South Africans in Italian POW Camps

Discussion in 'South African' started by HilikusZA, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello,

    He was held at one time in PG 65 at Gravina, Puglia (the heel of Italy), probably on arriving in Italy from North Africa.


    If his records says that he was taken prisoner on 15 September 1944 (are you sure it wasn't '43) this means that he would have escaped from whichever camp he was being held in on 8 September 1943 - the date of the Italian Armistice - and would have remained at large for a year until recaptured on 15 September 1944 and sent to Lamsdorf.

    He would either have been hidden by a family or would have been with a group of partisans.

    If he was indeed recaptured on 15 September '44 that is in itself interesting - by that time the battles on the Gothic Line had begun. It indicates that he was to the north of the line somewhere, in German-held territory.

    Get back to me please with the confirmation of his second capture date.

    You should also check with one of the people on this forum who obtain records from the UK National Archives if there is a Liberation report for him.


    Regards,

    Vitellino
     
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Have just checked my prisoner llist and have found out that the two POW numbers below his were those of 19207V Private R.G. Rader (POW 138396) and 196024 Private T.J. Laney (POW 138395).

    All three were sent to Lamsdorf 344 and so presumably were captured together. You could try asking for a liberation report for these two as well.

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    For Information - I note the first ones surname is spelt differently

    Name: R G Meader (Rader in the post above)
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 19207V
    POW Number: 138396
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 344
    Camp Location: Lamsdorf, Poland
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    The second one has a different POW number


    Name: T J Laney
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 196024
    POW Number: 138390 (POW Number 138395)
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 344
    Camp Location: Lamsdorf, Poland
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    TD
     
  4. History1

    History1 Member

    Hi

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate your assistance.

    Vitellino, I have checked his SANDF records again, and it is 1944.

    Regards
    C
     
  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello History 1,

    I dashed the above post off in a hurry and made a mistake with Meader's name and Laney's number. Sorry.

    The real possessor of POW number 138395 is Private C.D.Williams (590721V). I will have another look for the owners of numbers 138391-4.

    It is now fairly safe to say that your grandfather was captured in the North of Italy somewhere after having escaped following the Armistice. He had done well to stay on the run for a year.

    I wonder if he and the others had been making for Swizerland? They may have been moved north from Capua to a work camp sometime before the Armistice, as was the case with a large number of South African POWs. The only way to find out where he was recaptured would be from a liberation report.

    Regards,

    Vitellino
     
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    That makes more sense Vitellino -

    Name: C D Williams
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 590721V
    POW Number: 138395
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 344
    Camp Location: Lamsdorf, Poland
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    Well done with the research.

    TD
     
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

  8. History1

    History1 Member

    Thank you all for your help. He died in 1950 when my father - in - law was a baby, so no one has any information about him at all. All my husband has is a photo and his war medals. So it is wonderful to find out a little bit of his experiences.

    How do I find out if there is a liberation report for him?
     
  9. I have just been searching on Plemo PG62/51and I completely missed this reply to my post way back in 2012 which indicates South African presence at the camp.
    Trying to open Powvets my computer Norton Antivirus goes into overdrive warnings about the content of the site,can anyone with software knowledge inform me what has happened to the site as I would like to find the content on Plemo

    Trevor
     
  10. WAFORD

    WAFORD New Member

    Hi

    My Father: William Arthur Ford no: 115931, served in the 1st Battalion of the Botha regiment and was captured during November 1941 near Sidi Rezegh in Libia and sent to Stalag viii.
    He was eventually found in a POW Camp PG 52 (Hut 6) in Chiavari Italy in January 1942.
    I would really like more detail regarding how they would have got to Poland and then again to Italy in this time. I know that they marched from Poland to Italy during the winter, My Father who died in 1985 never spoke about the war. He would get tears in his
    eyes just thinking about those years.
    We were young and would ask some silly questions and my Dad would tell us to go play. Now that I am older I wish he was here
    to answer all my questions. Such a pity as this is history lost forever.

    Kind regards

    Mrs Jo van der Spuy (nee Ford)
     
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Jo

    Welcome to the forum

    W A Ford in the UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: W A Ford
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 115931
    POW Number: 77096
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 344
    Camp Location: Lamsdorf, Poland
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    Do you have his service records? This should provide details.

    To be honest I have not heard of POW's being transported from Germany/Poland to Italy, normally it would be the other way around. From North Africa most POW's were shipped to camps in Italy, then in 1943 when Italy 'surrendered' the Germans moved a lot of POW's from Italy to Germany by train. Then in the winter of 1944/1945 the Germans moved POW's north from their camps to try and hold onto as many as possible, this was named 'The Long March'.

    TD
     
  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Jo,

    I think many of us would like the chance of talking to our loved ones again about their time during WW2. The trouble is, we are only ready to listen when we are ready and sometimes, sadly that is just too late.

    Other members will be able to help answer some of your questions I'm sure. Your father does appear on the file WO392/21 for POW's held by the Italians as of August 1943, see attached image. Frustratingly, no camp is recorded against his name, but you already know that he was found in Camp 52, so perhaps this is not so disappointing.

    Good luck going forward.

    Steve

    Ford WA..jpg
     
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  13. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello,

    The only POWs I know of who were sent to Germany and then back to Italy were members of the crew of HM Submarine Sahib.

    They were packed off to Marlag und Milag Nord to be interrogated at the special naval interrogation centre associated with the camp and then sent back to Italy, arriving a PG 52 in late July-early August, only to be sent back to Germany on 15 September or thereabouts following the Armistice. This is all very well documented both in liberation reports and in the book 'The Broken Column' by Able Seaman J.F. Wilde.

    The point is this, I believe. Whilst the Italians were allies of the Germans each nation kept its own prisoners in camps on national soil. Hence, anyone taken prisoner in North Africa by the Italians was kept in Italy until the Armistice (8 September '43) after which they were taken to camps in Germany.

    Why the difference with regard to the submariners?

    A very interesting question. Lt.Bromage of Sahib had spilt some of the beans about the S class subs in the Med. to British double agent Theodore Schurch, who, posing as Captain Richards of RASC had been in the same POW Camp 50 in Rome as Bromage. Sahib's telegraphists - and not only them - would have been in possession of info. regarding ASDIC etc. which the Germans would dearly have liked to know about.

    I think that the long march William Arthur Ford was on was in fact that from Stalag VIIl B(later renamed as 344 Lamsdorf).

    In reply to another question, to find out if there is a liberation report for any serviceman held in Germany all that is necessary is to ask one of the peoplr who use this website and offer their services at the National Archives to look him up,


    Regards,

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  14. WAFORD

    WAFORD New Member

    Thank you TD,,Vitellino and Steve for your response. It makes more sense now as my Dad spoke about this long march that they were on. He said that he had two pairs of socks. He washed them every night by a stream or any water source that they got to and tied one pair around his body to dry them (very cold as it was winter) He would wear a clean pair of socks every day and never had a blister on his feet through the whole march.
    I will however study his military record and also look at the STALAG VIII document more closely and will report back to you again.

    Thanks again you have all been very helpfull !!

    Kind regards

    Jo
     
  15. LeoneG

    LeoneG Member

    Hi, everyone.

    New here, but this seems like the place to be.

    I'm trying to locate the fellows that my grandfather mentioned in his stories (which he didn't tell that often), and hoping to find some help or info here.

    My grandfather was Corpl (temp) Andries Johannes de Bruyn de Jager, SAP196800. Served: A Company, SA Police Battalion, 6th SA Infantry Brigade. Captured after the fall of Tobruk (handful of them almost reached Alexandria on foot through the desert), on 1 or 2 July 1942. Sent to camps at Benghazi, via ship to Brindisi, via train and about 12 miles on foot to Fara Sabina (August 1942, camp 54, there about 6 months), and to Sardinia via train, ship and foot. Received first Red Cross packages at the latter, of which about half was "confiscated" by the guards. Almost bombed & shot by an Allied plane, as the guards had neglected to put up a red cross to indicated prisoners of war (think this was while working outside the camp, at Cagliari?). From Sardinia to Corsica with a small boat (landed at Bonifacio), again per boat from Bastia to Livorno, by truck to a camp at Fiorentina. Sent to work on vineyards at Castello di Brolio (there on foot). Sounds like the move off of Sardinia wasn't very official, and they hadn't received any mail since Fara Sabina.

    A few of the men he mentions only from inside the camps.
    FARA SABINA
    Sgt.Maj. Engelbrecht (artillery, served under Genl Dan Pienaar).
    Slabbert
    Van Reenen
    Sgt.Maj. Bafet
    Sgt. Fourie
    SARDINIA (went there with about 50 men from Fara Sabina, volunteered for work)
    Van Tubbergh (contacted Elize about this one) (before fall of Tobruk the driver for Genl Klopper)
    Tom Burning
    Schoeman

    While out working on a farm (again about 50 of them, at Castello di Brolio), Italy capitulated c.7/9/1943 (hope that's the right technical term here), and the guards took them back to their little camp. Some POWs escaped then and there, but others heckled/scared the guards until the latter abandoned the camp and the prisoners escaped. That's how prisoners from a Sardinian camp ended up in Tuscany.

    Here some of them joined up with the Italian resistance movement. Taking a guess here that all South Africans in that region at that particular time were escaped POW's? Some not previously mentioned:
    Van Rooyen
    Naas Ferreira
    Barnard

    My grandfather joined the Monte Amiata group (#335), under Capt. H.S. HOOD (from British Intelligence?) and Maj. Terrosi (Italian).

    As they were still behind enemy (German) lines, they hid/fled in the hills around Castello di Brolio and Castello di Montalto. Some caught, some killed, some died of illness, and some even died from eating wild mushrooms the following year. From the sound of it quite harrowing when the German retreat was moving all around them. Some decided to take the chance and try to get through the Germans to reach the Allied forces, instead of fleeing further north. My grandfather was in a small group of these who reached the Allied forces in Sienna on 4 July 1944. He took a bit of a detour home stopping at several field hospitals, but reached South Africa again on 7 Sept 1944.

    Would be fantastic to hear from relatives of any of the guys mentioned above! Or just get some more info on them.

    Other persons of interest before capture:
    Anderson (motorfiets-rapportryer)
    July Pietersburg ("killed" a German tank with a Molotov cocktail)
    Sgt. Joseph BURCHELL #196785 (quartermaster)
    L.Cpl. Richard FITCHAT #196763 (assistant quartermaster of company)
    Herman Visagie
    Sgt.Maj. Johannes Petrus JONKER #195744 (from Natal)
    Capt. Johannes Casparus LEMMER #196819 MC (A-company commander?)
    "Neusie" de Wet (A-company clerk)
    "A.G" Visser (nickname, because he composed poetry)
    Col. Poon du Toit

    Sorry about the super long post! Just got so excited about the mere prospect of getting more information on any of these soldiers. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
    C van der Walt likes this.
  16. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Leone and welcome,

    What an interesting story.

    You might be interested in Corporal Alick Gordon's account of his being sent to Sardinia from PG 54 - I've posted some of it here. The move to Sardinia was quite official and was in response to a request for workers made by the Azienda Carboni Italiani (a coal company) in December 1942 for white South African workers from PG 54 to swell the ranks of their labour force. wwwcampifascist.it (the website is in Italian).

    Alick's report can be found at
    Corporal A A Gordon - Campo PG 54 - Fara Sabina
    (I have corrected those Italian places names which he got wrong so that they can be found on a map.)

    Arrived at Bari on the morning of 2nd August after a long walk to camp. We stayed in Bari camp for 16 days and experienced the first thrill of receiving Red Cross Parcels. We were told that this was a transit camp and told that our destination was to be a propaganda camp so we were more hopeful. Once again cattle trucks with benches this time. It was wonderful to see green pastures again after our stay in the desert. We saw Mount Vesuvius in the distance and passed the outskirts of Rome. Our new camp was about 48 k’s out of the capital. We arrived at Fara Sabina about 10 in the evening on 19th August. On 31st August the first batch of Red Cross kit was issued – Battle Dress, socks, shirts, underpants, handkerchiefs, caps and greatcoats. On 21st January 1943, 700 South Africans left Fara Sabina ‘en voyage’ for Sardinia. In spite of being told by medicals not to go, I decided to forget about my boils and leave with the rest of my crowd. At about 4 that afternoon we stepped on the boat and issued with lifebelts and orders to “just make yourselves comfortable”. We sailed at 9 that evening. Next morning we arrived at Albia, (OLBIA) north of the island, and once again it was cattle trucks with benches. Travelled all day and at about 10 that evening we arrived at Eglesias (IGLESIAS) . Changed over to narrow gauge and after hanging around for hours eventually got under way, very tired of travel and anxious to get settled in our new camp. We arrived at Bacuabia (BACU ABIS) early on the 23rd January 1943 – right in the middle of a coal mining area.

    On 13th May we heard that Tunisia was all over. By the end of May rumours were very strong that the camp was moving. One Party left on 5th June and the other the next day for a place called San Gavino (SAN GAVINO MONREALE) which was in the centre of the Island. After our Air Force machine gunned the local foundry, we were sent north to a place called Surran – 24th July. On the morning of 7th August we were moved to the port of Palam (PALAU) and at 2 in the afternoon were on our way by ferry to Corsica. We arrived at Bonafacia (BONIFACIO) at 5 after a very rough crossing. Arrived at Bastia at about 1 the following morning and were put onto a boat. Arrived at LA Spezia at about 11 the following morning. On the 10th August we entrained again and at about 8 that evening arrived at a small village called Laterina. A 3½ hour walk and we were at our new abode ‘82’.


    I think your grandfather was sent to LATERINA PG 82 like Alick as there is no such camp as Fiorentina. I am busy preparinig a website on Laterina and will include him. There were a lot of work camps attached to Laterina but I didn't know about the one at Brolio- thank you very much for the information.

    Look for JJ Van Rooyen on this website who has recently visited Laterina,

    Regards

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
    LeoneG likes this.
  17. LeoneG

    LeoneG Member

    Hi, Vitellino.

    Thank you so much for your reply and the story!

    I didn't want to make my post too long, and some of it may have been lost in translation from Afrikaans. :) Some clarification...

    FARA SABINA
    Description:
    "Our camp consists of two smaller camps, and is put op on an old lusern field, fenced with high mesh wire fence on the inside with barbed wire on top and guard posts with lots of guards. On the inside, about six feet from the high fence, is a barbed fire fence of about four foot high. Large marquee tents with about 40 men in each. The rations are small and some of the guys start eating bits of lusern to eat with their 'minestrone'. The latter from onions, tomato puree and a hanfull of macaroni."
    My grandfather (Danie for short) was in the kitchen team at Fara Sabina, under Maj. ENGELBRECHT, together with SLABBERT and VAN REENEN. Sgt FOURIE runs the camp's "post office".

    SARDINIA
    After about 6 months in the camp, 50 of the first prisoners volunteering at the gate are taken to Sardinia to cut wheat. Volunteers with VAN TUBBERGH & Tom BURNING. Per train to the coast, per boat to Sardinia, and the rest by foot. There at a "camp" in an olive grove (no red cross displayed). Improved rations (weekly delivery by ox-wagon). Received Red Cross packages from England. Allied bombers come from over the sea to bomb the harbour town of CAGLIARI (town and railway station). The bombers return with a salvo of machine gun fire. Some of the planes come towards us, and fire on the stone/brick factory and also his the camp.
    The "camp" gets moved from the olive grove at Cagliari to bungalows about 2-3 miles further. 8 men per room, and a big white cloth with a red cross displayed. Another bomb-raid siren, and the hide in the bungalow(s). Some time later they see a Lockheed Lightning fly by, followed by a German Messerschmitt. Haven't received mail in a long time.
    They get moved back to Italy/mainland on a flat-bed small boat, on a rough sea. Landed at CORSICA at small harbour of BONIFACIO, and spend a few days in the open field near a stream (downstream from residents). Another flat-bed boat (4 hours) from BASTIA (northern CORSICA) over to LIVORNO on a very rough sea.

    MAINLAND
    At the harbour of Livorno on to open trucks (50 of them plus guards) to a camp at (near?) FIORENTINA (outside Firenze/Florence) (about 4 hour trip). There in an established camp with mainly SA POW's in bungalows (40 men per). Some SA mine workers busy with an escape plan burrowing a tunnel. Rumours reach them that the Allied forces have landed on the southern point of Italy. Another work team of 50 volunteers will be taken to work on vineyards, so Danie, VAN TUBBERGH, Naas FERREIRA and Tom BURNING volunteer again.
    From the approx 200 men at the gate, the 4 are among the 50 taken on an open truck to CASTELLO DI BROLIO in Chianti, and dropped off at a stone building on the hillside. The upper part is their living quarters, half of the building used for storage, and the other wing inhabited by civilian Italians. Guards only watching the entrance to the upper part and down onto the low back yard. Windows covered with barbed wire. Few mile per foot through the hills, to dig trench for new vines. Three days later midday they abruptly get order back to their "camp", and not allowed to leave. Guards and their luitenant uneasy. Late afternoon they hear "Tedeschi scappare!", and that the Germans are fleeing. The Italian luitenant flees, and the guards don't know what to do with the prisoners. By nightfall a resident comes with the news "Pace! Pace!". Fires are lit on the surrounding hilltops. During the night about 5 prisoners escape through a window (among them Daantjie UYS). By sunrise the few guards left still don't want to let the prisoners go outside. The prisoners try scaring the guards with talk, and some of the guards and prisoners walk out the gate in the confusion. Eventually the guards get so nervous that they let all the prisoners to pass them and disappear into the woods.


    Is FIORENTINA near LATERINA ? Of course it's possible that Danie got the exact location wrong, but he had picked up quite a bit of Italian along the way and made a point of picking up bits of news/info from the guards. From his description I gather that there were more than 200 POWs at that particular camp. Would this have been too small?

    PS Do you have a number for the Bari camp?
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  18. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Leone,

    The camp to which the men from Sardinia were sent was Laterina. No such camp as Fiorentina existed - either in Tuscany or anywhere else in Italy to my knowledge - and it does not appear on any list of camps, either in Allied documents held in the National Archives in the UK (WO392/21 ) or in Italian documents available on www.campifascisti.it.

    The camp at Bari was PG 75 Torre Tresca.

    There were 3080 prisoners on PG 82 Laterina in May 1943 (evidence in Inspection Report dated May 26, to be found in National Archives London Cataogue no. WO 224/315) of whom 803 were South African. Most would have been still there when your grandfather arrived and there is other evidence of the digging of the tunnel in Frank Unwin's article in a book named 'Al di Là del Filo Spinato ' - in Italian, but I translated part of it for this forum in another thread. He specifically mentions the South African miners involved.

    There were quite a number work camps associated with Laterina, most of them being agricultural. However, this is the first notice I have of anyone being sent to Brolio - just across the Arno Valley from Laterina as the crow files. Thanks for this information which I hope you will agree to my using on my website.

    Best of luck with your search for relatives of other South Africans whom your grandfather might have known,

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  19. LeoneG

    LeoneG Member

    Once again, thank you so much Vitellino.

    Your clarification does make sense, and I've passed on the info to my mother who has more knowledge of this story than I do. I checked with her, and you are welcome to use the info for your website. Please let me know when you do, because I'd love to have a look.

    Leone
     
  20. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Leone,

    When the website is ready I will post the notice on the forum. If you have a photo fo your grandafther I will include that too. If you send me a private message I will give you my email address.

    Regards

    Vitellino
     

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