Award DCM Pte. J.H. Kimberley Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Dieppe)

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by brithm, Oct 6, 2022.

  1. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Award Distinguished Conduct Medal Pte. John Henry Kimberley Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (B83344)

    WO 373/63/56



    Captured: DIEPPE, 19th August 1943

    Escaped: 3rd August 1944, Stalag IID
    Left: SWEDEN, 9th September 1944
    Arrived: U.K., 9th September 1944
    Date of Birth: 4th January 1919
    Peacetime Profession: Miner
    Army Service: Since 12th July 1940
    Private Address: ENSDALE, ONTARIO, Canada

    1. CAPTURE.

    I was captured on 19th August 1942 after the DIEPPE raid. The boats which should have taken off my Battalion were unable to approach owing to heavy enemy fire and the men waiting for them were surrounded and captured. I had received at that time two flesh wounds.


    Camp VERNUIL, South of ROUEN: 23rd August – 4th September 1942.

    Stalag 344, LAMSDORF: 6th September 1942 – 1st March 1944.

    Stalag IID, STARGARD: 1st March – 3rd August 1944


    (a) First attached escape.

    On 20th August 1942, although suffering from three flesh wounds, I made an attempt to escape while we were marched to our first prison camp. During a rest on the march I slipped through low hedges and, after the column had marched off, struck back towards the beach and from there set off in a Northerly direction. After 18 hours of freedom I was discovered while sleeping by a patrol and recaptured. I was taken to ROUEN and from there to VERNEUIL where I spent three weeks in a hospital while my wounds were being attended to. Early in September I proved by train to Stalag 344 (LAMSDORF).

    (b) Second attempted escape.

    At the beginning of March 1943 I made another attempt to escape. I exchanged identity with a British P/W Rifleman. WASTIE, Rifle Brigade P/W No. 10661, whose home address is 104 Windermere Road, London. Adopted his name and went on a working part from which I escaped. The working party at that time was in the city of BRESLAU. I hid in a railway goods train and went from there to DRESDEN. I carried supplies of food with me. In DRESDEN while the train was stopped the brakeman came and discovered me in the truck. I was taken back to Stalag 344, where I received 10 days’ detention. When I was taken prisoner and when I returned to the camp I w still was believed to be WASTIE, the British solider. In this attempt I received no help and was not provided with any papers of any kind.

    After I came out of detention Rifleman. WASTIE, with whom I had exchanged identities, wanted to escape himself, so I assumed my real identity and my chains again.

    (c) Third attempted escape.

    On 4th August 1943 again exchanged identity with 2045290 Guardsman. ROWLES, T., Royal Horse Guards, who home address is Rawley Gardens, LONDON. This t made for SWITZERLAND, in the hope of getting out from SWITZERLAND through FRANCE to SPAIN. Again, I escaped from a working party at STRAMBERG, which was close to our camp. I travelled on foot across country for the first two nights. I crossed the border into CZECHOSLOVAKIA on the night of 6th August. With me I had a New Zealanders, Dvr. WILSON, J., P/W No. 23851 (believed still a P/W in GERMANY). On 8th August we reached VALIS, a Czech town. There we were picked up by partisans, who have been hiding out in that hilly country. We stayed with them until 26th August. They are organised into regular parties. The leader spoke English. We lived in the hills all the time and killed game, which we exchanged in unguarded villages for bread and other essentials. No sabotage work was done in this area, as the partisans simply were hiding in the hills waiting for the day of liberations to come.

    On 28th August we left the partisans and went to BISTRITZ (GERMANY, 1:100,00, Sheet 69, 9934). We by-passed HULLEIN, a fairly large town, as there was a centration of Gestapo there. We ow travelled by day, as we were dressed on civilian clothes. We moved across country to OSTROKOW. On the way we were helped by local people, who supplied us with food, shelter and guides. From OSTROLOW we moved South towards AUSTRIA, by-passing GODING. We then followed the Slovakian border along the river MORAVA. While we were on the frontier of SLOVAKIA and AUSTRIA, near BRATISLAVA, we were caught by the German Border police on 7th September. We were at liberty altogether for 34 days.

    After recapture we were taken to GODING on 7th September and imprisoned there for one month until 7th October. All that time we were in the hands of the Gestapo, who interrogated us four times. We were not ill-treated physically, although they tried to starve us.

    The information they tried to get was names of partisan and their helpers and about arms smuggling across the German – Czechoslovakian border. After they could find out nothing, they turned us over to the military authorities in GODING. We remained there until 15th October, when we were returned to Stalag 344. We did not get any more detention, as the Camp authority felt 30 day s with the Gestapo was sufficient. Both of us were physically run down and we were unable to make another attempt for some time. I remained at Stalag 344 until 4th March 1944, when all the Canadians were moved to Stalag IID (STARGARD), 35kms. from STETTIN.

    (d) Fourth attempted escape.

    On 2nd June 1944 I left Stalag IID on papers describing me as a French mechanic and authorising me to travel from POSEN to STETTIN. When I came to STETTIN, which journey I made very comfortably by train, I slept the first night in an air raid shelter. On 3rd June I contacted a French radio mechanic, who forced to work in one of the radio stations in STETTIN. He took me to a French civilian camp near the city of STETTIN, where I stayed 14 days. I was trying to contact a Swedish boat, but at that time there were none available. I was, however, informed that I could be taken on board a Finnish boat which was due to call at a Swedish port, provided that I was able to bribe certain members of the crew with sugar. In order to obtain the necessary sugar, I decided to barter cigarettes and was obliged to return to Stalag IID in order to get these cigarettes. I used as an intermediary, a French P/W who supplied me with the cigarettes. However, when I arrived on the railway station of STARGARD to take my train back to STETTIN I was stopped by a policeman who wanted to see my papers. At that time there were about five or six hundred people on the station. My papers were in good order. This made me believe that I had been betrayed by the French P/W. who had brought me 1500 cigarettes. I was captured again on 17th June and taken back to Stalag IID, where I remained in solitary confinement until 12th July.

    4. ESCAPE.

    On 3rd August 1944 I went on a working party inside the town of STARGARD. The guarding of these parties was very slack. I therefore decided to make another attempt to escape. We took along little boxes in which we had our lunches and I distributed my civilian clothing in the boxed which were carried b different members of the working party. Our work at that time was sacking grain. While no-one was looking I slipped away into a nearby wood and changed into my civilian clothing. Nearby there was a French civilian camp. I approached a Frenchman who was a truck driver and bribed him for 250 cigarettes to take to STETTIN. He did so on 4th August, after I had spent the night in a bush nearby.

    In STETTIN I visited a brothel and contacted a Polish girl (Killed in a bombing raid). It was brothel reserved for foreigners. I was therefore quite safe as Germans are concerned. This girl claimed that she was engaged to a British Intelligence Officer who was posing as a Belgian worker. She was very anxious about him because she had not eard from him for four months. She promised me that she would put me in touch with a Swedish Sailor the next day.

    On 6th August I returned to the brothel, where I met this man. After making satisfactory arrangements with him he promised that he would help me to get on a Swedish ship. During the same night I went through the back dock yards and swam to the ship, which was anchored about 30 yards offshore, I was hidden in a dry tank which enabled me to evade any possible search by the Gestapo.

    On 7th August I was joined by another escaped P/W who was trying to back to SWEDEN. He claimed to be an escaped Canadian P/W, but I found out later that he was a Frenchman and not a Canadian. Only two sailors on that boat were acquainted with our presence. We were fed on board ship for five days until 11th August. On that day. While the ship was passing the town of DALARO close in shore, we jumped overboard and swam approximately three quarters of a mile to the shore. We landed wearing only trunks, and when questioned by civilians we claimed that we were British residents in STOCKHOLM whose canoe had capsided during an outing. However, this story did not impress the local authorities and we were interrogated in a very general way by the local police. They treated us very well, provided us with the necessary minimum of clothing and sent us to STOCKHOLM on 12th August, where we went to the British legation.


    At Stalag VIIIB all the prisoners who were captured in DIEPPE were roped from 8th October 1942 onwards. After two months chains were substituted for the ropes. The punishment for interfering with the ropes was that the offender was made to stand with his nose and toes touching a wall for periods up to eight hours at one stretch. When the chains, which were in the form of hand cuffs with a long connecting chain, were produced it was found that they were extremely easy to pry open. The guards did not enforce the wearing of chains very strictly and the men were therefore able to take them off for quite long periods.

    The food in that camp was very bad and we more or less lived under starvation conditions. We were grateful for the Red Cross parcels which kept us more or less alive. There was a Russian camp nearby. Many of the Russians, who were not supplied with Red Cross parcels, died during that winter. They trucked out by wagon loads and buried in large trenches. From time to time we were able to smuggle in some food to this camp after bribing the guards with cigarettes.


    The morale of the German people as far as I was able to observe during my stay in camps and my attempted escapes is changing. The belief that the Army is invincible has completely vanished and the German people seem to feel that they are in danger. However, there is a great faith in the effectiveness of V.1. and everyone believes that Southern ENGLAND is in flames. At the beginning of the invasion of FRANCE everybody hoped for an early peace, because they thought that the Allied armies would be defeated in an early stage of the offensive. In recent times, however, just before I left Stalag IID, these hopes have vanished. All there is left behind is disillusionment and people seemed to have very little hope for the future.

    WO 373/63/56

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