Sapper Norman Middleton

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/10

 

Name: 839960 Sapper Middleton, Norman.

Unit: 170th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers.

Captured: Wimereux (France), May 1940.

Escaped: Stalag 344, 5th September 1944.

Left: Stockholm, 24th September 1944.

Arrived: U.K., 25th September 1944.

Date of Birth: 16th March 1920.

Army Service: Since 14th September 1939.

Peacetime Profession: Decorator.

Private Address: 29 Ilkley Road, Otley, Yorkshire.

 

1. Capture:

 

I was captured together with a number of my platoon, while on night patrol at WIMEREUX, near BOLOGNE (N.W. EUROPE 1:250,000, Sheet 1, G 6858) at the end of May 40. We were marched across FRANCE and into GERMANY. We took about fourteen days and went via LUXEMBURG. The first place I remember stopping at was TRIER (GERMANY 1:100,000, Sheet 119B, 4613) and here we were put on trains for LIMBURG (Sheet 108, 3484). At LIMBURG we remained for about three days and we were then sent to Stalag VIII B (LAMSDORF) (Sheet 117, 6801) where we arrived about the second week in Jun 40.

 

2. Camps in which imprisoned:

 

Stalag VIII B (LAMSDORF) (now Stalag 344) Jun 40 - 5 Sep 44.

 

3. Attempted Escapes:

 

I remained at VIII B the whole time I was in GERMANY, but while there, I was constantly sent out on working parties and made the following attempts at escape:-

 

(a) First Attempt:

 

This was made immediately after I arrived at the camp. I had no food, no German papers of any kind and was wearing a blue French naval uniform from which I had removed all marks. I was working with a party of six in a garden at the very edge of the camp, and separated from a park by an iron fence. While the others engaged the guard in conversation I jumped over the fence and ran into the trees. As I crossed the road beyond the park, I was seen by the sentry at the main camp, however, and made West for the range of mountains along the Czechoslovakian border. I avoided everybody and lived by stealing food where I could. I managed to do this for four days. By that time, however, I was getting very exhausted and I decided to take a risk and sleep under cover in a windmill. Unfortunately I must have been discovered by the farmer, for when I woke up the German police had surrounded me. I was sent back to VIII B and given 28 days' solitary confinement.

 

(b) Second Attempt:

 

I made a second attempt while I was on a working party at a camp at REIGERSFELD (Sheet 117, 1771) in Sep 40. On the fourth day I was there, Pte. HARDY, S.E., Gloucester Regt., P/W No. 12639 and I decided to try and get away by jumping the camp wire while the guards were engaged on the evening roll call at 2000 hrs. On the day we planned to escape the guards were drunk and the roll call was altered at 1800 hrs. We managed, however, to jump the wire successfully, but were detected almost at once and were recaptured about two hours later. We were taken back to the camp, and the whole camp was brought out on parade. We were stripped and beaten up with rifle butts by the guards. My nose was broken and I lost four teeth. Pte. HARDY had his arm fractured. We were then pushed into the camp cess pool and locked in a cupboard, and left without food or clothes or medical attention for about thirty hours. At the end of that period we were taken out and sent back to LAMSDORF. The camp authorities there, were told that we had accidentally fallen down some stairs.

 

(c) Third Attempt:

 

This was made in Sep 41 while I was on a working party at the mines at KNUROW (Sheet 128, 4765). The camp was in the pit yard, and was surrounded by a single strand fence of barbed wire. I decided to escape with Pte. DONOVAN, Pioneer Corps. We got civilian clothes and a pair of wire cutters from some Poles in the mine, and we saved food from Red Cross parcels and our rations. We cut the wire at night and made our way through the yard and out. We walked by night passing through KATTOWITZ (Sheet 118, 7370) and continued down the road towards JABLUNKOV (CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1:75,000, Sheet 416) in CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Unfortunately we were not prepared to find the frontier guarded, and walked on to it unexpectedly. We were stopped by the guards. By this time I could speak a bit of German and tried to bluff it out. I told them we were going to CADCA (Sheet 4261) near JABLUNKOV, and gave an address there. We were then asked for papers and I pretended to have forgotten them. I think we might have got away with this, but the guard saw our parcel of food, and opened it. When he saw Red Cross chocolate and other food, he at once accused us of smuggling and took us to the frontier post. Here we admitted our identity and were handed over to the police at ISTEBNA (Sheet 4162). We remained there three days and were then taken to Stalag VIII D (TESCHEN). After about four days we returned to LAMSDORF. We were each given 21 days' solitary confinement.

 

(d) Fourth attempt:

 

In May 42 I made another attempt while working on Party E.51 at the mines at KLAUSBURG (GERMANY 1:100,000, Sheet 118, 5678). I was again accompanied by Pte. HARDY. We obtained civilian clothes from foreign workers, and we changed into these at the Lager and pinned the legs of our khaki trousers over the civilian ones, and put on our greatcoats. When we paraded for night shift, we looked fairly normal. We were marched down to the mine, and our plan was to slip away with the help of the rest of the shift, while the guard walked forward to open the gate and turn on the light at the entrance. It was three days before a suitable occasion arose. The people behind then took our coats, while we tore off the legs of our trousers and walked off down the street as the others turned into the yard. We took a train into HINDENBERG (5475) and walked from there to KATTOWITZ (7369). We made for JABLUNKOV by an old route and crossed the frontier in the dark hours off the road. We passed through ZVOLEN (CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1:75,000, Sheet 4562) and crossed CZECHOSLOVAKIA making for HUNGARY. After we had been walking for about three weeks stealing food and avoiding all contacts, we began to near the Hungarian frontier. Our clothes, however, had been getting pretty ragged and we could not shave properly as our razor blades were giving out. Near LEVA (Sheet 4761) our appearance excited suspicion and we were arrested by the Hungarian frontier police. We were taken to LEVA and handed over to the Slovaks. We were then taken to BRATISLAVA (CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1:75,000, Sheet 4758), and imprisoned there for 30 days. At the end of that period we were handed back to the Germans and taken to Stalag XVII A (KAISERSTEINBRUCH) near VIENNA. About Jul 42 we were sent back to VIII B. We were given 28 days which was automatically cancelled since we had already served it at BRATISLAVA. We were, however, put into the Straf Company with other escapers. In Sep 42 we had our hands chained as part of the reprisals for DIEPPE. Later in Dec 42 I was sent for nine months to work in the granite quarries at ALT WETTE (GERMANY 1:100,000, Sheet 117, 5473). After I had finished this I was allowed back on to ordinary working parties again.

 

(e) Fifth Attempt:

 

In Aug 43 we were sent to a work camp at STERNBERG (CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1:75,000, Sheet 4158) where we were engaged in hay processing. We had an enormous dump collected near the camp. The camp was surrounded by a single strand fence and the guards were very lax. We found we could use our hay tools to cut the wire and we were able to loosen and unscrew the bars of one of the windows in the hut. Following this, we decided to try and destroy the dump of hay. On 27 Oct two members of the Pioneer Corps, one of whom was a Pte. CREMONA and I managed to get out of the camp and set the hay dump alight by means of greased rags. The whole thing burnt to the ground. Although we got back into the camp and covered up all traces we felt we might be suspected and decided to try and get out. We used the same method to leave the camp a few nights later. We had managed to get some dye for our uniforms and had saved some food. We got away, but were arrested about thirty-six hours later outside PROSTEJOV (Sheet 4258). We were taken to the German H.Q. at HOHENSTADT (Sheet 4058) and then sent back to VIII B. We got two days confinement.

 

(f) Sixth Attempt:

 

In Jun 44 I was again sent to the work camp at STERNBERG, near OLOMOUC. I managed to cut the wire again using some cutters our of the cobbling kit of another P/W. I was also helped by a German woman at STERNBERG who gave me civilian clothes, money and a ration card. She gave me this in return for coffee but I think she also wanted to get "even" with one of the guards who disliked her. This time I walked to OLOMOUC and got the train to BRNO (Sheet 4357). From BRNO I walked to VIENNA and here I got on to the STRASSBOURG train. I found however they were searching the train so I got off at SALZBURG (GERMANY 1:100,000, Sheet 156, 9896) and got on to a train for INNSBRUCK (Sheet 159, 5436). At INNSBRUCK I got a train for LANDECK (GERMANY 1:250,000, Sheet M 48, V 44) intending to make for SWITZERLAND. Before we arrived I was caught by the Gestapo. I was taken to Stalag XVIII C (MARKT PONGAU ST. JOHANN). There I was given a week in jail, and then sent back to LAMSDORF, where I got fourteen days confinement.

 

4. ESCAPE:

 

I managed to escape with Rifleman McGLONE (S/P.G.(G) 2615) on 5 Sep 44. This escape was not planned in advance and we had no special kit with us. We heard on the morning of 3 Sep 44 that the repatriates were being mustered in the hospital compound prior to departure. We decided to try to join them and managed to leave our compound with a working party which was going to another part of the camp. When the party passed the place where the repatriates were being lined up, we managed to leave it and entered the hospital grounds. We jumped the low wire fence and joined the queue of repatriates without being detected. The Germans were checking each man by his identity card and we joined a party which had already been done. By carrying other people's luggage we avoided looking suspicious and were marched off to a tent to be searched. This was not very thorough and we got through it successfully. After the search we were all marched out of the camp to a field outside. At this point the Germans naturally discovered that they had two extra leaving the camp and they decided on a second card check. This was very stringent, the repatriates were made to dump their luggage and then were carefully checked man by man. With the help of Cpl. JARVIS, L., we managed to hide under some piles of kit which were not searched. The Germans decided the count at the camp gates was erroneous, and we were marched to the station. Here the repatriates were mustered in groups of fifty and we again avoided detection by lying under the kit. We then boarded the train. On the train we were checked again, but we hid under the seats. By this time, however, the Germans had found that two men were missing from the camp, and naturally suspected w were on the train. They, therefore, came down in force and did a thorough search, coach by coach. By now it was dark and when the guards were about half way down our carriage we climbed on to the roof by means of the ladder at the end of the coach and crawled across. After allowing them time to get clear, we entered the coach from the other end. A further search was made later in the night, Rfmn. McGLONE managed to hide under the seat, while I hid behind the lavatory door, I was not discovered because another man was in with me, and after checking his card, the guards passed on. As SASSNITZ (near RUGEN) (GERMANY 1:100,000, Sheet 10, 1243) where we embarked for SWEDEN a further check was made on the quay and we again hid under the kit. We then marched on to the boat without further difficulty and landed at TRALLEBORG. We were then taken to GOTEBORG and there we were put on board S.S. ARUNDEL CASTLE on 8 Sep.

 

After the ship had sailed we reported to the Orderly Room. We were told by the captain that we would have to return to SWEDEN. We returned in the pilot boat to GOTEBURG and from there we were sent to STOCKHOLM, arriving on 11 Sep. We left STOCKHOLM for U.K. by air on 24 Sep 44.

 

 

Rifleman Andrew McGlone

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/9

 

Name: 3249718 Rifleman McGlone, Andrew.

Unit: 7th Commando Unit, M.E.F.

Captured: Sfakia (Crete), 1st June 1941.

Escaped: Stalag 344, 3rd September 1944.

Date of Birth: 7th August 1917.

Army Service: Since 3rd January 1940.

Peacetime Profession: Steel Erectors Prover.

Private Address: 9, Colebrooke Street, Cambuslang, Lanark.

 

1. Capture.

 

I was captured at SFAKIA in CRETE on 1 Jun 41. When we were told the island had capitulated, two other men and myself went down to the arms dump and began to destroy the equipment. While we were doing this we were captured by a German patrol.

 

2. Camps in which imprisoned.

 

Camp II (SALONIKA) Mid-Jun - Sep 41.

Stalag VIII B (LAMSDORF) Sep 41 - Sep 44.

 

3. Attempted escapes.

 

I was first sent to Camp II at SALONIKA and remained there for about nine weeks. While I was there I got six days in jail for agitating about the food and conditions of the camp. The treatment was bad, and at one period there was a mass attempt at escape by about fifty men by means of a tunnel and a disused sewer. The Germans caught twenty five and a number were trapped in the tunnel and shot while trying to get out. In Sep 41 I left the camp and was sent to Stalag VIII B (LAMSDORF) (GERMANY, 1:100,000, Sheet 117, 6801).

 

(a) First Attempt.

 

In May 42 I was sent to work in a factory at FREIWALDAU (Sheet 126, 4366) in SUDETENLAND, in party E 250. While working there we managed to break into a workman's store and steal some civilian clothes which we hid in the yard. In company with Pte. STORY, J., R.A.M.C., I managed to get out of the Lager with the night shift. Some of our friends carried food and kit for us and we managed to slip away, change and get out of the yard without being seen. We made for the hills and tried to reach TROPPAU (Sheet 127, 9333). After six days however we were stopped by two German soldiers and asked for papers. We were, of course, discovered and taken back to LAMSDORF, where we got seven days.

 

(b) Second Attempt.

 

In Aug 42 I was working in part E 42 at NEISSE (Sheet 116, 5293). Pte. SCOTT, 7th Command Unit, M.E.F. and myself, managed to obtain some workmen's overalls and save some food. One night we managed to jump the wire fence round the lager. We planned to make for the hills, but immediately we left the alarm was given and a search started. We did not dare try to cross open country, and accordingly we hid in a loft nearby until things should be quieter. Here we were discovered by a woman. We tried to make a dash for it, but were caught by the villagers. The Germans told us later that we had been given away by one of the P/W at the camp. We were taken back to LAMSDORF and given fourteen days. We were also chained with a number of other prisoners, as reprisals for DIEPPE.

 

(c) Third Attempt.

 

My third attempt was made while I was working on party E 233 at a quarry near LAUBAN (Sheet 102, 2065) between BRESLAU and DRESDEN. I got dye from another P/W and managed to turn my trousers black. I also obtained a jacket from a Polish worker. When the shift knocked off for dinner, I slipped down to the bicycle shed and changed by clothes. I then stole a bicycle belonging to one of the guards and collected a parcel of food I had hidden in the shed. It was quite easy getting out of the camp and I was not challenged. After about four hours, however, the bicycle broke and I had to walk. I could speak some German to get a lift in a cart to LIEBAU (Sheet 115, 7019). At LIEBAU I went to the station and got a ticket to DRESDEN (Sheet 101, 1259). At DRESDEN, however, I got pulled up for my papers and was recaptured. I was sent first to Stalag IV A (HOHENSTEIN) near DRESDEN, and after about a week I returned to LAMSDORF. I got 21 days and was sent to the STRAFFE camp for four months.

 

(d) Fourth Attempt.

 

This took place in Oct 43 while I was working in party E 724 at HOHENLINDE (Sheet 118, 6677) near HINDENBURG. I managed to save up a bit of food and got some overalls from a foreign workman. I chose my moment carefully and walked out of the camp under cover of an incoming goods train. I then walked to KATTOWITZ (7369), and intended going on into CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Just beyond the town, however, I was caught by the police. After seven days in the local prison, I returned to the working party. In Nov 43 I returned to LAMSDORF on the plea of ill health.

 

4. Escape.

 

From Nov 43 - Sep 44 I was continually sent on working parties, and continually returning to the camp on the grounds of ill health. I never managed, however, to get another suitable chance to escape. In Sep 44 I managed to join a party of repatriates from the camp, and escaped by this method to SWEDEN. I was in company with Spr. MIDDLETON (M.I.9/S/P.G.(G)2614). My story is as related in his report.

 

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