Transvaal Scottish PoW

Discussion in 'South African' started by amandad94, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Hi All,

    I was wondering where I would be able to find information on the South African Transvaal Scottish. My grandfather JP Dotsky (Johnny) faught in Egypt and wad captured. He wad sent to a POW camp close to or in a Italian village Rossa, where he escapes... He died in 1952 so the information I have is very limited. I also don't know when he returned to South Africa?

    Is there a quick way to get information, as I am in Sardinia close to Carbonia, which is about a hour away from Isola Rossa... Could he of been a prisoner in Carbonia?

    Let me know if there is a way to get information.

    Thanking you in advance.

    Kind Regards,
  2. CL1

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

  3. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Hi Clive,

    Thanks for the info, there is allot of detail in regards to the war and the Transvaal Scottish, but not so much on whete they were sent.

    thanks so much for your help.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Have a look in the 'Prisoner of War' section of forum, there will be threads on how to get info from the Red Cross & he may have filled in a 'liberation questionaire', some members maybe able to help look that up.
    I'll edit POW into your thread title to help those with an interest in PoWs see your query.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron


    I have these details for your grandfather from the files WO392/21, which shows POW's of the Italians as of August 1943.

    Here is an image for you;

    PICT0099 copy.JPG

    Camp 85 was Tuturano work camp near Brindisi.

    I realise this may not help your request this evening.

    CL1 likes this.
  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I should have said, the Transvaal Scots began their war in May 1940 at Komati Poort in Portuguese East Africa. Then in late 1940 as part of Dan Piennar's Brigade they took part in the raid on El Wak in Kenya.

    In January 1941, they moved into Somaliland. Eventually they entered the North African theatre of war. I think it was the 2nd and 3rd battalions who were sent to Egypt.
  7. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Dear Steve,

    Thank you for all the information!

    Can you please give me a link to the list you got the image from.

    The camp seems to be a transit camp and not a work camp.
    Any idea where the pows could have been moves to from there // is there a list of escaped prisoners or a way to find where he got back to South Africa from?

    Thanks in advance.

  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Amanda,

    Here is a link to the file reference at the National Archives, Kew in London. I'm afraid the file cannot be accessed on line.

    Owen gave the best advice, The Red Cross or a liberation report would tell you more. Liberation questionnaires are also held at our National Archives in the WO344 series, your grandfather might have one in this folder:

    Best wishes

  9. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Good Evening ALL,

    So I finally received my Grandfathers Service Records back.

    He was first part of the 2 Transvaal Scottish from 1938 and then transferred to the 3rd in 1940, after which he was set to Kenya and then from Mombasa to Suez.

    He was injured during Sidi Rezegh and taken POW 1941.

    In Italy he was reported to be a POW till 1943 when he escaped, and lived with an Italian family till end of August 1944. In the service record he is recorded to of been in camp 66 and camp 52 and camp 85.

    From what I have been able to find on line all the the camps above were transit camps. Why would he of been moved so much. I know he tried to escape three times, would that maybe have something to do with it?

    Also, in the records he is said to pf been moved directly from Italy (when they found him) to Egypt - Would they then of been moved back to SA? What does 3 x Struckoff on his service record mean? There are many codes that I dont understand and also the hand writing is somewhat unclear.

    Is there any good reading for the camps listed above, also, is there any place we online that we can see photo's of South Africans in East Africa or North Africa or as a POW? There was a photo of my Grandfather with a big group of men in the desert, his hand was bound, due to an injury in East Africa (I think). I also have a photo of him looking very official in his uniform with a group of men as well.

    Any infor would be greatly appreciated.
    Owen likes this.
  10. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Amanda,

    Camps PG 85 and 66 were both used as transit camps but PG 52, at Coreglia Ligure inland from Chiavari, less so. Do you have the dates when your grandfather was held in each of the three camps? All were opened during 1941 and all were used to house men who had been taken in North Africa.

    As to the village mentioned in your first post, it is probably ROSTIO, not far from Coreglia Ligure. You can find both places on Google Maps.

    It appears that the Allies reached the village where your grandfather was being sheltered in August 1944. From there he would have been sent to Naples to a large camp run by the Allies for all the escapers and evaders who had reached our lines. After de-briefing these men were shipped home - possibly via Egypt in your grandfather's case. There would have been an Escape and Evasion Report for him at the time but it may not have survived and could either be in the National Archives in the UK or in South Africa.

    There are various posts on this website regarding all three camps you mention. the little town of Coreglia Ligure mentions PG 52 on its own website which is written in Italian.
  11. Jane Kennedy

    Jane Kennedy New Member

    Hello All

    I am beginning research for a documentary film project based on my father's - Donald KENNEDY (27194 Private) - experiences. I am not sure how much his service number tells you but he was part of the 1st Transvaal Scottish.

    A few years back, I received some of his service records via a professional researcher here in South Africa and I am only now beginning to 'unpack' them. They are scant at best and a little like Greek to me so I am hoping that there might be members of this forum who might have pieces of the puzzle to add.
    I have attached 2 scans of a form which kind of gives the basics of his activity. If there is anyone out there who can shed more light onto what he might have been up to in any way at all, I would greatly appreciate it.
    In stories he told us as kids, he was held for a period of time in the dungeons over the bridge of Sighs in Venice. I am particularly interested in hearing if this might have been possible and if there are any other records about this. He escaped during transportation either in Padua or Verona station. It's a rather dramatic story of him being handcuffed to another man and managing to drop his side of the handcuff and simply walking away. I would love to hear if there are any other versions of this story. Apparently the man he had been handcuffed to was shot but again, this is only here-say - would love to know if there is any way of corroborating this story.
    Following his escape, he was assisted by the Italian resistance until he crossed the Alps with 6 other men into Switzerland.
    So, there are the bones - anybody got anything of more substance to add??!

    Warm regards

    Jane Kennedy

    Okay - how do I attache something???
  12. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Dear Vitellino,

    WOW!!! Thank you for the information - I am now in Bari and I wanted to plan to see the area of Brindisi and Tuturano. We drive back from Naples and then I also plan to see the other areas the camps were. From the attached records i have the info:

    Camp 66 - 14 Feb 1942
    Camp 52 - April / May 1942
    Camp 85 - August 1943

    I am trying to piece it all together...

    So he was caught Nov 1941, arrived in Brindisi (is that where all the south african POW's were sent)?
    Went to Camp 66, then 52, then 85. Camp 85 is where he escaped, and where the allies found him.

    Does anybody know of any detailed books or information about the South Africans, Transvaal Scottish in Italy - I have read a few articles, but none of them speak about the camps my Grandfather was in. Also, is there a simplified timeline I would be able to find somewhere. From what I understand the Germans had control of the camp when my Grandfather escaped 11 October 1943.

    I am also trying to see if there is anything left of any of the camps. From what i have seen online there is only one camp left, not the one my Grandfather was in.

    Dear Jane,

    We dont have much of a story form my Grandfather, but I can tell you that he was shot by a German soldier in the head (grazing his skull) when he escaped for the third and last time, was taken in by an Italian family, lived in the mountains during the day and slept at their home during the night. Also, when the allies finally came to the region he was in, the Italian farmer walked with him to the allies as my Grandfather was wearing his second pair of shoes and the Italian farmer needed them back.

    More than that and the records that are also Greek to me I have nothing.

    Thank you both for the effort!!!

    Have a great evening.

    Attached Files:

  13. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    My Grandfather is standing in the middle - I believe this was when Gen. Smuts was in East of North Africa. I saw something on Youtube about the day.

    Attached Files:

  14. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Amanda,

    I am very confused as to your grandfather's movements. Are you sure you have read the Camp Dates correctly in your grandfather's records? You now say that

    Camp 85 is where he escaped, and where the allies found him.

    BUT you said in an earlier post that In Italy he was reported to be a POW till 1943 when he escaped, and lived with an Italian family till end of August 1944.

    If he had indeed escaped from PG 85 at Tuturano - the nearby town of Brindisi was liberated by the Allies on 11 September 1943, two days after the Italian Armistice - he would have been free on that date and wouldn't have needed to hide out anywhere until 1944!! Also, I cannot imagine why he would have been sent from PG 66 Capua to PG 52 up in Coreglia Ligure and then right back down to Puglia to Tuturano PG 85.

    I think his last camp was PG 52 whatever it says in his records. You say:

    when he escaped for the third and last time, was taken in by an Italian family, lived in the mountains during the day and slept at their home during the night. Also, when the allies finally came to the region he was in, the Italian farmer walked with him to the allies as my Grandfather was wearing his second pair of shoes and the Italian farmer needed them back.

    There aren't any mountains in the Italian region of Puglia where Camp 85 was situated. Check it out on Google Earth. The Allies didn't 'finally' come to the region - it was one of the first parts of mainland Italy to come under Allied control as I have said.



    Just found these wonderful photos of PG 85 Tuturano - the site is in Italian but that doesn't matter

    It's me again, like the proverbial dog with a bone. I was determined to find out when PG 85 closed and this is what I have discovered from an excellent New Zealand source:

    I: Events preceding and immediately following the Italian Armistice | NZETC

    In the last two or three months before the armistice there were a good many transfers of groups of prisoners from one camp to another, and especially of other ranks to working detachments. Most of the permanent camps for British prisoners had for some time been in the central and northern provinces of Italy, and in July and August the last of those still remaining in the south were evacuated and moved north. Officers from Padula (Campo PG 35), among whom there were still a few New Zealanders, were moved during August to Campo PG 19, newly set up at Bologna, where they were joined by officers from Sulmona and more southern camps. During the month Allied bombing in southern Italy increased in preparation for the landings, and on the 20th damage to the water supply, sewage system, and buildings of Campo PG 66 at Capua necessitated its evacuation north. By the end of the month Campo PG 85 at Tuturano, Campo PG 75 at Bari, and Campo PG 65 at Gravina, together with their satellite working camps, had also been moved...
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  15. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Hi Vitelino,

    I attached the documents I received from his military records listing Camp 66 and Camp 52 where he was held and earlier on this stream Bamboo43 found a listing for him in the KEW Archives that lists him as being in Camp 85 in August 1943. He escaped on the 11th of October 1943 until the 30th of August 1944. Could he them of been moved into another camp further North and done the last escape from there??? I do know he was shot by a German Officer as in the records it lists him with a G.S.W Sculp and that he escaped with a group of men.

    I visited the area that camp 85 was - there is very little left now.

    Thanks for all the help and information.
  16. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Amanda,

    As the War Front approached the men in all the southern camps were moved north as a matter of course. He was certainly moved long before the Allies liberated Brindisi on 11 September. He would have escaped from PG 52 at Coreglia Ligure after the Armistice of 8 September 1943 and lived with the Italian family until 30 August 1944.

    I have read through all of this thread again. Does the reference to PG 85 appear in your grandfather's service records or does it appear ONLY on the document Bamboo sent you?

    The document Bamboo sent you - WO392/21 - is well known to contain errors. These errors are due to the fact that it was compiled usimg THE LAST KNOWN CAMP, not the LAST CAMP, in which a man was held. It DOES NOT indicate that he was in that camp in August 1943.

    I have spent a lot of time analysing some official (War Ministry) Italian records which show 317 men being sent from Camp PG 82 to Germany in July 1943. I had a look in WO 392/21 and found that most of them were still on it, but they were no longer in Italy - they were already in Germany! Also, of the 317, only 42 are actually shown as being held in PG 82 - most of them are shown as being in PG 54 and the rest in other camps! So, it cannot be taken for granted that someone in WO 392/ 21 was still in Italy in August 1943, never mind in the camp stated in the document!!! In my (long) experience of dealing with WO 392/21, it shows a camp that the POW was in at some time during his captivity in Italy, nothing more.

    Also, sorry you didn't find much at PG 85. Someone is running a campaign to try to preserve what's left. Here's a link with some excellent photos - unfortunately the text is in Italian.
    Tuturano: Campo di Concentramento PG 85


    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  17. amandad94

    amandad94 Member

    Hey Vitellino,

    So, I cant remember seeing a mention of Camp 85 in the document, only the two I mentioned before...

    I wish I could travel back in time and find out all the information. Problem is that very little records have been kept in South Africa and everything there is very slow...

    Ive read through some info on the internet always looking to see a mention of his name or something that could like him to a certain time or place...

    I know that when he was living in Italy he came back loving boiled beans with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil - maybe that is a speciality food in a certain region... Anyway, maybe its time to hang-up the research boots...

    It would be great if they could fix it up, tells speechless stories of days gone by!

    Thank you for all your help.
  18. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member


    I hope you are still with us!!

    I don't know why I didn't look at your grandfather's records before but it is absolutely clear what his movements in Italy were:

    He was first sent to PG 66 at Capua and from there went to PG 52 Chiavari. He escaped at the Armistice and from 11 October 43 (possibly 11 September ) was with the partisans until 30 - 8 -1944.

    I am now putting the finishing touches to my website on PG 52 and would like to include his photograph - I presume that's him on your Atavar.

    I will send you this as a private message.


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