British POW captured at Tobruk held in Italy

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Sidswar, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi, my late father, Lance Bombardier Arthur Sydney Paxton 1454247, was captured at Tobruk on 20/6/1942. I know from the attached ICRC record that he was held in Italy before turning up in Germany at camp VII A in August 1944. I remember my late mother telling me that he was being transferred by train, which was bombed and he escaped and hid in the Italian countryside. He was subsequently recaptured and taken to Germany. I suspect he may have been in PG 54 and this was the bombing of the bridge at Allerona but I have been unable to find any records to prove it.
    Can anyone help me in finding his name on an actual camp list or is there a list of POWs on the bombed train? Many thanks.
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  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    A.S. Paxton does feature in the WO392/21 list-POW's held by the Italians as of August 1943, but sadly, there is no camp stated against his name.
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  3. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi, thanks for the reply. I'm hoping someone may know of other sources that might give me the information I'm seeking. Fingers crossed.
  4. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    With the capture of some 33,000 men at Tobruk, small wonder that it took until the end of August for him to be recorded in an Italian PoW camp.
    Italy surrendered in September 1943, but the Germans had suspected that and took over and disarmed most of the Italian military almost at once. It did, however, provide opportunities for PoW's to escape, which it seems likely was when your father did so, and not recaptured for some time, only re-appearing as a PoW in Germany in August 1944.
    The bridge at Allerona attack was 28 January 1944, so do you think he didn't escape until then?
    The possibility exists that he may have escaped before that and not been recaptured until mid 1944, but that would mean some 9 months "on the run." Do you know any more about his break for freedom, time, places or people?
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    For information

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: A S Paxton
    Rank: Lance Bombardier
    Army Number: 1454247
    Regiment: Royal Artillery
    POW Number: 135310
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: XI-A
    Camp Location: Altengrabow, Saxony-Anhalt

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  6. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    All I know is the very basic outlines of the family story we were told as kids, that he was a POW in Italy, being transported on a train that was bombed by the allies. He fled from the train and was challenged by German gaurds, he spoke in an Italian accent saying "hospitale" and they let him go. He then hid out in the hills with other escapees and they survived by begging and stealing from local farms. When he started to travel, trying to make his way back to allied lines he was recaptured.
  7. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    A few records here, sorry they don't mention the camp he was in.
  8. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Find my Past has him as in Camp 11a.

    Attached Files:

  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    That happened from the ICRC document between 30 Sep 1944 and 2 Oct 1944. Theres nothing in the letter covering all of 1943 and most of 1944 - not sure how you would find detailed records saying where he was. He may be mentioned in personal memoires of course

    Interesting to see if more turns up

  10. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    In 1945 on their return to the Uk from Germany some released allied Pows completed a questionere about their capture, camps, escapes, work etc & these are held at the National Archives at Kew.

    There are others on the forum much more expert in this set of records & I'm sure they will be along soon.
  11. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member


    He is shown in document WO 392/21 as being a prisoner of war in Italy, but no camp is named - this would mean that he was in a work camp at the time the register was compiled by the Red Cross.

    Men volunteered for work camps from all the main camps in central Italy and so it is impossible to say which of the main camps he was held in previously unless you send for his service records from Glasgow, and it many not even be there. I recommend you ask a researcher at the NA to see if he completed a Liberation Report.

    Two trains carrying recaptured POWs to Germany were bombed by the Allies - one on 8 December 1943 at Aquila Station and one at Allerona on 28 January 1944.

    Recaptured men from these two trains were sent to transit camps and then to the main transit camp in Mantova before being sent on across the Brenner Pass into Germany.
    Best wishes,

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  12. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi all, thanks very much for all inputs. I put an earlier thread on the Royal Artillery forum and a member named Vitellino informed me that my dad was listed on an Italian POW list but with no camp number allocated. He explained that this may have meant that he was sent to a work camp. Hopefully someone will come up with something, as I would love to know the facts behind what my father went through, as he never spoke of it.
  13. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi Vitellino, I've just completed a reply mentioning your earlier help. That last bit about Mantova certainly ties in with the ICRC document. Thanks again.
  14. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    Try searching old newspaper sites. I just seached for "Mantova" on NZ PapersPast. Here is an example of a similar journey from New Zealand's OTAGO DAILY TIMES, ISSUE 25930, 24 AUGUST 1945


    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  15. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi Geoff, thanks for this, I have tried lots of different internet searches and found quite a few different accounts but still no mention of where my father was.
    This is a really stark article that highlights the suffering that huge numbers of our heroic, unsung heroes endured to give us the freedoms that so many take for granted today.
    After my father passed away my late mum told us that my dad was a different person when he returned after the war. On learning about the real experiences of POWs, rather than the sanitised images I watched in many warfilms as a child, I can now understand that. I can also now appreciate why my dad never spoke about his wartime experiences.
    As sugested I've tried searching the Liberation reports on the National Archive website but his name doesn't appear.
    Hopefully something will turn up on here, if not I will be making a trip to Kew to see what I can find and meet with a researcher.
    Many thanks again.
  16. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi all, can anyone make any sense from the abbreviations on the attached photos from my father's service record. Thanks. 20190920_161145.jpg 20190920_161543.jpg
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Confirmed POW moved to x list - xiii a)

    THE X (iii) LIST comprises
    a) Confirmed prisoners of war,
    b) Personnel officially declared missing,
    c) OR under un-suspended sentence of detention or imprisonment (personnel undergoing
    field punishment remain on unit strength),
    d) Deserters
    Missing personnel will NOT be transferred to X (iii) list until the official notification is received.
    Deserters are NOT struck off unit strength until [notification] is received and personnel are
    declared deserters through Part II Orders. Temporary or acting rank will be retained by, and
    extra-duty pay will continue to be payable to, personnel posted missing or PoW [Prisoner of War].

    Confirmed Prisoner Of War Struck Off Strength Middle East Force

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  18. Sidswar

    Sidswar Member

    Hi Tricky, thanks for that. So no new clues there then. Any idea what the number 59 refers to on the first picture? I wondered if it could be an Italian camp number but I found a website dedicated to camp 59 named, memories of camp 59. On looking at that, it contains a series of alphabetical lists of British POWs held there, which doesn't include my father's name. It states that these were compiled from the main Italian list which I know my dad appears on but without an allocated camp number.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    In the position it appears I would suggest its something to do with British Regs or ways of recording details - nothing to do with his camp number

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  20. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    Try searching for "Vatican Radio" & "Paxton" in his local newspapers. The POW were able to fill out cards with their details, condition and sometimes, their location & Camp number. These card details were broadcast on Vatican Radio and local volunteers ( St. Vincent de Paul?) would transcribe the information and the details were published in the local paper. A New Zealand example is below, and included some with PG52 listed.
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