Liberation to U.K.

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by djcrtoye, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. djcrtoye

    djcrtoye Member

    Can any one tell what the time period was from liberation in camps to coming home to the U.K. Also what happened after the arrived home was it demob straight away or back to their original units to await demob. I know it depended on the medical condition of the POW to what happened. But on average what was the time period.
  2. handtohand22

    handtohand22 Senior Member

    It all depends on who you talk to. Some POWs were discharged after liberation and others were retained in their units. My guess is that conscripts were discharged and volunteers were retained as in the case of Marine Bill Balmer. After 5 years in a POW camp he was liberated by an American tank commander. The tank commander gave him a letter to take home to Ballymoney Co. Antrim and give to his sweetheart because, 'You will get home before the post will'.

    In Bills case it was about 12 days.

    From Bill Balmer, The Return to England

    The Lancaster Flight

    The eleventh morning (After liberation) we were told to get rid of all our souvenirs and pack up our belongings. The RAF had very strict orders not to allow anything illegal, no matter how large or small, on board their aircraft. We gave everything away; I gave a German SS Officers P.38 pistol, holder and belt to a Royal Canadian Air Force officer.

    Around about midday we were taken to the airfield, and into a barrack-room. An officer came and informed us that the Canadians were flying us home in Lancaster bombers. The flight home was a lovely experience; they gave us a good time and plenty of hot coffee and cookies. They also scared the living daylights out of us by firing the guns and we thought some crazy German had attacked but they were shooting at seagulls in the flight path.

    RAF Stafford

    After we had been liberated we had marched for two days and two nights to reach Lubeck. The attention to our state was minimal but when we had reached RAF Stafford they made up for all that.

    Searched, De-Loused, Showered and Fed

    When we arrived at RAF Strafford there was a large crowd of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s) and Airmen there to welcome us home. After the initial greeting, the welcoming party put us through the normal procedure for returning POWs. We were searched, de-loused, showered and fed in that order.

    A WAAF grabbed hold of our kitbag and emptied the contents onto the table to look for illegal souvenirs. There was a single WAAF for each kitbag and they met up with us after we were de-loused and showered. The whole process lasted no more than one hour.
    After the shower we all dressed. I put on the only clean shirt I had, it was an American army shirt.

    Also, From the thread, The Robin Martin Story.

    After a short stay there we left for London and our last posting. I was detailed to escort military personnel who were returning to England for their Demobilisation. We were billeted outside London at Pipers Wood in Amersham. We had to keep the windows because the squirrels from the surrounding forest would enter our billets and create havoc.

    Many Allied POW's were processed through Amersham. Any person who had been a POW for over 2 years was immediately discharged after their period of leave was over. It was my task to escort these ex-POW's into London twice a week so that they could be issued with their civvies at the Olympia. We took the train from Amersham to Baker Street Underground then on to the Duke of Wellington barracks for a meal. After the meal a 10 ton truck transported us to the Olympia. The escorts were always ordered to stay outside while the ex-POW's were issued with their civvies.

    It was our job to then take the ex-POW's back to Amersham. This duty was never a problem because they did not get paid until they returned to Amersham. We never had to go looking for them. They spent the night at Amersham. Next morning they received their pay and a travel warrant before they were finally discharged.

    Because this work only occupied us for two days in the week, I used to report to the Ranges and spend a couple of days zeroing in Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifles. The week always finished at mid-day on Friday so I always went into London for the weekend. We were always issued with complimentary tickets for the London shows. I remember seeing the last show George Formby gave in London. I also saw Terry Thomas in a music hall act as an army officer.

    After my spell of escort duties I was discharged myself. As I had been adopted by the Royal Irish Rifles I had to travel to Belfast for my discharge. I finished with the army by 1946. I did not join again as I could see the Bofors was finished. The advent of the jet plane put paid to it.

    My Service Life Royal Marine story

    The Last Coleraine Militia UDR History The Coleraine Battery 1939 - 1945
    Incredibledisc likes this.
  3. djcrtoye

    djcrtoye Member

    Thanks for your reply. So it really depended on your status and time spent as a POW as to how quickly you were demobbed.
  4. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    RAF POWs were generally flown into RAF Wing where the RAF had a ex POW reception centre.Other airfields were also used but the majority of POWs from Europe were flown home to Wing by the end of May/ early June 1945 from Germany and for some reason, France, which must have acted as a staging for flights back to Britain.(David Layne of this forum should be able to relate his father's experience on his repatriation)

    Unfortunately,there were a number of flying accidents which claimed the lives of aircrew and POWs alike
  5. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    I’m not too sure about the above extracts from 2008 stating all returning POW’s who had been POW over 2 years were demobbed immediately after a period of leave. I accept the point perhaps applied to sick personnel but not all returning POW’s.

    Surely the age and service group formula was applied to all “fit” servicemen irrespective of whether they had been POW or not?

  6. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    F7F096B1-E5B9-482E-8A11-77D4687E584A.jpeg My great granddad was a POW for five years. He enlisted in the TA in 1936 and was captured in June 1940. He was liberated on or around 16th April 1945 and posted to the Y list on the 19th. It says on his service records that he was “to be retained in VR for 6 months WEF - 19/4/45” presumably he was given some leave upon his return to the UK before being assigned to another unit.

    The same form shows he was PA (permanently attached?) to 7th RUR (Royal Ulster Rifles?) on 22/6/1945 until being posted to Y list again on 11/10/1945 before finally being discharged 6/2/1945

    At least I think I’m reading that right!

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