South African POWs in Italy

Discussion in 'South African' started by Russelle, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. LeoneG

    LeoneG Member

    Hi there.

    Thank you so much for posting these, Bamboo. Found a few of the guys that I have been looking for, including my grandfather! :D

    Any chance of the ones covering E, F and S? Would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Leone,

    I'll see what I can do.:)
  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Bamboo and Leone,

    Just a word of warning about WO 392/21. I have posted this comment on another thread in which you are interested, Leone. :

    I have spent a lot of time analysing some official (War Ministry) Italian records which show 317 men being sent from Camp PG 82 to Germany in July 1943. I had a look in WO 392/21 and found that most of them were still on it, but they were no longer in Italy - they were already in Germany! Also, of the 317, only 42 are actually shown as being held in PG 82 - most of them are shown as being in PG 54 and the rest in other camps! So, it cannot be taken for granted that someone in WO 392/ 21 was still in Italy in August 1943, never mind in the camp stated in the document!!! In my (long) experience of dealing with WO 392/21, it shows a camp that the POW was in at some time during his captivity in Italy, nothing more.

    Another example. Corporal Bill Marsh of the South Wales Borderers is resgistered as being in the Military hospital Il Celio in Rome when he was in fact, in August 1943, in PG 54 Fara in Sabina. According to his diary he had been dismissed from the hospital some months previously.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
    LeoneG likes this.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Vitellino,

    Thanks for that clarification about 392/21. I do always advise people that the info on it should read with caution. Thankfully, the file still has its uses, especially when families have nothing at all to go on, not even a Army service number.

    Best wishes

    LeoneG likes this.
  5. LeoneG

    LeoneG Member

    Thanks Vitellino & Steve for the advice! Will definitely be careful when using 392/21 as a reference. For now I'm just trying to identify a few guys - rank, initials, service number. So if I have 5 possibles per 1 individual that I'm looking for, that at least narrows down the search for me. Since I'm doing genealogy (on as a hobby, I can then take the search further there too looking for their descendants. Quite a mission to locate a few guys that my grandfather knew about 70 years ago, I know, but I'm lucky to have so many stories collected. The veterans generally don't like to talk about their experiences in the POW camps, and it took decades for my mother to get a relatively full story out of her father.
  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Steve,

    WO 321/21 is an important starting point for a lot of enquiries as you say. However, even if those of us who use it regularly do warn people of its shortcomings some of them might overlook the warning in their new-found enthusiasm and then find they're 'barking up the wrong tree'.

    Best wishes,

    bamboo43 likes this.
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Vitellino,

    I totally agree. I am trying to step back from posting on questions in regards POW's of the Italians and leave these to you and the other more knowledgeable forum members on the subject matter.
  8. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Bamboo,

    I don't claim to be any kind of an expert on POWs in Italy but know a lot about a few camps. have just written (in Italian on request from a local councillor ) a book about PG54 and another in English about POWs where I live in Umbria - camps PG 77, 115 and 115/3. I know a lot about the Camp for Mariners No.1 at Manziana and was down there in July with the grandson of the Camp Commander - by a sheer fluke the grandson just happens to have inherited a house overlooking the site of the former PG 52 at Coreglia Ligure. It was whilst doing this research that I came up against the problems with WO 392/21.

    Regarding PG 54, the best account on the camp was written by a South African, Sergeant Demetri Hayidakis, and can be downloaded from
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
    bamboo43 likes this.
  9. I know that this is a very old thread but so amazed to see my grandfather's signature here. Norman Heslop.
  10. HI I am looking for information on Norman Heslop (one of the signatures on the handkerchief)He is my grandfather. I always understood he was set free but when I read about camp PG82 Laterina a number of people escaped and then those from the camp were movedd to a German camp.. I could not see him on that list so was wondering if there is any further information or stories where he is mentioned.
    My mother had a ceramic work he brought back with the names of those who were with him painted on it. I will try and locate it to photograph and post here.
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    For information - this may not be the person above, but is the only N Heslop in WO 392 - ie POW camps in Germany

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: N F Heslop
    Rank: Spr.
    Army Number: 83541
    POW Number: 224740
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 4D/Z
    Camp Location: Annaburg, Germany
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    Confirmation be Heather (or not as the case may be) would be helpful

  12. That sounds like it must be him. I will do some digging and confirm.
    Thank you so much.
  13. My grandfather came home with this from Satalg IVD .
    Do you recognise any names?
    Thanks TD confirmed as
    Name: N F Heslop
    Rank: Spr.
    Army Number: 83541
    POW Number: 224740
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 4D/Z
    Camp Location: Annaburg, Germany
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    Attached Files:

  14. steved3811

    steved3811 Member

    Hi Bamboo

    Would it be possible to do a check to see if my cousin, H.W.D. Longden, features in your POW list?.

    He served with the SADF in North Africa and was made a POW and was sent to Italy and then Germany, but I don't have any other details.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  15. Bruneval

    Bruneval Well-Known Member

    Hi Steve,

    The National Archives hold two records for a South African POW named HWD Longden:

    File ref no: WO 416/226/456
    Name: H W D Longden.
    Date of Birth: 24/08/1899.
    Place of Birth: Gwelo.
    Service: [South African Army].
    Rank: 2nd Lieutenant.
    Regiment/Unit/Squadron: [Union Defence Force].
    Service Number: 73518.
    Date of Capture: [unspecified].
    Theatre of Capture: [unspecified].
    Camp Name/Number: Oflag IXA/Z Rotenburg Fulda.
    PoW number: 128846.
    Date of Death: [unspecified].
    Number of Photographs: 0.
    Number of Fingerprints: 0.
    Number of X-rays: 0.
    Number of Cards: 1.

    File ref no: WO 416/227/273
    Name: Horace Longden.
    Date of Birth: 24/08/1899.
    Place of Birth: South Africa.
    Service: South African Land Forces.
    Rank: Lieutenant.
    Regiment/Unit/Squadron: [unspecified].
    Service Number: 73518.
    Date of Capture: 23 March 1944.
    Theatre of Capture: Laterina.
    Camp Name/Number: Stalag VIIA Moosburg.
    PoW number: 128846.
    Date of Death: [unspecified].
    Number of Photographs: 0.
    Number of Fingerprints: 0.
    Number of X-rays: 0.
    Number of Cards: 2.


    steved3811 likes this.
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Steve,

    I have found your cousin on the Italian lists. As hopefully you will have read, these lists are known to include errors, so please bear this in mind. According to the list he was held a Camp 47, which is Modena. Forum member vitellino may be able to add more.

    See below all of his POW travels and a map of where the camps were located:

    Longden HWD Italy.jpg Longden HWD Germany.jpg Longden HWD Germany 2.jpg Prisoners_of_war_camps_in_Germany_in_World_War_II_(map_of_1944).png
  17. steved3811

    steved3811 Member

    Thanks for your help with this.

    kind regards
  18. Hi, looking for any information on my grandfather Major James Stanley (Stan) Winn Rooke born 1 July 1906 in South Shields, Durham, England. Stan served as a major with the second battalion of the Transvaal Scottish or 2TS during 1941 and 1942. He was seconded to the British forces in 1941 and served in East Africa.
    He lived in Johannesburg most of his life and I was told by my mother that he was in Tobruk during the war and he was taken as a POW and possibly went to Italy or Germany.
    Any information greatly appreciated as he died in 1972.
    Thank you. Regards
  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    dbf likes this.
  20. South African Prisoners of War at Prigione di Guerra (PG) (Prison of War) Campo 82 Laterina

    Morning from the Military Academy.

    As part of my Doctoral Studies I have discovered that the following South Africans were held in PG 82 Laterina (see list).

    During the Second World War (1939-1945) almost 15 000 South Africans, thanks mainly to the twin disasters of Sidi Rezegh and Tobruk in North Africa, found themselves as Prisoners-of-War (POW) of the Axis powers. After initially been kept in the POW cages in Africa the POWs were shipped over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Here they were distributed amongst a network of camps. By the time of the collapse of the Italian war effort in September 1943, PG Campo 82, located in the Italian region Tuscany, about 50 kilometres southeast of Florence and about 14 kilometres northwest of Arezzo, housed a considerable number of South African POWs.

    With their Italian guards simply abandoning their posts after the Italian Armistice many of the POWs in PG Campo 82 seized the opportunity to escape into the hills and valleys of Tuscany, despite the Senior British Commanders forbidding them to do so – as they were under orders to remain in camp as it was believed (falsely) that the Allied armies would shortly arrive to liberate them. The sudden arrival of German guards at the camp along with the news that all the POWs would be transported over the Alps by train to new camps in Germany and Poland was a great shock to those men who had decided to follow orders and stay in camp.

    Despite British bumbling, many South Africans decided to chance their lives and try to escape despite the menace of the German guards. Some decided to try and hide away in camp when the Germans began gathering the POWs together for the march to the train station. Others braved machinegun fire and jumped from moving trainings or slipped away during air raids.

    Military records within the British Archives (currently available electronically free of charge due to Covid) records the escape from PG Campo 82 Laterina of 48 South Africans. Of course, there might be many others, but I have only found these 48 names, all of whom were decorated for their bravery with either the Military Medal (MM) or received a Mention in Dispatches (MiD) Clasp.

    The Military Medal (MM) was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other arms of the armed forces, and to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land. The award was established in 1916, with retrospective application to 1914, and was awarded to other ranks for "acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire". The award was discontinued in 1993 when it was replaced by the Military Cross, which was extended to all ranks, while other Commonwealth nations instituted their own award systems in the post war period.

    To be mentioned in dispatches (MiD) describes a member of the armed forces whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which their gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy is described. Servicemen and women of the British Empire or the Commonwealth who are mentioned in dispatches (MiD) are not awarded a medal for their actions but receive a certificate and wear an oak leaf device on the ribbon of the appropriate campaign medal.

    Generally, those who were awarded the MM not only escaped but also did extra service such as join a band of Italian partisans fighting the Germans, while those who simply escaped (not that such an endeavor was without great risk and still required great courage) were awarded the MiD.

    Below is the list of names of the 48 South Africans known to have escaped from PG 82 Campo Laterina. An * behind a person’s names indicates that I have the commendation report describing the actions for which the award was being considered.

    Military Medal

    94003 Pte John Raymond BATSTONE 1 Natal Mounted Rifles (1NMR), 2nd SA Infantry Brigade (2 Bde), 1st South African Infantry Division (1 SA Div) *

    32304 A/Sgt Gordon Andrew BUCHANAN 2 Transvaal Scottish (2TS), 6th South African Infantry Brigade (6 Bde), 2nd South African Infantry Division (2 SA Div) *

    109348 Gnr John Edward OLSEN 2nd SA Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 2 Div *

    304505 Gnr William LOUBSER 1st SA Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 1 Div

    193183 Pte Walter Edward WESTBROOK 1 South African Police (1SAP), 4th SA Infantry Brigade (4 Bde), 2 Div *

    25821 Pte Daniel William WHITEHORN 4th South African Armoured Car Regiment, South African Tank Corps *

    Mention in Dispatches

    11638 Cpl Malcolm Frank ALBRECHT South African Corps of Signals (SACS), 4 Bde, 2 Div *

    7698 Sig Arthur Gordon BARNARD 2 Div Signals Company

    196068 Cpl Jan Hendrik BARNARD Field Security Section, 2 Div Headquarters *

    175479 Pte Harry BECKER 2TS, 6 Bde, 2 Div *

    1500 Pte John Bernard BELL Umvoti Mounted Rifles (UMR), 4 Bde, 2 Div *

    14758 Pte Cecil Oscar BENITO UMR, 4 Bde, 2 Div

    37194 Gnr Jacob Johannes BOTHA 3rd Field Regiment (Fd Regt), South African Artillery (SAA) *

    9211 Rfn Robert William BRETTELL 6 Bde Headquarters, 2 Div

    92401 Sig John Charlton CARTER 4 Bde Signals Company *

    14825 Pte John CHAPLIN 1 Cape Town Highlanders, 1 Bde, 1 Div *

    7347 Pte Vernon Thomas CHRISTENSEN 2nd Royal Durban Light Infantry (2RDLI), 4 Bde, 2 Div *

    108892 Gnr Stanley Victor DARLING 2 AA Regt

    27587 Pte Norman Alexander GALBRATH 2TS, 6 Bde, 2 Div

    227226 Pte William James Chittock GOBEY Technical Service Corps (TSC) Mobile Workshops *

    12265 LCpl Stanley Hilton HACK Die Middellandse Regiment (DMR), 2 Div

    19084 Pte Charles Walter JAMES TSC

    143857 Gnr Grahame KNOX 2 Fd Regt, SAA

    31 TSM Nigel V. LARSEN 2 Fe Regt, SAA

    7328 Cpl George LAUDERDALE 4 Bde Workshops. 2 Div *

    75067 Pte Herman LENZ Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles (DEOR), 1 Bde, 1 Div *

    27919 Pte Abraham LIFEROV 2RDLI, 4 Bde, 2 Div *

    214148 Tpr Johannes Christiaan Klopper LOMBARD 7th SA Armoured Recce Battalion, SA Tank Corps *

    186305 Cpl Brian MANN TSC, 1 Div *

    127794 LCpl William Frederick MAWDSLEY 1 Imperial Light Horse (1ILH), 3rd Brigade (3 Bde), 2 Div

    191350 Spr Samuel MOORE 2 Div Engineer Headquarters

    196137 Cpl Thomas MYBURGH 1SAP, 6 Bde, 2 Div *

    5376 Pte Frederick George NELSON UMR, 4 Bde, 2 Div *

    32251 Pte Frank Henry NOBLE 2TS, 6 Bde, 2 Div *

    90292 Gnr Kenneth Thorne NORRISH 2 Fd Regt

    84975 Sgt Cyril Felix O’DONOGHUE 1SAP, 6 Bde, 2 Div

    1828 Pte David Swan PEISER UMR, 4 Bde, 2 Div *

    15963 Pte John PETRO Indian and Malay Corps (IMC), 2 Fd Regt, SAA

    178774 Sig John Edward PUGLOWSKI 2 Div Signal detached to DMR

    241970 Pte Thomas REID 1TS, 1 Bde, 1 Div

    138448 Pte Hendrik Petrus SCHEEPERS TSC

    4106 Pte Thomas Igenatius Hermanus STEENKAMP 4 Bde HQ *

    36554 Gnr William Jacob SWANEPOEL 2 Anti-Tank Regiment, 2 Div

    130944 Pte John Edwards Alford VAN WYNGAARD 2TS, 6 Bde, 2 Div *

    27293 Pte James Lee WEBBER 2TS, 6 Bde, 2 Div *

    Posthumous Mention in Dispatches

    56836 Pte NFJ EATWELL 2TS, 6 Bde, 2 Div *
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