841731 Ernest DAY, 1 Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment: POW, Escape in Italy

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Zak Jarvis, Apr 10, 2020.

  1. Zak Jarvis

    Zak Jarvis Member

    Hello,
    I'm trying to find out more about my Grandad Ernest Day's (Hitchin, Hertfordshire) wartime experiences, not much is known because he didn't speak about them at all.
    The story in the family is that he was captured in North Africa and held in a POW camp in Italy. He escaped from a train which was taking him to Germany and spent a long time on the run helped by an Italian family on a farm. I was able to find out a few things from forces-war-records.co.uk-

    -Served as a private with the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.
    -Captured near Tobruk at the end of 1941.
    -Ended up in the Italian equivalent of Coldiz (Maximum security for troublesome previous escapers) PG 5 Forte De Gavi.
    -Finished the war in Stalag 4a, Hohenstein.

    I checked the National Archives website and was only able to find a postcard from Stalag 4a.
    I have also visited the POW camp in Italy but was unable to find anything.
    Unfortunately anyone I could have spoken to who would know more has passed away.
    I would love to piece together the whole story and was wondering if anyone knew where/how to find out more?

    Thanks,
    Zak
     
  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

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  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Zak,

    For prisoners of war the best source is of information is often their LIBERATION REPORT. These are held in the National Archives (currently closed). Normally when compiling their report prisoners listed all the camps they were held in.

    Not all have survived, but if there is one for him it MAY give you the names of his companions and of the family who sheltered him when he was on the run.

    I have found him in Gavi in WO 392/21 (International Red Cross Register, National Archives, published August 1943, last known camp of servicemen). Given that he was being held there this would mean that he had escaped (or tried to ) from at least one another Italian camp. I will check the Italian sources for you and edit this post.

    Edit: have checked. He doesn't appear with a name, though there are some cases where no name was given.

    As I said earlier, the liberation report is your best bet.

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2020
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  4. Zak Jarvis

    Zak Jarvis Member

    Thanks so much Vitellino!
     
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  5. Gazz

    Gazz Active Member

    As Robert W said obtain his service record, this takes on average 6 months and will cost about £30, then from that obtain the War Diary for his Batttalion/regiment. Drew5233 provides a fantastic service for war diaries on here and has helped me loads. Also if you have, or can obtain information on his time in Italy, Vittelino on here is a fantastic help, again she has helped me with my Dads Italian escape and evasion time in Italy beyond the call of duty.
    My Dad had a similar experience, however I did inherit photos, letters and records when he passed away plus the odd wartime tale at Christmas.
    Best Of Luck
    Gary
     
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  6. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi,

    Welcome to the girum.

    Forum member Alex1975uk may be able to assist as he has an interest in 1st Beds & Herts.

    You should consider contacting Red Cross in Switzerland 25th May 2020 and a request a copy of his records via this link -

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

    Check the site 8am BST for the online application form and speedily complete and submit it as the application window usually closes after 2 hours. It’s a free service and you get a reply through the post after 4 or 5 months - maybe longer at the moment given current restrictions.

    Good Luck

    Steve
     
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  7. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi Zak.
    As mentioned above I have a big interest in the 1st Beds and Herts. My grandad was with them from 1933 until 1944.
    I have the complete History of the Battalion as written by their C.O. I also have the war diaries. Please do get the service records as it leaves no doubt as to their location and dates of movement.
    If you send me a PM we can email and talk further. Happy to help in any way!

    Alex.
     
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  8. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    H
    hi, so I’m guessing his service number started 598?
    Do you know what Company of the Beds and Herts he was in?

    594 I meant!
     
  9. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Here is Private E. Day, B&H (Beds & Herts) shown as being held in PG 5 Gavi in WO 392/21 National Archives:

    Service no. 841731.

    The number 5 at the start of the row is the POW camp number. The number 21 at the end is the Record Office.

    upload_2020-4-11_10-56-49.png

    upload_2020-4-11_10-59-0.png

    Vitellino
     
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  10. Zak Jarvis

    Zak Jarvis Member

    Thanks for your replies everyone, I will work on getting the service records. His service no. was 841731.
    Alex, it says he was taken prisoner on the 07/11/1941 in Cyrenaica, Libya. Do you know what the battalion was up to on that day?
     
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  11. Zak Jarvis

    Zak Jarvis Member

    Hi Vitellino,

    I have tried searching the national archive website for his liberation report but have found nothing.
    Does this mean there is still a chance of it being there if I go visit it person?
    Cheers,
    Zak
     
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  12. Bruneval

    Bruneval Well-Known Member

    Zak,

    The below link will take you to his original PoW Cards when he was held by the Germans. NB: This is not his liberation Questionnaire and it is probably worth a visit to TNA.

    Name: Ernest Day . Date of Birth: 9/1/1917 . Place of Birth: London . Service:... | The National Archives - You can request a copy.

    Regards

    Bruneval
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
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  13. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Very good advice from Bruneval.

    If you do go to TNA when it re-opens it is worth checking up to see if there's a liberation report. As far as I know they can't be accessed directly via their website.

    Vitellino

    Edited to say that if you look at Bruneval's new thread on Driver Hagan you will see a Liberation Report and the type of information it contains
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
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  14. Zak Jarvis

    Zak Jarvis Member

    Hi Bruneval,

    I requested a copy of that a while ago, here it is attached-

    I'm really interested in finding his liberation questionnaire. Sorry if it's a stupid question but if it's not listed on the national archive website does that mean it wont be there at all?

    Vitellino, on the Italian side of things is there any way of finding the family who sheltered him? I know the Allied Screening Commission gave out The Alexander Certificate to families who helped allied fugitives, I'm wondering if there's a way of tracing them through that but I wouldn't know where to look.

    Thanks,
    Zak
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
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  16. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Zak,

    If you have clicked on the above link and have inserted the name Day in the search box you will see that the surnames DAY-DEADMAN are held in file WO 344/87/1. You, or a researcher, will have to physically search through this file to look for a liberation report

    If you tell me the name of the family who helped out I'll try and find them for you. They might be in the phone book. If they are, when the lockdown eases I will contact them. Another way forward might be through the town hall. Again, I'll write to the mayor. Here in Italy the births, marriages and deaths are all held in local registers and the town registrar would need to look them up. Some are very helpful, others less so. Now is not a good time to ask someone to look at local records, I'm afraid.

    Vitellino
     
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  17. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    My experience of dockets with multiple persons in the same folder is you won’t be able to see the whole thing. Someone at the Archives will photocopy your relevant bit.
     
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  18. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Zak.
    I think I’ve found a reference to the incident in which your relative was captured. I cant find my copy of the war diary ( moved house recently) but looking through the official history I found this: the date of this incident described is between 30th October 1941 and 20th November 1941. Also I suspect the place name given in your info is maybe where they were processed before being shipped to Italy as it’s miles East of where the Beds and Herts were.

    Alex.
     

    Attached Files:

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  19. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Ask a private researcher to obtain the FULL version ( 3 pages) rather than use the archives to do it for you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
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  20. Zak Jarvis

    Zak Jarvis Member

    Thanks very much Alex, it's nice to hear that if he was in that captured patrol he refused to talk, sounds about right!
     
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