Joseph Winterbottom

Joseph Winterbottom with Larry Martell's American Band Show in Stalag IVB

Trooper Joseph Winterbottom


Unit : 11th Hussars

Served : North Africa (captured)

Army No. : 554507

POW No. : 226359

Camps : Stalag IVB


Joseph Winterbottom served with the 11th Hussars during the campaign in North Africa. He was twice wounded in this conflict, first on the 11th November 1940, and the second, which resulted in his capture by Italian soldiers, on the 7th August 1941, when he was shot several times through a leg. He felt that he was well treated whilst a prisoner in Italy, but after the surrender in September 1943 he ended up in German hands and was sent to Stalag IVB, the experience was not at all satisfactory to him. Winterbottom was a musician and played bass in numerous performances. A picture of him can be seen here.


Joseph Winterbottom kept a brief diary of his time in Stalag IVB, dealing with matters relating to the band and the events leading up to liberation. A transcript reads as follows:


Band Show / 44,


This show took place in the Feb after our return from Jacobstal. The forming of this band was made up in the beginning of a sextet and made a good name whilst at Jacobstal. On our arrival at Mühlberg again the sextet was made up to a full band combination. The line up was as follows -


Arr: Les Whitmore

Saxes,  Alto's: Freddy Wiednor & Bill Irving

            Tenor: Dave Ashmore

Brass Trumpets: Stan Backhouse, 'Pod' Godfrey

Troms.: N. Macmillan, Fred Bannister

Guitar: Rick Grant, Perry Webster

Bass: Jo Winterbottom

Drums: "Taffy" Thomas

Show supported by variety {cast?} Bill Rae and G. Harrington, etc.


During stay in ?, the Regiment sent along 6 Middle East food parcels, all arriving at a time when food was short. i.e. no parcels. Also no less than 4 200 Players from regimental funds. Also Xmas Eve of 42 received Middle East clothing parcel from Regiment.


Food Parcel (ME)

1 tin milk

1 tin sausages

1 pkt biscuits

1 tin barley sugar

1 tin sardines

1 tin cocoa

1 slab chocolate (½ lb)

20 cigarettes

1 tab soup

Clothing Parcel

1 Pyjamas

2 socks

6 Hchfs

1 pull-over

Comb - tooth brush

Tooth paste

120 cigarettes


Some of these food parcels vary. Some had 120 cigs in & articles like 2 lb tin of dripping, ½ lbs tea - ½ sugar - jam - fruit.



This week April 16-23rd proved to be eventful. Monday 16 - fighter patrols round the Camp. First time we have seen these - Lightenings and Thunderbolts. Many fires in vicinity Tuesday 17 - attack on our wood fatigue - 5 killed, 11 wounded. This incident happened at main gate of camp. Very fierce attack by Thunderbolt.


Wednesday 18. More local targets including railway engine. Thursday 19, fighters sought train at the back of camp. Fires all night & large explosions. Friday 20, more fighter activity on the Elbe.


Saturday 21. Lieut all day. Explosion Riesa-Torgau. Sunday 22, explosions local increasing towards nightfall, during night pretty heavy shellfire, but not in camp area. Midnight Jerries take off. Monday 23 8am no roll call. Camp relieved by Russian Cavalry which sent all Russians out by 1015 and pressed on to Mühlberg.


This day everyone is full up with the release, all British & Americans stay put, expecting our troops any time. Rehearsals and shows cancelled this day.


Week ending 29 April 45. Rations very poor (? supplied private ration). Peasoup everyday 8.00 pm alternating with beans, spuds, sugar not had. 100 gms for 4 days down to 50 - then 25 gms. Russian bread three times 100 gms - 600 gms - 400 gms.


Week ending 3 May 45. ? regarding, more prisoners leave, 2nd May. Brigadier arrives & delay British more. Stand fast for a few days is the cry - but the ration {gets} worse and worse. Boys forage for themselves. Bread. 4 issues of bread & flour in local ? - 800 gms raw spuds every day. No dry rations. No brews. No spreads. No grease.


Saturday 5. Ration 800 gms, spuds 25 gms, sugar 90 gms, split peas - bread 500 gms.


Sunday May 6th / 45

Order to move at 1300 hrs for Riesa - Shank's Pony. Complete with kit - no rations but had a leg of pork in larder so had sandwiches on journey. Quite a change to see countryside again. Rain & drizzle first ½ hr, but brightened up later. Arrived Riesa 1900 hrs nearly on my hands & knees, feet badly blistered - 18 kilos. Civvies gave up some tobacco & syrup drink in Riesa. Took over Wehrmacht barracks & found 2 barrels of molasses. Civvies very good here, with food stakes. Got room 12 men.


Thanks to John and Maggie Robertson for this account.


Return to POW Stories Menu