RAF POW's 'liberated' by the Russians

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Tricky Dicky, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I need some help from the RAF detail people on the site. I am looking at some TNA files about the repatriation of Allied POW's via Odessa. In one of the files is a short list which contains some RAF crew, I have checked their names against the Ancestry database ( UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945) this is as they say based on "Prisoners of War of British Army, WWII. CD. Unpublished. The Naval and Military Press, Ltd" and they further state "This database contains a listing of World War II British Army, Navy and Air Force prisoners of war (POW)", however this obviously does not contain all POW's as the Far East ones are excluded.

    Taking some names off the Odessa list I have searched the above but cannot find them, so I am hoping that some of you guys can provide some information about the aircrew I will list below, as it may lead to the reasons they are not included on the list above.

    J A Cakebread F/Sgt 1801960

    H Chambers Sgt 1823907

    K Chapman F/Sgt 1581545

    Thanks for your help

  2. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member


    The following is from Footprints on the Sands of Time by Oliver Clutton-Brock:

    Cakebread, JA, 432 Squadron. A/C LW616 Halifax. 12/6/1944, target Cambrai. Held Stalag Luft 7 (Bankau).

    Chambers, H, 158 Squadron, A/C MZ734 Halifax. 25/10/1944, target Essen. Camps not known, but there is a reference UK 31/3/1945 (returned to the UK on this date?)

    Chapman, K. 214 Squadron. A/C EH895 Stirling. 23/8/1943, target Berlin. Camps not known. Badly wounded, leg amputated.

    CL1 likes this.
  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Several RAF Aircrew who had escaped from POW camps were serving alongside the AK (Polish Home Army) they were badly treated by the Russians because of this when over-ran.
  4. NickFenton

    NickFenton Well-Known Member

    Have you looked to see if they completed Liberation Questionnaires in the WO344 section?
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I have not looked at liberation questionnaires yet. The main reason is that listed in the files are about 200 POW's but I think there would have been more like 20,000 POW's liberated by the Russians. It appears that the British Military did not do there normal 'listings' as per prescribed procedure for POW's leaving via Odessa, therefore I am reading through the files to:
    a. collate all the names mentioned
    b. try and obtain a number of POW's repatriated through Odessa

    The above exercise was to find out if military personnel were captured and placed into German camps they should appear on the database, but for some reason many do not. I was specific in choosing RAF personnel as they are 'British' as opposed to Allied. I have also found that the US, Australian and NZ forces seem to have records of these type of POW's whereas the British do not. This I find intriguing, and hope that somewhere there is a listing of all these missing people.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    One has to be aware that the lists are not definitive to begin with. Some are Army, some are for German camps, (another TNA Series exists for Far East which Bamboo is familiar with). All are a snapshot taken at given times; the most obvious indicator of this being that men are shown to be POW in one camp only, when in fact many were moved about quite regularly.

    (The Lists for Italy for example contain major discrepancies as highlighted by ADM199/Brian some years back, in that a significant number of men who died as a result of the sinking of Italian POW ships crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, are listed as POWs in Italy, which clearly is more than a clerical error.)

    I know of men who were POWs in NWE who do not appear - they were taken prisoner in April '45, some even liberated by their own Division. So they would neither have appeared on a camp / Red Cross roll, nor would some have been asked to complete a Liberation report... these in themselves being an incomplete data set. (Escaper and Evader reports complement the latter to some extent.)

    Best to look up the actual sources given in Ancestry/N&M Press and double check them against what is also available at TNA with dates/details of compilation.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi dbf

    Yes I am aware that there is a separate list for the Far East. I was trying to find out of the random men I listed in post 1 were perhaps POW's from before 1945, which in fact they were (1943 & 1944) hence they should be recorded on a least one database, as there would have been enough time for them to be 'registered'.
    There was also 3 UK ships that repatriated (possibly 8,000 - 10,000) men from Odessa (UK, US, Poles, French, Canadians, Australians, NZ's, SA's, Indians and possibly others), and I would have expected some sort of listing would have been made, either by the Red Cross or more importantly by the British Military, especially in light of them having to obtain exit visas for each person from Moscow, and in some cases for their eastern European wives. This was to determine they were not Russians trying to leave. I have also read that some Allied POW's were killed in a train accident between Moscow and Odessa and we will never know about them, and obvious;y there will be many cases such as this. I also understand the turbulence of the times, and that Russian troops could not tell the difference between German and Allied troops, this was mostly sorted by our POWs using the word 'Churchill'.

  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Wasn't questioning your knowledge, I merely wanted to take the opportunity to clarify, particularly to those googling at some point, that the lists aren't ever going to be definitive and that there may be a number of factors why men would not appear on POW lists available online, and in print. Armed with what you do know, no doubt you'll be able to search the more promising Series in TNA, etc. for possible info.
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi dbf

    The point of this thread initially was experimental and to see if there was any connection between the existing database and the info in the TNA files for POW's repatriated via Odessa.

    I hope in the future to collate the info from those files re names, numbers etc of the people mentioned in them so that we can use that if they cannot be found on any known existing database. That is not to say it will be definitive, as quickly looking through the files I would estimate as mentioned previously possibly 200 are named out of possibly 20,000. When I make those lists available I will indeed need to clarify that many will never be named, and some of those reasons are as in the posts above, other reasons are yet to become apparent. But hopefully for those listed (and their families) they will be remembered and known.

    edited to add:
    One document dated 24 Mar 1945 states - Nominal Rolls of PW were sent to Moscow in clear for re-transmission via Air Ministry W/T set to the UK

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