Private Ernest John Hartley
Unit : The Worcestershire Regiment.
Served : France (captured)
Army No. : 4197225
POW No. : 19227
Camps : Stalag XXA and B
The following has been written by Jacquie Lowes, Jack Hartley's daughter.
My father, Jack Hartley, (Ernest John) was from Stretford in Manchester and was a company runner in the Worcester Regiment. His first action in World War 11 was at Dunkirk where, at 20 years of age, he was wounded badly in the leg by shrapnel. In the confusion, his ambulance drove into the German lines and he was taken prisoner in Cassel. (April 1940) He spent some time in hospital where the skill of the German surgeons saved his leg. Then, he was moved into various hotels to recuperate, including a large one in Le Touquet. Eventually he spent some time recovering in a hotel in Belgium before finally arriving, in August, at Stalag XXA Thorn, Poland, - (Torun). He was suffering from pneumonia.
My father spent 5 years in Stalag
XXA and in Stalag XXB in Marienburg - (Malborg). As a POW, he often worked in a cheese factory in
or near Elbing. He was a very good singer and good at football and joined in these
activities in the camps. He was liberated by the American 9th army and hitch-hiked across Europe to the Belgian coast where he experienced his
first flight, skimming the waves, lying in a gunner's cockpit on his way back to Britain. (He never flew again!!!)
My father told us lots of stories about those war years but, unfortunately, did not write them down. If anybody has any information about my father I would be so glad to hear from him - firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of his friends at this time were Nicky, Barney, Sunny, Bill and Cliff. I do have a few photographs of my father's time as a POW.
My husband and I visited Poland in October 2005 specifically to visit Torun. We went for a day by train from Warsaw. Torun is a lovely town. We bought a map from the tourist information showing all the forts and went directly to Fort 12/13 where dad was imprisoned. We found the fort near the railway station and walked in the tunnels. There were lots of the concrete roads and paths still in place, old lamp standards and the concrete bases from the barracks. There was an area surrounded by fence posts some with barbed wire still attached which looked as if it could have been an exercise area. There was also evidence of a cemetery. The area was very overgrown with some dumping of rubbish. Despite new developments and new roads under construction near by, it still "felt" quite isolated, as my father had described. We were advised that it is still "military land" but we saw no warning notices. We are so glad we have been! Although my father would not have gone with us, we just wish we had been when he was alive! My father made himself a promise never to leave Britain ever again if he got back alive from the war and he never did!
During our next visit to Poland we hope to try to locate where Stalag XXB was situated in Malborg. Has anyone already found this camp and visited the area? Can you offer us any advice please? The information we have is scant about Stalag XXB although we believe my father spent the majority of the five years as a POW there. Also, a former POW from Stalag XXB has very kindly contacted me to tell me that my father would not have been liberated by the American 9th Armoured Division from either Stalag XXA or Stalag XXB as I believed he was. He would have been on the forced march out of Poland to Germany when he would have been liberated by the Americans. Can anybody give me further information about the final months of the war for POWs from these two camps?
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