John Mattison - Gunner - 72nd Field Regiment RA

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by sri_130, May 21, 2019.

  1. sri_130

    sri_130 Member

    Hi all,
    My great grandfather was captured in Libya in June '42. I was hoping some research might already have been done regarding his unit and or if anyone has any details about him?

    He survived the war as a POW and according to one of his children, made several escape attempts.

    The 72nd seem to be a bit of a forgotten regiment, but I wonder if anyone has any details on what happened when/after they were captured. I've messaged a user on here, for their war diary.

    Any assistance with what the info below actually means?

    1942 1st June = captured after the fall of Tobruk.
    6/10/42 - Casualty List No. 947. (Previously shown on Casualty List No. 875 as Missing, 04/06/1942).
    WO 417/52

    A record in 1943 states his location as:
    P.O.W. Camp number 66, Capua Transit Camp, Capua, postal mark number 3400

    in 1945 the first details are:
    Reported to the War Office Casualty Branch for the 24 hours ended 09.00am
    Casualty List No. 1826. Previously shown on Casualty List No. 947 as reported Prisoner of War now Not Prisoner of War. Previous Theatre of War, Western Desert.

    Then also in 1945
    Resided Town:
    Stalag 4g, Oschatz
    Prisoner of War
    POW No.248808

    Many thanks
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    When a man was captured, his unit reported him as Missing - until info could be collated / facts confirmed.
    Once your g. grandfather had been taken prisoner, his details would've been recorded by whoever captured him and his name would have been passed on and added to lists compiled by Red Cross. These details would have forwarded to the appropriate office in the War Office Casualty Branch, in this case the one which dealt with POWs. The Red Cross would also provide official updates as to which camps/work camps a prisoner was moved to during the course of his captivity.

    So, your g grandfather was captured in North Africa, transported across the Mediterranean to Italy. Some POWs remained in Italy, others were sent onwards to other camps in Germany. When Italy capitulated the Germans managed to transport most Allied POWs still held in camps from Italy to Germany. Once there he could've been moved around various camps/work camps.

    Roughly, these steps in Casualty reporting procedure were possible:
    • Missing [this was reported to war office by Unit]
    • Previously reported Missing, now reported Missing believed Prisoner of War [Casualty Branch received reliable information eg from a witness that a man had been captured]
    • Previously reported Missing believed Prisoner of War, now reported Prisoner of War [Casualty Branch received confirmation via Red Cross that personnel is alive and POW]
    • Previously reported Prisoner of War, now not Prisoner of War [how War Office confirmed that personnel had been liberated, or had successfully escaped, or had been repatriated].

    In case you are not already aware:

    The ICRC still hold records for WW2 prisoners of war. See details via this link:
    Requests for information about people held during the Spanish Civil War or the Second World War

    Your g. grandfather may have completed a Liberation Report - but not every POW did. These documents are held at National Archives Kew and can be checked. One question on the report asks specifically for details about any escape attempts.
    War Office: Directorate of Military Intelligence: Liberated Prisoner of War Interrogation Questionnaires | The National Archives

    Either of these two records could give you details about his time in captivity (between them: place of capture, full list of camps, any mistreatment, illnesses or injuries during captivity, escape attempts), which won't be covered in his Service Records.

    Copy Service Records will however confirm much more than just his unit at time of capture.
    Request records of deceased service personnel

    For the record: this war diary at TNA Kew is for the year of his capture
    Royal Artillery: 72 Field Regiment (Fd Regt) | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 169/4592
    Description: Royal Artillery: 72 Field Regiment (Fd Regt)
    Date: 1942 Jan.- Apr.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
    4jonboy, ozzy16, Tricky Dicky and 4 others like this.
  3. sri_130

    sri_130 Member

    I cannot thank you enough for this.
  4. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Morning Phill - I have sent you a PM.


  5. sri_130

    sri_130 Member

    Back again, after unearthing some photographs. Any info that can be harnessed from these would be great.

    Here is John Mattison himself. He was born in 1909, no date for this photo but guessing it was early in his service as he looks young!


    This, shows to my untrained eye, the RA Ubique badge. What do the round buttons mean, anything or nothing?


    This next one is of him again. A printed postcard. My great grandmother is in the top right. The rear of the card says 'carte postale' and includes a hand written "I dream of you dear xxxx". We'd never seen that before today and nearly moved me to tears! He died 11 years before I was born.

    Note the pyramids... was this normal practice to have your photo taken on a fake background?
    In June 1941 his regiment was in Egypt (for the first time).
    The hat seems a little odd...


    Here is John's wife, May. My great grandmother. This was printed on a postcard also.
    Interestingly the postcard has 'CANCELLED' stamped twice on the back.

    I think this might have been her reply to the one above? by the time she'd have sent it back, he was likely already captured (June 1942) maybe.
    We had no idea she took part in any service, so not sure if this is some form of fancy dress moral booster or if her insignia means anything!?


    This final chap, is an unknown. It is a professional photograph with a date stamp of 17 May 1940.
    I'm canvassing the family to see who he was. Looks quite senior in years - with war medals above the breast pocket - possibly from WW1?!
    Not sure on the hat insignia either.

  6. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Royal Artillery Attestations 1940:
  7. sri_130

    sri_130 Member

    That's his service number! Fabulous.
    What does the final column actually mean? By 1946 he was considered too old? He would have been 36 or 37 by then.
    Do the letters etc mean anything?

    No date for his entry, could be same as the line above?

    Can't thank you enough for these bits of info.
  8. sri_130

    sri_130 Member

    Managed to find the abbreviation.

    Army Reserve Class Z (T)— in the case of a man of the
    Territorial Army, including those called up for service under the National Service Acts.

    So he was put on reserve status 11/3/46 and then deemed to be overage by 1954.

Share This Page