Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Frank Flattery, Feb 7, 2020.
Frank - this link may help: List of German prisoner-of-war camps - Wikipedia
Good luck. John
Thanks, John, I had seen the list, but there seems to be quite a few in the area...more than anything else, I was trying to find out more about the incident involving 'town re-planning, courtesy of 3RTR'. I was hoping someone else would have some info, if only to corraborate the story. Much appreciated!
Could you elucidate a little more: date, time, rough location etc?
Hi, that's the problem, the photos aren't dated, nor has my grandfather given a location, camp name, etc. The only clue I have is what he wrote beneath the photo: "Liberated allied POWs, including one of our own S.M." The only other reference I've managed to find is in Bill Close's book, where he mentions liberating a POW camp which held an old 3RTR sergeant, Socker Heath, somewhere in the Lauenburg area.
Tank Commander: From the Fall of France to the Defeat of Germany
So we're talking end of April, possibly beginning of May, although reading Bill's book, it gives the impression it's before crossing the Elbe, so late April is my guess. Now I did see references somewhere on the web about a POW camp at Lauenberg, but no official Stalag name. In fact, it mentioned a news letter 'The Barbed Wire', if I remember correctly, but no more. Just to add to the confusion, there is 'The Long March' story on the BBC page, about POWs being forced to march west, the Germans prefered to surrender to the British rather than the Russians, and they were picked up by a what-could-be 11 Armoured Div at Lauenberg, at about the same time..... (see earlier post for link)!!! Those POWs were in bad shape after the march, which may have precipitated 3RTR's action against the town.
What makes me think it wasn't after Belsen is that according to all reports, 3RTR passed through the camp to the agreed battle lines, so I guess they wouldn't have had time to do anything.
Just noticed as well, there are various spellings: Lauenberg and Lauenburg...google maps shows the one on the Elbe as Lauenburg, and Lauenberg much further south... Bill Close spells it Lauenberg, but then talks about crossing the Elbe. It's not the first time I've seen both ~berg/~burg endings for the same town. Also, Bad Segeberg/Segeburg.
I also remember reading somewhere that 3RTR had liberated a POW Camp where at least one of those chaps had 'been with the 3rd and captured at Calais'...... I guess we will figure it out one day.
Aaahh.. found it..according to Patrick Delaforce in his book 'Taming The Panzers', 3RTR liberated a POW camp at Hagen, mentioning Socker Heath and other 3RTRers captured at Calais. It's a village just north of Bergen.
Now to see if there is any reference anywhere regarding village improvments, 3RTR-style.
Hagen sounds familiar; I'll look in Langdons book 'The Sharp End' hopefully later today and see what, if anything, he says. Incidentally, that would make the date about 15th April 1945 because that's when 3RTR passed by Belsen.
These are the locations for 15th April 1945 as described in Langdon's book - actually my compilation of his information into a 'route march'. I'll add more detail later.
Hmmmm, "brassed up some buildings"... what does he mean by that?!? Could be the incident in question, perhaps?
I need to get a copy of this book, me thinks!
I've got this that possibly may help you with your 'route march', my grandfather made a list of places he passed through, from D-day till VE Day. The spelling of place names may vary ( as I mentioned in an earlier post, I've seen various spellings for the same towns, etc) and dates may also be different ( he places them in Bad Segeberg on 3rd May, whereas elsewhere they give the date as 5th May, although this could refer to actually entering the town, he may be referring to waiting outside, pending getting the official go-ahead to enter after surrender of town). I hope they're of use!
By way of explanation...'brassed up some buildings'..... simply refers to some text that caught my attention for use in my own reference document. That's part of one of the pages in my document entitled "With Speed...That Way" - I won't bother you with the detail at this stage.
Gosh! We are going to need to swap notes on an ongoing basis....but not today as I'm somewhat busy on other things alledgedly.
This is what Langdon has to say about Hagen on 15th April 1945. Apologies the photo has come out blue - not sure why it's doing that (nice sunny day here so can't be the effect of a fluorescent light. Weird!)
Regarding Delaforce, it's worth pointing out that Delaforce was a FOO attached for much of that particular time to 3RTR
Edit: interesting that Langdon states 'two POW Camps'. Two? Um. That could provide further clues as to their location.
Delaforce provides a little more information in his book 'The Black Bull' - I googled this rather than via access to my hard copy which is tucked away out of reach at the moment anyway - where he mentions a large POW Camp in Hagen liberated by 4th KSLI.
Curious that the only POW Camp searchable/locatable via google in that area is the one at Bergen-Belsen which was closed in 1943 in order to be converted into the infamous Bergen-Belsen Concentation Camp.
Also curious that the various accounts mention Army and Air Force POWs. These were normally kept apart as in Stalag v Stalag Luft. Speculation at this stage, but that might account for Langdons comment about two POW Camps.
I saw 'the Black Bull' on Amazon, looks like a paperback edition is coming out on 20th April. Do you know if it's just an updated version of Taming the Panzers, or is it much more in depth? That's the impression I got from what I saw on Amazon and google books excerpts. I see that from your book pic he says "B squadron were recalled to Bergen...remain the night" Maybe the incident happened there, I guess it would be understandable. I found an annotation my grandfather wrote at the bottom of a page in his copy of Montgomery of Alamein, where he describes passing through Belsen. I'm sure somewhere or other I did see a reference to the incident, but at the mo, I've been unable to find it.
Just noticed, he mentions the fact that they "came into contact with our own prisoners of war (...)simply walked out of their camps(...)" ...so that means they didn't necessarily liberate camps, but rather found prisoners who had left their camps (ties in with 'The Long March' story). As they say, "the plot thickens!"
The Black Bull is about the 11th Armoured Division while Taming the Panzers is about 3RTR so, while Delaforce does his usual 'copy and paste' approach, they are completely different books. Beware Delaforce books: lots of repeated inaccuracies. One of his 'errors' is classic: I forget which book but in it he mentions ...."and Harry Dews was wounded".... I met Harry many times - he and dad were in 24th Lancers and 3RTR together - and I mentioned this fact to Harry....he laughed, smiled and then said...."that's news to me, came through without a scratch".....
I'll bear that in mind....finding a truely accurate source nowadays is hard, I guess, and I'm sure most of the info out there, as you say, is copy-and-paste, etc.. I was wondering if it's worth requesting copies of the war diaries from the National Archive instead of the transcripts from Bovingdon; I spoke to Katie, the person who sent me the tracer card, and she told me that some of the appendices are included in the transcripts that Bovingdon have, especially around June-July '44, but, as you said, not all of them. I'd really like to have all the info available for this period, and she said that the NA hold everything, but not digitalised, they send scans (I'm sure you're already aware of this).
It would be great if they also held a troop list for each squadron, etc, Charlie's surname is still a task pending!
Thanks for the book info, really appreciate it!
Whatever you do, do not get the NA to send you scans; it will cost a fortune. There are a couple of members of this Forum who offer a copying service for a very competitive price, in fact they probably already have the War Diaries you require.
Edit: I've just checked my copy of the full War Diary and, as expected, it doesn't contain a Nominal Roll or anything remotely resembling one. That's not surprising as it would have been a massive task and not part of the War Diary writing regime anyway - more of a general admin activity.
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