[POW] Richard Gordon (Block Nr. 78645) 3rd Battalion Transvaal Scottish

Discussion in 'South African' started by Shaun Gordon, May 17, 2021.

  1. Shaun Gordon

    Shaun Gordon Member

    Hi team :)

    I was hoping some people here could help my family find out more information on our granddads life as a POW in Italy, and then what happened after that?

    We have his army records showing he was in "Camp 66" then moved shortly after that to "Camp 52". I assume this was in Italy?

    There then does not seem to be information on what happened to him from there, with the records only then showing his release in 1945.

    Is anyone able to shed any information on his life during the war? He very rarely spoke about it, even with our gran, so we really don't know much about his life during that time. I will gladly share the records we have of him so that someone with a better understanding of what it all means can maybe decipher some more information from it.

    Thank you in advance
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Firstly I would suggest you obtain his service records from the South African archives

    Secondly it seems he was moved to Germany as a POW
    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: R E Gordon
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 78645
    POW Number: 275274
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 4D
    Camp Location: Torgau (Elbe), Germany
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

    Thirdly, you can obtain his POW records from the International Red Cross in Switzerland but you need tenacity to grind through the system

    Fourthly I will contact our Italian POW expert and ask them to read this thread

    Fifthly - I guess you could start researching Stalag 4D on the net and see what comes up, there are often Associations related to them


    SA Records - use the email address -
    South Africa Military Records
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
  3. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum.

    PG66 Capua was the usual reception/transit camp for POW arriving from N Africa by boat to Naples.

    You need to apply to Red Cross via the below link to request copies of his POW record held there. They should have details of all the camps he was held at in Italy and Germany. They will not have any work camp details.

    Unfortunately you have missed today’s enquiry window and will have to wait until September. You need to be quick off the mark and access the site 8am (BST) on the next available day and speedily complete the online application form that will pop up. In pre Covid times you received a written reply through the post no less than 4 months after the date of the enquiry.

    Good Luck


    Requests for information about people held during Spanish Civil War or Second World War: Quarterly limit reached
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Shaun,

    I can add a few dates to what you have sent us already.

    78636 Private Johannes Petrus Drotsky, 2 Transvaal Scottish, was taken prisoner at Sidi Rezegh in November '41 and arrived at PG 66 on 14 February 1942. He too was sent from there to PG 52 - the date on his service record for the transfer is 10 October 1942.

    Unless your grandfather was sent out on a work party he would have remained in the camp until the armistice of 8 September 1943, after whcih he would have been sent on to Germany.

    For details of PG 52 see my website powcamp52.weebly.com

    Best wishes,

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

  6. Shaun Gordon

    Shaun Gordon Member

    Oh wow thank you everyone for the information! I did not expect such amazing help. Thank you!

    Tricky Dicky, thank you for the information on where he was sent in Germany! I see that that camp was more like a processing centre, and he likely would have been sent to a labour camp. Is there any way to find out where he was sent from there? He also claimed to have escaped where he picked up a German rifle. Is there any way to find out details of that?

    Tullybrone, my cousin got the Red Cross information for his time at Camp 52, but they didn't send anything else. Is it likely that they would have any information of his time at Stalag? Either way as soon as the application period opens up again we will request any further info they might have! Thank you for the guidance!

    Vitellino, thank you for maintaining all that information on your website regarding Camp 52! I have read through lots and it is all really interesting. According to my granddads military records, he was transferred to Camp 66 and then to Camp 52 in April 1942. Obviously this could be inaccurate but theres no way to know if he had travelled with the other POW or not. I do see on your website that a number of Safas were sent to work by Camp 52, maybe he had been a part of that group. He mentioned that he did guard duty at some point, but he was scant on any details of any of this time

    Thank you davidbfpo I will scour that link and see what more information I can gleen!

    Once again, just thank you everybody for digging up all this information for me!!!
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    From those I have seen the Red Cross usually contain details of the work camps they would have been sent to, but it might be a matter of timing, from the point of view, when he arrived at the camp and when the Red Cross visit happened - I dont know just guessing
    It might be worth posting for example his Red Cross details received and also his service records so that members can see them and perhaps provide their opinions that may differ from yours to help fill in missing details

  8. Shaun Gordon

    Shaun Gordon Member

    Here is the details we have on his military records and red cross details.

    I had tried adding it when I created the post, but couldn't find how to do it.

    Attached Files:

  9. Shaun Gordon

    Shaun Gordon Member

    And here is an inventory list that the Red Cross sent, as well as some discharge documents.

    There are other documents too, but none seem relevant - just sign up forms, baptism notices. Things like that

    Attached Files:

  10. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    in your earlier post you say that your cousin obtained some details from Red Cross solely about PG 52. When was that? Is it the inventory you have attached as that looks like a contemporaneous receipt record of a parcel of clothes despatched by the named relative during wartime?

    I have obtained half a dozen or so Red Cross records over the past 7 years or so. They provide a high level record of a soldiers movements within the POW camp organisation both in Italy and Germany.

    Whilst I know the men I was interested in were in work camps in Germany the POW records merely reflected the main Stalag location. Red Cross records will not provide detail on the “escape” you mention. That detail and work camp detail may be recorded on the man’s German POW Index card or more likely on the individual German camp records which, as far as I know, have not survived.

    The index cards were seized by Allied forces in 1945 and the British National Archives have an ongoing digitisation process. I am not aware whether SA forces index cards are held at U.K. National Archives or in South Africa. I have had sight of several index cards for British soldiers. Some contained work camp detail and others did not.

  11. Shaun Gordon

    Shaun Gordon Member

    I will double check with her but I think that inventory list was what she sent me saying it was from the Red Cross. If thats not what the Red Cross records are, then I will either get the correct stuff from her and upload it here, and either way, wait until Sept and order the full records from the Red Cross directly

    Thanks for the guidance on this!
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The file 'Inventory' was written up by the SA Red Cross Society to show what was included in the parcel and the details of the recipient, this would then accompany the parcel on its route, but it has nothing to do with the official POW files created and kept by the Swiss

  13. Shaun Gordon

    Shaun Gordon Member

    Excellent that is really useful information about the Red Cross! I will definitely be getting hold of them in Sept to get the details! Pity I missed the mark so closely :hydrogen:

    You have all been so invaluably helpful!! Thank you kindly!
  14. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Shaun,

    I will add your grandfather to the websitre when you get some more details,


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