Stalag XI-A Altengrabow - S H Potesta....

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by GfL, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. GfL

    GfL Junior Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a newbie to the site so if I ask what appears to be a dumb question and lots of them please bear with me !!

    I'm doing my family tree and trying to help my mum's cousin with his and have found out that his uncle was a POW. The information I have is as follows:

    Sidney H Potesta (from Kingston, Surrey, UK)
    Corporal - Royal Signals
    Army Number: 2320497
    POW Number: 139404
    Stalag XI-A Altengrabow, Saxony-Anhalt

    Where do I go from here? I would dearly love to obtain / see any records. When, where, what was expected of him and, of course, the others stuck in this camp. Many questions, very poor knowledge, I haven't searched through the net, yet, I stumbled on this site and thought I'd try you.

    Any help would be really appreciated.

    It's probably wishful thinking but if there was anyone who knew him, knew of him, has any stories about him it'd be fantastic and I know my mum's cousin would be very grateful.

    Thank you.

    GfL :)
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Capt Bill likes this.
  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Altengrabow was the site of the only parachute deployment of one of the lesser known SF units of WWII the SAARF (Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance Force) who were SHAEF troops - mainly ex-SOE/OSS, SAS, and Airborne, who were trained at Wentworth Golf Course - the teams were made of of British, American, French, Belgian and Polish members both male and female (perhaps the only deployment of Uniformed female SF during WWII) the ladies alas did not take part in the parachute operation only in the jeep mounted missions.

    Link to a piece by Les Hughes on the Altengrabow Op :

    The Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance Force (SAARF)
  4. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    That is a good read. Thank you for posting the link.

  5. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    John Nichols book - the last escape has a fair few stories from XI-A

    my father was there!
  6. GfL

    GfL Junior Member

    Hi Smudger,

    Thank you for the links and pointing me in the right direction, I've looked at a couple of the links and they are very interesting but I've got more to read yet.

    Hi Jedburgh,

    Thank you for the info you've given and the link which, big brother at work blocked which was really frustrating, but I have since read this evening. I had never heard of SHAEF or SAARF. I wonder if my cousin was involved in it or became imprisoned there simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm hoping that if I find any records that question will be answered.

    Capt Bill,

    I think I will be adding another book to my "to read" list and not just because it mentions XI-A, I read all the comments posted on Amazon and it sounds like an exceptional read.

    I hope you don't mind me asking but did your father speak about his time there? I don't mean to be insensitive but I am curious. I need to learn the protocol of the forum, what is acceptable and what isn't !

  7. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    my father didnt say a lot about XI-A, but i can remember him telling me about the guard dog and the russian prisoners, and that is mentioned in pegasusarchives site

    he had a good friend, a true gentleman of the road called 'wembley' named after the area he lived in
  8. royden

    royden Junior Member

    Hi there,
    Yes I am new to the site but hope to be of some help to you. My late father was Cpt Don Hill who was part of the Operation Violet team headed by Major Worrall. They parachuted in to organise the safe surrender of the camp but alas were caught by the Germans. Major Worrall has written a wonderfeul in depth account of the operation which is held in the archives at the Imperial War Museum. I was able to get a copy after visiting the place to research my father's role as he never spoke about it when he was alive other than I knew he was mentioned in dispatches. Cheers and welcome. Roy Hill.
  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    You touch on a point often quoted, that a majority of our veterans seldem spoke of their involvement in the war.

  10. GfL

    GfL Junior Member

    Hi Roy,

    Thank you for your help/information.

    I shall contact the IWM and see if I can obtain a copy too.

    When I was very young my parents' nextdoor neighbour, Mr Bellamy, told my dad that he had been a POW in a German camp. Why/how such a conversation took place I have no idea but I remember asking my dad exactly what was said but he said Mr B never elaborated on it and, therefore, he never asked. Dad said "if Mr Bellamy wanted to talk and tell stories he would have but he hadn't so no more was said".

    GfL :eek:)
  11. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    The ICRC can supply some details of individuals interned during the war:

    ICRC Archives

    Capt Bill likes this.
  12. GfL

    GfL Junior Member

    Hi Roxy,

    Thank you for the link, I never thought of them !

    GfL :)

    PS: Small world, my brother-in-law was at Lossiemouth\Elgin until August 2009.
  13. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    The ICRC can supply some details of individuals interned during the war:

    ICRC Archives


    I completed their paperwork about 2 months ago, only another 4+ to wait then :)
  14. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    A couple of weeks ago, a friend received a reply from the ICRC, having applied 13 months ago about his Father who became a POW in 1940. The letter consisted of a photocopy of a form completed and signed by his Dad with Name, Rank, no serial number, Unit and a signature. That is all he got.
  15. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    There may also be some stuff available from the NA. WO 344 is - War Office: Directorate of Military Intelligence: Liberated Prisoner of War Interrogation Questionnaires. The National Archives will access this for the £8.50.

  16. nmlondon

    nmlondon Junior Member

    My mum and dad in Russia are trying to find more information on Stalag XIa - my Russian grandfather Ivan Nedelko, the POW from 1941 until 44 when he and many others were killed during an Allies air-raid on 28 May 44.

    According to the information on his camp card, he and the rest of the killed POWs were buried on the so-called Russian cemetery in a small town Biederitz, however this cemetery was since liquidated and nobody seems to know where the exhumed remains were taken to and re-buried.

    Natalia McIntosh
  17. Kerri90

    Kerri90 New Member

    Hello, I know this thread has been quiet for the last 8 years but my Great Grandfather was a prisoner of war in Stalag XI a in 1944. He was a Pte in the East Yorkshire Regiment, I believe he was in the 4th battalion. He was transferred here from Italy after escaping the Italian camp and being recaptured from what is rumoured to have been footprints left behind in the snow.
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Kerri

    Just answered your other thread, best to keep it all in one place, otherwise members could be chasing all over the site to answer questions


    It needs to be proved which camp(s) he was in first

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