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    My Prisoner of War Collection

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    • 4 weeks later...
    • 2 months later...

    Next up is a brilliant group, which I will hopefully be able to research further when I can access his Service Record.


    14402573 Pte Leslie Page was born in 1924 and enlisted in the British Army at some point in late 1942 judging by his General Service Corps service number.


    Leslie was accepted into the Army Air Corps and joined the 9th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. He trained extensively in the UK and took part in the Normandy landings making his first and only jump on the 6th of June 1944 AKA D-Day. This was part of Operation Tonga, the Airbourne part of Operation Overlord.


    The 9th Battalion were tasked with destroying the Merville Battery, a gun emplacement which the allied high command believed would be a significant threat to the Sword Beach landings. 600 men of the 9th Battalion Parachute Regiment including Leslie were dropped into Normandy with the objective of taking out this threat, however due to a poor drop with the men dispersed over a large area, only 150 men made it to the objective.


    Being reduced to 25% of the force and without sappers or any heavy explosives to destroy the battery, the Battalion might have reconsidered but they 150 pressed home their attack and captured the battery. Now suffering 50% casualties, the remaining men used as much plastic explosive as they could muster to attempt to destroy the battery which was semi successful.


    It is uncertain whether Leslie was involved in the full raid but I would guess not and that he was captured in the night after parachuting in. 


    Leslie, along with colleagues was initially sent to Stalag 12a at Limburg before being transferred to Stalag 4d at Torgau, Saxony. Stalag 4d was liberated on the 25th of April 1945 when the Americans met the Russians at the River Elbe in Torgau.


    After the war was over, Leslie was sent out to South East Asia qualifying for the General Service Medal which is crucially named.



    I am very happy to have acquired this group and hope to be able to continue research on it in the future. It is beautifully court mounted by Spink which adds to the appeal for me.



    Edited by POWCollector
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    • 2 months later...

    Next up is possibly my favourite ever POW group and a new method of escape for the collection....


    Eric Noel Deall was born in Harlesden, Middlesex on Christmas eve 1896. He attended school in Reading and lived with his family in Hounslow. 


    When the war started, Eric was quick to enlist (7th September 1914) as 3133 Pte E N Deall Seaforth Highlanders. After initial training, we was sent to France in late April 1915. Eric served with the 5th battalion Seaforth in such engagements as Festubert and Givenchy before being taken out of the line on 30th September 1915 suffering from influenza. He subsequently was diagnosed with Pyrexia but returned to the line on the 15th of November 1915. He served in France until March 1916 when he was sent back to the UK. 


    He was sent back to England because he was once again suffering from influenza but also Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He spent much time at the military hospital in Winchester before going in front of a medical board and being discharged on 4th September 1916 as permanently unfit with Bronchitis which was aggravated by service on the front. 


    in August 1917, Eric somehow managed to join the Officer Cadet Batatlion at Cambridge and commissioned as temporary 2nd Lieutenant Deall Suffolk Regiment in November 1917. He survived the rest of the war unscathed and relinquished his commission on the 13th of December 1919.


    On November the 1st 1920, Eric joined the Auxilliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, know as 'The Auxiliaries', and was posted as a section leader in H Company. 


    The Auxiliaries were a highly mobile and heavily armed unit of just over 2000 men in total across the 2 year existence of the unit. They were largely ex army officers from the war and many were men who had commissioned from the ranks and found life hard adjusting post war after becoming accustomed to their pay scales as officers; these were known as 'Temporary Gentlemen'. The ADRIC were comprised of 15 companies of roughly 100 men in each and operated on counter insurgency operation in 10 Irish counties in which the IRA presence was strong.


    In February 1921, Eric was promoted to Platoon Commander and transferred to 'O Coy'. On the 15th of May 1921, he was awarded a Certificate of Gallantry for his service on operations. 


    Eric demobbed from the ADRIC in early 1922 and returned to the army as Lieutenant  E N Deall 8th territorial battalion Middlesex Regiment in 1924.


    Transferred to the Sherwood Foresters territorial battalion, he was promoted to Captain in 1928 and Major in 1936.


    When the second world war broke out, Eric went off for some infantry training and then was posted to the 2/5 Battalion Sherwood Foresters and joined the BEF in France in April 1940.


    On the 26th of May 1940 after defending the town of Oignies, Belgium, Major Deall was captured. He was first held in Oflag VII-C, Laufen with the likes of Pat Reid of Colditz fame before being transferred to Oflag VI-B at Warburg. After 'The Warburg Wire Job' escape in August 1942, all of the prisoners were moved on again and Eric was sent to Oflag IXA-H, a castle at Spangenberg. 


    Almost as soon as he had arrived, the Germans began reprisals against allied prisoners due to reported ill treatment of captured Germans soldiers at Dieppe. This happened to Eric and he was not allowed Razors, Knives, Forks, or mugs amongst others. The officers including Eric started a 'beard sweep'.


    In 1944, Major Eric Deall hatched a plan with the British Medical Officer at Spangenberg to 'bluff the board' and fake an illness to get repatriated back to Britain, an incredibly difficult method of escape. They decided to utilise Eric's previous bad experience with Bronchitis from the first war and after excessively smoking cigarettes over a period of months and even going as far as smoking 150 cigarettes in the 12 hours leading up to his medical board of Swiss and German doctors, he was put forward for repatriation to the UK as the commission believed him to be 'a hopeless case'. This was known to Eric as 'Operation Big Smoke'.


    After his repatriation, Eric was sent to the middle east in 1945 to assist with the repatriation of liberated ex- pows and after the war went back to his civilian job of sales-representative. In 1951, Eric was awarded 3 bars to his Territorial Decoration which he had been awarded back in 1940.


    Eric Noel Deall passed away in 1975. 


    His awards are: 1914-15 Star, BWM, Victory Medal, 1939-45 star, Africa star and clasp 1st army, war medal, 1937 coronation medal, and territorial decoration with 3x bars.


    I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post, I think this is a fantastic find and I was over the moon to pick this group up at the latest Noonans (DNW) auction. The group comes with an original regimental magazine from the 1960s giving details of 'Operation Big Smoke' and I have full service records. Strangely, the Africa Star and clasp are noted as officially awarded despite the fact that Eric was in a POW camp during the eligibility time. I can only assume that he applied due to his time in the middle east in 1945 and it somehow got approved. Happy days!






    deall gongs.png

    E N Deall.jpeg





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    Hi all, not medals but still POW related.


    For those readers who are particularly interested in POWs, you may have come across these in books or seen the replicas in the Colditz board game from the 1970s but I’d wager that you’ve not seen a real one before….


    These posters were put up in POW camps across the reich in the Spring of 1944 after The Great Escape to dissuade allied POWs from escape. The example which has come into my possession came back from Stalag Luft 3 itself which makes it all the more special to me.


    The posters are fairly self explanatory so I shall let you read it yourself without too much extra content from me.


    The glass used in the framing is the worlds most see-through glass and has a high level of UV protection so this will be safe with me for a very long time and hopefully for future generations to appreciate.


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    What a fabulous addition. It’s an important historical museum quality document. Congratulations!  I’m glad it’s archival framed; it should last longer than any of us reading this. 🙂



    Edited by azyeoman
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    • 3 months later...

    Next up is another very rare group and my 2nd Fleet Air Arm POW group. 



    John Lisle was born on the 11th of January 1920 and joined the Royal Navy on the 3rd of October 1939. His civilian profession is listed as 'Clerk'.


    John initially served as an instructor in Seamanship before moving onto 'Ack-Ack duty' on Merchant ships (D.E.M.S) on North Sea Shipping Convoys. After learning of the fate of his predecessor (his Captain pointed out the bullet holes around John's place on the poop deck), he decided to try for the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. He was concerned that he would not be accepted due to his having left school early and lacking qualifications but got through the interview and, to the amazement of squadron mates, passed his flying course despite having terrible navigation skills.


    John earned himself the nickname 'Crash' during his time in the FAA. An 836 Squadron mate remembered the following:


    "John's first prang was on a trip from Netheravon to Hendon when, confronted by the London Balloon Barrage, he turned north into a snow storm, force-landed in a snow covered field and turned his Hawker-Hart over. Then he travelled from the local station (taken there by an obliging land girl) to Wimbledon carrying flying helmet and parachute. There, taken for a German parachutist, he was put in a cell at the police station to await the arrival of Special Branch at midnight. Soon John was sent to the Ark Royal where, as we have seen, he piloted James Turner on occasions. His first landing on Ark was spectacular in that he missed all the wires and stopped two feet short of the forward end of the flight deck. On another occasion, about to fly on to the Ark from Gibraltar he saw the great ship torpedoed before his eyes, and later taking off at night he had another escape when at full throttle his port wing hit a Fulmar which had been left parked with its nose on the runway. The crash ripped the site of his cockpit away. His passenger, an Engineer Commander, disappeared into the night, his discarded helmet and parachute marking his terrified flight to safety. Back in England piloting a new Walrus from a Midlands factory to Lee (sans compass) he found himself enveloped in fog and force-lanced on St.Catherine's Hill in Hampshire, misjudged the contours, and after a downhill slalom pitched up by a hedge next to a convenient pub."


    in early 1943, John was serving with 836 Squadron based at Thorney Island on the South Coast of England assisting Coastal Command with minelaying sweeps when he 'came down in the drink'. His squadron colleague again lets us know what happened:


    "On 3rd March at Le Havre John Lisle's luck ran out when the barometric pressure on the other side of the Channel caused his altimeter to mislead him, and losing height to drop his mine correctly he flew into the sea. He and his Air Gunner Pat Solway, a cheerful and lovable Glaswegian survived in the dinghy, but Paddy Allen did not make it. The most John could do was to let off flares when the following aircraft G for George arrived to let us know that there were survivors."


    John was taken to Dulag Luft at Frankfurt, the Air Force interrogation centre. He arrived on the 5th of March 1943 was kept in solitary confinement for 13 days. He was given the bogus Red Cross form which asked for far too many details and when he didn't comply with interrogation, he was threatened with further solitary confinement and Gestapo treatment. John held out and was transferred to Oflag XXI-b at Schubin, Poland at which he arrived on the 21st of March 1943.


    John's arrival at Schubin coincided with a mass escape which took place in early April which ended the use of the camp. The prisoners were transferred to Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan, the infamous 'Great Escape' camp.


    On arrival at Stalag Luft 3, the prisoners from Schubin were divided between the East and North compound. 3 of the Schubin men who ended up being placed into East Compound were later to escape in 'The Wooden Horse' escape. John on the other hand was one of the smaller group who was sent to North Compound which is from where The Great Escape took place. (This is evident because John ended up at Tarmstedt, Marlag Und Milag Nord camp in 1945 rather than Luckenwalde which is where east compound went).


    Whilst a prisoner, John regularly corresponded with his parents back at home in Southampton, England. His letters home amazingly are documented and digitised online. I shall not go into huge detail and will leave that to you if you choose to investigate further at this link: https://digitalcollections.mcmaster.ca/pw20c/case-study/life-prisoner-war-john-lisle-letters


    John's letters home are quite sad and show how lonely life as a P.O.W can be. Unsurprisingly, John's letters do not speak of The Great Escape which is unsurprising given the censorship of most letters sent home. However, John's MI9 POW debrief form states that he worked on 6 tunnels whilst at Sagan.


    This is incredibly interesting as, from his time at Sagan, Roger Bushell (Big X) was in charge of all escape activity and decreed that the only tunnels to be constructed were THE Great Escape tunnels.


    After the Great Escape, very few tunnels were dug as the war was clearly coming to an end and the Germans had made it clear what can happen if POWs tried to escape. 


    John was not one of those who got out on the escape but I am sure that he would have been in the ballot for a place given that he was one of the tunnellers in the camp and contributing heavily. 


    As the Russians advanced, the POWs at Stalag Luft 3 were moved and John went to Marlag Und Milag Nord at Tarmstedt. Arriving on the 5th of February 1945 the prisoners were once again moved and marched westward on the 10th of April 1945 and after a very tough few weeks, they were liberated by British forces on the 1st of May 1945.


    John had an incredible war and I am so so thrilled to have found a really tangible link to The Great Escape tunnels. I have the original boxed medal group with John's Stalag Luft 3 POW tag and an original photo of John on board HMS Ark Royal.


    I hope that you enjoyed this post.




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    • 2 weeks later...
    On 24/01/2019 at 16:54, POWCollector said:

    The most recent addition to my collection is the sort of group that Prisoner of War Collectors can only dream about and i'm ecstatic to have it in my possession.

    Jean Tarrade was born on the 9th of February 1908 in Auxerre, France. In 1928 at the age of 20, Tarrade enlisted into the French Army at Angouleme.

    Now a Captain, Tarrade was heavily involved in the Battle's of Belgium and France in 1939 and 1940 and was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme for his service. The citation reads:

    'Company Commander, extremely active and excellent technician. Always spent countless hours, especially on 24 May 1940 in Trith-Saint-Leger, during violent attempts by the enemy to cross the Scheldt Canal. Has demonstrated the same qualities of energy and courage in Haubourdin, when encircled by the enemy from the 28th to the 31st of May 1940.'

    Tarrade was captured in early June 1940 and was transported to Germany arriving on the 8th of June 1940. He clearly didn't approve of being a prisoner of the Third Reich and proved to be troublesome to his captors. He escaped from captivity three times in 1940 and 1941 but was recaptured every time. For this, he was transferred to OFLAG IV-C also known as COLDITZ CASTLE where he would have arrived in the first batch of French officers in early 1941.

    Not much is known about Tarrade's time at Colditz Castle at this point but I am sure he would have been active in scheming escapes, 'goon baiting' and assisting other prisoners in escaping. 

    In May 1943, the German high command decided that Colditz was only to hold British and American prisoners. In June, the Dutch officers were transported to different camps followed by the Belgians, Poles and lastly the French who left on the 12th of July 1943.

    Captain Tarrade was transferred to Oflag X-C at Lubeck. Here he organised and led a resistance group. His Legion d'honneur recommendation takes up the story in more detail.

    'This Magnificent Officer was wounded and mentioned in 39/40 for his beautiful driving under fire during the Campaign of Belgium and Flanders. Barely recovered from his wound, he rejoined his Regiment to repress the fight. Taken prisoner in June 1940, he fought to regain his freedom. Escaped 3 times in 1940 and 1941 and was taken again. To re-pay his brave attitude, he endured 44 months of fortress, reprisals camps including 51 solitary confinement cell days over his 60 months of captivity. He Took the command of the Franc Group of Resistance Movement of Lubeck Prison Camp and his participation at the head of this Group was with the taking of the weapons of the guards, at the capture of Lubeck Port, making prisoners and capturing weapons and Ammunition.'

    The 'fortress' camp referenced is Oflag IV-C, Colditz Castle.

    After the war, Jean Tarrade served with distinction in Tunisia and in South Vietnam. He was awarded a second Croix de Guerre for his actions. The recommendation is as follows:

    'Ardent and dynamic officer - Adjutant Major of a battalion in operations, still voluntary for the difficult missions - Did not stop during hard fights by his Unit in the Sub-sector of BENCAT (Province of THUDAUMONT - South Vietnam) and demonstrated a remarkable course.

    Was particularly distinguished in the combined operations "EMILE and JOSEPHINE "from 6 to 13 July 1949, and during specific actions in the regions of VINH HOA and the Forest of AN SON - At the head of elements of reinforcements, participated until the end of March 1950 effectively in the clearance of convoys and overture groups fallen in ambushes on the road at DAUTIENG and RF 13-A, during these attacks, and despite violent reactions adverse, fact prove of the most perfect contempt of danger.'

    He retired as a Lieutentant Colonel.

    His awards are as follows:

    - Legion D'Honneur. 4th Class 'Officier'. 4th Republic issue circa (1946-1962)
    - Cross of War 1939 (Croix de Guerre). With 1 x Bronze Palm & 1 x 'Gold' Star
    - Cross of War for Overseas Theatres of Operations. With 1 x Silver Star citation emblem
    - Escapers Medal (Medaille Des Evades). With French Mint marks
    - Combatants Cross for Volunteers. Type II dated 1939-1945 & clasp
    - Combatants Cross (Croix Du Combatant). With French Mint marks
    - Colonial Medal. Type II with uniface suspension & clasp 'Extreme Orient'
    - Commmemorative Medal for Second World War 1939-1945. With clasp 'France'
    - Commmemorative Medal for Indochina 1945-1954
    - Medal for North African security operations (Medaille D'Afriqie Du Nord). With clasp 'Tunisie'
    - Wound Medal (Medaille Des Blesses). With red enamelled star on riband


    Included with the medals were all of his medal award certificates, original recommendations, correspondence with the French POW escaper's association, liberation documents and many character letters from brother officers. A real archive.


    I am over the moon to finally have a Colditz POW group in my collection and with such good provenance too!

    Captain J Tarrade is listed in Pat Reid’s book ‘Colditz: The Full Story’ as being a member of the French contingent at Colditz.

    tarrade medals.jpg

    Jean Tarrade.jpg

    tarrade 3.jpg

    Tarrade 2.jpg


    After 4 years of patient and in-depth research, I have finally uncovered enough information to give more to Jean Tarrade's POW story. I owe thanks to members of The Colditz Society which I am happily a member of, and the French Ministry of Defence.


    I have been able to uncover more information about Jean's escapes which led to him being sent to Colditz.


    Jean Tarrade, as we know from his Legion d'Honneur recommendation, made 3x escape attempts prior to being transferred to Oflag IV-C at Colditz in 1941. I have now uncovered that he was initially held at Oflag IV-D at Elsterhorst.


    Thanks to the book 'Les Indomptables' by General Le Brigant, I have discovered his first attempt was made as early as December 1940. 


    "09/12/1940 - Sortie avec detachement de malade libres". This translates to "Trying to leave with a group of wounded and ill repatriated prisoners. 


    This was a brilliant piece of information to find and this motivated me to find out more. I set about translating other French language books about Colditz but came up short. Eventually, I made contact with the French MOD and managed to find a record of Jean Tarrade on their database. After a long wait, I was sent the files and I was amazed to find attestations from brother officers which give some great detail.


    I have translated these below in the order of how much detail is contained:


    "I, the undersigned, Captain Lucien Morvan of 40 RTT, certify on my honour that Commander Jean Tarrade was sent to the Fortress of Colditz following several escapes. From there he was transferred in July 1943 to the Lubeck camp, where he was detained until May 1945".


    "I, the undersigned, Edgar Duquet, Captain of the Reserve Artillery residing at 54 avenue de la republique in Villejuif, certify that Commander Jean Tarrade, Cdt Transport Group 556 in Tunis was, during his captivity, transferred to the camp of reprisals from Colditz (Oflag IV-C) following attempts to escape and that he stayed there from September 1941 to July 1943. He was then transferred to the reprisal camp of Lubeck (Oflag X-C) where he remained from July 1943 to May 2, 1945, date of the liberation of this Oflag.


    He never ceased, in these two camps, to show active hostility towards the enemy, and made every effort to escape, in order to join the Free French forces."



    This account by Edgar Duquet was very interesting to me as it made me realise I was wrong in my assumption that Jean Tarrade was in the first batch of French inmates sent to Colditz in early 1941 but was in fact sent in September 1941. I was actually very happy with this as he really must have 'earned his place' to be sent at a later date rather than in the initial batch of 200.


    The last account blew me away....


    "I, the undersigned, commander of military justice CHANOT Felix substitute of the government commissioner near the military tribunal, was held in the Oflag IV-D, barrack 6 with active Captain TARRADE Jean from June 1940 to August 1941 when he was transferred to the fortress of Colditz (Oflag IV-C) following two attempts to escape through the barbed wire from the camp. The 1st in July 1941 and the 2nd in August 1941 when the Germans fired on him, searched for him for 48 hours and after which he was again placed in a cell for 15 days before being transferred to Colditz."



    I was SO pleased to read these accounts, which give evidence that Jean really was a true escaper and made 1 attempt by subterfuge and 2 through the wire. Clearly the latter of these was a dramatic event as the Germans were firing on him as he made his escape! It is also great to have a pretty good time line of his escapes from December 1940 to August 1941. He was clearly persistent.


    Amazingly there is more to this story... 


    General Le Brigant's book listed another escape attempt made by Jean:


    "22/12/1942 - Camion a double cloison". Translated to 'Attempted to escape in a double door truck'. 


    This is an absolutely incredible discovery as, due to the date of this escape attempt, this attempt was made AT COLDITZ. This is not listed on the Wikipedia list of attempted escapes from Oflag IV-C, but I am not sure who compiled this list and whether it is an 'official' version or not. 


    Now we have 4 escape attempts made by Captain Jean Tarrade. The character statement made by Edgar Duquet closed with "He never ceased, in these two camps, to show active hostility towards the enemy, and made every effort to escape, in order to join the Free French forces", which to me would imply that he tried further attempts too as the two camps mentioned are Colditz and Lubeck. The active hostility also pleased me as some of my favourite Colditz stories are those of winding up the guards AKA 'goon baiting'. 



    I am so delighted to have uncovered this further information and I am personally very proud of my perseverance in bringing Jean Tarrade's story back to life. I am going to do a more cohesive write up for The Colditz Society newsletter and see if I can get his Colditz escape of December 1942 'officially' recognised. This is now by far my favourite grouping in the collection.


    I really hope that you have enjoyed this post enhancement.


    Stay tuned for some excellent additions to come soon. 



    An amazing original document of Jean’s showing his details and his camp of Oflag IV-C Colditz.


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    • 3 weeks later...

    Next up is a lovely condition Palestine GSM awarded to Sidney Littlejohns of the Worcester Regiment.


    Sidney was born on the 14th of December 1921 in Devon. He was 5’2 with dark hair.


    Sidney served before the war in Palestine, earning his General Service Medal with Palestine clasp, before being sent out with the regiment to North Africa in the Second World War.


    When Tobruk fell on 20th/21st June 1942, Sidney was able to evade capture despite being reported as missing by the regiment.


    On the 28th of June 1942 after a week in the desert, Sidney was captured by the Germans.


    He was eventually shipped over to Italy and held at Campo 53 at Macereta. On the Armistice, the prisoners were able to escape the camp and Sidney once again became an evader. His luck ran out again and he was recaptured by the Germans.


    Sidney was sent by train to Germany and, in late November 1943 found himself at Stalag XI-A Altengabrow. A month after arriving on 24th December 1943, he was transferred to a working camp at Hallendorf at which he stayed for 3 months before moving to Stalag XI-B at Fallingbostel and joining Aribeitskommando 7007.


    On this working party, he became unwell and was admitted to hospital requiring X-rays on his lungs.


    At the end of the war, Sidney was liberated and returned home to Devon.


    It is unusual to find a ‘double evader’ group such as this but I was happy to do so and to put a face to the name by obtaining Sidney’s German POW ID card from the national archives.





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    A very nice addition to your collection. I only have two double PoW recipients’ medals. One for the 2nd Anglo-Boer War when he was captured and released both times, and a second one to a Merchant Navy man captured twice in the Norway campaign. He escaped the first time, but was captured again trying to take a ship out and on to the UK. All these PoWs have thrilling tales.  I look forward to your next addition. 

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    • 1 month later...

    Next up is possibly the rarest medal in my collection. I have been looking for a 1st world war Australian Imperial Force medal to a POW for years and couldn't believe my eyes when I found this listed on ebay a couple of days ago; I couldn't have asked for better!


    Frederick James Allen was born at Notting Hill, London on 3rd May, 1890 to parents James & Annie Allen (nee Cowley). Frederick James Allen attended Pound Lane Council School, Willesden Green, London, England. The 1891 England Census recorded Frederick James Allen as an 11 month old living with his family at 62 Queens Road, Hammersmith, London in a 3 roomed dwelling.


    His parents were listed as James Allen (Bricklayer’s Labourer, aged 43, born Watford Herts) & Annie Allen (aged 43, born Mere, Wilts). Frederick was the youngest of four children listed on this Census – William Henry Allen (Errand Boy, aged 15, born Hammersmith), Augusta Allen (Scholar, aged 13, born Kensington, London), Ada Emelene (aged 10, born Manchester, Lancs) then Frederick (born Hammersmith, London).


    The 1901 England Census recorded Frederick Allen as a 10 year old (born Notting Hill, London) living with his family at 9 Chaplin Road, Willesden Green, Middlesex. His parents were recorded as Samuel Allen (Bricklayer’s Labourer, aged 53, born Watford, Herts) & Annie Allen (aged 53, born Mere, Wilts). Also listed were two of Frederick’s sisters – Florence Fanny Allen (aged 8, born Notting Hill, London) & Ada Cowley Allen (Domestic, aged 23, born Notting Hill, London). Amelia Williams, a niece (Dressmaker, aged 18) was also listed with the family.


    The 1911 England Census recorded Fredrick J. Allen as a 20 year old Engine Cleaner (Great Central Railway Company) living with his parents at 9 Chaplin Road, Willesden Green, London, England which was a 5 roomed dwelling. His parents were listed as James Allen (Road sweeper, aged 63) & Annie Allen (aged 63). James & Annie Allen had been married for 22 years & stated they had only had 2 children. Also listed was Frederick’s younger sister – Florence F. C. Allen (Shop Assistant, aged 18).


    Two other relatives were also listed – Niece – Margery C. Williams (Cashier, aged 18) & Cousin – Arthur Cowley (Carpenter, aged 24).


    Frederick James Allen went to Australia when he was 23, according to details supplied by his father for the Roll of Honour.


    Frederick James Allen was a 25 year old, single, Engine Driver from Royal Hotel, Gosford, NSW when he enlisted at Warwick Farm, Sydney, NSW on 24th August, 1915 with the 1st Infantry Battalion, 15th Reinforcements of the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.). His service number was 4728 & his religion was Church of England. His next of kin was listed as his father – Mr J. Allen, of 9 Chaplin Road, Willesden Green, London, England.


    Private Frederick James Allen was posted to “J” Company on 24th August, 1915. He was transferred to “D” Company on 16th October, 1915 at Liverpool Camp. Pte Allen was transferred to “B” Company at Liverpool Camp on 5th January, 1916. Private Frederick James Allen was posted to 15th Reinforcements, 1st Battalion on 16th February, 1916. Private Frederick James Allen embarked from Sydney on HMAT Star of England (A15) on 8th March, 1916 & disembarked on 11th April, 1916. Private Frederick James Allen was transferred to 53rd Battalion at Ismailia from 1st Battalion on 20th April, 1916. He was taken on strength of 53rd Battalion on 20th April, 1916 at Tel-el-Kebir. Private Frederick James Allen embarked from Alexandria on 19th June, 1916 on Royal George to join the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force). He disembarked at Marseilles, France on 28th June, 1916.


    On the 20th of July 1916, Frederick was captured at Fleurbaix. As I knackered from a very long day of work, I am going to be lazy and ask you to now read the attached POW report for details of what happened next for Frederick. Warning: If you do not read this, there are some major spoilers in the next paragraph....


    *This is where you read the document attached in the images*



    I was absolutely blown away to read this incredibly detailed report and I feel so lucky to own Fredericks WW1 victory medal which was hard earned. 


    For reference of how rare this is, only 43 Australian servicemen (3 officers, 40 other ranks) escaped and made a home run in the 1st world war. There were only 4000 Aussie POWs in the war so having a medal to one is rare enough, let alone to a confirmed escaper. 


    Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending. 


    In October 1918, the month he returned from captivity, Frederick was taken ill with influenza and pneumonia and was taken to Torquay town hospital. He tragically died of this on the 25th of October 1918. This was almost certainly Spanish Flu. 


    Frederick was buried on the 30th of October 1918 at Torquay cemetary was full military honours. 


    In attendance were his father, mother, and sister along with 2 two relatives on his mother's side, 2 nurses, and 50 patients from the hospital. 


    The following is taken from his burial report:


    'The deceased soldier was accorded a full military funeral. Firing party, bugler, and pallbearers being in attendance. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack and surmounted with several beautiful wreaths sent from: OC & staff of Town Hall Hospital, Mrs Ricketts of Torquay, Father and Mother, Brother and Sister in law, Miss Murray Prior.


    A large number of relations and friends were present at the graveside and the burial service was conducted by the Rev E A Tolouse CofE.'


    His personalised inscription was 'Peace, perfect peace'.


    For his escape, Frederick was awarded the Mention in Despatches which is an oak leaf emblem worn on the ribbon of the victory medal. His escape companions were both awarded the Military Medal as they survived. 



    I cannot convey how happy I am with this acquisition and how proud I am to have this brave man's medal in my collection. A truly heartbreaking end for a man who spent two years in harsh conditions as a prisoner and fought so gallantly to regain his freedom only to be taken by illness upon his return. I am glad that his final days were spent back in England.


    I hope that this has been an enjoyable read and stay tuned for more additions.




    Frederick James Allen escape report 1.jpeg

    escape report 2.jpeg

    Escape report 3.jpeg



    Edited by POWCollector
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    Thank you for sharing this well researched and emotive story for a very rare PoW medal. What a fortunate acquisition for your exceptional and advanced PoW collection!  I look forward to your next post! 
    Cheers, John

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    On 24/06/2023 at 13:27, azyeoman said:

    Thank you for sharing this well researched and emotive story for a very rare PoW medal. What a fortunate acquisition for your exceptional and advanced PoW collection!  I look forward to your next post! 
    Cheers, John

    I agree Thank you for sharing

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    Robert Leith-Macgregor was the stepson of an Admiral and attended Pangbourne college with the aim of becoming a naval officer (note Pangbourne college wore the naval uniform). Robert struggled with the high level of mathematics and transferred from Pangbourne to Sandhurst, from which he commissioned into the Northumberland Fusiliers in 1938. He served in Belgium in 1939 but became bored with soldiering and volunteered to be trained as an army volunteer pilot.


    After gaining his wings, he was posted to 241 Squadron before moving to 208 Squadron and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). His service with 208 Squadron in 1942 is described below in extracts from Graham Pitchfork's seminal history of 208 Squadron, 'Forever Vigilant':


    When Rommel's advance in North Africa came to a halt in early 1942, 208 Squadron continued to maintain operations from dispersed landing grounds which, when there was sufficient cloud cover to escape, the Luftwaffe occasionally sent a small force of JU88s to bomb. On 5 February 1943, Flying Officer R L MacGregor intercepted a formation of five JU88s, which immediately broke formation. One of the enemy aircraft dived away and jettisoned its bombs. MacGregor closed on the others and made three attacks, damaging one of them before they escaped into cloud.


    On 16 February 1942, MacGregor was flying an unescorted Tac R sortie when BF109s attacked him near Mechili. He managed to evade, but was intercepted again later in the sortie. The aircraft's glycol tank was damaged and he had to force land in the desert and walk back to Acroma where the Squadron was on the point of departure to a landing ground at Bir el Regal. This operation saw Robert initiated into the ‘Late Arrivals Club’ , an unofficial club similar to the goldfish club, where the members had local jewellers create a winged boot badge which could be worn on the left breast pocket of their uniform. These badges are incredibly rare.


    On 24 February, when carrying out a Tac R over Tmimi, he met intense anti-aircraft fire and his glycol tank was again punctured. He made another forced landing near Gazala where he was picked up by a South African armoured car and returned to El Adem.


    Rommel began his advance to the Gazala line on 26 May 1942 and 208 Squadron pilots reported a heavy build up of armour and transports in an area fifteen miles south-west of Tobruk, which became known, colloquially, as 'Knightsbridge'. On 8th June, enemy activity increased.


    MacGregor took off at dawn in a Tomahawk and reported a large concentration of tanks before his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire over 'Knightsbridge'. The shell exploded in the wing root, but he was able to return.


    On 11 June, Bir Kakeim fell and reconnaissance sorties identified very large enemy concentrations in the 'Knightsbridge' area. MacGregor was over the area when four BF109s attacked him. His Tomahawk was hit repeatedly by canon fire, but he manged to reach the El Adem area with his assailants behind him. The aircraft caught fire and he crash landed, after which the  BF109s strafed the burning wreckage. MacGregor was fortunate to sustain only minor injuries and, during the engagement, he claimed to have hit one of the enemy fighters, which dived away trailing black smoke.


    In July 1942, there was a need to reorganise the Squadron's three flights following the loss of many pilots, and the now Flight Lieutenant MacGregor was appointed as a Flight Commander. Always seemingly to be in the thick of battle, he had to make another forced landing in the desert on 8 July after completing a Tac R in the northern area. His weaver saw him go down, and he was soon picked up. He had never shirked a fight and his service was recognised with the of the DFC, the citation concluding: ' This officer has displayed high courage and great devotion to duty in the face of the enemy.’


    The full recommendation is as follows:


    ‘Flight Lieutenant Robert Leith MCGREGOR (43105), No. 298 Squadron.

    In June, 1942, whilst on reconnaissance duties near Bir Hacheim, Flight Lieutenant McGregor encountered 4 Messerschmitt 109's which attacked separately. Displaying skilful airmanship he accepted the challenge of each aircraft in turn and destroyed 1. His own aircraft sustained severe damage. With the remaining 3 enemy fighters still pursuing him, he flew towards El Adem where his aircraft crashed in flames. Flight Lieutenant McGregor was uninjured and immediately proceeded to send in his report from the nearest telephone. This officer has displayed high courage and great devotion to duty in the face of the enemy.



    On 24 August 1942, a last-light reconnaissance was requested to investigate some reported enemy movements. MacGregor ad a colleague took off, but nothing further was heard from either of them. Many months later it was learned that both were prisoners of war.


    MacGregor must have had more adventures than any other wartime 208 Squadron pilot. He was shot down twice by fighters and twice by anti-aircraft fire. On a fifth occasion, his Tomahawk was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire but he managed to get back to an advanced landing ground. During his reconnaissance sorties he had fought some of his assailants and had been credited with probably destroying one and damaging a second. There can have been few DFCs more merited.


    Robert was captured when he was shot down in flames and crash landed behind enemy lines. The hood of the cockpit was jammed shut with the inferno engulfing him but the brave German soldiers grabbed axes and smashed their way through to rescue Robert.


    He repaid them by later escaping. He was recaptured and tortured by an Italian officer with big and heavy alpine boots and being held in a cage measuring 5ft by 3 ft. He was aided by some black Rhodesian POWs who smuggled him food.


    Flown to a POW camp in Bari, he was subsequently transferred to PG5 at Gavi. This camp was only available for accommodation if you had made at least 1 other escape, so it is likely that Robert tried to escape from his Italian camp too.


    On the Italian Capitulation in September 1943, Robert and his RAF campmates were transferred to North Compound Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan. Robert was not one of those who got away in the great escape in March 1944, but would probably have been involved. He ended the war at Marlag Nord.


    He managed to escape at the end of the war when a Sgt in the Scots Guards cut the wire which meant Robert was able to get home sooner than the rest of his camp mates who were held by the Russians for a few weeks after liberation.



    At the end of the war, Robert reverted back to the Army and in 1946 was officially promoted to Captain in the Northumberland Fusiliers.


    Robert went to Korea as a Major in the 1st Battalion of the RNF. On January 3rd 1951 whilst at the Imjin River, Robert placed his company so well on a hill that the overwhelming Chinese attacking force was unable to dislodge them. The company later withdrew without a single man having been killed.


    For his actions in Korea and specifically on 3rd of January, Robert Leith-Macgregor was awarded the Military Cross. This makes him unique as he is the only man to be awarded the DFC in WWII and the MC in Korea - the combination of MC and DFC is extremely rare anyway.


    Robert retired from the army in 1962 as a Lieutenant-Colonel and passed away on 14th November 2008.


    Having, since writing this, received Robert’s MI9 debrief I have the following additional information on his escape:


    “On 25th July 1942 when being convoyed by truck through enemy lines I was able to disable my guard by a kick to his crotch and jumped into the sandstorm. Was seen by another driver and fired upon and was overtaken. S/Ldr Hallam saw me brought back. I was fit. S/Ldr Hallam was sent to Germany.”


    On the last section requesting men to divulge anything else of importance they would like to raise, Robert said:


    “Witnessed the shooting of Lt Savakis on the removal of allied POWs from Italy to Germany. This officer attempted to escape from his train and was wounded. He put up his hands and was shot out of hand by a Feldwebel. This was reported to the Germans on arrival at Stalag Luft 3 but no appreciable effort was made to follow it up.”



    I am very happy to have Roberts miniature medals and Late Arrivals club badge. Whilst I have always avoided miniature medals, I am very confident with this group given their age and the age of the mounting job + the unique combination.


    I have found several great pictures of Robert online.


    This is my first POW grouping to a man who wore all 3 uniforms in his life, was an escaper, and a double gallantry award winner and I am very glad to have it in my collection.








    Edited by POWCollector
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    What a fascinating story!  As always, great research to accompany another fine addition to your collection!  I’ve never seen a “Late Arrivals Badge” so close before; that’s a rare badge. 

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    Thanks John! It required a fair bit of in depth research but its always the best feeling when we uncover these sorts of stories! 


    Yes the badges are very very hard to find, there are a few variants as they were all produced locally in North Africa but this is definitely the 'real deal'. Its got a surprising weight to it! I've had a replica one for years and there is no comparison between the two. 


    I'd love to have a goldfish badge with a POW group; I've got medals of men who were entitled to join the club but i've never owned a badge or card before. fingers crossed!


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    • 6 months later...
    On 20/05/2016 at 02:16, POWCollector said:

    Next up took some detective work but luckily enough, the name is unique enough so that I was successful in identifying this chap.

    I saw this group on a dealer website for £100 including next day delivery and the combination was enough to spark my interest.

    The group is: The 1939-45 star, Africa star, France and Germany star, War medal and QE2 Territorial Medal - the last named to 21002238 Sgt P.A.D Cartwright. I knew that this combination would indicate a birth after 1921 since he wasn't in the Territorials during the war since he got awarded the T.M post 1953. The group indicated to me that it was an Arnhem POW.

    Peter A.D Cartwright was born in the second quarter of 1923 in Edmonton, Middlesex. 

    Peter joined the General Service Corps and was probably sent to the Royal Artillery with service number 14242349 probably in mid 1942 and was sent out to North Africa.

    After his time in North Africa, he transferred to the Army Air Corps (still trying to find out if he was a Para or Glider Pilot regiment) but he was taken prisoner at Arnhem and held at Stalag XI-B at Fallingbostel as PoW 117911.

    After he was repatriated, he returned to civilian life but his QE2 territorial medal service number would indicate a pre 1950 enlistment. Probably around 1948-49.

    Coincidentaly, Peter and his wife (Married in '41 probably just before leaving for Africa), had a son who was also P.A.D Cartwright who was born in 1949.

    Peter most likely joined the Territorials to earn a bit more money due to starting a family.

    I am trying to get hold of his POW debrief if it exists and I'm hoping above hope that it does as most Fallingbostel POW's that I've researched did fill out debriefs!

    It is very nice to see a QE2 territorial medal to an Arnhem AAC pow and can't believe my luck to have found it! (For such a bargain!)


    Sorry about the poor quality photo!

    After literally years waiting patiently for the national archives to make his record public, I have been able to secure the POW ID card for Peter Cartwright and I’m so happy to find it had a photo attached.





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    • 4 months later...
    On 23/03/2016 at 18:53, POWCollector said:

    Hello, This may come as a shock to you as much as it did us, but these are my grandad's medals. My dad Lee Johnson is Jasper Johnson's son and I am his Granddaughter Jodie Johnson - Torres. My dad knows Jasper (his dad) sold them originally for 1 pound and 50p at a pawn shop. He sold them as he needed the money to feed his family of 7 children he sold all of his medals, except for a boxing medal that he won when he fought for the Sherman Foresters regiment, that at present we are unable to locate. I would love you for to contact me regarding these. I relocated to Las Vegas, NV but my dad Lee Johnson is still living in Sheffield, England. My email address is vegasjodie@msn.com please contact me.




    Next up is a group I bid on at auction unsuccessfully last year (March 2015) which i was really sad about missing out on and to my surprise I saw the group on ebay for less than what I was bidding at the auction. I put a bid on and got the group for £80 less than they sold for!


    Jasper Johnson was born on the 19th of February 1920 in Bakewell, Derbyshire. On the 14th of January 1939, he enlisted into the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. He was a lorry drivers mate at the time of enlistment. He went out to Palestine with the Battalion on the 3rd of August 1939 and therefore qualified for the General Service Medal with bar Palestine. (This is missing from the group and if anybody see's it or knows of its whereabouts, please let me know!) In June 1940, the 1st Battalion moved to reinforce the Garrison of Cyprus where they suffered their first war casualties in an air raid.

    In early 1942, the Battalion moved out to Egypt and converted to a motorized role and joined the 201st Guards Brigade. Unfortunately, after a sharp engagement in the Knightsbridge box, the Battalion was ordered to surrender when the Garrison in Tobruk capitulated. On the 21st of June 1942, Private J Johnson tried to escape but was captured by a German patrol as he attempted to break through the perimeter.

    He was sent to 3 different Prisoner Of War camps in Italy being employed on Farms. When the Italians capitulated on the 9th of September 1943, Jasper Johnson was being held at Campo 63 which was at Marinaro Aversa Near Arezzo. This camp was mostly holding Indian troops captured in North Africa so this group is quite scarce! The Sergeant in charge of the camp, ignored the infamous 'Stay Put' order which resulted in so many being recaptured and entrained for Germany.

    Jasper had been working on a farm and had made friends with the local farm workers. After the armistice, he left the camp and headed for the Farm. He stayed here until the 21st of September 1943. On the 22nd, another farm worker acted as a guide and took him by train to Tirano from which he set off on foot. He began to walk over the mountains to Switzerland. He got lost on the mountains but he met an Italian woman also trying to flee into Switzerland. They camped on the mountains and crossed into Switzerland the next day on the 23rd of September 1943. He was repatriated from Switzerland and returned home on the 22nd of October 1944.

    On the 12th of June 1945, he married Muriel Beverley in Sheffield and was Demobbed on the 27th of July 1946 as a Class Z reservist. As is common with second world war Prisoners of War who were reservists, Jasper was again called up to serve with the Army in 1950. This time, he was serving with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

    On the 10th of October 1950, Jasper landed in Korea. The Royal Northumberland Regiment fought at Sibyon-ni, Kan-don, the Imjin River and finally at the Battle for Point 217. During their tour in Korea, the regiment lost 93 killed, 279 wounded and 45 Prisoners. Luckily, Jasper Johnson was not amongst these and left Korea on Sunday the 29th of October 1951 on-board His Majesty's Troopship 'Empire Pride'. For the second time, he was demobbed as a Class Z Reservist on the 23rd of November 1951.

    Jasper Johnson clearly had a very eventful time with the army and got to travel all over the world. He passed away in December 1984, aged 64.



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