Pte G W Cope & Stalag XXA, Thorn/Torun (B.A.B 20), XXB Marienburg/Malbork (B.A.B 84) & VIIIB Teschen

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by LCpl Lee Cope, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    Hello folks,

    I've been researching my family tree for a while now and admittedly I've made a few mistakes along the way, but I've stripped my tree back and found the last living member of my family with the surname 'Cope'.

    We sat down and had a chat about his younger days as an RAF military Police man, but then he went onto his siblings. I couldn't believe my ears when he went on to explain all about one of his brothers and my great grand uncle.

    His name was 'George William Cope' and he was a private in the Northamptonshire Regiment during WW2. His service number was 5887506 and he was at Dunkirk during the mass evacuation.

    Sadly George was one of the servicemen who was left behind and subsequently became a prisoner of war. The camp that George was detained at was called Lambinowice in Poland and this is where he was issued his camp number 12940.

    From what I can gather George never spoke much about his time as a POW and there are no medals to be found. I guess the experience as a POW was one that he'd rather forget about. But as an ex serviceman myself, his story has me intrigued.

    I've looked into '' and 'Find my past' and I've found him on both of those sites, but for the life of me I cannot find his service records or medal card on the 'National Archive'.

    Is it true that all WW2 documents are still classified?

    Attached Files:

  2. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello Lee

    Welcome to the forum
    WW2 service records are ONLY available from the MOD-you won't get them anywhere else. They cost 30 pounds and there is a wait of about 9-12 months.
    If he was a POW he may have filled in a liberation questionnaire.
    Other members will be able to help on this and I am sure they will be along soon.

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Start a thread on him in the 1940 section and when I'm next at Kew I'll see if he completed a PoW liberation report. If we can ID his battalion and date of capture I'll post up where his unit was and what they were doing on the day he was captured. Rich Payne has an interest in this regiment and I know I sent him the regiments 1940 missing men report so he may be listed in there !

    Ps Still apply for the service records....They will give you shed loads of info.
  4. jacksun

    jacksun Senior Member

    Here is his POW listing:

    First Name: G. W.
    Last Name: Cope
    Rank: Private
    Regt / Unit: Northamptonshire Regiment
    Soldier Number: 5887506
    POW Number: 12940
    Camp: Stalag 344
    Camp Location: Lambinowice, Poland

    Stalag 344 would be the last camp he was in, possibly others during the interim, they will hopefully be listed on his liberation report is he completed one, Drew5233 will help you in that regard.
    Info on how to apply for his service record (£30, takes 9-12 months to get), request POW info from the International Red Cross (free, takes 6-12 months to get), and how to apply for his medals (if he didn't claim them you may be able to) and/or find out what he was entitled to (free, takes 2-6 months for a response) is all in the Research tip link in my signature.

    Stalag 344 (Lamsdorf/Lambinowice) had hundreds of work camps - he could have been in any one or numerous ones over time. Hopefully he filled out a liberation report and detailed them. Here is a list of some of the work camps of Stalag 344

    CL1, Drew5233 and 4jonboy like this.
  5. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    Hello folks,

    I'm currently building my family tree and at the moment I'm researching my Grand Uncle George William Cope. Please see the details below:

    Name: G W Cope Rank: Private Army Number: 5887506 Regiment: Northamptonshire Regiment POW Number: 12940 Camp Type: Stalag Camp Number: 344 Camp Location: Lambinowice, Poland Record Office: Infantry Record Office, Warwick Record Office Number: 21

    As you can see George was a POW in WW2 and as the story goes, he was one of the soldiers left behind on the evacuation of Dunkirk.

    If anyone has any information on him or anything to do with the POW camp that he was a prisoner in, well your words would be very much appreciated.

    The visit to the National Archive in kew that was suggested by Drew5233 would be very welcomed as this would save me money towards something that is veryimportant to my family and I.

    Kind regards, LCpl Lee Cope.

    Attached Files:

  6. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Hello Lee

    I can't add anything relevant to your post or answer your questions, but I thought I'd just stop and say hello.

    It seems we have a few things in common, both of us researching great uncles named George who served with the Northamptonshire regiment and both involved in the retreat to Dunkirk. My George (George Payne 5885340) was evacuated and made it back to England but sadly died in 1944 in Burma leaving a wife and young son of just a few months old. I'm pleased yours went on to have a long life.

    You might be a bit ahead of me in researching the Northants. regiment. I know very little about their time with the BEF. If you have any info or advice you think I might find interesting, or can suggest any reading that might help expand my knowledge either on the web or in print, please feel free to add a reply to my post here

    Good luck with your research.

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Unless I'm mistaken this is where his PoW Liberation report would be kept - WO 344/72/2. I'll check it for you when I'm next at TNA to see if he completed one. Undoubtedly though the best thing to do would be to pay £30 and get a copy of his service records.
  8. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    Hello again, and many thanks for the warm welcome.

    I've read all the comments reference my Great Uncle George and taken the following steps:

    1) I've opened a topic on the 1940 forum where hopefully people can help.
    2) I'm currently looking into the Red Cross option, but I don't mind paying £30 next month to get more information from the MOD.
    3) I'm not having much luck with the liberation questionnaire sadly. :(
    4) I'm going to print off the medal request form from the MOD when I get to work today.

    I'm very much open to the idea of help from Drew5233, but until then my search continues.

    Kind regards,

    LCpl Lee Cope.
  9. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    Hello again,

    And many thanks for the warm welcome. I'll certainly help you Impala_ood as this is very much an adventure for me in researching George and my entire family tree. If I find anything new I'll add it to a post. :)

    That's great news Drew5233, and in looking at your post about WO 344/72/2 I managed to find the British Army list of POW's during WW2, (Please see the attached photo).

    I'm certainly looking into spending the £30 fee next month on George's service record, (I'm forever owing something to the MOD in one way shape or form!) so I'll be in touch with the them, as well as printing off the medal application forms.

    George must have gone through absolute HELL! And from one service man to another I feel very proud that he got through everything the enemy could throw at him and came out the other side to die an old man swapping the beaches of Dunkirk for the beaches of sunny Blackpool! :)

    Attached Files:

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  11. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    Oh yes, I found that book last night.

    Thanks for the link! When next I'm in the book store I'll be asking for a copy of that!

    I'm very interested in finding out about if George was marched through Europe as many where onto destination Germany, and if upon George's liberation, if he took part in the long march?

    Because if he did 'then oh my days!' The stories he could have told. His brother 'Philip Graham Cope' and the oldest living Cope in my family said, and I quote:

    'George used to say that he nearly ended up in the ovens on more than one occasion, but he never really spoke much about the War. He was part of the battle at Dunkirk, you know where they fought and withdrew and fought and withdrew, but when they got to where they needed to be, there was no one there to take them home'.

    Well what could I say to that, it must have been one of the worst feelings in the world, defeated and left behind... :(

    I've just left a message with the Red Cross as I believe I'll need to obtain a death certificate for George. I'm wondering as he died in Blackpool, Lancashire at the age of 76 will they still be able to help?

    I've also attached the paperwork that I believe I'll be needing to fill out and send to the MOD in order to apply for Georges service record and medals (if not already issued).

    If anyone notices that I have the wrong paperwork could you please point the mistake out to me and show me the correct documentation, just so time won't be wasted in sending them to the MOD.

    If I have the correct paperwork, then I'm all good to go.

    Attached Files:

  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Sorry for the delay. Sadly he gives his regiment but not the battalion.
    4jonboy, CL1 and RosyRedd like this.
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Merged 3 threads on same person.
  14. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Well Done Owen ! I missed it first time around.

    CWGC includes Northamptonshire Regt. numbers close to his with 1st, 2nd and 5th Battalions so that's no help. 1st were in the Far East though so it must be 2nd or 5th Battalion. Bearing in mind that he didn't join up until after 2nd Battalion had joined the BEF, although he could have been sent as a replacement, 5th Battalion seems perhaps more likely. 2nd Battalion men were proud of being the '58th' and I'd suspect would have stated their battalion.

    I've checked the 'missing men' file but there is little about 5th Battalion and detailed enquiries re 2nd Battalion men didn't really begin until the end of 1941 by which time prisoners were all known.

    What is clear is that both the Northamptons' battalions with the BEF were evacuated by 1st June and as he hadn't been wounded, he was either in transit and unfortunate to be captured or he was on the loose in France for ten days or so. It's a shame that he didn't state actual place of capture (or indeed his battalion).

    Only the full service records will shed more light and then we can look at where he'd have been in action.
  15. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    That's brilliant! I'd nearly given up hope of ever seeing this! Words cannot describe how thankful I am for your efforts in going out and getting photo's of my granduncles liberation questionnaire.

    I'm currently awaiting a reply about his medals from the MOD and I have the paperwork for George's full service record on the side, which I'll be posting to the MOD in the new year.

    I hope you had a very merry Christmas and I wish you all a very happy new year! :)
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Don't ever give up hope if Drew's on the case. He never lets go... :)

    Your man's campaign medal entitlement will be limited (something that many of the '1940' prisoners resented) but with a bit of luck, the card may show which battalion he was with in France. Keep us posted !
    Roxy likes this.
  17. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    Now we have a date and location of capture I've looked on-line and have found a brief description of what was happening in France on June 10th 1940.

    From what I understand a lot of soldiers were scattered and working together as best they could, so would it still be feasible for me to assume that George was still amongst his own regiment or platoon?

    As Rich Payne stated previously George's service record and medal card will explain a lot more, but due to Drew's sterling efforts a bit more of what was happening around the date of George's capture has become more apparent.

    Attached Files:

  18. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    On the hunt again folks!

    Today I received a few photographs of George that are very much worth a look.

    Attached Files:

    4jonboy likes this.
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Both the battalions, what was left of them, were back in the UK before the 10th June. He may have been separated from his parent unit, lost, on the run etc. He may have even got the date of capture wrong, there are lots on incorrect dates in the BEF war diaries and other 1940 BEF documents. It will be interesting to see what the date of capture is in his service records, either way they will tell you what unit he was with.

  20. LCpl Lee Cope

    LCpl Lee Cope Active Member

    I think I understand the numbers on the back of this photo now! None of my family know where the photo was taken, but I put the numbers into the internet and it came up as a map reference for Calgary, Canada.

    They could have been training there before the War? The message is written in pencil and reads as follows:

    SOS 4803567 (There is something like a small number One, or a dragged full-stop at the end of the numbers, and the letters S in SOS look odd too).

    Maybe it's SOS 48035671 and is in fact an 8 figure grid ref for Bohdasin in the Czech Republic and the photo was taken on a work fatigue away from Lambinowice Stalag VIIB? It could also be one of the other concentration camps George was kept in... A very plausible idea.

    The number One at the end of the numbers is very small, so it could very well be a hidden grid reference on the back of the photo and the photo was sent back to the UK as a clue as to where they were being kept as POW's.

    Clever boys! :D

    Attached Files:

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