POW in ITALY: Pte. David Garcia 6021430 1/4 Essex

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Roger Bickmore, Nov 3, 2020.

  1. Roger Bickmore

    Roger Bickmore New Member

    Hi everybody,

    I'm a novice researching my partner's grandfather, per above. He was with the 1st/4th Battalion of Essex Regiment, captured in North Africa in June 1942. He escaped from an Italian POW camp, making it back safely to the allies. I have a certification slip that he "rendered a statement of his experiences" to the British section CSDIC CMF on 5 July 1944. Not much else to go on.

    A copy of that statement he gave would potentially be massive. I have looked at the National Archive site but am unclear if that is the route I should take? Would his military records reveal anything more if I ordered those? Is there a list where I might check at least which camp in Italy he was imprisoned? I would welcome some advice on how to proceed.

    Thanks so much in advance,

    JimHerriot likes this.
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Roger and welcome to the forum.

    Your partner's grandfather would have escaped from the Italian Pow camp following the Armistice of 8 September 1943.

    He is present in the International Red Cross register of prisoners being held in Italy, but there is no camp number next to his name.
    This usually indicates that he had been moved from the main camp to a work camp. Most of these work camps were in central or northern Italy.

    The fact that he 'reported in' on 5 July 1944 suggests either:

    - that he had been sheltering with an Italian family waiting for the arrival of the Allied troops

    - that he had been with a group of partisans but when the front approached had moved south to join them. Given the date I think it unlikely that he had escaped via Switzerland, as most of the men who took that route left during the autumn or winter of '43-4 or during the last winter of the war.

    You could try sending for his service records but will have a long wait.

    Instead, you should apply to the International Red Cross in Geneva for his POW record. You will find the the next date on which they are accepting applications on their website. You need to get in your request as soon as they open as by 11 am they will not be accepting any more until later in 2021.

    There may be a report for him in The National Archives in Escape Evasion WO 208.



    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2020
  3. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Welcome aboard. Others may come along and help. Always apply for his Service Record, even if the turnaround is reported as a year plus now. See: Get a copy of military service records Upload the records here once you've obtained them and then the forum can get to work on them.

    Please do not pay for any site on the internet who promise you his service records they will not have them, and you would have wasted your money.

    Adding what you have already found can help, saves others from duplication. A Date of Birth and a Service Number help, though the experts here can surmount that gap.

    I have noted the 'Other Ranks' rarely feature in Google searches unless they have been awarded gallantry medals or written their memoirs. Searching via Google can identify previous threads here; the search option here is basic.

    Try: 1/4th Bn Essex Regiment

    Post 12 there has a short history of the battalion, it would appear he was an unlucky prisoner as they survived and fought onto Italy.

    There is a clue about June 1942:
    From: http://merseamuseum.org.uk/MMPDFs2/KASER Robert.pdf

    A local historian explains:
    From: hudgell home page

    It depends of course how much you want to know, just one battle or campaign for an example.

    Please come back and tell us what you found. Scanning threads it is clear some discover the site years after your posts and add their information or request help. Good luck.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2020
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  4. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Strictly speaking, he was not in 1st/4th Battalion Essex Regiment. He was in 1/4 Essex Regiment.

    4th Battalion Essex Regiment was divided in two just prior to the war and, from the two halves, formed two new Battalions - 1/4 Essex and 2/4 Essex.

    Indian Army Regiments, and the Gurkhas had numbered Regiments. 3rd Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment or 1st Battalion 7th Gurkha Rifles. The British Army did not.


  5. Roger Bickmore

    Roger Bickmore New Member

    Thank you for the welcome. I shall definitely get the records. I have some of his photos from Hafia and he has written B Company on the back which might pinpoint his whereabouts possibly.

    From what I have it seems that he was reported missing 27/06/42 on casualty list 903, which I think ties in with the battle at Mersa Matruh. Later on he was reported as a POW.

    Other than the debrief with CSDIC (see attached cert) the only other thing I know about his time in Italy is that he was seemingly helped after his escape by a Umberto Capanollo in L'Aquila. He tried to write to him in 1944 presumably to thank him, via the Red Cross (see attached letter). It would be lovely to know more about this man too.

    Thanks again


    Attached Files:

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  6. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    This interesting link of memories from an officer with CSDIC CMF gives some idea of their role & locations & by their location confirms that in June/July 1944 David Garcia either reached the front line under his own steam, or it had advanced to his location.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - An Interrogator's Life (Part 1)
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  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    There is still a person named Umberto Capannolo living in San Giacomo, L'Aquila. I doubt if he is the person who helped your partner's grandfather, but he could be his son or grandson. Would you like me to contact him for you?
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  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Roger Bickmore

    I've sent you a longer private message about your post.

    Most pertinently, my friend Stu has uploaded the pages of the battalion's war diary for the period of your partner's grandfather's capture on 'my' research thread:

    Family Soldiers: 1/4th Essex (WW2) & 25 Field Regiment R.A.(Post-War)

    Also, you will want to scour the photo album of Sgt Gowlett, also B-Coy, here:


    As discussed in the message, I will check the 'Missing Men' file for you and get back to you soon.

    Welcome to the board.

    One thing that has cropped up is that at the time of his capture Pte Garcia was not actually with the battalion--he'd been posted to 5th Indian Infantry Brigade.

    Alas, details are light because the Brigade Major's car carrying his paperwork was destroyed by shellfire on the night of 28-29/6/42.
    travers1940, JimHerriot and vitellino like this.

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