Long March POW Casualty 1945: John Antony Ronald Coulthard, Stalag XXA, Thorn

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by dbf, May 9, 2010.

  1. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Since Diane (callsign dbf who started this thread) has left the forum, post 36 on page 4 is now empty of her attachments. These were scans of the "Prefatory Note" page and the last three pages from the book "Antony Coulthard".

    To ensure completeness of the thread, these are now posted below:


    AC book 4.jpg

    AC Book 5.jpg

    AC Book 6.jpg

    As a footnote, it was the statement in the last page of this book that Antony was "buried in the cemetery at Domitz" which caused Barbara and I (and presumably the DGRE after the war) to spend some considerable time researching/searching for his grave in the wrong place. As has been made clear in the many previous posts, he died in Kaltenhof and was buried in Quickborn.

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  2. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    I just found a new picture of Antony today, writing on the back says:
    "Sweden Antony and Sonia's friend. Dagny"

    Attached Files:

  3. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    I was recently invited to the Intelligence Corps HQ at Chicksands to give a presentation about the Antony Coulthard story to serving soldiers of the Corps. His story had been forgotten in the collective memory of the Corps over the years and the presentation was well received.

    Now the story is known, the Corps is going to create a memorial to his memory in August of this year at Chicksands church memorial garden and I have been invited back to present to the Int Corps trainees the Antony Coulthard story as part of their syllabus. As you can imagine, Barbara and the rest of Antony's family are thrilled about the memorial.

    I was also invited to write a story for their annual Journal which was published this month and is attached below.

    The MOD have still yet to look at the detailed evidence we sent last year to have the grave at Becklingen CWGC recognised as Antony's. However, we have received some good news from the Director that they hope to commence staffing all outstanding cases of "unknown" British and Commonwealth graves in the summer.





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  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks for sharing your article with the forum. (Emails received, apologies that I can't respond immediately to them)

    An amazing amount of dedication has gone into this quest. It is wonderful to hear that although the application to have Antony's resting place recognised officially has unfortunately met with the delay owing to 'lack of resources', a memorial for Antony from his own unit is going ahead.

    My respects to you and Barbara.
  5. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Thanks for sharing your article with the forum. (Emails received, apologies that I can't respond immediately to them)

    An amazing amount of dedication has gone into this quest. It is wonderful to hear that although the application to have Antony's resting place recognised officially has unfortunately met with the delay owing to 'lack of resources', a memorial for Antony from his own unit is going ahead.

    My respects to you and Barbara.

    Hi Diane,
    It's lovely to hear from you again. We have got further than I could have imagined. As you said, actually walking in the Cemeteries can reveal fresh clues- in this case the fact that one of the two graves was named. Steve noticed that straight away. I was in awe of the location and quite oblivious!
  6. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    I hope I can get to Chicksands for this ceremony.
  7. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Highly amusing escape account involving a sight-seeing tour of Unter den Linden, Berlin.
    What a tremendous couple they were.

    I am so pleased that all the efforts of Steve and Barbara, not forgetting dbf, led to their meeting witnesses to the sad end of a very brave and resourceful man.
  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    What a great story. If they made a film of it, it would say more about what the war really meant than a hundred noisy epics.
  9. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Thanks Diane, TTH and Papermache for your kind words. It has been a very emotional journey and I hope we can report back good news in the Summer when/if the MOD recognise the grave at Becklingen Plot XVIII, Row C, Grave 2 as that of L/Cpl Coulthard. We have yet to identify the background of Bombardier Kershaw, the man buried next to Antony at Becklingen who was transferred with Antony from Quickborn to Becklingen in 1947. Will update his thread when his Service records arrive from Glasgow.

    I have really felt at times, as we got deep into the detail of their escape and Antony's sad death, that Dad and Antony were watching over us. I certaily felt their presence when we walked the escape route in Stalag XXA and Antony's in the barn in Kaltenhof.

    They were two unlikely friends, from totally differing backgrounds and yet what a team they made; and so close at the Swiss border to a life changing outcome. My sister, Margaret, and I have spoken many times about what would have happened if they had made it across the Swiss border. Certainly Dad, as a combat experienced infantry sergeant, would have been straight back into the system and may not have made it through the war; Antony, with his language skills, would certainly have been employed in the intelligence field with maybe the same outcome. It doesn't bear thinking about.

  10. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    During our visit to Quickborn, Lower Saxony, in 2012, the Pastor of Quickborn Church stated that a very elderly church gardener/grave digger could remember that only two British POWs were buried in the church cemetery and that they were both exhumed and moved in 1947 by the British army.

    It dawned on me recently, when trying to produce a critical path of evidence, that if we could get a statement to this effect in writing, it would be a vital piece of evidence complementing the DGRE concentration report that two unknown British soldiers were moved from Quickborn to becklingen CWGC cemetery in 1947. As one of these has subsequently been positively identified as Bdr N Kershaw, and we have documentary proof that Antony Coulthard was buried in Quickborn cemetery, the statement would close this loop and prove that Antony Coulthard was the other British soldier and lies in the "unknown" grave.

    As the gardener is very elderly and he cannot speak English, Herr Pastor Prahler has interviewed him and passed a signed statement. This is attached below:

    Letter from Pastor Prahler.jpeg

    The translation is : According to the statement of the former cemetery gardener, only two British POWs were buried in Quickborn cemetery shortly before the end of WW2.

    This statement has been forwarded to the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) in the MOD to be added to the rest of the documentary evidence forwarded previously. It is hoped the JCCC will take as positive proof a statement signed by a pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Germany. It is hoped that Antony's case will be looked at during the summer and this final piece of evidence will help convice them that the grave in Becklingen is that of L/Cpl JAR Coulthard.

  11. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Chicksands events

    Steve is on the "Speaking Circuit" now, with an excellent presentation on this story. He's been invited to make the presentation several times a year at Army Intelligence Corps Chicksands. After last week's talk Steve reflected: "the young Int[elligence] Corps soldiers are always a good audience and learning about one of their own, 3 generations ago, makes them realise there is a continuity thread. The Colonel summarised the presentation at the end with points about leadership, service, duty and their profession of intelligence gathering which were all demonstrated in the presentation."

    I found a picture of the 12thC Priory at Chicksands and what I think might be the Memorial Garden where Antony's tree dedication will take place.
  12. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    On 13 June, last week, I visited the site of Stalag 383,which is now the American Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels. This is where my father, Sgt F Foster, spent the last two years of the war after being separated from Antony when they were recaptured. My wife and I travelled by motorcycle to Bavaria and the American army gave us a day to remember: a motorcycle cavalcade on entry to the base, a guided tour of the old POW site where the foundations of the huts still exist, TV and Press interviews and lunch with the Colonel. All of it totally unexpected!

    We then travelled on to Lindau on Lake Constance, or Bodensee to try to find the Gestapo HQ where Antony Coulthard and my father were interrogated for two days. The tourist office was very helpful and a historian took us to the building which was the Gestapo HQ in Lindau. It is now a private building but was purpose built in 1937 for the Gestapo. It is one of the few buildings left which has the Nazi emblem as the keystone. It was in the basement of this very building that dad and Antony were given the "treatment" and nearly executed until they persuaded the Getapo to ring the Commandant at Stalag XXA! Pictures attached:
    P6140288 (2).jpg
    P6140288 (2)-3.jpg
    P6140286 (2).jpg

    The following links give the press release and TV item on our visit to Stalag 383. What an emotional day


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  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hi Steve thanks for sharing this fantastic and emotional journey.
  14. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    Another thank you for sharing from me too Steve. The story of your father and Anthony Coulthard is absorbing, reading through I shake my head in astonishment at what they endured.
  15. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    It has been a privilege for Barbara and I to discover what her Uncle and my Father experienced during WW2. I was brought up by a loving man who never mentioned the war and only talked about it when asked; I did not realise he had so many adventures as a POW.

    The icing on the cake will be if and when the MOD recognise the "unknown" grave at Becklingen as that of Antony Coulthard. The Intelligence Corps have indicated that they will provide an honour guard and I will certainly put my uniform on again (if it still fits) to salute the man who came back for my father when he could have continued to freedom.

  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Nervously anticipating the eventual decision, it would be a travesty if the grave is not recognised as Antony's resting place.
  17. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Hi Steve
    The Landau building photos are very interesting. I wonder why there are bars on the window three floors up!
    It's a formidable structure, not really like a house.
  18. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    I have just received an English language version of the Video of our visit to Stalag 383 produced for the American Forces Network. It was filmed and produced by the American army PR Branch and as such a little over dramatized!

    it was a unnerving to have a camera and microphone so close whilst being asked to talk about such an emotional subject.



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  19. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Hi Steve,
    The video is excellent. They used old material very well. Also good to see Fred and Antony's escape route animated on a map.
  20. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    UK Army Intelligence Corps held a wonderful ceremony on 4 Nov 2013 to preserve the memory of Antony Coulthard by dedicating a classroom in honour of 'The Prof'. They sent Foster and Coulthard family members an invitation to attend.

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