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My Prisoner of War Collection

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Rob:  Reference you post #4 concerning Gnr Herbert Mitchell.  The Norfolk Yeomanry in Peace and War by Jeremy Bastin gives a very detailed look at the service of 65th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA during WWII.  According to that source the only battery of the Regiment that had men captured on 24 January 1942 was 260th Battery which on that date was away from the Regiment under the command of 1st Armoured Division somewhere near Antelat. As the regiment moved westward it came into contact with a large group of German tanks.  It turned eastward to escape but "quite a proportion" became POWs.

Regards, Gunner 1

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As you can all understand, WW2 Royal Navy Prisoner of War groups are incredibly hard to find and i have been searching for a few years now to get my hands on one but finally i have!

Able Seaman Francis George Allcorn was born on the 17th of April 1902 in Marylebbone, London.

He enlisted in the Royal Navy in April 1920 aged 18 years. At the time, he was 5ft4, and had a 36 inch chest. He had Brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He also had a Sailor and Cross tattooed onto his left forearm and a Bird on his right arm.

In the early 1930s, he transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve and was awarded his LSGC in 1935.

 He served on the SS Lustrous as an RN Gunlayer and was captured on the 22nd of February 1941 when the SS Lustrous was sunk by the Scharnhorst from gunfire and shelling whilst on a voyage from London to Curacao in Ballast.

All of the crew survived including the ships Captain's cabin boy, John Hipkin, who was the youngest POW in the second world war.

Francis arrived at his first camp, Stalag XB at Sandbostel on the 4th of April 1941 and stayed until the end of July when he was moved to the new Marlag und Milag Nord camp at Westertimke about 30 km North East of Bremen. The men of Sandbostel were actually made to dismantle their barracks and rebuild them at Marlag and Milag.

Francis gave the date of the end of his incarceration as the 28th of March 1945 and he was interviewed on the 29th of March. This implies that he escaped the rest of the camp was not liberated until Early May 1945 but sadly there is nothing on the report which mentions how he got away.

In 1951, Francis was arrested for stealing from the stores and was imprisoned for 6 months.

I am very happy to have this fine group and i hope i wont be waiting another few years for another Naval POW group!

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Edited by RobPinnell

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Congratulations Rob!  Great group and write up.  Thank you for sharing your research; so nice to have at least one named medal.  

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Cheers John!

Yes i am so glad that the RFR LSGC is named and also that it bears the face of George V too rather than George VI like his ww2 entitlement. Ive never owned an RFR Lsgc either so its a double first and its a very pretty medal too!

Rob

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Next up is sadly only a single medal from the group but an interesting one.

Joseph George Penney was born on the 15th of November 1907 in Johannesburg and enlisted into the South African Engineering Company on the 6th of November 1940 as a Sapper. His occupation on enlistment is given as a Plumer.

In 1941, he embarked from Durban and sailed up to North Africa. Whilst serving here, Joseph suffered from Acute Gastritis and Cerebral Malaria.

On the 20th of June 1942, whilst serving with the 10th field company, Joseph was posted as missing in action at Tobruk. On the 24th, he was confirmed as captured by the enemy and was a prisoner of war.

Joseph was shipped to Italy from North Africa and was held at PG66 at Capua,

On the Italian Armistice, Joseph decided he would make south for to link up with the advancing allies and he eventually after what must have been an arduous two months did that and reached the allied lines on the 26th of November 1943.

From reaching the allied lines, Joseph would have rested before being sent to Egypt where he arrived on the 9th of December 1943. On Christmas day of 1943, he was enplaned for the Union (a wonderful Christmas present!) and he was finally discharged on the 2nd of June, 1944.

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Edited by RobPinnell

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Next up is a bit of a bitter sweet purchase as its only 1/6th of the mans entitlement!

Harold James Lynch was born in Ireland on the 5th of April 1903. Whilst he was only 14/15 years old in 1917/18, he served with the South African Artillery. After he first world war, Harold trained as a mechanic.

On the 3rd of January 1940, Harold attested back into the South African Artillery. He weighed 157lbs, was 5'10, had brown hair and brown eyes. His home address was 1 Southport Garden, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa.

From the date of attestation to the 8th of June 1940 he served in South Africa training. On the 9th of June until the 3rd of may 1941, he served in East Africa and from the 3rd he was based in the middle eastern theatre.

On the 15th of June 1942, now a Sergeant, Harold was taken prisoner of war in North Africa and was sent to PG 66 in Capua, Italy. He was held prisoner here until the 1st of September 1943 when he escaped (Before the armistice!). He went on the run and travelled north. For 6 months whilst he was on the run, he worked in the Rome area before meeting up with the advancing allies on the 4th of June 1944.

The 4th of June 1944 is the day that American Forces took possession of Rome so it is likely that Harold was being sheltered and hid by friendly Italians and when the Americans took over he revealed himself to them. He was sent back to the Union on the 30th of July 1944. 

He transferred to the South African Air Force and continued his service with the Mobile Air Force Depot and was finally discharged on the 28th of Feb 1947 as a Flight Sergeant. His reason for discharge is listed as The Demobilisation of Forces and his post discharge employment is listed as a Self Employed Upholsterer.

This medal i have for him is the Africa Service Medal with the Kings Commendation attached. The emblem is actually the version issued between 1968-74 so it is likely that the original was lost and this was used as the replacement.

His full entitlement is the British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1939-45 star, Africa Star, War medal and Africa Service Medal. If anybody sees any of these on the market please do let me know as it would be fantastic to reunite at least one of these!

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A recent purchase through ebay, thankfully it was poorly advertised so i got it for a steal!

William Horace Wakeford was born on the 14th of December 1914. He lived at 7 Cranbourne Cottage, Westcott, Dorking, Surrey. At the time of his enlistment on the 8th of November 1939, he was working as a commercial salesman.

He enlisted as T/100787 Driver Wakeford into the Royal Army Service Corps. After basic training, he was assigned to the 1st Armoured Brigade, then reforming and rearming after losing most of its equipment during the Dunkirk evacuations. He was based in the UK throughout 1940 on anti-invasion duties until the Brigade was dispatched to Egypt where they arrived on the 1st of January 1941. After acclimatisation and training, the brigade was dispatched on Churchill's orders to support Greece in their fight against the German/Italian invasion.

The 1st Armoured Brigade combined with Australian and New Zealand troops to form 'W' Force named after its commander General Henry Maitland Wilson. W force arrived in Greece on the 2nd of March, 1941. After 6 weeks the fight for Greece became hopeless and the decision was made to evacuate the troops. Dvr Wakeford and the men of the RASC were crucial to the logistical support which enabled the British Army to hold up the advance of the axis forces at Thermopylae, the scene of the Spartan last stand centuries earlier. The stand and other actions enabled the British to evacuate 50,000 troops back to Egypt. Unfortunately, Wakeford along with 8000 others were captured. He was listed as missing on the 28th of April, but he managed to evade capture until the 2nd of June 1941 and was finally captured at Megara which is 150km from Thermopylae!! He stated he was wounded when he was caught.

He was sent to Stalag 18D at Marburg an der drau, (which is modern day Maribor in Slovenia), arriving on the 3rd of July 1941. He stayed here until the 5th of August 1941 when he was put to work on a farm at Rotenturm in Austria. On the 13th of August 1941, the Red Cross confirmed that he was a prisoner and safe which must have been a great relief to his family as his would have been listed as missing since April! 

On the 2nd of June '42, a year after his capture, he was transferred to Stalag 18a at Spittal and he was held here until the 13th of April 1944 when he was transferred to Stalag 357 at Thorn arriving here on the 17th of April. On the 14th of August 1944, he was transferred to Fallingbostel which he stayed at until the 8th of April 1945 when the prisoners were marched away from the Russians. 

On his MI9 debrief report, he left the following comments; "The conditions at camp 357 were very bad. No lighting, Shortage of fuel, insufficient water supply and wash-houses. Reprisals were taken back too, taking back mattresses, men with no over-coats forced to go out on roll call in bad weather, the food was very bad." 

Driver William Horace Wakeford was discharged at Hastings on the 18th of February 1946 after 6 years and 103 days. His military conduct was given as Exemplary.

Included were his 3 medals, the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star and War Medal and also his Soldiers Service and Pay book. I was very happy to find on the Stalag 18a website, a picture of Wakeford at the camp!

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Edited by RobPinnell

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7 hours ago, RobPinnell said:

 

He was sent to Stalag 18D at Marburg an der drau, (which is modern day Maribor in Slovenia), arriving on the 3rd of July 1941. He stayed here until the 5th of August 1941 when he was put to work on a farm at Rotenturm in Austria. On the 13th of August 1941, the Red Cross confirmed that he was a prisoner and safe which must have been a great relief to his family as his would have been listed as missing since April! 

On the 2nd of June '42, a year after his capture, he was transferred to Stalag 18a at Spittal and he was held here until the 13th of April 1944 when he was transferred to Stalag 357 at Thorn arriving here on the 17th of April. On the 14th of August 1944, he was transferred to Fallingbostel which he stayed at until the 8th of April 1945 when the prisoners were marched away from the Russians.

Were Russians that close to Fallingbostal in April 45?

I'll echo Brett's comment.

Tony

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Thanks for the response guys! its really good to know that people are still interested in the thread and enjoying the posts!

Tony - my apologies, the prisoners who were able to march were evacuated in light of the *British* advance on the 8th of April 1945 from Fallingbostel. They had a tough time on the march, in particular on the 19th of April when they were accidentally strafed by British Typhoon fighter/bombers. 60 pows were killed and many more were wounded in the event. After this, the camp leader Sergeant Pilot Dixie Deans was spoke to the German in command, Oberst Ostmann, and gave him the choice of being captured by the Russians or the British. Deans was allowed to leave with a guard to contact the British whom he met on the 1st of May. He was given a captured car and drove back to Gresse where the POW's were waiting and they marched across the British lines on the 3rd of May 1945. 

Meanwhile those unable to march and the rest who had hidden and stayed behind were liberated by the Royal Hussars. RSM Lord of the Parachute Regiment who was captured at Arnhem, who had hidden during the evacuation of the camp, met the liberators with an immaculately presented guard of Airbourne Soldiers.

I believe Sgt Dixie Deans was awarded the MBE after the war for his services to Prisoners of War. He is talked about quite a bit in the book 'The Sergeant Escapers', which is about Royal Air Force POW's during the second world war and is well worth buying. If i remember correctly i bought it for about £2 second hand on amazon!

Thanks again!

Rob

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On 19/10/2016 at 03:19, RobPinnell said:

Thanks for the response guys! its really good to know that people are still interested in the thread and enjoying the posts!

 

Rob, I might not always comment but I do enjoy the posts. Same goes for John's posts.

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Another South African single medal ebay find...

Jan Gabriel Stoltz was born on the 3rd of July 1918 and on enlistment in January 1941 was living in Middelburg, South Africa. He worked on houses and in the streets.

He enlisted as 39988 Pte J G Stoltz into the 2nd battalion of the Regiment Botha, Part of the 5th South African Infantry Brigade. He served in North Africa and was captured on the 23rd of November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh.

Jan was first held at PG 52 Chiavari arriving here on the 5th of January 1942 and was held here until the 8th of August 1942. From Chiavari, he was sent to a work camp detatchment of PG 107 at Udine and he worked here on a Farm until the Italian Capitulation on the 8th of September 1943.

Jan managed to evade the Germans and live in Italy presumably at Farms (most likely the one he had been working at as is common with other POWs) until he was recaptured and sent to Stalag 7a at Moosburg in Germany arriving here on the 12th of December 1943. On the 23rd of December he was sent to work on the Arbeitskommando 3785 where he was employed working on houses as he had done in his civillian life.

He was liberated on the 15th of April 1945 by the advancing allied and ended his war service as a Sergeant. He was interviewed about his time as a prisoner of war on the 15th of May 1945.

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Very interesting. Corporal Samuel Aston from Spennymoor who you mentioned further back, is my grandfather. I knew he'd been a POW, but had no clue about any of the other information, so thank you. He died in 1966, aged 65.

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Next up is quite a scarce find.

William Basil Rudd was born on the 7th of June 1918. In 1938, whilst working at the HM Dockyard Portsmouth, he joined the Portsmouth Aero Club. In September of 1938 he joined the Civil Air Guard which was a scheme set up to subsidise pilot training fees for Civilian flying clubs who could assist the Royal Air Force in time of emergency. He lived at 116 Malins Road, Mile End, Portsmouth.

On the outbreak of war, William Rudd volunteered to join the Royal Air Force but received a letter from the air ministry apologising that the RAF couldnt absorb Civil Air Guard members at the present time. ( See the letter in pictures).

William persevered and eventually he enlisted in the Royal Air Force on the 22nd of May 1940. After he finished his training he joined 152 Squadron based at RAF Warmwell flying Spitfires on home defence operations. Throughout June 1941, Rudd was scrambled many times flew many patrols over: Plymouth, Lizard Point, Falmouth, Perranporth, Scillies, searches for a destroyer 15 miles from base, Lundy isle and St Ives.

In July 41, he was posted to 601 Squadron flying sorties over Dunkirk, St Omer, Lille and Calais seeing lots of engagements with the enemy fighters. On the 8th of July, the Squadron moved from Rochford to Hornchurch. Rudd was one of those who flew one of the Squadrons aircraft over to the new base. (I have obtained the Operations Records books for each squadron he was in and have picked out some interesting events)

On the 12th, the squadron were tasked to cover and escort 3 Stirlings. They encountered the enemy in great force over St Omer and had some successes. Sgt Pilot Jackman claimed one Destroyed and one damaged, Sgt Prythereh claimed one probable and Flight Lieutenants Gilroy and Delorme each claimed one damaged.

On the 21st of July, the squadron were target support wing to a 'Circus' over Lille being led by Wing Commander Gerald Stapleton (Battle of Britain ace and later POW himself). Over Lille they sighted 15 Messerschmidt 109's. They dived and a big dogfight ensued. Sgt Tabor (A battle of britain pilot who came from 152 Squadron with Rudd) returning at '0 feet' destroyed a Me109-F which was landing and shot a man off of a watch tower. Sgt Delorme destroyed a Me109-E in the dogfight and Sgt Archibald damaged another. Wing Commander Stapleton also destroyed one.

On the 23rd, 8 of the squadrons aircraft covered a circus over Bethune. Sgt Wood had to return to base due to an oil leak and Pilot Officer Keables hood was shot off. The remaining 6 aircraft were jumped by twenty Me109's. Sgt G Tabor was reported missing and later found out to have been killed.

On the 30th of July, Sgt Rudd reported to 222 Squadron.

On the 17th of August, the squadron took off to escort three Blenheims to Torpedo an enemy ship in Le Touqet. The Attack was successful.

On the 19th the Squadron took off to rendezvous with six Blenheims to Hazebrouck. Squadron heavily engaged with enemy fighters Flt Lt Martin probably destroyed one and Sgt Ptacek reported missing - feared lost.

On the 21st, the Squadron took part in an offensive fighter patrol over St Omer. Pilot Officer Burgess and Sgt Pilot Rudd each fired at and destroyed a Messerschmidt 109. Burgess at Bf109-F and Rudd a Bf109-E.

On the 2nd of September, Rudd was in a Fighter Sweep over St Omer and Le Touqet at 24,000 ft.

On the 4th of September, the squadron was ordered to escort 12 Blenheims to bomb Masingarbe. Sgt Pilots Sharples and Rudd were reported missing.

William Basil Rudd was shot down and baled out over Dunkirk and was captured on the same day. 

As an NCO, he was obliged to work but the Germans knowing that RAF prisoners were generally pretty intelligent, very brave and escape minded decided not to make RAF NCO's work to avoid them escaping on work parties.

He was sent to Dulag Luft near Frankfurt for interrogation which he described as 'Normal'.

From mid September 1941 to May 1942, he was imprisoned at Stalag VIII-B at Lamsdorf. Due to overcrowding, the majority of the 600 airmen at Lamsdorf were transferred to Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan. From May 1942 he was held at Stalag Luft 3 until he was entrained for Stalag Luft 6 at Hydekrug in Lithuania in June 1943. In July 1944, fearing the Russians were getting too close, the Germans moved the Prisoners from Luft 6 to Stalag 357 at Thorn which was a fortress camp. In August 1944, he was transferred to Stalag 357 Fallingbostel where he stayed until April 1945.

On the 6th of April 1945, the prisoners of Fallingbostel were marched away from the advancing russians. On the 19th of April the column of marching prisoners was accidentally strafed at Gresse by a British Typhoon which resulted in over 60 Fatalities and many more injuries.

In early May 1945, the prisoners marched over British lines after the hard work of Sgt James 'Dixie' Deans who had given the German Commandant, Ernst Ostmann, the ultimatum of either be taken prisoner by the Russians or the British. Ostmann allowed Deans to go to the British Lines to warn them that many columns of POW's were being marched and not to attack them again. Deans returned to the column and marched them across the British lines where he accepted Ostmann's surrender. 

William Basil Rudd was interviewed about his time as a prisoner of the 9th of May 1945.

The items i have are Rudd's original Civil Air Guard log book which shows flights on many different aircraft, a letter from the RAF about being unable to take him at the time, a CAG button and his original RAF wings which he was issued and probably wore throughout his time as a POW. The whereabouts of his medals were unknown to the family so i have added them to my display and if i ever were to sell the grouping, they would be removed just to clear it up!

Hope you have enjoyed this one!

 

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I have just found this extra bit of information regarding William Basil Rudd's final sortie which ended in him being shot down and captured. This info is taken from 'Fighter Command's Air War in 1941: RAF Circus Operations and Fighter Sweeps' by Norman Franks.

Quickly to define for those who are not aware, a 'Circus Operation' was the code-name given to operations of the Royal Air Force during World War Two where bombers, heavily escorted by fighters, were sent over Continental Europe to bring enemy fighters into combat.

Circus No.93 - 4 September

The first Circus of the month called for twelve Blenheims to attack the power station at Mazingarbe. North Weald got the Close Escort slot, Biggin the Cover. Target Support went to Kenley and Hornchurch. Forward Support to Northolt and Rear Support, Tangmere. Low cloud over the Channel became hazy over France with just fragments of cloud.

The bombers, all of 18 Squadron, operated in two boxes of six, and made RV over Manston at 10,000 feet at 18:00. Seventeen minutes later they were crossing the French coast at Mardyck and reached Mazingarbe ten minutes after that, Bombs from the first box all overshot, but the second six saw their bombs fall on the Ammonia plant, on the coking ovens and across the nearby rail line. However, on the way in a single Me109 dived on the rear section near Hazebrouck and opened fire on one which pulled out with black smoke pouring from its starboard engine. It then burst into flames and just before it blew up, one of the crew baled out. The attacking pilot was none other than Adolf Galland who thus achieved his eighty-second victory.

The escorts became embroiled in fights with Me109s going to and returning from the target and while 222 Squadron lost two pilots, the Wing claimed 2-3-1 before the 109's broke off. Both NCO pilots ended up 'in the bag'. 111 Squadron also had one pilot forced to bale out but he was later rescued. This was Sgt T R Caldwell's second baled out having done so back on the 23rd of July. Of the three Blenheim crew, only the pilot survived joining the two fighter pilots in captivity.

(I am assuming the '2-3-1' means 2 destroyed, 3 probables and 1 damaged?)

Its very interesting to see that Adolf Galland was involved in this operation. Galland was credited with an incredible 104 'kills' and fought against the RAF in the Battle of Britain. After the war, Galland actually became good friends with Douglas Bader!

 

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When talking about the Italian Capitulation and those got back to allied lines or to Switzerland, its hard to say whether it can be classed as Escape, or simply as a mix of opportunism and luck. After the Capitulation, most camps were simply left for the inmates to control. A large amount were free for quite a few days before the Germans arrived allowing thousands to simply walk out and make their own way back to freedom, However this depended on if the senior officer in the camp followed the stay put order or not. A couple of the camps however were almost immediately taken over by the Germans.

One camp in particular is Camp 52 at Chiavari. The Germans actually parachuted in on the Capitulation of Italy to take over the camp instantly. Nobody was able to escape before the camp was taken by the Germans and the Prisoners were put into cattle trucks for the Fatherland. It is estimated that only about 30 men managed to escape from the train.

Therefore, it is really hard to find true 'escaper' medal groups to men held in Italy. 

However, i have been fortunate enough to find the grouping to Lieutenant John Jenkins (Posted about on this thread, page 2) who escaped, by hiding in the tunnel he had been working on for 6 months, when the the Germans came to en-train all of the prisoners to Germany.

I have recently been able to find a group to a man who i am sure is one of those who jumped from the train from PG 52 at Chiavari. Sadly, he didn't fill out an MI9 debrief form so the details cant be truly discovered. I have seen only 2 groups to men who jumped from the train and have read a further 2 or 3 accounts of others who had jumped, but only seen the group of and heard the story of one other man who escaped in a different way. For this reason i am certain that my man jumped from the train.

George Gordon Law was born on the 24th of October 1915 in South Africa. His mother and next of kin was Agnes M Gordon Law. His nationality is listed as British Colonial. He lived at 242 Kerk St. Johannesburg. His description (on discharge) is given as: Height: 5"11, Complexion: Medium, Hair: Brown, Eyes: Blue/Grey and Distinctive Marks: Scar Left side of Forehead.

He joined the 1st Transvaal Scottish Regiment in 1934 and served with them until 1939 when he transferred to the 3rd Battalion Transvaal Scottish. He initially served in the East African Campaign embarking from Durban aboard the SS Westernland on the 8th of December 1940 arriving on the 15th. He served in Mombasa, Kenya until the 18th of April 1941 when he embarked from Mombasa to Suez aboard the HMT Dunera arriving at his destination on the 3rd of May 1941.

As part of Operation Crusader, the attempt to relieve the besieged port of Tobruk, the Transvaal Scottish were all but annihilated at Sidi Rezegh by Rommel's Panzers on the 23rd of November 1941. The Transvaal Scottish were halted at Sidi Rezegh on the 22nd of November by strong German positions who counter-attacked with two Panzer Divisions. The South Africans formed a defensive box formation trying to take cover in slit trenched, however, in many places they could only dig down to around 9 inches due to the solid limestone underneath their positions. Their position was to be protected on the flank by the ten remaining tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade who had lost nearly 140 tanks in four days of fighting. On the morning of the 23rd, the two Panzer divisions swept through the shattered remnants of the Armoured Brigade and attacked the South African positions from all sides. Despite heroic resistance from the infantrymen fighting tanks out in the open with nothing but rifles and machine guns and their artillery who fired over open sights until they were overrun. The South Africans were all but wiped out. The Africakorps called the battle "Totensonntag", the 'Sunday of the dead' due to the ferociousness of the fighting. After the battle of Sidi Rezegh, Acting Lieutenant General Sir Charles Willoughby Moke Norrie stated that the South Africans "Sacrifice resulted in the turning point of the battle, giving the allies the upper hand in North Africa".

After his capture on the 23rd of November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh, Sgt Law was sent to PG 38 at Poppi which was a monastery near Arezzo arriving on the 14th of January 1942. On the 8th of February he was confirmed as a P.O.W. He moved camps to PG 66 at Capua on the 25th of March 1942 and moved on to his final destination on the 24th of April 1942 which was PG 52 at Chiavari.

On the Capitulation of Italy, the Germans parachuted in and took over the camp before anybody had got the chance to get away as the Senior British Warrant Officer had forbidden attempts to escape as the Stay Put order had stated. The prisoners were marched off to the station on put on trains for Germany. It appears that Sgt Law managed to escape from the train and he made his way up to Switzerland arriving on the 3rd of January 1944. He was released from Switzerland in October 1944 arrived in Egypt on the 11th of October. He arrived back in the Union on the 4th of November 1944.

I am going to try and contact the Regiment to see if they hold any record of Law's escape but either way, a group to a man who got away from Camp 52 is very rare indeed so im glad to have it in my collection. Its also my first Territorial Efficiency Medal to have the Bi-Lingual South African Suspender so its always nice to have a completely 'new' medal in my collection!

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Hi Brett,

Yes the ww2 medals are impressed with service number, initials and surname as is standard and the Territorial medal in engraved with service number, rank, name and regiment.

Glad you enjoyed! 

Rob

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