Shipping Italian POWs

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Robert-w, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The number of Italian POWs taken in North and East Africa became so large that it was evident that it would not be possible to maintain them in the conditions laid down in the Geneva Convention unless a significant proportion were relocated out of theatre. Whilst this in of itself was also in breach of the convention it was deemed to be the lesser of two evils and so they were shipped in batches to India (most of the officers), southern Africa and Britain where they were put to work mainly on farms. It's about this latter that I seek information. Now to save unnecessary effort - I know more than enough about how they were treated in Britain, the sort of work they did, the attitude of the farmers etc towards them, how they were organised - right down to how their meagre pay was distributed. What I need to confirm is how they were shipped to Britain. From 1941 to the taking of Sicily in 1943 shipping to and from Egypt through the Mediterranean was very limited and the supply route from Britain ran down the South Atlantic, round the Cape, up to the Red Sea and on through the Suez Canal. Am I right in my assumption that the Italians travelled in the reverse direction? If so was it in stages with transit camps along the route or all in one long voyage?
  2. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    I researched the "Winston's Special" (WS) convoys UK to the middle east some time ago and recall that prisoners were transported back to South Africa, but I have had a quick look and cannot find references to POW to the UK, but there maybe some clues? Try this site;
    WS Convoys in World War 2 - the 'Winston's Specials'
    I also recall there was a large staging camp near Durban as I wrote based on what I found;

    "Dad and his fellow soldiers would have disembarked from the REINA DEL PACIFICO and gone into a large camp that was erected in Clairwood to house servicemen passing through, as well as a POW camp for captured Axis soldiers.
    Not only did the port serve as a stopover for troops, but troops were also able to change convoys or board trains in Durban for military destinations inland. Dad was there for about 2 weeks, before boarding the NIEUW AMSTERDAM.
    Convoy CM 12 consisting of MAURETANIA, ILE DE FRANCE and NIEUW AMSTERDAM left Durban on Tuesday, 10th June 1941, escorted by HMS CORNWALL, a County-class heavy cruiser for Suez, 1500GMT (1700 local time), speed 20 knots.
    It appears that the convoys between Durban and Suez carried Allied troop reinforcements north and returned south with both Axis POW and wounded Allied soldiers."

    Hope this helps

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
    Robert-w likes this.
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Given that large numbers of Italians arrived in Britain it's probably safe to assume that Charwood was used as a transit camp. I would think that Allied wounded etc were given priority in getting home.
  4. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

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