Visiting the POW camps of my grandfather.

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by JJ van Rooyen, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. JJ van Rooyen

    JJ van Rooyen Member

    Hi everyone,
    I will be visiting both concentration camps in March 2016 where my grandfather was a POW.
    He was Cpl. JJ van Rooyen and he served under the 6th Infantry Brigade in the 1st SA Police Battalion. He was captured in June 1942 at the fall of Tobruk in North Africa. He was first taken to Camp P.G. 82 in Laterina (Italy) and then to Stalag 4B in Muhlberg (Germany).

    I am looking for any advice, tips, information, what to expect or interesting facts that will make my trip extra special and that I will have a personal experience with my grandfather's war story.
    Any help regarding my trip will be deeply appreciated!
    Grandson JJ van Rooyen

    Attached Files:

  2. hubbar1949

    hubbar1949 Member

    Be careful: it is different to be "in a concentraion camp" than in a POW's camp!

    In Concentration camps, Nazis kept partisans, political opposants, , mainly civilians (with nothing to protect them).

    In Stalags and Oflags, they kept military POW's (Oflags for Officers)
    Did you see Wikipedia? look at

  3. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    I missed this post the first time around, possibly due to the title. I would have gone for something like "Seeking info regarding the POW camps my grandfather was held in - Cpl. JJ van Rooyen of 1st South African Police Battalion".

    Anyhoo, terminology is important because I was wondering at first why a South African soldier was in a concentration camp - it did happen occasionally (against the Geneva convention) and should not be confused with the normal processing of POWs.

    For some background on life in the POW camp at Muhlberg you might want to have a quick look at the Australian War Memorial site - search the collection for just that word and there are a few hits of photos etc.
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Ah right JJ van Rooyen is from South Africa and perhaps using the word concentration camp is a general term used for a prisoner of war camp based on the Boer War history
  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    In the official documentation of the period 1941-43 the Italians used the phrase 'concentration camps for prisoners of war'. Today they talk and write about concentration camps when they mean prisoner of war camps.

    I have a translated copy of Roger Absalom's book 'A Strange Alliance', which deals with the relationshps between Allied POWs and peasant communities in Italy, and the phrase 'campo di concentramento' - concentration camp - is used throughout to mean prisoner of war camp.

    CL1 likes this.
  6. tedfromscrubs

    tedfromscrubs Junior Member

    Hi JJ

    I hope to shortly be interviewing Frank Unwin, 95 years old and an ex-prisoner at Laterina. He talks of the fact that there were many South African troops in this camp, and in fact the peasants who took him in when he escaped were slightly disappointed that he wasn't black (even more exotic than normal Allied troops!)

    He is hoping to publish a book of his experiences soon and I'll make sure you know when it happens....keep reminding me. If you pm me I'll ask him if he is happy to be put in touch with you

    Good luck with your visit to Italy

    All the best

  7. JJ van Rooyen

    JJ van Rooyen Member

    Thank you for the feedback everyone.

    I apologize about my terminology and confusion. I will refer to it as POW camp.
    My trip to the camps is in 1 month and then I will share what I discovered.

    Thank you for the input thus far.

  8. Bronni7

    Bronni7 New Member


    I am looking for the actual whereabouts of Camp 82, where my father was for a time. I think he was there in the autumn of 1941 but more probably the autumn of 1942. Does anyone know the exact location?

    My father's name was Capt. John Richardson, a New Zealander.

    Any information would be appreciated.

  9. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

  10. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Bronwen,

    If you send me a private message I will send you some more photographs and other information,



    Attached Files:

  11. gradassi

    gradassi Junior Member

    [Quote = "Bronni7, posta: 699.137, Membro: 63741"] Ciao,

    Sto cercando Il Luogo effettivo di Campo 82, dove mio padre e Stato per il Tempo delle Nazioni Unite. Credo Che ci Fosse nell'autunno del 1941, ma Più probabilmente nell'autunno del 1942. Qualcuno sa la Posizione Esatta?

    Il nome di mio padre era Il Capitano. John Richardson, neozelandese delle Nazioni Unite.

    Qualsiasi Informazione sarebbe apprezzato.
    Sorry for my bad English.
    I'm studying for many years Laterina PG82 (network are photographs taken by a prisoner of the Franco-Belgian war that are in my archives). I found the name of John Richardson, associated with that of Captain Jennings and was looking for a picture of Richardson, but will encounter many homonyms (a sergeant, a corporal) and then the identity uncertainty. You have a picture of Captain Richardson? Do you know if it was part of the medical service or if it was a Gunner? I would be grateful to you all useful information to proceed In my research, and to exchange with you. On the field of Laterina I point out this link Page_1.htm
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  12. tedfromscrubs

    tedfromscrubs Junior Member

    Ciao grandassi. Sei in contatto con vitellino sul questo sito? Anche a lei s'interesse il campo di Laterina

    Hi Grandassi. Are you in contact with vitellino on this site? They are also interested in Laterina camp
  13. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Buonasera Gradassi,

    Captain John Richardson's daughter has sent me a photograph of him as I am preparing a website on the camp. He was interned at Laterina for a short period in the autumn of 1942. He was in the New Zealand Artillery - 26th Battery, 4th Field Regiment. Given that he was an officer, when he arrived at Laterina from hospital in Parma he was lodged with three medical prisoners of war - Major Whyte, Major Ochse and Captain Barber. If you prefer to reply in Italian I will translate your comment for ww2 talk.

    La figlia del Captain John Richardson mi ha spedito una sua foto perché sto preparando un sito sul campo. Fu internato a Laterina per un breve periodo durante l'autunno del '42. Faceva parte dell'artiglieria neozelandese - apparteneva alla 26th Battery, 4th Field Regiment. Dato che fu un officiale, quando arrivò al campo fu alloggiato inseme ai tre medici ufficiali prigionieri di guerra - Major Whyte, Major Ochse e Captain Barber. Se preferisse rispondere in italiano potrei fare la traduzione per ww2 talk.

    Saluti dalla Provincia di Perugia,

    4jonboy likes this.
  14. gradassi

    gradassi Junior Member

    Ciao Vitellino
    Sto pubblicando (sono 25 puntate e usciranno ogni domenica a partire da domenica scorsa) un lavoro ventennale sul campo di Laterina (sono di Arezzo). Su vuoi leggere la prima puntata è qui: P.O.W. and “escaped” (introduzione - 1' puntata).
    Sono in attesa si un importante documento, firmato da John Richardson e dal capitano Jennings sulla condizione dei campi italiani nel 1942-43. Ho tantissime foto di ex prigionieri e le loro storie. Quindici anni fa ho anche intervistato un ex prigioniero della Legione Straniera evaso: foto e storia ( è quello che mi ha dato le 4 foto del campo e le cartoline). Non ho Richardson. O meglio: ne ho due o tre, ma non so quale è lui perché in rete si trovano parecchie omonimie. Hai un modo per farmi avere la foto che hai? C'è in questo sito un modo per trasmettere messaggi in privato?
  15. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Ciao Enzo,

    Per prima traduco per gli altri membri:

    I am publishing (there will be 25 instalments which will come out every Sunday starting from last Sunday) a work which has taken me twenty years to complete about the camp at Laterina. If you would like to read the first episode it's here:
    I am waiting for an important document, signed by John Richardson and Captain Jennings, on the conditions in Italian camps during 1942-3. I have a large number of photographs of ex-prisoners and also their stories. Fifteen years ago I also interviewed an escaper belonging to the French Foreign Legion: Fotographs and history - it was he who gave me the four photos of the camp and the postcards. I don't have a photo of Richardson. Rather, I have two but don't know which one is of him as there are two people with the same name. Is there any means by which you can let me have the photographs you have? Is there any means on this site by which private messages can be sent?

    Enzo, le manderò io un messaggio privato.

    Enzo, I'll send you a private message, but first I would like to tell the people who are reading this that Capt. Richardson was transferred from Laterina to PG 47 Modena in December 1942 and from there was taken to H204 at Altamura where he met fellow New Zealander Captain Jennings, a medical doctor, who was about to be repatriated. Richardson had been recruited by the SOE and was on his way from Altamura to Turkey. His full story will appear on my website when I finally manage to complete it.


    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  16. gradassi

    gradassi Junior Member

    Wow! Conosco vari Lavori Che hai Fatto (cartacei ed in Rete). E 'un vero piacere incontarti qui. Ma qui non Posso spiegarmi. Ho provato una Rispondere al Messaggio Che ho Ricevuto per e-mail, ma il Messaggio e Stato rifiutato. Se preferisci ti scrivo qui il Mio Indirizzo di posta per poter Comunicare Direttamente.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  17. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I'm translating roughly here for other users - Enzo is pleased to make contact with me as he has already come across various books/ posts I have written but he is having trouble with the messaging service and was proposing to post his email address here.

    End of translation.

    I have sent Enzo a private message saying he shouldn't post his address here and have sent him mine.
    We live quite close to one another and will be meeting up. I am sure for all of you who have a direct interest in Laterina that a lot of new material will soon be available. Watch this space!

    4jonboy and bamboo43 like this.
  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Vitellino for translating and for assisting Enzo.
  19. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Bamboo, it's been a pleasure. He is a mine of information and after we have met I will post anything which might be of interest to people on the site.
  20. Bronni7

    Bronni7 New Member


    I am the daughter of Captain John Richardson. (Apologies that I don't speak Italian.)

    I was contacted by Vitellino this morning, and I am delighted to learn more about your research.
    My father's account of the time he was in Campo 82 are particularly vivid.

    My email address is
    I look forward to communicating with you, although there could be a translation problem!

    Best regards


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