Did any POW's get released early?

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

  1. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    Just come across this story about a pow transfer on Christmas Eve 1944 in Goteborg (Gothenburg).

    Charles McCain: Exchange of Wounded POWs

    "We were granted safe passage, and it was a treat to have portholes open and lights showing. On Christmas Eve 1944, we lay off Gibraltar after embarking the Germans at Marseilles, and everyone who was able gathered on the deck to sing a grand selection of carols....Later we passed through a narrow channel in the Skaggerak into the Baltic, and we could see the faces of the German gunners looking down on us from their gun positions. They weren't impressed when some of our crew gave the V-sign. Arriving at Goteborg, we were surprised to get a welcome from a German brass band playing on the quayside...The saddest part was when close on a hundred of our lads who had lost their sight were led up the gangway. The exchange was all over in about three hours and we sailed home to Liverpool."
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  3. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Thought I`d share this with you it has been well received since it was added to my DLI web site but I think perhaps it needs to be read by a wider audience its just one mans story like thousands of other men a tale of courage and repatriation.Hope its of interest;-

    Patrick Arnold,a pre-war regular with the 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry, was wounded in the battalion attack on Sollum and Fort Capuzzo in 1941.Enemy machine gun fire severed an artery in Sergeant Arnolds leg ,he was given some basic first aid to stem the bleeding but was unable to be evacuated and was left on the battlefield.The advancing Germans who took him prisoner a short time later.
    The Germans gave no further medical treatment (for whatever reason at the time) to Sgt Arnold who was taken to Bardia, as he waited in agony for some form of relief he was informed he could receive no medical attention until he was moved to the Australian PoW Hospital at Derna,but Sgt Arnold was not taken to Derna!..at least not straight away and this was to have almost fatal consequences for Sergeant Arnold later.
    The Germans instead of moving Patrick Arnold straight to Derna took him instead to the German Hq just outside of Tobruk here he was reassessed and next day sent to an Italian Military Hospital. On his arrival he was searched and asked for money, of which he had none, then along with another thirty DLI prisoners he was again informed that due to the shortage of medical supplies treatment for any wounds would have to wait ..until they were moved to Derna!.
    A shortage of Ambulances meant a long wait with walking wounded prisoners given priority as more of this type of casualty could be moved rather than a few stretcher cases like Sgt Arnold Despite the pain he realised his only way out was to force himself to sit up which he achieved with great difficulty. Once selected for transportation he was roughly handled into an awaiting Ambulance ,feeling every bump in the back of the Ambulance his situation was made worse when the Italian driver crashed the vehicle and rolled it over an embankment. Lying amongst the wreckage and unable to move Patrick was pulled clear by passing German troops and continued his journey to Derna on the back of an ammunition truck.
    Once at Derna an Australian Medical Officer made valiant efforts to save Sgt Arnolds leg and informed him that had he received even the most basic of medical care at either Bardia or Tobruk then amputation would not even have been a consideration. As it was despite the Aussies best efforts three days later the amputation of Sgt Arnolds leg took place.
    The Australian medical staff had no medical supplies of their own and relied on what the Italians deemed they could `Spare`. Three months Sgt Arnold spent in that bed, three months of agony as the Australians gave him the best treatment they could in far from ideal circumstances.
    After the three month period Sgt Arnold ,on a set of crutches made for him by one of the Aussies, was moved to Benghazi .With the terrors of Derna left behind Sgt Arnold could not have imagined it but he was heading for a far less hospitable place, christened `The Black Hole of Calcutta` by the allied servicemen who ended up there, Sgt Arnold was placed in a blacked out room with twenty eight other men and literally left to rot! Only one dirty bandage was applied to his stump in the ten day period he spent there. At the end of that period it was a much relieved Patrick Arnold who boarded the Italian Hospital ship the Arno (Ironically built in Glasgow) bound for mainland Italy.
    A more pleasant stay at Casserta Hospital followed before Sgt Arnold found himself moved to Campo Concentramento P.G. 66 at Capua which was a transit tented camp(1941) of over 500 prisoners.
    Sgt Arnold moved on to Campo Concentramento P.G. 52 at Chiavari near Genoa ,unable to work because of his wounds Sgt Arnold padded around the compound on his trusty Aussie crutches but at times it was that cold that his hands froze onto them. Life continued in much the same way until early in 1943 news arrived in the camp that seriously wounded British soldiers were being repatriated Sgt Patrick Arnold having lost a leg in the service of his country was one of the first to be approved by The International Medical Board.
    Sgt Arnold together with fifty eight other seriously wounded men and a further sixty essential medical personnel were taken to Piacenza Hospital in preparation for their repatriation after a series of frustrating delays they finally boarded an electric train to Bari on the 2nd April 1943.Two days later they boarded the hospital ship Gradisca reaching Smyrna on the 7th April where a British vessel awaited them for the final leg of their journey.
    Sgt Patrick Arnold who had served faithfully with the Durham Light Infantry and had suffered both mental and physical torments at the hands of his captors was finally going home..
  4. mattgibbs

    mattgibbs Senior Member

    I am searching for some information on a POW who was released early, possibly from the Italians. He was Chaplain the Reverend A H W Harlow. In a post war Arnhem account he is mentioned as having been very useful after his capture by the Germans, because of his excellent knowlege of the Geneva conventions thanks to having been a POW previously. How could I find out where he was a POW and how he got back?
  5. In 1943 the was an Exchange of P.O.W. in Northern Italy 1943.

    The Second Repatriation seems to have taken place in 1944
    Others in 1944 September to October. Another in November 1944.

    There does appear to have been five repatriations in Total including the Exchange in Marsailles.

    Oddly there are two Files still closed that refer to Exchange and Repatriation. Then again not so odd!!!!



    Do you have the File references for the repatriation of POW's from Italy/North Africa ?


  6. Pauline Frances

    Pauline Frances Junior Member

    My father, Michael Ewanyshyn ,was a private in the Canadian army [ with The Royal Regiment of Canada] when he was wounded and captured at Dieppe, France in 1942. He spent approx. just over a year in p.o.w. camp Stalag V111B. He was repatriated in October/November 1943. He was part of many who were returned to Great Britian via Sweden as part of a exchange program . I actually found him on some British Pathe film landing in Liverpool . He is being carried of the hospital ship "The Atlantis" on October 26, 1943. Later on he appears again with other soldiers in a train leaving Liverpool for a military hospital in England. They stayed there for some time then returned to Canada in November 1943. He had to have his right leg amputated at the knee in Toronto on his return due to an infection .
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Thank you for your interesting post.

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  9. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    I am searching for some information on a POW who was released early, possibly from the Italians. He was Chaplain the Reverend A H W Harlow. In a post war Arnhem account he is mentioned as having been very useful after his capture by the Germans, because of his excellent knowlege of the Geneva conventions thanks to having been a POW previously. How could I find out where he was a POW and how he got back?
    There is some info here awarded MID in N.Africa, so maybe a POW there.... and won the DSO at Arnhem. Affilated Groups - Royal Army Chaplains Department And also this but no mention of having been a POW prior to Arnhem-

    the Reverend Albert William Harrison
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    From Chippenham.
    Married ((12?).1918, Chipping, Sodbury, Gloucestershire) Elsie L. Minett.
    Farnham district, Hampshire
    Capt. = Chaplain to the Forces 4th cl.
    23.07.1940 [131946]
    A/Maj. = A/Chaplain to the Forces 3rd cl.
    T/Maj. = T/Chaplain to the Forces 3rd cl.
    08.06.1943 (reld 30.09.1946) (reinstated, then reld again 03.06.1952)
    Hon. Lt.Col. = Hon. Chaplain to the Forces 2nd cl.
    [​IMG] DSO
    NW Europe (Arnhem 09.44)
    [​IMG] MID
    Middle East 42

    commissioned, Royal Army Chaplains' Department [emergency commission] - Church of England

    Senior Chaplain to the Forces, 1st Airborne Division (Arnhem [POW till 05.1945])
    served Suez Canal
    Vicar of Middlewich (1937-1940 & 1946-1947), Calstock/Surrogate (1947-1950), St. Andrews, Gothenburg (1950-1955), Easebourne, Essex (1955-1962). Lived in Southern Australia thereafter.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  11. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    As late as April 1944 the British government was still trying to negotiate with the Germans the mutual repatriation of large numbers of POWs who has been held for several years (around 40,000 Britons had been imprisoned since 1940). But the Germans dragged their feet on the issue and the Americans were adamantly opposed: their own prisoners had only been in captivity for a relatively short time, and they were worried that the return of fit German servicemen would only prolong the war. For that reason no mass exchange ever took place.

    (Arieh Kochavi, Canadian Journal of History, April 2004).

    This extract appears to be based on a complete misunderstanding of the international conventions for the exchange of prisoners of war. Precisely to avoid the return of prisoners fit enough to rejoin the ranks, the only PoWs exchanged were those seriously unfit and unlikely to recover in time to return to duty. Length of a time as a prisoner was not in itself a major consideration.

    Prisoners were normally exchanged in batches of equal numbers on either side, the negotiations and the actual transport being arranged through the International Red Cross.
  12. kiwigeordie

    kiwigeordie Senior Member

    As I said in another post, I've just finished re-reading The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill.
    In the book he says a "group of prisoners including (Group Captain) Massey were taken out of Sagan for repatriation. Massey was the SBO at Sagan at the time of the breakout and in his case, he had a foot injury dating, I believe, from his WW1 service.
    The repatriation (if it took place) was around the time the Germans were posting the names of the 50 escapers who were shot.
  13. Son of POW-Escaper

    Son of POW-Escaper Senior Member

    Donald 'Pappy' Elliot (a Wellington Nav) recently told me that he was repatriated from Luft 3 just before the Death March in late January '45. He ended up boarding a ship in Odessa, and sailing back to England. He was back in Blighty well before the rest of the gang (including my dad).

  14. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Sam Kydd's book, "For you the war is over" mentions repatriations from Stalag XXa and also the disappointment of the germans changing their mind at the last moment.

  15. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Just came across this photo and info while looking for something else.

    Thought this would be a good enough thread to place it in. (Otherwise there is a bit of discussion on the subject of repatriation on this thread - http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/war-air/45372-77215-f-o-john-whitton-raf-pow.html)

    Shows German Ambassador to Madrid, Dr. Hans Dieckhoff watching Australian prisoners of war disembark from a German ship; Hospital ship, Tarea, which brought German prisoners of war from Africa, berthing at Barcelona; Spanish Red Cross nurses helping badly wounded Hindu soldiers across the wharf, the Hindus were amongst the British prisoners of war exchanged; German prisoners of war chatting with some of the British in Gothenburg, there were 5,000 Allied soldiers exchanged for 800 Germans.

    Cite as: Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

    This work is out of copyright

    (Just worked out that the text refers to 3 or 4 separate photos in series - but the others can't be found online, so far)

    Attached Files:

  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    One important aspect of the repatriation schemes was that past illegal events could be reported to the Allied authorities by returning POWs. Other intelligence gained was evidence that the Geneva Convention had been infringed. One returning POW reported when he complained that the Geneva Convention was being infringed to a guard,the guard patted his rifle and declared "this is my Geneva Convention".

    Had the Paradis survivors,albeit as it was, unknown survivors as the Germans were concerned, died in POW camps,the atrocity would not have been aired.

    They were repatriated in October 1943 which I think was the first repatriation achieved but I have seen references to initiatives being made before but without fruition.
  17. rockape252

    rockape252 Senior Member

  18. mconrad

    mconrad Junior Member

    I cannot remember where I read it as it was a long time ago, but I seem to think that the Germans repatriated POW that caused them problems with care and medication, such as severely wounded, loss of limbs etc.

    Mental health was also one way and several attempted mental conditions.

    A broken leg I feel would not fit in the category for Repatriation.


    It may have to do with it being a broken thigh rather than below the knee. Below the knee is common, but a broken thigh is much more serious.
  19. W.P. Sullivan

    W.P. Sullivan Junior Member

    This thread has been very informative!

    My motive for scanning your posts in this thread was motivated by my scholarly interest in INTERNED personnel (as opposed to POW's). Myy research is filled with references that sometimes blur the distinction between true prisoners of war and those who sought asylum within the borders of a neutral (non-belligerent) sovereign state, such as Switzerland or Sweden.

    In Switzerland alone, Germany and the Allies conducted thousands of exchanges of internees on a 1:1 or 2:1 basis throughout the War.

    A small number of these interned airmen and soldiers refer to themselves as a POW (rather than as an internee),. IN addition, some of their families concluded (most likely from What did you do in The War, Daddy? stories) that they had been held in a state of POW captivity in Sweden, Portugal or Switzerland.

    Thanks for sharing your stories.
  20. LondonNik

    LondonNik Senior Member

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017

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