PG47 (Campo 47) escapees and the suicide of the NZ Camp CO

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by davidbfpo, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    From NZ Official History
    I: Events preceding and immediately following the Italian Armistice | NZETC
    page 282

    After the announcement of the armistice in Campo PG 47 at Modena, though the guards were increased, reassuring promises were made by the Italian commandant and the British order to remain was promulgated. A number of prisoners decided to disobey it and left the camp by climbing the fence with little resistance from the guards next morning. That day at 2 p.m. the Senior British Officer, after a conference of senior officers, called the camp together and said that, in view of the uncertainties of the situation, anyone who wished to leave the camp might consider himself no longer bound by the order to remain, and he advised anyone intending to leave to go quickly. Although a few more left immediately,most preferred to believe the reports of Allied landings in the north and decided to wait. They had not long to wait, for by 2.30 p.m. German troops had taken over the camp and replaced the Italian sentries on the perimeter.
    The total number who got away from Modena camp has been estimated at 170, though not all of these were finally successful in escaping. The remainder were taken to Germany.
    No mention of officer (edit) committing suicide- but in 1954 when this was written, if it happened it would have been suppressed?

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    From WJG:
    I am skeptical about the appearance of 'partisans' after Italy surrendered. From my limited reading whilst there was resistance to the rule of Mussolini and his fascists it was not organised, armed resistance. The armed forces remained to their oath of loyalty to the King.

    WJG wrote:
    Such killings would have been a war crime and surely would have been officially recorded, if not investigated? The South African POW I knew never mentioned such an incident.

    I have applied for the SBO's official NZ records and await their arrival.
  3. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    In response to:
    Captain Wood's diary identified the PG47 Senior British Officer ......... and he 'died on active service' on the 15th May 1945. He is buried @ Brookwood Cemetery, Woking. His NZ record shows he died from natural causes and elsewhere 'died in Folkestone on being repatriated at the end of the war.'

    The following info is about NZ Pow repatriation Units in the UK:

    Attention was given to the problem of repatriating POWs long before 1945. A New Zealand repatriation unit was established in the United Kingdom under the command of Major-General Howard Kippenberger late in 1944. With its headquarters at Westgate in Kent, this unit had wings at Folkestone, Cliftonville and Broadstairs, and a hospital at Haine, to receive 2NZEF POWs, who were expected to arrive in orderly sequence from the continent. Separate arrangements were made for air force and naval POWs, with the former going to a camp at Brighton. The first draft of about 500 POWs left for New Zealand at the end of May 1945, and by the end of August more than 4000 were home.

    Repatriation - Prisoners of War | NZHistory, New Zealand history online

    and more detail here:

    CHAPTER 11 — The Reception of Liberated Prisoners in the United Kingdom and Their Repatriation | NZETC

    this quotes the Folkestone location as Cordova Courts

    The Repatriation of New Zealand Ex-PoWs 1945
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  4. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Replying to Travers1940:
    That is what I am trying to establish; was my late friend's account simply wrong about a the SBO's suicide.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I now have the NZ Defence Forces Record for the SBO at the POW camp; a rather large file which came by post and the answer is within. The next task is to assemble the relevant papers and add a full update here. Then update other interested parties.

    My special thanks to Nicole @ NZDEF Personnel Records.
  6. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Thats great to have the file so quickly from NZ, look forward to seeing the resoloution to this mystery.
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  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Fascinating thread, chaps.

    My contribution:

    Dr Julius Cowen.

    British officer served as medical officer with 2/5th Bn Sherwood Foresters in GB and Tunisia, 1941-1943; POW in Tunisia, Italy and Germany, 1943-1945


    REEL 2 Continues: conditions in Italian, Bizerta area. Voyage from Tunisia to Italy. Recollections of period as POW in Italy, 1943: processing of POWs at Leghorn; move to PG38 officer's camp at Poppi; transfer to PG 47 at Modena; orders to stay in camp during Italian crisis, 9/1943; transfer to Germany via Brenner Pass, 9/1943. Recollections of period as POW in Germany, 1943-1945: nature of conditions in Strasbourg transit camp; POW escapes from Strasbourg; move to Oflag 5 A; memories of New Zealander Charles Upham VC; Allied air activity in Heilbronn area; German reaction to D-Day; move to internment camp at Wurtemburg; arrival of penicillin, winter 1944-1945; arrival at Wurtemberg of Belsen inmates; liberation of camp by Free French troops; French shooting of Nazis guards on liberation...

    Source (with recording):
    Cowen, Julius (Oral history)

    No great revelations, but it adds a few extra details to WJG's interesting post.

    He says that two prisoners escaped each day for the ten days they were left waiting at the Strasbourg Transit Camp and their absence was concealed my shifting around other men to ensure that they were counted multiple times.

    No mention of any executions, threatened or actual, before their arrival at Oflag 5A near Heilbronn.
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  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    It is always worth checking the IWM Oral History collection, although the indexing can be amiss sometimes so items are harder to find. Now listening to Charley's discovery.

    He confirms the SBO addressed the camp and informed them that British HQ had issued a 'stay put order to await advancing British forces' (07.04-08.00). He adds if you wanted to escape you could just walk out. He does not refer to an earlier order by the SBO being promulgated, as GeoffMNZ refers to in his post.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Clayden Shuttleworth (abbreviated to CS henceforth) b. 19/01/1907 @ Wakefield, Nelson, New Zealand; with New Zealand Service No. 23733.

    There is a B&W photo of CS in an entry 4/8/2011 on: Shuttleworth: this time in the South Island (New Zealand Completed Requests) Page 2 RootsChat.Com

    All the information unless footnoted has been taken from a copy of his Personal Record, thanks to the New Zealand Personnel Archives and Medals. I am awaiting NZ permission to place the key documents here, they are protected by copyright.

    CS attended RMA Sandhurst 1925-1927 and served in the New Zealand Staff Corps for twelve years prior to WW2.

    There is a sentence that CS embarked earlier, but on reaching Sydney was identified by General Freyberg as a potential battalion CO and was returned home. Later CS embarked with the 24th Auckland (Infantry) Battalion, for service in the Middle East and was in command from 1/2/1940 to 30/11/1941.[1] His promotion was gazetted on 15/5/1940. He was awarded the DSO, Africa Star, 1939-45 Star, War Medal, the New Zealand Medal and was mentioned in Despatches (MiD).

    His old school journal, Nelson College, has a biography outlining his military career.[2] His citation for the 1939-1945 Star is shown within his New Zealand online cenotaph record.[3]

    CS had an adopted daughter Elizabeth Ann Shuttleworth, b. 14/04/1927, making her a young person aged nineteen at the time of his death. She died in Auckland on 3/10/2016; she had married Peter Buddle in October 1954, so became Elisabeth Ann Buddle.[4] He died in January 2018.[5] They had several children: Michael, Mary Claire and Dominic, James and Caroline.

    His wife died in New Zealand on 25/06/1941 and their daughter’s affairs – as a child - were the responsibility of a family friend and solicitor in Auckland.

    CS’s service record shows that on 01/12/1941 he was reported as missing in late November 1941 during the Battle of Sidi Rezegh[6] and was reported safe and well on 11/01/1942 as a PoW (via a Papal State official). Three days later his move to the Italian POW Camp PG47 was reported.

    On 29/09/1943 his move to German custody as a POW was reported (Via the Red Cross Geneva) and the camp he was being held in was Oflag 12B, then located @ Hadamar (now in the State of Hesse).[7]

    On 08/4/1945 CS was reported as being safe in a British Staging Camp on the Continent and his next of kin was informed (his father). In fact he had arrived in the UK on 04/04/1945 and was allocated to a New Zealand reception facility @ Folkestone (one of several such locations).

    Nearly a month later on 11/05/1945 at a ceremony @ Buckingham Palace, he received his DSO from the King.

    His personal papers show that on 15/05/1945 he had died @ Folkestone, in his room in the Officers Mess and the cause was unknown. A separate telegram to New Zealand HQ stated CS had committed suicide. A second telegram states that ‘CS’s death great shock to all who were with him and as a prisoner of war where he was respected and admired as a soldier and a man. His efforts on behalf NOT only of NEW ZEALANDERS but all Empire Troops in ITALY and GERMANY under most difficult circumstances were outstanding. Grateful if you could cause to be conveyed to next of kin above deepest sympathy from all his comrades who were with him in GERMANY and ITALY.'

    A Court of Enquiry @ Folkestone was held on 16/05/1945; two fellow officers and a doctor gave testimony. One refers to CS showing him a letter that in his opinion worried him: ‘it informed him there was no likelihood of active duty without a long period of recuperation. In my opinion he appeared to be bitterly disappointed at this advice.’ A second officer whose revolver was used stated: ‘He never threatened to me to take his life and he was the last person I would have expected to do so. I know, and even now know, of no reason why he should have done so.’

    The Court’s finding dated 16/05/1945 stated: ‘CS met his death from a gunshot wound, self-inflicted.’

    CS was buried on 17/05/1945 @ Brookwood, Cemetery, Surrey; Grave 2, Plot 2, Row AA.[8]

    In a New Zealand’s Adjutant General’s letter, dated 21/05/1945, to Clayden’s solicitor refers to the New Zealand Army HQ being greatly shocked, all the more so as approval for him to visit the New Zealand Division in Italy had just been approved. Then repeats the longer quote on his wartime service in the telegram 15/05/1945 (cited above).

    CS’s solicitor in a letter dated 23/05/1945 to the New Zealand Adjutant General refers to CS planning to buy a car and take his daughter on a holiday. Adding: ‘It is quite impossible to understand at this moment.’

    On 24/05/1945 the President of the Court of Inquiry in an internal note stated the findings were: ‘Deceased died from cerebral injuries sustained when he shot himself when the balance of his mind was disturbed.’

    A further letter from the Adjutant-General, dated 08/06/1945 refers to CS’s father being aware of the manner of his son’s death; at his request his mother was not informed.

    [1] Official History of 24th Bn.

    Plus: 24th Battalion (New Zealand) - Wikipedia


    [3] See: Clayden Shuttleworth

    [4] See: See: View Elisabeth BUDDLE's Notice on and share memories

    [5] See: View Peter BUDDLE's Notice on and share memories

    [6] Part of Operation Crusader and on 30th November 1941 the battle took place, which is named after the contested Point (Hill) 175 see: Battle of Point 175 - Wikipedia

    [7] See: Oflag XII-B - Wikipedia and Hadamar - Wikipedia

    [8] See: Lieutenant Colonel Clayden Shuttleworth... and Clayden Shuttleworth | New Zealand War Graves Project
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  10. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Well done, David.
    A stack of extra information.

    Damned sad business, mind you.

    One wonders whether he could have received some other kind of news?
    Perhaps it was simply something that had been playing on his mind that suddenly bubbled to the surface.

    His decisions while in the camp are a possibility, but so are a great many other things.

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  11. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    One day I plan to visit his grave, even if a little way from here.

    I now think that his decisions @ PG47 were just part of his decision. Sad is the best word after all he did.

    Charley - Thanks for showing the photo, a task that eluded me.
  12. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Thank you David for all this extra information.

    So sad to hear all the details, and that his wife died while he was overseas.
  13. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    He was my father's CO for 24 Battalion and was captured the night before my father at Sidi Rezegh/Belhamed.
    There is no mention of his death in the unofficial "Pictorial History Of 24 Infantry Battalion" published in 1980 by the Battalion Association.
    Below is the story that ran in several NZ Newspapers at the time of his death.
    We don't know how their experiences affected these men but I would think today it would be called PTSD, I for one thank them for what they did and do not think any less of this brave man.






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  14. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    I found a couple of photos of Colonel Shuttleworth in the 24th Batt Pictorial History

    Padre Watson was a friend of my father


    Attached Files:

  15. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    The Press Association report is referred to in the personnel file. although not included; it appears to have accelerated official action in New Zealand and provided a measure of relief that the cause was not included.
  16. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

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  17. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    I went to this amazing and moving event of final beating of the retreat NZ 24th Infantry Battalion Association with my Wife, Mother, 2 daughters and 2 grandkids and will cherish it for a long time, to remember my father.
    I doubt I will see the like of it again.

  18. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    Re-post of Shuttleworth photos Scan Shuttleworth Freyberg.jpg scan Watson Shuttleworth Pictorial History.jpg

  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Back on 14/7/2019 I wrote:
    The NZDEF have responded, in some detail and it is more than copyright at issue. In effect none of the evidence given at the Court of Inquiry (COI) can be publicly released i.e. here. There was an English (UK) Coroners Inquest and following standard procedures only a summary can be referred to publicly. The original papers are released after 100yrs; info from: Deaths reported to the coroner - Kent County Council

    So what can added? Simple, this. There are two documents that could be placed in the open domain and they are in summary a 'Field Service - Report of Death' that simply states the cause of death as a 'Self Inflicted gunshot wound'. Secondly a memo from the President, Court of Inquiry to NZ, that records the 'Findings of the Coroner as: 'Deceased died from cerebral injuries sustained when he shot himself when the balance of his mind was disturbed'.

    I am not going to add any documents here. If readers seek more information you can ask me.

    Research has identified some relatives in Auckland, though no addresses and possible family members in Wakefield, as a helper added that Clayden had three brothers - no mention of them on the NZDEF file. Do the family know what happened in 1945? His father did; his daughter is unclear being under age at the time.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  20. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Although there is a 100 year old rule protecting coroners records at Kent Archives, I wonder how flexible this is.

    A couple of years ago I got papers from an inquest from 1946 on a family member from Surrey Family History Centre, even though it was outside their disclosure time, 75 years.

    May be worth a try.

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