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Conceivably the rarest PoW medal in the collection.  A Victorian MSM (990 of this type issued) to 822 Segt. James Weir 44th Foot.  Weir was severely wounded on 23 November 1841 at Cabul and then taken hostage by Mohammed Akbar Khan on 29 December 1841.  He was a PoW for nine months and liberated on 26 September 1842.  There were approximately 110 hostages of which some were women and children.  It is not known how many medals were issed to those who were captured and survived.  Weir survived the retreat from the 6th to the 13th of January 1842 because he had been wounded and was a PoW.

Weir was born in 1809 in Minto, Dunbartonshire, Scotland and was a weaver by trade.  He attested (under age - age 17) on 18 February 1826 in Killmensrock, Ayr.  He served for one year and 318 days as an underage private.  He enlisted again on 1 January 1829 and served as a private until 10 April 1834.  He became a Sargeant on 11 April 1834 and served as such until 24 July 1849: a total of 22 years and 158 days of which 17 years and 250 days were in the East Indies.  He character was "very good" and he was discharged as unfit for service. at Parkland Barracks.  He was awarded an annuity with his MSM.

It is relatively easy to find medals to PoWs for the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars and even more so for the 2nd Anglo-Boer War.  WWI and WWII are exceptionally easy and even Korean PoW medals are not rare.  But medals to soldiers captured by non-western troops were normally killed and as such this medal is exceptionally rare.  

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Fantastic find! As I mentioned I was really tempted to buy it but had just invested in something else! Im glad it went to one of us! 

Didnt think you would be able to beat your Campaign Service Medal pow but this is really special! 

Congratulations and look forward to the next!

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That is an amazing medal and a great story to go with it.  Congratulations and thank you for sharing with us.  With you, Rob and Brian as members, the GMIC has PoW's and their medals well covered!



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  • 2 weeks later...

2016-06-21 04.37.16.jpgAn interesting WWI Recreational Training/Sports Medal 34mm and 14.8gms in Zinc.  There is an example of this in the National Army Museum in London, which is described as follows:

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Recreational Training/sporting activities kept prisoners of war physically fit, staved off boredom and reminded men of their loyalty and duty to the Army. This medal was awarded to Lieutenant A Fry of the 4th Australian Pioneer Battalion when he was incarcerated at Freiburg-im-Breisgau prisoner-of-war camp Germany.   By the outbreak of the First World War the Army had fully embraced athletics as a means of 'recreational training'. This might include 'fun' events like sack and obstacle races, as well as traditional track and field sports. Sports medal for athletics, 1918  NAM. 1994-08-132

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been wanting to find a civilian who was captured and held by the Japanese for a long time.  This recipient's group consists of a photo of him at a wedding, but sadly it's impossible to tell if he is the groom or the best man.  At any rate, there is his BWM and Victory named to him and oddly on the wrong ribbons.  One of the most important items is the brass wrist band with Tsingtao on it as well as some Kanji.  Qm Sgt. Robert Warren served in the RE during WWI and at the outbreak of WWII was working as an engineer in Tsingtao.  He was captured and held prisoner there for the duration of the war. 

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More photos of Warren's group and in particular his bracelet.

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Here is a very unusual, rare actually, confirmed WWI PoW for Africa.


1914-15 Star (Lieut. S. Staffs Regt)
British War Medal
Victory Medal (Capt.)

Medals are named to: M. J. Parker, and mounted as worn.

Very unusual qualifying area for the 1914-15 Star, Caprivi Zipfel, Rhodesia.

  Maskell John Parker was born at Upper Norwood, Surrey on 1 July 1888 & was educated at Dulwich College.
The recipient’s Medal Index Card shows entry into War Zone 4(e) Caprivi Zipfel Rhodesia and that he applied for his medals from, Transvaal, South Africa.

Captain M. J. Parker, Sierra Leone Battalion, West African Frontier Force, was wounded in action and taken prisoner by the Germans. When he recovered consciousness he found a German native soldier pulling his broken leg, three others pointing their rifles within a few inches of his face, while another held a bayonet over his left shoulder, and a sixth stripped him of his equipment. A European then approached, and, drawing a small operating knife about 6in long, said, "Do you want to live or die? It is quite easy "to relieve people's sufferings with this." Captain Parker said he had only a broken leg, and did not wish to die. One of the soldiers then addressed the European, saying, "Why do you not kill this white man; you killed the other white men ". A German dispenser then came up and made arrangements to set the broken leg; meanwhile the other European moved over to where a couple of British native soldiers were lying wounded. The European bent down and stabbed both men in the throat, one after another, killing them on the spot. He then came round in front of Captain Parker and cleaned his knife on his puttee. Such are the crimes that disgraced German arms throughout the Cameroons campaign, and they go far to explain why the Germans have failed so consistently as colonists. The instances here quoted from but a small portion of German crimes committed in the Cameroons.—Ajax.
(From: King & Country Chronicle, Vol. XII, Issue 1141, 26 November 1918, Page 2.)

(Passed by the Press Bureau.—Per favour secretary Royal Colonial Institute.)
The conduct of the Germans towards natives during the Cameroons campaign was barbarous in the extreme, and more in keeping with the traditions of some savage tribe than the customs of a great European Power. The evidence collected from natives by the French and British during their advance, and in many instances corroborated by photographs, shows that the Germans indulged in wholesale bloodshed, accompanied by deeds of the most callous cruelty. The following are but a few instances of their methods: 
A native named Andreas Jengelli, who had fled from the Germans at Mbonjo, made the following report to Captain Cwynne Howell, of the British General Staff at Duala "There are about 10 Germans with 100 native soldiers in Mbonjo. They are shooting natives and burning the countryside. They have killed about 30 native men and women. They say that the British may conquer the country, but they will find no inhabitants left." This threat, so typical of the modern German; our enemy did his best to make good; with the result that the natives ran into the bush whenever German troops approached, hut sought protection from the British and French, whom they recognised as friends. 
General Dobell, who was in command of the Allied forces, makes the following comment upon the conduct of the Germans .—"On some occasions it is said that no Europeans were present during the enactment of the brutalities described, but sufficient evidence is here available to show that German Europeans encouraged such acts by personally cutting the throats of wounded British soldiers with knives, firing on peaceful inhabitants to terrorise them, and shooting natives without trial. In such circumstances as these it is extremely difficult to obtain the names of the Germans concerned, especially as the natives, as a rule, do not know or take an interest in the names of the Europeans whom they see on these occasions." In this connection Mr K. V. Elphinstone, M.A., of the Nigerian Civil Government, Chief Political Officer with the British forces in the Cameroons, writes:—"lt should be borne in mind that the civilians killed by the Germans are the natives of a country under their protection, whom they had ruled for many years. The murders were not committed by an invading army; in fact, owing to the treatment meted out it was to the invading army the wretched natives fled for protection. They very soon summed, up the difference of treatment by the Germans and the Allied forces." The headman of Bwelelo reported: "Some people came running into my town from Ngori, shouting that a white man had killed two men. All the people began to run away. I remained in my house looking out. I saw some German soldiers come; they came up to about fifty yards. I then saw a white man coming on a horse behind. I know him; his name is Meinhardt. He shouted in German for the headman. I got out of the window and hid in the bush. During the night I saw the houses burning, and I heard shots when I first ran out. Next morning I went to Bonaberi and reported to the officer. I went back to the village the same day; then I found a great many houses burnt. We found Lobe Penda alive, shot in the right upper arm (he died the same day when we were taking him to Bonaberi). We found Ndja Njanga with his throat cut; he had been tied by the body, arms and forehead to a plantain. We found Ekwe Wanga shot dead outside his burnt house- Kolo Sofo was shot in the foot; he is alive now." 
Elong Ntoko, of Bonberi Ba Susa, reported:—"Bony, a Malimba man, came and told us all to go to Susa, as the Germans were coming. We started away at once. Before we got away we saw many German soldiers coming. They began firing at us. We all ran away. We came to Susa railway station and lay down behind the English troops. The Germans came, but were driven off. In the evening I went out and found the body of my brother behind a house in the village. He had been shot in the back." This is the experience of Ngoio Ngeki, of Kake:—"lt happened when there was a big fight at Susa. I went with my brother to Kake to get food. We had got inside Kake by my brother's house. He was picking plantains; I was quite close. Suddenly he called out, 'Nglo, l am caught!' I saw two German - soldiers kill him with a bayonet. I ran away to Susa. The English came out and fought the Germans at Kake. I buried my brother the same day as the Germans ran away."





M J Parker PoW.webarchive

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That is a great find, and a great story, John!  It is interesting to read about the situation in the Cameroons campaign in view of the recent acknowledgement of genocide in German South West Africa in the early 1900's.



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Thanks Brett.  

Yes, the Cameroon campaign was most interesting.  As for the German apology; it's about time! If you want to read about that genocide, the first of the 20th Century, read The Kaiser's Holocaust.  A very well written book that shows the Germans were doing horrible atrocities long before 1933.  

I find the WWI African campaigns most interesting, don't you?  To find a PoW group for one of them is quite unusual to put it mildly.

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I cannot now remember if you have posted the medals of one of the South Africans captured at Sandfontein at the very start of the German South West Africa campaign.  The Germans won a great victory, although the casualties were numbered in dozens and scores - nothing like the carnage in Europe.  I also cannot remember the number of PoW's, but there were many.



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GSM (GVI) with PALESTINE clasp: 3653478 PTE W H PRICE .BORD R.

1939-45 STAR



Pte. William Herbert Price was captured at Tournai, Belgium on 21 May 1940 when he was with the 1st Bn. Border Regt.  He was slightly wounded.  He was held at the following camps: STALAG 344, XXB, XXA, XIB, VIIIB.  His PoW report states he escaped from Camp XXA in Poland and was captured by the German Police.  It also states he tried to sabotage railway signal wires, but was unsuccessful.  His address was 6 St. Lukes Ave. in Lowton, Lancs. 

For more info: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/21/a2312821.shtml



The Battalion was recalled to England from Palestine in April 1939, where it had been stationed for three years with the 14th Infantry Brigade and had performed with such distinction that its loss was keenly felt by both the Arab and Jewish communities, as well as the local British forces. Lt-Colonel Lay DSO was presented with a scimitar by Chief Faris Irshaid who said, "You gave us some hard knocks at the beginning, but we asked for it and we have no complaints. We are glad to know we part as friends. This sword is not a symbol of war, but a gift in friendship". Writing to the Colonel of the Border Regiment, the commander of the Brigade said "I don't suppose any Battalion has earned the same admiration from everyone in Palestine as they have done. In fighting they have invariably been outstanding, whether in action on a big scale, as in the early days of the Rebellion when big gangs were encountered, or in the smaller actions and raids by platoons or small parties under junior leaders. Lay has thrown his heart and soul into the business of restoring order here and has controlled his area in a way that no one else has approached. I can hardly express what I owe to him personally and to your Regiment as a whole for setting an example, which others have sought to imitate, and so raising the level of the whole Brigade. Your Regiment showed me there was little that could not be done and done well."


Based at Mandora Barracks in Aldershot the 1st Border received a new commander, Lt-Colonel Chambers MC, and became a part of the 4th Infantry Brigade, which was subsequently incorporated into the 2nd Infantry Division. As part of the British Expeditionary Force the Division departed for France in late September, where the Battalion was moved to Orchies, near Lille, and they spent the following month digging trenches and other defenses. Billeted in such places as barns with little in the way of local entertainment, morale took a dive with the onset of a cold and wet winter and the necessity for the continuation of their work in such miserable conditions. The 'Phoney War' produced no trace of enemy activity on the Belgian border, and it became customary for one British Brigade at a time to take its turn on the Maginot Line defenses, and so having celebrated Christmas Day a week early, where as the Battalion's tradition dictated the officers served the other ranks, the 4th Brigade made its way forward on the 24th December. Life on the front line was cold and a little surreal considering the state of war. Patrols were organized to scout across the frontier, but there was seldom contact with the enemy and instead both sides took it in turns to bombard each other with artillery, without a great deal of enthusiasm or intent. Suffering no losses, the 1st Border withdrew from the Maginot Line on the 13th January 1940 and at the end of the month was relocated near the frontier at Rumegies. Throughout February the Battalion was once more engaged in the task of digging defenses and constructing pill boxes, and continued to do so until the 25th April when orders came for their transfer to the 125th Infantry Brigade, serving with the 42nd Division. Following a disagreement with his new Brigadier at the beginning of May, Lt-Colonel Chambers was relieved of his command and replaced by Lt-Colonel Hennessey DSO MC.

On the 10th May the Germans invaded neutral Belgium. At this time most of the Battalion were keeping watch over the crucial bridges linking France and Belgium at Comines, Deulemont, and Warneton, while B Company guarded the Bondue aerodrome to the north of Lille. The British Expeditionary Force advanced 60 miles to the River Dyle to counter the invasion, with the Belgian Army and French 1st and 7th Armies on their flanks. The 42nd Division concentrated on the River Escaut, but a withdrawal of the whole force was announced on the 15th May when a defense proved to be unworkable. This retreat was further encouraged by the enemy breaching the French lines to the south and a subsequent thrust to the sea to trap the Allied armies. At 15:00 on the 17th May, the 1st Border began the march to fresh positions at Don, covering a distance of 25 miles to reach it by dawn on the following morning, but two days later the whole Brigade was called to Froyennes, to the north of Tournai, to guard a section of the River Escaut. The 1st Border secured a line than spanned 3,500 yards, with B Company in the middle, A on the left, C on the right, and D in reserve. It was a large area for one Battalion to hold and the distances involved made communication between the companies difficult, with Battalion HQ forced to locate itself 3,000 yards behind the front line. On 20 May the Germans launched a heavy attack against the Battalion, with strong mortar fire directed on the forward positions and troops infiltrating between A, B, and C companies. Though the position was unsteady, all held their ground while British artillery subdued the mortars harassing C Company and then lay a bombardment across the whole area. Enemy shelling began in earnest at dawn on the following day, and an infantry assault succeeded in getting behind both B and C Company, and though some elements still offered resistance most of their forward positions had been overrun. The Carrier Platoon and two of D Company's Platoons were sent forward to assist, but to little effect. Later in the morning telephone communications had completely broken down due to the lines being cut by the shelling, and all dialogue was now reliant on runners. With the situation refusing to improve, one of the Brigade's other Battalion's, the 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers joined the 1st Border's HQ Company and moved forward to reclaim ground lost without meeting opposition. Leaving one company behind to act in a reserve capacity for the Lancashire Fusiliers, the Battalion was withdrawn that night.

On the 22nd May the Germans crossed the Escaut with an attack across the whole of the 42nd Division's front, forcing them to withdraw to a second line of defense on the Franco-Belgian border. The 1st Border were initially in reserve, but moved with the Brigade during the night to positions at Lezennes, south-east of Lille. Here they occupied a 2,000 yard wide front and held these positions whilst under attack until the 26th May when they were ordered to depart for Barques, near Carvin, to beat back a German breakthrough that had occurred there. However upon their arrival it was discovered that the situation had been dealt with, and so the Battalion marched once more to defend a 4,000-yard wide area near Loos on the Deule Canal, west of Lille. The following two days saw little in the way of enemy interference, bar a few confrontations with patrols, however the surrender of Belgium left the entire British Expeditionary Force and their French comrades highly vulnerable to an attack on their left flank. The bridges over the Deule were destroyed and the order was given for all units to make for Dunkirk. While not seriously challenged, the position of the 1st Border was highly precarious on the afternoon of the 28th as they were quite alone and German tanks were reported to have overtaken them on either side. There was a danger that the Battalion would become cut off, but luckily they were able to commandeer the lorries of a Bridging Section, and having laid waste to the equipment inside them the 1st Border made their way to the rendezvous at Neuve Eglise. Confusion and chaos reigned on the road to Dunkirk, and numerous parties from the Battalion, including HQ Company, lost their way from the main body. Approximately 80 of these stumbled into the 5th Border Battalion and were taken under their wing, and in dribs and drabs others found their way to the beaches. The Battalion itself arrived during the early hours of the 29th May and spent all of that day waiting on the beaches until their turn came to be evacuated by one of the little ships that had rushed to their aid.

Partial timeline:

16 May 1940 (night) Tournai is heavily bombed for the first time. Most civilians have already fled the town.

19 May 1940 Tournai is ablaze due to the bombing. There are few civilian firefighters left to extinguish the fires. 125th Brigade re-joins the 42nd Division.  1st Border takes over some of the positions of 5th Border. 5th Battalion Headquarters moves to La Marmite (Tournai). 42nd Division is part of the rearguard for the withdrawal. The French 1st Army, plus the British 1st and 2nd Corps fall back and pass over the Escaut. They are pursued by the enemy.

20 May 1940 The canal bridges are blown before the enemy arrives. The Germans proceed to shell the defensive positions.

21 May 1940 The Germans break into the positions held by 1st Border. A counter-attack by 125th Brigade recovers control of the river banks of the Escaut. 5th Border comes under heavy fire, especially in and around its HQ.

22 May 1940 The Germans attack along the whole front occupied by 42nd Division. Evening - 42nd Division is ordered to disengage and withdraw. 1st Border initially falls back to Lezennes, close to the southern suburbs of Lille. 5th Border falls back on Cysoing (S.E. of Lille), covered by the carrier platoon under the command of 2nd Lt. J.R. Musgrave. D, B and C Companies are placed in forward positions. A Company is placed in reserve. 5th Border stays in the Cysoing area for 3 days.

22 May 1940 - 25 May 1940 During this time the 5th Border positions are frequently shelled.

24 May (night) - the left flank held by 5th Border spots a concentration of enemy troops in a sunken road and calls in defensive fire from the whole battalion. The planned enemy attack is repelled.

25 May (morning) - enemy snipers are spotted in a nearby house and haystack. Artillery rounds destroy the house and Captain T.P. Hetherington of C Company sets the haystack ablaze. Elsewhere, German armored forces break through in the Ardennes and take Amiens, Abbeville and Boulogne and Calais. The B.E.F. is cut off from its bases and in danger of being cut off from the sea. The B.E.F. makes its way towards the coast and Dunkirk.

26 May 1940 - 27 May 1940 26 May (night) - 5th Border moves initially to Lesquin (south of Lille). C and D Companies are initially left at Cysoing to cover the withdrawal. These 2 companies move directly to Le Bizet (north of Armentières). HQ Company becomes separated passing through Armentières and just avoids contact with German armored tanks. The battalion links up at Le Bizet on 27 May. At Le Bizet about 80 other ranks from 1st Border who were separated from their own unit link up with 5th Border.



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Some people find groups to corps less desirable, but they're not always so... 

General Service Medal GVI clasp Palestine - T/5772464 Dvr T Currie RAS 

1939/45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal - unnamed as issued

Here is the nominal roll for Stalag XVIIIA with Dvr. T. Currie PoW # 3320 - http://www.stalag18a.org/rollcallC.html

Info on group and some from PoW repatriation report.

Thomas William Currie was born 28th May 1919 and attested for the Royal Army Service Corps on 6 May 1937.  His home address is recorded as 35 Hamilton Road, Golders Green, London. Serving with 2/3rd Cavalry Field Ambulance, 7th Armored Division, probably as an Ambulance Driver, he was taken Prisoner of War in Greece 29th April 1941. 

On 27th April German tanks entered Athens, on 28th April 1941 some 43,000 British and Polish troops of the Expeditionary Force re-embarked at Nauplia, Monemvasia and Kalamata. The Royal Navy sent 6 Cruisers, 19 Destroyers and a great number of small transports to carry out the evacuation. In this disastrous campaign the Expeditionary Force lost 12,712 men including 9,000 taken prisoner by the Germans, and the whole of its heavy equipment. The evacuation of Greece codenamed Operation Demon was successful.

Held at first at Stalag XVIIIA in Wolfsburg, Austria he stayed in the camp until 16th June 1941 moving to Liezen, Austria, he was employed in Quarry work until 9th September 1941, next to Hieflau, Austria where he worked on the railways until 9th September 1943 then finally to Leoben, Austria where he was again employed in Quarry work.

For more information on Stalag XVIIIA see: http://www.wartimememories.co.uk/pow/stalag18a.html   and


Currie recalls the Austrian people were always very friendly to British PoWs and in his repatriation report dated 29th May 1945 records –

‘On the day of the capitulation, the camp gates were opened and we were free men. We stayed in the camp awaiting contact officers, after waiting one week our Company Man of Confidence (sic) gave the order that every one had to find their own transport. With the help of Her Joseph Stein Brugger, I managed to take six parties of four men to the English troops in Judenberg by private car. On the final trip, myself and six others were stopped by the Russian troops and were refused permission to cross the border, consequently we had to wait until 20th May, at which time the Russians allowed us to cross to Wein Kichen (sic) and contact our troops, the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and finally we arrived at Naples on 29th May 1945. The car was handed over to Captain Howie, Leicester Regiment.’

And info from the Australian War Memorial with photo below:

Photo II: Leoben, Austria. 1944. Group portrait of prisoners of war (POWs) held at Leoben, south of Hieflau, dressed in their newly issued clothing and boots (the first and only issue in three and a half years). Left to right: back row: A. Cooper, E. Webb, E. Bailey, T. Holt, W. Spellacy and W. Clarke. Centre Row: E. Collinson, J. Gordon, Alec Robertson, Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), E. Rowse, VX20950 Sergeant Driver Ewen Gilchrist Halls Headquarters 1 Australian Corps, W. Currie*, E. Burridge, F. Bickestaffe, H. Stainer and H. Martin. Front row: H. De Meiers, R. Simpson, T. Jones, W. Gardner, unknown, and J. Repen. Halls and Robertson along with twenty other POWs were transferred here from Hieflau to build up members at a Limestone quarry.  * Note there is a Currie in row 2, but the initial is "W" and not "T".  

Photos  III & IV: Hieflau, Austria. 1943-06. Informal group portrait of Australian, British and New Zealand prisoners of war (POWs) relaxing outside a lookout and warning station situated next to Mount Tamischbacturm after transporting timber and cement for repairs and maintenance of the station. The station was to warn of avalanches in winter and rock falls in summer. The shirtless man to the left of the door is VX20950 Sergeant (Sgt) Driver Ewen Gilchrist Halls who served with HQ 1 Australian Corps and became a POW on 28 April 1941. Hieflau was a small hamlet which housed 120 POWs, 117 Britons, 2 Australians and a New Zealander, all captured in Greece and Crete in 1941, who worked on the important railway junction in the Gesause ravine.






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  • 2 months later...

When I worked in China, I had the opportunity of visiting Hong Kong and stayed at the Mary Knoll Monastery in Stanley.  It was pock marked with bullet holes from the battle and I had the fortune of meeting a priest who was there on the day and saw Japanese atrocities first hand.  After reading more on the battle, I learned that the Royal Rifles of Canada were actually fighting where I had stayed and in Stanley where I spent quite a bit of time.  Since there were only 1,975 Canadians at the battle and the "Hong Kong" clasp was awarded later on, it's rare to find a named group.  Below is one such group that has extensive paperwork accompanying it.

A  rare Hong Kong PoW group to Rifleman B. E. Duplassie; Royal Rifles of Canada

1939-1945 Star; Pacific Star; Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Hong Kong Clasps; War Medal 1939-1945; United Nations Emergency Force Medal 1956-1957; and Canadian Forces' Decoration (SPR B.P. DUPLASSIE). Naming is officially engraved on the CFD, the other medals are un-named. With a Royal Rifles of Canada Cap Badge (blackened bronze, 43 mm x 55 mm) and a "C" Force Hong Kong Patch (white embroidered interlocking letters "HK" on a red wool base, 50 mm).  Also with Service Records, War Crimes Office Report, Depositions from Duplassie regarding his time as a Japanese PoW, Statement of Death, along with various correspondence from the Canadian government addressed to his family while he was a prisoner of the Japanese.  

Bernard Patrick Duplassie was born on August 8, 1921 in Sunnyside, New Brunswick. He was the third youngest in a family of six boys and seven girls. The family sustained a living by working a small mixed farm and aided this by the use of outside labour. He completed Grade 6 at a country school in Sunnyside at the age of the age of 16, but later could not account for grades missed or how long he went to school, to Army enlistment officials. Bernard Patrick Duplassie enlisted as a Rifleman (E30530) with the 1st Battalion, Royal Rifles of Canada, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps on September 17, 1940 at Motepedre, Quebec. The Battalion left Vancouver, British Columbia for Hong Kong on October 27, 1941. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 8, 1941, the Japanese Empire launched an attack on the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Two and half weeks later, Duplessie was captured and taken prisoner on December 25th. He was sent to North Point Prison Camp in Hong Kong. It was here that he witnessed from twenty yards away, a Chinese coolie being killed by a Japanese guard outside the camp, by bayoneting him in several places in the body. Duplessie would also state after the war that the "food was very bad during my internment, consisting of only a few ounces of rice a day, some soup made from greens. We got a little bit of horse meat on special occasions, such as when Japanese Generals came to inspect the camp. We got fish about once a month, but it was rotten most of the time." He remained there until September 26, 1942, when he was sent to Shamshuipo (AKA the Sham Shui Po District of Hong Kong). Again, Duplassie recalled a specific incident to investigators after his release from captivity: "I saw Major Boon (Cecil Boon) go out of the camp five or six times in a Japanese vehicle. A Japanese driver drove the vehicle. On one instance which occurred in the fall of 1942, I saw Major Boon hold a Japanese officer's sword, while a Japanese Officer, whose name and description I do not know, beat up a British Officer, whose name was Captain Green. Captain Green was the R.C. Padre in the British Army, and was beaten up by a Japanese Officer who used his hands and feet to hit and kick Capt. Green." He went on to state that "This incident happened on the parade ground and the whole camp saw it." After four months at Shamshuipo, he was placed upon the POW Transport Tatsuta Mata (Hellship) on January 19, 1943, which had 1,100 prisoners of war on board, of which 663 were Canadian. Upon arrival in Nagasaki, Japan on January 22, 1943, he boarded an electric train for a ten mile ride to Camp 3D Tsurumi at Yokohama. It was here, along with the others, that he worked in the Nihon Ironworks at the Tsurumi Shipyards, performing a variety of jobs related to ship building. The camp was engulfed by fire on April 9, 1945, forcing the Japanese to incarcerate the prisoners elsewhere. On May 13th, the 198 Canadians arrived at the Sendai No. 1 Prisoner of War Camp at Yumoto, forced to work for the Joban Coal (Tanko) Company, and it was here that Duplessie would remain until the cessation of hostilities, released from captivity in August 1945. In a War Crimes Office Report, dated October 1945, he was given a list of eleven items to check off, if he had been witness to any of the atrocities. He checked off seven items: 1. torture, beatings or other cruelties, 2.imprisonment under improper conditions, 3. massacres, looting or burning of towns, 4. use of prisoners of war on enemy military works or operations, 5. transportation of prisoners of war under improper conditions, 6. failure to provide prisoners of war with proper medical care, food or quarters and 7. collective punishment of a group for an offence of others. His handwritten note on the reverse of the form spoke volumes: "Beating men for nothing, making them stand for hours with a pail of water over your head or on your hands and knees with hot coals under you. I seen this myself." Duplessie was discharged from service with the 1st Battalion, Royal Rifles of Canada on January 25, 1946. For his Second World War service, he was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp and the War Medal 1939-1945. Six years after his departure form the Royal Rifles of Canada, Duplessie re-enlisted in the Canadian Army, this time as a Private (SE30530) with the Royal Canadian Engineers, at No. 2 Personnel Depot in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on February 29, 1952, stating his trade as that of Farm Labourer/Woodsman. He was sent to the Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering at Vedder Crossing, British Columbia on March 11th and was reclassified as a Sapper 2nd Class on April 5th. That Fall, he was transferred to 57 Field Squadron on October 20th, qualified as a Pioneer with the Royal Canadian Engineers, Group 1 on November 2nd and was classified as a Sapper 1st Class on April 5, 1953. He was awarded a caution for being Absent Without Leave the following May. Duplessie was transferred to 2nd Field Squadron for overseas service, embarking Canada on November 16, 1953 and disembarking in Holland on the 26th, where he was posted to the Canadian Army, Central Europe. He would serve two years in Germany with the Royal Canadian Engineers. Duplessie would run afoul of the authorities again, on January 14, 1954, but this time it would prove to be of a more serious nature. He would face four charges: 1. drunkenness; 2. fought with a person subject to the code of service discipline; 3. behaved in a disgraceful manner; and 4. a civil offence that is to say, assault. As a result, he was sentenced to five days detention on January 20th. The incident behind him, he re-engaged the following year for three years' service on February 29, 1955. That Fall, he was admitted to the British Military Hospital in Hanover, Germany on September 7, 1955 and after ten days' treatment, was discharged from hospital on the 17th. Duplessie embarked Central Europe on November 19, 1955, arriving in Canada on the 28th and continued with 2 Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers at Camp Chilliwack, Vedder Crossing. He was posted to the Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering on September 22, 1956, to develop skills as a Carpenter. He took a twenty-four week course entitled Carpenter Group I, from September 24, 1956 to March 16, 1957, and during that time, he had a brief stay at Chilliwack Station Hospital, from February 18th to 23rd. However, Duplessie suffered from low grades in Mathematics and Carpentry, well below the standards set by the Army. It was noted by one of the instructors that "Sapper Duplassie works quietly but without results, and does not follow simple instructions. He has limited ability to absorb knowledge." It was determined that the "course is simply too much for this sapper to absorb. His basic education is about Grade 4 level." Eight months later, Duplessis was struck off strength to CBUME (Canadian Base United Nations Middle East), as part of the United Nations peacekeeping forces on the border between Israel and Egypt following the Sinai campaign of 1956. He embarked Canada on November 11, 1957, disembarking in Italy on the 17th and was posted to the Canadian Army, Middle East. He left the next day for Egypt and would served as part of the border force for over eleven months. While there, Duplessie re-engaged for three years' service on February 29, 1958 and was awarded the United Nations Emergency Force Medal on June 1st. Upon completing of his Middle East service, he embarked Europe on October 25, 1958, disembarking in Canada on the 27th, where he returned to 2 Field Squadron at CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Gagetown in Burton, New Brunswick. He was admitted to Camp Hospital at Gagetown on April 16, 1959 and after five days treatment, was discharged from hospital on the 21st. He re-engaged for an additional six years' service on March 1, 1961 and passed the Command Projectionist Course 2 on January 25, 1963. Duplassie applied for the Canadian Forces' Decoration on February 28, 1963, stating his service as a Rifleman with the Royal Rifles of Canada (September 17, 1940 to January 25, 1946; totalling five years, four months and nine days' service) and as a Sapper with the Royal Canadian Engineers (February 29, 1952 to February 18, 1963; ten years, eleven months and twenty days' service), a total of sixteen years, three months and twenty-nine days' service in the Army. The award was approved in April 1963 and was officially awarded on May 7, 1963. He re-engaged for five years' service on March 1, 1967 and witnessed a break and enter of a building in August 1968 at CFB Gagetown. He was briefly posted to CFS (Canadian Forces Station) Alert in the Northwest Territories, from January 14, 1970 to February 22, 1970. In the position of Field Engineer 041, he took a CFSME (Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering) Level 5 ADJ course from November 30 to December 18, 1970, achieving a good standard in all ten subjects. He was scheduled to retire from service shortly thereafter. Bernard Patrick "Bernie" Duplassie was a member of the Oromocto Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Sunnyside. He and his wife, Adelaide had three sons, Darrell, Ryan and Douglas and a daughter, Donna. Duplassie died on December 18, 1990 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, at the age of 69. He was cremated and a memorial service was held at a later date.






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Well done on the latest group! Glad you have finally managed to find a Canadian Hong-Kong group, especially one with post war service and a named medal too! I always like seeing the photo of the recipient too! Really interesting having the war crimes report too!! Thanks for posting and look forward to the next!

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Here's a British PoW group to a sapper captured at Anzio.  The wonderful thing about this group is there are hours of him telling about his wartime and PoW experiences online at the Imperial War Museum! (see link below).

B.E.M. (E.II.R.) (Mily.) (Sgt. Stanley A. Fennell, R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star, Italy Star; War Medal; L.S.G.C. (E.II.R. 2nd type) (Sgt., R.A.F.). Mtd as worn. The W.W.2. medals are all engraved "14325335 L./Cpl. Fennell S.A. - R.E.". Toned.

With the original Buckingham Palace letter forwarding the B.E.M., named to Sgt. Stanley A. Fennell, R.A.F. His service number suggests enlistment in the R.A.F. circa 1947. With a photocopy of the London Gazette 10/6/61 confirming the B.E.M.

Stanley Anthony Fennell was born in Edmonton, London, on 11/6/24 and died at Beccles, Suffolk, on 10/4/94. He was taken prisoner at Anzio whilst with the 23rd Field Coy. R.E. and his account of the battle appears in "Forgotten Voices Of The Second World War" by Max Arthur (pub. 2004). On 10/6/81 he was interviewed for the Imperial War Museum Oral History Project (378 minutes, 13 reels). These reminiscences can be accessed online at http://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn510817

or http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80004852




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Interesting that he spoke of the enemy recovering their tanks over night and getting them going again within days. I used to work with a German who was on the Russian front, he told me the Russians did the same but German tanks couldn’t be repaired quick enough because they had to wait for the engineered parts to be made. 

Another fantastic group, more so because of the recordings online.

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  • 5 weeks later...
An Australian WWII group of seven medals comprised of: 1939-45 Star, Arica Star, Defence Medal, British War Medal, 1939–1945 Australia Service Medal  plus 2 unofficial; including “Infantry Front Line Service” and “Battle for Britain” with Army bar.  They have been proudly court mounted for the ANZAC Day parade.  The British War and Australia Service medals are officially named.
Awarded to NX1149 Pte. Leslie James Clare 2/12 Australian Infantry Battalion. Pte Clare was captured at Tobruk in the Libyan campaign.  The group comes with his discharge papers and a newspaper clipping; with picture and brief details of his capture.

Confirmed via the Australian War Memorial:  Pte. Leslie James Clare NX11419 of Rose Bay NSW was born on 10 February 1918 in Sydney, NSW.  He enlisted on 27 March 1940 at Paddington, NSW.  His next of kin was Clare Douglas.  He served in the 2/12 Infantry Battalion and was discharged on 23 August 1945. 

The 2/12th Battalion officially came into being with the appointment of its first commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Field, on 13 October 1939. Two months would pass, however, before the 2/12th paraded as a whole. Two fifths of the battalion was recruited from Tasmania and initially trained at the newly-built camp at Brighton, while the remainder were recruited from North Queensland and began their training attached to the 2/9th Battalion at Redbank. The battalion was united at Rutherford in New South Wales on 11 December. It subsequently relocated to Ingleburn on 12 January 1940 and on 5 May sailed with the 18th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division for the Middle East. 

En route, the 18th Brigade was diverted to the United Kingdom to bolster its defences following the fall of France. The 2/12th disembarked at Gourock in Scotland on 17 June and was subsequently based at Lopcombe Corner, near Salisbury, in England. In September, the 18th Brigade was transferred to a new Australian division - the 9th. The 18th Brigade relocated to Colchester in October and left the United Kingdom on 17 November. 

The 2/12th disembarked in Egypt on 31 December 1940. In February 1941, the 18th Brigade was transferred to the 9th Australian Division but it was still destined to see action with its old formation. During the first week of April the brigade moved to Tobruk to reinforce the 9th Division, then falling back on the town. The 2/12th participated in the defence of Tobruk until it was withdrawn on the night of 26 and 27 August.








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Hi John,

Great group and amazing to have the original newspaper with his picture in it! I have done a quick search and i have found out that Leslie James Clare was held at PG57 at Gruppignano, near Udine, Italy. I have not found him on the list of prisoners held in German territories so maybe there is still a good story to be uncovered! I'll PM you the email address of my chap who access's the pow debrief and escape reports from the National Archives and maybe you will get lucky!


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A Second World War North Africa Fall of Tobruk Prisoner of War group awarded to Rifleman D.S. Bezuidenhout, Kaffrarian Rifles, who served in North Africa from 11th August 1941, and was taken prisoner of war at Tobruk on 20th June 1942.

A Group of 4: 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; War Medal; Africa Service Medal 1939-1945; all named in officially impressed South African issue style; (11699 D.S. BEZUIDENHOUT).   Together with an original Die Middellandse Regt. cap badge, and the forwarding letter for his medals, dated 11th March 1948.  I'm not sure why the cap badge is a different regiment than his officially named medals.

David Stephanus Bezuidenhout was born on 29th December 1905, and came from East London, where he worked as a painter. Bezuidenhout attested for service with the Union Defence Force on 22nd April 1940, having already served from 1939 as a Rifleman (No.11699) with the Kaffrarian Rifles, he disembarked at Suez on 11th August 1941, and then went on to see service in North Africa.  Bezuidenhout was captured at Tobruk on 20th June 1942, and was then incarcerated as a prisoner in Germany, before being liberated on 21st April 1945. Bezuidenhout was discharged on 1st November 1945. Confirmed as his full entitlement.




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The Middellandse Regiment was an eastern Cape regiment raised in 1935 with a recruitment area that overlapped with that of the much older Kaffrarian Rifles.  Its Afrikaans name suggests it was to accommodate Afrikaans speakers affected by the economic depression at that time.  Judging from his names, Bezuidenhout was an Afrikaner.  Shown below is the description of the regiment in Major Tylden's book, 'The Armed Forces of South Africa 1659 -1954'.

There was a lot of movement between South African regiments during WWII and it is possible that Bezuidenhout was re-assigned to the Kaffrarian Rifles for a reason that can now only be guessed at.





Middellandse Regiment.jpg

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Thanks Brett,

I was hoping you'd add some info on this group. It's really interested that there were only 824 men in the regiment in Sept. '40. It appears that Bezouidenhout is not an uncommon name and goes back many years.  Perhaps the naming of the medals to hiim as a Kaffrarian Rifleman is due to it being the regiment he served with.  It's not an unusual group, but since I've branched out to include a named PoW group for some commonwealth countries, and because the name is that of an Afrikaner, it ticked all the boxes.  On top of that, the battle and siege of Tobruk was/is most interesting.  I'm curious, are there veteran's organization for WWII in SA?  Is WWII service highly regarded among South Africans?  

Thank you again for your comments and for the information.  I truly appreciate it!  All the very best, John


Doing some research, I came across this info:  http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/497/530

It's interesting to note that the DMR and the Kaff R had 439 and 532 PoWs respectively for N. Africa, and that a total of 17, 303 South Africans were captured.  

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The South African Legion is the main veteran's organisation (they have a website), and also the MOTH's (see link).


There is a relatively small and declining number of people in SA's population who have any regard for the country's military history, even with the anti-Apartheid government actions of the African National Congress and Pan-African Congress.

The fall of Tobruk was a great disaster for South Africans.  I have few pre-1945 memories, but in my later years any talk of WWII seemed to include reference to a family member or friend who was captured at Tobruk.



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