Private R. Brown

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3307/54

 

Name: 3858755 Pte Brown, R.

Unit: 8th Battalion The Loyal Regiment.

Captured: about 28th July 1940.

Escaped: about 31st July 1940.

Left: Gibraltar, 4th July 1941.

Arrived: U.K. Glasgow, 13th July 1941.

Army Service: 1 year, 11 months.

Peacetime Profession: Cotton operative.

Private Address: 69 Chapel Green, Hindley, Wigan.

 

At the end of May 40 my unit had withdrawn as far as CAUDEBEC, north of the SEINE. As we were being pressed by German armoured troops and had only rifles and a limited amount of ammunition, we were told to split up into small groups and fend for ourselves. I made my way alone and on foot to the coast, and visited LE HAVRE, TROUVILLE, and DEAUVILLE in the hope of getting a boat. Failing in this, I went to ST. ETIENNE, 11 miles North-West of NANTES, where I worked on a farm for about two months, until warned to leave by the local gendarmes. I walked as far as the village of AIZIER, 8 miles South-west of CAUDEBEC, but, as I was still in uniform, I was arrested by a German patrol. I was walking on the road, having been told by a farmer there were no Germans in the district. This happened between 28 and 31 Jul.

 

I was taken back to AIZIER and joined a column of French prisoners. Next day we crossed the SEINE and reached CAUDEBEC. I escaped a few miles from the town three days after my capture. We were marching through open country with fields on either side of the road. I dashed through a hedge and escaped alone.

 

I got civilian clothes at a farm immediately after capture and started off South. I crossed the SEINE at VILLEQUIER, and, taking my bearings from the sun, went on the line of LISIEUX, LE MANS, and TOURS, avoiding the actual towns. I crossed the line of Demarcation at BLERY LA CROIX, South of TOURS, with the assistance of a young French farmer, whose land was on both sides of the boundary (27 Oct).

 

After crossing the Line of Demarcation I went straight to a French frontier post and gave myself up. I was escorted to LOCHES (28 Oct) and then to Fort St. Jean, MARSEILLES (31 Oct), where I was detained till 8 Jan 41, when the prisoners were transferred to the concentration camp at ST HIPPOLYTE, NIMES.

 

Early on the morning of 13 Feb, with four others I climbed a wall and got clear of the camp. We went by train to PERPIGNAN and BANYULS and crossed the PYRENEES into SPAIN. My companions were:-

 

        2752154 Cpl WADSLEY, G., 1 Black Watch, (S/P.G.(B)424),

        780196 Pte PRICE, G., 1 Black Watch, (S/P.G.(F)423)

        2750096 Pte BAIN, D., 6 Black Watch, (S/P.G.(F)415) and

        2931810 Pte CAIRNEY, J., Cameron Hrs. (S/P.G.(F)410).

 

In SPAIN I was arrested at FIGUERAS, and on 6 Mar was detained in MIRANDA concentration camp, where I remained for about three months before being sent to GIBRALTAR for repatriation.

 

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