Arbeits Kommando 844/4 Thale, Harz Mtns, Germany

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Katharine, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    My grandfather was on HMS Bedouin which was sunk on 15th June 1942. He was then a POW for the rest of the War.
    The last camp he was in, was Marlag Thale or Arbeits Kommando 844/4. It was, from the small amount of info I have, a small camp, no more than about 250 POWs.
    My grandfather was there from 9th Jan 1944 to 9th April 1945, when together with 2 others, cut the wire of the perimeter fence and escaped. He met up with the Americans, and was sent home. Whilst there, he was involved in 'building work'.

    Does anyone know the exact whereabouts of this camp in relation to Thale(I am planning a trip for 2017)?
    What was the building work he would have done there?
    Why was he sent there from Marlag und Milag Nord?

    Or indeed if anyone can tell me anything more about this camp. I have just recently got the book, 'Twixt the devil and the deep blue sea' about the crew of the Saracen. There are a few references to Marlag Thale in there, but they do not tell me much more.

    I am hoping there is someone far more knowledgeable out there who can help.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Katharine
     
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    That's it... I went back to find it and then edited my post. Thanks anyway.
     
  5. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Thank you both for that. Yes, I have seen Tommy Shields account. He does say something his time at Thale, but any idea where the camp was in relation to the town? Is there a map?

    Katharine
     
  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I would try the tourist office in Thale. Someone there might just know where the camp was, or would find out for you:



    Bodetal-Information THALE

    Bahnhofstra├če 1 | 06502 Thale
    Tel. (0 39 47) 7 768 000 | Fax: (0 39 47) 7 768 019
    E-Mail: info@bodetal.de
     
  7. HA96

    HA96 Member

    Katharine,

    I could call them for you if your German is not so good. I have a telephone number for the Thale archives.

    Stefan.
     
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  8. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Stefan,

    That is very kind. I do not speak German at all. I would really appreciate that. I can help with the cost of the call.
    I look forward to hearing more.

    Many thanks,

    Katharine

    Vitellino, Thank you for your suggestion too-I had not thought of that. I will wait and see the result of the call to the Thale Archives first. Katharine
     
  9. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Katharine,

    Sorry we couldn't give you more information in our book but here is part of Henry Dunn's Liberation Report - by the way, have you obtained your grandfather's? Various people who use this site offer to obtain documents from the National Archives. If there is a report for your grandfather and he names the men he escaped with, obtaining their reports might give you some more information.

    Henry and also Claude 'Bill' Miseldine (both from Saracen) simply talk about 'Labouring' and Bill said that they damaged their tools in the way of sabotage. Dunn for ww2 talk.jpg

    Vitellino

    one of the co-authors of 'Twixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea'
     
  10. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Hello Vitellino,

    Thank you, for the copy of the report-it was fascinating to read.

    I have a copy of my grandfather's liberation report, but he only mentions escaping with two others(no names mentioned), by cutting the wire. He writes that he was involved in 'Building Work'. He does not name the other men. I know through family reports that he 'bought' some wire cutters, trading cigarettes from Red Cross parcels, cut the wires and hid in the woods for some days. On the report he referred to Marlag T..It took me ages to find the name of the camp-it was only when I stumbled across Tommy Shields article, that I found out. Dad was certain his father had been in the Harz Mountains. That article confirmed Dad's recollections. We have often wondered who the 'two others' were!

    He had been in a number of other camps, including PG 52 in Italy, before being transferred to Germany.

    Katharine
     
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think the camp at Thale was a Kriegsmarine supply depot,It was normal for Stalags to have external sub-camps where Arbeitskommando units were based and the Kriegsmarine would be similarly structured.So I would think that the Kriegsmarine supply depot at Thale would be a sub-camp of Marlag und Milag Nord,the large camp built at Westertimke for RN POWs and detained merchant seamen, respectively.Any POWs serving with the Arbeitskommando at the Kriegsmarine supply depot would be undertaking duties associated with the function of the unit which might have involved civil work described as "building".Abundant opportunities for sabotage...urinating into mortar,wet concrete and aggregates results in weakening the setting of mortar and concrete.

    The SS had a presence in the Harz just south west of Thale at Nordhausen (Mittal-Dora) also in the former GDR, where slave labour toiled in the production of the V2. The area also had numerous worked out mines.... gold, silver with lead and zinc still worked as far as I know......not aware if the disused mines were used for military means but it was usually the case.

    There is a very informative book authored by David Rolf entitled Prisoners of the Reich.Chapter 6... Sailors covers the subject quite well but no mention of the supply depot at Thale....good account of the efforts made by the Germans to get prisoners to join the British Free Corps as recorded by Tommy Shields.

    As regards POW records,apparently only a fraction of the records have survived the war.There is no trace of the central archive related to POW matters...the Kriegsfangenenwesen.Main files used were RH 19/41,RH 49/3-41,RH 53/4-58 and RL 23/91

    Thale is situated in what was the GDR...had a holiday in the Harz shortly after the wall came down...the observation towers on the Brocken which was also in the GDR were untouched and remained as sentries...a beautiful places to visit such as Goslar which was inside West Germany and the frontier town of Braunlage which at the time had been made a opulent show town to indicate to those on the other side,the merits of free West Germany.
     
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  12. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Harry,

    A big 'thank you' for your reply.

    *****Please help...

    Really sorry but...

    I inadvertently pressed the down arrow on your post, which has given a -1 on your reputation and I don't know how to undo it. Katharine
     
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    not to worry dbf & I have added pos rep to cancel it yours out :)
     
  14. HA96

    HA96 Member

    Katherine,

    I have contacted the Archives of Thale, unfortunately they have no information on file. But they gave me the name of a person researching the Nazi time of Thale. We may be getting somewhere soon.
    And as Harry said, a beautiful area. And following the fall of the Berlin wall, this area received lots of money and developed much more then the former West part of the Harz.

    Stefan.
     
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  15. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Katharine,


    Your grandafather may well be recorded on WO 392/21, an imperfect alphabetical list of POWs in Italy in August '43 or just before. It shows that a lot of mariners were sent to Campo PG 52 at Coreglia Ligure (sometimes erronously called Chiavari) before being transferred to Marlag und Milag Nord, Thale and other work camps. If you post his name I will send you the relevant page.

    Vitellino
     
  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Katharine,

    Nothing to worry about....had the same problem the other day when I attempted to stop rapid scrolling of the screen and inadvertently initiated a negative point.An alteration to the software would assist in preventing this by the insertion of a OK/Cancel plague when the plus or negative button is clicked.
     
  17. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Hello Harry,
    Thank you for your great reply and the time taken-I was very pleased with the info and detail you gave about the Thale camp. I am so pleased I posted on this Forum.

    It was as I trying to scroll down to check that I had got to the end, that I accidentally initiated the negative point. Apologies again and thank you for your understanding. I was worried about it all day on and off! K


    Stefan,

    Thank you for your time and effort in ringing Thale archives. Hopefully more info will be forthcoming in due course. It does indeed look a beautiful area.K

    Vitellino,

    My Grandfather's name was Henry MERCER. He was on HMS Bedouin which was sunk off Pantellaria on 15 June 1942. He was in PG 52 Italy from 23rd July 1942 to 9th September 1943 together with all the other Bedouin crew. In fact I have only seen it recorded as Chiavari, so it is nice to know its correct name now. In Sept 1943, he with many others were moved to Germany and the Bedouin crew were split up.
    He did end up in Marlag und Milag Nord at the end of Nov 1943, after spells in Stalag 8A, Stalag 8C and Altengrabow. He was an Ordinary Seaman, though at some point in his captivity he was promoted to Able Seaman.
    In Italy he learnt Italian and then he also became a fluent German speaker too.

    Very many thanks to you all,

    Katharine
     
  18. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Owen,

    Thank you for sorting out the problem with the negative point earlier today. Katharine
     
  19. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Katharine,

    Here's your grandfather's entry in WO 392/21. I've also posted a map showing the location of PG 52 and two photos of it, taken from the official website of the little town of Coreglia Ligure.

    Best of luck with your German researches,

    Vitellino.

    Henry Mercer WO 392 21.png Photo 1 campo PG 52.jpg Photo 2. campo-52.jpg location campo pg 52.jpg
     
  20. Katharine

    Katharine Member

    Hello Vitellino,

    I am very grateful for your help, for the pictures of PG 52 and that of my Grandfather on the POW list. Yes, that is him-I recognise his service number.

    Many, many thanks,

    Katharine
     

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