Gunner William Hewson

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/1

 

Name: 1446722 Gnr. Hewson, William.

Unit: 155th Battery, 52nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, 7th Armoured Division.

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

Escaped: Germany to Switzerland, 10th October 1942.

Date of Birth: 20th May 1902.

Army Service: Since March 1939 (T.A.).

Peacetime Profession: Cotton weaver.

Private Address: 23 Dall Street, Burnley Wood, Burnley, Lancashire.

 

1. CAPTURE.

 

I was captured in CRETE, at the evacuation port of SPHAKIA, on 1 Jun 41 with what remained of my unit. Immediately after capture I was taken to a prison camp in CANEA in what had been a British Field Hospital. All the P/W taken in CRETE, with the exception of the Australians, were in this camp, in which there were perhaps about 8000 O.R.s. Here I was in the prison hospital with dysentery till Oct 41, when I was moved to a camp near HERACLION (CRETE). I remained in this camp for about two months. For the last 14 or 16 days I was in hospital in HERACLION. The hospital was run by Greeks under German supervision.

 

2. ATTEMPTED ESCAPE.

 

I escaped from the hospital in HERACLION in Oct 41 with the help of a Greek gendarme who was doing guard duty. He left a passage door open, and closed it immediately I had passed through. A Greek was waiting for me at the door outside the hospital grounds, and took me to a house. From this house I was got away to a village outside HERACLION. Here I was given food, and was told that my helpers hoped to get in touch with some British people or to get me on to a small boat which would be going via the islands to TURKEY. I was in this village for about five weeks. I then returned to HERACLION and was recaptured coming from a Greek barber's shop.

 

3. TREATMENT ON RECAPTURE.

 

On recapture I was taken to the German Feldpolizei in the camp in HERACLION. I was put in an underground cell in total darkness, and kept there for nine or ten days. I was then taken out to a German hospital. I was very ill with dysentery. I had been beaten because I refused to state who had helped me during my escape. Before being put into the cell I had been taken into a room and interrogated by a Captain of the Feldpolizei. At first I said I had had money and could speak Greek, and that I had been able to buy food and hide my identity. The interrogator said I lied. They asked me the question again, and said I had better speak. I refused to give names. I was struck on the mouth by the interpreter (a German who spoke English with an American accent). I tried to break away. My arms were twisted and I was thrown on the floor and kicked. I was semi-conscious when thrown back into the cell.

 

From the cell I was taken to the German hospital. I was not really well till Feb 41. I was moved to another German hospital in ATHENS, probably in Jan 42. While I was in the German hospital in HERACLION the Germans began to interview me, and the suggestion was made that I should be trained to work for the Germans. I eventually accepted this proposal in ATHENS without, however, intending to do anything for the Germans.

 

4. ESCAPE.

 

As a result of this, I was taken via ITALY and GERMANY to BELGIUM. Here I received certain training. About 10 Oct 42 I crossed the frontier, from GERMANY into SWITZERLAND. Here I reported to the British Military Attache and told him my experiences in full. I remained in SWITZERLAND till 4 Sep 44.

 

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