Did any POW's get released early?

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by penderel, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. penderel

    penderel Junior Member

    From German camps?
    Did exchanges take place?

    Did any South African POW get released early?

    Thanks.
     
  2. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Yes there were isolated instances of prisoners being returned on both sides ..usually because of serious sickness.
    Sapper
     
  3. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    I was reading just the other week something which had a brief reference to Allied/Axis prisoner exchanges, racking my brain to recall what it was though.

    Hmmm not much use I admit.

    cheers,
     
  4. handtohand22

    handtohand22 Senior Member

    These are two stories about individual repatriation told by ex-Royal Marine Bill Balmer. He was taken prisoner by the Germans after the collapse of the ‘Sacrifice Army’ at Calais 26 May 1940. He was 17 years old at the time of his capture.
    The first repatriation took place from Sternberg Timber Yard where he was part of a work party called E361, forced to labour for his captors. The second incident took place at Stalag VIIIb at Lamsdorf.




    <O:p


    Mental Problems

    <O:p
    We had to jump on a young Scotsman who tried to burn down the factory. On another night he destroyed as many dynamos as possible in the factory so that the electrical system failed. Then one night I couldn’t find him. One soldier came to me and took me to where the young Scotsman was. ‘Jock’ had gone to the timber yard and had lain down on the rollers just below the pendulum saw. He had manoeuvred himself so that when he released the saw it would cut his head off.
    <O:p
    I asked him what the problem was. He replied that he wanted to get home so he was going to cut his head off. We told him he was stupid because they would not send him home without his head attached. This was the young man that had built us or illicit radio sets only a few months before.
    <O:p
    We talked him out of releasing the saw blade that night. It was not long after that incident I was woken up late one night and asked to go to the timber yard. ‘Jock’ was lying on the rollers and was about to pull the rope that released the saw blade. We managed to save him again but this time we informed the German guard. ‘Jock’ ended up in hospital and before we knew it he was back in Scotland in a psychiatric hospital.
    <O:p
    Not soon after that episode the Sergeant in charge of our billet received a very nasty letter from ‘Jock’s’ sister. She wanted know why we had allowed all this to happen.


    Another Repatriation

    <O:p
    Archie Achieson from Bendooragh also had himself repatriated. He was about six foot two inches tall. One day he approached me bent over and walking with the aid of a walking stick. I said, ‘Hello Archie, what’s wrong with you?’ Archie replied, ‘I have developed a bad back and I’m off to the hospital for treatment’. He then asked me to join him and do the same so that we would be repatriated. He told me that he had been pulling the same stunt for over a year and the doctors could not find the problem. They were on the verge of repatriating him.

    One hour later I saw him coming from the hospital, still looking old and frail. Just then a soldier came out of the billet and shouted out, 'Grub up!' Although it was only the usual saurkraut and spuds, Archie ran down the road like a one-year-old greyhound, he was nearly first in the queue. I went into the billet and challenged him about his back condition. He told me there were time when you had to move fast. Archie was repatriated in 1943.
     
  5. penderel

    penderel Junior Member

    Thanks for replies. Those 2 stories are quite classic and give me a laugh, actually need that too.
     
  6. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    From German camps?
    Did exchanges take place?

    Did any South African POW get released early?

    Thanks.

    There were a large group of Naval P.O.W. Released in exchange for Italian Naval Prisoners who were in the hands of one of the Arab Countries. The Italians came up with the exchange deal when they found out that their Countrymen were not being treated as well as they would have liked. Not sure if any were South African though.
    As others have said releases were made both ways on Mental and Medical grounds.
     
  7. Ivan1

    Ivan1 "Take this!!!"

    There was also an exchange of a big group of wounded German P.O.W. in Britain and British P.O.W. in Germany and if I remember correctly it happened in 1941.
     
  8. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    I not sure if it was a story my father told me, or something I read in a book but as I remember the tale it went something like this,

    An R.A.F. P.O.W. was repatriated on medical grounds by fooling the German Medical Authorities.

    He made a device from a piece of hosepipe or something similar that he fashioned to fit over his penis.

    The device was made to look like a venereal disease and was convincing enough to convince both the German and Red Cross doctors that he should be repatriated.

    Not saying its true, perhaps just a good line shoot. I would be interested to know if anyone else has heard of this.
     
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think the last repatriation of POWs occurred in February 1945.It was arranged through the Red Cross but also the good offices of the Swedish government.I can look up the detail of it to confirm.There were quite a number of POWs who had injuries and bad health who clearly were not able to receive the continued health care available in Germany.This led to an exchange arrangement between Great Britain and Germany for the safe conduct of their sick POWs, who qualified for repatriation by suitably identified hospital ships.I think only the Baltic ports were used at the German end and I believe, Liverpool at this end.

    The deception in the health of a RAF POW was true but the account was and had to be convincing.The deception was enacted by the production of a urine sample which was doctored by the addition of fluids which convinced the German authorities that the POW was gravely ill.It might have led to a false diagnosis of diabetes, I can't remember but it was sufficient to initiate a repatriation.

    The account was included in a book published after the war.If I can reference it, I will post it.I believe also some POWs who were desperate for freedom also attempted to convince the German authorities that they were demented.Some who were genuinely so, lost their lives by irrational acts of mounting the wire.

    It appears that these irrational acts were commonplace in concentration camps when inmates reached a point when they had had enough.
     
  10. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    There was an episode of the early 70s BBC TV drama series Colditz in which a British PoW successfully got himself repatriated by convincing the Germans that he was insane. However, in doing so, he actually drove himself mad.

    Although this was fiction, it was claimed at the time that the character was based on a real person.
     
  11. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    From German camps?
    Did exchanges take place?

    Did any South African POW get released early?

    Thanks.
    Geneva Convention 1929 Article 68 Belligerents shall be required to send back to their own countries,without regard for rank or numbers,after rendering them in a fit condition for transport,prisoners of war who are seriously ill or seriously wounded..Some wounded DLI men were sent before a Red Cross Panel in 1942 together with Doctors and Padres they were told they were going to Rouen where they were to be exchanged on a strict one to one basis with their German counterparts.There was a disagreement as to the country of Exchange(Germans favouring France,Britain a Neutral Country) and Hitler withdrew his approval.It was not until October 43 that these men were transported to Sweden (Trellborg October 18th) before continuing their journey on the Empress of Russia (painted white and bearing large red crosses) Luftwaffe and Naval Units were ordered Not to Attack and made aware that the ships cargo was seriously ill/wounded personel.Thats one story I`m sure theres others.
    Regards
    Verrieres
     
  12. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member

    There was an exchange in October 1943 at Marseille. Wounded British Army men were exchanged for Afrika Korps prisoners. I've got a collection of photos and a German newspaper article about the exchange if anyone wants any further info.
     
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    After reading the initial post I knew that I had a photo in one of my books and unfortunately it has taken me until now to locate it. It was all alone in a book by Jon Lake, The battle of Britain. unfortunately it was not listed in the index, hence the long searching time!

    The photos caption reads.

    A wounded German Prisoner of War being repatriated.
    The loss of his right arm does not appear to be accompanied by any loss of Arrogance.

    Regards

    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

  14. penderel

    penderel Junior Member

    My Grandfather, from South Africa, was in Stalag 344, in 1944, the last POW card we have today from there is about mid 44, but his records show him in Marseille very early Feb, then Egypt, and back in South Africa in March, in a Hospital in Durban.

    It almost seems that he could not have been on the 'death march' - he must have left earlier from the camp. Rather interesting and wish we could know the whole story.
     
  15. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    My Grandfather, from South Africa, was in Stalag 344, in 1944, the last POW card we have today from there is about mid 44, but his records show him in Marseille very early Feb, then Egypt, and back in South Africa in March, in a Hospital in Durban.

    It almost seems that he could not have been on the 'death march' - he must have left earlier from the camp. Rather interesting and wish we could know the whole story.


    A name, service number, unit etc. would help board members conduct a search.
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    After reading the initial post I knew that I had a photo in one of my books and unfortunately it has taken me until now to locate it. It was all alone in a book by Jon Lake, The battle of Britain. unfortunately it was not listed in the index, hence the long searching time!

    The photos caption reads.

    A wounded German Prisoner of War being repatriated.
    The loss of his right arm does not appear to be accompanied by any loss of Arrogance.

    Regards

    Tom

    :) Great pic Tom and caption.....I bet they couldn't find a more portly Sgt to be inspected !

    Cheers
     
  17. penderel

    penderel Junior Member

    A name, service number, unit etc. would help board members conduct a search.


    Right.

    PTE Harold Davidson

    POW number in Stalag 344 #31318

    SA army number 185386

    Was in the 5th infantry brigade, when captured.

    I will get some more info soon. Thanks all.
     
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Andy,

    I did not want to pass comment on the Sergeant:D.

    Having seen how lean most soldiers were during WW2 I really wondered about this particular Sergeant.

    There is no mention on the caption as to which port this repatriation took place, but I believe that they were very limited.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andy,

    I did not want to pass comment on the Sergeant:D.

    Having seen how lean most soldiers were during WW2 I really wondered about this particular Sergeant.

    Tom

    He was probably in the TA Tom :D
     
  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Andy,

    After seeing you in action as a PTI (Photos you posted) You should have been his PT trainer!:D

    Regards
    Tom
     

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