WW2 P.O.W.'s
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Thread: WW2 P.O.W.'s

  1. #1
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    WW2 P.O.W.'s

    As you some of you might already know, my Dad was a P.O.W. in Poland for three years during WW2. He didn't talk about it until Saturday August the 13th, 1977 at 2.20pm. That was the time and date I came home from work and was slamming doors and generally being miserable. When he asked me what was up I told him I was 21 (it was my birthday on that day just in case you need to send me a card and present of a chopped steel '32 3 Window Coupe) today and didn't have a party etc etc. He said; "When I was 21..." and went on to tell me what life was like for him at that time. I shut up and put a lot of things into perspective! He was captured on the 12th of June 1940 at St Valery in France and along with others, was marched to Fort Rauch in Poznan, Poland. His captors said if anyone stepped out of line they would be shot. He told me as they were marching through France, his mate saw a potato that was on the side of the road and stepped aside to pick it up and eat it. The captors were true to their word and blew his brains out. He told me (amongst loads of other things) that on occasion, in the exercise yard at the Fort, some German guards would come over to them and explain that they 'didn't want to be like this' but had to be. My Dad said he could remember seeing the guards at the Railway Station whipping the people to seperate them into different groups as they got out of the cattle trucks. It wasn't until years after he died that I did some research and discovered that at Fort Rauch, he couldn't possibly have seen anything like that. What I didn't know then was, he was in 6 other Camps in the 3 years he was a prisoner and it was in at least one of them he would have seen this and other similar things.
    I'm certain a lot of people on here remember the TV series 'Colditz'. My Dad watched it but treated it like a Sit Com apart from one character in it who he said reminded him of a guard he came into contact with. He was released or escaped on the 14th of October 1943. I say that because when my cousin was doing a Family Tree kind of thing, he said the Home/War Office (can't remember which) said this person (My Dad) was either a high ranking Officer (he wasn't) or an habitual escaper which now makes the date of 14/10/43 more understandable. He was in the Lancashire Fusiliers. I still have quite a few of his photo's from that time and his cap badge and Dog Tag. I'd be interested to hear other stories relating to other peoples relatives during WW2 as a P.O.W.
    Just as an aside. My Dad never spoke badly about the Germans or German people and he had a lot of affection for the Polish and Jewish people.
    Last edited by RockabillyBilly; 13-06-2020 at 11:53.

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  4. #2
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    Wow, I can't contribute anything close to this, but what a story and a lesson to us all.
    Last edited by fogey; 13-06-2020 at 12:30.

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    Thank you. I have more things my Dad told me but I decided I didn't want to be seen to be going 'on and on and on' like I sometimes tend to do. Also, I didn't know if I sould have put that part in about the march or not. If I get a compaint, I'll gladly remove it.

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    Fascinating, RockabillyBilly. I can't contribute anything close to this, either. My Dad, luckily, just missed the War, but was called up in '46, did basic training in that cold winter at Catterick, and was then posted out to India, just at the end of British involvement and in time to witness the Partition of India. Apparently, it was all done in a rush (he always blamed Mountbatten for that) and it became a blood bath with all the factions killing each other. We live with this to this day in the conflict between India and Pakistan.

    On WW2 front, a chap I used to work with's Dad was captured about the same time as yours after Dunkirk and ended up working down a coal mine in Silesia. What many don't realise is that movie/TV depictions of PoW camps generally show commissioned officers camps. It might have been the Geneva Convention that said Officers didn't have to work after capture, whereas non-commissioned ranks downwards did. Life was therefore much tougher for other ranks.

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    Any contribution is gratefully accepted and appreciated. It's interesting you mention the Geneva Convention. When I told my Dad's story to someone and told him that when he finally made it to Poznan his 'pillow' consisted of some straw the person said that under the Geneva Convention, the shooting and other things I told him wouldn't have happened. I've no idea but, I know who I'm going to believe. My Dad also told me of a narrow escape he and another soldier had but, I'll leave that for another time perhaps. What I must say though is, he was 'lucky' in that he came home. Lucky really isn't the right word is it but, you know what I mean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockabillyBilly View Post
    Any contribution is gratefully accepted and appreciated. It's interesting you mention the Geneva Convention. When I told my Dad's story to someone and told him that when he finally made it to Poznan his 'pillow' consisted of some straw the person said that under the Geneva Convention, the shooting and other things I told him wouldn't have happened. I've no idea but, I know who I'm going to believe. My Dad also told me of a narrow escape he and another soldier had but, I'll leave that for another time perhaps. What I must say though is, he was 'lucky' in that he came home. Lucky really isn't the right word is it but, you know what I mean.
    you should remind him about the great escape prisoners

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    Hello rockhouse. If you mean the 'someone'; because I'm old I can't remember who it was but, I think I get your meaning.

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    There was a program on TV by I by Dan Snow the broadcaster a few weeks age about the men that were captured at St Valery it talked about the Highland battalions so I guess your dads regiment must have been connected to them some how. There was an Admiral ( cannot remember his name ) that defied Winston Churhchill and took a fleet of ships over to try to rescue them. They got to St Valery on the 11th June 1940 and told General Fortune who was in charge that they would try to rescue them that night but as a thick fog came dome it made it impossible so they were going to try the next night, but as you say they were over run and had surrender on the 12th.
    Last edited by brading; 13-06-2020 at 19:39.

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    I remember my Dad recreating the narrow escape he had and him saying "if you saw this in a film, you wouldn't believe it". It involved a evacuated French Farmhouse, 2 German Soldiers in a Motorbike and Sidecar and something far luckier than winning a Goldfish at a Fairground. Problem is; It's better to recreate it in person than typing it but it involves a bedroom door and the enemy not bothering to look behind it. But, the sound of the motorbike engine stopping outside, the silence, then the sound of the jack boots walking on the wooden floors in the Farmhouse, knowing my Dad (and his mate , who he didn't know what had happened too or didn't want to tell me) were in there is, to me, unreal and I can't imagine what that must have been like. I've been through what I think has been sh*t in my life but...as the old saying goes, I don't know I'm born and.....by comparison, I don't, do I?

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    brading: I resisted mentioning that only because it's been so well documented. But, I hear ya and yep, that's History but I wonder when my Dad's story, and the others who were with him, will be documented. Soon maybe and, all being well, within my lifetime. As I say though, all contributions gratefully accepted and thanks for the input. Keep 'em coming.
    P.S. I think my Dad mentioned the name 'Fortune' but I can't be sure.

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