the Poles were almost out of sight whilst we had cleared only a few yards and claimed this was the way weeding is done in England. The Head Army Officer for the area was summoned and on seeing our clear little patch in comparison with the work done by the Poles he went away and in two days we were replaced by Russian P.O.W.s.'

 

'Our next move was to Marienburg in East Prussia which had the biggest P.O.W. camp in the area. We had a wireless there and heard of the advance of the British Armies into Africa under General Montgomery. We also heard about the siege of Stalingrad which soon put our spirits high. We had been there for only a short time when some of us escaped. We had been hoarding our Red Cross parcels for the journey but during one period, no parcels came and we were forced to dip into our stored rations. This caused a fatal delay for instead of making a break in the middle of summer, it was early October and the weather was very cold. Travelling was slow and we only had our battledress with a boiler suit on top. By the time November came along we had only travelled 300 kilometres and decided to give ourselves up since a live P.O.W. is better than a dead one. We went to the policeman in a small village where we knocked on the door and asked if he would return us to Marienburg. He asked, "What do you expect me to do about it?", and was about to close the door when he asked, "By the way - who are you?". We replied "Prisoners of war", and again he turned away before whipping round and asking "Who?". When we made clear that we were escaped British P.O.W.s the guns suddenly came out. He clearly did not know what to do with us and telephoned Marienburg for advice and was told to put us in the nearest army unit's prison. He said he knew a Gestapo prison near-by but we insisted that we were P.O.W.s and not civilians so we were sent to an S.S. prison some miles away. It often makes me laugh when I remember the actions of that policeman when we arrived on his doorstep.'

 

'Life in the prison was very tough, with Germans  in there for all sorts of things and they often used to sing "God Save the King" to mock us. The Senior Officer used to come in very drunk every night and come in expecting everyone to stand up as soon as he arrived. If we were asleep and therefore not standing up we were kicked out of bed in a not very friendly fashion. Luckily we were only there for about three days before a guard from the camp came to collect us. Before we left, some of the anti-Nazi prisoners gave us food and cigarettes to take with us - how they got it we never knew. Our punishment was three weeks in prison in solitary confinement.'

 

'There were a lot of Australians in this camp and two of them made up a private language which they called 'Museltrop'. It did upset the guards especially those who spoke and understood English. One of the guards asked if anyone could do milking and when I said I could, I was told that I would be called at 5.30am the next morning. Of course I could not do milking at all but I was taken to the farm and the farmer brought a bucket and a stool and left me to it. Now milking looks very easy but it is not, and after half an hour the milk did not even cover the bottom of the bucket. The farmer asked me how long I would be and I replied, "Christmas", which was still a long way off. The farmer must have known that I could not milk a cow.'

 

'Soon after this we were on our travels again to Tczew on the border of the Free State and Poland which was a military camp. There we were again set to work road making where we started to dig up bodies which the Poles told us were those of their countrymen which had been shot by the Germans when they raided Poland. We met one girl whose whole family had been killed while she was away from home. One P.O.W. got very friendly with a local girl and we fixed a bar so we could get out of camp. One day, he left us just as a German officer came up. The man said, "Heil Hitler", and the officer replied with both going on their way. The man was out with his girl-friend in some field when they had the first big air-raid on Danzig and we worried that he would not get back.'

 

'We had not been at Tczew for long before a party of us was sent to a camp where we had our worst guard in the whole of the war. He used to take all our paraffin and left us sitting in the dark for most of the winter months. On Christmas Day, we had nothing but the German food because he made us put all our gear into another room and could only get it when he gave permission. One fellow prisoner got very sick but he was still made to work. Luckily, an officer came round and we pointed out that the man was sick and the guard was ordered to get him to the hospital at Marienburg. The sick man got in touch with C.S.M. Fulton, who was the contact man with the Swiss camp visitors and as a result the whole working party was withdrawn.'

 

'In the meantime the guard at Marienburg had been changed to two very good men, one of whom had been a prisoner in the first war. We had to go to a village right in the middle of Poland, miles from habitation. The farm was at its centre and we were able to talk to the Poles who were very friendly and hated the Germans. After a while the guard left us alone and most of the P.O.W.s went to visit Polish homes in the evenings until one day the guard turned up at eleven o'clock at night and found only two of us in the hut. He must have got in a sweat and said that in future the hut would be locked at nine o'clock every night but we made a hole in the roof so we could still get out. I got an invitation from the carpenter who lived in the village and the way there went through the corner of a small forest which had wild boar in it so we never returned that way at night but kept to the road. One night we were returning when we heard a car coming up the road and since there was a wall on both sides the only thing we could do was to stand with our faces to the wall and with our coat collars pulled well up. The car sailed past and it turned out to be a police car - possibly Gestapo. I worked with a policeman and a Russian girl who had been captured near Moscow and brought to Germany to work. It took her some time to realise I was English but when she knew she did all my washing and darning. I gave her chocolate for doing it.'

 

'As winter set in we returned to Marienburg and it was then that I started to referee football matches between the teams in the camp including those of the French and Serbs. One guard came up and asked where I had learned to referee telling me that he had refereed the World Cup Final in Berlin in 1936. It was here that I met Max Schnelling, the boxer who was one time heavy-weight champion of the world. We heard that he was later sent away because he was too familiar with the prisoners. At the same camp I also met Cpl. Harry Gibbs who would later be a well known boxing referee.'

 

'In the middle of 1943 I went to Danzig, where air raids were now common and worked beside the railway. A Russian officer was brought to the camp and the Germans were annoyed when the P.O.W.s saluted him. He did not remain there long. As we went to work in the morning we had to walk up the line for about 100yds, cross the line and then return nearly as far on the other side. Part way down were the railway points which were operated with a lever at the side of the track. To change the lines the lever had to be pushed over and then down or the lines did not touch leaving a gap of several inches. One day as we walked round, a train came which passed between us and the guard on the other side of the crossing so my companion quickly changed the line without pushing the lever down. Half an hour later we heard steam fly and such a noise that we went to see and found an engine on its side right in the middle of the crossing, which blocked the line for an hour or more. We sweated for a long time after that in case we were caught but the fuss soon died down. We later asked what had happened and we were told that the engine driver had neglected to close the points properly and that he was now in prison. We did not care since he was a German.'

 

'Two of the P.O.W.s worked in the car shop alongside a Polish girl we called Lizzie, who hated every German, both men and women, because she had a hard time of it at the beginning of the war. One day as she walked down the far side of the room she threw a tool at the picture of Hitler, swearing as she did so. Unfortunately she was seen by a man who was a supporter of Hitler and a real Nazi. He went off to report her and the last we saw of Lizzie was her running across the spare ground towards the town. We never knew what happened to her but as the Russians were close, we hoped she got away.'

 

'My friend in the camp was a Welshman who had somehow managed to keep the gold watch which he had brought with him from home. This was most unusual since if you were captured your valuables were taken away from you. Officially this was so they could not help you escape but sometimes it was because the German wanted it for himself. When we were in the Danzig camp, Taffy's watch stopped and nothing he could do would make it work again. I suggested that we ask one of the guards who spoke good English, if he would take it into Danzig to get the watch mended if we gave him 200 cigarettes for his trouble. It could not be repaired in Danzig so the guard offered to take it into Hamburg when he went on leave and get the watch repaired there. Taffy agreed but when the German came back to the camp he said that the watch was not ready and that it would be sent on. We all pulled Taffy's leg that he had lost his watch and when the guard was posted away from the camp we all told him what a fool he had been to trust a German. Some months later one of the P.O.W.s came running to tell Taffy the German had come back and when he saw Taffy he handed him the watch saying that no repair was possible. Since he had travelled 50km back to the camp, he still got his 200 cigarettes and it really changed our opinion of some Germans.'

 

'I was not told of any of the bad ill-treatment which we suffered. There was lots which is best forgotten. Life was very hard and tough. Without the Red Cross most of us would not have come home. Many of the men died and were buried. At one time in Marienburg I attended many funerals. We went to the cemetery gate and the coffin was brought there and we did the best we could for the departed - often with the guards shouting to us to get on with it.'

 

Phase 3

 

'It was in Danzig that we heard that Italy had surrendered and were also told about D Day at seven o'clock in the morning though we had to wait until eleven to know the whole news. A number of Poles had a wireless which they would have in turn though not in a routine fashion. This was because to have a wireless meant death if you were caught. Our contact was Franz Korski who gave us what news he had and he kept watch for trouble over the wireless. If he put his hand between the buttons of his coat with the forearm level with the ground it meant someone was near who he did not trust. He came to us with his arm in this warning way and merely whispered that the British had landed in France. Later in the morning when the work-shop was clear of everybody but Franz he told us all he had heard about the landing.'

 

'We had a lot of P.O.W.s on the run who asked us for help. Sometimes we would get them in the camp for a day or two and sometimes, without letting the other prisoners know, Franz would get them away to the Resistance Movement outside Danzig. We had one chap whom we got into camp and hid at roll call. He was there for four days before Franz made arrangements for him to leave. He must follow Franz down the line and on to the train, getting off at Gdynia where he must not approach Franz until spoken to. Something went wrong and the man returned to camp within half an hour. The sergeant was not happy with his story and decided we must get this man out of our camp as soon as possible and on to the big camp in Danzig. We used to take a sick party there when necessary to see the English doctor so this man joined the group going to Danzig and so that the numbers would look right, a man returned from that camp in his place. Only a couple of days later there was a Gestapo raid on the Danzig camp and this same man seemed to get out so easily that we wondered if he had been planted by the Germans. The two officers of the camp were taken away and were questioned with ill-treatment and never returned to Danzig but were sent to Marienburg which was the H.Q. of the area.'

 

'By this time the guards were a lot better, as they must have known that the war was lost. They lost their bombastic and victorious attitude. We often saw them talking in groups and since the fall of Italy the news was very bad for them and they became much friendlier.'

 

'The air-raids on Danzig were often carried out by the Yank in the daytime and the British at night. We found that the Yanks came over, dropped their bombs and went. There was usually only a short time between the alarm and the all clear. When the British came they circled around and most of their targets were hit while the Yanks spread bombs all over the place. One night at dusk, we were walking round the camp when suddenly we saw planes overhead. Someone shouted, "By God, they are British", and they were too. We could see the markings on them. There was an air-raid shelter near by but we did not use it and forgetting the danger would stand out and watch.'

 

'The first picture we saw was at another camp in Stolsenburg in Danzig and I remember it was the first time I heard Vera Lynn sing though I can not remember the song. Later we found out that she was the Forces Sweetheart. One of the men got dressed in clothes he had borrowed from some French civilian workers and went off to the pictures where he got talking to a German girl. All went well until the interval when he lit an English cigarette which gave him away. The report made big headlines in the local papers.'

 

'Two P.O.W.s were working cleaning waggons when a goose wandered by which they killed and hit it under the dung, intending to get it back to camp for a good meal. Unfortunately, they must have been seen because the place was suddenly flooded with troops and they were taken away to Army H.Q.. They returned to camp a week later saying that they got away with it by claiming that the goose must have hit its head on an over-head wire and they had put the body in the dung with the intention of taking it to the guards when work was over.'

 

'A Jewish lad called Issey Gorsevitch, who came from Glasgow, had been captured with us in 1940. He was a great bargainer and from about 1943 we used to give him a few cigarettes and he would get things for us. One time he got me a small accordion which none of us could play. A small Polish boy of about ten used to come nearby and play so one day I went over and gave it to him and he was over the moon with it. I remember he could play by ear and one day we asked him to play a tune which he did not already know. One prisoner with a terrible voice sang the tune and the lad played it as he had heard it sung. We had a good laugh.'

 

'There was a long table in our room and we brought strips of wood from the carpentry shop each day until we had almost boarded in the underside of it. There we put our stores and by Christmas we had enough for a good old time. The guard was a reasonable man and said there would be a roll call on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas night and we could stay the night in any room we chose. When the guard came I was sitting half drunk on some of the stuff Izzy had got for us after having chicken with all the trimmings that the guard knew nothing about. He was a Pole who had joined the German Army to fight the Russians and had been wounded. We offered him a drink since they had no drinks of their own and had only ordinary food for Christmas, but he was afraid to accept and refused it. By the next year, in 1944 he was still with us but did not refuse a second time.'

 

'When we were in Danzig a lot of people, captured after the Warsaw rising, were in a truck which stopped just outside our camp. One of them was a British lady and they were in a terrible state and were being badly treated by the guards. She, knowing we were also British called across her name and told us what had happened in Warsaw.'

 

Phase 4

 

'I had been at this camp for nearly two years when, with the Russians approaching, the Germans moved us out on the 19th February 1945. We were rounded up at our work-place, returned to camp and within half an hour were off to the big camp. In all the rush we were not able to say goodbye to Franz who had been such a good friend giving us news. That same day we set off to march across the north of Europe. We crossed the Oder at Wollen by boat and continued marching across Germany. The names of the towns we passed through are :- Stolp, Koslin, Cammin, Wollin, Swinemund, Anklam, Neubrandedburg, Neustreltz, Gustow, Wismar, Schwerin, Laurenburg, Perleburg, Stendal, Wittenburg.'

 

'In Stolp we were marched into a school for the night and across the road we found a party of girls in pyjamas and had a good chat to them. The next morning the place was absolutely quiet and we were told by a Pole that the girls had been told that they could take a bath there but when they were in the water they were all electrocuted, killing the lot. In one place we went into a barn for the night and found a number of Airforce P.O.W.s who were in a very bad way with terrible guards. They were on German rations of a small cup of soup each and a loaf between seven. We gave them some of our Red Cross parcel contents but they marched off before us and we later found their haversacks by the roadside with the gifts still inside. The guards had made them throw it all away.'

 

'It was on the march from Danzig that Lance Corporal Harry Nichols learned that he had been awarded the V.C.. He had been with us in the French campaign and had been badly wounded. We were told to parade in a hut and as we stood there Lance Corporal Nichols was asked for but he had not arrived. We thought something was wrong. A German General arrived and still no Harry. At last he did arrive with guards prodding him with their rifles. When he saw the General he just casually strolled up to him and the General put out his hand to shake hands but Harry kept his in his pockets. The General said, "If you will not shake hands with me as a German, will you shake hands with me as a soldier?". Harry's hands remained in his pockets and the General then told him that he had been awarded the highest award for gallantry that a soldier can be given.'

 

'In our party we had disguised two Russians with battledress and Scots hats. They spoke virtually no English. Every morning two prisoners had to clear out the officer's room before we marched off and one terrible day he chose these two and started giving them instructions which they did not understand at all. A Sgt. quickly stepped in and said it was no good speaking to them as they were Welshmen. When the officer replied that Welshmen speak English he was told that these two did not and would need an interpreter but the day was saved when the officer lost patience and chose two different men. Later these men were handed over to some Russian troops and that was the last we heard of them.'

 

'When we reached Wittenberg we stayed for a week. We had picked up Red Cross parcels in some of the towns on our way but were short of bread so went into the town to trade some cigarettes and on the fourth day we managed it. We were set to loading bricks on to waggons beside the railway where a train stood which was loaded with people wearing what looked like blue and white striped pyjamas. All day long we heard firing going on, on the far side of the train on what we thought was a rifle range. Local people told us that the Allies were very close and as we left we realised that we were billetted in a potato loading of the siding and were allowed to walk on the platform where the potatoes were unloaded at harvest time. From there we saw dead bodies being loaded on to the truck and it appeared that the Germans had been shooting the people in the pyjamas.'

 

'A shell came flying over the town and hit the big Singer factory which had been making arms. The German officer in charge would let us march out of Wittenburg only after we promised that we would wait outside the town until the Allies came along but the first American tank which crossed the Elbe was so far ahead of their troops that they had to retreat and the Germans blew up the bridge. We heard later that it was some time before the Americans could take the town. We returned to a small village near the railway where a German woman came and asked the guards if some of the P.O.W.s could do some work for her. The guard took out six men who had been captured near the Maginot Line very early in the war. The guard left the woman to return the men to the group after finishing the work but as they were walking along the road they met an S.S. tank. They were told to march and when they reached us they stopped but the Tank Commander shot at them and told them to march on. We called our guard who went to say the men were his prisoners but the S.S. fired at him and told him to go. They marched on for ten minutes to a place which was hidden by trees when we heard firing which killed all but the oldest of the men. He died that night and we buried them all in the local church-yard.'

 

'We were marched out of the town and retraced our route north, back to a village about seven miles outside Schwerin. Here a British plane flew overhead and waved to us one evening. Next morning when making a fire to heat water, I saw a tank coming up the road and asked an American prisoner where the Germans had got a tank like that from. He looked and went mad saying, "By God. It's one of ours". The whole camp went mad and the guards marched off. Some tried to run away and were shot for their trouble. The last time I heard, "Heil Hitler", was when the Germans were told to march off up the road carrying a white flag and they came to our camp where we rounded them up. One was a high ranking German officer and he was taken away after someone took his watch the same as had been done to us in 1940. His aide tried to go with him but was prevented from doing so by an American Officer. The German gave the Nazi salute before turning away and was kicked in the back by one of the ex-prisoners and finished up face down in the mud. We must have rounded up about 3,000 or more Germans who slept in the fields with us guarding them and some of our men went across the valley to a village where they met some Russians.'

 

'When the time came to leave we were taken in an army truck to Luneburg Barracks where we were de-loused, medically examined and re-kitted. For two days we waited at Luneburg airport for a plane to take us home. While we were there a plane landed and out stepped Monty who came over and said the war was ceasing and that he had signed the German surrender. We flew to Brussels where we changed air-craft for the last plane to fly out to Wing in Buckinghamshire. As we flew over England we saw all the bonfires burning below as a sign of our victory. It was V.E. Day. We were taken to London which we expected to see as flattened as the German cities were. The Germans had told us that London had been destroyed. We were surprised to find so much of it untouched though the centre was in ruins.'

 

'Everywhere we went on our way home we were greeted with hugs and kisses making a lump in the throat. Even the military police carried our bags. One put me on the train home and I felt so full up that I would have liked to be left alone for a while so I sat in the train pretending to be asleep for over an hour but at last I opened my eyes. Across the carriage was a soldier who was telling the other passengers how he was going back to Germany and what he would do to them when he got there. He would let the Germans know who was boss. I asked him if he had been a prisoner and he said he had been one for three weeks. When I told him I had been imprisoned for five years we heard no more bragging about what he would do to the Germans. When I got back home, the first person to greet me was Mary, the five year old daughter I had never seen, shouting "Dad, Dad". Peggy had been in the cinema with Mary when a message came up on the screen for her to return home. There she found a message that I would be home soon. From being a little girl, Mary had been shown pictures of her Dad and had been told that she would see me 'one sunny day'. Now that day had come and as I got off the bus she crossed the road and rushed to greet me as though she had known me all my life. I was home again.'

 

Post-War

 

After the war David Parker continued to serve in the Durham Light Infantry until January 1949 when he transferred to the Band of the Royal Army Service Corps. In January 1950 he began a tour of the Far East that would last for a year, after which he was posted to Gibraltar for a month. In November 1954 he moved to the Royal Army Pay Corps and in the following march joined 156 Provost Coy with whom he stayed for three years. Having refereed the Army Cup Final in 1956, Parker's next move was to the Royal Corps of Signals, followed by the Royal Artillery shortly after. In June 1960 he was posted to Singapore for three months before joining the transit camp of the Gurkhas, from where he sailed home in June 1963. Parker was discharged from the Army in January 1965, having given it more than 35 years of loyal service. Other than general service decorations, he was awarded the Long Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

 

Following his army service, David Parker served for a further 12 years as a Special Constable and was awarded their Long Service Medal. He was also very active in the British Legion which he served unstintingly and faithfully. In addition he organised the St. Patrick's Holiday Club which ensured a holiday for many who would otherwise have gone without. In 1988 he celebrated his Golden Wedding Anniversary. One of his proudest mementos from that occasion was the letter of congratulations, sent from Clarence House on behalf of The Queen Mother, which read:

 

"Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother has just heard that you celebrated you Golden Wedding on 17th October, and has bidden me write to offer you and your wife Her Majesty's congratulations on this special occasion."

 

"The Queen Mother, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Light Infantry, was delighted to learn of your very many years of service to this country, and her Majesty has asked me to send you and your wife her warmest good wishes for the future."

 

Though the recorded date of their anniversary was incorrect, this letter was greatly prized.

 

Two years later, when he was 76 years old, David Parker died suddenly and unexpectedly at about 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday 31st October 1990. His funeral was attended by a host of family, friends, an ex-servicemen who had travelled from far afield to be there. The coffin was draped in the Union Flag and there were three standards carried by members of the British Legion. As a final tribute, the Last Post was played at the graveside by a bugler of the 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry. On the headstone, in reference to "The Faithful Durhams", is written "Ever Faithful".

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A post war photograph of Sgt. David E. Parker

Edited by azyeoman

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ID: 238   Posted (edited)

WWI Pair to Private Crawford wounded at St.Julien & Tortured as a PoW

British War Medal (17209 PTE. J. CRAWFORD. 7-CAN.INF.); and Victory Medal (17209 PTE. J. CRAWFORD. 7-CAN.INF.). Naming is officially impressed. Un-mounted, original ribbon and scattered surface wear on the VM, pitting on the BWM, better than very fine. Accompanied by copies of his Index Cards, Attestation Paper, Service Records, Medical Records, Pay Records, Discharge Certificates and assorted research papers. Footnote: John Crawford was born on September 10, 1882 in Anfield Plains, County Durham, England. He immigrated to Canada in 1910 and on the 1911 Census, was listed as residing as a "lodger" in Nanaimo, British Columbia. He enlisted as a Private (17209) with the 7th Infantry Battalion "1st British Columbia Regiment", on September 2, 1914 at Kamloops, British Columbia, before travelling east and departing for service in Europe. Crawford signed his Attestation Paper, on September 23, 1914 at Camp Valcartier, at the age of 32, naming his next-of-kin as his father, Joseph Crawford of Medomsley, Durham, England, stating that he had no previous military service, that he was Single and that his trade was that of Coal Miner. The Battalion was raised in British Columbia and mobilized at Camp Valcartier, Quebec under the authority of P.C.O. 2067, August 6, 1914, sailing on October 3, 1914 with a strength of 47 officers and 1,176 other ranks, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel W. Hart-McHarg, arriving in England ten days later. The following month, on November 20th, he was charged with "Overstaying Pass", and punished with stoppage of eighteen days' pay and forced to forfeit nine days' pay. Private Crawford, 7th Infantry Battalion, entered the French theatre on February 2, 1915. Eleven weeks later, he was wounded and gassed during the Battle of St. Julien, part of the Second Battle of Ypres. He was initially reported missing on April 24, 1915, then officially reported as a Prisoner of War at Giessen three weeks later, on May 15th. He was treated for a bullet wound to the head, as well as for the gassing, transferred to Langen-Moor Camp, followed by his internment at Soltau, on September 8, 1916. After over three and a half years as a Prisoner of War, upon the ceasing of hostilities, Crawford was repatriated and arrived in Ripon, North Yorkshire, England on December 27, 1918. However, his treatment as a Prisoner of War at Soltau was anything but humane. He was interviewed by British authorities after his release from captivity, the interviewer filing a stunning report on his behalf: "Brutal treatment of the most deliberate description fell to the lot of Private Crawford, a British Columbian at Langen-Moor Camp in March, 1916. On one occasion he was flung into a cell without excuse and attacked by a German "Feldwebel" (Sergeant), who used his fists and the butt of a rifle on his helpless victims. Crawford also describes the brutal attitude of the authorities at the same camp to Petty Officer Grovet who was bayoneted, struck with rifles and ultimately died at Soltau. This Canadian makes no complaint regarding his early treatment. Brutality began for him at Langen. An aggravating plan of Crawford's case is that he was sent to this camp having been adjudged unfit to work by a Belgian doctor at Lichtenborst. The specific treatment of ill-treatment that Crawford describes took place a few days after a general disturbance caused by the refusal of the Britishers to do the heavy work asked of them. It is noted that these men, all certified "Unfit" had been given the inquiries that they were being despatched to a convalescent camp. Crawford reported sick the following day. He had an injured ankle which had swollen in alarming manner as a result of the work he had been forced to do. About noon, a German Feldwebel accompanied by two sentries, dragged the Canadian from his billet, swore at him, thrust him in a small narrow cell and deprived him of all his clothing but pants and undervest. This despite Crawford's plea and efforts to show his attacker the state of is injured part. Thus he was left all night. Next morning, the Feldwebel and his men returned and greeted him as "English swine". Crawford stood up and was immediately knocked to the floor of the cell by the Feldwebel, who then secured a rifle and stuck his victim three times on the face with the butt, knocking two teeth out and breaking the little finger of Crawford's right hand. This brute went away, locked the door of the cell and returned within a few minutes to spit upon Crawford and again revile him as "English swine". Crawford was kept in this cell for ten days. The first two days he had no food. During the rest of the time he received a daily portion of black bread and water. This punishment was the sole work of the Feldwebel whom Crawford describes as a heavily-built man, weighing 180 pounds; height, 5 ft. 11 inches; age about 38; fair complexion; heavy red moustache. This man was at Langen-Moor from March to June, 1916, to Crawford's knowledge." In addition, the interviewer described what Crawford had witnessed in regards to the treatment of a fellow inmate: "Regarding the late Petty Officer Garrett of the Maori (or Crusader, taken captive during the evacuation at Dunkirk), Crawford states that he was beaten many times with rifles, and bayoneted from behind by sentries. He died a few days later at Soltau. The attack on the prisoner, nationality not stated nor suggested, took place immediately after a scene on parade in which British prisoners and an armed German guard of 25 bayonets took part. The Britishers, all convalescents, were ordered to do heavy work and refused. The sentries were called out and attempted to drive them by rush tactics. Apparently, Garrett, who was serious, was considered the ring-leader of a conspiracy."

Crawford was subsequently posted to the British Columbia Regimental Depot, then taken on strength of the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion at Seaford, Sussex on February 28, 1919. In his Medical History of an Invalid, dated March 27, 1919 at Seaford, he was diagnosed with a small "Umbilical Hernia", the origin traced to January 1916, while he was in Germany and was "probably the result of a bad cough which he had (for) a time". The doctor noted that the hernia, although small, "at times it gets larger and is painful especially on bending over". While a Prisoner of War, he "was given a bandage to put on". However, on the plus side, there were no symptoms of gas present in his chest wall. It was determined by the Medical Board that the disability was permanent unless an operation was performed. He was declared Unfit for General Service (Category A) and designated for return to Canada, struck off strength to the Canadian Concentration Camp at Kinmel Park for return to Canada on April 5th, embarking for home on the 12th. Crawford was discharged upon demobilization on April 26, 1919, at Dispersal Station "T", Military District No. 11, in Vancouver, British Columbia, credited with having served in Canada, England and France, entitled to wear the War Service Badge Class "A", number 174178. He applied for a War Service Gratuity and stated that he intended to reside at the Newcastle Hotel in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He died on May 5, 1951, at the age of 68.

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Soltau PoW Camp WWI .jpg

Edited by azyeoman

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ID: 239   Posted (edited)

A king's crown brass and enamel Ex-Prisoners of War lapel badge with brooch-pin fitting with makers details for Parkes Brisbane on the reverse. A crowned section of barbed wire with the letters "NSW" above the title scroll,"Ex-Prisoners of War Assn."

For more information on this PoW Association, please see: 

http://www.rhkrnsw.org/

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/531286c0e4b04bcb37e6c5c5/t/53213ea2e4b0a9d8ad053aca/1394687650695/HK+Vol+%26+ex+PoW+Assn+NSW.+OP4+Veteran+members.pdf

 

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Edited by azyeoman

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ID: 240   Posted (edited)

Three more lapel pins for helping PoWs.  The two rectangular ones are WWII and I believe the Red Cross one is WWI.

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Edited by azyeoman

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I've only ever seen the French former POW badge, I should try to get out more. 

Did you notice the glider pilot POW territorial medal on Brit ebay recently? I wondered if you or Rob bought it.

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ID: 242   Posted (edited)

   Another Commonwealth PoW pair to a South African.  11097 Pte. V.G. Wright, 4th S. African Infantry.  Died while a PoW on 24 April 1918 and buried in Plot 8, Row C, grave 13 in Cologne Southern Cemetery.

Cologne Southern Cemetery (from the CWGC)

More than 1,000 Allied prisoners and dozens of German servicemen were buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery during the First World War. Commonwealth forces entered Cologne on 6 December 1918, less than a month after the Armistice, and the city was occupied under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles until January 1926. During this period the cemetery was used by the occupying garrison. In 1922 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries at Kassel, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. Over the course of the following year, graves were transferred to Cologne Southern Cemetery from over 180 different burial grounds in Hanover, Hessen, the Rhine and Westphalia. 

There are now almost 2,500 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in the Commonwealth plots at Cologne. The Cologne Memorial, located inside the shelter building at the entrance to the Commonwealth plots, commemorates 25 British and Irish servicemen who died in Germany and who have no known grave. Of these, 19 are known to have died as prisoners but their places of burial are not recorded. The remaining six died after the Armistice by drowning and their bodies were not recovered. The Commonwealth section of the cemetery also contains over 130 Second World War graves, mostly those of servicemen who died with the occupying forces. There are, in addition, 676 non-war graves and 29 burials of other nationalities. 

Commonwealth Prisoners of War in Germany during the First World War 

Between the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the Armistice of November 1918, the German forces captured almost 300,000 Commonwealth servicemen on the Western Front. Approximately one third of these prisoners were held in German occupied territory in France and Belgium, but most were transported to camps located throughout Germany. In common with the other belligerent states, Germany was poorly equipped to house, feed and clothe large numbers of enemy troops, but prisoners of war had been granted certain rights under international agreements established at Geneva in 1864 and at The Hague in 1899 and 1907. The Red Cross also monitored conditions in the camps and ensured that food, clothing, and personal correspondence sent from Britain was safely delivered to prisoners. In June 1917, and again in July 1918, the British and German governments agreed to exchange prisoners who were too badly wounded to fight again, and hundreds of prisoners were repatriated through the Netherlands. Finally, the fear that the thousands of German prisoners in Britain and France would be mistreated in retaliation meant that Allied POWs often enjoyed quite humane treatment. This was especially the case for officer prisoners, who were segregated into separate camps and not forced to work. 

Despite these various checks on the mistreatment of prisoners, conditions in German camps varied widely and as many as 12,000 Commonwealth servicemen died in captivity. Some of these men were badly wounded when taken prisoner and died shortly after arriving in Germany. Some prisoners also died as a result of violence perpetrated by their captors, but although violence was common, particularly during the first year of the war, the killing of prisoners was rare. Non-commissioned officers and privates were often forced to work and some died of exhaustion or accidents while labouring in coalmines, stone quarries or steel works. Yet by far the most common cause of prisoner death in wartime Germany was disease. Prisoners weakened by wounds, poor diet, or fatigue were particularly susceptible to the effects of disease and an outbreak of typhus in 1915 and the influenza epidemic of 1918 had a devastating effect on the Allied prisoner population. 

The Cologne Memorial 

The memorial takes the form of panels set inside the north shelter building at the entrance to the Commonweatlh plots in Cologne Southern Cemetery. It commemorates 25 servicemen of the United Kingdom who died in Germany and who have no known grave. Of these, 19 are known to have died as prisoners and their places of burial are not recorded. The other six died after the Armistice by drowning and their bodies were not recovered. 

*The following cemeteries are among those from which graves were brought to Cologne: 

AACHEN MILITARY CEMETERY, 197 burials of sailors 1914-1919. 

BONN (POPPELSDORF) CEMETERY, 133 service and one civilian burial, all of 1919. The 47th General Hospital and the 21st Casualty Clearing Station were posted at Bonn. 

BUDERICH (FORT BLUCHER) PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, 39 burials of 1914-1919. 

COBLENZ FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY, KARTHAUSE, 59 burials of 1915-1918. Coblenz was occupied by United States troops in December 1918. 

DORTMUND SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY, 53 burials of 1914-1918. 

DUISBURG TOWN CEMETERY, 35 burials of 1914-1919. 

DULMEN PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, 96 burials of 1915-1918. 

DUREN NEW TOWN CEMETERY, 79 burials, mostly of 1919. The 11th Stationary Hospital and the 17th Casualty Clearing Station were posted at Duren. 

DUSSELDORF NORTH CEMETERY, 24 burials of 1915-1918. 

ESSEN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY, 21 burials of 1917-1918. 

EUSKIRCHEN NEW TOWN CEMETERY, 75 service and one civilian burials of 1918-1919. The 42nd Stationary Hospital and the 47th Casualty Clearing Station were posted at Euskirchen. 

FRIEDRICHSFELD PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, 70 burials of 1916-1918. 

FRIEMERSHEIM CEMETERY, 20 burials of 1918. 

GELSENKIRCHEN WEST CEMETERY, 21 burials of 1917-1918. 

GEROLSTEIN MILITARY CEMETERY, 25 burials of 1918. 

JULICH MILITARY, 39 burials of 1915-1918. 

MULHEIM-AM-RUHR OLD TOWN CEMETERY, 49 burials of 1915-1918. 

MUNSTER (HAUSPITAL) PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, 161 burials of 1914-1918. 

RECKLINGHAUSEN PROTESTANT, CATHOLIC AND SOUTH CEMETERIES, 26 burials of 1916-1918. 

TRIER TOWN CEMETERY, 48 burials of 1917-1918. 
 

 

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Edited by azyeoman

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Boer War stereocard photos of PoWs and guards.

B.W. Kilburn 1900 - 13817 "Tommy Atkins" South African Home, Nootgedacht Prison, S.A. 

B.W. Kilburn 1900 - 13821  Some of England's Nobility in Nooitgedacht Prison.  Showing Mr. Goshcen (central figure) Nephew of first Lord of Admirality, S.A.

B.W. Kilburn 1900 - 13818  The Boer Guards at Nooitgedacht Prison, S.A.

B.W. Kilburn 1900 - 14133  Boers on Guard at Nooitgecacht Prison, S.A.

Underwood 1900 - "Mud Hall" Prison, where the British Officer Prisoners were kept by the Boers, S.A.

Underwood 1900 - Interior of "Mud Hall" the last prison occupied by the British Officers at Pretoria, S.A.

Underwood 1901 - British Prisoners released by Boers, marching into Pretoria after its Capture, to be re-armed, S. Africa

 

%22Tommy Atkins%22 PoWs Nooitgedacht Prison.jpg

PoW Nobility Nooitgedacht Prison.jpg

Boer Guards Nooitgedacht Prison 1.jpg

Boer Guards Nooitgedacht Prison.jpg

Mudd Hall Exterior.jpg

Mudd Hall Interior.jpg

PoWs Pretoria.jpg

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