Private F. G. Mumme

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3307/16

 

Name: 2876964 Pte Mumme, F.G.

Unit: 1st Gordon Highlanders, 51st (Highland) Division.

Captured: St. Valery-ex-Caux, 12th June 1940.

Escaped: Eeoloo (Belgium), end October 1940.

Left: Gibraltar, 30th December 1941.

Arrived: Gourock, 4th January 1942.

Army Service: 4 years, 5 months.

Peacetime Profession: Student.

Private Address: c/o Mrs. Mossman, 20 Brook Street, Bath, Somerset.

 

I was captured by German tanks with the remnants of "D" Coy of my battalion in the early morning of 12 Jun 40 about five miles from ST. VALERY-EN-CAUX. After capture we were taken to a collecting point at a farm near ST. VALERY, where the survivors of the Division were being assembled. After one day there we began marching. We marched by day and at night slept in the open fields. I had been wounded in the arm and received no medical attention until we reached DOULLENS on 25 or 26 Jun. There my arm, which by this time was septic, was dressed by a British M.O. On only two days of our journey were we carried in trucks. We were treated with considerable brutality by our guards, both in the camps and on the march. I was once kicked by a mounted man when walking at the end of the column, and I saw other stragglers being hit and beaten.

 

Our route was roughly semi-circular, avoiding the coast and passing through ROUEN, BEAUVAIS, ABBEVILLE, DOULLENS, ST. POL, BETHUNE, and LILLE. We were at BETHUNE on the night of 28 Jun. On the afternoon of 29 Jun I escaped near the village of FOURNES, on the main LA BASSEE-LILLE road. I dodged away from the column and hid in a farm. I then went to the farm house and was given civilian clothes, food, and a bed for the night. During the evening two Black Watch men came to the same farm, but left once it was dark. Next morning (30 Jun) I walked to the village of CARNIN, near CARVIN, where I had friends, with whom I stayed for a few days and who attended to my wound. On 6 to 7 Jul I went to BILLY BERCLAU and spent several days with two R.A.S.C. men in an empty house to which the Mayor of the place had directed us. I spent a few days at PROVIN, whence a Frenchman took me to ARDRES, South-East of CALAIS, where I was sheltered from 20 Jul to 1 Aug in the summer house of a LILLE family.

 

I remained in and around CALAIS till 20 Aug. During that time I borrowed a bicycle and searched the coast from DUNKIRK to BOULOGNE, but could not find a boat. On 20 Sep I returned to LILLE and stayed partly with the man who had guided me to ARDRES and partly with the family who had sheltered me there. I think I must have been denounced to the Germans, as I was arrested in the middle of Oct and sent to a camp at EEOLOO, BELGIUM.

 

There were 300-400 Belgian Ps/W in the camp had 12 British. The 12 British were in one small room in a stone and wooden hut. The food was bad and there was no sanitation beyond a hole in the ground. I was told the camp was a clearing station for recaptured P/W and that I would be sent to POLAND. Shortly after arrival I was questioned by German Feldgendarmerie from BRUSSELS. When I refused to reply to their questions I was put in a punishment cell. The cell was of stone and was just large enough to hold a 6 ft bed and a small table. I was kept in this cell for three or four days without food. I was given water. At this time I was suffering from septicaemia as a result of my wounds and felt very ill and weak. I was again examined on one occasion by the Feldgendarmerie for about 30 minutes, and was beaten by one of them. I had given them the false name of MARTIN, but had said I was British. The beating was done by one man in the presence of another. I was slashed over the back with a riding whip at intervals during the interrogation. They said I had escaped expressly to help others to escape and accused me of inciting trouble in the camp - which was untrue, as I had been in the camp only a few hours before I was put in solitary confinement. This occurred towards the end of Oct. There was no repetition of the incident. I was released from solitary confinement and put in the M.I. hut. That afternoon I put on a Belgian greatcoat and cap and walked out of the camp with a Belgian working party which was going to a farm. After dark I broke away with three Belgians, including the officer in charge. After hiding in a wood I got a bicycle and cycled all night till I reached the French frontier near BAILLEUL, north of ARMENTIERES. There I gave myself up a French Customs official, who gave me some money. I got a change of clothes from a farmer and returned to LILLE by train. Through some students whom I had got to know previously, I was harboured in one house in LILLE till the end of Dec, and in another till Mar 41.

 

In Mar I left LILLE with a young BELGIAN for ABBEVILLE. There I crossed the main bridge with a false Ausweis supplied in a cafe in ABBEVILLE (12 Mar), and then went by train to PARIS, CHALON sue SAONE and MARSEILLES, the Belgian accompanying me all the way. We crossed the Line of Demarcation at CHALON on the night of 20 Mar guided by a Frenchman who had land on both sides of the boundary. I stayed in MARSEILLES from 23 Mar to 1 Jun, making several trips to PERPIGNAN and one to CANNES. I had hoped to cross the PYRENEES from PERPIGNAN in Apr, but was still too sick.

 

At the beginning of Jun I went again to PERPIGNAN, but was arrested there on 4 Jun by the French police and sent to the military prison at MONTPELLIER. I was the only Britisher there. I was decently treated and given medical attention.

 

I escaped from MONTPELLIER on 13 Sep along with a warder, who wanted to come to this country but was later arrested in SPAIN. The warder knocked out one of his colleagues and locked two others in the guardroom. Together we went to PORT VENDRES, but, failing to find a boat there to take us to SPAIN, we went to ARGELES, where we remained from 20 Sep - 6 Oct. on the night of 7 Oct we went to the frontier with a French Army Lieutenant who had been imprisoned in MONTPELLIER for Free French activities. (He was also arrested in SPAIN). A guide took us up into the mountains as far as the Spanish frontier at LA TOUR DE LA MASSANE and then left us. We had a compass and a rough map and set off for BARCELONA. We walked by compass in a dead line, avoiding towns and villages, and reaches ARENYS DE MAR, about 20 miles north of BARCELONA, about 2100 hrs on 15 Oct.

 

We could then see the lights of BARCELONA in the distance. We decided to sleep under a hut on the beach, but about 2300 hrs the police arrested us and marched us to the local prison. At the door of the prison we bolted. Shots were fired and one of my companions was wounded: both were arrested. I dashed off in the direction of BARCELONA. I continued walking till about 0400 hrs on 16 Oct. I was then on the railway line and jumped on a truck which was shunted into a goods yard near BARCELONA. I gave myself up to the station master. He handed me over to one of his subordinates who knew French. After I had explained I was an escaped British soldier the minor employee took me to his home, gave me a meal and a suit of clothes, and let me sleep in his bed. I woke about 1500 hrs and he took me to the Consulate. I was six days in BARCELONA, leaving on 23 Oct for MADRID, where I stayed at the Embassy from 24 Oct to 10 Dec.

 

While in LILLE between Nov 40 and Mar 41 I assisted French friends in their efforts to help British soldiers. I went round to wealthy French people and got food, money, and offers of shelters for others. I fixed up 20-30 British soldiers in CALAIS and 60-70 in LILLE district, and helped a number of them to get away.

 

On the trips to PERPIGNAN from MARSEILLES to which I have already referred I helped in guiding British personnel making for SPAIN.

 

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