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British prisoners

Lance-Corporal Harry James Bounden

 

Unit : Royal Corps of Signals.

Served : France, North Africa (captured).

Army No. : 2574985

POW No. : 222091

Camps : P.G. 52, 73, Stalag VIIIB / 344

 

A veteran of Dunkirk, Lance-Corporal Bounden was captured at Tobruk in April 1942, and was held in P.G. 52 and 73 in Italy before arriving at Stalag VIIIB on the 12th August 1943. Whilst on the Long March on the 18th April 1945, he and several others who were sick and knew that they could march no further, rolled themselves into a ditch during a period of rest and waited for the column to leave them behind. They hid in a farm building or pigsty for several days, being discovered by American troops on the 24th April. Repatriated to the UK, Bounden was hospitalised with TB but recovered in spite of his badly damaged lungs. The following is his brief account of the Long March.

 

"Never in the field of human conquest, did so few, know so little, about so much" ( Theme for ...? POW's left behind at Stalag 344) 21/1/45.

 

28/2/45. After 9 days (...?) 41 sick men in a cattle truck. The German Commandant rationed water to each man in the truck. We've had 1 1/4 loaves, margarine and about an ounce of pork sausage ............. We've been locked in for 23 3/4 hours per day. At one period no water was issued for 48 hrs.

 

18/4/45. escaped at 3 P.M. Hid in pigsty 3.10 P.M. 8 caught, told village full of Fliegers, and our officer and guards searching for us. Slept in pigsty and watered Sarah Jane below at regular intervals.

 

19/4/45. Our troops 10 miles off, heard Art fire. Discovered by two children, farmer's wife brought soup, changed hid out to top loft of barn, already occupied by 3 Scots, 1 Brum, 1 Londoner.

 

20/4/45. Very tricky day. Jerry troops moved in on floor below, fortunately we had the ladder pulled up, and they were too tired to look around.

 

21/4 /45. After nerve racking night not moving, or coughing, Jerries moved out at 8 P.M.

 

22/4/45. Feeling hungry. Farmer's wife bringing us a few cooked spuds. Our planes straffed a small ......? 200 yards away and set it on fire. heavy Art. fire on both ridges. Seems to be moving along our flanks. Started to dig a small dugout after dark.

 

23/4/45. Changed our quarters to chicken (?) run. Nerve racking, SS troops moving around the village and woods.

 

24/4/45. Guns on flanks quiet, rumours from German Frau's. Yanks are moving through. 6 P M. They're here. Nearly shot by 1st Man of Patrol, who mistook me for a Gerry. No wonder 8 days growth of beard, no wash etc. 24/4 cont. Moved into German house in village.

 

25/4/45. At 5.30 P.M. hopped a lift from R.A.S.C. who took us to Milt Govn. at Roth (?) Spent night there, very well treated.

 

26/4/45. Particulars taken at Schwat..back (?) meet two British officers who escaped also. They pushed hard and got us to an airfield at Hertzoganbach (?) just too late for the plane. Slept overnight had roast chicken. 1st time for nearly 4 years.

 

27/4/45 ?

 

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