Lieutenant Duncan Ferguson

 

Unit : Royal Army Service Corps.

Served : North Africa (captured)

Army No. : 6288782

POW No. : 13919

Camps : P.G. 5, Oflag VIIIF, Oflag 79

 

Those of us captured at Tobruk in June 1942 were taken by way of a staging post at Bari to Campo P.G. 5 at the small village of Veano in the hill country above Ponte del Oglio near Piacenza. Thence we went to a camp on the flat ground below Chieti on its hill a short distance inland from Pescara. We should have got away when Italy capitulated but the Senior British Officer, whose judgment was seriously flawed, ordered us to remain with the result that within 3 days the sentry boxes were manned by soldiers of the Wehrmacht making it abundantly plain that we were now prisoners of Hitler's Reich.

 

On a train taking us across Italy to Rome many escaped (most being subsequently recaptured) but, with tightened security thereafter, we remained incarcerated in the cattle trucks until we reached Germany. From a transit camp at Moosburg we were taken to Oflag VIIIF at Marisch Trubau in Czechoslovakia and from there to Oflag 79 which was situated between a nightfighter airfield and a Hermann Goering aircraft factory on the outskirts of Brunswick.

 

Of those listed on page 14 of the information sheet I recall only: Bill Bowes, Freddie (not Frank) Brown, Pip Gardner, D. Swinney, W.H. Murray and Tommy Sampson. The late Bill Murray and I shared adjacent bunks at Moosburg and after the war he became a well known mountaineer and author. Tommy Sampson is an Edinburgh man. There was an article about him in the "Scotsman" newspaper recently. I wrote him afterwards but received no reply.

 

During a Continental trip in the nineties, my wife and I went to find the site of Oflag 79. We located and passed through Querum without difficulty and found the airfield which is now Brunswick Municipal Airport. And there, beyond the autobahn, was the wood that had surrounded the factory and camp. We drove through the underpass beneath the autobahn and parked under the trees. We could see no sign of the buildings that were there in wartime so I went walking around. I came upon a more modern building that appeared to be a ceramics factory, and was just about to give up when I stumbled upon a line of bomb craters which told me that here, beyond doubt, was the site I was seeking. Alongside there was a wired off area of grass with no buildings on it and this, I think, was where the old Luftwaffe barracks that housed the camp were situated. It was a strange sensation to walk amid the tangle of brambles and bracken growing in the craters on a peaceful afternoon in May when the only sound to break the stillness was the song of the birds.

Duncan Ferguson (ex Lieut. R.A.S.C.)

 

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