Driver Louis George Massey

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3307/58

 

Name: 125117 Dvr. (now Sgt.) Massey, Louis George, D.C.M.

Unit: R.A.S.C., attached to 68th Company A.M.P.C.

Captured: Boulogne, 24th May 1940.

Escaped: Winduga (Poland), 2nd December 1940.

Left: Tewfik (Suez), 6th March 1943.

Arrived: Gourock, 20th June 1943.

Date of Birth: 27th May 1907

Army Service: Since 14th November 1913.

Peacetime Profession: Electrical fitter.

Private Address: 17 Burrard Road, West Hampstead, London, N.W.6.

 

During my service with the B.E.F. I was attached as a driver to 68 Coy. A.M.P.C. I was captured by the Germans at BOULOGNE on 24 May 40. Though wounded in the left arm, I volunteered to drive a car with three British wounded behind a German ambulance which was going to hospital. As I could not drive fast, the ambulance outdistanced me, and I drove South, thinking it might still be possible to reach a port in British hands. We were, however, stopped at LE TOUQUET by a German patrol on 25 May and taken to a hotel.

 

After I had been in LE TOUQUET for two weeks I was put in a batch of slightly wounded and marched through FRANCE and BELGIUM into HOLLAND, whence we were sent to GERMANY by train.

 

Five or six miles after capture I arrived at STALAG XXA (THORN, POLAND). Three weeks later I went out to WINDUGA on a working party with the idea of escaping.

 

I escaped from WINDUGA at 0530 hrs on 2 Dec 40 with Cpl. CORKERY, D.C.M. (S/P.G.(G)460) and Pte. DOYLE, D.C.M. (S/P.G.(G)641) by climbing through a canteen window. The escape was not difficult.

 

We did ten kilometres before daylight and hid in a wood for the day. We decided to follow the North bank of the RIVER VISTULA, travelling by night only and making a detour round every town.

 

On 3 Dec we set off in a snow storm and reached WLOCLAWEK before morning. There was a big concentration of German troops here. We made a detour to avoid the town and slept in a straw stack.

 

We carried on in this way for 10 or 11 days and on the 11th morning, our food having run out and it being too cold to sleep at night, we decided to take a chance and speak to someone. The man we spoke to was a Polish workman. He took us to his house, fed us and gave us a place to sleep. This was near MODLIN.

 

Next morning we were handed over to another Pole who gave us money and a compass. In this way we carried on in a North Easterly direction, sometimes helped by Poles and sometimes on our own.

 

We crossed the River DUG, which was frozen over, on the night of 23 Dec and found shelter with a Pole. Next day we crossed the frontier into RUSSIA through the wire near OSTROLEKA where we forced our way into a house. While we were talking one of the men fetched the frontier guards. They treated us very roughly and knocked us about. Then they took us off to a barrack where we stayed the night.

 

Next day (25 Dec) we were taken to WOMZA prison. We were there about three days. Conditions were extremely bad. On 28 Dec we were taken to BIALYSTOK. Here we were put in one room with 120 other prisoners. It was impossible to lie down. They left us here for 10 days and from there we were taken to MINSK prison. Conditions here were indescribably bad. After 10 days in MINSK we were taken to MOSCOW where we were put in LUBIANKO Prison for one night and then moved to the State Prison.

 

We were in the State Prisoner, MOSCOW until 5 Feb 1941. We were questioned continually, and the Russians kept on insisting that we were German spies. Apart from this we were treated well and given good food and books to read. On 5 Feb we were moved to MICHOURIN, near TULA. We arrived here on 8 Feb. The place was an internment camp and conditions were very bad. There were a number of French soldiers in the camp. We soon decided to go on hunger strike to get better conditions and to demand to be allowed to communicate with the British authorities in MOSCOW. As a result of our strike, conditions improved a great deal and we were finally very well treated. We worked in the forests and were given tobacco and cigarettes.

 

On 28 Jun, after the outbreak of war with Germany, we were sent back to MOSCOW, where we were lodged in a house outside the town and eventually handed over to the British authorities on 6 Jul.

 

I would like to emphasize our debt to the many Poles who helped us on our journey. They did this at very great risk to themselves. We never met a case where help was not forthcoming. They gave us clothes, money and food whenever we met them. In contrast to this was the behaviour of the Russians and out treatment in various prisons in Russia. We protested all the time and even fought with the Russians, as well as frequently going on hunger strike to force them to communicate with our authorities. I am sure that if this war had not started we should never have been released by the Russians. They were quite determined that we were spies and questioned us night and day wherever we were.

 

In MOSCOW I was attached to the British Military Mission as a driver, and served in MOSCOW from 23 Jul till 24 Sep, when we evacuated to KUIBYSHEV. I returned to MOSCOW with the Mission in Feb, 42. I went to IRAN in Mar to serve with a member of the Mission, and went from there to CAIRO, arriving about 10 Apr. About Easter I was sent to the R.A.S.C. Depot at GENIFA, and left TEWFIK by sea about 6 May for the U.K.

 

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