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A most interesting addition to the collection to Harry "Kip" Colomb, RA taken PoW on Crete. It's nice to see the Greek War Medal* with this group and it's surprising that more men didn't apply for it when they could. Please note his PoW ID tag (6945) which matches his original German paperwork that he was able to retain after his liberation. The group is accompanied by origianal photos, letters, drawings and a diary some of which I'll post too. Note the cap badge is a good example of a "camp-made" one. It would be hard to find a more complete PoW group.

*Note on Greek War Medal awarded to those who fought in Greece/Crete

There is no specific British medal for Greece/Crete but the Greeks have offered medals to British Servicemen for fighting in their country in 1939-45. These Greek medals are still being processed by their Embassy and the applications are sent to Athens for processing. Applicants need an original record of service showing that they were in Greece/Crete during

the War.

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It's rare to find the original German documents. Obviously Kip was one of the men who was involved in amatuer theatre that was so popular in the camps.

Stalag XVIII-D, also known as Stalag 306, was a German Prisoner of War camp at Maribor (German: Marburg an der Drau) in what is now Slovenia. It opened in the spring or early summer of 1941, operating until the end of the war.

By July 1941 Stalag XVIII-D contained nearly 4,500 British and Commonwealth prisoners captured in Greece and Crete. Conditions initially were very poor, with more than 1,000 men accommodated in tents while huts were being constructed. There was an outbreak of typhus in early 1942. However the situation improved as the war went on.

Escapes assisted by Yugoslav Partisans became increasingly common, with most escapers being led south to the Partisan base and airfield at Semic in Bela Krajina. In August 1944, the largest mass rescue of POWs of the war in Europe took place when 105 Allied prisoners from a work camp administered by Stalag XVIII-D were freed by Partisans in the raid at Ozbalt.

Between August and November 1942 there was a second camp at Maribor, Stalag XVIII- B/Z.

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You can see that his drawing of his wife was a exceptionally well done drawing from the accompanying photograph. His notes to himself are interesting reflections; I'm sure all PoWs had plenty of time on their hands to think. Note the back of the photo of him and his wife; he lists where he was during his time in the forces; he travelled and saw a lot; fascinating reading.

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Close up of three WWI badges two of which are paper. It's amazing that some things survive over such a long time.

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A group of six to P/JX 137436 PO Ernest Frank Baxter, HMS Hereward, sunk off Crete on 27 May 1941. Baxter was born on 28 September 1915 and enlisted in May 1931. He lived in Weymouth, Dorset and according to his General Questionnaire for British American Ex-Prisoners of War was captured on 29 May 1941 in Casso Straits off of Crete. He was initially in Italian PoW Camps and was in a camp in Maples from June '41 to July '41 and then Bolzano from July 1941 to 29 Oct. 1941 when he went to Campo 78 in Sulmona and was there from November '41 unitl 1 April of 1943 when he was transferred to Campo 70 at Monturano until 8 Sept. 1943. He was then sent to Moosburg, Germany from Feb. 1944 and left there in March 1944 and went to Marlag and Marlag Nord in Bremen, Germany. He was there from March 1944 to 10 April 1945. He was finally in Lubec, Germany from 8 April 1945 until liberated. He was interrogated on the Island of Rhodes on 31 May 1941 and asked wrote, "Direct questions were asked, and the questions seemed familiar with the ships past opperations (sic)."

Baxter also wrote of his escape on 3 May 1945, "Escaped from camp 70 in Italy 8th Sept. 1941. Marched out as a party. Companions were P.O. March, PO Joplin, CPO Hancombe, RSM Hennassy, one seaman and two privates. Party separated I stayed some time at Passara. Injured right ankle and was atended by and sheltered by an Italian farmer. Left him to attempt to pass over to British lines and was captured by Germans on 15/12/1943 N.W of Isclona. Marsh, Joplin and Hennassy reached British lines."

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HMS Hereward (H93), named after Hereward the Wake, was an H-Class destroyer built for the Royal Navy. The ship was laid down by the High Walker Yard of Vickers Armstrong at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 28 February 1935, launched on 10 March 1936 and completed on 9 December 1936. Excluding government-furnished equipment like the armament, the ship cost £249,591. She tested the twin-gun mounted intended for use on the Tribal-class destroyers in January–March 1937 at Gibralter. It was removed at the end of the trials and her two forward guns were replaced immediately afterwards. The ship was then assigned to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet and began patrolling Spanish waters in the Mediterranean enforcing the Non-Intervention Agreement during the Spanish Civil War. Hereward was refitted in Malta from 30 September to 30 October 1937 and again a year later, this time in Portsmouth Dockyard in June–July 1939 and she returned to the Mediterranean afterwards.

Hereward was transferred to Freetown to hunt for German commerce raiders in the South Atlantic with Force K in October. The ship and her sisterships: Hardy, Hasty and Hostile, rendezvoused with the battlecruiser HMS Renown, the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the light cruiser Neptune on 17 December. They refueled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before proceeding to the estuary of the River Plate in case the damaged German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee attempted to escape from Montevideo, Uruguay, where she had taken refuge after losing the Battle of the River Plate. Hereward captured the German blockade runner Uhenfels on 5 November. The ship was based at Trinidad from 20 November to 23 January 1940 and blockaded the German merchant ship Arauca in Port Everglades, Florida while based there. She escorted the battleship Valiant to Halifax, but suffered weather damage en route that required three weeks for repairs. Hereward then escorted the light cruiser Oriaon to the UK as the latter carried the ashes of John Buchan, Governor General of Canada, home. She required further repairs at Portsmouth upon arrival and missed the Battles of Narvik in April.

Hereward escorted ships into Scheveningen, Netherlands on 11 May to evacuate British citizens after the Germans invaded the previous day. She evacuated Queen Wilhelmina and her family from the Netherlands on 13 May, and was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet a few days later. The ship arrived at Alexandria on 24 May and began escorting convoys and larger ships of the fleet. Hereward participated in the Battle of Calabria in July 1940, where she was hit by splinters from a near-miss of the Italian battleship Giulio Cesare. The ship escorted a convoy during Operation Collar and then fired at retreating Italians in Cyrenaica after the Battle of Sidi Barrani. Together with her sistership Hyperion, she sank the Italian submarine Naiade on 13 December. Hereward escorted the battleships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they bombarded Valona on 19 December and then sortied into the North Atlantic when Convoy WS-5A reported that it had been attacked by the German cruiser Admiral Hipper on 25 December. She escorted three of the convoy's ship to Gibraltar on 29 December.

The ship participated in Operation Excess in early January 1941 and sank the Italian torpedo boat Vega on 10 January with a torpedo in the Straot pf Sicily. Together with the destroyer Decoy and the gunboat Ladybird, Hereward landed commandos on the island of Kastelorizo as part of Operation Abstention, but they were overwhelmed by an Italian counter-attack. Only a few survivors were taken off two days later. The ship participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan in early March 1941 and the evacuation of Greece in April 1941. She sank a number of fishing boats transporting German troops to Crete on 21 May and helped evacuate the Allied garrison of Heraklion on 29 May. Later that day she was attacked by German Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bombers and hit by one bomb just in front of her forward funnel. She turned towards the nearby coast of Crete, but was sunk by further attacks. Four officers and 72 crewmen were killed, but the 89 survivors were rescued by Italian MAS torpedo boats and taken prisoner.

There is information on the wreck site at http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?15997

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Thank you for showing us another outstanding grouping from your collection!

Best regards


Thank you very much. I've added some more and updated some of the earlier posts by editing them so you may want to go back and look them over too. : )

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HMS Hereward did see a lot of action and your man Baxter really made a POW Camp tour.

Thanks again for showing us a great POW grouping and a great detailed read.

Best regards


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A nice but sadly broken group of medals to a WWI PoW.

WW1 PAIR to CONNOLLY A.S.C. MM WINNER who DIED a PoW in Germany after the war ended and was buried in Germany.

BWM/Victory pair to M1/7562 Pte. Thomas Connolly 5th Motor Ambulance Convoy A.S.C.

with cap badge and pair of collar insignia.

Was an M.M. Winner L/G. 11/10/1916. Was taken Prisoner of War and Died 23/02/1919.

Buried Cologne Southern Cemetery. Entitled to a 1914 Star and plaque also.




M1/7562 Pte. T. (Thomas) Connolly served in France from 4th November 1914 and was with the 5th Motor Ambulance Convoy, A.S.C. onwards as part of 2nd Army. The 5th Motor Ambulance Company was donated in entirety to the War Office by George and Arthur du Cros. The majority of the men were from the W&G du Cros taxi company and were enlisted into the ASC prior to leaving for France. The company was originally formed as 1 MAC at Grove Park, leaving Avonmouth on the SS Artist on 31 October 1914. It arrived at Boulogne on 3 November 1914 and was redesigned 5th MAC due to 4 other MAC's having been already raised in France. It seems to have spent all of its time on the Ypres salient until 1918 when it moved to the Somme area. It was commanded by George du Cros until January 1918. The unit was later redesigned the 323rd Company, Royal Army Service Corps and was disbanded on 22 October 1919. Connally was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field, the award being published in the London Gazette on 11 October 1916 when the 5th MAC was in the Ypres Salient. As recounted in a letter written by Michael Jones below, he obviously witnessed the affects of heavy enemy gas. Connolly most likely died of influenza in the 1918 Flu pandemic.

A three-page letter handwritten in pencil to his sister Marjory Jones on 30 April 1916 by M1-7595 A. Cpl. M. Jones (Michael L. Jones) MM and who was in the same unit as Connolly, details meeting his brother Alan Jones 'after hunting around for hours' - 'he was looking very well, the sausages you sent him were bad, they were on the way too long & he is moving about a good bit his battalion have had quite a few casualties the last few days, they got heavily shelled in their billets, I spent three hours with him'. The letter further details Michael Jones' experiences: 'I returned last evening at nine - had just got off to sleep when I was awakened by an absolute hellish roar of guns which made the building tremble then there was a faint odor of gas which got stronger & stronger till everyone had to put on their helmets at 1 am & was called out to go to the first Field Ambulance to find out if possible what number of wounded and gassed we should have to evacuate, we have carried somewhere between a thousand and twelve hundred mostly badly gassed… The enemy have not gained anything they got a footing in our front line but were hounded out again. We are prepared for a great deal of activity on the enemy side I am going out again tonight, but hope to get back by ten as I am feeling a bit down after the hard work and excitement…

Cologne Southern Cemetery (CWGC information)

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.

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.

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The latest acquisition... (Thanks to being influenced by Brett and Brian :beer: )


WOUNDED & PoW 1901

QSA 1899 – 1902 with CC, Trans and Wittebergen

KSA with SA1901 & SA1902

Named: 5852 Pte. J. Heywood, KOYLI (2nd Bn)

Heywood was both wounded and taken PoW in the regiment’s action at Zwartkopjes* on 13 Feb. 1901.

Complete with medal roll details and S. African Field Force Roll details.

* Not to be confused with the Battle of Zwartkopjes of 1845.

A total of 383 officers and 9,170 NCOs and men were taken prisoner in the course of the war. 97 men died in captivity.

The grounds on which each person was taken prisoner was investigated. One of the publications from The Royal Commission on the War in South Africa contains the results of these enquiries. For the most part, prisoners were exonerated but in some instances the captives were later subject to disciplinary action. The Royal Commission on the War in South Africa lists all surrenders, gives brief details of the incident, numbers involved and the outcome of the investigation.

The Boers were even less prepared for prisoners of war than were the British. The first crop came in the first few days of the war, at Kraaipan. Officers were held at the State Model School in Pretoria. Their most famous 'guest' was Winston Churchill who was captured at Frere. NCOs and men were held separately at Waterval, north of Pretoria, in the Transvaal.

In March 1900, officers were moved to a new camp at Waterval. It was described as a 'long, white shanty, with a fairly large compound, enclosed by formidable barbed-wire entanglements . . . There are electric lights all around the enclosure making escape a matter of difficulty. Inside, the place looks more like a cattle shed than anything else. A long, galvanised iron building, divided into sleeping rooms, and four small bath rooms, a servants' compartment and kitchen, and eating rooms . . . There is no flooring. The drains consist of open ditches, while the sanitary arrangements are enough to disgust any human being.'

With the Flag to Pretoria states 'The plight of the captured Colonial and Uitlander officers was far worse. They were treated as common felons and thrown into gaol.'

Lieutenant Colonel Hunt, captured at Colenso, reported to Lord Roberts that the medical arrangements were inadequate. Lord Roberts forwarded the complaint to the Boers and added that he was no more impressed with the rations for other ranks, sanitary arrangements and treatment of the sick.

Winston Churchill was the most famous of the people to escape from prison. Incarcerated in the State Model School, he reportedly climbed the fence, boarded a train and hid in a coal mine near Middelburg. He then took another train to Portuguese territory. In March 1900, Captain Haldane, Lieutenant le Mesurier and Sergeant Brockie escaped from the school. They hid beneath the floor. During the removal of prisoners to Waterval, they stayed hidden and were able to stroll out of the emptied prison.

The advancing British made the retention of prisoners increasingly problematic. When the British troops entered Pretoria on 5 June 1900, 129 officers and 36 other ranks overpowered their guards just prior to the arrival of the troops. On 6 June, 3,187 non-commissioned officers and men were released at Waterval. (Anglo Boer War Website)

Further information on British PoWs from the Anglo-Boer-Oorlog/Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) site has some of the same data, but more and different information.

British and Colonial Prisoners of War

in Boer Captivity

A total of 383 officers and 9,170 NCOs and men were taken prisoner in the course of the war. 97 men died in captivity.

From South Africa's Boer Fighters in the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902

Generally no prisoners could be taken, as the Boers had no means to keep them prisoner nor anywhere to hold and feed them – and Boer mounted Kommandos could not risk being slowed down with dismounted POWs. British prisoners were therefore relieved of their boots (going barefoot on the veld was a real immobilizer), rifles, ammunition and frequently pants (the one item of British uniforms that Boers could wear without being mistaken at a distance for the enemy and thereby risking getting a “friendly-fire” bullet through the head). Freeing British prisoners also had a negative effect on British forces’ performance in battle as it encouraged quick surrenders after British soldiers discovered that the Boers would immediately release them if captured – the choice between having to endure a blizzard of deadly Boer Mauser fire or quickly and safely surrendering was usually a “no-brainer.”

General Maritz once complained that he captured the same British soldier 3 times in one day and had to let him go each time. However, Maritz noted that his Kommandos profited from each capture since the British soldier was fully outfitted every time they caught him.

The first crop of prisoners were taken at Kraaipan in the first few days of the war. Officers were held at the State Model School in Pretoria. Their most famous captive was Sir Winston Churchill who was captured at Frere. Incarcerated in the State Model School, he reportedly climbed the fence, boarded a train and hid in a coal mine near Middelburg. He then took another train to Portuguese territory. In March 1900, Captain Haldane,Lieutenant le Mesurier and Sergeant Brockie escaped from the school. They hid beneath the floor. During the removal of prisoners to Waterval, they stayed hidden and were able to stroll out of the emptied prison.

The hospital at the Racecourse was used for wounded and sick prisoners until the fall of Pretoria. The officers remained at the Staats Model School until 16 March 1900 when they were moved to their new quarters known as the Birdcage at Daspoort.

The welfare of the prisoners was controlled by a board of management consisting of four persons. They were Louis da Souza, Commandant Opperman, directly responsible for the safe custody of the prisoners, Dr Gunning, who was Opperman's assistant and Hans Malan. Opperman was replaced by a Mr. Westerink in March 1900.

The 129 officers and 36 soldiers detained at the Staats Model School were released on the 5th of June 1900. As mentioned in the above information, it is said that when the British troops entered Pretoria on 5 June 1900, 129 officers and 36 other ranks overpowered their guards just prior to the arrival of the troops. On the 6th of June Colonel T C Porter's Brigade was ordered to affect the release of the men confined at Waterval. A squadron of Greys under Captain Maude finally released 3187 men.

It was found that 900 prisoners had been removed by the Boers from Waterval on the 4th of June. These men were then detained at Nooitgedacht. They were eventually released by the Earl of Dundonald on the 30th of August 1900.

When General French entered Barberton in September 1900, he released the final group of prisoners - twenty-three officers and fifty-nine soldiers who had been removed by the Boers from Nooitgedacht. Most of them had been confined in a barbed wire enclosure while some were housed in the local jail.

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Information on the Yorkshire Light Infantry (King's Own) in S. Africa

The 2nd Battalion was in South Africa when the war broke out, having been brought from Mauritius, and was employed at strategical points in Cape Colony until Lord Methuen was ready to advance. They then formed part of the 9th Brigade along with the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, half of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and the 2nd Northampton Regiment.

At Belmont, 23rd November 1899, the Yorkshire Light Infantry were in the supporting line, and the only casualties they had were a few men wounded. Major Earle was mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch of 26th November 1899.

At Enslin on the 25th they took a very prominent part, and if they did not lose so heavily as the Naval Brigade, that is accounted for by their not crowding in the attack and making a better use of the ground. Their losses were approximately 8 men killed, 3 officers and 40 men wounded. Colour Sergeant Waterhouse was mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch as to Enslin.

At Modder River the services of the battalion were invaluable. After the attack by the Guards Brigade on the right had come to a standstill, or, more correctly, a lie still, the 9th Brigade bored in on the left, and two companies of the Yorkshire Light Infantry under Colonel Barter, with some Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and Fusiliers, assaulted and carried some buildings on the near side of the river which commanded the drift. The battalion's losses were approximately 1 officer and 8 men killed, and 3 officers and 50 men wounded. Colonel Barter was mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch of 1st December 1899.

At Magersfontein, 11th December, the 9th Brigade were employed demonstrating on the British left; but the Yorkshire Light Infantry were detached from the brigade for the day, their task being to protect Lord Methuen's right and prevent the enemy from the Jacobsdal-Kimberley road breaking in on the rear of the Highland Brigade. As matters turned out, they had plenty of work, the enemy pushing in with some force. The battalion kept their ground. Their losses were not heavy.

When Lord Roberts was preparing to advance from Bloemfontein he created some new brigades. One of these, the 20th, was put under Major General A H Paget. It consisted of the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, transferred from the 9th Brigade, 1st Munster Fusiliers, 4th South Staffordshire Regiment, and 4th Scottish Rifles. After crossing from Hoopstad to the Kroonstad district Lord Methuen's divisionthat is, the 9th and 20th Brigadeshad some fighting in the Lindley district, and in the beginning of June Paget's brigade was left to garrison Lindley.

In the operations which ended in the surrender of Prinsloo, Paget's force took part. On 25th June a large convoy left Kroonstad for Lindley. The escort was 800 mounted men, a wing of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, the 3rd East Kent, four guns City Imperial Volunteers' Battery, and two of the 17th RFA, the whole under Colonel Brookfield, 14th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. The convoy was heavily attacked on the 26th and 27th by the enemy, 1500 strong, with two guns, but his attacks were all driven off and the convoy was brought in. On the 26th June Private C Ward of the Yorkshire Light Infantry gained the VC for volunteering to carry a message to a signalling station through a storm of bullets. He insisted on returning to his force, and in doing so was severely wounded.

During July there was almost constant fighting up to the date of Prinsloo's surrender, 30th July. After that the battalion was railed to the Transvaal, and marched past Lord Roberts in Pretoria on 13th August. Along with the 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd Worcesters, and 1st Border Regiment, the battalion was put into a column under Clements, which for some months operated between Rustenburg, Krugersdorp, and Johannesburg.

Eleven officers and 14 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.

Twenty-two men of the Yorkshire Light Infantry under a lance-corporal were among the escort of a convoy which was attacked on the Pretoria-Rustenburg road on 3rd December 1900. The escort "fought with great gallantry", and were able to save one-half of the convoy. Out of their 23 present the Yorkshire Light Infantry lost 5 killed and 6 wounded.

Four companies of the battalion were with General Clements when he met with the disaster at Nooitgedacht on 13th December 1900. The half-battalion formed the rear-guard and did splendid work: they lost 6 killed and 5 wounded and about 46 taken prisoners. Unofficial accounts stated that the men of the battalion fought very well. For gallant conduct in these affairs 4 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th March 1901. One officer afterwards got mention.

In 1901 the battalion was chiefly in the Eastern Transvaal. They formed part of General Alderson's column, one of those which under General French swept to the Zulu border in January, February, and March 1901. For a time the battalion was garrison at Elandsfontein. On 31st October 1901 they made a particularly fine march to go to the assistance of Colonel Benson's column. In the last phase the battalion was chiefly in blockhouses about Ermelo.

The Mounted Infantry company saw a great deal of work. Dealing with Colonel Benson's action at Baakenlaagte on 30th October 1901, Lord Kitchener says, "In spite of the gallant efforts of the Mounted Infantry company of the Yorkshire Light Infantry and a squadron of the Scottish Horse, which promptly formed up on the flanks of the guns", the ridge fell into the enemy's hands, "with the exception of a portion which a party of the Mounted Infantry held till dark". The company's losses were 4 officers and 9 men killed, and 1 officer and 9 men wounded, adequate testimony to the severity of the fighting, and also to the splendid tenacity of the men of the battalion.

In Lord Kitchener's final despatch 6 officers and 8 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.

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I am very pleased that you have developed an interest in Boer War POW's and you have already done a great service by providing a comprehensive summary of the situation regarding British POW's in this war. Strangely, there has been relatively little attention paid to the British POW's in the literature, whereas in the case of the Boers a lot more is on record.



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Three photos somewhat related to the Boer War PoW pair above...

Lt. Gildeain' sorte to Zwartkopjes, another of cattle grazing guards and a third of captured Boers at Zwartkopjes.

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I was so very fortunate to be offered this WWI RN PoW trio. :love:

1914 Star and clasp (A2551 C. Morris SEA. R.N. R. BENBOW BTTN. RND) on pair: (2551A. C.J. Morris. SMN. R.N.R.). Cyril James Morris, taken PoW in Oct. 1914, as a PoW who was allowed leave on his Bond from confinement for Christmas in 1916 and again in June 1918 to visit his wife, both times returning to the PoW camp.

Cyril James Morris lived with his wife, Beatrice at 66 Newton Street, Bridport Place, New North Road, London N, but moved to 51 Gopsall Street, St John’s Road, Hoxton, Lonodn N.1. He joined Benbow battalion on 17 Sept. 1914 and was one of those unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate, to be a Prisioner of War in Oct. 1914. Under the rules of War that still existed at that time, he was interned in Holland for the duration of hostilities. Internment meant the PoW was allowed leave; some officers in PoW camps in Germany were allowed to be on “Bond” and return home to families for Christmas if they returned to PoW camps. Although not an officer, Cyril James Morris was no exception, as he was allowed leave on 12 Dec. 1916. He gave an address as 51 Buckland Street, St. John’s Road London N while on that leave and returned to internment 29 Dec.1916 having spent that Christmas at home. His next leave was on 17 June 1918, again he returned on 14 July 1918. He was finally repatriated and given leave on 19 Nov. 1918. He was sent to the 1st reserve Battalion 28 Jan. 1919 and officially discharged back dated to 25 Jan. 1919 at Wimbledon. Interestingly his conduct sheet was marked V.G. (Very Good) on: 31 Dec. 1914, 31 Dec. 1915. 31 Dec. 1916 and again on 31 Dec. 1917 under the “Holland Character Book” register of PoW’s interned. He was awarded his 1914 Star on 12 July 1919.

Landing at Dunkirk 20 September 1914 with orders to defend Antwerp, the 5 October 1914 was a crucial date during the Siege, the German army broke through the Belgian defences in the city of Lier, 20 kilometres southeast and moved on to the town of Dendermonde (south of Antwerp), where it attempted to cross the river Scheldt. This pincer movement of the German Army threatened to block the western retreat route of the Belgian Army out of Antwerp. With its eastern and southern flanks being blocked by German troops and its northern escape route closed off by the Belgian-Dutch border, the Belgian Army evacuated Antwerp via a series of pontoon bridges over the Scheldt and left the city to its own defenses.The last Belgian elements of the field army fled westwards towards the coast on 8 October and the Germans entered the city on 9 October after having established that the defensive positions had been abandoned. The Belgian Lieutenant-General Deguise offered the unconditional surrender of the remaining garrison troops. A substantial number of Belgian troops and elements of the Naval Division fled into the neutral Netherlands and ended up being interned for the duration of the war.

The birth of the Royal Naval Division
The Royal Naval Brigades were composed from a large excess of naval personnel, like reserve stokers who could not be allocated to a ship of the mighty British navy. There were far more men than could be placed on a ship - numbers varying from 20,000 to 30,000 are quoted - at the outbreak of war, in early August 1914, when reservists, including those from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, were called up.

To their great surprise, the reservists and volunteers were formed into two Royal Naval Brigades, which had to act like infantry. They might be needed during the war to conquer enemy ports, or defend naval bases outside the United Kingdom. The two brigades were later merged with an already existing brigade of the Royal Marines into the Royal Naval Division. Their first commanding officer was major-general Archibald Paris, a marine.

The division was commanded by the Admiralty, and was often mockingly referred to as Churchill’s private army or Churchill’s little army. From 1911 to 1915, Winston Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty in prime minister Herbert Asquith's cabinet.

The Royal Naval Brigades used naval rankings, naval uniforms and insignia, and observed naval traditions. There was a strong esprit de corps and the men considered themselves elevated above the common foot soldier. Each brigade consisted of four battalions, which were named after British heroes of the seas, not numbered like in the army.

The eight naval battalions were called Benbow, Collingwood, Hawke and Drake in the 1st Brigade and Howe, Hood, Anson and Nelson in the 2nd Brigade. Junior officers included the poet Rupert Brooke, the son of British prime minister Asquith, Bernard Freyberg and the author Alan P. Herbert. In 1915, Herbert, for instance, held the typical navy rank of Acting Sub-lieutenant in the Hawke battalion.

The Royal Naval Division at Antwerp
The Royal Naval Division's first military deployment, although not yet functioning as a true division, was at Antwerp in October 1914, which turned into a complete failure.

After the battle on the Marne, the fighting on the Western Front moved north. On 14 September, general Erich von Falkenhayn was appointed commanding officer of the German Army. Later that month, the German Army Command decided to launch an assault on the Fortress Antwerp. Like Liège, the city of Antwerp was surrounded by a ring of fortifications. German forces, headed by general Hans von Beseler, moved against Antwerp from 26 September.

Churchill, representing the British government, traveled to Antwerp on October 3rd to pledge British support. His action was highly questionable. Churchill's priority surely should have lain with the navy and preventing further blunders, like the sinking of battle cruisers, rather than going to war at Antwerp. Thirsting for action and glory, as military historian John Keegan called it, he sent his own little army to Antwerp, to support Belgian troops.

The marines of the Royal Marine Brigade were directed to Antwerp, followed, on October 5th, by the sailors from the two Royal Naval Brigades, in the hope of bolstering the Belgians' morale. Other British troops were not available at short notice. In spite of the Belgian resistance, the battle of Antwerp was already lost by the time the British sailors arrived.

Contrary to the marines, the reservists from the Royal Naval Brigades were barely trained to be infantry men. Some had fired their newly issued rifles only a few times. Before the outbreak of war, the men of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve had only been sailors in their spare time.

A combination of amateurism and opportunism was supposed to salvage affairs at Antwerp. In other words, they were no troops to deployed against the well trained German forces, which included the Marinekorps, the German counterpart of the Royal Naval Division.


Sailors of the Royal Naval Division
during the defence of Antwerp in 1914

Fortress Antwerp was heavily bombed by the Germans, and on 8 October 1914, the Belgian field army withdrew across the river Schelde into the province of West Flanders and eventually dug in behind the river IJzer. The British forces also withdrew, with only a few casualties. On 9 October, it returned home via Ostend.

Some 900 men, mainly marines from the Royal Marine Brigade, the rearguard of the British army, were taken prisoner together with Belgian soldiers by the Germans, when their train was halted at Moerbeke-Waas.

Some battalions in the forward trenches was late receiving the order to retreat, if at all, and missed the trains that would take them away. Some 1,500 men from the First Royal Naval Brigade, mainly those from the Hawke, Benbow and Collingwood battalions, were trapped when the German ring closed on the border between Belgium and Holland at the Dutch enclave of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. With some 30,000 Belgian soldiers, they crossed into Dutch territory. For the remainder of the war, the Britons were interned at Groningen in what became known as the English Camp. Eight died and are buried in Zuiderbegraafplaats on the Hereweg in Groningen.


Map showing the final phase of the battle for Antwerp,
the departure of British forces under major-general Paris
and the retreat of the First Royal Naval Brigade into Holland.
Click on the map to view an enlarged version.

On October 10th, Fortress Antwerp formally surrendered to the Germans. Churchill was mocked, justifiably so, in Parliament for sending the un-trained and poorly equipped Royal Naval Brigades into war for an impossible mission.

For more information on the British PoWs from the site where some of the above is derived, please go to http://www.wereldoorlog1418.nl/englishcamp/

or go to


or on YouTube:


Edited by azyeoman
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Another star addition to your POW collection! Thank you for showing it. You keep exceeding the quality of medal groups previously shown on this thread! I had not known of the "Bond" system - a humane anomaly in a very brutal war.



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Thanks Brian and Brett.

If you want to read some more on it, pick up a copy of Tracing Your Prisoner of War Ancestors The First World War: A Guide for Family Historians by Sarah Paterson and published by the Imperial War Museum. It's in paperback for 14.99 Sterling. (ISBN 184884501.4) and Pen and Sword in the UK sells it too.



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Hi John,

Thank you for showing us another nice and interesting POW grouping.

"some officers in PoW camps in Germany were allowed to be on “Bond” and return home to families for Christmas if they returned to PoW camps. Although not an officer, Cyril James Morris was no exception, as he was allowed leave on 12 Dec. 1916. He gave an address as 51 Buckland Street, St. John’s Road London N while on that leave and returned to internment 29 Dec.1916 having spent that Christmas at home. His next leave was on 17 June 1918, again he returned on 14 July 1918."

Never heard of it, so that was new to me, still learning every day !

Best regards


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