Stalag XXA

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by geejayboy, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. My father went for a couple of days, being one of about a six men, who walked to the Russian camp, removed the cadavers to just outside the camp. The pile was waist high but my father mentions several piles. Then the bodies had petrol throw over them and were set alight.

    If anyone would like to read my father's account of this work let me know and I'll put it on.

  2. billminer

    billminer Member

    Put it on Jacky by all means. Will be interesting read.
  3. Hi Bill

    It's not too long but it explains why my father always said he would never see my Mum if she died first. (She never.)

    CHAPTER 14

    We had not been back in the camp for long when about six of us were detailed for another job. Because it was so near, we walked accompanied by one guard, to the work site at Glinka (Glinki), just outside Thorn and slept in our own camp. We had a couple of days with the Russian prisoners who were classed as part of our camp although separate from us. They were treated atrociously - as if they had no right to exist and the way Jerry treated them they were succeeding. They were shown no mercy whatsoever. They were bashed for giving the guard a black look, although I never witnessed any brutality myself - I just saw the results. We were not allowed anywhere near them. Their guards, who wore identical uniforms to our own guards, kept them well away from us, although they stood watching us. We were not separated by barbed wire.
    We lived in luxury compared to them. For meals they had dirty water with a potato in it, with the soil still clinging to it; I saw one Russian POW eating his rations. They were dressed in the flimsiest, dirtiest of outfits I have ever seen and most of them had no boots on their feet, although it was bitterly cold. Some had clogs like we had when we first arrived at our camp, but mostly they had rags wrapped around their feet. They were pathetic, walking skeletons.
    I gave one of them a cigarette, by lighting it and throwing it in their direction, when the guards were not looking and I became quite giddy watching them pass it around: each had one puff and passed it on. It was impossible not to feel sorry for them. There were masses of Russians, all wearing the striped uniform, although they were in a POW camp and not a concentration camp.
    We had to go into their camp to bring out the dead; judging from the state of them they were too weak to do it themselves. It was the worst job of my captivity. I knew they were treated terribly, but not this rough, they were so starved they were eating their own skinny dead, who had passed away during the night. We brought the dead outside the camp, one man carrying the feet and another holding under the arms, therefore giving them a tiny shred of decency. We piled them into heaps that reached my waist, then petrol was poured over the bodies and they were set alight. During this part of the operations I removed myself as far as possible away from the scene but the stench and noise still reached me. We covered the same area on both the days we were there and both days our guard, with some extra from other camps, and with a few dogs, escorted us outside.
    I was very thankful when the job ended and I could leave the stench and the dirt behind. One thing we brought back with us was fleas galore and more lice when we marched back to our camp although it was deep winter. Perhaps the several injections the Jerries had given us protected us from any serious infections. Certainly no one was ill afterwards that I know of.
    There is now a memorial among the Soviet graves to the Russians who died in the camp at Glinki.
  4. John Williams

    John Williams Junior Member

    Following from previous post, attached is a photo of my Uncle Charlie Williams, third from left, back row, taken at Stalag XXA in April 1942.

  5. These two photos are from Stalag XXA. The first one is of my dad with four other POWs (he is on the back at the left) and the other is of my dad with a sergeant called Bill, who was later moved to another camp. He is the smaller one.

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  6. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Hi Jacky

    Reading Chapter 14, no wonder the Germans were desperate to get away from the advancing Russian Army. I can imagine their outrage when they arrived to see what had happened to their men. Such a wicked, disgraceful episode.

    Did you see Steve's Dad's photos of the Russian POWs which were posted?
    They clearly show the Russian POWs suffered terribly. I must also add, the Japanese treated all POWs this badly, Changi (Singapore) being one of the worst hell holes imaginable.
  7. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    During our recent visit to Stalag XXA, our excellent guides, Hania and Pawel from the WARTIME GUIDES website took us to Fort 11. This is now privately owned but by sneaking round the back and going into the Fort with torches, they took us to the two cells which were used for the cooler (for the whole of XXA I think).

    There, as if in a time capsule, were all of the etchings made over the five years by POWs who had been thrown into the cooler. It was really quite emotional to read the various things they had written during their time in the darkness of the cells. The overriding spirit was one of "You won't ware me down whatever you do to me".

    I will let photos speak louder than my words, please excuse the language but it is original to the event.

    The final photo is of the entrance which has been bricked up once, but Hania and Pawel managed to get us in. It will be a great shame if this "timecapsule" is ever lost. Have a look at Hania's website and if you are thinking of visiting XXA in Torun, they are the guides to use - really excellent knowledge of the whole complex of forts which was Stalag XXA.


    Cooler 2.jpg

    Cooler 4.jpg

    View attachment 82118

    View attachment 82119

    Cooler 7.jpg

    Cooler 9.jpg

    Cooler 12.jpg
    Capt Bill likes this.
  8. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    Hi everyone, I have been reading these posts over the last few weeks and feel I can now post my first thread.

    My father-in-law, George McRitchie, (Army No. 2755798) now aged 91 was in the 1st Royal Armoured Corp, came south from Lille, Belgium and was captured on Sunday 26th May 1940 at Calais.

    He was taken to Stalag XXA (Thorn Podgorz), given POW No. 4931 and spent the rest of the war in various camps in Poland.

    I have found some information on another website which gives Record Office and address as - Record Office 8,
    Royal Artillery (Coast and Searchlight), Corps of Military Police and Military Provost Staff Corps Record Office, Savoy Hotel, Bournemouth. I assume this is no longer able to give me any more information regarding his time as a POW .

    I have a copy of his memoirs (about 8 pages) about his time in captivity and how my late mother-in-law helped him escape and avoid the 'Long March' back to Germany.

    I would be grateful to hear from anyone who can give me any more infomation about Stalag XXA and The Battle for Calais.


    Gordon Johnston

    write to the International Red Cross Committee in Geneva and request his red cross records - it may take about 9 months to a ear but they will photocopy all the records they have on him and send them to you

    ICRC Archives

  9. billminer

    billminer Member

  10. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Thanks Bill for putting that film clip on the thread. It is exactly the same tour Barbara and I received back in May and was very moving. Although we were guided by a different couple, we met Peter, the guide in the clip, who runs a local museum dedicated to Stalag XXA.


  11. ian72

    ian72 Junior Member

    Hi everyone,

    I am new to this forum but find the information you have all posted extremely interesting.
    My Dad's Uncle was a PoW in Stalag XXa. I was wondering if anybody knew of any books that have been published on Stalag XXa and the long march? I would love to find out more about the conditions and the day to day activities that they went through.


  12. billminer

    billminer Member

    Here's a few that I have read but not totally on the subject of xxa.

    HIGHLAND SCHOTTISCHE by Robert Grieve Black
    I REMEMBER’ by Stanley Rayner
    NO CHEESE AFTER DINNER by Fred Kennington
    Escape Route Green: Flight from Stalag XXA Warren Tute
    Stalag XX-A Ronald Cohn Jesse Russell
  13. billminer

    billminer Member

    This one is about the march west near the end of the war starting in Jan 1945.

    THE LAST ESCAPE by John Nichol and Tony Rennell.
  14. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Stalag XXA-10.jpg

    "For You The War Is Over" by Sam Kydd. Printed in 1974 and still available on Amazon. He was captured at Calais in 1940 when a member of a TA Battalion of the Queen Victoria Rifles and spent five years in XXA. He survived the Long March and went on to be quite a famous TV and film actor in the 60s and 70s. The whole book is about his experiences at Stalag XXA. Dad's escape is mentioned on pages 218 -222.

    He was a good friend of my father (Sgt F Foster) in XXA and they conducted XXA reunions with other friends until they were both in their seventies.

    Picture of Sam Kydd with Dad posted above. Dad centre, Sam right.

  15. ian72

    ian72 Junior Member

    Thank you so much for your suggestions. Plenty of options there for me to start from.


  16. geejayboy

    geejayboy Junior Member

    Just an update from the original post back in Sept 2010...yes I know it's been quite a while.

    My father in law George McRitchie (still going strong at 94) was originally in the 4/5th Battalion Black Watch and later transferred to the 1st Searchlight Battery of the Royal Artillery .....not 1st Royal Armoured Corps as previously stated.

    He also told me that he was on a ship ready to be evacuated but was removed to continue the defence of Calais


  17. NickFenton

    NickFenton Well-Known Member


    Do you have his Liberation Questionnaire?


  18. billminer

    billminer Member

    xxa Pic

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  19. billminer

    billminer Member

    Letter from xxa or b

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  20. billminer

    billminer Member

    Robert James back row far left, looking at picture.

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