Driver William Gillespie Duncan


Unit : Royal Army Service Corps.

Served : France (captured)

Army No. : 2565006

POW No. : 17211

Camps : Stalag XXA


My Dad was in the RASC, driving a staff car for the command pay master, when they were captured in Bologne virtually at the start of the war. The officer was a major in the RAPC, he was Irish and a gentleman. Unfortunately dad has now passed away and I cannot recollect the officers' name and wonder if his family ever knew how he died. They had buried all the money that they had with them at the time, and were beaten badly by their german captors in an attempt to find out where. The officer managed to get hold of a revolver and shot the german officer present, and of course he was himself shot in return.


Dad was then sent to Stalag XXA in Poland, his metal disk reads: KR.GEF.LAGER THORN Nr.17211. He worked often at a convent, on the farm, where he was on two occasions reported by the nuns for stealing potatoes and turnips, though sometimes he was successful. He was finally taken on a long march, their german captors were running from the Russians and a large number of men on the march died, either shot for some reason or from frostbite.


When he got home he was in a pretty bad state. I would like to be able to give more info but he did not often speak of his POW years. He was released by coloured American troops at a railway station in Germany, which I understand was bombed by the Allies the day before, nobody was killed. I would have liked to have known the name of the unit, to praise them, but at the same time they nearly killed him by feeding him too rich food.


Dad was a postman in Aberdeen for 24 years, like his father, who was a Gordon Highlander and I believe fought in the Boer War. He grew to dislike his job and later went on drive a taxi and ended up as an undertaker. He got experience in this work at Stalag XXA as he was regularly employed at the camp hospital, but I got the impression that it was for the German militia.


Thanks to Bill Duncan Jr. for this story.


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