WILLIAM CHARLES RALPH DEVLIN - Australian Ser No NX14167 - Murdered March 1945

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Tullybrone, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Just browsing Australian Archives and looked at record for above described captured on Crete. Letters in file describe how Germans separated Irish surnamed prisoners in Salonica and kept them together on arrival in Berlin Nov 1941 at “special camp” obviously trying to get them to do propaganda tasks etc.

    Pte Devlin self taught himself German whilst a POW. He ended up as an interpreter at a work Camp near Leipzig in March 1945 and challenged the working party civilian leader about his methods and was summarily shot. File says offender was arrested but escaped from hospital whilst receiving treatment for suicide attempt. Not traced subsequently.

    Pte Devlin’s grave only identified/located in Berlin in 1957.

    Interesting read. Search on name in thread title will turn up the file via below link.

    Steve Y

    Search the collection – National Archives of Australia, Australian Government
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
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  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks for sharing that, lots to read but it's fascinating.
  3. CL1

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


    Private William Charles Devlin (1923 - 1945) - Find A Grave Photos

    Service Number NX14167

    Died 21/03/1945

    Aged 22

    A.I.F. 2/1 Bn.
    Australian Infantry

    Son of William and Ellen Devlin, of Kingsford, New South Wales, Australia.

  4. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    Well , what a read. Everyone should read it!
    Thank you. Veronica.
  5. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    What a terribly sad story. John Darragh's story paints a very clear picture of the type of man he considered Bill Devlin to be.

    Without looking into his parent's background I gather he may have been a first generation Australian. I note in his Roll of Honour Circular that he was nephew to a Alex Devine who was killed in 1915 serving with the Royal Irish Rifles. Strangely I cannot find his details on the CWGC.

    There is a photo of Bill Devlin from his personnel file in the AWM.


    Attached Files:

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  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Maybe they got the surname wrong ? :huh:

    Here's an A Devlin in Royal Irish Rifles killed 1916.

    Serjeant DEVLIN, A
    Service Number 153
    Died 08/04/1916
    Aged 26
    D Coy. 13th Bn.
    Royal Irish Rifles
    Son of Samuel and the late Harmah Jane Devlin, of Knocknagon, Gilford, Co. Down.
  7. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    I was going to suggest that, Devlin, perhaps being misread as Devine....
    Didn't find one in 1915 so didn't check for 1916!
    Good spot!
  8. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    The date is slightly out but you may well be right gents.

    Will leave it to the genealogists.

    Out of interest did any of the Irish POW camps bear fruit for the Germans? I guess they were looking for potential saboteurs.

  9. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Australian newspaper report - June 1945

    Attached Files:

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  10. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    I’ll have to re read the file as there are likely some more clues in it but from memory I’ve not seen mention of a camp for “Irish” POW on the forum previously but this thread relates to Stalag IIID sub Camp at Genschen, Berlin which was used to form the British Freikorps.


    Stalag 111D
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  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    Having read the case,it's a good insight to the excesses carried out against POWs by their captors.In this case the perpetrator appears to have got away with the murder as did many.Working parties were always likely to be subject the harsh discipline enforced by the arrogance of the ideology.....the civilian supervisor would be likely to be a member of the Nazi Party whose brutality knew no bounds.

    Other persistent escapees paid the penalty with their lives and vanished into the fog of night without any known grave.

    Without doubt Bill Devlin possessed the moral courage which assured others....a very gallant soldier to intervene for the good of others.

    I think his interest in the English dictionary reflected his motivation to learn the German language and a proactive mind.

    Bill Devlin's file and case notes is a good example how such information should be freely available for access to all and not subject to a paywall.

    I think the attention to the Irish combatants was to make to divide the POWs and take advantage of the Irish question and also possibly recruit the Irish POWs into an "Irish contingent" within the German military structure.

    The other point which struck me was the attempt to persuade POWs to witness the Katyn atrocity site for which the Russians were found responsible after the war for the murder of 15000 Polish Army officers.Apparently some POWs from other camps did attend but with the motivation of having a period away from close captivity...of course they did not accept the German account of Katyn at the time.

    [Post edited as draft posted inadvertently before completion....how I do not know]
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  12. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    Thanks Steve and Harry. Interesting reading.

  13. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Could anyone look up John Michael Darragh on either FMP casualty lists or German POW lists please as his unit is not specified in the Devlin file. Likely captured on Crete in 1941.


    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  14. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi Scott,

    Just going through Darragh’s statement again. The Irish Camp was at Friesack, Berlin. It was designated Stalag XXA/301 to suggest it was in Poland rather than in a suburb of Berlin.

    It is mentioned widely on the internet including in the book “Hitlers Irishmen” - see below link

    Hitler's Irishmen

    The author states Irish POW were assessed and those selected for transfer to Friesack were thought to be susceptible to be traitors but one batch who were not classified as potential traitors were sent there by mistake. Although their true allegiance was speedily discovered they could not be sent elsewhere as the Germans did not want their secret Irish Camp to be publicised. That likely explains how Darragh and Devlin were sent there.

    Steve Y

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