Route of 2 KRRC POW’s after Calais, May 26 1940.

Discussion in '1940' started by RiverdaleDIY, Feb 5, 2023.

  1. RiverdaleDIY

    RiverdaleDIY Member

    I am researching my Great-Uncle, BRYNLEY HARCOMBE, who was a member of 2 Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corp (2 KRRC). Like so many others he was captured on May 26, 1940 after the Defense of Calais battle.

    TLDR Version:

    The main question I’m trying to answer is: Which route did the 2 KRRC POW’s (enlisted men, not Officers) take after the surrender?

    Full background version:

    I have my Great-Uncles POW cards and the first reference to ANY location post-Calais is “Stalag Trier”, which is Stalag XII-D. There is no date associated with his arrival there, but it seems he made it there relatively quickly, on/before June 11, 1940. As on that date, he was apparently transferred an additional 1000 km’s east to Stalag XXI-B.

    But back to the main question…..

    Calais to Trier is approx. 400km’s, which over the absolute max. 16 days available (May 26 - June 11), equals ~25km per day. So it’s possible they did it on foot, but so far I’ve uncovered nothing that indicates this was true for enlisted men of 2KRRC. There are plenty of other personal diaries about long and arduous POW marches to Germany from Calais, but I’ve found nothing specific about enlisted men of 2KRRC.

    This officer was captured the same day as Brynley and then transported to Trier, and he stated: With other officers taken at Calais I was marched across France for about ten days. From a small station N.W. of Luxembourg, we went by train to Trier. (Link to full account: Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Bolton LITTLEDALE 2nd Bn. Kings Royal Rifle Corps 42 Years old Killed In Action on Friday 1st September 1944 colonel-ronald bolton-littledale). However, he clearly distinguishes the fact they were Officers, and thus likely got the increased benefit of train transport.

    I have read the book by Carole McEntee-Taylor, “Surviving the Nazi Onslaught: The Defence of Calais to the Death March for Freedom”. However, he was a member of 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (1RB), and thus ended up at Stalag XXB near Aachen. Nothing in Brynley’s records indicate he was ever at Stalag XXB (He was at 8 Stalags!), so this doesn’t appear to be the answer either.

    Most detailed accounts of the Defense of Calais come to a very sudden halt after the surrender, simply stating a very general the “men were taken prisoner and marched to Germany”.

    So anybody know the movements of 2KRRC enlisted men immediately after the battle?
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    One of my uncles was a Rifleman with KRRC at Calais. He was born 1910 and had been an inter-war regular. Called back just a few months prior to the end of his reserve service.

    No real clues in his liberation questionnaire but he does state that he escaped in Cambrai, "Prior to registration". He ended up in XXA Thorn and eventually 344 Lamsdorf.

    By the way, "Enlisted Men" is a U.S. term. The British used "Other Ranks".
    RiverdaleDIY likes this.
  3. RiverdaleDIY

    RiverdaleDIY Member

    Hello Rich, thanks for your response.

    What was your Uncle's name? I'll keep my eye open for any references. I contacted the Royal Green Jackets (The Rifles) Regimental Museum to see if they had lists of the men and which Companies they were in. Unfortunately they are unaware of such lists existing. It would be nice to know, as most of the Calais battle accounts break the action down to Company level.

    Thanks for the note about "Enlisted men". I always struggle with "correct" terminology, as I was born and partially raised in the UK, then lived for a few years in the US, then Canada for the past four decades. Thus, I'm used to hearing all the variations, and I end up using a mix of UK and American, which is kind of appropriate here in Canada, as we use a uniquely strange combination of Metric and Imperial.

Share This Page