6287814 Pte Frederick Richard John GRAY, 4th Buffs: POW at Stalag XX-A and XX-B

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Duncan Curtis, May 5, 2020.

  1. Duncan Curtis

    Duncan Curtis Member

    My wife’s grandfather, Frederick Richard John Gray served with C Coy, 4th Bn East Kent Regt from April 1939 (service number 6287814) and joined the BEF with his Battalion in France during November 1939.

    He was one of the many who, as part of the 51st Highland Division, surrendered to German forces at St Valery-en-Caux on 12 June 1940.

    I’m a regular at the National Archives and will be looking at WO 167/717: 4 Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) 1939 Sept.-1940 June next time I’m up there (whenever this lockdown comes to an end!) but have a few queries regarding his time as a POW. I’ll also have a look at WO 344/124/1 Liberated Prisoner of War Interrogation Questionnaires GRAVE – GRAY in case he has a report there.

    Fred died a few years ago but I did manage to get some recollections from him: he was initially at Stalag XX-A,Thorn (Toruń) in Poland, and according to him he was almost immediately put to work on a road-building project at Nakel (Nakło), “…returning to Stalag XX-A at night”. Which is OK except that Nakel is maybe 100 miles distant and the thought of doing that as a daily commute during wartime seems unlikely. So can anyone suggest where he would have been? Was there a work camp associated with XX-A close to Nakel?

    He said that he then worked on farm with approximately a dozen others, planting and harvesting sugar beet. Harvested beet was loaded onto horse-drawn trailers and moved to a sugar factory at “Altfeld”. Again I can’t locate somewhere that would be close to XX-A by that name.

    He was transferred to Stalag XX-B at Marienburg circa summer of 1943, and a number of photos which his family sent him are addressed to Stalag XX-B 32, XX-B 210, XX-B 312 and XX-B 415. Do these numbers relate to his physical location (barrack block, working camp etc)? “312” seems to relate directly to Stalag XX-B (Stalag 312) but the others are less obvious.

    A number of photos he had taken at that time are annotated “Elbing” and so I assume he was at Stalag XX-B, Camp 946 at Elbing (Elbląg). He did recall that for the last two years of captivity he worked at a sawmill near Scheilingsbrucken on the Elbe river. Does that ring any bells?

    I’ve located Fred in WO 392/1 and WO 392/11, plus Casualty List 262 and 290 but nothing between late 1940 and September 1944. Any help, pointers most welcome.

    Duncan
     
    Lindele likes this.
  2. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Duncan,

    I willstart looking at the village names tomorrow.

    I also remember another thread wherePOWs worked on a farm and a a great time. I tracked down the farm and the family and I belive the British family visited the farm months later.

    Stefan.
     
  3. Duncan Curtis

    Duncan Curtis Member

    Stefan,

    Many thanks.
     
  4. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi,

    In addition to your enquiries at Kew you should consider contacting Swiss Red Cross for his POW records via this link -

    Requests for information about people held during Spanish Civil War or Second World War: Quarterly limit reached

    Check the site at 8am 25th May for the online application form. If it’s not visible check every 30 minutes until you see it then complete and submit it ASAP as the enquiry window usually closes by mid morning due to being over subscribed. It is a free service and it takes at least 4 months in normal times to get a reply by post.

    Good Lick

    Steve
     
    Duncan Curtis likes this.
  5. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Duncan,

    attached link is in German, but easy to check.

    I will keep on searching for the namesNakel, etc.

    Stefan.

    Liste der Kriegsgefangenenlager der Wehrmacht – Wikipedia
     
    Duncan Curtis likes this.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Let me know if you don't want to wait for the archives to re-open. I have a copy of the 4 Buffs 1940 war diary and I'll happily send you a copy if you'd like to donate my usual fee to my son's military charity fundraiser.
     
  7. Duncan Curtis

    Duncan Curtis Member

    Yes I would be interested: do you have 1939 also?
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Yes, The diary starts in Sept 1939 and ends in June 1940. The diary contains 150 various pages inc appendices so the amount to donate at my 10p per page rate would be £15.00. You can donate via the link below if you'd like a copy. If you do just message me your email address after you've donated and I'll send you a link to download it via dropbox.

    Jacob's Dunkirk Challenge 2020

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  9. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96


    I have looked at some more names of places, villages, etc.
    Most are now Poland with different names.
    I Am confident to find the new names, but it may take a while.:pipe:

    Stefan.
     
    Duncan Curtis likes this.
  10. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96


    This was a tricky research and not finshed yet.
    Thorn = Torun
    Nakel was about 4 hours by truck
    Altfeld, the one I found is in Bavaria
    Marienburg= Zamek West Prussia
    Elbing could be part of Dannenberg/Elbe today and there was a saw mill around. Talked to someone from the local archives I am sending the data you provided.
    Stefan.
     
    Duncan Curtis likes this.
  11. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96


    I have alsocontacted my Polish researcher. Anything you need from Thorn?
    Stefan.
     
  12. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Stefan, I live 7km near Dannenberg/Elbe but Elbing is totally unknown to me. Same for Scheilingsbrucken
    Altfeld was halfway between Marienburg and Elbing
    GOV :: Altfeld
     
  13. Duncan Curtis

    Duncan Curtis Member

    Gents,

    Many thanks for your help so far. To be clear the locations I am OK with: Thorn (Toruń); Nakel (Nakło) and Elbing (Elbląg). All are in Poland and all have been located.

    So the main items I'd like to know are:

    1. Nakel is 4 hours distant from Stalag XX-A, so where within the Stalag XX-A remit might he have been billeted if working at Nakel?
    2. “Altfeld”. Fred gave me this name, but I suspect he was using a German, phonetic approximation of a Polish town.
    3. Stalag XX-B 32, XX-B 210, XX-B 415; do these numbers relate to his physical location?
    4. Elbing (Elbląg): does the Camp 946 suggestion sound correct?

    I have solved "Scheilingsbrucken on the Elbe" - this is Schillingsbrücke, on the river close to Elbląg.
     
  14. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    I hope to talk to the lady int he Archives in Dannenberg.

    Stefan.
     
  15. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Errmmm....spent many times at the archives for some research in a similar case. There´s nothing.
    And with all due modesty: Guess who´s the one Susanne asks about anything war related?
    Olli
     
  16. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler


    1.Nakel = Nakło nad Notecią, 75km to the West of Torun? Anyway, was not unusual PoWs spent the night at barns. Preferably at "political reliable" Farmers
    2.Altfeld = Stare Pole between Malbork and Elblag
    3. Lexikon der Wehrmacht - Stammlager
    4. Henry Owens, Stalag XXb, Camp 946 and Camp 210, 1944-1945 | 51st Highland Division

    That´s all I can provide
    Good luck with your further research
     
    Duncan Curtis likes this.
  17. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

     
    ltdan likes this.
  18. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Of course not, Stefan - four eyes see more than two ;-)
     
  19. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Hi Duncan - I have just bought a book entitled ‘Survivor of the Long March, Five Years as a POW 1940-1945’ by the late Charles Waite. Charles was a private soldier in 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Royal Regiment and he was captured near Abbeville. He then spent most of the war in Stalag XXB. I haven’t finished reading the book yet but it might provide you with interesting background to life as a POW in Stalag XXB as Charles spent much time in work parties. Here’s the link to Amazon, but I expect you can buy it elsewhere!
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=surviv...x=Survivor+,stripbooks,196&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_9

    Best of luck with your research.

    John
     
  20. Duncan Curtis

    Duncan Curtis Member

    John,

    Many thanks: duly ordered! I was looking for a copy of Sam Kydd's book (XX-A) but it fetches crazy money. May get it through the library.

    Duncan
     

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