POW PG 82 Jones

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Lizard10, May 11, 2015.

  1. Lizard10

    Lizard10 Member

    I need some help trying to find out more about the POW experience of my grandfather.
    Sgt James Edward Jones of the RA Tobruk Coast regiment (206) was part of the June Tobruk surrender. He was in PG 82 from June 41 to Sept 42. He was affected by the stay put order and was moved to stalag IVB at the end of sept but was only there three days before he died. His army number was 8192218. He was 45 when he died.
    The Italian experience is all but blank. Any info very gratefully received. The Red Cross data is closed at present. The archive had one file out-dec 41.
    I have his army record. He was a regular soldier for 21 years after conscription in 1916 aged 18.
     
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  2. Hi
    Have a look at the site Pegasus Archives, Prisoners of war, as there is a post about private George Surgeson who was in the same camps as your grandfather

    Trevor
     
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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Lizard 10 and welcome to the forum.

    I have a book in Italian about Laterina but will need to translate the part of it that would interest you. I have visited the camp twice, once with a friend of mine, the daughter of South African Eric Maunder who was captured in North Africa like your grandfather. He was lucky enough to be sent from Laterina to a work camp in Northern Italy from where he escaped at the Armistice, and with a false identity card made it across the frontier to Switzerland. I also have some photos which I will look up and send to you if you send me a private message. Most of the original structure remains, as the camp was used into the fifties as a camp for refugees from Istria.

    Regards,

    Vitellino
     
  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Lizard 10,

    I have found an article in Italian by Gunner Frank Unwin, captured at Tobruk like your grandfather, and will translate it for you later today. Two years ago Gunner Unwin was still alive and if you care to contact the website of the Monte San Martino Trust they may be able to give you his details. http://www.msmtrust.org.uk/news/celebrations-in-fontanellato

    Meanwhile, here is a description of the camp :

    CAMPO PG 82 LATERINA taken from
    AL DI LA' DEL FILO SPINATO Ed. Centro Editoriale Toscana 2000
    The camp, designated number 82, designed to house up to 12,000 prisoners of war, was built in various stages. First of all, in 1941 the duplicated boundary fence was erected, enclosing an area of about 15 hectares between the Arezzo road and the river Arno on the plain below the town of Laterina. The first sectors, opened in 1941 to house mainly British and Commonwealth troops captured in North Africa and built on the same model as that used in other camps, consisted of 12 brick-built barracks aligned in two blocks. (Translator's note- According to Gunner Frank Unwin the men were first lodged in tents. This was true for at least one other camp, PG 54 at Fara in Sabina.) Internally each barracks was divided into two sections; the sleeping arrangements consisted of two-tier bunk beds. 800 Italian servicemen were employed in the surveillance and day-to-day running of the camp. The camp commander was Colonel Teodorico Citerni.
    The conditions in the camp were characterised by destitution, hunger, lice, dysentery, and numerous attempted escapes made via the sewer which discharged the contents of the latrines into the River Arno. The prisoners could only buy extra rations if they were in the possession of coupons which were handed out by the commander.
    In 1943 the third section was under construction when the Armistice was declared. At that point the Italian servicemen abandonded the camp and the prisoners escaped into the countryside and woods, some setting off in a southerly directon or towards the Adriatic in the hope of joining their own lines, others remaining in hiding in the surrounding hills helped by the local population, and others joining local partisan groups.
    Those who were recaptured by the Germans, who moved quickly southwards into peninsular Italy following the Armistice, were shut up once more in the camp awaiting deportation to Germany. During the daily movement of prisoners from the camp to the station there were frequent attempts to escape, made relatively easy by the tortuous nature of the road. Local people hid and protected the fuggitives, despite knowing what sanctions would be applied by the Germans if they were found out and also despite the rewards offered should they denounce the fuggitives.
    After the liberation of the area (by 6 British Armoured Division - my note), which took place on 18 July 1944, the camp passed under the control of the British 8 Army.
     
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  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I though Gunner Frank Unwin's account might be of interest to all those whose relatives were held in PG 82 Laterina. I found it in a book called Al di là del filo spiniato - Beyond the Barbed Wire Fence.

    Captured June 1942 Tobruk
    August disembarked Brindisi, Italy. Sent by train together with 2,000 other prisoners to Campo PG 82 Laterina arriving 6 August.
    Camp set up below the town of Laterina in a disused vineyard on the flood plain of the river Arno to the south of the main Arezzo road.
    At that time accommodation consisted of tents and a brick kitchen.
    Men allocated 18 to a tent. South African sergeant-major selected as camp leader.
    There were five Italian officials, three doctors, and two clergymen , one Catholic and one Protestant.
    The normal daily ration consisted of 120 grammes bread, 120 grammes of pasta, and twice a week, a small portion of meat and on two other days a small piece of cheese.
    Large open space between the tents and the kitchen was used for the daily roll call and was also u used as football pitch.
    Italian contractor brought in some Italian workmen – carpenters and electricians. Pows provided manual labour. Eleven huts were built to house 250 men. At the end of each there was a wash-room and lavatory but were never supplied with electricity or water. It became necessary to dig cesspits, ten metres long, a metre wide and one and a half metres in width.
    Twelfth hut eventually built for barber's shop and a store. Officials had their own hut as did the commander. There was a tent for concerts and shows.
    Pastimes included walking the perimeter fence, card games, football. International matches held between the five nations – England Scotland Wales, Ireland and South Africa.
    Red Cross parcels contained about five kilos of food and fifty cigarettes. Families allowed to send parcel once every three months which could only contain clothing, books and chocolate.
    Spring 1943 men allowed to volunteer for works camps. Unwin went to build sugar beet factory at Borgo San Lorenzo near Florence. Escaped from camp there, recaptured, sent back to Laterina.
    Escape tunnel constructed from hut 6 to beyond perimeter fence. Was just operational when Armistice declared 8 September 1943.
    12 September, guards fled, Unwin and three others escaped.
    Germans arrived on that date, recaptured men sent by train to Germany.

    Vitellino map of campo PG 82 Laterina 1942.jpg laterina 1944.png
     
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  7. JCM

    JCM New Member

    Vitellino,

    Thank you for this info!

    I am traveling to Laterina this afternoon. Can you give me the precise location of PG 82 please?

    I have attempted to find it but can't seem to pinpoint the exact location on Google Maps.

    I wish to retrace my grandfather's steps.

    Does anyone have info or resources for the area regarding escaped POWs and the families that helped them?
     
  8. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    JCM,

    Welcome to the forum. Vitellino is on holiday for a week at the moment, according to a PM I got from him a couple of days ago, so although he is extremely helpful he may not reply immediately.

    Laterina now has about 3,500 inhabitants, but PG82 held thousands of prisoners, so if you ask around.....According to an article on the BBC's Peoples' War the camp perimeter was close to the village of Pietraviva.

    Good Hunting
     
  9. JCM

    JCM New Member

    Thank you papiermache.

    I found it!

    P.G. 82 was indeed just outside of Laterina.

    It is now an industrial area between the river Arno, Via Fabbrica, Via Vecchia Arentina and some farm lands. The area is south of London Bar.

    Some of the old camp buildings have been turned into businesses or converted or destroyed. Some seem to be abandoned too.

    I met a guy who is running some kind of transportation business out of one of the camp buildings. He allowed me to take a look inside.

    Apparently the structure is exactly as it was when it was built... even the toilet and wash cubicle at the back right of the building. (The toilet and wash basin seem to have been updated though).

    I've been asking around the local area for any local info. I will continue my search tomorrow.

    Does anyone know the route the Allied POWs would have been taken by the Germans to the train station after Italian Armistice?

    I know they were marched along the river but in which direction? And which train station would they have been taken to?
     
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  10. JCM

    JCM New Member

    Via Berto C. seems to have been the entrance to the camp.
     
  11. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    Congratulations JCM, and thanks for the report. Award yourself a Tutti Frutti.

    According to a statement by a sometime inmate of PG82: " the Germans arrived on 13th ( September 1943 ), and we were quickly transferred to PG19 at Bologna in cattle trucks. Two days later we were on the way to southern Germany."

    That is the best answer I can find, after thirty minutes "research", from the statement of Pte. Jonathan Wilkinson, sourced by the much lamented ADM199, Brian Sims, very recently late of this forum, and to be found on www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/Italy.htm.

    It is raining here, hope the weather is fine with you.

    John (JMC)
     
  12. JJ van Rooyen

    JJ van Rooyen Member

    Hi everyone.

    My Grandfather was Major JJ van Rooyen and he served in the 1st SA Police Battalion. He was captured in Tobruk and became a POW. He was sent to Camp 82 in Italy and then to Stalag 4B in Germany.
    My father and I want to go visit these sites to see where my grandfather spent 3 years of his life as a POW. Can anyone give me information about these sites and visiting them especially Camp 82.

    I read the above information and found the area of Camp 82 in Laterina on Google Earth. Can someone show me photographs of the exact site or give me detailed information or anything that can help me?

    My grandfather was Major JJ van Rooyen. His police career began during the late 30's in Durban. He was selected to be part of the 1st SA Police Battalion during WW2 and was sent to fight the Nazi Regime in North Africa in 1941 when he was 22 years old. There are family stories of him saving the lives of soldiers during the war and that he was a very brave man. He was captured by the Germans in Tobruk on the border of Libya and Egypt of June 1942. He was first sent to camp 82 at Laterina, Italy as a prisoner of war for 1 year. In 1943 he was transferred to Stalag 4B in Muhlberg, Germany which was one of the largest concentration camps. He lived in the camp for 2 years as a POW and was freed in 1945 after WW2 ended. He returned to South Africa and continued with a long police career as a detective. He was awarded 4 medals after the war. I still have his belt buckle, bayonet and war medals.
     

    Attached Files:

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  13. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    His details as a POW in Germany - note the camp will be the last one he was in:

    Name: J J Van Rooyen
    Rank: Cpl.
    Army Number: S.A.P.195635
    POW Number: 224940
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 4B
    Camp Location: Muhlberg (Elbe), Germany
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    If you search for Stalag 4B then there are many results

    TD

    edited to add:
    Just noticed that there is a difference in his Rank !! :( ?? but the POW number equates to that in the picture ??
     
  14. JJ van Rooyen

    JJ van Rooyen Member

    Thank you for the information TD!
    Appreciate it. I'm still on the lookout for Camp 82 information regarding his time there as POW.

    That is his details. As for his rank, when the war ended he was a Cpl. His career continued and he worked through the ranks and passed away in 1967 as a Major.

    I am truly fascinated by his journey during the war and every detail he had to go through.

    Regards
    JJ
     
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  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi JJ

    Hopefully vitellino will pick up this thread as she is based in Italy and probably has more info

    TD
     
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi JJ,

    Thanks for the message. Here is the image showing your grandfather's details on the WO392/21 file from the British National Archives. As I mentioned in the pm, there is another file in relation to Camp 82 held at our archives. I do not know what it might contain?

    http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C168962

    Good luck.

    111.JPG
     
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  17. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello everyone,

    Glad to see that Laterina is back on the map!!

    Here are some photos form the book I mentioned above:


    map Campo PG 82 Laterina 1942.jpg model of Campo PG 82 Laterina.jpg Laterina 1950s..jpg photo Campo PG 82 by Frank Unwin.jpg barrracks Laterina no date.jpg

    There are two interesting articles in the People's War series :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/77/a2778177.shtml

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/61/a3592361.shtml

    There are several War Crimes files on Laterina - I have a copy of most of them - referrring to the shooting of prisoners who were on their way to be put on a train for Germany in June 1944, when the camp was being used as a transit camp.

    Regards,

    Vitellino

    NB I have posted some of these photos before
     
  18. JJ van Rooyen

    JJ van Rooyen Member

    Hi everyone

    I went and visited the camp. It was truly a special and amazing experience. I spent an entire day exploring the site. My grandfather was a prisoner for 13 months at camp 82. before he was moved to Stalag IVB in Germany.

    Most of the area is abandoned and you can easily explore the old barracks. I went inside the original kitchen building. I met a man in the main street of the camp and he allowed me to go inside a barrack that he restored. He runs a clothing factory and he explained that his mother use to feed the soldiers that escaped and hid in the village. The prisoners boarded the train at the Laterina station in Spetember 1943 which is about 4-6km away which they had to walk and took about half a day because they were so weak.

    I enjoyed how raw the place is. There is no museum, tour guides or fences just the remains of an old POW camp open to explore. There is a big building now where the soccer field use to be. The village is very peaceful and calm and it allowed my mind to really connect with the area which made the experience very intimate.

    I will go back again one day!

    Regards
    JJ
     
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  19. HA96

    HA96 Member

    JJ,

    what a great trip for you, thanks for sharing. Did you make any pics you want to share?

    Stefan.
     
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  20. JJ van Rooyen

    JJ van Rooyen Member

    Here are some of the photographs I took at the camp and the train station.
     

    Attached Files:

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