Private James Reid Findlay

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/83

 

Name: 2937925 Pte. Findlay, James Reid.

Unit: 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders, attached 4th Indian Division.

Left: Algiers, about 7th September 1944.

Arrived: Glasgow, 17th September 1944.

Date of Birth: 16th October 1914.

Army Service: Since 22nd June 1940.

Peacetime Profession: Horse dealer.

Private Address: 5 Ewing Place, Parkhead, Glasgow.

 

1. CAPTURE.

 

I was captured at TOBRUK on 22 Jun 42.

 

2. CAMPS IN WHICH IMPRISONED.

 

TOBRUK                       22 Jun - about Mid Jul 42.

BENGHAZI                   Mid Jul - Aug 42.

CAMPO 62, LUCCA,   Aug - Nov 42.

CAMPO 70, FERMO,   Dec 42 - 15 Sep 43.

 

3. ATTEMPTED ESCAPES.

 

(a) FIRST ATTEMPT.

 

After capture I was in a transit camp at TOBRUK for about five weeks. Soon after I arrived four officers from my regiment, Lt. SMITH, Lt. RICHARDSON, Lt. CAMERON, Lt. HUTCHISON and I got out. We were at liberty for about four days before being recaptured. When we were within sight of FORT CAPUZZO we decided to 'rush' an Italian tent, overpower the occupants and then steal a German car. We carried out the first part of the scheme but it miscarried and we were overpowered.

 

(b) SECOND ATTEMPT.

 

About two weeks after I arrived at BENGHAZI two British other ranks (names not remembered) a Maltese who spoke fluent Italian, and I planned to escape. At that time there were constant rumours about the proximity of British troops and we thought we had a good chance of meeting up with them.

 

We got out of the wire at night and once outside the camp the party split up. I remained with the Maltese (name not remembered) and we headed for BARCHE. I speak a little Arabic and when we were near a town I spoke to a small Arab boy and asked him for food. He told me that if I went with him to his house he would give me some milk. Without about five minutes of my arrival at his home the house was surrounded by Black Shirts. I was taken straight back to BENGHAZI where I met my three companions who had also been recaptured. We were at liberty for about five days. As a punishment for this attempt we four and three other escapers were chained to a wall for two days. During this time we had only one loaf of bread and a bottle of water each per day.

 

During the time I was at LUCCA and FERMO I was a member of several parties that planned to escape but nothing ever came of our schemes.

 

4. ESCAPE.

 

About 11 or 12 Sep 43 I was detailed to take some horses to a nearby station. I took this opportunity to escape from the stables. I received help and advice from two different Italians almost immediately after I had got clear of the camp. I stayed in one or other of their houses at TORRE S. PATRIZIO (ITALY, 1:250,000, Sheet 25, (W)S 6899) and RAPAGNANO ((W)S 6897) until these villages were overtaken by Polish troops about 1 Aug.

 

I was sent to BARI and thence to NAPLES where I was interrogated. I went by air to ALGIERS whence I left for the U.K. about 7 Sep.

 

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