Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Londinium
 Share

Recommended Posts

My grandfather, Herbert William Tustin (1893-1939) of the 8th Durhams, escaped from Rennbahn Munster II POW camp on Sept 4th 1916 and crossed the frontier to the safety of Holland on 14th Sept 1916. He got back to England on 17-18th Sept. 1916. According to my grandmother and family history, my grandfather was the first Tommy to make a successful escape from Germany (along with his Canadian fellow escapee, James Gerrie Burk of the 90th Winnipeg Rifles). I think many higher-rank soldiers had made successful escapes before this date (it was easier for officers as they had more leisure time to plan their escape), but not any Tommies. Is this true? Does anyone know of any other Tommies who made a successful escape before this date? How could I verify my grandmother's claim? I've visited the National Archive, the Imperial War Museum, the Durham Records office (where I got some useful info. from 'The Bede' journal), and have made searches in my grandfather's local newspapers of the time (his escape was surprisingly not even mentioned in his town's own newspaper, so I assume there must have been a news embargo on reporting escaped POWs) - but there is no indication anywhere of whether or not my grandfather was the first Tommy to escape.

My grandfather wrote a book of his adventures (entitled 'A Tommy Escapes'), which I have only recently discovered. It is soon to be published by 'Pen and Sword' publishers. Consequently, I'd really love to know whether this family story is true or not. Can anyone please help resolve this question?

PS I'd also love to hear from anyone who had relatives at Rennbahn Munster II POW camp, or who has photos, memorabilia to swap or exchange.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Blackburn Times Septmber 1915.

Private Sydney Haworth of the Coldstream Guards and Sergt. Alfred Birley of the Glosters are back in England after a daring escape from a German prisoner of war camp. They were presented to the King who congratulated them on their daring escape. Sydney Haworth was a former member of the Blackburn Police Force.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for this information. I've looked but not yet found a link to the Blackburn Times Archive, or any online information about Private Sydney Haworth. I'd be grateful for an internet link or two. Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The report can be found in the British Newspapers on findmypast. As it is a subscription site a link may not work. If you have access search on Alfred Birley and 1915 in the relevant search boxes. The report was syndicated to several regional newspapers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would be surprised if it took until 1916 for a "home run"

There was a Haworth in the CG who got the MM for escaping - guessing one and the same ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The award of the M.M. to Private Sydney Haworth as 8955 Coldstream Guards was certainly for the escaping episode. The award was published in the London Gazette January 1920, he had been transferred to the R.G.A. as 70931 on December 25 1915.

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/31759/supplements/1230

Alfred Birley's award of the M.M. as 6746 Sjt. Glouc. R. (now Capt.) 1st. Bn. (Redhill) was on page 1231 of the same gazette.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for this information. I've looked but not yet found a link to the Blackburn Times Archive, or any online information about Private Sydney Haworth. I'd be grateful for an internet link or two. Thanks!

I have a article ,re The King conversing with Alfred Birley and Private Haworth.

Birley remarked upon the readiness with which the King put him and his comrade at their ease,adding "It was just like chatting with a friend".

Sgt Birley, a reservist prior to the War, was captured by the Germans while attempting to retake a lost trench at the Battle of Ypres on October 29th

Regards

Gerry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks. I tried searching for 'Alfred Birley' instead and came up with a few links that confirmed what you say. Glad to resolve this question. Unfortunately, my grandmother didn't have the advantage of the internet to check the facts and probably just passed on what someone had told her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...