Pte J D GILBERT: POW, Battle of Greece April 1941

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by David Ellis, Oct 25, 2021.

  1. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Researching the involvement of the (2nd Echelon) 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment.
    From his service records, Pte J D Gilbert, was posted to Egypt with the Regiment on 04/08/1940.
    2nd Echelon (?) posted to HQ ‘W’ Force 28/02/41.
    Taken PoW 29/04/41 Corinth, Greece.
    I cannot find, on the net, any reference of the Hampshire’s at the Battle of Greece?
    Can anyone help please?

    Attached Files:

  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi David,

    It looks like he was posted to HQ “W” Force which was the British Commonwealth HQ of forces in Greece. The Hampshire Regiment wasn’t involved at a unit level in the campaign in Greece.


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  3. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you for your prompt reply Tom, it would appear I was searching for something that wasn’t there?
    My understanding is that, under Churchill’s orders, the army in Egypt was to be pared back to supply (more) troops to protect Greece.
    It’s possible that ‘our man’ was sent there as part of a ‘composite’ unit and not with his parent unit, the Hampshire’s.
    Thank you again and if anyone could add anything extra to this thread it would be most welcome. Especially the treatment and onward movement of those held captive at Corinth, Greece.
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  4. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
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  5. Robert Duerr

    Robert Duerr Member

    Hi David

    Well, not been here in months and then when I do drop by to double check something before a trip to Kew this weekend up popped a notification for this thread! Battle of Greece is a bit niche so you don't tend to see a lot of coverage of it here.

    My grandad aso moved from Egypt to Greece, and was also captured. He escaped and got out to Turkey at the end of '41 via Skiathos and Skeeros.

    I'm going to get some stuff from Kew which I will happily share with you if it's relevant, this link has lots of documents that might be relevant to 'our man' especially if he worked at HQ: Browse records of other archives | The National Archives

    I do also have from my Grandad an account of the prison camp at Corinth - "Corinth Prison Camp 1941 - Extract from library Book" it says...but not WHICH library book!. Again I'll happily share that with you if you like.

    The best account I have read so far (the field isn't huge) is "The Gods were Neutral" by Robert Crisp, a tank officer. He captures very well the build up and retreat/evacuation.

    Lastly - this always makes me smile - as my Grandad waited for an evacuation that never came (for him) just up the coast Roald Dahl was getting on the last plane to fly out of Greece before it fell, having flown his Hurricane during the campaign. Well covered in 'Going Solo'.

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  6. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    As Tom has already written, "posted to HQ ‘W’ Force 28/02/41" is a bit of a giveaway that he was posted as an individual (not as part of a unit, sub-unit or named adhoc unit) to HQ ‘W’ Force.

    If he had gone to Greece as part of a unit or sub-unit, that would be shown vice HQ ‘W’ Force.

    What was he doing? Could be anything. But, as a punt, how about considering he was sent out as the servant (batman) to an officer posted to the HQ.

    The Hampshires, neither the battalion nor any of its sub-units, went to Greece in 1941.
  7. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

  8. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you Robert for this fulsome reply. I agree that this appears to be an under represented part of the war, I was myself unaware of the way the campaign unfolded until I started shining a light on it. Yes please in response to your kind offer of sharing your own information. I look forward to hearing from you after your visit to Kew. As I am new to this forum, please let me know the best way to communicate going forward. Thank you.
  9. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you Mark, an interesting line of enquiry to consider.
  10. Robert Duerr

    Robert Duerr Member

    I'll post in this thread or provate message you David. This website would also be very helpful for you to have a look at Greek Veterans.
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  11. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Having had a conversation over the last two days about personnel being `extra regimentally employed` in Greece I shall revisit this thread again. Two casualty lists were debated one for missing personnel in Greece the other for missing personnel in Crete all 1DLI but not present as a unit . 9 men on Greece ,12 on Crete (1killed) most captured, the discusion centred around their purpose in Greece and if those on the Crete list had been evacuated from the mainland and subsequently overan on the Island?
    We had one set of service records with no mention of Greece until some kind soul had scribbled "P.O.W .Athens" on the sheet. (With family account of wounding in a bombing attack on Greece)
    We went through the diary of the battalion and found some mention of `stenographers` and `signallars` temp detached with various brigades , and one soldier was wrongly casualty listed as `Royal Corps of Signals No3 Lines of Communication` until a later list rectified the error and put him back with his parent unit?

    Just thought I would chip in ,doesnt have a direct bearing on the Hampshire soldier but similarly these men were away from their parent unit. Confusing times in Greece at that time I would imagine .

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  12. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you Kyle, all information most welcome.
    Agree that this campaign must have caused a lot of confusion for the administrators (!) with the speed the operation was put together, what with the army in North Africa being stripped of (some?) resources to bolster the Greek venture.
    Thanks again for your input/assistance.
  13. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you Lesley, both articles depict the harrowing conditions those brave souls had to endure at the hands of a, mostly, cruel captors. The mention of Himmlers visit still makes the hairs on your neck stand up!!
    We have both a record and a couple of photos of our man in a PoW camp in Austria later in the war.
    Unfortunately, like many others, he returned home ‘damaged’ mentally after the war and after reading these accounts, is it any wonder?!
    Thank you again for sharing these articles that help us understand the circumstances his experience of war.
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  14. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

  15. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

  16. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    If you are looking for a general account of the "battle for Greece", there are plenty of books on the topic. The Australian and New Zealand historians have covered this in some detail.

    However, very little - if anything at all - is going to tell you the workings and events specific to HQ W Force or what happened to a specific group of PoWs post fall.

    General Wilson was commander W Force and his book Eight Years Overseas will provide probably the best insight to where exactly the HQ was, when and why. But it will give it from his perspective and I doubt there will be anything of note regarding what a temporaryily attached private got up to.
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  17. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you Mark, what I have seen/ researched todate, I agree that there appears more ‘resource’ from ‘down under’.
    However your recommendation looks promising. As you say, we will (probably) never know the timeline for ‘our man’, however as we have documented on his service record his attachment to the HQ ‘W’ force then we can assume(?) he would be linked to it’s whereabouts/movements.
    Are you able to point me in the right direction to obtain, or sight, a copy?
    Thank you again for your assistance.
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  18. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Seen a copy on Abe Books but it's 40 quid - doesn't look like it's in good condition either.
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  19. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Beyond the prior knowledge of its existence, I have no greater insight than you on how to track down a book.
  20. David Ellis

    David Ellis Member

    Thank you Mark. I’m on the hunt!

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