Pictures from Stalag IXC - Bleicherode Salt Mine

Discussion in '1940' started by Craig51, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Hi - My Grandfather Bill Smith was a DR in the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and was captured in 1940, I'm not quite sure if he got all the way to St Valery, I think he may have been captured around Sallenelle. My Great uncle Hugh McAlpine was in the 7th and was injured I suspect around Quesnoy/Mons Boubert and later died of his injuries.

    I've scanned in all of my grandfathers photos and posted a link below, he was held in Stalag 9c, specifically at the salt mine in Bleicherode, I actually went out there earlier this year, I'll put together another album!

    Of particular interest to people may be the programmes from the plays that were put on in the camp, they all signed messages to each other... and these documents are of course all unique.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    thank you for posting Craig

    Private MCALPINE, HUGH
    Service Number 2985032

    Died 02/07/1940

    Aged 22

    7th Bn.
    Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

    Son of Gilbert and Mary McAlpine, of Rothesay, Buteshire.

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  3. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Craig, have you applied for their services records or Bill's international red cross file?

    Liked the picture of the young lad and the goalie with the German looking on near the goal posts.

    Bill appears on the casualty lists three times. Probably indicating when he was reported missing, then POW and then his release in '45

    Hugh also has three entries, 2 from '40 and 1 in '41.

    Hugh's father Gilbert passed away on Rothesay 1950 age 68. Gilbert's address from the 1935 Valuation Roll 11 COLUMSHILL STREET. I spent a week there, lovely island but the midges are terrible.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  5. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Thanks very much for sharing the photographs.

    Have you any details/ideas of the POW funerals.

  6. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Hi - no problem - sadly the only detail I have of the funerals is that in a couple of the photos there was a note that said 'CSM Neil Hamilton -Islay' So I assume those are of his funeral.

    CSM Neil Hamilton - Islay
  7. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Also another thing I don't know may be helpful to someone but my Grandfather had a copy of Linklater's book - The Highland Division, the army at war. On page 44 of this he made a note where the book states 'a wounded despatch rider had been evacuated in a perambulator' he has written in biro 'S.G/D.R Nichol McPhee, Bonawe Argyll. So I assume he was there and witnessed this.
  8. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Hi - Thanks for this, I've been to Rothesay a few times, and my father was actually named after Hugh!

    Also I'd be interested to know if there is any way of finding out what hospital Hugh was actually in, I have some letters that he wrote home but they stop around May 1940 - apparently there was more that he wrote while in hospital, but he later died of I think a head injury. I think he may be mentioned in one of the war diaries I saw when at the Argyll regimental museum at Stirling Castle, on 5th June the diary by Capt EPA Hewitt mentions a driver 'McAlpine' being sent with a message at Mons Boubert.

    I have tried to apply for service records but they are taking a while.
    amberdog45 likes this.
  9. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    It is likely that his German Hospitals will be mentioned in his Red Cross file.

    A relative of mine was wounded in action and taken POW whilst serving with Scots Guards in Norway. I obtained his Red Cross file from Switzerland early this year and there were mentions of several “Lazerettes” in Norway where he received treatment during May/July 1940 before travelling to Germany en route to Stalag VIIIB.

    I’d apply to ICRC.

    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
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  10. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Unfortunately there will be very limited medical info in either service record (if any at all). The MOD don't readily disclose medical details. That may change after 100 years have elapsed.

    The window of opportunity is very small when the red cross accept POW requests. Make sure your request is ready to submit on the 15th. They only accept new requests for 48-72 hours and then you have to wait until the next quarter to apply.

    Hugh's details at the Scottish War Memorial
    Roll Search | View details
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
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  11. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Thanks! I'll give that a try - where do I fill in the appropriate forms?
  12. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Just follow the link that Tricky Dicky put in post no. 4 for the pow files.

    How long ago did you apply to MOD? You sometimes had to wait up to a year, but turnover now is something like 6 to 8 weeks.
  13. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for posting these Craig. My great grandfather John Conway was in the 7th Argyll’s and captured in June 1940 - he also ended up in Bleicherode for a spell so it was fascinating to see some images of camp life there.
  14. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

  15. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    My great granddad only wrote down a little bit about the place in his ymca logbook but it does seem to back that up.
    “Arrived at Blecherode on 6 July 1940. Started work on the 7th with pick and shovel with the builders and all odd jobs and dirty ones that had to be done. I had four months then I got a good job with the gardeners and working in the forest burning the old wood and it kept us warm as it was very cold that winter. I was there for six weeks then the reel (sic) thing came, down the salt mine storeing (sic) salt it was heavy work handing the heavy tubs for six hours, and a tour of inspection which the Boss gave us seeing the different workings of the mine which was good to look at all through everything is kept clean and tidy and the work goes on and on all the time the Germans are good workers and expect everybody to do the same although we were POW we had to work just the same.”

    He was in Arbeitskommando 1401 and was at Stalag IXC from July 1940 to October 1941. He was a coal miner before the war so working down the salt mine wouldn’t have been a huge change for him I suppose!
  16. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Ah, the veteran I spoke to recently also told me that the German boss of the camp had been a PoW in WW1 and held by the British, he was treated well and so he returned the favor when the tide was turned. There was a lot of escapes from the camp and apparently at one point the SS came in just to act as enforcers, not a great bunch of chaps but the Russian front soon meant they were needed elsewhere.
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  17. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    I've just been having a flick through one of my new books - 'St Valery and its aftermath - The Gordon Highlanders Captured In France 1940' It has some of the pictures of the men with the instruments in it and it states that quite a few of these were actually 'faked' to show that the men were being treated well and were being taught how to play instruments! They just got them all to pose with random instruments, although some of the men did actually play them.
  18. NeilMacGilp

    NeilMacGilp New Member

    Craig, I found your uploaded photos very poignant as CSM Neil Hamilton who you mention in the burial photos was my Grandfather. He survived both WW1 and WW2 and died in Campbeltown, Argyll in 1983, aged 84. The reference to Islay is accurate as he was the Territorial Army Sergeant in Islay before WW2 and went with the BEF to France upon the outbreak of war. My understanding is that he along with many others provided the defensive line to give the time to evacuate at Dunkirk, and were captured at St Valery.
    Apart from the burial photos he also appears in several of the "inspection" lines where he is seen alongside the German officer. I have attached a group photo I have from Stalag 9c where he is shown in the centre, front row. Many thanks for uploading your photos. Neil

    Attached Files:

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  19. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Cheers Neil - always good to upload these things and find out it's useful for someone! I made a documentary for Channel 4 which you might find interesting 'Dunkirk The Forgotten Heroes' it's on All4 and has pictures of both Hugh and Bill featured.
  20. Craig51

    Craig51 Member

    Actually just had better look at the photo you posted, I'm fairly certain bottom row, 3rd from the left is my Grandad Bill! He's hard to recognise in some photos as at one point his arm was badly injured, he was very ill and according to my mum a female doctor saved the arm. Hence he's looking very thin.

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