taken pow at mersa matruh 15 june 1942

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by bigringtommo, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    hello all,im trying to find out information about my late granddads service during the second world war,he was captured on june 15 1942 at mersa matruh and was at three italian pow camps before escaping to switzerland.i have the telegrams from the war office,red cross and a personal letter from his captain(N H WALLACE)plus cards sent from the pow camps and telegrams from switzerland,my grandads name was thomas slinn no:3658355 of the 7th battalion green howards.the pow camps he was incarcerated in were:camp 146 ph3100. campcapedale militare busette tripoli.camp73 pm3300,camp 53 settore no1 pm3300.can anyone help me with info about this ? i can post the documentation on this site,the letter from his captain is heartfelt,and some of my grandads telegrams are to
     

    Attached Files:

    • 031.jpg
      031.jpg
      File size:
      976.9 KB
      Views:
      101
    • 022.jpg
      022.jpg
      File size:
      709.6 KB
      Views:
      78
    • 015.jpg
      015.jpg
      File size:
      1.6 MB
      Views:
      85
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hello and welcome to the forum. Hopefully someone will be able to help you out with the PoW side of things. Thanks for sharing the images too.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  3. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    thanks for the reply andy ive got more documents to post if people want to see them,i find them fascinating
    cheers nigel(bigringtommo)
     
  4. Varasc

    Varasc Senior Member

    Hi Nigel,
    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Did he escape in Switzerland through the Aosta Valley?
     
  5. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Nigel, welcome to the forum!

    You may know this, but just to help get things moving along...

    The 7th Battalion, Green Howards, were in 69th Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division; from June 1940 and for the duration. It's sister Battalions were the 6th Bn Green Howards and 5th Bn East Yorks. Following the Axis' successful attack on the Gazala line, one of its sister brigades, the 150th Infantry Brigade (4th & 5th Bn's Green Howards, and 4th Bn East Yorks) was overrun and destroyed on 1 June 1942; those lucky enough to survive becoming POW.

    The 69th and its other sister brigade, the 151st Infantry Brigade (6th, 8th & 9th Bn's Durham Light Infantry) remained in the Gazala line. However, the axis forces were east of the Gazala boxes/line, so behind the 50th (Northunbrian) Division and the 1st South African Division. Their security now depended on the British armour defeating Rommel's armour. The reverse happened, and the 50th (Northunbrian) Division and the 1st South African Division were now isolated.

    Both divisions were ordered to withdraw from the Gazala line on the 13 June 1942, but the 50th (Northumbrian) Division had to wait until the 1st South African Division had got away. Once the South African's withdrew any surprise that the Axis forces may have had about 8th Army intentions was lost and the one good road - the coastal route - was jammed with the retreating 1st South African Division. So, when it was the turn of the 50th (Northunbrian) Division to withdraw on the 14th June 1942, rather than use the coastal route, it attacked the Axis forces to the West, punching through the enemy front line (still) and then turning south, around Bir Hacheim, and then due east heading for the Egyptian Border (NB. some did use the coastal route out of necessity).

    The 50 Div then concentrated on Bir Thalata and later in the month at Mersa Matruh. Here 50 Div were again attacked by Axis forces, and a further withdrawal took place on the 29 June 1942. It was on the 27 June 1942 at Mersa Matruh, that Private Adam Wakenshaw, 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry, won the first of 50 Div's four Victoria Crosses in WWII.

    There is a separate thread on the forum at present about CSM Stanley Hollis, 6th Bn, Green Howards, who won the last of the four VC's on D-Day...

    Going off the dates, I believe that your granddad probably got picked up by the vanguard of Rommel's forces in their push East - unlucky!

    It would be really great if you could post the other documents you have, and if you require any further information about the 69th Infantry Brigade at this time please just ask.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    who won the last of the four VC's on D-Day...

    There was only one VC awarded for actions during D-Day mate.
     
  7. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    There was only one VC awarded for actions during D-Day mate.

    Hello Andy,

    My message mentioned the four VC's won by the 50 Div in WWII and Hollis' was the last of the four and won on D-Day, not about D-Day VC's.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  8. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the Forum

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Nigel,

    I thought I was going to be able to tell you where he was in August 1943, from the file 'POW's of the Italians' WO392/21 held at the National Archives.

    He is there (see attached) jpeg, but no camp is suggested alongside his name. Frustrating, but something else to hold as information I guess.

    Good luck going forward.

    Steve.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    thank you for such quick responses to my post im attaching more of the documents i have, to see if anyone can help me generate some time line about the different camps my granddad was at.and in which order im in touch with the rest of the familly to see if they can help but it seems that this forum is the best place to further my quest.thank you all nigel(big ring tommo)hope is the best of things and no good thing ever dies
     

    Attached Files:

    • 011.jpg
      011.jpg
      File size:
      759.2 KB
      Views:
      53
    • 013.jpg
      013.jpg
      File size:
      1.5 MB
      Views:
      57
    • 010.jpg
      010.jpg
      File size:
      1.3 MB
      Views:
      56
    • 027.jpg
      027.jpg
      File size:
      1.8 MB
      Views:
      54
  11. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    steve i think the reason why there is no number is because he had escaped by the end of 1943 ive attached a letter from his brigade dated 4 nov 1943 saying he has "escaped from enemy hands and arrived in switzerland"thats the spirit !!!
    could you explain what the pm number means on the camp listing e.g :camp73 PM 3300? and can you tell me what the r.o.no means thats at the top of the pow doc you posted please regards nigel
     

    Attached Files:

    • 011.jpg
      011.jpg
      File size:
      20 KB
      Views:
      62
  12. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    steve thank you for the description of the battle around mersa matruh. the books ive been reading seem to bypass the period that my granddad was captured in, so the information that you have provided has helped fill in the gaps. I appreciate your help and time with this, it means a lot., Kind Regards, Nigel im posting the letter that my granddads captain sent to my grandmother soon after he was posted missing
     
  13. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    Hi Nigel,
    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Did he escape in Switzerland through the Aosta Valley?
    hello Varsac im trying to find out the route of my grandads escape will post when i have more info.can you let me know where in italy the pow camps he was at are ?the numbers are posted and on the documents i have posted .and do you know what the pm3300 etc number after the camp number means ?any help would be much appreciated regards nigel
     
  14. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Good morning Nigel,

    Good post; with your grandmother's telegrams to your granddad and Capt. Wallace's letter to your grandmother.

    I will look for more information on Mersa Matruh on the 15 June 1942 and post again, as and when!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  15. Varasc

    Varasc Senior Member

    Hi dear,

    Probably, here we are! I found your POW camps. For further researches on this subject, please remind that in Italian they are usually written as "PG..", for instance, "PG52 Chiavari": PG, the number of the camp and then the name of the place, village or city.

    Well, you kindly wrote:

    1. Campcapedale militare busette, Tripoli: in my mind, this means Campo Ospedale Militare (Military Hospital Camp), while "Busette" was a famous Hospital in Tripoli, as underlined by this article in pdf:
    http://www.ecodibasilicata.it/15febbraio2011/pag22.pdf
    Many foreign prisoners were rescued and hospitalized there, before to reach the Italian mainland.
    (Just write "Busetta" and click Find).

    2. Camp 146: PG146 Mortara was a POW camp, near Pavia.

    3. Camp 53: PG53 Sforzacosta,
    Roger Collinson - Prisoners of War - World War II

    P.G. 53

    I don't know what PM (PM3300..) means. In my mind, PM could stand for Prigionieri Militari, Military Prisoners, while the number may refer to a "satellite" or working camp, detached from the main camp.
    For instance, Camp 106 in Vercelli had many smaller camps for the prisoners who agreed to work in the agro-farming sector.
    I remain at your disposal, if you need Italian translations.
    I hope this was useful. Have a nice Easter time!
     
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Nigel,

    I always took the PM and number to mean how many POW's were held in the camp as well. So I can add nothing new to the other members replies. Sorry.
     
  17. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello again Nigel,

    I've done a bit of very general reading today - revision - about the advance of Rommel and the DAK, and have to say although it is not impossible, it is unlikely that your granddad would have been taken POW at Mersa Matruh on the 15 June 1942.

    On that date, more likely Tobruk, El Adem or 'Knightsbridge' areas. If Mersa Matruh, more likely around the 25/26th June 1942 earliest.

    It will be good to see how all this 'pans out' as you obtain more and better information about his service. Stick with the research and post again when you can...

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  18. Varasc

    Varasc Senior Member

    Great check Steve.. This post sounds fascinating, more and more interesting.

    Nigel, if I may help you in some way, please don't hesitate to ask.
     
  19. bigringtommo

    bigringtommo Junior Member

    Hello again Nigel,

    I've done a bit of very general reading today - revision - about the advance of Rommel and the DAK, and have to say although it is not impossible, it is unlikely that your granddad would have been taken POW at Mersa Matruh on the 15 June 1942.

    On that date, more likely Tobruk, El Adem or 'Knightsbridge' areas. If Mersa Matruh, more likely around the 25/26th June 1942 earliest.

    It will be good to see how all this 'pans out' as you obtain more and better information about his service. Stick with the research and post again when you can...

    Best,

    Steve.
    hello steve thanks for taking an interest in this story,im using the date of capture as given by the red cross the war office, and the letter from grandads captain.im putting faith in these being the correct date.the captains letter says grandad was captured at mersa matruh,ive attached this letter for all to read,i have a translation i can post coz the origional is hard to read but have a go first.....another member (dave)is doing the legwork at the national archives for me so may get some new info there,anyway have a look at this letter and let me know what you think
    cheers nigel
     

    Attached Files:

    • 027.jpg
      027.jpg
      File size:
      1.8 MB
      Views:
      64
  20. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Nigel,

    The letter is very clear about time and place, but for your granddad to have been taken POW at Mersa Matruh 10/11 days ahead of the main DAK arrival is unlikely, but not impossible. If the dates and place are right, he would have had to have been very unlucky to bump into a very advanced vanguard of the DAK.

    As I said earlier, lets find out what we can and see how it all pans out.

    Keep the research going...

    Best,

    Steve.
     

Share This Page