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My Prisoner of War Collection

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Next up is my final post , (for now!)

This post is about Norman Frederick Gresty who served with the Royal Signals and Later the Royal Army Pay Corps.

2576624 Signalman N F Gresty was Captured on the 15th of December 1941 in North Africa.

Under the Brief Circumstances of Capture section of his MI9 Escaped POW report, he writes;

"The Field Regiment to which I was attached fought for 4 days against the Germans until running out of ammunition. We were then surrounded and taken prisoner."

After his capture, Norman was held in Benghazi (Presumably in one of the infamous cages) until the 22nd of December 1941. From there he was moved to Tripoli arriving on Christmas Eve and he was Moved on Boxing day of 1941. From there, he was sent to Capua (7/1/42 - 28/1/42), Servigliano (29/1/42 - 28/5/43) and from here he was moved to his final destination, Camp 146 at Pavia where he was held from the 29th of May 1943 up until the 9th of September 1943 when he made his escape following the Italian Capitulation.

Of his escape, he write the following;

"After the Armistice, we were released by the Italians and hid about the farm on which we had worked. For 3 weeks we were fed by the people of Virano. Early in October, we met a Civilian who offered to take us to Switzerland. The organisation guide met us at Virano and we walked to Vidigolfo when we were picked up by a Fiat Van and taken to Milan. At 17:00 hours we left Milan by train for Como where we hid in the house of a man from the Argentine, who was the Managing Director of Kodaks in Italy. We stayed the night here and were then guided over the mountains to the Swiss Frontier at Chiasso. The Journey was accomplished in 2 days"

After this, he wrote about three helpers. The first was Luigi from Virano, Pavia who Brought food, provided civilian clothes and gave information about German movements in the area. The other helpers listed were Carla and Angela also from Virano and Guiseppe from Lanoso, Pavia. Carla, Angela and Guiseppe also Gave food, Clothing and information of German Movements in the area. 

Norman never knew the Surnames of those who helped him, presumably to help protect them in the eventuality of capture. The Italian people risked torture and death for helping allied prisoners to escape and they were very brave in doing so.

Signalman Norman Gresty arrived in Switzerland on the 14th of October 1943 and would have arrived back in England at the end of 1944.

I think this is a particularly nice group as he mentions how the Regiment fought until all ammunition was exhausted before Surrendering and I really like that he was helped by the resistance 'The Organisation' as well as other Civilians and the fact that he made the journey by Van, Train and on Foot. A very commendable escape!

 

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On 10/12/2015 at 17:14, azyeoman said:

Hi Rob,  It's great to see someone else interested in PoWs.  Please keep posting and the length is all the better as far as I'm concerned as it's the story behind the medal, which you obviously know and enjoy.  I look forward to following your posts!

All the best,

John

Hi John,

Thanks for the post, Unfortunately i've just done the final post for the time being, but i am sure that there will be more coming in soon!

Looking forward to your next pow post too!

Rob

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Thanks for posting this Rob.  As we sit in the comfort of our homes this Christmas and 70+ years on, we can only imagine the hell these men went through on Christmas day.

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Hi All,

Sorry for not posting in a while but since coming back to uni i have been away from my collection and in the middle of exams so i havent had the time! 

Unfortunately i dont have the pictures of the medals now but i will photograph and upload them when i next go home!

The next grouping i have is that awarded to Douglas Anderson of the Gordon Highlanders which came straight from the family and consists of 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal and War Medal as well as the 1939-45 wound badge and a couple of Scottish FEPOW badges.

Douglas was born on January 18th 1916 in Aberdeenshire and was a twin with 12 siblings. He was part of a farming family. 

Frequently playing truant to work on the family farm in Crathes, he left school early and joined the Gordon Highlanders in Aberdeen on the 24th of November 1933 aged 17 having lied about his real age. He was now 2876341 Pte D. Anderson Gordon Highlanders.

His Military career took him to Aldershot for basic training and then to Gibraltar immediately before the outbreak of ww2. His regiment was then sent to defend Singapore and it would appear that he had a wonderful time during his time there. Some of duties were driving the bus into town for R&R (Often done drunk) and he also worked in the mess in the Barracks. He was apparently promoted at one point but requested a demotion so that he could return to the Camaraderie of the lower ratings. On one occasion he went AWOL and lived on the streets like a native. Apparently the military police walked right past him and never realised he was a British Soldier.

Even as the Japanese were heading south down the Malay Peninsular, life in Singapore was fairly relaxed. As far as i am aware, he didnt see any action in the defence of Singapore but was evacuated from the island on a freighter as the Japs took control. 

His escape did not last long, the Freighter was hit by a torpedo and he was rescued by another boat. This too was Torpedoed and again he found himself in the water for a second time in the same day. Its incredible that he survived as in the morning he was a non-swimmer! He also reported Sharks attacking those around him. The second rescue was by a Japanese boat and he was returned to Singapore where he was held at Changi before being sent up to work on the Burma Railway. I know that he was at one time in Japanese camp No. 25 Fukoka.

Doug did not often talk about his time as a POW but when he did, he would tell some amazing stories of life, death and cruelty in the jungle. He was with other Brits, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. The work was hard, the Japanese and Koreans were brutal and there was a chronic lack of food. Each prisoner was given a daily starvation ration of rice. It was not enough to survive on so added nutrition had to be found. Some of the things that were done to get food were incredible.

The Japanese would throw a hand-grenade into a pond or pool of water to kill the fish. They would collect the dead and stunned fish as they floated to the surface. What the Japanese did not realise is that the biggest fish floated to the surface last. The prisoners discovered this and would wait until the guards had departed for their meal before harvesting the largest fish.

The POWs formed buddy groups. One of the roles of the buddy group was to test all of the likely looking plants, fruits, seeds etc that grew in the surrounding jungle. Dougl told of one plant that he ate and it made his tongue swell up ad go bright red.

Meat was in very short supply. The guards kept chickens but even stealing an egg meant a severe punishment, if not death. Doug’s buddy group hatched a scheme where they killed a chicken and macerated it. They then left it beside the chicken run. When the Japanese discovered the dead chicken they suspected the POWs but the POWs said that the chicken had been killed by the guard’s Alsatian dog – so the guards shot the dog. The prisoners dined well on dog stew that evening!

One day a Japanese vehicle ran over a very big snake on a jungle track. Again, the POWs ate this. Even poisonous snakes were caught and cooked, but not before the head and a few inches of neck were removed to avoid the venom.

According to Doug, the local Malay and Thai people would often leave packages of food in the jungle for the POWs to find. This would include eggs, vegetables etc. but it placed the local tribes people in great danger of punishment by the Japanese.

Through the lack of food, balanced nutrition, proper healthcare and chronic over-work. Thousands of POWs died on that jungle line. Those who did survive to liberation were little more than skin and bone, walking skeletons. Many were also psychologically damaged – today we call it post-traumatic stress. The damage profoundly affected many POWs throughout their post-war lives.

The work was punishing and the POWs tried to find ways of either short-changing the Japanese on the daily work ration or of sabotaging the work and attacking the Japanese whenever possible.

When laying ballast or creating embankments, shrubs, branches and foliage from the jungle would be used to bulk-up the soil and rocks. This resulted in many parts of the railway being inherently unstable.

Doug’s team were instructed to blast rocks. This involved teams of two men, one with a hammer and the other with a rod which was use to drill a hole into the rock to take the blasting charge. The POWs would also insert the explosives and fuses but the Japanese always lit the fuses. Some of the guys discovered that they could tamper with the fuse to make it burn extra fast. This resulted in the deaths of several Japanese guards and when the cause was discovered and everyone was suitably punished, the guards always insisted that a POW accompanied them when charges were detonated.

During his time on the railway, Doug caught some of the endemic illnesses but, unlike many bigger and stronger POWs, he survived. He was small but very tough. He was also a free-spirit and did not like authority or the Japanese – even less Japanese authority. He got himself into trouble and was told to go and dig his own grave. At the end of a day’s digging he was told to go back to barracks. This happened several days in a row before the Japanese lost interest in extending this cruel form of punishment.

Officers were treated much better than regular soldiers and this was deeply resented by the soldiers.

 As the railway was nearing completion, Douglas and others who had survived the death railway were sent south to board ships which took them to Japan. It was here that he became unpaid slave labour in an iron works about 12 miles from Nagasaki and it was whilst working one day that he heard the unfamiliar sound of a large aircraft passing overhead. As it headed over the sprawling city, it dropped a single bomb, a bomb that was to significantly change the course of the war. Doug saw the bright, radiating glow, he saw the mushroom cloud ascend and he felt the shock-wave that shook all in its radial path. Within a few hours the consequences hit home. The guards drifted off, the factory started to wind down and the POWs moved from being slaves to being survivors in a foreign land. A few days later Doug visited the centre of Nagasaki. He was both shocked and elated. Shocked at the power of the bomb, but elated by his freedom and the revenge that had been inflicted on Japan.

 The Americans were first allied troops into the area and soon Doug was heading for San Francisco on a liner. The British troops were billeted on an island in San Francisco Bay so saw little of the city. Then it was onto a train across America to New York where the Queen Mary returned the troops to Liverpool. After several years of captivity, the troops were loose and not likely to respect discipline. Doug said that the interior of the luxurious liner was totally trashed during the Atlantic Crossing and required a massive re-fit.

 Whilst in Burma, he became ‘best mates’ with an Australian POW and the two were going to set up a sheep farming venture in Australia but the Aussie never made it and died on the railway. On Doug’s return to Aberdeenshire his family were delighted but shocked to see him. They had not heard of him in years and thought that he had been killed in the war.  He married in 1948 and became a family man with 3 children. It was very rare that he ever spoke about his years as a POW but did attend the occasional FE POW reunions

 

This information was all given to me by the family and i have at home some camp prisoner lists with his name on and some photos which i will attach one of Douglas after the war after he was back home and safe and looking well too!

Sorry that there are no pics of the medals at the moment, but the medals were the same as issued to everybody, the story is where it really gets interesting! I will however upload pictures of the medals and badges when i am next back down south!

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Edited by RobPinnell

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12 siblings? His poor mum.

Another great group and lucky find, especially coming straight from the family.

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6 hours ago, Tony said:

12 siblings? His poor mum.

Another great group and lucky find, especially coming straight from the family.

Thanks Tony!

Saw the medals going on ebay for very cheap with no bids as the listing wasnt well described so i offered a decent and fair price which was accepted and then to my surprise i got all this information!! Lucky indeed!

Glad you enjoyed the post!

 

Rob

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A very fine collection of POW groups.  Great to see how much you were able to find out s about the men involved.

 

I have one great war medal from a POW.

 

 

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On 07/02/2016 at 11:50, Jerry B said:

A very fine collection of POW groups.  Great to see how much you were able to find out s about the men involved.

 

I have one great war medal from a POW.

 

 

Thanks Jerry!

Glad that you enjoyed the posts so far!

 

Rob

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For my next post, Sadly i have very little information and the group is broken so i am going to try and research further and see what i can dig up!

George Frederick May was Commissioned into the Royal Artillery on the 30th of June 1939. George was later Captured whilst serving as a Captain and Quarter Master and was Held at Oflag 8F And subsequently was held at Oflag 79 in Brunswick as Prisoner Number 617. He was liberated on the 12th of April 1945.

Medals came in original card OHMS box.

Hopefully i will be able to find out more and update this post.

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A short while back my friend, John AKA: AZYEOMAN (who also has an incredible collection of pow medals which are well worth looking at on the site!), recommended me to start looking into Boer War Medals as they go for reasonable prices and they can be very interesting.

I am pleased to say that i have taken his word and bought my first Boer War Medal pair! Possibly the shortest length of time spent as a pow i have seen so far!

3105 Private W. Wilkins of the Gloucestershire Regiment, served in South Africa in the throughout the Boer War in the 2nd Battallion. He was captured at Dewetsdorp on the 23rd of November 1900 and was released just two weeks later on the 5th of December 1900.

He was present at the Relief of Kimberly and saw action in the Battle of Paardeberg and the Battle of Driefontein before being captured at Dewetsdorp.

I think this is a great starting piece for my Boer War Medal Collecting!

Thanks for looking!

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What a great pair to start off your Boer War PoW collection.  I date say, you'll get addicted to the campaign's there! ;)

Thanks for your posts; I truly enjoy reading them!

Cheers, John

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Next is a group, the likes of which I have always dreamed of owning! Part of a series of Birthday Presents to myself!! This will be a long post!

John Edward Jenkins joined the Territorial Army as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers in 1937. In 1940, He was selected for Officer Training and was granted a commission in April 1941. He was posted out to India in June 1941 and then From October 1941 to June 1942 he served in North Africa. He was Captured in Tobruk and this is where the story gets interesting!

John was taken to Campo 21 at Chieti, Italy. Campo 21 was an officers POW camp which was originally a Monastery. It was a very rough camp indeed but the morale was extraordinarily high given the circumstances. John was a very active prisoner being heavily involved in the Camp Theatre and also the Escape Committee! 

In 2014, Brian Lett published a book well worth a read called 'An Extraordinary Italian Imprisonment' which is all about those who were imprisoned in Campo 21 Chieti. In this book, John Jenkins is mentioned countless times. As it transpires, Johns Original Diary kept as a prisoner is kept in the National Archives and this is where Brian Lett got his information.

The Dramatic Society was a big part of life at Chieti. The society decided to put on a special show for the 21 Club. It was to be a cabaret in a simulated nightclub. Handbills were created and tickets were issued per table of 5 persons to 'The 21 Club Grill Room'. Guests would have to contribute their own food and were required to come in fancy dress. John Jenkins and one of his friends (Who attended on 23 October 1942) added colour by arriving as 'South Sea Belles' - featuring skirts made from Red Cross Parcels, bosoms stuffed with army socks, necklaces and bright 'halos'. They won a prize from the organisers for their costumes. Jenkins noted in his diary that he had 'A thoroughly enjoyable evening, despite the false atmosphere (perhaps the vino helped)'. At Christmas time, Jenkins played a big part in the play 'Cinderella'.

Johns Christmas in Captivity was a low point. In his diary he wrote 'We have been trying to raise a Christmas spirit, but it was very hard'. The man in charge of the red cross parcels, 'Red Cross Mac', had managed the distribution of Red Cross parcels leading up to Christmas very carefully, so that there was plenty for all. The Red Cross had created special parcels, including a Christmas cake and a plum pudding.

Up until the 23rd of January 1943, the prisoners were still in the uniform that they were captured in and the clothing quality was poor. Battledress, Greatcoats, Vests, Pants, Shirts and Bootts arrived from the Red Cross. Jenkins said, 'It was wonderful to see everyone looking human again, after changing from ragged and tattered shirts'. It was around this time that the camp got their first showers since the time they were captured.

On the 24th of March, John Jenkins was delighted to take his first walk outside the camp for seven months. The prisoners gave their parole not to escape, but that didnt mean that they could not have fun with their escort. The Italians, mainly from the south, were very short in stature, while some of the prisoners were tall. On their walks, the prisoners used to put six of their taller guardsmen at the front of the ranks who would march off at an increasingly fast pace, wearing light clothing and with nothing to carry. The Guards had much shorter legs, carrying their weapons and full kit would end up having to run to keep up screaming at their prisoners to stop. However, Despite their fun, Jenkins found the first walk of 4 miles very tiring and was 'pretty done in' when he got back. He got another walk outside of the camp on the 21st of April.

On the 1st of May 1943, Jenkins wrote in his diary 'Months fly by. Soon be a year now. a year of wasted life.'

On the 31st of August 1943, John Jenkins wrote in his diary, 'At the moment we are getting practically no food from the Ities, and parcels have been reduced to half per week. However, the end must be near now!'.

Here is where the story gets really interesting! As i previously mentioned, Jenkins was an active member of the escape committee and was working on a tunnel (one of a few being dug at the same time) at the time of the Capitulation of Italy. The story is taken up here;

Bill Gordon's tunnel team kept working on tunnel 4. His team included John Jenkins. They had been digging since 18th March 1943 and they too were under the wall. Having got through the original concrete with a hammer stolen from the Italians, they had had to cross two sewers before they reached the main wall. Both were fortunately upstream tributaries of the main sewer and carried only rainwater and waste from the camp barber shop. The team had built an air pump and air duct made of biscuit tins sewn up in cloth, so for the last section of their tunnel air could be sent along through the duct. They had also constructed a trolley, nicknamed 'Susie', to haul the spoil back from the face back by rope. Like other teams, they disposed of their spoil down the sewers, which they boarded so as to provide a platform above the flow. They too had also started a drainage pump by a concrete path around their bungalow and they had cleverly tapped into the guttering drains that led down from the bungalow roof to provide air from the outside world for the first stretch of the tunnel.

They shored up much of their tunnel with bed boards but once past the main wall, they relied on the durability of the clay soil. They had covered up the digging by asking their friends to give lectures in the small courtyard where their tunnel started, and if warning came that a guard was approaching one of the team would throw a mattress over the entrance and lie on it! The tunnel was completed on the 7th of September 1943, the day before the Italian Capitulation.

The next day, on the announcement of the Capitulation, Jenkins wrote 'We have waited so long for his day, and somehow i expected such a wild feeling and instead i am left quite empty and incapable of expression. Thank god it is all over and please god the world is at peace soon. The Italians seem more pleased than we are.... we are not free yet'.

As is common with most camps, the Senior British Officer obeyed the infamous 'Stay put' order which cost so many men their freedom for a couple more years and in some cases their lives as they died on later forced marches or through malnourishment. The Camp inmates knew that the Germans were in the area, so they posted sentries dressed in white medical coats and tried to give the impression that the Monastery was a Lunatic Asylum. On the 15th of September, a group of Italians told the Camp inmates that they must leave the camp as soon as possible as German convoys continued to sweep past the camp gates.

Also on the 15th Tunnel 4 was completed and ready for use, Jenkins made his first mention of the Tunnel in his diary saying 'Today saw the completion of six months of work, of which more anon'. On the 16th of September, Jenkins and his friend 'Brett' had to do Carabiniere duty for an hour. As an active member of the Escape Committee, Jenkins was no doubt unimpressed by having to do duty as a gaoler for his fellow prisoners. Still, as a direct order, he had to obey.

On the 21st of September, the prisoners realised the German takeover they had all feared had finally happened and the order was given that the escape teams were to prepare to go and hide in their tunnels. Tunnel 4 contained 11 officers who had all worked on the tunnel and drawn lots for places.

At 06:00 hours on the 24th September, the 11 men went down and hid in their tunnel earlier than most of the other tunnels filled with escaper's and intended on spending 36 hours underground. One can only imagine the conditions and claustrophobia! Morale was low and the oxygen was scarce so it was decided that 7 of the 11 in the tunnel would leave just after dark. The other 4 would stay in the tunnel and hope the air improved and go later at night. At 20:00 Hours on the 25th, just after dark, the 7 men including Jenkins exited the tunnel and covered the entrance and crept into the bungalow. Here they changed from their tunnel clothes into battledress. Looking out carefully from the bungalow, they could see there there were still a few Italians around and a single German sentry on the Front Gate. After sending a message down the tunnel to the others to give a message saying the coast was sufficiently clear, they decided to break. When they got the the wall, they found the ladder they had expected to use was gone, so they fetched a home made ladder constructed from bed boards which had been made for such an eventuality. In the dark with no sentries on the wall, they used to ladder to climb the wall and jump down to freedom. They split into pairs and headed for the nearby Pescara river, rendezvousing at a mill. They then marched 5 miles in the dark to put a safe distance between themselves and the camp and lay up the following day. Eventually and with help from the Italians, they made their way south. Jenkins along with Captain Clifford Boiteaux-Buchanan, who was later killed at Arnhem, and two other were put in touch with Captain Lee of the SAS amd waited at the beach for three nights. When the A force attempt to evacuate them failed, the four men travelled south together on foot for some time before splitting up. 

John Jenkins crossed the lines on the 30th of October 1943. For his escape, Jenkins was Mentioned in Despatches whereas Boiteuax-Buchanan was awarded the MC. A just award but i think Jenkins deserved it too!

Unlike most, John Jenkins volunteered to retrain and get back into the fight like his friend Captain Boiteaux-Buchanan who was killed at Arnhem in September 1944.

He was repatriated in December 1943, and then retrained until July 1944 when he was sent over to France. He served in France, Holland and Germany until May of 1945. He had a VERY active and interesting war!

 

As most of you know, about 99% of the Escaper's from Italy were opportunists rather than those who were in the mindset of planning and carrying out an escape before the Capitulation. This is why i am so happy to have come across this group! With the group is some Italian Insignia brought back by Jenkins and id be very interested if anybody could enlighten me as to what these are?

Hope you enjoyed the post, More to come soon!!

 

 

 

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Another nice group and a late issue going by the address on the box. You and John make finding POW groups look so easy.

 

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3 hours ago, Tony said:

Another nice group and a late issue going by the address on the box. You and John make finding POW groups look so easy.

 

Thanks Tony! Its not easy, I just spend all my free time searching for new groups! And this recent group was a complete stroke of luck! It was a new listing on a website where the seller hadn't had the time to research the group and i was lucky to see it when i did!

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What a great acquisition!  Your write up is terrific and the story needed to be told and what Jenkins did kept alive.  Thank you and I look forward to reading your next one!  Thanks very much Robb!

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Next up is a very sad and interesting story to a young Hurricane Pilot.

 

Kenneth Barton Smith was born on the 29th of May 1919 in Bromley and was educated in Tonbridge, Kent. He then went to Wintringham Grammar School in Grimsby where his family was then living.

In 1936, he moved to London and started working for an insurance company. On the 14th of August 1939, he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 1st of September 1939, Kenneth was called up and started his training. On the 20th of May, 1940 his training ended and he joined 257 Squadron on the 22nd. The squadron, based in Hendon, was supposed to have Spitfires but instead was given Hurricanes. 

On the 8th of August 1940, 257 Squadron were on Convoy Escorts in the Channel and as Kenneth was piloting Hurricane R4094 off of St. Catherine's Point. He never returned from this sortie.

Kenneth is believed to have been shot down and crashed/bailed out into the Channel.

On the 10th of August, Lord Haw-Haw announced Sgt Kenneth Barton Smith's name and address as being a prisoner of war. He was never heard of again.

Sadly, I doubt it will ever be known what happened to Kenneth, perhaps he was brutally interrogated about the the RAF plans, locations, strength etc and didnt co-operate? perhaps he was wounded when taken prisoner and died of these wounds? A sad story made worse for his family who must have been overjoyed to hear the new that Kenneth was a Prisoner but then to never hear a word again. It must have been terrible.

Kenneth Barton Smith was just 21 years old when he died, and he is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing.

Pictured below are the condolence slip named to Flight Sergeant K.B Smith, the 1939-45 Star with replacement Battle Of Britain bar, Air Crew Europe Star and 1939-45 war medal.

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Edited by RobPinnell

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Rob:  George Frederick May is shown in the September 1939 Security Edition of The Monthly Army List as one of the two Quartermasters in 53rd (London) Medium Regiment, RA TA.  The regiment served in France and Belgium with the BEF from October 1939 to June 1940 so it is quite likely he was captured at that time.  You might want to obtain a copy of the war diary for 53rd Medium Regiment, RA for the period 01 Sept 1939 to 30 June 1940 which is at The National Archives under WO 167/540.

Regards, Gunner 1

Edited by Gunner 1

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6 hours ago, Gunner 1 said:

Rob:  George Frederick May is shown in the September 1939 Security Edition of The Monthly Army List as one of the two Quartermasters in 53rd (London) Regiment, RA TA.  The regiment served in France and Belgium with the BEF from October 1939 to June 1940 so it is quite likely he was captured at that time.  You might want to obtain a copy of the war diary for 53rd Medium Regiment, RA for the period 01 Sept 1939 to 30 June 1940 which is at The National Archives under WO 167/540.

Regards, Gunner 1

Thanks very much Gunner! I will definitely try to obtain the war diary and see what I can find! 

Thanks a lot for giving up your time to help me research!

Rob

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Up Next is a group i have spent the last couple of months researching.

Indraseen Pydaah Murty was born in Darlington, Yorkshire on the 13th of November 1921. He attended the Barnard Castle Boarding school. Just after the war, Indraseen changed his name to Robert and was known as Bob so from now on, i will refer to him as Bob. At the time of enlistment he was a Journalist living in Berkshire.

Bob joined the territorial army on the 24th of May 1939 and when war broke out, he was called up to serve with the West Yorkshire Regiment. Bob was sent over to France with the regiment in 1940 but his regiment was driven back to the sea at Dunkirk by German forces. Bob was one of the lucky ones who was able to escape back to England.

Back in England in 1941, Bob asked to transfer to the Royal Air Force and volunteered for aircrew training. After initial training in England, he was sent to Pensacola Florida for Observor/Navigator training. He thoroughly enjoyed his time across the pond. He very much admired the training ability of the instructors.

He was sent back to England and joined 77 Squadron as a Sgt Navigator. He took part in a number of operations but on the 23/24th of September 1943 whilst on an operation against Mannheim, he was shot down and had to bale out. Sadly, he was one of only 3 of the 7 crew to survive. He injured his back as he descended by parachute and hit a tree.

Bob recalled later saying "I came down over the target area of Mannheim and as dawn was breaking, to avoid meeting angry civilians, i hid up a tree and hid there all day. The next day, i climbed down and started walking. I came to in a forest and because i was so tired i rested by a tree and fell into a deep sleep. I woke to see a forester standing over me with a big axe and for me the war was over.

Bob was taken to Dulag Luft at Frankfurt and held here in solitary confinement for 7 days. Here he was interview by a woman who 'claimed to be from the International Red Cross'.

Bob was held at Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft 6 at Hydekrug, Stalag 357 Thorn, and Stalag 357 Fallingbostel. As the Russians and British forces closed in, Stalag 357 was evacuated and on the 6th of April, the prisoners were marched out of the camp. On the 18th of April, Bob took his opportunity and made his escape from the marching column. This was lucky timing as on the 19th, The column was accidentally strafed by British and American Planes resulting in a lot of casualties. 

Bob was interviewed about his time as a P.O.W on the 26th of April 1945 by now a Warrant Officer. Under the section of medical care, he reported that he had not received adequate treatment for the injury to his spine, an injury which would affect him for the rest of his life. The rest of the column was liberated on the 2nd of May 1945.

After the war, Bob changed his name and applied to join the caterpillar club. 

He returned to Journalism and ended up as the editor of the Daily Mail. Bob died in 1999.

I am sure that this grouping is unique, A half indian who served on the beaches of Dunkirk as a soldier, was shot down as an RAF navigator and then escaped and made his way to the british lines. A fantastic group which i am thrilled to own!

I dont have time to upload the pictures tonight, but i will do tomorrow when i have a chance!

Edited by RobPinnell

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Such a very nice group.  I love how the caterpiller is on the yellow backing; very nice.  Thank you for posting this!

All the best,

John

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What a cracking collection Rob; great to see a young chap like yourself showing such an interest in History too.

I don't have much time to read through the thread in one go so have bookmarked it for reading in stages.

Incidently, after 11 years worth of research into my Dad's service, I've only just recently discovered the fate of the two passengers he took to Arnhem in his glider. Both were serving with the King's Own Scottish Borderers and were captured at some point in the battle. So, I'll be doing a little P.O.W research myself soon.

Thanks for sharing photos of your collection with us.

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It is indeed a wonderful group, Rob, which is fortunate to have found its way into your safe hands.  Such materials are easily dispersed and their combined significance is lost forever.  Thank you for sharing with us.

Regards

Brett

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