Repatriation from Switzerland

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by LesCM19, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. LesCM19

    LesCM19 "...lets rock!"

    Reading Brigadier James Hargest's book "Farewell Compo 12" I was surprised that having reached Switzerland he then had to be smuggled across Vichy France to Spain.

    Was this standard procedure? Seems risky.
    HA96 likes this.
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    This item should interest you:

    Splendid left Malta for the last time on 17 April 1943. Her sixth patrol would take her to the waters off Naples and Corsica. Off Capri 21 April 1943, she ran into the German destroyer Hermes (formerly the British-built Greek destroyed Vasilefs Georgios) . Splendid's periscope was spotted in the calm conditions in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Three accurately-dropped patterns of depth charges forced Splendid to the surface, where McGeoch ordered the crew to abandon ship and scuttled the vessel. Five officers, including McGeoch, and 25 ratings were picked up; 18 men were lost with the ship. McGeoch suffered a wound to his right eye, and never recovered its sight. McGeoch and the other survivors from her crew became prisoners of war in Italy. Despite blindness in one eye, McGeoch nevertheless made several escape attempts. After the surrender of Fascist Italy in September 1943, he was able to walk out of the camp gate and travelled 400 miles (600 km) to Switzerland, where a metal fragment was removed from his sightless right eye. He travelled across occupied south France in December 1943 to Spain. He was interned in Figueres but British diplomats arranged for his release to Gibraltar, and he returned to England on the old battleship HMS Centurion. His escape won him a mention in dispatches.

  3. HA96

    HA96 Member

    It was the standard for those british officers held in german camps , at least in 1941.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Stefan

    From what I have read those who reached Switzerland then stayed there for the duration, as the Swiss did not want to upset the applecart. I would guess its possible for an escaped POW who reached Switzerland to then decide on his own to take the risk of leaving and crossing France to Spain.

    There is an interesting part of this web site run by Bill Rudd (who was an ex POW in Switzerland) 1. Switzerland | ANZAC POW Free Men in Europe

    Much the same happened in Ireland where is captured by the Irish you basically had to sit out the rest of the War

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  5. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    There were numerous escapers, such as Airey Neave, who, after reaching Switzerland, had their journey onwards through Vichy France into Spain arranged for them by the British legation. Most then returned to the via Gibraltar.
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  6. HA96

    HA96 Member

    Thanks TD, never seen this before, Stefan.
  7. HA96

    HA96 Member

    4 officers, part of the Great Escape of Biberach OFLAG 5B in Sept. 1941, stayed only for a short spell in Switzerland, and then went home via Gibraltar and informed MI ?? about how they did it.

    Seroster likes this.
  8. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Fascinating TD - I love these escape stories.
  9. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher

    There was an interesting episode of WW2 Podcast about POWs in Ireland. I think a few managed to get away? British POWs got treated a little better than German despite Ireland being neutral.

    Military Internees and the Irish Free State

    Angus also did an episode with the author of the book about Hargrave and the other high ranking officers trying to escape.
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